Proper Following of Matthew 18

Many people have trouble following Matthew 18 in the PRC denomination and a good portion of that problem is with young people. This is obvious from the April 2010 Beacon Lights article entitled ‘’Who are We Known As?’’ by Ryan Kregel, where it says that not only are there party houses in the PRC denomination but there are known party houses. The fact that there are known party houses implies that people are not reproving the sinning brethren. Christ shows us in Matthew 18:15–17 how to properly reprove those that are sinning. This must be done humbly, with the Word of God.

It is of the utmost importance to take the Word of God with us when we reprove the brother. This is important for several reasons. The first is because it is the standard that God has commanded us to obey and to not turn from. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’’ (Psalm 119:105). Secondly, we must take the Word of God with us because it will either save or curse the person who has sinned. It curses the person who has sinned if they do not heed the Word but turn from it. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’’ (Romans 6:23). For the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida heard the Word of God yet they did not heed it, therefore Christ says in Luke 10:14: “But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.’’ This is the importance of heeding the Word of God! The Word saves because it is the word of the everlasting God “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’’ (John 3:16). Thus, these reasons show that taking the Word of God is important when we show a brother that he has sinned.

Another important thing to remember when we go to a sinning brother is that we must do it humbly and must not act better than the person who has sinned. For we all have the same sinful nature that we inherited from Adam. How quickly we forget this in the prideful world that we live in! Also, if we do go pridefully we will most likely do more damage then good. It will cause the sinner to think that you are just a person who likes to think they know better than everyone else.

We must go alone for the first several times and must show the brother his/her sin is against what God has commanded in his Word. Thus, since we are commanded to go alone this forbids any gossiping of what so and so did, but we must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). If the brother who has sinned repents then we gain a brother to Christ, but if the sinner does not repent, we are commanded to take one or two witnesses with us to urge the brother to repent. If the sinning brother does not repent, we are commanded to put the matter before the elders of the church. Therefore, it is our Christian duty to not only reprove the brother, but, if he persists in his sin to put him before the elders.

Now that we have dealt with how to properly follow Matthew 18, it is our intention to urge you to actually do it. As we have stated above, young people seem not to follow what Christ has commanded us to do in Matthew 18. This is most likely a result from peer pressure. Usually being different from everyone else is not cool, but we are commanded in the Word of God to be pilgrims and strangers in this world and not to be afraid if men revile us. We must not succumb to peer pressure, but must obey God rather than man. To encourage you fellow young people to do this we will show you several examples of Godly men who stood up against men to defend the Word of God. Examples go from Noah who built the ark while men mocked him, to Elijah on Mount Carmel, to the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys, to John Calvin against the Roman Catholic Church, and lastly to Rev. Herman Hoeksema against the CRC concerning common grace. Although these are just a few examples of men who did not succumb to peer pressure, but obeyed God rather than men we hope this urges you not to be afraid of not being cool; instead, to be God fearing rather than man fearing.

As hard as it is to obey this command there are many benefits in doing this. The first thing that can come out of following Matthew 18 is that God will use you as a means to save his lost sheep. Secondly, if the person is really a child of God then it will strengthen the love of the brethren. It does this by showing you love the brother and care about his spiritual health. Lastly, by following Matthew 18 because you love God and your neighbour it will strengthen your faith because love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’’ The fruit of the Spirit is one of the ways you know if your faith in God is a true faith, because the wicked will not have these attributes in their hearts, but only the believer will.

Finally, we must bring up the point that we cannot do this of ourselves but it is the work of God in the heart of the believer. We would not even want to obey this command if God had not put his Holy Spirit in our hearts. Since we are all weak and born in sin, we must ask God to grant us the grace to obey the Word of Christ. In addition, we must ask God to bless our work so that it is not in vain, but so that it works in the heart of the sinner true repentance. Lastly, we must trust in God alone to cause the sinner repentance, for what can we do of ourselves being all weak creatures of the dust. Therefore, let us all obey this command through Christ that strengthens us.