Let me just read to you the verses beginning with Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he 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 he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." The emphasis here is on restoring someone to fellowship with the church who has sinned or is living in sin. If you are personally involved, that is, he has sinned against you, and you are the right person to go to that person, then take the three steps if needed to reclaim that brother. Do so with humility, gentleness, prayer and love. If he refuses to listen to the church then he becomes a prospect for salvation, as were the pagans and tax collectors. Look at Matthew 18:18, "I tell you the truth, (I can't imagine Jesus ever telling a lie) whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This ministry is so important to God that as we seek His leadership through prayer and obedience in seeking to restore absent members, His authority from heaven will be given through us in seeking to restore each of His erring children. God is actively involved in this ministry of restoration. We have been given the authority from God to be involved as well.
Now hear the value of two or three. Look at Matthew 18:19, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." Here we see the value of praying for others. This does not mean one person's prayers are weaker than two, but it does promise when there is unity between two believers, then their prayer will be heard and answered by God the Father. The context calls for the matter of seeking to reclaim one from sin, but I know God has heard prayer partners pray and answered them. We have a wonderful promise from Jesus in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Jesus doesn't just show up on Sunday morning when there is the largest crowd, He's in our small Sunday School classes, He's with us on Tuesday evening when we go out visiting, on Wednesday evening in your AWANA, in Prayer Meeting, in Choir Practice, in small groups that will never make headlines. Jesus has promised to personally be there for us when two or three come together in His name.
Oh how Jesus is looking for believers who agree together in prayer, who study together from the bible, and who meet together in His name. With a church like that surely no one would want to miss or refuse to join.
Back in the 70s I read about a professional golfer by the name of Rick Massengale. Golf had become his life, more important than his wife and his wife knew it. She suggested they go to a Bible study, and he said "no", that he felt he was a Christian and that a Christian was someone good enough to get into heaven. Bible study seemed to be for weak people. His problems continued, and to appease his wife, they went to the Bible study. There he found other golfers and their wives who he learned cared more about him as a person than about beating him on the golf course. That night he found out how wrong he had been about Christianity that it was not solely about getting into heaven. It was about a relationship, a fulfilling, unburdened and beautiful relationship between each person and Jesus Christ. That night he and his wife invited Jesus Christ into their hearts and what a beautiful change came over his life and their marriage.
Jerry Tracy is Pastor of Elkton Baptist Church in Elkton, KY.