(If you would like to download the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click Here – 151 Lessons on Stumbling, Forgiveness, Faith and Service)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 31, 2017
Lessons on Stumbling, Forgiveness, Faith and Service
Today we close out another year, and this evening we begin a new one. This is traditionally a time of reflection as people consider how they have spent their time, what they have accomplished, and what they should change in the new year to be more wise in their time usage and progress toward accomplishing their goals. While this type of reflection can and should take place throughout the year, there is something about the change of a calendar that forces the issue. So in keeping with Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90, “so teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom,” I encourage you to take some time this afternoon or tomorrow to reflect and consider what God has done in your life this year and what you would like to see him do in 2018.
In keeping with that same theme, turn to Luke 17. We will be examining the first 10 verses this morning to study the four lessons that Jesus gives to His disciples as a conclusion to a series of teaching sessions that began in Luke 13. These four lessons cover issues of what has been, what is now, and what the future should be if they will be careful to follow what He commands. These lessons should have the same application in our own lives as they cause us to reflect on the inevitability of stumbling, the necessity of forgiving, the quest for increasing faith and having the proper attitude in serving God.
Stumbling Blocks are Inevitable – Luke 17:1-2
Luke 17:1 begins, “And He said to His disciples.” The setting for this is somewhere in Galilee where Jesus has been teaching an increasingly large crowd made up of tax-gathers, sinners, Pharisees, scribes and His disciples. Jesus addresses different groups within the multitude for specific lessons He wanted to emphasize to them. Everyone else is still listening and will have application to them, but the primary lesson is to particular portions of the crowd. The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and the lost son and his older brother were specifically to the Pharisees and scribes who did not rejoice at the repentance of sinners. The stories were both a rebuke of them and a challenge to them to reflect on what was occurring in heaven and join the celebration. (See: Rejoicing Over the Repentant) The parable of the unrighteous steward in Luke 15 was specifically to the disciples as a challenge to them to use their earthly wealth wisely in making friends to evangelize with the gospel of God’s kingdom and not fall into the trap of the Pharisees who served mammon. (See: Prudent Stewardship) The parable of the rich man and Lazarus was the capstone of Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees about the ultimate consequences of their self righteousness. They were destined to punishment of eternal suffering if they did not repent. (See: The Destiny of the Unrighteous)
In Luke 17, Jesus turns His attention once again to His disciples. What Jesus teaches in this section is not arbitrary, but four lessons in humility necessary for them to avoid falling into the trap of self-righteousness as had the Pharisees. Because Jesus’ rebukes of the Pharisees are at times so strong, it is easy to forget that most of them were sincere in their religious beliefs and desired to fulfill God’s commands as they understood them. That was the source of their traditions which were the causes of so many of the conflicts between them and Jesus. Their traditions had obscured God’s law to the point that it was no longer known, and in some cases were in contradiction to God’s commands. The danger is real for it is easy for any of us to develop ideas about how to obey God that become traditions that can replace God’s commands with man’s standards. Humility is a protection against falling into the sin of self-righteousness.
The first lesson in humility is related to the fact that sin is real and unavoidable followed by a warning about the seriousness of sin and its consequences. 1 And He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
This is a serious warning which is made more serious by the fact that Jesus said this to His disciples. Let me break this down a little to see why.
First, He warns about something that is inevitable. The phrase here is emphatic. It would have been a stern warning if Jesus has simply said that stumbling blocks would come, but He puts even greater emphasis upon it by stating it as a negative. He uses the word ajnevndektoV / anendektos which is the negation of the word for possible and hence impossible combined with another negative to produce an absolute positive. A literal translation of this phrase is, “it is impossible that the stumbling blocks not come,” or as the Lexham version puts it, “It is impossible for causes of stumbling not to come,” and so it is also translated as what is inevitable, unavoidable, invariably occurring. The ESV translates this as “temptations are sure to come,” and though this and the similar NASB translations are strong statements, I think you can sense stronger emphasis of the double negation as in Young’s, “It is impossible for the stumbling blocks not to come.” This is a serious warning made more serious by its certainty. It will happen.
Second, what will happen is also unsettling. The word here variously translated as stumbling block, cause of stumbling, offense, and temptation is skavndalon / skandalon and refers specifically to the trigger in a trap that causes it to close. A rock could be held up or a box of some type held open by a stick to which bait would be attached so that when an attempt is made to take the bait, the stick is moved out of place and the rock or box would fall trapping the animal. Or a rope could be tied to the stick and the hunter could watch and wait until the prey was under the trap, then pull the rope causing the trap to fall over the prey. The word broadened so that it could be used to refer to the entire trap, and then metaphorically to a cause of ruin or a cause of stumbling either physically, morally or spiritually. This metaphorical sense became its most common usage in the Septuagint which transferred to its usage in the New Testament which primarily uses it with reference to a relationship with God.
Jesus’ usage of skavndalon / skandalon here is in this metaphorical sense of a stumbling block that causes a moral, spiritual ruin. The origin of this word is revealing because it includes both aspects of a cause of ruin. There is the trap itself which would have bait of some type to attract a victim to it. That is why this word is sometimes translated as temptation which emphasizes this enticement. There is also the person who sets the trap and possibly is watching carefully and ready to trigger the trap to catch his prey. That is why the word is sometimes translated as offense. Jesus deals with both aspects in this passage. First will be a warning to those who set such stumbling blocks. Second will be the forgiveness that needs to be extended to those who stumble and are trapped by the sin.
It is not possible that stumbling blocks will not come. Temptation to sin is inevitable, and those that will seek to entice you to spiritual and moral failure are unavoidable. The danger is serious and Jesus pronounces the strongest of warnings against those who would be the cause of such stumbling blocks. “Woe to him through whom they come.” A woe is an interjection expressing either grief or denunciation. When used as a denunciation as it is here, it is a warning of impending disaster, horror, doom.
There are many woes given in the Scriptures. Jesus pronounces a series of eight woes against the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 because of their religious hypocrisy. He pronounced a woe against Judas for his betrayal adding that it would have been better for him to never have been born (Matthew 24:19). In Revelation the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets are as series of three woes upon the earth. A woe is declaration of impending serious disaster. It is meant to cause you to sit up and take notice, to pay close attention and heed the warning.
Jesus adds a description to the woe in verse 2, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Millstone is a combination of two words, livqoV / lithos, a stone, and muvloV / mulos, a mill, something used to grind grain into meal or flour. Millstones came in various sizes, but whatever the size, it’s weight would pull the person under water to drown, and no amount of struggle on their part could get them to the surface again. It would be a horrible way to die.
Jesus’ use of the phrase, “these little ones,” in this context pushes us to believe it is a reference to those that were new to faith in Jesus. There is no mention of children being present, but there were many tax-gatherers and sinners there that were repenting and being the source of joy in heaven. That was the point of Jesus’ parables given earlier that day in Luke 15.
It would be expected that such a warning would be given to the Pharisees and lawyers that were present because their religious hypocrisy was an obvious source of stumbling to others, and certainly the context here includes them in this warning. This warning would also likewise apply to anyone that was an advocate of a false religion or a false teacher of a cult. It would also be blatantly obvious of those that were in open rebellion against God and those advocating immorality. What is frightening in this passage is that Jesus is specifically speaking to the disciples, so it is not just a warning to them about what will happen to other people that do this, but also a warning that they must avoid it.
Why would Jesus do that? Both John 6 and 8 record those who were supposedly His disciples that would not walk with Him anymore and those that believed in Him that rejected Him. Just because someone claims to believe and follow Jesus does not mean they will continue to do so. Remember, Judas Iscariot was among the twelve. In addition, Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
The necessity of this warning has been proven over and over throughout church history and in the present. Good churches are perverted or destroyed by men who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they replace the doctrines of God with their own musings to lead people astray in a variety of different ways. It could be blatant heresy that is easily discernable to anyone who is actually reading the Bible. There are plenty of those types of false teachers on what is supposed to be Christian media – TV, radio, internet and books. There are also those who are more subtle and seem both Biblical and pious, but they have replaced the grace of God with self-righteous legalism much as the Pharisees did. Their message of salvation is faith in Jesus plus the particular standard of works they advocate. However, salvation as taught in the Bible is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Adding anything to it poisons it to bring about God’s just condemnation of the self-righteous.
Because there will be stumbling blocks and those who put them in your path, sin is also inevitable even for believers. 1 John 1:8 even states, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:10 adds, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Because of that Jesus addresses how we need to deal with one another.
Forgiveness Must Be Extended – Luke 17:3-4
3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
The command is to be on guard! Be aware and be ready for what will come. That not only includes the stumbling blocks that will be put before you, but also those around you that trip over them. For yourself, be alert to the temptations that will come before you. Be careful to follow the command of Hebrews 12:1-3 to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles [you], and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before [you], fixing [y]our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . .” considering His example “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Remember as well 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
In regard to others, be ready to take action when they stumble and sin. This begins with a rebuke and then continues on to forgiveness.
To rebuke (ejpitimavw / epitima ) is to express strong disapproval. It carries the idea of finding fault, blame and admonishing for it. Jesus puts this in a context here of something that is done as a brother. This is strong, but not harsh. It finds fault and warns, but is not condemning. It is to carry out the various commands of scripture to be discerning to recognize the sin in another and correct it for the purpose is to restore the one sinning to a proper walk of righteousness, yet also be humble out of recognition of your own weaknesses and sin, and out of a motivation of brotherly love. In Matthew 7 the command is to take the log out of your own eye so that you can help your brother with the speck in his own. In Matthew 18 the escalation of rebuke and confrontation is out of a motive of winning your brother back until the last step when the motivation changes to protecting others from the danger of the sinning brother. In Galatians 6 it is done for the purpose of restoration with a spirit of gentleness willing to bear the burden of the one who has been caught in a trespass.
Forgiveness is to then be granted to those that repent. This is specifically speaking in reference to the offense that the person has made against you by their sin. Since all sin is primarily against God for it is the breaking of His commands, it is only God that can forgive the ultimate penalty of those sins which is the eternal punishment Jesus described in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. He did not do this arbitrarily or in defiance of any of His other attributes. His holiness and justice were upheld by paying the penalty of the sin Himself through Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus, the Messiah, became a man, lived a sinless life, then voluntarily died on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for sin. His resurrection proved His sacrifice was sufficient and that all His claims and promises are true. His price of redemption is applied to all who believe in Him. They are forgiven and adopted into God’s family assured of eternal life with Him.
You cannot believe in Jesus without a corresponding repentance of your sin and self-righteousness. In a similar manner, human relationships cannot be made right without the repentance of the one that has sinned. Love can cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) in reflection of God’s tolerance, patience and longsuffering. In human relationships, this is overlooking the minor irritations that arise. But when there are sins of offense that arise that disrupt that relationship, then there must be repentance on the part of the one that sinned and forgiveness on the part of the offended for a proper restoration of the relationship to take place.
Let me emphasize and expand on that point here. Christians are to forgive in the same way that God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). This means a sin against us can be unilaterally overlooked or tolerated and forgiveness must be offered, but there is no proper restoration of the relationship broken by the sin until that forgiveness is accepted. In other words, as a reflection of what God has done for us in Christ, we offer forgiveness to those who have offended us, but until that person repents, that is, they change their mind and accept the responsibility for their offense, they will not accept forgiveness for they have no recognition they have done anything wrong. The relationship will remain hindered or even broken though forgiveness remains offered. In addition, you can only forgive the aspects of the sin that are against you. The offender’s sin against others remains.
Jesus commands us to do our part and forgive. We do whatever we can so far as it depends on us to be at peace with others (Romans 12:18). Restitution may be needed or the one offended may bear the costs himself, but either way, the impediment to the relationship is removed. We no longer hold on account the wrong suffered, which is an act of love (1 Corinthians 13:5). This is to be the normal way of life for those who are followers of Jesus. He stresses this with His statement about the frequency of forgiving in verse 4.
If forgiving someone once is difficult for us as humans, how can you keep forgiving someone who keeps sinning against you the same way? First, notice that repentance is still a requirement for this. Immediately someone will argue, it can’t be true repentance if they keep doing the same sin? Perhaps, but then how often does God forgive you for the same repeated sin? Some sins are easy to turn from and not repeat, but be honest about those you have difficulty with and keep repeating. What about lying? Less than gracious language? Selfish attitudes? Pride? Covetousness? Idolatry – letting something else be more important to you than God? Failure to fulfill the many “one another” commands – love, be devoted, be patient, be kind, be hospitable, comfort, encourage, etc., We are to forgive in the same manner and same frequency as God as a reflection of Him controlling our lives.
Faith Must Increase – Luke 17:5-6
The response of the disciples demonstrates that they understood what Jesus was saying and they knew this would be difficult. To avoid sinning or being a cause of others to sin, along with being on guard to both rebuke and forgive sinning brothers was more than they could humanly do on their own. They recognized their weakness, and responded in verse 5, 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” It is a plea that God will add to their faith so that they will be able to carry out the Lord’s commands. I think this is in reference to all that Jesus had been teaching since the beginning of Luke 15 and not just about forgiving in this manner.
This is an excellent response on their part since it reveals that: 1) They recognize their need for greater faith. They do not want weak or little faith (Luke 12:28). They want great faith that is strong (Luke 7:9; Romans 4:19-20). They request more faith. 2) They recognize that faith is required for them to fulfill the Lord’s commands (Hebrews 11:6). 3) They recognize that the source of faith is the Lord and not themselves (Matthew 16:17; John 6:65). We do well to recognize the same truths and seek God for a greater and stronger faith. You cannot successfully live the Christian life by your own strength and will power. It can only be done by walking by faith with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ response to them is both mildly corrective and encouraging. 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”
The mild correction here is that they were not in need of additional faith. They had enough faith. What they needed was a higher quality faith, for faith is not a commodity by which you fill a larger sized basket. Faith is belief and trust in God Himself that grows stronger and more pure. The description of Abraham’s faith in Romans 4:19-21 illustrates this well. 19 “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
The measure of faith is its trust in God. It grows stronger as knowledge of Him and His promises increase coupled with greater trust in Him, His character and that He will fulfill His promises. Jesus’ illustration was to demonstrate that a small amount of faith can be a great faith.
The mustard seed was commonly used as an illustration of something that is little since it was the smallest of agricultural seeds used in that culture. The sycamine (sukavminoV / sukaminos) tree mentioned here is either the black mulberry which grows to about twenty feet, or the sycamore fig which is a large, broad heavy tree reaching heights of fifty feet. Whichever tree is meant, it is used to describe a tree which would have been difficult to uproot, which is used as an illustration of great faith. Jesus is not suggesting that people demonstrate their faith by uprooting trees and planting in the sea. He is simply illustrating that a small faith can do great things when the trust is in the correct object. That object of faith is the Lord, for He is the one that does the work, not the faith itself.
This is an encouragement that not only can they be on guard to avoid stumbling blocks, overcome those that are such causes of stumbling, and forgive others their trespasses against them, but that they already have enough faith to accomplish all that God desires from them. The same is true for us. Our desires and prayers for ourselves and one another should be for a strengthening of the faith we already have as we learn more of God and His will which increases our spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9). We also seek spiritual maturity through both the good and bad experiences of life which make us more discerning of God’s hand at work and more confident in His love for us proven at Calvary (Romans 5:3-8). True Christians do not need additional faith, they only need to exercise what they already have to make it stronger.
Service is Expected – Luke 17:7-10
The final lesson that Jesus gives to the Disciples in this session of teaching is on humility. It is in direct contrast to the religious self-righteous who thought that their good works earned them something from God. The underlying premise of their actions was that by obeying God’s commandments, God became obligated to them. Jesus destroys their premise and explains the true relationship humans have with God.
7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? 8 “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ “
The story is a hypothetical set in reality. There is no record that any of the disciples had a slave, and none of them are recorded to have been farmers. However, the story is one they and all those listening could easily understand because slavery was normal in the Roman world. The relationship between slaves and masters was well known. Jesus uses this as a simple illustration of the true relationship we have with our God. He is our creator. He is our master. We are simply creatures which He has made for His own purposes. That He provides and cares for us is a reflection of His character, not our value. That He has mercy and grace to redeem you from your sinful state and adopt you into His family is also a reflection of His nature, not your worthiness.
Jesus makes it plain and clear here. Even if you somehow managed to keep every single one of God’s commandments and served Him perfectly according to every aspect of His will, then you will have only done what you should have done. You will only have accomplished the purpose of your creation. You have earned nothing from God, and He has no obligation to reward you. You only have a continuing obligation to serve Him.
This destroys every aspect of the Pharisaical system of earned righteousness. It forces a truth that destroys any basis of human pride before God. You do not have to like the truth, but you do need to recognize it and learn to live within reality or face the devastation of eventually running into its unmovable wall. You do not want to be like the rich man in Jesus’ story to the Pharisees that discovered the truth only after it was too late and it was forced upon Him.
Jesus’ story here is stark and stern against human pride. Tragically, many reject God because of this very point. They blaspheme Him as some type of ogre who is cruel toward man because He does not give man what they think man deserves. They only prove they are ignorant and foolish with selfish, sinful and prideful hearts.
The truth is that God only punishes the sinner with exactly what he has earned. Revelation 20:12-13 states explicitly that every one of them will be judged “according to their deeds.” What sinful man does not want to recognize is the truth that their deeds condemn them.
Perhaps the greater tragedy is that sin blinds people to the truth of God’s character. Though He owes us nothing, not even a thank you for service rendered to Him, yet out of His own character and nature, He provides for all of creation and sustains life. God is longsuffering, patient and kind. He then goes further to redeem sinful man by paying the penalty of sin Himself in Jesus Christ offering forgiveness, eternal life and adoption into His family to all that will believe. I do not understand such love, but I am very glad it is true. I am but a creature made by God, an unworthy slave whose every service is at best only what I should do, yet my Lord forgives my sins against Him and invites me to join Him at His table as His adopted son forever.
2018 is about to begin. There is no better time to align yourself with the truth. Recognize the danger of stumbling blocks and those who set them. People will sin against you, and you will sin against other people. Forgive others as God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. Forgive others the same way you would want them to forgive you. Seek to grow in the knowledge of God and His will so that your faith will grow, and exercise it so that it may become stronger as your trust in God grows. Seek to follow and serve Christ with all your heart, grateful for the opportunity and in praise of Him that He is a good master who loves and cares for those who belong to Him.
Sermon Notes – 12/31/2017
Lessons on Stumbling, Forgiveness, Faith and Service – Luke 17:1-10
This is a time of year for _________, and Luke 17 covers 4 issues to consider as you approach the New Year
Stumbling Blocks are Inevitable – Luke 17:1-2
Jesus has been teaching a __________crowd giving attention to particular portions of it for different lessons
Jesus turns His attention to His ____________with four lessons in humility to avoid being like the Pharisees
We should be ____________because sin is real and is unavoidable
The statement is ____________: “it is impossible that the stumbling blocks not come” – They are inevitable
Stumbling block, skavndalon / skandalon, referred to the trigger on a _________or the entire trap
Metaphorically it refers to a cause of __________or stumbling either physically, morally or spiritually
Two causes of ruin: The ________which is temptation, and the person who set the trap is an offense
A woe is an interjection expressing either grief or denunciation – a _______of coming disaster, horror, doom
Vs 2 is an illustration of the ___________nature of the woe pronounced – a millstone used to drown you
The “little ones” are _______believers – such as the tax-gathers and sinners that were repenting
Jesus’ warning is appropriate for the Pharisees and the self-righteous, but it is also given to His __________
There are many _________teachers in our own time, both those with obvious heresy and those falsely pious
Sin is ____________even for believers – 1 John 1:8, 10
Forgiveness Must Be Extended – Luke 17:3-4
Be on _________! Be aware and ready for what will come – stumbling blocks and those who trip over them
Rebuke is expression of strong disapproval, finding fault, and admonishing – in this context, as a _________
Sin is primarily against ________, and He provided a means of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ
Repentance is necessary to be right with God, and also to restore proper ____________relationships
Christians are to forgive in the __________way that God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32)
God forgives our multiple and ___________offenses as we repent, we are to forgive others in the same way
Faith Must Increase – Luke 17:5-6
The disciples make a plea for additional faith so that they could carry out the Lord’s ______________
They recognize their need and plea for the Lord’s help in recognition that _________must come from God
Jesus’ correction is mild – they do not need additional faith, they only need a _________faith – Rom. 4:19-21
The measure of faith is its ___________in God
Mustard seed was used as common illustration of something that is ________because it is a very small seed
The sycamine (sukavminoV / sukaminos) tree is deeply rooted & used to illustrate what would be _________
Jesus is illustrating that a small faith can do great things when the trust is in the _________object – the Lord
This is an encouragement that they ___________have enough faith to accomplish what God desires
Faith is strengthened by increasing ___________of God & His will and seeing His hand at work in our lives
Service is Expected – Luke 17:7-10
This hypothetical story set in ________exposes the direct contrast between self-righteousness and humility
If you kept all of God’s commandments and served Him perfectly, you will only have done what is _______
This truth destroys all systems of self-righteous justification and human _________before God
Many reject God at this point because they believe their own goodness can make ___________from God
God will judge all sinners “according to _________________” (Rev. 20:12-13) and be condemned by them
God owes man nothing, yet based on ____________alone, He redeems and forgives man through Christ
A mere creature, an unworthy slave, is forgiven and invited to be _________into God’s family through Jesus
Recognize the danger of stumbling blocks and be on __________
Forgive others as _________has forgiven us in Christ Jesus
Strengthen your _____by increasing in your knowledge of God and His will and discerning His work in you
Humbly seek and serve Christ with all your heart, thankful for a good ________who loves and cares for you
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “Jesus” is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents how you can be forgiven by God and how you can forgive others.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Take some time to reflect on 2017 and consider what you would like to change for 2018. What is the setting of Luke 17? Where is Jesus and to whom has He been speaking? What are some important lessons He has already taught the various groups within the multitudes? Why is Jesus now focusing on His disciples again? What is a “stumbling block” and why is it dangerous? Why are they “inevitable”? What is a “woe”? Why does Jesus pronounce a woe on those that are causes of stumbling to others? Why would it be better for such a person to drown with a millstone around their neck? Who are the “little ones”? Explain. Why is this warning appropriate for the Pharisees, false teachers and self-righteous? Why then does Jesus give this warning to His disciples? What must the Christian be on guard against (vs. 3)? How should the Christian face temptation? What does it mean to rebuke? Describe the manner in which a Christian should rebuke another believer? What does it mean to forgive? Why must the origin of forgiveness be in God? What is the relationship of forgiveness to repentance? On what basis does God forgive sinners? Explain. On what basis to Christians forgive one other? How does God forgive people sins that are repeated? How can a Christian continue to forgive someone who repeats the same sins against them? What is the origin of faith? What is the meaning of the Lord’s illustration in vs. 6? How does faith become strong? Is your faith becoming stronger? Explain. How does Jesus’ illustration in vs. 7-10 destroy pride and the Pharisaical system of righteousness? Why is this illustration often so hard for even Christians to accept? Does God owe you anything? Why or why not? Why should you be grateful that God is your master?
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