|Passage: Luke 17-18|
On Friday, November 9, 2018, Yujin wrote,
Here is this blind man, whose condition has forced him to make a living by begging on the side of a road. He discovers that Jesus, the reputed Healer, is passing by him at a near distance. He starts shouting at the top of his lungs, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" He is blind but not mute. He will use whatever faculty God has left him to connect with the One who could heal him. He calls Jesus "Son of David" - a Messianic designation. This blind man knows the Scriptures. The Messiah would open the eyes of the blind (Isaiah 35:5; Luke 7:22).
His shouting is so loud and obnoxious that Jesus' disciples tell him to quiet down. Perhaps they rebuke him, saying, "Get a grip! Do you think you're the only one who needs healing? Don't be so selfish!" But this does not deter the blind man. He had likely heard far worse. For years he barely clung to life, gaining but a subsistence, hardly living, from the scraps people gave him.
But now, a welling-up of hope gripped his heart when he heard Jesus was near. Here was his one chance, for who would take this poor blind man to see Jesus when He goes someplace else. No, this was his chance. He would shout and shout like he'd never done before. He would not let this opportunity go by.
Friends, Solomon penned this counsel:
How ardently do we seek the wisdom of God? How desperately do we long for His healing of our sinful struggles? How persistently do we cry out to the One who can strengthen our faith, heal our marriage, empower our witness, and give significance to our lives?
Seven minutes a day? A token prayer? And do we wonder why we are not wise? Why we are not healed? We dishonor the Lord with our tepid devotion. We lack the urgency of desperation. We lack the zeal of greed -- greed for the treasure of God's wisdom.
Like the blind man, who shouted louder and more obnoxiously until he got Jesus' attention, let us so fixate our thoughts, engage our effort, dedicate our time, and persevere in our devotion until Jesus calls us to Himself and asks, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
|Passage: Luke 17-18|
On Saturday, November 9, 2013 (Last Updated on 11/8/2015), Yujin wrote,
Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
Jesus clearly taught that if a Christian is found to be sinning, a fellow Christian should rebuke them. In the second instance of Jesus' lesson, he says that if this Christian "sins against you..." (Note: NIV and KJV follows the majority text and read "against you" in the first instance as well). Jesus had a very personal sin in mind, where one Christian wrongs another. What is interesting here is that Jesus does not say for him to ignore the sin. He does not say for him to overlook the sin. He does not say for him to forgive the sin. He says, "Rebuke him" (cf. Matthew 18:15-17 for the procedure).
Too often we have neglected this important command of Scripture, and this may be a reason why the Christian church looks so much like the world. We have just as many broken and dysfunctional families inside the church as outside. We have just as many that are immoral, greedy and materialistic. The church has to a large measure become "unsalty," as the hypocrisy and inconsistency of its members have compromised its role as the moral compass for the world.
Too often we jump over this command to rebuke and go to the second command to "forgive," not realizing that forgiveness apart from rebuke and repentance can bring a poison into the church. Isn't this why, when addressing the inaction of the Corinthian church with respect to a sinning member, Paul wrote,
Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? (1 Corinthians 5:6)
This is also why just before our text Jesus warns against those through whom "stumbling blocks come". He uses very strong language, saying that it would be better for such a person if they died a horrible death then that they be the cause for another brother to stumble (cf. Luke 17:1-2). Unrebuked and unrepentant sinners can be a cancer in the church. So, right after this, Jesus warns, "Be on your guard!" or, as another translation reads, "Watch yourselves!" In a similar vein, Paul also wrote,
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
Paul warns that while a believer is seeking to rebuke and restore another believer, they themselves need to be careful not to fall into sin in the process. Paul's words also remind us that believers are not to rebuke harshly but "gently" and with a view to restoration (cf. Matthew 18:15 "won him over"; 2 Timothy 2:25; James 5:19-20). Even in the instance of the sinner in the Corinthian church, it appears that there was repentance and, in view of this, Paul then commands forgiveness and restoration (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Friends, as there is a responsibility to forgive the repenting brother, there is also a responsibility to rebuke the sinning brother. So Paul writes to Timothy with respect to his ministry:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).
In fact, this is also how the Scriptures are to be used in growing and equipping Christians:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When there is no accounting for wrongs done in the church, wrongdoing multiplies. So Solomon also writes,
When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Today, it seems to me that it is harder to rebuke someone than it is to forgive and forget a matter. Why? We just don't want to deal with it. We are more concerned with how we, as the offended party, might feel than we are of the wellbeing of the sinner. We worry that the sinner might get offended by our rebuke, or might not repent, or might even attack us more for bringing it up. These excuses actually give fodder for a popular teaching today, namely, "unconditional forgiveness". In other words, we forgive without ever having to confront the sinner or requiring their repentance, that is, without requiring their acknowledgement of wrong and a willingness to turn from it.
But is this biblical or right? Our text today clearly says, "If he repents, forgive him." The implication is, "If he does not repent, do not forgive him." Now, while the text does not say the latter, this is taught in other Scriptures, like Matthew 18:15-17, where Jesus taught,
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Notice, when the brother or sister does not repent, the command is not, then, to simply ignore the matter or to forgive them unconditionally. No, Jesus commands to escalate the matter, and to keep escalating until finally the brother or sister is excommunicated from the church.
Consider also how Paul taught that the Corinthian church was to deal with the unrepentant brother:
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:12).
Paul tells the church to both judge and expel the unrepentant brother. Paul goes further to say that Christians should categorically shun all unrepentant believers, who persist in their sins:
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people (1 Corinthians 5:11).
One would be hard pressed to find the language of unconditional forgiveness here. The fact is, all forgiveness is conditioned on repentance. Even God's forgiveness is conditioned on repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, we can pray that God will grant the sinner the heart to repent (cf. 2 Timothy 2:25), but to forgive someone apart from this repentance is nowhere commanded.
Now, saying this does not mean that the offended Christian should remain bitter toward their unrepentant brother. No, the command is to pray for them, so that although we may haved failed to turn their hearts, God might bring them to repentance (cf. 2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Corinthians 5:5).
Now, some may object, saying, "What about people who die without repenting of the sin they sinned against me?" "What about those that I never get to see again?" My answer is, "What about them?" Why do we insist on forgiving them? Is it because we are trusting God or because we are trusting some psychological study that says that people who forgive are more mentally at peace than those that harbor unforgiveness. Is the forgiveness primarily for our benefit or for the one that receives the forgiveness? Psychologists will say that it is for our benefit, but, as with rebuking, the Bible teaches that forgiveness is for the benefit of the sinner. Now, I would say obedience is for our benefit, and that is why we both rebuke and forgive, as God calls us to do.
Others may object and cite those passages that simply speak of forgiving, forgiving from the heart, and forgiving without any attachment of conditions. I would encourage such people to look at those passages carefully, so that they might not be found to be making assumptions about them that the passages themselves do not warrant. First, in every such passage one will be able to see how the requirement of repentance can be understood in the context. Second, by analogy, there are a number of passages that speak of God's forgiveness for sin where repentance is not specifically mentioned, but no one would argue that these passages teach that repentance is not necessary. Third, the general rule for proper hermeneutics is to interpret the unclear by the clear. The more detailed, and I would say clear, passages dealing with this matter of forgiveness all include the requirement of repentance. Clearly, the burden of proof lies with those that try to teach unconditional forgiveness. Everything I have read so far from those that try to defend this comes short of being persuasive.
Friends, this topic is somewhat controversial. But I hope that I have provided sufficient biblical food for thought and made a case for both rebuking and conditional forgiveness.
|Passage: Luke 17-18|
On Monday, November 12, 2012, Fernando wrote,
|Passage: Luke 17-18|
On Friday, November 9, 2012, Bill wrote,
Jesus asks the blind man what he wants from him.
A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight
(Luke 18:35-43)"As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. "
I thought this was an interesting exchange because Jesus asked the obvious... What, of course, would a blind man want? While I take this story literally, it occurred to me that there could be more to the exchange (maybe a metaphor for salvation). Jesus asks the obvious question - what do you want me to do for you? The blind man responds in faith - "I want to see". Immediately his eyes are opened and he follows Jesus. This sequence parallels very much our salvation though faith.
We are blind before we receive Christ, unable to see the Truth of Christ. Its hard for non believers to 'see' the truth in Gods word. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes "
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate". The unbelievers infirmity is sin that makes you blind to Christ's message. Jesus call for salvation is a gracious offer - what would you have me do? And you must respond in faith Lord 'I want to see'. Christ promises to open your eyes (remove your sin) - and then all you need to do is follow Jesus.
|Passage: Luke 17-18|
On Tuesday, November 9, 2010 (Last Updated on 11/9/2012), Stephen wrote,
“You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy
I found in myself that, as long as my comfort zone is not violated, I wouldn't have any problem following the Lord. My obedience to Him has been conditional, depending on whether my comfort zone such as financial security, social status, my personal goal in this life and so forth would be untouched or not when I'm called to be obedient for any reason and purpose . The Lord tells me today that He himself wants to be my comfort zone and to be my true and only portion. This is my prayer today that he is my one and only comfort zone forever.