Part 2

One of the objectives of the West-Ark congregation is to increase in love and godly behavior. Last week we learned from Jesus that love is active. We are to love God with our whole being and we are to love our neighbors. We demonstrate that love by actively serving others and showing mercy and kindness. We do not choose whom we will treat as neighbor, rather we choose to be a neighbor.
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 also instructs us that love and mercy are active. They must show up in our every day behavior. He calls us to the sort of behavior that acts in love and grace/mercy and preserves the unity of the church – not unity at all costs, but unity through communication with one another and communion with Jesus himself.

Jesus’ teaching about Church Community (18:1-14)

Jesus’ Teaching on Church Communication (18:15-17)

Jesus’ Teaching on Church Communion (18:18-20)

Epilogue: (18:21-35)
Peter’s Practical Question: How often do you forgive? Can’t we just be rid of the trouble at some point? Don’t we have to take a stand? What will people think if they see us weak on sin?

Good question. It is the sort of question that demands a story for an answer. The parable of the unmerciful servant – is he victim or victimized? Is he offended or offender? Is he greatest or least? Powerful or weak? Answer: All of the above. We cannot break our society down into simple classes of guilty and innocent. We cannot break it down into offended and offenders. We are all in debt. We are all in slavery. We are all bound and need to be loosed.

The dilemma for the unmerciful servant is the dilemma we all experience: It all depends on which side of the forgiveness fence we find ourselves. If we are the outcast wanting back in to the fold of grace yet again, then 70 x 7 sounds hopeful and welcome. If we are on the inside of the fence and we have control of the gate latch, then 70 x 7 is a great challenge. What will it cost us to release the latch? How will things change if we welcome the outsider, perhaps the one who has sinned against us?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 31 October 2004

Making Disciples for Jesus Who Are Eager to Serve Others
Notes for the Sermon – "Increasing Love and Godly Behavior" – Part 2
October 31, 2004

Matthew 18:1-20 – Jesus teaches us about love and godly behavior.

  1. Jesus’ teaching about church c______________. (18:1-14)
    • The disciples ask Jesus, "Who is the g_____________ in the kingdom of heaven?" (18:1)
    • In the kingdom, the l__________ are of great importance. (18:2-5)
    • Jesus is serious about our behavior because s______ destroys community, but love and godly behavior preserve it. (18:6-10)
    • In the kingdom, the l_________ are of great concern. (18:11-14)

  2. Jesus’ teaching about church c_____________. (18:15-17)
    • The context of this teaching is grace and mercy, not church d___________.
    • The objective of this process is r__________________. (18:15)
      1. "If your brother or sister sins against you g___ and point this out just between the t______ of you." (18:15)
        • If he/she listens to you, then you have w_______ back your brother/sister. (18:15)
      2. "But if your brother or sister will not listen, take one or two o________ along." (18:16)
        • If he/she listens to you, then you have w_______ back your brother/sister. (18:15)
      3. "But if your brother or sister refuses to listen to them, tell it to the c__________." (18:17)
        • If he/she listens to the church, then you have w_______ back your brother/sister. (18:15)
      4. "But if your brother or sister refuses to listen even to the church, treat him or her as you would a p_________ or t_________________ (18:17)
        • If he/she reconciles after that, then ... ? (see the parable below)

  3. Jesus’ teaching about church c_________________. (18:18-20)
    • Jesus shares with the church the authority to b________ and l__________. (18:18)
    • When two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name ...
      1. There is a___________________. (18:19)
      2. There is the p_______________ of the Lord. (18:20; see also 28:20)

  4. Peter asks Jesus, "How many times do I f______________ my brother for sinning against me?" (18:21)
    • Jesus’ answer is: ____________________________ (18:22-35)

Making Disciples for Jesus Who Are Eager to Serve Others
"Increasing Love and Godly Behavior" – Part 2
Driving It Home Discussion Guide
October 31, 2004

  1. Read Matthew 18. (If you are with a group, ask someone to read this teaching as a complete lesson.) This chapter is often divided into smaller units; however it is not a collection of sayings but a complete lesson from Jesus. What sections of this teaching have you heard before? When you heard them in their original context, did you notice anything new? What common themes do you notice running through the entire chapter?
  2. Read Matthew 18:1-5. How is kingdom greatness different from worldly greatness? Who are some of the "little ones" or humble ones that may escape our attention? How are weak and vulnerable people treated differently in the kingdom? What does love and godly behavior have to do with treating these people differently?
  3. Read Matthew 18:6-10. Jesus seems to be serious about not causing his "little ones" to sin or fall away. Who could cause them to do that? How would such action be inconsistent with love and godly behavior?
    • Living the Lesson Application: What do you need to "cut off and throw away" to save not only your own life but also to protect the "little ones" who might suffer because of your lack of self-discipline? Ask God to help you "enter into life" without that which you may think you cannot do without.
  4. Read Matthew 18:12-14. We often think of the parable of the lost sheep in the context of evangelism. (See Luke 15:4-7.) How does Jesus use the parable in this context? Is evangelism only concerned with bringing those outside of Christ into the church? How would evangelism (sharing good news, proclaiming truth and grace, making disciples) also focus on bringing a wayward Christian back into the fellowship of Christ and the church?
  5. Read Matthew 18:15-17. Why do we often regard this as a procedure for church discipline? Is the context of Jesus’ teaching institutional procedure? What is the goal of the effort to communicate with another church member? What sort of problems do we create when we begin the communication at a deeper level and avoid the initial "just between us" phase? Do you find it easier to talk to others about someone who has wronged you than to simply talk to that person? Have you ever thought about the obligation you have to the person who wrongs you? What is that obligation?
    • Living the Lesson Application: Is there someone you need to communicate with for the sake of reconciliation? Pray that God helps you win back your brother or sister.
  6. Read Matthew 18:18-20. What is the result of reconciliation? What sort of strengths and blessings are there in agreeing and gathering together in Christ’s name? How might this improve our worship and fellowship? What would we gain if we gathered together for prayer and service in Christ’s name?
  7. Read Matthew 18:21-35. Who do you identify with in this story? The king, the servant forgiven of the great debt, or the servant who did not receive mercy from his fellow servant? How does this parable inspire us to work toward reconciliation? How does it encourage us to increase love and godly behavior?

Prepare for Nov. 14 – Nurturing Spiritual Growth and Holiness – Part 1

    Read Titus

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 31 October 2004

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