The Principles of Reconciliation (04): Summary and Conclusion

Date: 10/17/2010
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Part 4 of a 4 part series.
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The Principles of Reconciliation (04): Summary and Conclusion

In this study we will summarize and organize the principles of reconciliation which we have studied in the past three sermons. We have seen that a) pursuing reconciliation is urgent and central to kingdom living. b) The reason for relational breaches is our own pride. c) The resulting effect of prideful breaches of peace is that "little ones" are lost to the kingdom. d) There are only two categories of "problems" in dealing with others - love covering a multitude of sins (1Pt. 4:8) or confrontation in the biblical process (Mt 5:23, 18:15, Dt. 19:16-17). e) Through the process of Matt. 18:15-20 with first a humble, private confrontation, reconciliation (rather than judgment or vindication) should be pursued. f) This process is self-validating so that the standards of justice (every fact established by multiple witnesses, Dt. 19:15) is met. g) The kingdom’s authority of either absolution unto reconciliation or excommunication is conferred by the Church. h) The kingdom’s power and motivation of reconciliation rests in rejoicing in our own forgiveness. We may organize these principles as follows:

1) The Priority of Reconciliation. There is no more foundational pursuit in living as a Christian than forgiveness. This is plainly taught by Christ (Mt. 5:23, 6:14, 18:1-35). His death was to provide the just basis for our forgiveness and to empower us to forgive others. We have been forgiven so much, how could we not be enabled to forgive others? We are warned by Jesus that if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us (Mt. 6:14, 18:35). When we take initiative in the process of reconciliation, this empowers us to be ready to forgive and to pursue peace with the right spirit (Eph. 4:32).

2) The Problems of Reconciliation. There are only two kinds of "problems," either those we a) forgive without requiring further action, being "tender-hearted" and letting "love cover a multitude of sins" (Eph. 4:32, 1 Pt. 4:8); or b) if issues arise to a higher level, we use the means of sequential, humble confrontation (Mt. 18:15ff) to give opportunity for the "sinner" to be "won." Our temptation, however, is to hold something against someone without doing either, but instead rallying friends to our allegations by gossiping about the alleged "sinner(s)." This is the means of schisms and all kinds of wickedness.

3) The Process of Reconciliation. The process of Matt. 18:15ff provides for the accountability of both the "accused" and the "accuser." At each stage there is the opportunity to "win" the accused/"sinner" as well as to clarify the concern or allegation of the "accuser." This accountability for the accuser is subverted if the accuser makes the problem known to someone else expecting another to convict (or "help") the "sinner/accused." Those who have a "concern" or "accusation" who come for counsel to you should be directed to follow the process. The biblical process corrects factual errors and provides numerous opportunities for reconciliation.


Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more