Morning Reading for July 20

Matthew 18:15-20
Suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

We have a clear argument in these verses for the exercise of discipline in the Christian congregation. Our Lord commands disagreements between Christians which cannot otherwise be settled to be referred to the decision of the church to which they belong. It is evident from this that he intends every congregation of professing Christians to take cognizance of the moral conduct of its members. He intends every congregation to have the power of excluding disobedient and refractory members from participation in its ordinances. He says not a word about temporal punishment and civil disabilities. Spiritual penalties are the only penalty that he permits the church to inflict, and when rightly inflicted they are not lightly regarded. It can never be right that all sorts of people, however wicked or ungodly, should be allowed to come to the table of the Lord, no man forbidding. It is the bounden duty of every Christian to use his influence to prevent such a state of things. An increasingly high standard of qualification for church membership will always be found one of the best evidences of a prosperous church.

Christ holds out gracious encouragement to those who meet in his name (v. 20). This saying is a striking proof of our Lord's divinity. God alone can be in more places than one at the same time.

There is comfort in these words for all who love to meet together for religious purposes. At every assembly for public worship, at every gathering for prayer and praise, at every missionary meeting, at every Bible study, the King of kings is present, Christ himself attends. We Mayoften be disheartened by the small number who are present on such occasions compared to those who meet for worldly ends. But at all such meetings we have the company of Christ himself.

There is a solemn rebuke in these words for all who neglect the public worship of God. They turn their backs on the society of the Lord of lords. They miss the opportunity of meeting Christ himself.

For meditation: Verse 20 proves that we cannot worship Christ as well by staying at home as by going to church.

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