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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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forgiveness

Just a Thought

Before we can tell a sinner that his or her debt is paid, we must first inform that sinner of his or her debt. Only when sinners understand the cost of their sin can they also understand the glory of Christ to pay that cost in full. Handing out forgiveness like candy does not glorify the Lord…. As soon as sinners realize the wickedness of what they have done, they should also be assured that their debt is paid in full.

Courtesy of Salvageable


Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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After Being Forgiven Much; and We Do Not Forgive

Great thought on forgiveness from the Broken Pieces blog. If Jesus is our example, and He forgave it ALL, why do we struggle to forgive even small things sometimes?


As a man, and as all who will admit and confess to it we need forgiveness from our transgressions.  God has forgiven me more than I could ever repay.  How can I not forgive another who owes me very little?  Or owes me nothing?

Read the rest of the post here: After Being Forgiven Much; and We Do Not Forgive

Church Discipline Part 8 Those Gray Areas

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Matthew 18:15-18

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. 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. 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. 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.

We are still progressing along in our study of dealing with “issues” in our local church bodies. Please, read the passages below, because an in depth look at them is not the plan here. They do, however, illustrate some powerful points in this series as we look at the issue of church discipline. Perhaps we should have covered this earlier, as it has a lot to do with the subject of confronting sin.

Romans 14

Acts 15:22-35

I hope we are in full agreement that some transgressions simply have to be confronted, and that fellow believers have every right and obligation to do just that. Here is the thing, though; not every offense we might find personally distasteful to us personally has to be confronted. Some things are clearly black and white in God’s Word. Some are not; some things are gray.

Sadly and unfortunately churches, and the people in them often make lists of “rules” that have to be followed among membership which simply aren’t necessarily based on what God’s Word tells us. So, on one end of the spectrum, we have legalism. Some churches, conversely, turn a blind eye to anything that may happen among the body. The other end of this spectrum, of course, is license. Legalism and license, both wrong and neither in accordance with God’s teachings.

If you like to watch R rated movies, is that really any of my business? On the other hand, if you are regularly seen exiting the local Porn theater, is that?

If you don’t do the dishes at home, is that my business? On the other hand, if you openly and notoriously cheat on our wife, is that?

You drink a glass of wine on occasion, is that really my business? On the other hand, you go out every weekend and get rip roaring drunk, is that?

Let’s say I have been a believer for 40 years, and you were saved just yesterday. Might the expectation of maturity and behavior be different for me after 40 years than it is for you after 24 hours?

I am not offering answers up there, merely asking questions and providing things to think about. How do  we know? How can we tell the difference? Beats me. We certainly can’t know by our own understanding but have to apply the guiding and illumination of the Holy Spirit in all that we do. We always have to remember what we are out to do. We aren’t out to cast out the heathen and clean up our church act. We are out to bring the erring brother to repentance and restoration. If you are not aiming for that objective, then you may actually be the problem.

Church Discipline Part 4 Whose Business Is it Anyway?

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Matthew 18:15-17

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. 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. 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.

Last time, we left our post with a couple of questions:

When our brother sins. Against who? Are we talking about brother to brother offenses or just sin in general?

Yes!

If the sin or offense is not against us, is it even our business?

Yes!

Now, let me explain what I mean as best as I can! I want to reference my friend Don Merritt again for a really good explanation of just who the offense in question might be against. Maybe I am being lazy here, but he did a great job of discussing this. I agree totally with his assessment that a case could be made either way about the offense in question. I also agree with his conclusion that it may not really matter just who the offended and/or sinned against party really is. Any sin on the part of our brethren may harm us personally, may harm another of the brethren, or may be harmful to the Kingdom. They are all certainly grievous and wounding to God, aren’t they?

Is our brother’s sin really any of our business? Isn’t that really between him or her and God? I have to vote yes on both of those questions. Of course Jesus is our ultimate judge, and we are told not to judge any one. We are not to pronounce judgment on another person. We don’t know any person’s heart, nor can we be in the business of telling them if they are right with God or not. We can go to Galatians 5 and read all about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. The only reason I bring that up is the phrase I have heard, “We aren’t to judge, but we can be fruit inspectors.”

That really doesn’t answer why though, now does it? Why is the sin of our brother’s and sister’s really any of our business?

Our sinning brother or sister may be harming themselves. We are our brother’s keeper. That means as brothers and sisters of a person, we have a responsibility to help them keep themselves out of harm’s way. Many behaviors which we would classify as sin, are in fact harmful physically and/or emotionally to the person committing them. We would certainly be withing bounds to help them out of that situation.

Our sinning brother or sister may be harming US! We are, as The Bible teaches, to forgive even the believer who sins directly against us. Period. That doesn’t mean we have to expose ourselves to their offense or even let them continue in that offense. The gossiper is a good example. If our brother or sister is gossiping about us, the attempt to make this offense stop is certainly within bounds.

Our sinning brother or sister may be harming another. The cheating businessman, or the man abusing his wife may not be harming himself or us, but he is certainly harming others and correcting them on this behavior is certainly withing bounds.

Finally, our sinning brother or sister may be harming the the Kingdom, and the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a reason so many think our churches are full of hypocrites; sometimes they are. It’s simply not good for the testimony of our churches for members to come to church on Sunday morning and act like an angel, then for the rest of the week act like the devil himself. Dealing with church members who engage in open and notorious sin is certainly within bounds.

Great! We have concluded here that, yes, sin among the brethren is not just their business, but likely OUR business. Now what? We run out and talk about them amongst  ourselves, then toss them out on the street, right?

Well, no, not really.

Coming up: A story of a restoration

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Church Discipline, What’s That?

matthew 18 21

Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

For those who may not have been reading, we are in a series of devotions in which we look at forgiveness in the Bible. We have been on this particular question for a while now, and will likely be for a while more. The reason for that is that, although we man not be talking about that passage above in every devotional, much of what is talked about in Matthew Chapter 18 seems to revolve around that conversation between Jesus and Peter

The common thread throughout this passage is fairly simple; it is a thread of love, forgiveness, and restoration. We have talked about dealing with how deep our forgiveness for the brethren should be, dealing with the more tender of our brethren as children, and seeking out those who have strayed and bringing them back.  Again, it seems to all revolve around those 490(read infinite) instances of forgiving Jesus instructed Peter about.

Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. Next in line for discussion is how we handle things when a brother or sister doesn’t quite come back the way we might have intended. What happens when they keep heading the wrong direction?

My blogging friend Don Merritt at The Life Project wrote a great post entitled Dealing With Issues  that addresses this very issue. A link to that post would be quite sufficient, as it was a great post! But, because I am a writer, write I shall. I didn’t steal all of Don’s stuff; he just really nailed it really, really well I thought.

Matthew 18:15-17

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. 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. 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.

The passage above covers what is commonly referred to as “Church Discipline.” If one were to look up a definition of the word discipline, the results might be found to be quite disturbing. At least, I personally hope some of them might be found disturbing. A person would see words such as rules, order, and punishment used. Ugh! Some further reading would reveal a phrase, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” Okay, that seems some better!

Discipline…Disciple. Discipline…disciple. We are to be disciples. Our objective in our Christian walk is to, over time, become disciples of Christ and ultimately more Christ-like. That then is the ultimate objective of what we refer to as “Church Discipline.” We aren’t here to teach our brethren to be rule followers, or to punish them when they don’t follow them! We are to teach them, and disciple them, in becoming more Christ-like. Conversely, when things don’t quite go the way they ought to, we are to help bring them back….to restore them, 490 times if that is what it takes.

Just a couple of questions as we wrap up today and move on:

When our brother sins. Against who? Are we talking about brother to brother offenses or just sin in general?

If the sin or offense is not against us, is it even our business?

Do I have thoughts on these questions? I sure do. Until next time, Peace.

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Seeking the Wandering Sheep

matthew 18 21

Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

We are still studying around the above passage, although we are taking some detours around in this chapter of Matthew as we do. This is not an accident as the above conversation seems to be a pivot around which much of the chapter moves. If not, well, we can still have a good time with it!

Matthew 18:10-14

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

How do we treat those who are erring? How should we treat those among us who are erring? First of all, our desire for them should be without limit: Seven times seventy keeps coming to mind. That should be how our desire to bring the wandering sheep back is quantified in our lives. Every believer, whether young or old, new or mature, spiritual or not so spiritual, is important to our Lord Jesus Christ. We have each been purchased individually by the blood of Jesus Christ.

How do we often treat the wandering sheep? Well, not so good I fear. We sometimes tend to be like the Pharisees and look sideways at those who are stumbling, those who are of a different “class” than us, those who are less affluent or educated, or simply “less” as we have determined less to be.

As always, our Shepherd  shows us the proper way to deal with those in these situations.

Jesus knows His sheep. He knows who has gone astray, because He know us! Do we actually know our brothers and sister? Do we know when they stray or are struggling? Do we actually know them as more than just the way we perceive them to be?

When we stray, Jesus seeks us out to restore us. Do we seek the wandering, or do we secretly rejoice, because their failure validates us and makes us feel good?

Jesus rejoices over the restored one. Do we? Or are we secretly glad that the “bad ones” have wandered away so that we no longer have to worry about them?

Final note here: So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. As we covered earlier, this is not a question of saved ones becoming lost ones; we are secure in that salvation forever. Our Lord does not want any of His little ones to become sidetracked, misdirected, or even halted in their spiritual lives.

If that is His desire, should it not be ours as well?

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

matthew 18 21

We are going to meander around substantially as we keep looking at this issue. Although, I think it may not be as meandering as one might think. Getting along, humility, and forgiveness are perhaps the greatest stumbling blocks of all within individual bodies of believers. In my mind, at least, I see many of the thoughts expressed in this chapter as revolving around the question Peter asked his Lord. I may be completely wrong, but If so, we might still have fun poking around some in this Chapter of God’s Word!

Matthew 18:1

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

This subject of who was the greatest seems to have come up now and then among the disciples, and it seems to come up fairly often among bodies of believers even to this day.

In a nutshell, then, who was to be the greatest in the Kingdom? Well, those who came as little children. As little children, we lay aside our own agendas and desires, and become as accepting as a little child.

But, another idea is expressed here, and I think it ties in quite nicely to our thought and question regarding how we deal with our brothers and sisters. None of us are perfect. Saved children of God continue to sin, and continue to err and fall short of God’s perfection. It is also fact that some of us move towards the goal of sanctification at different rates than others. The question then becomes: how do we who are further along react to those who may be struggling?

Do we seek to restore them? Do we forgive them 7 times 70? Or do we kill and eat our wounded? In closing, here are the thoughts of Jesus on how we who are mature should deal with those who are still children:

Matthew 18:5,6(ESV):Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Ouch

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Just Who Are We Talking About Here?

matthew 18 21

Matthew 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

A while back we touched briefly on this question, and over the course of the next few posts at least, we are going to explore it much deeper.  Before we move deeper into this, I wanted to briefly address a topic quickly that I believe is very important to our overall understanding of this issue of forgiveness as being discussed in this passage.

Some of what is written, especially later as we talk about the parable of the debtor which follows, seems pretty harsh and quite possibly could be misunderstood. So, it seems appropriate to quickly establish who the audience for these teachings seems to be. I am pretty sure not everyone who reads will agree with what follows, but it seems to be what is being taught here.

What we see being established in the passage we have quoted, the discussion before hand, and the parable that follows are not a pattern for salvation. These words are written for believers to establish a pattern for how we are to live as saved followers of Jesus Christ.

The reason this seems important to establish is that as we read we see what might appear to be linkages between God’s forgiveness of us, and our forgiveness of others. None of what we read in this passage, properly read, teaches that we can somehow lose our status with God as saved sinners if we behave wrongly towards our brothers and sisters.

God’s forgiveness of us at the moment of salvation is not temporary, transient, or based on any work or effort we have put into it. It is all encompassing and permanent; it is unconditional based on no more than our faith. As we read and discuss, we will see this is the actually lesson being taught in this entire passage as a whole; we are to forgive our brothers and sisters in the same way we have been forgiven, not as a method to become saved, but as a pattern for our lives.

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? An Introduction

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Again, I am recycling some older stuff that just seems….needed

Matthew 18:21,22

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

During this short study and discussion, we will meander around quite a bit in Matthew 18, going from place to place. Our key verse will still be the above passage, as it seems much of what we read in this section of God’s Word seems to revolve around that question Peter asked Jesus.

We all know for the most part, that Peter was pretty sure of himself most of the time. Peter was known for a certain amount of brashness and confidence, and this was often to his embarrassment. Here, Peter was at it again, and this time I can totally picture how he must have felt.

“Hey Lord! If my brother offends me, I’m going to forgive him seven times! How cool and special is that! Look at me!” Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but it is basically true, as that is the picture I get from that question Peter asked Jesus. He understood the need for forgiveness, but thought two things:

To do it seven times was pretty special

There is a limit to how many times we have to forgive

How did Jesus respond to that question? He said the following

Matthew 18:22: Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Things just got a tiny bit more difficult. Even in a literal sense, to forgive a transgression 490 times is a lot! That, in the right situation, could take years! Likely, this was not meant literally, but as a representation of….forever. In effect, Jesus was saying, “No, Peter, not seven times; you forgive him every time, all the time, and for all time.”

This is hard isn’t it? People are mean, people are cruel, people are many things. People often inflict these traits on us, and harm us. But, Jesus made it clear just how broad our forgiveness should be, and how inadequate it actually is.

As with most things in life where we don’t quite measure up, we need only look at the example Jesus set for us in order to learn how we ourselves should behave. Today, we are only looking at a couple of short points, as we are going to explore the topic of forgiveness in some depth over the course of a few future posts.

Jesus’ forgiveness of others was not based on the severity of the wrong done to Him; in other words, a person cannot do something so bad that we are released from our responsibility to forgive them. We often do that don’t we? “Hey, what that guy did was really, really bad; I just can’t forgive that!” Just remember that our Lord had been mocked, beaten, spit upon, and ultimately killed, yet He still uttered those words, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Jesus’ forgiveness of others was not based on how much they did our did not deserve it. Many people have done things that, in our human mind set, are not worthy of forgiveness. We all have done things that, in the mind set of a perfect and holy God, are not worthy of forgiveness. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and “There is none righteous, no not one,” come to mind here. Despite our unworthiness, Jesus has extended grace to us all, and we likewise should extend grace to all.

Jesus set the perfect example of grace and forgiveness, and if we want to grow and become Christlike we need to follow that example. As we work our way through this topic we will put legs on this idea and make it practical in our lives.

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