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DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

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DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

DCLM Search The Scripture 2 October 2022 (Adult) Lesson 39: Christ Teaches On Forgiveness

DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

LESSON 39 | CHRIST TEACHES ON FORGIVENESS 

MEMORY VERSE: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall. My brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt 18:21,22)

TEXT: Matthew 18:1-35

DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult) OUTLINE

In the previous chapter, Peter, James and John were with Christ on the mount of transfiguration where they had the solitary privilege of experiencing Christ transfigured before them. While there, they witnessed Moses and Elijah in conversation with Him. Moreover, they heard the voice from heaven approving the authority and divine Sonship of Christ. In other words, a curtain was lifted for the disciples to see for a while a little of the glory of His kingdom.

The present study, however, will expose us to the fact that to have a revelation of the kingdom of heaven is not as important as to live the life that qualifies one to enter into the Kingdom. This required kingdom lifestyle of childlikeness, avoiding offences, forgiving and restoring fellowship with one another constitute the essence of the current discourse. DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

1. DEMAND FOR CHILDLIKENESS
Matt 18:1-6Mark 10:151 Cor 13:1114:20Psalm 131:2Luke 18:16

The carnal nature of man, as exemplified in the disciples, manifested again at this time as they asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt 18:1). Jesus answered in an unmistakable term with an instructive comparison. He said: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).

This is a demand for a second conversion as demonstrated in the many virtues in the lives of little children that are worthy of believers’ emulation. These include their humility, trust, sincerity and forgiving spirit. Children do not sleep over or keep grudges. We must note that there exists a difference between childlikeness and childishness. Jesus condemned childishness, which manifests in selfishness, selfcenteredness and other immature behaviours.

“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor 14:2013:11). Humility, as a childlike virtue, enables teachability, submission, readiness to admit it when we are wrong and willingness to apologise. Sincerity as demonstrated by children shows in their simplicity, transparency and innocence. God expects us to trust and rely on Him the same way little children rely and trust fully on their parents. “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee” (Psalm 143:8).

Another major characteristic of childlikeness is freedom from self-management. Children never see themselves as independent or sufficient for anything but wait on their parents for direction and instruction. No wonder Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). This is because “…of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

It needs be stated that the kingdom of heaven contrasts sharply with the kingdoms of this world. People gain prominence and greatness in the world by politicking, lobbying as well as image-making and through awareness campaigns of their wealth, status, accomplishments or plan for public management. Jesus taught however, that humility and self-emptying are the keys and ways to greatness and prominence in His kingdom. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:4). DCLM Search The Scripture 2 October 2022 (Adult)

This allusion means literally that believers be of humble, innocent and simple spirits just as little children. Jesus explained how dear this category of Christians are to Him such that angels behold the Father’s face continually on their behalf despite their seeming littleness of importance before men (Matt 18:10). And how careful we must be in not constituting any form of obstruction or discouragement on their way to heaven. If we receive, encourage and support such meek believers, it will attract divine rewards.

This is because such gestures will be taken as done directly unto Christ. Becoming a stumbling block to their godliness and virtue on the other hand, attracts sore divine punishment: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18:6).

Hanging a millstone was an advanced form of punishment by the Syrians and Greeks in the days of Christ. The Scripture states that the punishment from God on those that constitute stumbling block or offences for the childlike Christians would be more severe than the greatest punishment any human being or ruler on earth could devise or dispense. DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

2. DEALING WITH FAULTS AND OFFENCES AMONG BRETHREN
Matt 18:7-20Rom 14: 13Matt 16:26Luke 9:24,25Psalm 133:1-3

“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matt 18:7). Offences are things, actions, utterances or person that can induce others to sin. So long as the present world exists, temptation and allurement to sin will continue. But the Scripture pronounces terrible judgment on people through whom these offences come.

As believers, we must ensure that we do not act, talk, dress or relate in any way that would deplete Grace in the the lives of others. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom 14:13). We also need to cut off any relationship, attachment or connection with anyone or anything that could offend, no matter how otherwise useful, profitable or seemingly indispensable such may be. How do we deal with things or people that offend? The Scripture is clear about that.

We are to “cut” off, “pluck” out and “cast” them from us. None of these actions is easy or readily bearable. But when we weigh the consequences Of our inactions with the outcome of the sacrifice that must be made, wisdom demands that heaven-bound pilgrims should take the painful but profitable path (Matt 16:26Luke 9:24,25). Rather than constitute a stumbling block to fellow believers, we must actively seek to restore those that have stumbled.

Legalistic leaders who are unwilling to forgive the repentant are also in the category of those who make others to stumble. For “…it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt 18:14). Since believers manifest the attributes of God, we ought also to handle our brethren who had offended us with love and the intention to get them fully restored again to the faith. The faults of erring brethren are not meant to be publicised. But we should rather seek quick and immediate restoration of such brethren.

This, however, does not rule out the scriptural injunction to “rebuke [them that sin] before all, that others also may fear” (I Tim 5:20). DCLM Search The Scripture 2 October 2022 (Adult)

Any offence that would incite members of the church to be disobedient to the word of God and to leadership must be publicly reproved so that sin does not spread by one act of indulgence. Leaders and members must not be subdued by fear to expose the errant ways of those who are leading others astray, no matter how influential they may be.

Notwithstanding, when there is an offence, the onus is particularly on those who had been offended to initiate the restoration of the offender. The first action is to humbly contact the brother or sister that has offended us. Then we tell their fault between them and us alone.

If however this fails, we should approach him or her in the company of one or two witnesses after which the matter should be reported to the church leaders if the offender still refuses the restoration process. If this would still not help, the Scripture says the offender should be treated as a “heathen” and a “publican”. It is important to note that this process of handling those who had offended us is strictly meant for believers. DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

Unfortunately the opposite of this is what is often practised by many professing Christians today. They withdraw in bitterness, malice and resentment from those who had offended them and seek subtly for an opportunity to revenge. A fellowship or local assembly where this scriptural process is followed becomes a community of united saints who would pray, receive answers and enjoy the unceasing presence and power of God (Matthew 18:18-20Psalm 133:1-3).

DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult) Lesson 39

3. DISCOURSE ON FORGIVENESS AND FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH
Matt 18:21-355:20,38Col 3:13Eph 4:31,32Rom 12:9-21Matt 6:12,14,15

“Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” (Matt 18:21). The earlier instruction of Christ on restoring fellowship with an offending brother provoked the question of Peter. He needed clarification

The rabbis had taught that forgiveness terminates after three offences. Peter therefore, felt he would be doing well if he terminates his forgiveness after seven offences, seven being a perfect number. But Jesus gave a different answer: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt 18:22).

This means believers must forgive indefinitely because true love would not keep records of offences. The demand on believers for righteousness is far more than what was practised by the Scribes and the Pharisees. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20).

This also by far exceeds the demand of the Mosaic Law (Matt 5:38). This is because we are under a different and better dispensation; and to whom much is given, much is required. “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). DCLM Search The Scripture 2 October 2022 (Adult)

Jesus illustrated His teaching on forgiveness with the aid of a simple allegory with three main actors; the king, the forgiven servant and a fellow servant. The salient points in this parable on what transpired between the king and the forgiven servant include: one, a great debt which the servant could not pay; two, a terrible punishment or judgment for the servant’s indebtedness; three, a plea from the indebted servant; four, compassion from the king; five, forgiveness and freedom.

These represent exactly what happens between a sinner and the Saviour. A sinner is a debtor and cannot pay the debt of his sin. Thus, he only deserves judgment. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23).

But when a sinner repents, prays in faith asking for forgiveness, he becomes justified and free from sin as well as its consequences. We were forgiven our sins, which were many and as a result become endowed with grace to forgive others. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col 3:13Eph 4:31,32).

Unfortunately, the forgiven servant did not demonstrate the grace of being forgiven. He refused to forgive a smaller debt owed by a fellow servant despite his pleas. Knowledge of what transpired between both servants got to their master. “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him” (Matt 18:34). DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

This exemplifies what happens when we refuse to forgive those who offend us. We shall be judged if we refuse to forgive and forget the offences that others committed against us. Those who refused to forgive their fellows would be cast into hell where they will be tormented eternally (Rom 12:9-21Matt 6:12,14,15).

This is so because Unforgiveness is sin in the sight of God. Therefore, those who have determined never to forgive persons who have offended them should repent and learn to forgive, “…even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”.

QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW:
1. Enumerate some virtues of little children that believers ought to have.
2. What are the keys to greatness in the kingdom of heaven?
3. What can believers learn from the parable of the lost sheep?
4. What are the scriptural steps we must take in order to restore fellowship with the brethren who have wronged us?
5. Why should a believer forgive?
6. What are the consequences of not forgiving someone that offends us?
7. What should be our attitude to those we have forgiven?

DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

DCLM Search The Scripture 2nd October 2022 (Adult)

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