The Gospel of Luke - Part 73
The Values of Christ's Kingdom (continued) — Luke 17:1-4

January 21, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Last week we started into Luke Chapter 17, where Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God. Remember what James Long said: “The Kingdom is where the King is”. So if Jesus is in you, you are in the kingdom of God. This chapter is about kingdom living. Last week we discussed how different kingdoms have different cultures and values. This chapter is about the values of the kingdom of God. Luke 17 can be organized as:

This morning we are still learning about: The Values Of His Kingdom.

Remember that: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. —Hebrews 13:8

So the values that we are talking about here are not subject to change with time or locale.

We started with the value of influence. Jesus tells us that we are required to lovingly call to a Christian brother areas of behavior which may be a stumbling block to others. We talked about how that needs to be done and about how we need to be able to accept that help if we are the rebukee instead of the rebukor.

That's why it's so important that we focus on kingdom values. Our goal is to be Christ-like Christians not just cultural Christians.

Today:

Let’s set the stage with the first five verses of Luke 17.

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” —Luke 17:1-4
Repenting of Sin:

Verses 3 and 4 deal with “if he repents.”  Jesus hits a great balance for us here. When we are the offender, we must repent; when we are the offended, we must forgive.

A great example of repentance is King David. Read Psalm 51 and you’ll see what God is looking for when we repent. If you read this chapter, you will see the depth of sincerity in true repentance. Remember that David had committed adultery and murder. He had some big repenting to do.

 

Rick Warren writes: “You don't have to be perfect to have a heart after God. Isn't that good news? Many people are called man/woman of God in the Bible but only one person is called a "man after my own heart". That was David. He was a great sinner but he was also a great repenter. You don't have to be perfect to have a heart after God. You just have to be a great repenter.”

Let’s talk about Forgiving the Repentant. Verse 3 says

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. —Luke 17:3
The context of this command is Christian community. What Jesus says here is essential to family relationships, whether our biological or spiritual family. Relationships between sinful people will never survive unless those people are committed to forgiving each other.

Notice that Jesus commands us to forgive. It’s not optional. It’s not based on how we feel about the person or whether we’re still hurting from what they did. We forgive as an expression of grace — not because people deserve it but because Jesus commands it. Forgiveness is a decision, not an emotion.

What are some qualities in a person that would make it harder for a person to forgive someone else?

Forgiveness is a very important value to God. He has forgiven us, and He expects us to forgive others. Jesus often spoke to His disciples about the importance of forgiveness:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. —Matthew 6:14-15

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. —Matthew 18:35

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. —Mark 11:25

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. —Luke 6:37
Why do you think forgiveness is so important God? Whom do you need to forgive?
Chuck Swindoll writes: “If you are resentful of the way someone has treated you, if you are holding it against that person, hoping you can retaliate or get back, you need to ask God to free you from that bondage. The secret, plain and simple? Forgiveness! Claim God's power to forgive through Jesus Christ. Begin by asking His forgiveness for excusing and cultivating that deep root of bitterness within your own heart. Ask him to expose it in all its ugliness and put it to death. Jesus Christ, who went through hell for you, can give you the power you need to overcome the worse kind of condition in your life."
The desire for vengeance or revenge — the desire to get even — is, in my opinion, the most subtle temptation in all of life. So we have looked at the Values of the Kingdom of God of our effect on others (our influence) and on our obligation to Confront misbehavior in a fellow Christian. Now let’s look at three more qualities that are important to God:

1.   Faith:

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." —Luke 17:5-6
I am sure that the first thing that you think of when we read these verses in Luke 17 is the reference to the mustard seed back in Luke 13.
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” —Luke 13:18-19
In both cases, the use of the mustard seed idiom is that it is so tiny you can hardly see it. In both verses, Jesus is saying, in effect, "if you had any faith at all..."

Faith is another important value to God. Remember that Heb. 11:6 states:

And without faith it is impossible to please him. —Hebrews 11:6
Faith involves trusting God and relying on Him. It means believing what He has said in His Word, basing my life on His words rather than on my feelings or preferences or circumstances. Faith also means believing God for the "impossible". Jesus commended people for believing that He could do things that were humanly impossible.
The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." —Luke 17:5-6
What stands out to you from what Jesus says here?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: “When the disciples asked Jesus for more faith, He answered that they needed not more faith but the right kind of faith.”

Jesus isn’t downplaying the importance of growing in faith, but He is emphasizing that “right kind of faith” is even more important than the amount of faith. And the right kind of faith is faith in God through Jesus.

Jesus protects us from getting the wrong focus here. He doesn’t want us to focus so much on the amount of our faith as on the object of our faith.

Leon Morris, in his commentary on Luke, wrote: “It is not so much great faith that is required as faith in a great God.”

What can we do to strengthen the focus of our faith God?

Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on Luke, writes:

“We might have expected the disciples to respond with the prayer, ‘Increase our love!’ [after Jesus’ instructions about rebuke and forgiveness]. Certainly love is a key element in forgiveness, but faith is even more important. It takes living faith to obey these instructions and forgive others. Or obedience in forgiving others shows that we are trusting God to take care of the consequences, handle the possible misunderstandings and work everything out for our good and His glory.”
What responses to circumstances demonstrate a lack of faith? The disciples ask Jesus how they could grow their faith but he seemed to chastise them that they had no faith. Did he answer their question?

Like the disciples, we may not immediately recognize it, Jesus actually answered the disciples’ questions. God didn’t design a seed to remain a seed. God designed a seed to take root and grow. And God designed our faith in Him to grow as well.

Notice the emphasis on growing faith in these passages:

We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged. —2 Corinthians 10:15
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. —2 Thessalonians 1:3
What do you think are some keys to growing our faith? Realize it is God’s gift to us
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. —Romans 12:3
The Today’s English version states it as:
And because of God's gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. —Romans 12:3 [TEV]
Our faith grows through God’s Word:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. —Romans 10:17
Our faith is through God’s promises:
No distrust made him [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. —Romans 4:20-21
Our faith grows through God’s people:
As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the Apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. —Acts 16:4-5
What evidence of faith is there is your life?
For nothing will be impossible with God. —Luke 1:37
2.   Servanthood:
“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” —Luke 17:7-10
We need to remember that we are God’s servants. We are here to serve Him, not to expect Him to serve us. The word for “servant” here is δουλος [doulos], which is also translated “slave” and “bondslave”. It’s a word with strong meaning carrying the idea of being bound to another for the purpose of serving that person. There are many, many passages of Scripture that emphasize that we are the God’s servants:
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ —Matthew 25:23

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. —Luke 1:38

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. —Luke 16:13

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God... —Romans 1:1

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. —1 Corinthians 4:1

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. —Galatians 1:10

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil... —2 Timothy 2;24
What are some implications of the fact that we are servants of Christ?

Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish Christian in the 1500’s wrote:

We are to be obedient servants.

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded... —Luke 17:10
Jesus sets a high standard for us to strive for here. What should be our goal? To do everything He has told us to. Jesus reinforces this expectation in the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. —Matthew 28:19-20
We don’t get to pick and choose which of Jesus’ commands that we will obey. Our responsibility is to do everything that He tells us to do: Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor in Germany who was arrested and hanged in 1944 for opposing the Nazis (unlike many other pastors who cooperated with Hitler's Germany). Bonhoeffer wrote before his death: "Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient truly believes."
Stormie Omartian wrote: “Trust that God has your best interests in mind and be willing to do what He asks of you, even if you don't understand why. Obedience starts with having a heart that says 'yes' to God.”

Let’s stop here in this discussion of the Qualities that are important in the Kingdom of God.

Next week we will deal with the fact that we are unworthy servants, and then go on to 3. Thankfulness.