|Matthew 18 |
1 At that same time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, "Truly I say to you that unless you turn around [change your conduct] and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.1
4 Whoever therefore humbles himself like this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever receives one little child in my name receives me.
6 But whoever offends one of these little ones who believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offences! For offences must come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!
8 Therefore if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you; it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into everlasting fire. [It is one of the other: either while alive on earth we must be freed of all sin, then enter the kingdom, and be restored to the life of God that Adam lost for all men; or we must take our part in the lake of fire when we die.]
9 And if your eye offends you, pluck it out and cast it from you; it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into hell fire.2
10 Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I say to you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man has come to save that which was lost.
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety nine, and go into the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray?
13 And if he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more about that sheep, than the ninety nine that did not go astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
15 Moreover if your brother sins, go and tell him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he hears you [and repents], you have regained your brother.
16 But if he will not hear you, then take one or two more with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.
17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; but if he refuses to listen to the church [and repent], let him be like a heathen or a tax collector to you.
18 Truly I say to you that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say to you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father who is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them."3
21 Then Peter came to him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 And Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25 But since he was not able to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down and begged him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pence; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe.'
29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will pay you all that I owe.'
30 But he would not, and went and cast him into prison until he could pay the debt.
31 Now when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, 'O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you asked me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?'
34 And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if each of you from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
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1 Unless you turn around [change your conduct] and become like little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Mark! You cannot please God unless you have crucified your lusts and affections on the inward cross of self-denial. You must be restored to the innocence of a little child. You must be purified, to become as innocent as the day you were born. Otherwise, you will be banned from heaven. And this can only be done by your repentance and the grace of God's changing power, to purge the desires and pride from your heart by faith, making you fit for the company of heaven.
2 Therefore if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you; it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into everlasting fire. And if your eye offends you, pluck it out and cast it from you; it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into hell fire. When he speaks of cutting off your hand or foot, or plucking out your eye, Jesus doesn't want us to maim ourselves. He is only illustrating how serious continuing to sin is. Jesus is desperately trying to tell us that to enter the Kingdom and escape hell, sin has to go. He knew that false ministers with false gospels promising freedom to continue to sin would arise after he left. Changes in our heart through the missing cross to purity can take away the desire of the hand, foot, and eye to cause us to sin. In Matthew, Jesus gives us the same critical warning about the sins of anger that subjects us to judgement and lust for a woman is that is adultery. Mat 5:21-30.
Sinners can't live in heaven, or heaven would be Hell. Only former sinners go to heaven. Until all sin is removed from you heart, until you are purified; you cannot be in the company of God — for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Cor 6:14. No one wants children, who lie, or steal, or envy, or get angry, or constantly want something more, or are drunken, or are violent, or wrongfully use others, or cheat — or are disobedient to one's commands. Corruption does not inherit incorruption.
Everyone has to be purified first, and it cannot be instantly done on earth or in the next life. We must learn to loathe and hate our selfish motives and desires before they can be removed to purify us; or else we would drift back into the same selfish patterns of sin. If you die still sinning, you would be absolutely miserable in heaven; all your pleasures and desires, having not been crucified while on earth, are not available in heaven, and you would be miserable without them. You would be yearning for the old wine, which you think is better than the new wine because you have not been prepared, crucified, purified, (the new wineskin), and freed from lusts, anger, sexual desires, resentment, envy, greed, lying, jealousy, foolishness, revelry, drunkenness, pleasures, pride, etc. Even your thoughts would be heard by everyone around you; you would be terrified and wanting to run to darkness where you hope your thoughts would not be heard by everyone. Everyone is going to be purified; voluntarily in this life by the cross, or involuntarily in the next life with far greater pain, difficulty, and loss. See Is there Hope for All for details.
3 Again I say to you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." To be "in his name" is to be living in Christ. To be living in Christ is to be in union with Christ, a part of His body. From the Word of the Lord within: "He who is in my name is part of my body;" and if you are part of His body, then all your thoughts, words, and deeds are controlled and commanded by Him. Just like your arms, legs, eyes, hands, etc., are controlled by your head, so all members of Jesus' body are controlled by Him, the head of His body of purified, perfected, holy believers.
It is quite fashionable in today's Christianity to claim to be "in Christ" and "in His name." Even letters are frequently signed off with "Yours in Christ" or "In His Name;" and deficit sect preachers constantly finish their long prayers for show from their carnal minds and evil imaginations with "we ask in His name, (or 'in the name of Jesus'), Amen;" as though saying His name would make a difference to God. To be in His name is to be "in Christ," which is explained by Paul and John below:
- John explains who is in Christ: whoever keeps his word [obeys the Lord's commands spoken to him], truly the love of God is perfected in him; by this we know that we are in him. 1 John 2:5. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12. Notice, this is to be "in Christ" — to have the love of God perfected in you.
- Paul also explains who is in Christ: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom 8:1. To walk after the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit in thoughts, words, and deeds. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal 5:18. To walk after the flesh is to walk according to your carnal mind and evil heart, before it has been cleansed and purified; until them you are not in ChristJesus because your are still walking in the flesh — in your lusts, desires, affections, pleasures, pride, anger, vanity, fear, worries, plans, etc.
- Paul further explains who is in Christ: Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor 5:17. This is not to imagine yourself a new creature; this is to experience the death of the old and the birth of the new; death of the sinful nature is the old which must go. And death of the old is only through the cross of Christ, sharing in the suffering of Christ, sharing in the death of Christ, sharing in the burial of Christ, sharing in the resurrection of Christ - that is NEW - all else is presumption and imagination, or make-believe Christianity. From the Word of the Lord within: "The new life is as radically different as a man who has lived underground his whole life, suddenly coming above ground to see the sun, the sky, the plants, the animals, the wind, the stars. If anyone is standing with a new heart, he is a new creature."
From the Word of the Lord within: "He who is in my name is part of my body." This is why prayers from such groups are seldom if ever answered; no one is in union with Christ. If you are in His name, you have been translated into the kingdom of Heaven, and you have received a stone with your new name on it. George Fox relates what it means to have Jesus in the midst of you, making frequent references throughout his Journal, such as:
the people were so affected with the truth and refreshed with the powerful presence of the Lord, that when the meeting ended, they were did not want to depart.
A blessed, weighty meeting it was, in which Friends were sweetly refreshed together; for the Lord was with us, and opened his heavenly treasures among us.
I went that night with him to Evesham; and in the evening we had a large, precious meeting, wherein Friends and people were refreshed with the word of life, and with the power of the Lord.
So the Lord's power was over all and Friends were refreshed within it. From there I went to another market town, where in the evening we had a precious meeting; and the fresh sense of the presence of the Lord God was sweetly felt among us.
After the meeting Friends passed away in peace, greatly refreshed with the presence of the Lord, and filled with joy and gladness that the Lord's power had given them such dominion.
And all waiting and walking in the light, with it you will see the Lord Jesus among you.
We had appointed a meeting five miles from there, where we had a large one at a butcher's house; and it was a blessed meeting. The people were directed to their teacher, the grace of God, which would bring them salvation; and many were settled under its teaching. The Lord's presence was among us, and we were refreshed in him, in whom we labored and travailed; and the meeting was quiet.
And from William Penn's Journal of his second visit to Holland and Germany, the following is an extract regarding the evangelical meetings held at the home of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick V, Prince Palatine of the Rhine and King of Bohemia, and grand-daughter of James I of England:
So we went to our quarters; and some time after we had dined, we returned. The meeting soon began; there were several present besides the Princess and Countess. It was at this meeting, that the Lord in a more eminent manner began to appear. The eternal Word showed itself a hammer at this day, yes, sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing asunder between the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow. Yes, this day was all flesh humbled before the Lord! It amazed one, shook another, broke another; the noble arm of the Lord was truly awakened, and the weight and work thereof bowed and tendered us also, after an unusual and extraordinary manner; that the Lord might work an heavenly sign before them, and among them; that the majesty of Him that is risen among the poor Quakers, might in some measure be known unto them, what God it is we serve, and what power it is we wait for and bow before. They had a sense and a discovery that day, what would become of the glory of all flesh, when God shall enter into judgment. Well, let my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, when I shall forget the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the sure mercies of our God to us his travailing servants that day. O Lord, send forth your light and your truth, that all nations may behold your glory!
Thus continued the meeting till about the seventh hour; which done, with hearts and souls filled with holy thanksgivings to the Lord for his abundant mercy and goodness to us, we departed to our lodging; desiring to know whether our coming the next day might not be uneasy or unseasonable to her with respect to the affairs of her government; it being the last day of the week, when we were informed she was most frequently attended with addresses from her people. But with a loving and ready mind she replied, that she should be glad to see us the next morning, and at any time when we would.
The next morning, being the 11th of the sixth month, we were there between eight and nine; where, Robert Barclay falling into some discourse with the Princess, the Countess took hold of the opportunity, and whispered me to withdraw, to get a meeting for the more inferior servants of the house; who would have been bashful to present themselves before the Princess. And, blessed be the Lord! he was not wanting to us; the same blessed power that had appeared to visit them of high, appeared also to visit them of low degree; and we were all sweetly tendered and broken together; for virtue went forth of Jesus that day, and the life of our God was shed abroad among us as a sweet savor; for which their souls bowed before the Lord, and confessed to our testimony.
It did not a little please that noble young woman, to find her own report of us and her great care of them so effectually answered. Oh! what shall we say? Is there any God like unto our God? who is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, working wonders! To his eternal name, power and arm, be the glory forever!
.......................... (The next day)
The second hour being at hand, we went to the meeting; where were several, as well of the town as of the family. The meeting began with a weighty exercise and travail in prayer, that the Lord would glorify his own name that day. And by his own power he made way to their consciences, and sounded his awakening trumpet in their ears, that they might know that he was God, and that there is none like unto him. Oh! the day of the Lord livingly dawned upon us, and the searching life of Jesus was in the midst of us! The Word that never fails them that wait for it, and abide in it, opened the way and unsealed the book of life; yes the quickening power and life of Jesus wrought and reached to them; and virtue from him in whom dwells the Godhead bodily, went forth, and blessedly distilled upon us his own heavenly life, sweeter than the spices with pure frankincense, yes, than the sweet smelling myrrh that comes from a far country. And as it began, so it was carried on, and so it ended; blessed be the name of the Lord, and confided in be our God forever!
As soon as the meeting was done, the Princess came to me, and took me by the hand, (which she usually did to us all, coming and going,) and went to speak to me of the sense she had of that power and presence of God, which was among us; but was stopped. And turning herself to the window, she broke forth in an extraordinary passion, crying out, "I cannot speak to you—my heart is full"— clapping her hands upon her breast. It melted me into a deep and calm tenderness; in which I was moved to minister a few words softly to her, and after some lime of silence, she recovered herself; and as I was taking my leave of her, she interrupted me thus; "Will you not come here again? Pray call here as you return out of Germany." I told her, we were in the hand of the Lord; and being his could not dispose of ourselves; but the Lord had taken care, that we should not forget her and those with her; for he had raised and begotten an heavenly concern in our souls for her and them, and we loved them all with that love with which God had loved us; with much more to that purpose.
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