Where Two Or Three are Gathered

February 2, 2014

Topic: Sermon Passage: Matthew 18:20

Matt. 18:20

One of the awesome ATTRIBUTES of God is His OMNIPRESENCE: Ps. 139:7-10.
But God is SPIRIT, meaning He is INVISIBLE. HOW then is His presence MADE KNOWN?
Primarily, it is through JESUS CHRIST, described in Col. 1:15 as “the image of the invisible God.”
Also, God’s PRESENCE is found in the HOLY SPIRIT residing WITHIN the BELIEVER, who Jesus promised would be sent by the Father “to be with you forever.” (John 14:16b)
Therefore, our INVISIBLE God REVEALS His PRESENCE in ways that are REAL, & that can be DISCERNED.
And many times in the Bible, the PRESENCE of God is coupled with the BLESSING of God:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon
you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon
you and give you peace.
(Numb. 6:24-26)

It is with these realities in mind that we come to one of the great PROMISES of God: Matt. 18:20.

We can be assured that, WHENEVER or WHEREVER His CHURCH is gathered, GOD is THERE with us!
After all, Jesus promised in Matt. 28:20 that He would be WITH us “always, to the very end of the age.”
But is this what Jesus is referring to here?

Specifically, in Matt. 18:20, Jesus is NOT talking about:
PRAYER meetings, or
WORSHIP settings, or
FELLOWSHIP – instead, He is dealing with the issue of CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

There is the parable of the LOST SHEEP: vs.12-14 – this leads in to Jesus’ instructions to the church on how to go about RESTORING a “sheep” who has GONE ASTRAY.
The GOAL of church discipline is RESTORATION; therefore, the DESIRE is to offer GRACE & FORGIVENESS.
We see this illustrated by Jesus’ parable that FOLLOWS the passage, of the UNMERCIFUL servant (vs.23-35).

Quickly, remember the STEPS that are to be taken in an effort to RESTORE a brother who has GONE ASTRAY:
Step ONE is PRIVATE: v.15. This serves to remind us that SIN is not to be IGNORED, but CONFRONTED.
Gal. 6:1 (NIV): “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
Each of these steps, then, should be taken in LOVE & HUMILITY.
Step TWO: WITNESSES are called in to assist: v.16 – these are not witnesses to the sin, but to ensure that the confrontation is being handled APPROPRIATELY.
Step THREE: take it to the CHURCH: v.17a.
Step FOUR: REMOVAL from the church: v.17b – but again, the GOAL is still RECONCILIATION.
Instead of GIVING UP on a brother who REFUSES to repent, the church should be committed to continue LOVING him, PRAYING for him, & SHARING the GOSPEL with him (as he is BEHAVING like an UNBELIEVER, which he may be).

Then, Jesus gives these words of ASSURANCE: vs.18-20. What is Jesus saying here?
He is saying that God will BLESS His church when they seek to FOLLOW His PLAN for RECONCILING a fallen brother.
And, He has given His church the AUTHORITY to DECLARE if someone is RESTORED or not: Matt. 16:19. What the CHURCH is saying ON EARTH, GOD is saying IN HEAVEN. Therefore:
When a person is BOUND, he is STILL in his SIN (due to his unwillingness to repent).
When a person is LOOSED, he has been FORGIVEN of his sin (due to his repentance).
Jesus is saying that the church will have GOD’S AFFIRMATION whenever it is following GOD’S PLAN.

Christ promises that He will be WITH THEM as they persist in following His mandate: Matt. 18:20.

Of course, it must be remembered that it is true that Christ is ALWAYS WITH His people – if it is a group of THOUSANDS, or if it is only TWO or THREE.
But keep in mind, Christ is also with each of His children when they are ALONE.
But the PRESENCE of God can be experienced in a UNIQUE way when His people are seeking to be FAITHFUL to Him in a DIFFICULT matter.


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