Tonight I want you to turn in your Bible to the eighteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew...Matthew chapter 18. This is a chapter that has very many familiar statements. In fact, maybe it is an assembly of familiar statements that is beyond any other such assembly in terms of the number of things that are familiar to us. Let me just show you what I mean.
Notice verse 3, "Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven." A familiar statement. Or verse 6, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea." Or verse 8, "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you, it's better for you to enter into life crippled or lame than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire." Or verse 9, "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, throw it from you, it's better for you to enter life with one eye than having two eyes to be cast into the fiery hell."
Or verse 10, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven." Or verse 12, "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, doesn't he leave the 99 on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?" And verse 13, "If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the 99 which have not gone astray." Or perhaps verse 15, "If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private. If he listens to you, you've won your brother." Or perhaps verse 16, "And if he doesn't listen, take one or two more with you so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every fact may be confirmed."
Or perhaps verse 18, "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Or perhaps verse 19, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." Or perhaps verse 20, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst." Or perhaps verse 22, "Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you...referring to forgiveness...up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'"
Those are all somewhat familiar statements. In fact, it may be a surprise to you because so many of them have become axiomatic in the Christian world, it may surprise you that they all come from the same chapter. And in spite of the fact that this chapter is loaded with these familiar statements, these statements which are almost proverbial in the language of evangelicalism, in spite of that, this chapter is one of THE most ignored chapters in all the gospels. I believe the eighteenth chapter of Matthew is one of the great discourses that our Lord gave, that it is one great speech, one great doctrinal lesson. It has long been hacked into bits and pieces which is how we pretty much pick up these proverbial statements with which we are familiar. They call come out of the same text and therefore they all come from the same context. And there is clearly a unifying theme in this chapter and once you grasp the unifying theme of this chapter, this chapter becomes alive and all of the bits and pieces with which we are familiar, come together in one whole so that they can be rightly and fully understood....