THROUGH THE BIBLE IN THREE YEARS

This program of daily Scripture studies is designed to help you in daily honoring God with adoration.

Each day, Monday through Friday, a Scripture with commentary is posted.

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TODAY'S SCRIPTURE STUDY

MATTHEW

CHAPTER 18

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew 17 (vs 24), Jesus and the disciples were in Capernaum. Thus, the statement: "At the same time," places them still in Capernaum.

There are three very strong object lessons in this chapter. First, there is the lesson of humility. Second, there is the lesson of treating children with gentleness and kindness. Third, there is the lesson of not leading others into sin. Fourth, there is the lesson of maintaining right relationships with others.

When the disciples are questioning who should be the greatest in heaven (besides Jesus, of course), He answers them with a tremendous lesson. ALL who come in genuine surrender to Jesus are GREAT in the kingdom of heaven! However, NO ONE comes to the kingdom of heaven WITHOUT surrender to Jesus!

A little child comes at the beckoning of his/her elders. A little child does the bidding of his/her elders. A little child is reflective of those who have genuinely surrendered to Christ.

This is what it takes to get IN heaven, and ALL who come are considered "great" in His kingdom.

5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Receiving a child in pureness and gentleness is similar to receiving Christ. He came into the world as a perfect Servant, doing His Father's will in genuine obedience.

But whoever would "offend" a little child is in DEEP TROUBLE! The Greek word for "offend" here is skandalizo, which means to entrap in sin or entice to sin.

Not too long ago, a group of people came to our town, picketing a local church of another denomination. Their signs stated, "ABORTION IS MURDER," to which I agreed. But along with those signs, they had massive pictures of dismembered babies. The pickiters stood along the roadway and held the signs up in front of SCHOOLBUSES!

I went to them and tried to speak gently about offending the children. My granddaughter happened to be on one of those buses, and she had come home crying. I found the leader, and he was very offensive, stating that "the truth must be known." And of course, I stated that we should follow the "Word" of God and "speak the truth in love." I assured him that I, too, had stood on the streetside picketing (not against a church) concerning abortion.

Somehow, this inspired the leader to be even more offensive. Then I asked to use one of their Bibles. He handed me one, and I turned to Matthew 18:6. The leader said nothing. Several of the younger men with him, were still offensive, but the leader called a halt to the picketing and they soon left town.

To my amazement, the following Sunday morning, these same people were picketing my church during worship service! They had signs stating, "This pastor preaches lies," and "This pastor will lead you to hell." Again, I talked to the leader. I shared with him that he had not first come into our church and listened to how I preached; therefore he had no right to make such statements. Then I told him that I had just preached a sermon against abortion. Again, they left quietly.

Sometimes people do things wrongly for the right reason. These had the right idea, but were bringing "offences" to little children with the gross pictures. Perhaps they were more interested in obtaining PRESS than in presenting a truthful message.

7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Again, let me point out that the word for "offences" means to bring enticement to sin.

Does this include people who put pornography on the internet? Does this include people who advertise abortions for young ladies? Does this include people who advertise gambling? Does this include people who sell condoms and liquor? YES!!

There is sin in the world. Sin produces suffering. There are always those in the world who will be enticing others to sin in order to gain a profit for themselves. However, no man is more guilty than he who would lead a child astray!

11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Here, simply, is stated the mission of God becoming flesh.
Here, simply, is stated the need for Messiah Jesus.

God became flesh to "seek and to save" men who are lost in sin.
Man is helplessly and hoplessly lost in sin and needs a Savior.

Here, simply, also is stated the mission of the church - the "body" of Christ on earth.
Here, simply, is stated the need of the world for the "body" of Christ.

Christians comprise the here and now "body" of Christ upon the earth today, and are given the SAME mission as Christ -- "to seek and to save that which is lost." Though we cannot save, we can certainly introduce people to the One Who CAN save!

This is the "need" of the world today! That need is that Christ's "body" on earth BE what He called us to be -- an organized body of believers: worshipping Christ, learning and growing in His will, and being evangelists toward others.

Upon stating this profound mission and need, Jesus taught yet another parable.

12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

The flock is not whole until ALL are accounted for. Just a a shepherd would go looking for one lost sheep, so Christ comes looking for ALL who are lost! It is not His desire that ANYONE be lost!

Jesus especially wants the message of His salvation offered to the "little ones." To me, "little ones" implies those who have little understanding of true spiritual matters. And, in keeping with verse 10 above, and with Ezekiel 33:8-9, it can be said that the church may be held "guilty" if they are not sharing the gospel with the "little ones."

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Here is a lesson that many church members need to grasp! It is a lesson on how to become reconciled with your "brother" or "sister" in Christ.

Step one -- go to the offender, and speak gently, kindly and in love.
Step two -- if the former didn't bring an agreement, get two or more other Christians to go with you, and again try and reach an agreement.
Step three -- if the former two steps didn't bring an agreement, bring it before the "body" of the church, asking for help.
Step four -- if none of the above work an agreement, THEN the offender is called irreconcilable.
If a brother or sister offends, DO NOT go from step 1 to step 4, bypassing steps 2 and 3!!

With MOST problems between two people, step one is sufficient. However, sometimes step two is required. Almost never is step 3 required. And, certainly, step 4 is hardly ever needed.

Note also, it is the DUTY of the offended to go to the offender! "Preacher, do you mean so-and-so hurt me, and I have to go to THEM?" YES! Perhaps it was an "off-hand" remark or action that caused the offense. And, perhaps, the offender is not even aware of the hurt it caused. Simply telling them of it usually will bring an apology and reconciliation.

Even if it was an intentional remark or action, gentle confrontation will usually bring an apology and reconciliation. Most genuine Christian folk really don't want to hurt someone. And if they did, they certainly want it corrected.

Do not speak against a brother in Christ (or sister) unless you have at least gone through the steps Jesus set down for reconciliation. James warns about this: "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge." (James 4:11) Remember, Jesus is the One Who spoke the "law" of reconciliation between fellow Christians. To not FOLLOW that law, and to speak in a derogatory manner of another Christian, is to JUDGE Christ!

John also speaks of holding a grudge without attempting reconciliation: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"(1John 4:20) If a Christian is hurt by a fellow CHristian, the offended has no right to hold a grudge unless he/she has gone through the steps!!

For more on this subject read Proverbs 25:8-11. This means don't go to someone ELSE with the problem until you have FIRST approached the offender!

In the commentary on verses 21-39, you will see MORE on this subject of reconciliation with fellow Christians.

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Often these 3 verses are taken completely out of the context of the Scripture and used for spurious reasons. Keep in mind, Jesus was talking about the law of reconciliation between fellow Christians. Here, if the church censures the offender by an act of coalition, that censure is held in heaven! If steps 1-3 have been conducted and the offender still does not come for reconciliation, then step 4 is the church's censure of that person.

For instance, in 1Corinthians 5:1-5, Paul was advocating that the church turn the evil-doer over to Satan for "the destruction of the flesh!"

How does that work? Well, let's take an example. If the church censures the offender and states that he cannot partake of communion, that censure is actually based on the Word of God. For if a Christian will not be reconciled to his/her brother/sister, then that person is not in a right relationship with God, and his/her prayers aren't making it through the cealing! God particularly pays attention when the saints pray in unison! (See Acts 4:31). But God is not listening to the prayers of those who are in the midst of "doing evil" (See 1Peter 3:12).

Therefore, if a person is "binded" by the church in unison, and according to God's Word, that person was ALREADY bound by God!

So also, if a person is "loosed" by the church in unison, and according to God's Word, that person has been loosed by God! It is MOST IMPORTANT that we understand God is in the business of FORGIVENESS! If a person who has rendered an offense offers an apology, then that person should be FORGIVEN and RESTORED! Nothing is more akin to God than forgiveness!

Upon the heels of this statement concerning "binding and loosing," Jesus continues the conversation in parable form to answer Peter's question.

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Peter's reflection on the former statement gives validity to the fact that "binding and loosing" is for the censure or forgiveness of a person in the church who had committed an offense.

There is NO END of forgiveness! Peter expected that "seven times" would be a picture of perfect forgiveness. But God said, "Until 70 TIMES 7!!" In other words, KEEP ON FORGIVING! That's what GOD does! That's what He expects of His people. And Jesus put it in parable form in order to explain.

The "talent" was equal to about 75 pounds, or about 1,200 ounces. According to that, and at present day prices(October, 2007, gold = $730+ per ounce), only ONE talent would equal $876,000!!! Now 10,000 talents would equal $8,760,000,000!!! That's over $8B!!! Well, suppose the standard was silver and not gold. Silver currently (October, 2007) is valued at $13.25 per ounce. That's about $15,900 for ONE talent. And 10,000 talents would be worth $159,000,000!! That's STILL a very hefty debt!!!

At first, the king decided to have the man's wife, children and all possessions sold in order to receive part of the debt. But the man begged his king for time. With compassion, the king FORGAVE the debt, and LOOSED the man!!! He CANCELLED the debt and set the man FREE from it!! What a kindhearted king!!!

But is that not like our Lord? Do we not owe Him MUCH MORE than we can pay? Yet He FORGIVES on the basis of what He has already accomplished in compassion for us.

Then the servant who was FORGIVEN, went and found a man that owed him "an hundred pence." That debt was probably worth $950.00. (Pence, penny, denarion = about $9.50, or a day's wages...with it one could purchase about 10 donkeys.)

Now the forgiven servant, demanded his debt owed by a fellow-servant. When the fellow-servant begged, it was to no avail. He was cast into prison!! No compassion there!!

Now when the king found out about what the forgiven servant had done, he was angry. He delivered the servant to the "tormentors" until the debt would be paid. Imagine having to pay over $159M in stripes on your back!!

Then Jesus summed up the parable with verse 34, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."!!!

When a Christian has an unforgiving attitude he/she is TORMENTED by God!! My friends, that oughta make us WILLING to forgive!! Willing to forgive without counting the times!

For more on forgiveness see:
Mark 11:25-26
Luke 6:37
Luke 17:3-4

PLEASE CONTINUE WITH US IN BIBLE STUDY TOMORROW.