Summary: PENTECOST 16(A) - Help restore your fallen brother by warning them against their sin and offering them God’s forgiveness.
HELP RESTORE YOUR FALLEN BROTHER
MATTHEW 18:15-20 September 19, 2004 - PENTECOST 16
15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
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Dearest Fellow Redeemed, Saints in the Lord:
When you and I look at Jesus, we note a number of things. First of all we note that Jesus was very focused on his mission in this life. After all he only had a little over thirty years to live on earth and he only had three years of a public ministry to do what his heavenly Father wanted him to do. Now the culmination of the mission of Jesus’ life was his death and resurrection on the cross. But there were many things to do in between those events. Jesus had to remind his disciples from time to time that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now sometimes the lost were outside of the church. And sometimes the lost came from inside the church. You think of the Scribes and Pharisees who had been inside the church. And yet because they followed their own teachings they had become lost, lost along that path of salvation. So really as we think about it, anybody who was lost would be certainly outside the church. But sometimes these lost came from different backgrounds.
Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel of John, chapter 10, that he is the Good Shepherd. This is a good, fitting description. The believers are described as sheep. You and I are described as sheep that sometimes wander here and there. The sheep go in their own direction unless they are nudged in the right direction, unless they are called back to the sheep pen. Jesus said to his disciples in John 10: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd”(JOHN 10:16). Jesus came to seek those lost sheep, whether they were outside the church originally or inside and now were outside. This is what we learn today in the words of our text. We to are to seek the lost. We are to help our fallen brothers, or erring brother when he falls into sin. We will use that as our theme this morning.
HELP RESTORE YOUR FALLEN BROTHER. We do this first of all by I. warning them against their sin, and secondly by II. offering to them God’s forgiveness.
I. WARN THEM AGAINST THEIR SINS
Jesus sets up the formula for helping sinners for the church on earth. But it starts of course with an individual believer, since the sin is private. Our text begins by saying if your brother sins against you go and show him his fault just between the two of you. So we note that this is the key here. This isn’t a public sin this is a private sin. And it is a sin. It is not that someone hurt someone else’s feelings. Or it is not that someone thinks that someone else is not doing what he or she wants him or her to do. It is as the theologians describe: an obvious, evident, actual sin against the word of God. Thus Jesus says if a believer sees someone else in sin, they should go and talk to them. Go and talk to them to remind them they are going down the path of destruction, rather than on the path of salvation.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Now this is the optimum result: that that person would recognize their sin and admit they are in the wrong. Then this fallen, erring brother is able to change and come back into God’s fold of sheep. And you’ve won your brother over. And what joy there is over one sinner who repents. But of course that is not always the case. Some do not repent.