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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Three strikes and you’re out

Matthew 18:15-18…

Jesus had just been speaking about our relation to God as children. We are to be accepting of the hard to accept person (Matthew 18:1-5). We are not to get between God and His loved ones (Matthew 18:6-9). We should treat all believers with care, for they all matter, and God will go the distance to protect His children (Matthew 18:10-14).

Here we are given a procedure for protecting the assembly of His children, the local church. This is about a local setting, and of a limited scope. The more public sorts of sins and widespread damage are dealt with differently (cf. Titus 1:9-13). He isn’t speaking here of resolving differences of opinion, the Bible does that elsewhere (cf. Philippians 4:1-9). There may be wisdom in seeking to communicate with a person privately before doing so publicly, but this would be outside of this passage, not in obedience to it.

For this passage to apply, the sin must be serious enough to warrant expulsion and the situation such that the local church can take effective action. In our desire to do things rightly, we must be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far, from overly casual to overly critical. This isn’t about a person who falls down (Galatians 6:1). This is about a person who stands up in unrepentant, defiant rebellion, with major doctrinal, moral, or schismatic failures (cf. 1 Timothy 1:20 / 1 Corinthians 5 / Titus 3:10).

First, our goal is to warn the person privately and win Him back (James 5:19-20). If that fails, another attempt is made with extra people called for as a witness (2 Corinthians 13:1 / 1 Timothy 5:19). If that still fails, then the church must get involved. If the local body cannot reconcile with this person, if they remain unrepentant, then they are to be removed from the fellowship. The binding and loosing has to do with the disciplinary decisions being made. God vests a certain authority to the church; for the grossly unrepentant it is one, two, three, and you’re out. 


Monday, May 30, 2016

They all matter

Matthew 18:10-14…

God will go the distance to protect His children. If they are lost He finds them. If they are scattered, He will gather them. The Father will not allow the sheep to be mistreated forever.  Jesus reminds us that they are always heard about in God’s throne room (Hebrews 1:14). Though they suffer for a little while on earth, this should not give persecutors of the Gospel any comfort.  God will rescue His people. If we love God we will love God’s people, and we should not look down on our supposedly lesser brothers and sisters.

As Christians we know we can say good things about God. Therefore we can say good things about our brothers and sisters in Christ, all of them (Romans 12:5 / 1 Corinthians 6:17). Why? Because the most important thing in the universe is God, and the most important thing about you or me or anyone who is a Christian is the same for all of us, the greatest thing about anyone is the greatest thing anyone could have and can have. We have Jesus, God’s Son, resident with us in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been rescued, ransomed with the most precious thing in the universe (1 Peter 1:18-19).  

The Christians who are sick, poor, aged, physically and mentally weak share the same inheritance as those who are healthy, wealthy, strong, productive and capable (1 Peter 1:3-9).  Christians are to imitate their Father in heaven by being merciful and kind to those who need help. We are to be joyous helpers as God rescues all His sheep.