Tag Archive | Gospel of Matthew

The Church is One

 

John 17 “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (v. 11b).

Our study of Matthew 18 now complete, we have seen how the church is to exhibit pastoral concern, guard the church’s holiness, and readmit to communion all those who, though they have broken fellowship, turn from their sins and seek restoration. Before returning to Matthew’s gospel, however, we need to look at the nature of the church in order to understand why discipline and forgiveness are needed to preserve the purity of the church. Dr. R.C. Sproul will guide our study through this subject with his teaching series The Bride of Christ.

John 17, which records the longest prayer in the New Testament, provides some of the most important teaching on the church. As we can see in this chapter, Jesus is concerned with the unity of His people, praying for His disciples and all those who come after them to be one in purpose and mission even as He and His Father are one (vv. 11b, 22–23). It is therefore regrettable that the church of Jesus Christ in our day evidences little visible unity. In the United States alone, there are hundreds of different Protestant denominations, including dozens of varieties each of Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and so on.

Faced with this scandalous reality, there has been a tendency in the twentieth century and now, in the twenty-first century, to try and correct this problem. As a result of the ecumenical movement, many new denominations have formed through the mergers of old ones, and there has been a push for believers to affirm what unites them over and against what divides them. This is laudable when those professing unity agree on the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, but such is not often the case. Many times those seeking “unity” are those who are most eager to jettison any real adherence to the confessional standards of the church. Such unity is merely visible, and cracks begin to show when Bible-believers in the church begin to rightly protest the excesses of the liberal wings of their denominations.

If unity is to mean anything, Jesus also affirms in John 17, it must be a unity grounded in the truth (vv. 17–19). Unity is meaningless when church members do not confess the same Lord and Savior.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Consider today the importance of true Christian unity, one that is a unity of faith and not only an organizational unity. What type of unity is your particular church concerned to promote? What type of unity is your passion? Take time today to pray for your particular church and denomination that they would seek to be one with other Christians, but not at the expense of the faith once given to the saints. Do what you can to promote such unity with other believers.

For further study:  Amos 3:3

The Bible in a year:  Psalms 68–69

For the weekend:  Psalms 70–72

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

 

The joint heirs and their divine portion

 

‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ Romans 8:17

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:23–4:7

The apostle has proceeded through a simple but exceedingly forcible train of reasoning till he gains this glorious point—‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ He begins thus—‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ This is a fact which he takes for granted because he has perceived it in the hearts of believers. We do cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ From this he infers that if God has given us the Spirit whereby we call him ‘Father,’ then we are his children, which is plain, fair, and clear reasoning. Then he adds—‘If children, then heirs’—though this does not hold true in all families, because all children are not heirs; frequently the first-born may take all the estate; but with God so long as they are children they have equal rights—‘If children then heirs.’

He goes on to say, ‘Heirs of God;’ for if they are heirs they inherit their Father’s property. God is their Father; they are therefore God’s heirs! Well, but God has another Son, one who is the first-born of every creature. Exactly so, therefore if we be heirs, as Christ Jesus is the heir of all things, we are ‘joint heirs with Christ.’ I think you will see that, like links in a chain, these different truths draw each other on—the spirit of adoption proves the fact of adoption; by the act of adoption we are children; if children then heirs; if heirs, heirs of God; but since there is another heir, we must therefore be joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Blessed is the man to whom this reasoning is not abstract, but experimental. Happy is he who can follow the apostle step by step.

For meditation: Christ has been appointed ‘heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2). His joint-heirs inherit, among other things, the earth (Matthew 5:5), everlasting life (Matthew 19:29), the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; James 2:5), salvation (Hebrews 1:14), the promises (Hebrews 6:12), righteousness by faith (Hebrews 11:7), and the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Are all things yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)?

Sermon no. 402
28 July (1861)

 

King of Glory

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven’s Armies–he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:9-10
In ancient times, opening the gates meant becoming defenseless. It either meant that you were on the right side of the battle and your king was returning home, or you were on the wrong side of the battle and you were being taken over by a new king–a more powerful king.

The king referred to in Psalm 24 is repeatedly described as the King of glory. Glory means the state of being magnificent, splendid, extraordinary, and praiseworthy. Still, the psalmist does not name this King. Who is this King of glory?

At the time of Jesus’ birth, a star had indicated the birth of an extraordinary king ( Matt. 2:2). Thirty-three years later, when confronted by Pilate, Jesus acknowledged that he was a king but that his kingdom was clearly not on this earth (John 18:36). Where is the kingdom that Jesus rules, and how will we recognize it?

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)

The conquering of sin and the defeat of death has revealed Jesus as the true King of glory. Jesus took on our battle, defeating sin and death, and now, we are people of his kingdom. Our hearts belong to the king who rightly won them. He is indeed praiseworthy, magnificent, splendid, and extraordinary! We lift our “gates” (hearts) to the true King of glory.

 

 

Church Authority

 

Matthew 18:18–20 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (v. 18).

In our day, respect for church authority has all but vanished. Many professing Christians think their “private lives” are no business of the church. Excommunication from a local body is hardly ever taken seriously since it rarely prevents someone from joining the church next door with no questions asked.

Several phenomena explain this sad reality. The church’s fragmentation makes it easy to move from one denomination to another. Many church leaders exalt numerical growth and will not ask hard questions of the people in the pews for fear of learning a fact that would bar someone from membership. Furthermore, individualism and the way our culture falsely divides our private and personal lives makes it hard to honor the authority of Christ’s church.

Yet our “private sins” are the church’s business, and her judgments, when they conform to Scripture, are divinely authorized. We see this in today’s passage as Jesus in Matthew 18:18–19 gives to the apostles primarily, and the church derivatively, the keys of the kingdom first given to Peter (see Matt. 16:18–19; John 20:19–23). Matthew Henry writes, “If the censures of the church duly follow the institution of Christ, his judgments will follow the censures of the church, for Christ will not allow his own ordinances to be trampled on.”

Church discipline decides whether or not a person is a member in good standing of Christ’s church, and such decisions have weight only if they agree with God’s Word. The keys belong first to the apostles, making their inspired writings determinative. Moreover, the curse on the self-proclaimed “prophets” who denied the Word (Jer. 23:9–15) teaches the church to make decisions according to Scripture. Augustine warns that unbiblical verdicts are null and void. In discipline, the church must “bind [people] justly. For unjust bonds justice doth burst asunder” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol. 6, p. 359).

Safety resides in an abundance of counselors (Prov. 11:14), and a decision church elders make corporately is more likely to be biblical than if made by one man alone. Thus, Jesus assures us of His approving presence when two or more gather in His name to make decisions according to His will (Matt. 18:19–20).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The church’s ability to liberate people, says John Calvin, is not limited to the restoration of disciplined members to full participation in the congregation. Such liberation is also discharged when elders, according to Scripture, assure repentant people of pardon after sin is confessed. This “awakens in the godly no ordinary confidence, when they hear that their sins are blotted out before God and angels, as soon as they have obtained forgiveness from the Church.”

For further study:  Numbers 11:16–30

The Bible in a year:  Psalms 62–64

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

 

Redemptive Discipline

Matthew 18:15–17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (v. 15).

James M. Boice’s comments on Matthew 18:13 remind sinners that “everything God has done is for your salvation, and no one in all the universe will be happier at your repentance than God” (The Gospel of Matthew: An Expositional Commentary, vol. 2, p. 388). If the Father rejoices to see errant sinners return, we must also desire transgressors to be restored, no matter their offenses. This principle undergirds today’s passage, the classic text on church discipline.

Discipline necessarily means confrontation and is established in Christ’s call for us to care for the spiritual growth of one another (Matt. 18:10–14). We are required to intervene when Christian friends and family go astray, otherwise sin might destroy that person. In a real sense, we are our brother’s keeper.

Verse 15 addresses offenses between two believers privately, not those against the church corporately. John Calvin wisely teaches that in certain cases we can skip this first step and right away call witnesses (vv. 16–17) and, if necessary, local authorities, if the sin is an illegal activity. Physical abuse, for example, might be a case in which this is done. Normally, however, we face those who offend us in private. Of course, we overlook peccadilloes in love, without mandating repentance for every sin (1 Peter 4:8). Nevertheless, more consequential sins demand us to go alone to the offender first, without gossiping and spreading the news to unconcerned parties (Matt. 18:15). We hope for repentance, but regardless of the initial outcome, Calvin teaches, no one may disgrace “his brother, by rashly, and without necessity, divulging secret offenses.”

If no repentance is forthcoming, the offended party must go back to the accused with one or two others (v. 16). This conforms to God’s principles for justice (Deut. 19:15); witnesses protect the offender and the offended from false accusations. Finally, if the sinner remains impenitent, he is excommunicated from the assembly (Matt. 18:17). Even then, Augustine writes, let us not neglect the offender’s salvation: “For the very heathen, that is, the Gentiles and Pagans, we do not reckon among the number of brethren; but yet are we ever seeking their salvation” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol. 6, p. 359).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

In excommunication, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “the idea is not merely to punish the offender, or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and then to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than as a brother” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,158). Think of someone who has, on account of unrepentant sin, been cast out of your church. Take time today to pray for his salvation.

For further study:  Proverbs 24:28–29

The Bible in a year:  Psalms 59–61

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Everybody’s sermon

 

“I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes.” Hosea 12:10

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 13:36-43

If you have an opportunity to journey into the country during the next three weeks, you will, if your heart is rightly attuned, find a marvellous mass of wisdom couched in a cornfield. Why, I could not attempt for a moment to open the mighty mines of golden treasure which are hidden there. Think, beloved, of the joy of the harvest. How does it tell us of the joy of the redeemed, if we, being saved, shall at last be carried like shocks of corn fully ripe into the granary. Look at the ear of corn when it is fully ripe, and see how it bends toward the earth! It held its head erect before, but in getting ripe how humble does it become!

And how does God speak to the sinner, and tell him, that if he would be fit for the great harvest he must drop his head and cry, “Lord have mercy upon me a sinner.” And when we see the weeds spring up amongst wheat, have we not our Master’s parable over again of the tares among the wheat; and are we not reminded of the great day of division, when he shall say to the reaper, “Gather first the tares and bind them in bundles, to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” O yellow field of corn, thou preachest well to me, for thou sayest to me, the minister, “Behold, the fields are ripe already to the harvest. Work thou thyself, and pray thou the Lord of the harvest to send forth more labourers into the harvest.”

And it preaches well to thee, thou man of years, it tells thee that the sickle of death is sharp, and that thou must soon fall, but it cheers and comforts thee, for it tells thee that the wheat shall be safely housed, and it bids thee hope that thou shalt be carried to thy Master’s home to be his joy and his delight for ever. Hark, then, to the rustling eloquence of the yellow harvest.

For meditation: Some Scriptures on summer and harvest: (Genesis 8:22; Proverbs 6:8; 10:5; 26:1; Jeremiah 8:20).

Sermon no. 206
25 July (1858)

 

July 23 Woman’s Devotional

 

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven’s Armies–he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:9-10, NLT
In ancient times, opening the gates meant becoming defenseless. It either meant that you were on the right side of the battle and your king was returning home, or you were on the wrong side of the battle and you were being taken over by a new king–a more powerful king.

The king referred to in Psalm 24 is repeatedly described as the King of glory. Glory means the state of being magnificent, splendid, extraordinary, and praiseworthy. Still, the psalmist does not name this King. Who is this King of glory?

At the time of Jesus’ birth, a star had indicated the birth of an extraordinary king ( Matt. 2:2). Thirty-three years later, when confronted by Pilate, Jesus acknowledged that he was a king but that his kingdom was clearly not on this earth (John 18:36). Where is the kingdom that Jesus rules, and how will we recognize it?

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)

The conquering of sin and the defeat of death has revealed Jesus as the true King of glory. Jesus took on our battle, defeating sin and death, and now, we are people of his kingdom. Our hearts belong to the king who rightly won them. He is indeed praiseworthy, magnificent, splendid, and extraordinary! We lift our “gates” (hearts) to the true King of glory.