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The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2021 8:00 am

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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April 5, 2021 8:00 am

If there is anyone who should be ready and willing to offer forgiveness, it is the Christian. In this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll hear a story of debt, mercy, greed and punishment. The parable may have enough drama to feel like a Hollywood movie, but the lesson Jesus teaches by sharing it is one that’s practical and applicable to our everyday lives.

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If there is anyone who should be ready and willing to offer forgiveness. It's the Christian in this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will hear a story of debt, mercy, greed, and punishment.

The parable may have enough drama to feel like a Hollywood movie, but the lesson Jesus teaches by sharing it is one that's practical and applicable to our everyday lives to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. The word discipline may seem to have a negative connotation, but in Scripture it's meant for the positive purpose of restoration. Let's listen together to the teaching of Dr. James Boyce, one of the ways we should think about the Christian life is certain terms of developing Christian character and they were concerned about developing Christian character. We should understand. That's the sort of thing doesn't happen all at once it comes about one step at a time.

That's what was happening in the life of the disciples were learning what it was to actually live as Jesus Christ and follow him learning slowly to be sure they were learning and Jesus was giving one lesson after another and already important.

Something about humility. I have been struggling among themselves to see who would be most important of the kingdom. Jesus taught them that in order even enter the kingdom forgot about being first in the kingdom you had to have humility like that of a little child even used a little child as an object lesson trying understand that trying to make some progress had been talking Christ's subsequent remarks to avoid sin they'd been taught that they were to be concerned for other believers, especially those who were new believers are weak believers were to actually go after them and help them just the way Shepherd would go after a sheep that was lost was an interesting question that still must've been hanging around their minds and it was this, you teach us to be forgiving and to care for other people.

But what if the other person is not forgiving Lawrence posies taking advantage of us.

How do you deal with at any rate, that's the next lesson. The Jesus goes on one folding his answer that question, whether spoken or unspoken, has given us the classic Christian text for hardware to deal with discipline problems in the church. Quite often when problems come up bull's-eye.

While that has to be dealt with on the basis of the principles in Matthew 18, of course, that's exactly right.

Because beginning with verse 15 and following Jesus lays out three steps for what were supposed to do first step is. This is a person who is offended you in some way sinned against you.

That's the right word to use for records.

The first step go and talk to the person who was sinned against you attempt to show him his fault. If he listens and responds corrects his way to the end of the matter. You won your brother over so far so good. I suppose he doesn't second talking about it doesn't achieve a correction reconciliation go again, this time taking one or two others with you so that Jesus says, verse 16. Every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Now that's a clear reference to the chief legal maxim of the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 1915.

Every fact is to be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses a single witnesses and enough Jesus is brought on the Old Testament for that second step then thirdly, the person won't listen even when others have gone bring the matter before the church and if the offending brother won't respond lap to be treated as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Verse 17 now a number of important principles are involved in that first of all, Jesus was teaching that up right conduct matters and should be dealt with.

Think just because he's talked about humility are all sinners are because he's going to stress forgiveness. We must forgive that therefore sin is of no importance at all. Something that really is divisive and harmful and needs to be dealt with.

Secondly, corrections are the discipline is to break up this private as possible with this view people as possible.

Being involved, just you and the other person that's all that's required or couple witnesses, all of that before you would even consider bringing it before the church. Thirdly, the purpose of these steps is clearly the restoration of the offender is brought up procedure for how you punish people procedure for how to bring them back into the full fellowship in the holiness of the gospel. We sometimes say correctly that the purpose of discipline in the church is restorative and not retributive words, we want to help people not hurt them and finally the last step is a function of the church, which means it should be an official action of some something that individuals are to go around doing. Interestingly enough, this is only the second time. The word church occurs in Matthew's gospel. The first was the occasion of Peter's great confession Jesus that is going to establish this church about here is telling how the church function. Think about these principles the right use in their misuse and especially what they had to say about forgiveness.

That's the directionless moves but let me just comment on a few more. The verses in verse 18 Jesus gives the church the authority to bind and loose that he had given to Peter earlier. Remember, in the 16th chapter. While that means verse 18 here has bearing upon how those words that were given earlier to are to be understood indicates that that was not an authority that was simply given to Peter as an individual, or even to Peter in virtue of some office that he was supposed to hold, but to the church as a whole and its official functions. Look at the final verses of this section out a comment on them as well. Here Jesus was talking about answering the prayers of two or three if they gather together and pray in his name. That seems to suggest that anything to believers get together and agree about and pray about God will do that is true, of course, doesn't happen.

That's not what is really saying actually that verse belongs with the earlier verse subdue about these official functions of the church and it's really recognizing that where that functions properly. In the context of the church bear the authority of Jesus Christ, God the father stands behind it. Verse 20 Jesus puts himself in the place of God. He says wherever two or three are gathered together in this way there. I'll be in the midst of them only person I can be of more than one place all at the same time as God. So if Jesus and say I'll be there in the midst of them is really claiming deity for himself as a very important set of versus all those principles are things are to be worked out to great length and furthermore they are teachings that should be a great comfort to Christians because often you have just a few believers meeting someplace. Perhaps in a hall or an office in the midst of a hostile environment. Maybe someplace in the world distant from nearby many thousands of miles where it's an utterly pagan environment, but here are two or three trying to do something together.

Here is Jesus saying he's there in the midst of them, to bless them and to honor them so whatever you're doing for intake encouragement by that Jesus is there. He cares about what you're doing now.

The important principle here is that such disciplines intended for the restoration of the center and that is why these principles that are laid out in verses 15 through 20 are followed by this parable of the unmerciful servant in verses 21 to 3500 understand why that follows why that's so important to me just take a moment to give an example of how this principle of restoration can be misused in ways were never intended by Christ to something that we have found as the session of 10th Presbyterian Church.

Over the years we found some years ago. It hasn't happened recently. I think because we got onto it, but some years ago when individuals were having marriage problems would come to see us, they would use these verses are attempt to use these verses to justify getting a divorce with the blessing of the session the way it would go would be like this late start with first Corinthians 715 another passage in which Paul says that if a believing person is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever wants to depart, terminate the marriage, the believers free. Let the unbelieving spouse go all's exact words or leaves a believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances unless perfectly understandable. Of course, is the way of saying that it takes to live together that one doesn't want to do that, particularly unbeliever and they leave the marriage in the final analysis is no way of stopping him or her the divorce is inevitable, but I would take that verse and then they would join into this passage in Matthew 18 Jesus was talking about reconciliation or failure to achieve reconciliation only but argue like this. Here Jesus says that if a brother refuses to respond to proper attempts by the church to affect the reconciliation, the church is to treat him or her as one would treat a pagan or a tax collector. That's the same as an unbeliever for the argument went like this if in a Christian marriage.

One party refuses to be reconciled with a willing spouse after the church is been involved in reconciliation attempts the obstinate party may then be regarded as a non-Christian be allowed to depart. According to the principle of first Corinthians 715 on the Christian may be allowed to remarry with God's blessing in spite of the saying of Malachi 216. The God hates divorce or Matthew 532 where Jesus teaches a divorce, followed by remarriages, adultery. You think that's difficult to follow.

Just remember Romans five). This is the kind of reasoning we were being given what we found is a session is that the elders were being manipulated by spouse who wanted a divorce. They were supposed to approach recalcitrant sprouts often wonder library great causes for being disaffected try to affect a change of mind and that we couldn't do that then we were supposed to declare that the rebellious one was not a Christian release was acting as an unbeliever.

Therefore, one would come blah said right together, divorce and remarriage so we were being put in the position of facilitating divorces rather than restraining them. Course that's not what is involved in the flow of thought. In this chapter, though it's not far in the background. If you consider that in the next chapter. Jesus does begin to talk explicitly about divorce is a one is recognizing here is that there is this problem so you have a procedure set of rules and guidelines for dealing with the problem. The problem or question that comes out of that instantly is as well. Suppose it doesn't work and what can we do all we can cross all thing often right off the person who's involved in go on and do our own thing and get on with our lives. Now Jesus is a tell the story in order to be a counter to its bridge is Peter's question. I guess Peter was thinking along those lines. Your Jesus is saying what you're supposed to do. Somebody offends you go to and talk it over and he won't listen, two or three witnesses. He won't listen on the, the church. That's three approaches as much suppose tried to forgive your brother three times and he still doesn't listen what you do, then Peter I guess Lottie was being really very Christian about it all came to Jesus and said many times should we go through all of that and forgive 70 times the rabbis of the day said you should do it three times while little sayings from the Mishnah, the go that way, if your brother sins against you, forgive them one sufficient to get you twice forgiven quite three times were good for time don't forget as Peter said were Christians seven times right. So Jesus responded by telling the story when he says to Peter I tell you, not 777.doesn't mean that we can stop forgiving the 78th time busy is really saying is that we should never stop forgiving when he told the story king wanted to settle accounts with his servants and called in one or had an enormous debt, 10,000 talents difficult to estimate today what that would be probably doesn't matter just might mean that it's just the largest conceivable depth because 10,000 was one of the largest common numbers and the talent was the largest major currency astronomical debt which of course it was.

But if we do try to estimate we got some interesting results. The talent was 75 pounds. 10,000 talents would be 750,000 pounds now. Jesus doesn't specify whether he is talking about talents of silver talents of gold trying to stress this enormous gap between the two cases we should presume he's talking about gold, the more valuable of the two metals in Troy weight for our 12 ounces to a pounds and I were dealing with 750,00012 or 9 million ounces of gold and what gold sold for back then but were talking today maybe $350 an ounce or more. You, the 3000 $150 million $3,000,150,000,000. I don't even know what that means adding to what a billion, trillion, only the Congress knows that because they give it away like that, you know like Dirksen said years ago. You will billion here, a billion there and pretty soon it adds up to real money, but I don't know what a billion is not to mention, actually.

That's just the point. Of course there's an astronomical debt man didn't have a chance in the world of getting that debt paid off and so we called in to give accounts Masters going to throw them into prison along with his wife and his children play as much of the debt as possible. He falls down, he pleads for forgiveness all master forgive me. I'll never get into debt again in the master has mercy on him and forgives him then this man goes out he is somebody that owes him money. It's not insignificant. It's 100 denarii denarii was a day's wage for common labor, verse 400 and race about 1/3 of years and, if you figure a very low wage maybe 12 or 15,000 a year. The monster for $5000 negligible, but it's very small compared to the other that and the servant has been forgiven is gonna have a small servant thrown into jail he pleads for forgiveness. But this guy is a hardhearted won't do it so he takes it out on man woes of money the other servants hear about it. They go to the master say what's happened. He calls the servant and he says look you wicked servant, I canceled all the dead of yours because you beg me to, shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I have on you then. According to Jesus, the King turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all the points obvious as questions of been forgiven much we above all people should be forgiven. We have been forgiven. The astronomical depth of our sin against a holy God calculable so there's another Christian somewhere who's offended us. We should obviously be forgiving now. At that point the story is finished and we kind of wish Jesus would stop there, but he doesn't stop there. We find in verse 35. The saying, this is how my heavenly father will treat you unless you forgive your brother from the heart that's troubling because that seems to imply a work salvation. Doesn't you forgive, you get forgiven or even if it doesn't imply that you're forgiven initially by grace. It certainly attacks the doctrine of perseverance because it having been forgiven you.

Don't forget God's going to renege on this forgiveness you get thrown into hell.

In the end anyway.

Obviously is not Christian thinking teaching people of Ghana struggled without. How do you put it all together was about three kinds of evasions of the been worked out. First of all look so Jesus didn't really mean what he said. In other words, he sometimes use hyperbole exaggerated language that strove things will done last manner doesn't hate his mother or father in order to follow millions and worthy of me is me actually hear that your parents are supposed honor what the law says he's talking relatively there is hyperbole, and so I say well that's what he's doing here. Jesus wasn't saying that God would send this to Helen. We didn't forgive those who have offended us but only that forgiveness is an extremely important matter. We really ought to be forgiving. We should forgive others just as God has forgiven us. But even if we don't work once and supposedly lose our salvation somehow because of what the problem with that is a bit childish childish because that's what children do. Mother's about to go out shopping shoes let the children at home. Says to them they're sitting there in the living room watching television. I want you to turn the television off and will be gone for half an hour so I want you to clean up your rooms are a mess all those clothes lying around. When should I hang them up and I want you to do that now 90 understand that old really do it right and put it off, we understand that mother goes out comes back in half an hour there still sitting there watching television.

He says what are you doing here, I told you that you were supposed to clean up your really say rooms ballistically upper rooms. I didn't realize that you were telling us that night I thought you meant we were supposed to do it tomorrow That's childish to say but that's what we do is Jesus talking is talking to us talking very forcefully, the sort of thing we can just dismiss and say he didn't really mean it. The second evasions as well. He meant but he was, not talking Isaac talking to somebody else and the argument would go like this was on applying to those living in our age, social smoke and the Jews were under the law. We did had to do with works righteousness was they did good things they be lost, but applying us today. Well, it's a little bit like speeding down the highway, ceding the speed limit by 20 miles an hour or so and the police cars coming in the siren is going and you're just hoping that is going after someone else to buy going after someone else is after you say this is an speaking that the Jews in the previous IG speaking that the bones were going to be his followers. There's 1/3 invasion. It is reject the rest of the New Testament.

That's what the liberals do say the first two evasions of the kind of things evangelicals practice with the liberals do it simply by throwing out the rest of the New Testament. They say what you were getting to the heart of that really beautiful and simple gospel that Jesus actually taught.

He's not teaching the later doctrine of justification by faith that was worked out in some kind of a legalistic way by all based upon the cyclic official atonement of all of that. All the saying is this look due to others as you would want others to do to you. You want to be forgiven. You are to be forgiving yourselves now. Jesus is not repudiating Paul back. We couldn't tell from even the most casual glance.

Here is not treating the matter likely in any way because he's talking about are being sent to hell that we don't have a forgiving spirit. That's not the gospel of liberalism.

What does it mean, how are we to understand it well. Let me explain it this way.

Jesus is saying what's true, but getting a hold of the gospel here. This is part of its saying is true enough, there is an unbreakable connection between God's forgiveness of us in our forgiveness of other people have to understand that because that's supposed to awaken us out of any lethargy we might have and confront us with the need actually to have a transformation but it doesn't mean that were saved by forgiving others or that salvation once acquired can be lost. Jesus is only saying that whatever else is involved in a great deal more is involved.

Forgiveness must be part of what it means to be a Christian is explanation. Although we are justified by faith apart from works being justified isn't the only thing that happens in practice, not even the first thing justification by faith.

Faith alone has to proceed justification and as Jesus said to Nicodemus, we can see her enter the kingdom of God unless were born against the regeneration of the new birth actually comes before entering or believing which is the same things, faith, and so that means is that no one believes on Christ is justified.

Who hasn't already been given a new nature by God was new. Nature has God's own nature nature of Jesus Christ himself, who was forgiving.

So although the new nature doesn't manifest itself entirely. All at once.

We are justified that new nature will increasingly and inevitably express itself in our forgiving others just as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us will be able to praise Jesus instructed his disciples to pray what we call the Lord's prayer. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, Lutherans of a great expression. Here the Lutheran say were justified by faith alone, but not by a faith which is alone it comes first from her new nature will express itself in all that we do so, the conclusion is this.

If we do not forgive others. We are not forgiven by justified people. We are not Christians. Other viewpoints of alternately sum up first, there is a judgment coming. Jesus didn't pass over that teaching.

He spoke of forgiveness.

But he also spoke of what happened to the wretched man in this story was cast into prison until he should pay back all the old judgment hangs over everyone who was not experience God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Secondly, there is forgiveness.does forgive God sent Jesus Christ to make it possible. And third, the only sure proof of the persons having received God's forgiveness through true faith in Jesus as a transform heart transform life we got that down a practical level, you and I live so we actually begin to treat other people the way we have been treated just one way is by standing before the holy God and seeing ourselves as the vile sinners we are, and recognize that in spite of that, while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ the son of God died for us taking our sin upon himself and bearing the punishment of God in our place.

We understand that understand we have been forgiven.

We have no other option. Forgive other people to do it as Jesus says from the heart of the re-thank you for this passage and the teaching of Jesus. This is always the case, we come to it and recognize how far our thinking is from what Jesus says in our actions even further from what he tells us we should do our father. We understand and ask if we have the life of Christ within us.

We have the rudiments of the behavior know what we should do disgracefully pray actually to live as we must, for Christ's sake. His you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing evangelicals.

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