Gospel of Matthew – The Authority of the Church

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It’s always worth repeating that the church is the Body of Christ. Our Lord, the crucified and resurrected Christ, imparted His life into His believers, producing His universal Body. Have you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have, then you have received His life and are a member of His Body, which is the church.

The Lord Jesus refered to the church in two instances in Matthew. In the first, in chapter 16, He spoke of the universal church (“I will build My Church”), and in the second, in chapter 18, He spoke of the local church (“tell it to the church”). The local churches are the many manifestations of the Body of Christ on the earth.

The Head of the Body of Christ is Jesus Christ Himself. We do not share in His Godhead. However, we do see in the gospel of Matthew how the authority of the Head is executed through the local church. Furthermore, by pointing out binding and loosing in both references to the church, we see that God’s intention for the church is that she would exercise dominion to deal with Satan and every negative thing.

In this Bible study we’ll take the following steps:

  1. Look at the verses and study them with the help of the footnotes in the Recovery Version of the Bible.
  2. Read a helpful excerpt from the ministry of Watchman Nee.
  3. Answer questions to encourage much fellowship.

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Footnote Concerning “gates”,…

Gates of Hades refers to Satan’s authority or power of darkness (Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18), which cannot prevail against the genuine church built by Christ upon this revelation concerning Him as the rock, with stones such as Peter, a transformed human being. This word of the Lord’s indicates also that Satan’s power of darkness will attack the church. Hence, there is spiritual warfare between Satan’s power, which is his kingdom, and the church, which is God’s kingdom.

Matthew 16:19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in the heavens.

Footnote Concerning “kingdom”,…

Kingdom of the heavens is used here interchangeably for church, which is used in the previous verse. This is a strong proof that the genuine church is the kingdom of the heavens in this age. This is confirmed by Rom. 14:17, in which the kingdom of God is mentioned in obvious reference to the proper church life.

Footnote Concerning “bind”,…

This Gospel is concerned with the kingdom of the heavens, which is a matter of authority. The church revealed in this book represents the kingdom with its reign. Hence, the authority to bind and to loose was given not only to Peter, the apostle for the church here, but also to the church itself (18:17-18).

Footnote Concerning “have”,…

Whatever the church people bind or loose on earth must be something that has already been bound or loosed in the heavens. We can bind or loose only what has already been bound or loosed in the heavens.

Matthew 18:17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.

Matthew 18:18 Truly I say to you, Whatever you bind on the earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Footnote Concerning “bind”,…

Here to bind means to condemn, and to loose means to forgive.

Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Footnote Concerning “authority”,…

In His divinity, as the only begotten Son of God, the Lord had authority over all. However, in His humanity, as the Son of Man and the King of the heavenly kingdom, authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him after His resurrection.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Footnote Concerning “therefore”,…

Because all authority was given to Him (v. 18), the heavenly King sent His disciples to disciple all the nations. They go with His authority.

Footnote Concerning “disciple”,…

This is to make the heathen the kingdom people for the establishing of His kingdom, which is the church, even today, on this earth.

Helpful Excerpt from the Ministry of Watchman Nee

The Local Church Being the Manifestation of the Body of Christ on Earth

Questions to Encourage Fellowship

  1. What is the authority of the Body?
  2. How do you see the local church executing the authority of the Body in Matthew chapter 18, verses 17 and 18?
  3. The excerpt states: “A person who sees the Body seeks fellowship and accepts the leading of the church.” Do you have an experience of this that you can share?

Gospel of Matthew – Matthew 18:17 – Tell it to the Church

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We previously saw how the church is the Body of Christ and how the believers are all the many members of the one Body. In this Bible study we see the local church.

In addition to what is below, we highly encourage you to open your Bible and also read Matthew chapter 18 – the whole chapter. 

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go, reprove him between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.

The church revealed in 16:18 is the universal church, which is the unique Body of Christ, whereas the church revealed here is the local church, the expression of the unique Body of Christ in a certain locality. Chapter 16 concerns the building of the universal church, whereas this chapter concerns the practice of the local church. In both of its aspects the church represents the kingdom of the heavens, having authority to bind and to loose. (footnote for Matthew 18:17 in the Recovery Version of the Bible).

The Local churches in the New Testament

Romans 16:1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a deaconess of the church which is in Cenchrea,

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:

2 Corinthians 8:1 Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,

Galatians 1:2 And all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

Revelation 1:11 Saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in Antioch, in the local church, prophets and teachers: Barnabas and Simeon, who was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church and had prayed with fastings, they committed them to the Lord into whom they had believed.

Titus 1:5 For this cause I left you in Crete, that you might set in order the things which I have begun that remain and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you:

Being like Little Children

Matthew 18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?

Mt 18:4 He therefore who will humble himself like this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.

Questions for Fellowship

1. Using the New Testament verses above, (or other verses), and the attached readings, can you explain how the Lord is practically fulfilling 1 Corinthians 12:25, “That there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same care for one another”?
2. Who in your local church can you go to if you have a problem you need help with?

Readings from Ministry Samples

The Church in the New Testament

The Proper Church Life for the Kingdom

Gospel of Matthew – The Seed of the Kingdom

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We have mentioned that the gospel according to Matthew presents the gospel of the kingdom. In this Bible study we want to see that the kingdom is established and developed through the seed of the kingdom.

First we will see the parable of the sower. Then we want to emphasize that Christ the King is literally within His believers – as opposed to only being in them figuratively. This is very important, especially since we conclude this Bible study seeing the expansion of Christ as the king. That’s right, “The expansion of Christ”. How can this be? What does this mean?

If you have a soft heart toward the Lord, we believe you will be enlightened through this Bible study and even enter into the experience of the kingdom.

The Seed of the Kingdom – PDF
The Seed of the Kingdom – PowerPoint Slides

The Seed of the Kingdom – Extra Excerpt (about the Expansion of Christ the King…)

Further Reading from an excellent Ministry Sample:
The Seed Being the Word of God, The Sons of the Kingdom, and Christ Himself

Gospel of Matthew – The Divine Trinity in Chapter 12

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It is a real sweet thing to study the Divine Trinity in Matthew. We see God’s acts, we see His ways. In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus is being mocked, rejected and blasphemed. In the midst of such persecution He takes the opportunity to reveal how the Divine Trinity moves in His oneness.

Dive into God’s word and be awed by this wonderful Triune God. What’s more, be led by Him into the divine and mystical realm where He shares His very oneness with His believers.

In addition to the attached slides, we recommend this excerpt from the ministry of Witness Lee, titled: COORDINATION IN THE MEETINGS

Download the full Bible study here:

The Divine Trinity in Matthew Chapter 12 – PDF
The Divine Trinity in Matthew Chapter 12 – PowerPoint Slides

The Word of God – Showing us that God is Righteous

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Verses for Today

Exodus 20:5b visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Exodus 20:6 Yet showing lovingkindness to thousands of generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; / Lovingkindness and truth go before Your face.

1 Peter 2:23 Who being reviled did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten but kept committing all to Him who judges righteously;

Isaiah 56:1 Thus says Jehovah, / Preserve justice and do righteousness, / For My salvation is about to come / And My righteousness is about to be revealed.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, both to Jew first and to Greek.

Romans 1:17a For the righteousness of God is revealed in it

Fellowship

The Ten Commandments also reveal that our God is righteous. Because He is righteous, He will visit those who hate Him for three or four generations. If He failed to do this, He would not be a righteous God. He must act in this way in order to indicate that He is righteous. If you hate Him, He will deal with you according to His righteousness. At the same time, however, He is merciful and loving. (Life Study of Exodus, p. 599)

When God says He will do something, He is bound by His righteousness to carry it out. This should encourage all of us. No matter what is happening around us, God is righteous. He will reward the loving seekers and He will judge the evil. The Apostle Peter said of the Lord Jesus: “Who being reviled did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten but kept committing all to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Because God is righteous we can be like the Lord Jesus and commit all things to Him.

God is just. He judges fairly. It is therefore quite reasonable that we also come to fear God for His righteousness. This is a healthy fear of God.

God is righteous. Although He loves us, when we do something that is not right in God’s eyes, there are consequences. We should heed God’s word and be mindful that there are consequences if we do not obey His word (Church in Irvine, Lessons, God is Righteous).

With this understanding of God’s righteousness, that it is an encouragement to us in the midst of the suffering in the world, and that it is something to be feared, we want to see another awesome application of God’s righteousness. It is because God is righteous, that we are ultimately saved.

According to John 3:16, salvation is out of God’s love, and according to Ephesians 2:5 and 8, salvation is by God’s grace. But in Romans 1:17 Paul says that salvation comes by the righteousness of God. Neither love nor grace is related to the law. No law forces us to love or to give grace. Whether we love or not we are still lawful, and whether we extend grace or not we are still legal. In a sense, God is not bound to love us. Furthermore, He is not legally bound to show us grace. Righteousness, on the contrary, is very much related to the law.

Because Christ has fulfilled all the righteous requirements of God’s law, God is bound to save us. If you say, “Lord Jesus, You are my Savior,” you can turn to God and say, “God, You must forgive me, whether You like it or not. You are righteous if You forgive me, but You are unrighteous if You do not forgive me.” We can say this to God because Christ has fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law, and, as a result, God is bound by His righteousness to save us. Righteousness, therefore, is a mighty bond God cannot escape—He must save us because He is righteous. (The Conclusion of the New Testament, (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)

Even if we don’t understand the depths of God’s salvation, we should all at least see this: We are saved because of God’s righteousness. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you want to study this application of God’s righteousness a little more, we invite you to read more on this topic.

About the Believers – The Human Spirit

Zechariah 12:1 The burden of the word of Jehovah concerning Israel. Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Ephesians 2:22 In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit,

Ephesians 6:18 By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints,

Romans 1:9a For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son

Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Fellowship to help us know Christ and pursue Him

God created us with a human spirit for good reason. The human spirit matches God’s Spirit so that God can dispense Himself into us. We know from John 4:24 that God is Spirit, and by all the verses above (and so many more) we also see that we have a human spirit. By it we contact God and receive Him! John 3:6 shows us that the part in our being where we were born again was our human spirit.

A hymn titled “There’s a Life That’s Deeper than our Mind” talks about touching our human spirit. In this hymn there is also a call to the Christ who is in our spirit to come make home in our heart– that is, to spread out from our human spirit to our whole being. (You can see the lyrics to the whole hymn here: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/ns/217 ).

When we touch our spirit—such a thrill!
This is far beyond emotion, mind, and will—
It’s within our hidden part—
Come, make home in all our heart;
Let Your presence flow as rivers deep within.

All the genuine spiritual experiences in our Christian life are experiences in our human spirit.

We may have previously thought that we were only made of an inner part and an outer part, but the Bible reveals a third part, the human spirit. How wonderful it is to discover our human spirit!

We invite you to read this excerpt on the human spirit. It is only a small portion from a series of lessons designed to impart the truth of the Bible to young people.
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/THE-HUMAN-SPIRIT-2.HTML

 

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