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The High Cost Of Reconciliation – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 1:00 am

The High Cost Of Reconciliation – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 28, 2024 1:00 am

It’s never easy to confront a Christian who’s sinned. Yet Jesus taught us how to bring a believer back to repentance and fellowship. In this message, Pastor Erwin Lutzer looks at the end game of reconciliation. As Pastor Lutzer says, “Where there is forgiveness, cleansing, and acceptance, the presence of God is there.”

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's never easy to confront a sinning Christian, so Jesus gave us teaching on how and when to do the necessary task of bringing that brother back to repentance and fellowship. Today, a look at the end game of reconciliation, what to do when nothing else works. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, is the church the right place to make reconciliation happen?

David, the church is the right place. There should be an atmosphere of acceptance, an atmosphere of fairness, an atmosphere of forgiveness. All of that should take place within the church, but sometimes there are people with whom you cannot reconcile. I've written a book entitled When You've Been Wronged, and when I was preaching those messages, a man came to me and said that he was set free when I made the statement that there are some people that you cannot reconcile with. They'll take everything that you say, they'll use it against you, they cannot be trusted. I wrote this book to help all of us navigate the difficult issue of human relationships, and this is one of the last days we're making it available to you.

It's entitled When You've Been Wronged, and at the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you some contact info whereby it can be yours. But now let us listen carefully to God's Word. If there's disagreement and there's no possibility of reconciliation, now we begin to add others into the mix.

Verse 16, but if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. Now this becomes very, very important. Why this step? Because the others going along have to do two things. First of all, to clarify the issues. Maybe you have a wrong slant on things after all, to clarify the issues.

Secondly, to confirm the issues. Is this offense really what you think it is? Is this offense what the other person thinks it is? Because Jesus says now it is necessary to have two or three witnesses.

Why? Because after this, if he doesn't repent, you're going to go public and you don't want to be wrong about this. You don't want to be wrong about it when it's told to the whole church. I know a man who had a Bible conference at his school and he advertised a certain speaker that was coming and somebody called him the day before and says, do you realize that the speaker that you are having for this Bible conference is an adulterer? And this person began to list various evidences. This president of the Bible college was wise enough to listen, but to not heed what this person was saying, because what he was saying is, you know, make sure that he no longer speaks and don't you have any courage?

You have to pull the plug. Well, the speaker came and after the conference, that man who made the accusations phoned and said, I'm sorry, but I have the wrong man. My dear friend, it would be better for you to play with forked lightning than to slander a believer and to say things about them which are either distorted or untrue, spreading something which is false. The scripture says before you go public and tell the church two or three witnesses have to confirm the whole thing because you most assuredly do not want to be wrong on this issue.

God takes it very, very seriously. Usually a true believer will repent at this point because he sees the error of his ways, but if he doesn't, you go to step number five, you involve the church. Now, some of you, God bless you. You know, you're saying, well, you know, should I become a member of Moody church? Well, the answer is if this is your church home, the answer is to be given in three letters rather than two Y E S. You come under the protection then of the church and others in your family become under the protection of the church. Now I'm going to speak candidly. There are many people who don't want to be members because they want to be like a bottle without a label.

More easily going from place to place or loyalty to loyalty. If God has brought you here to Moody church and you're a part of us, responsibility of discipline, exhortation, and everything that's involved that is performed by our elders and our staff then becomes your sense of blanket and security. So Jesus said, tell it to the church and have them go and try to convince them otherwise. One time I remember we had about 15 members of our executive committee go to a fellow believer on the executive committee who was involved in an adulterous relationship of 15 went, pled with him. He didn't repent. He didn't repent. But later on when he was excommunicated, everybody knew that we had acted wisely. We did not act hastily.

Why? Because you tell it to the church and you urge others to get involved in the process. Now if they don't repent at this point, it's usually because now their heart has been very hard. And that's usually true, especially in the matter of immorality. And the reason for that is because they feel that they've invested so much in this relationship.

You have the whole matter of sexual bonding to someone who is not their real partner. So they are learning to live in a defiled bed. And so as a result, they've rationalized, they've hardened their hearts and they begin to burn their bridges.

They burn their bridges. I remember a Christian leader saying to me as I was pleading with him to go back to his wife, he said, well, you know, even David had got his Bathsheba. Oh my. Yes, David did get his Bathsheba, didn't he? As a matter of fact, you know what David also got?

God says you're going to pay fourfold, four of David's sons ruined. What David got was a divided family. He died a very bad father. He got a divided family. He got a young man who was trying to kill him, his own son Absalom who had to be killed or else he was killing his dad. And he ends with everything in disarray. Yeah, he did get Bathsheba. He did. He's still paying for it.

Still paying for it. Eternal repercussions in the life of his family that boomerang all the way to eternity. Number five, we involve the church. Number six, the person is excluded from the fellowship. He's considered to be a Gentile or a pagan, which is a way of saying that, you know, he's not considered to be a believer anymore because we can't look into their hearts. Of course, believers can be very, very hard hearted, but all that we can do is to look at, look at the way they're acting and he's not acting like a believer because true believers in whom the Holy Spirit has done its work, true believers have hearts that are responsive to God and responsive to others. So if they harden their hearts, Paul says in the first Corinthians chapter five, he said to the church, you know, there's some immorality there.

A man is having his own mother, possibly a case of incest. And he says, you're not doing anything about it. He said, I want you to know I'm delivering this person over to Satan that he might learn not to blaspheme. What Paul was saying is we're putting him outside of the umbrella of the church. He's no longer under the protection of the church. And what he can do is to go on in his sin until he so entangles himself that in utter total desperation, he'll turn back to God and finally come clean no matter the cost. Now there's some evidence in scripture that that discipline worked. You look at second Corinthians and you'll notice that Paul is talking about this offender and he's saying, you know, bring him back into the church because apparently, apparently the discipline worked.

So that's number six. Number seven, we continue to hope and pray for reconciliation. We continue to hope and pray for reconciliation. And if it happens, if it happens, we tell the whole church. Now Jesus says something very interesting here. He says, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Now there's a passage that has caused a lot of controversy. Some people believe that it teaches that heaven's will must bend to the will of man. Whoever the church pronounces as forgiven is forgiven. Whoever is not pronounced as forgiven is damned. The rabbis used to have a saying, you know, that to lose something, if something was loose in heaven, it was permissible. If it was bound in heaven, then it was not permissible.

So using that expression, Jesus builds on it. But I have to just ask you, do you really think that the passage is teaching that fallible men can withhold God's forgiveness or declare to other people that they are forgiven, especially because we can't look into the human heart? You look at the history of the church, there have often been those who have been guilty, who have been declared loosed or forgiven. And then there are those who whom we would say were some of the best saints that walked this earth and they were condemned by the church.

You want an example? John Hus, before he was burned at the Council of Constance. By the way, that's an interesting story. The Emperor Zygusmond guaranteed safe conduct for Hus to the Council of Constance. And after Hus arrived, he decided that he did not have to keep his word to a heretic. So Hus was burned there. In fact, my wife and I were actually in Constance one time and we supposedly saw the stone upon which Hus was burned. And before they burned him, they said, we condemn your soul to the eternal flames of hell. Hus was a preacher of the gospel. He was preaching against indulgences in Prague and elsewhere. Does man really have the ability to just command God and God says, okay, I won't forgive because you're telling me I shouldn't?

I don't think so. That's why there are so many other passages that would interpret the Greek verbs this way. Whatever has been bound on earth shall have been bound in heaven. Whatever has been loosed on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. It is really man bending his will to the will of God. To put it clearly, we are responding to heaven.

Heaven is not responding to us. Sometimes, by the way, some of us in the ministry who are counselors exercise this. I've had women come to me and confess abortions. Even though they've been forgiven, they still feel the guilt and I have told them, in the words of Jesus, your sins are forgiven.

Go and sin no more. As a representative of the church, I can't look into their hearts, but from what I can see, they need the encouragement of God's cleansing, of God's forgiveness, and of God's acceptance. And is this a difficult task?

Oh, you'd better believe it's difficult. And that's why Jesus says, where two of you agree on earth, verse 19, about anything you ask it will be done for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them. This is not a prayer meeting verse. Oh, we only have two or three people at prayer meeting.

Well, it doesn't matter. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I. Well, yes, it is true that Jesus is there, but Jesus is talking about the context of reconciliation. He knows that reconciliation is difficult. It's anguish, full of anguish. Years ago, when I did more counseling, I remember couples having to confess the most horrid things to one another in my presence, but where there was forgiveness and cleansing and acceptance, the presence of God was there.

I claimed this verse. Jesus is there to bring about the miracle of reconciliation. Now there are times when you can't be reconciled to somebody. If the person that acknowledges no wrongdoing, acknowledges it, but trivializes it. Oh, I could tell you stories about that. Oh yeah, what I'm doing is wrong, but it's just a small matter. Serial adulterer said that to his wife one time, you should forgive me as often as I do it because you're a Christian and it's not that big a deal.

Where trust is eroded, there cannot be real reconciliation or where somebody desires reconciliation to control you, desires reconciliation to use it against you in some way, it may not be possible. You aim for it. Well, you say, well, what do you do when that happens? I'm so glad you asked. Isn't it wonderful to know that you're all on the same page? And isn't it wonderful to know that Jesus anticipated your question? You know what the rest of this chapter is? Peter is saying to Jesus, well, verse 21, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times.

The rabbi said three, he multiplied it by two and added one and expected Jesus to say, great Peter. I do not say to you seven times, but 70 times 70. Listen carefully. You forgive those, even those to whom you cannot be reconciled and how well do you forgive? I want you to hear this as if God is talking to you. You forgive as thoroughly as God has forgiven you.

Or let me ask it differently. If God forgave you like you forgive your enemy, would you be content with that? Believing that you have been thoroughly forgiven. Or would you say, no, I, I, I'm hoping for a little bit more from God than what I'm giving out. Scripture says Matthew chapter seven, the measure with which you measure it out.

That's the measure you're going to receive it. I think of the ministry, the great ministry of John Perkins. I don't know of anyone who's done more for reconciliation between African-Americans and whites as John Perkins. And last night I was rereading that awesome book he wrote entitled, let justice roll down. He talks about being in the hospital and you know, he was imprisoned, he was beaten, all those things mercilessly for no reason except that he was black. He said, the spirit of God worked on me as I lay in that bed, an image formed in my mind, the image of the cross, Christ on the cross.

I blotted out everything else in my mind. Jesus knew what I suffered. He understood he cared. He'd experienced it all.

This Jesus, this one who had brought good news directly from God in heaven had lived what he preached. He was arrested, falsely accused. Like me, he went through an unjust trial. He also faced a lynch mob, which was John Perkins experience and gotten beaten.

But even more than that, he was nailed to rough wooden planks and killed, killed like a common criminal. He even thought that God himself had deserted him. But when he looked at that mob who had lynched him, he didn't hate them.

He loved them. He forgave them. And he said, father, forgive these people for they don't know what they are doing. His enemies hated, but Jesus forgave.

I couldn't get away from that. The spirit of God kept working on me and in me until I could say with Jesus, I forgive them too. I promised him that I would return good for evil, not evil for evil. And he gave me the love I knew I would need to fulfill his command of loving your enemy because of Christ. God himself met me and healed my heart and my mind with his love.

I then knew what Paul meant when he wrote, who shall separate us from the love of Christ. What do you do with all the people who have hurt you? What do you do when you attempt reconciliation and reconciliation should be attempted? What do you do when the hurts run deep and when reconciliation cannot happen? In fact, the people who hurt you may already be dead. I'll tell you what you do. You don't allow them to ruin the rest of your life by the bitterness that is in your soul.

I'm told that when you corner a rattlesnake, sometimes the rattlesnake bites itself. Hatred, bitterness is you biting yourself. Jesus says, give it all up. Forgive as you've been forgiven.

I leave you with a question. If God forgave you like you've forgiven your enemy, would you be satisfied that you've been well forgiven? Let's pray. Father, Holy Spirit, I pray.

Reconciliation is your work, not ours. I pray for all those today, Father, who have a sense of injustice, maybe even of someone here in the church, maybe petty, it may be more serious, whatever it is. Enable your people, Father, to lay it down, to forgive as they have been forgiven, just as thoroughly, just as completely.

How many of you say today, Pastor Lutzer, I want to do just that? Would you raise your hands please? All over this building again.

What about the balcony up there? Some of you there in the balcony, you're raising your hands. Father, we ask that all those who have raised their hands might at this moment simply respond to you and say, Jesus, by your grace, I want to forgive as I've been forgiven. And those who've never been forgiven by you, may they see today that Jesus is the forgiver and the reconciler. We pray in Jesus' blessed name. Before I close this prayer, you talk to God now. If God's talked to you, you tell him what you need to tell him. Father, do your work. We pray in Jesus' blessed name.

Amen. You know, my friend, as a pastor, I have often helped people to the extent that I can to bear their hurts, but also to lay them down at the foot of the cross because there are so many people who are going through trials and frequently those trials come because of their relationship with others. That's why I've written a book entitled When You've Been Wronged Moving from Bitterness to Forgiveness.

I really do believe that this resource will be of help to you as you navigate your own personal struggles, as you deal with the issue of bitterness and you begin to see that God may have a part in this and there's much that we can learn and sometimes you can't reconcile with some people. Now, this is one of the last days that we're making this book available to you for a gift of any amount. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy because I'm going to be giving you some info as to how you can connect with us. Here is what you do. Go to or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, because this is one of the last days we're making it available, I'd like to give you that contact info again, but I want to emphasize how important it is that we look at human relationships biblically and no matter how difficult it is, healing comes to us when we lay it down.

Once again, go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book, When You've Been Wronged, thanks for helping us. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Some offended people will refuse reconciliation and hang on to their hurts until their knuckles turn white. Letting go of past injustice seems for many to be the ultimate insult. Next time, a call for all who hold their hurts dear to give them up and to be healed of their anger. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 02:44:52 / 2024-05-28 02:53:14 / 8

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