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Four marks of the People of God Luke 17:1-10 MIT: Jesus instructs his disciples on the proper conduct

and attitude fitting for the people of Gods Kingdom. Outline: I. II. III. IV. The people of God pursue truth and character (vv. 1-3a). The people of God rebuke and forgive (vv. 3b-4). The people of God walk by faith (5-6). The people of God serve out of duty (7-10).

Read Luke 17:1-10 Prayer Introduction Luke 17 is located at the end of a long subsection of Lukes Gospel that is concerned with the question of who will be included in the kingdom. It answers the question: What are the characteristic of kingdom people? Throughout this entire section, Jesus alternates between interacting with the Pharisees and teaching his disciples. In the previous section (Luke 16) the Pharisees were the direct targets of Jesus teaching in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Now, in Luke 17:1-10, Jesus turns to his disciples for a time of one-on-one instruction. Here, Jesus contrasts the teachings and character of the Pharisees to what he expects of his followers. Jesus wants his disciples to understand where the Pharisees were wrong and to avoid their erroneous behavior and teachings. So as we investigate this text tonight, we are going to discover four marks of the people of Godthese are marks that identify Christians as citizens of Gods kingdom. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then these marks apply to you.

Mark number 1: I. The people of God pursue truth and character (vv. 1-3a).

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! Illustration Have you ever held your breath under water a little too long? If so, Jesus illustration should speak to you. Until three years ago, I lived all my life at the beach and I know that I dont look the part right now, but I was a surfer for more than 20 years. So this word picture hits me square in the face because I know what it's like to be held under water; to fight with all my strength to reach the surface and grasp for airit is an unpleasant and frightening experience. Thats the type of experience Jesus describes here when he describes a man tying a large stone around his neck and jumping into the seathis is an unpleasant way to die. Explanation Well, Jesus says that it would be better for a person to die by drowning, than to cause little ones to sinand little ones probably refer to those who are young in the faith. Why would it be better for him to die before he can cause others to sin? Look in verse one: Jesus pronounces a woe on such a personindicating that it is better to die an agonizing death than to commit such a crime and face Gods judgmentbecause Gods judgment will be more severe.

We dont normally differentiate between sin. All sin is serious and has consequences, but I think its fair to say that Jesus has in mind here a particularly egregious sin. Both uses of the word sin in verses one and two are translated from the Greek word skandalon, which conveys the idea of enticement to unbelief, or to cause someone to fall away from the faith. It is sometimes translated as stumbling block. Most commentators agree that Jesus is warning his disciples to guard against the false teachers who are certain to come (v.1) and to guard their own lives and their own teaching (v.3a) when he says Watch yourselves! Application So what do we make of this? I would argue that most of our churches in our denomination are preaching and teaching sound biblical doctrine. I think we do a really good job of that. But what about the second part: Are we watching our lives to ensure that the way we live aligns with what we teach? Are we talking the talk and walking the walk? Untold numbers of people have been turned away from Christianity by the actions of people who claim to be disciples of Christ, yet live uncaring, callous lifestyles marked by snobbery, racism, classicism. Some of us are just like the Pharisees, who liked to dot their Is and cross their Ts in the pursuit of theological precision, but who Jesus said neglected the weightier matters of the law: such as justice and mercy. Beloved: Watch yourselves. Watch what you say, watch your lifestyle and watch your attitude. Live a life of truth and a life of character. Dont be a stumbling block.

The people of God guard their lives, and are marked by truth and character. PAUSE: Next we learn that: II. The people of God rebuke and forgive (vv. 3b-4).

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. Explanation These two verses include two conditional clauses that describe how Christ-followers should respond to interpersonal matters of sin and forgiveness within the church. Darrell Bock says it this way: The point is that when one disciple does certain things, other disciples have certain responsibilities. The first responsibility it to rebuke open sin. Modern people dont like that word rebuke because it sounds negative, but it actually has in mind a loving admonition in which a fellow believer persuasively points out the sin to an offender with the goal of repentance. We are not to condemned people in their sins, as the Pharisees were fond of doing, but instead Jesus requires that sinners be lovingly persuaded to see the error of their way. But we must rebuke and unfortunately most of us go the other way by choosing to say nothing. The second responsibility is to forgive. And when Jesus says to extend forgiveness seven times in a day, it should not be understood literally. He gives a high number so that the burden of responsibility is placed on the one extending the forgiveness.

We must stand ready to extend forgiveness at all times regardless of the number of times the offense occurs. If they repent, we must forgive. Regardless of how many times they hurt us. Application This is difficult but we must do it and we must do it well. We must rebuke sin though we do not want to; and we must forgive sin, even when we dont want to. When we are obedient to these commands we become more like Christ, who always stands against sin in perpetual rebuke and yet he also delights to forgive repentant sinners always and forever. Gospel This is also a picture of the gospel: Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgives of sins and rose to life on the third daydefeating sin, satan and hell. And all who believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will find forgiveness of their sinsall sins; past, present and future and will receive eternal life. If you have never truly believed in the gospel, if you have never truly repented of your sin, I implore you to repent and believe tonight! There is no decision as important as this. PAUSE Beloved: Gods forgiveness is limitless. Has he not forgiven you countless times? We must do likewise. This is a hard teachingI get it. It will require faith and that takes us to our next point:

III.

The people of God walk by faith (vv. 5-6)

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.

If you find it hard to forgive repeatedly, take comfort in the fact that the apostles also found it difficult, and so they ask Jesus to increase their faith.

Look how Jesus responds to their request. He says if you have faith the size of a grain of mustard seedwhich is miniscule, you could command a deep rooted tree to unplant itself and throw it into the sea and it would obey. We are not to take this word picture literallyTheres not enough faith in this world that would allow me to command this chair to pick itself up and be thrown into the garden outside.

The image illustrates that faith can accomplish amazing things and is used as a way to provoke the disciples to think about the nature of faith. In fact, Jesus response is worded in an unusual contrary-to-fact condition, that can literally be translated, If you have faith(and you do) you coulddo amazing things!

The apostles possessed all the faith they needed, but they were unaware of its presence and power in their lives. In Jesus economy, faith is not something that can be increased or decreased. Its a matter of possession.

Application

The apostle Paul told us that we walk by faith not by sight. That doesnt mean that I can close my eyes and walk across Capital Blvd and make it to the other side unscathed.

Walking by faith, possessing faith, means trusting that what God has said is true. That when God tells me to forgive my brother multiple times I will do it. Instead of seeking revenge, I will extend forgiveness because I believe that God will crack the hardest of hearts. And then, I will see amazing things.

We need to believe that God is in control; that God loves us and will take care of us. We need to believe justice is in Gods hand and not our own.

We need to walk by faith. PAUSE: Finally, we learn that:

IV.

The people of God serve out of duty (7-10)

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.

Illustration Do you ever feel like your service for the kingdom goes unnoticed and unappreciated? I know a lot of people who serve Christ tirelessly and almost never get a thank you.

Before I continue I want to say that we should make it a habit to thank people who serve. Thank your pastors, Sunday School teachers and those who serve in the nursery and so forth every week. Explanation BUT, for those of us who serve we should never serve expecting to be thanked. In verses 8-10 Jesus tells his disciples through a parable that they should serve because they have been told to serveand they should not expect to be thanked in return. I know this sounds harsh, mundane and cold. Plus, we all want to be rewarded and recognized for what we do. We all want that big slap on the back that says, Thanks, great job! But this misses the point. Our service to Christ and his church flows from an inward joy that recognizes that we have already received our reward (John 3:16). We who are inherently unworthy (v.10; Eph. 2:1-10), have nevertheless been chosen by Jesus to serve him. Listen up Church: Our worth comes from Christ alone. Our worth is not bound up in what we do or in how others treat us. Our worth is not determined by how many times people thank us for what we do. To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever because he has found us worthy in his sight, that we can serve him, the King of Kings. Application So let me leave you with this: No matter how you serve Christwhether it's at work, home, school or at church, do it with a profound sense of joy for the fact that you are a servant of Jesus and you have already received your reward.

Jesus Christ is the reward. Theres nothing better than knowing, believing and trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You have received your reward, now serve him with all your heart.