Preached to Riverview Baptist on May 21, 2017 at 798 Santa Fe Pike Columbia TN
Matthew 18:15-20 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.  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.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
I was putting on a t-shirt the other day, something light I could mow the grass in. This is a nice print t-shirt my precious wife bought me made by a company called Kerusso. On one side it has a small cross, and on the other a larger cross. I slid it on the way that I thought it should go, but it was very uncomfortable around the neck and shoulders. I tried to wear it that way for a few minutes before I realized I had it on backwards. Sliding my arms out of the shirt I spun it around, and put it back on. Voila! It felt great that way. I just had my shirt on backwards.
You can wear a shirt backwards, but not comfortably. It is made to go on one way and one way only. My son came to the house one day with his shirt on inside out. I could see the seams. I explained to my boy that if othes saw the seams lie I did they would think him mentally challenged, something that is untrue. I think the same thing when I see men wearing their britches down so low that you can clearly see their underwear. That is not the way that you are to clothe yourself, and the only statement this makes is that you need help dressing yourself!
What does this have to do with our text today? The Bible tells us to:
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The Christian, saved by faith in Christ, is daily to “put on Jesus Christ”. We are to clothe ourselves in Him. We are to clothe ourselves in His love doing as He did:
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Jesus died to make us into new creatures, reconciled to God and to one another. The Scripture declares:
Ephesians 2:13-20 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
God took a bunch of broken, godless, unworthy people and saved us. Saving us He brought us into His family, a family of reconciled people, a Church. If you are saved you are daily to:
Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
take off the old man, the old sinful, filthy clothing that you used to wear and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, the new Man, the Way of the Master. We are to …
Colossians 3:8-11 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
We are to be imitators of Christ. Romans 13:14 Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
We are to walk in Love. Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We are to follow God. Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
These are not commands given to people so that we can try and save ourselves. These are commands given to the Children of God, a people saved of God.
If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.
If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.
If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are to walk in harmony with the saved.
God gives no commands to the lost, but that they be saved. But to the saved God demands His family be united in love. That is what our text today is about. The family of God is to work TOGETHER in Christian love.
At the beginning of this text Jesus called a little child to Himself, and set him in the midst (verse 2). Jesus said:
Matthew 18:3-4 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.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
The little child that Jesus called not only HEARD Jesus but also OBEYED Jesus by DRAWING NEAR to Jesus. The child RESTED where Jesus commanded he rest. A little child doing this is a picture of the Christian. Many little children doing this is a picture of the CHURCH. The CHURCH is a group of CHRISTIANS walking together under the leadership of Christ.
Which brings us to our text.
The Church In Harmony Is Empowered
Matthew 18:14-15 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.  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.
God does not want anyone to perish. The function of the Church is to reach out with Christ’s Gospel, to call others into this Household of Love, this Family of God. But the devil and the flesh is constantly at war with the Church of Christ. The devil will do his best to stir up trouble in the Church. So how is the trouble to be rectified? Jesus said that each member is to handle trouble at the point where it rears its ugly head.
If thy brother trespass against thee. If you have a brother or sister in Christ who has done you wrong, you as believers in Christ are to FIRST OF ALL not tell others about it. You are not to gossip nor suppose. At the point of offense we are to go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. This is a one on one conversation, not a confrontation.
Years ago at another Church I pastored I had a deacon at war with another deacon’s wife. Every time each of these two people – both children of God – got alone with me or anyone else they started lambasting the other person. I asked the two to do as Jesus said, to come together one on one, and have a conversation. They came together physically, but nearly came to blows because spiritually neither person was willing to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh”. A simple misunderstanding grew and grew until it caused the deacon to gather other deacons around him so as to unlawfully expell this family from the Church. In time the Church itself disintegrated. Why? Because the flesh and the devil took over.
The Bible tells us:
Ephesians 4:23-27 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  NEITHER GIVE PLACE TO THE DEVIL.
When we give place to the FLESH and let violent emotions take us then it isn’t long before we “give place to the devil”. God’s people in discord are to recognize that the unbilical cord that ties us together is the Blood of Calvary. We are all sinners saved by grace. None is perfect, and all subject to fail. Problems in the fabric of love are to be addressed by CONVERSATION not by CONDEMNATION.
Where the flesh is the Throne, the Devil sits upon it.
Tell your brother his fault. If he wil hear, you have gained your brother.
Matthew 18:16 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.
If the offended brother refuses to have a conversation in love then you are to approach him and attempt to have the same conversation with one or two witnesses. This is not a new precept in the Scripture, for Jesus is just reiterating what God said in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 19:15-19 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.  If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;  Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;  And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the WITNESS BE A FALSE WITNESS, AND HATH TESTIFIED FALSELY AGAINST HIS BROTHER;  THEN SHALL YE DO UNTO HIM, AS HE HAD THOUGHT TO HAVE DONE UNTO HIS BROTHER: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
Did you know that the NINTH COMMANDMENT does not forbid lying, but it forbids FALSE WITNESS? Too many people think that the Ninth Commandment says “Thou shalt not LIE”. It doesn’t. We read:
Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not BEAR FALSE WITNESS against thy neighbour.
A “FALSE WITNESS” is what someone is when they say “So and So did this” but they never saw it happen. False witness is wrong for it besmirches someone’s character. Jesus said to us “if your brother will not make amends, take one or two others with you”. These others are WITNESSES to what transpires, and can be called on later in front of the Church as need be. The Apostle Paul used this method even with Churches. He told the hard headed Corinthian Church:
2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
He sent this letter to Corinth with two witnesses (Titus and another Christian brother. See 2 Corinthians 12:18). The false witness destroys the fabric of the Church. Jesus continues:
Matthew 18:17 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.
If the one who you are trying to address will not restore the peace then tell it to the Church. Have a public meeting. Bring witnesses. In most cases this will not be necessary, but sometimes it is. If that disruptive person refuses to make peace even after it is brought before the Church “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Such a person is apparently not saved.
The saved Love.
The saved Love Christ.
The saved Love one Another.
The saved are indwelt by God, Who loves.
Hatred and fighting does not belong in the Family of God.
I have only seen a matter brought before a Church one time in the way described it in the last 47 years that I’ve been a Christian. In that case a man licensed to minister by that Church was maligning his Church. The Pastor, then the Deacons approached the man, who refused to repent. Finally it was brought before the Church. There the man repented, and we celebrated that day, for we were restored to our brother in Christ. That is what God would have us do. Love one another, and lift up one another.
This is the way of Christ.
Matthew 18:18-20 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.  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.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
What Is Essential And Non-Essential?
Jesus tells us that the Church has the power to bind on earth and bind in heaven, to loose on earth and to loose in heaven. What gives the Church power with God and power with man?
It Is Not Big Numbers That Matter Jesus said “if two of you shall agree as touching any thing they shall ask”. This is as small a meeting as you can have. You cannot have a “meeting” with less than two, that is, unless you are insane. When two come together loving God with all their heart, and loving one another as Christ loved them. This tiny meeting is attended by Heaven. When two come together in love to pray together:
Our Father Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name!
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
One earth as it is in Heaven.
God manifests Himself in that prayer meeting. Big numbers do not matter. On the Day of Pentecost 120 believers were gathered together in an upper room loving God and loving one another – and God added 3000 to the Church that day. Billy Graham never had such a day!
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered
The Type Of Christians Do Not Matter The Lord did not say “Where two or three PREACHERS are gathered together”. The importance of the people is not that they are Seminary educated or well versed in Scripture. It can be two or three of any type of Christian. If these two or three are people who love Christ and who seek to glorify the Father, the Lord is there.
The Location Of The Meeting Does Not Matter Jesus said “WHERE two or three are gathered”. They can meet anywhere, and God will bless them. They can meet in a Church building, or in a home, or even in a barn. I have prayed with Christians before standing in a Walmart, or in the middle of a busy sidewalk. I love the words of William Cowper’s hymn:
Jesus, where’er thy people meet,
there they behold thy mercy-seat;
where’er they seek thee thou art found,
and every place is hallowed ground.
For thou, within no walls confined,
inhabitest the humble mind;
such ever bring thee when they come,
and, going, take thee to their home.
Jesus is with His people when they gather together to worship Him and pray. Jesus told the woman at the well of Samaria:
John 4:21-24 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
I have been in large Church buildings where Christ could not be found. Why? Because the people did not come together in spirit and in truth to seek Christ. God will be found when you seek Him TOGETHER. God has said …
Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9 … the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
The Time Of The Meeting Does Not Matter Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name”. He did not specify a time that was most importrant, but that His people gather TOGETHER and that His people gather IN HIS NAME. This speaks of AUTHORITY and POWER. When we come together in the obedience of love to seek our Savior then Jesus manifests Himself to us. He promises that…
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.
Jesus only manifests Himself to His Church when we come together in love to the Father and in love to one another. It doesn’t matter WHEN we meet, but HOW we meet. Jesus is in the MIDST of the loving Church. As C.H. Spurgeon said:
“Not up in the corner, but here in the midst of them is the Lord. He is the center to which all saints gather. He is the sun in the heavens lighting all. He is the heart in the midst of the body giving life to all its members. “In the midst of them”. Is that not delightful? The Lord Jesus Christ does not come into theasembly of His people to bless the minister only… Like the center of a wheel from which all the spokes radiate, Jesus Christ is the middle of the company.”
This is why harmony is so important in the Church. Not harmony with error, but harmony with love, with God, with one another. The Church building without love is hell on earth. The Christ gathering with love is heaven on earth. Let us affirm one another and walk with Christ in His Kingdom, for His glory forever.