Where two or three are gathered together in My name . . .

Posted: March 10, 2011 by William E. Males in Devotionals, Shared Thoughts
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Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

A brother and I were praying for another when he quoted parts of these verses in his prayer. It got me to thinking about how these two verses are possibly the ones I hear taken out of context most when praying with others. Each verse seems to have their own catch phrases that tend to be quoted by young or untrained believers. Even believers who appear mature and seasoned are still only repeating without evaluating what they’ve heard from some preacher, trying to “claim” the promises of God. However, I need to ask, is that really Jesus’ intent here? Was He merely trying to teach us the formula of what and how things need to be done so we can then successfully claim His promises and get our prayers answered?

So, wen I hear people misused verse 19, it is actually quite troublesome to me, because they really believe that by getting me or another to stand in agreement with them that they’re more likely to have their prayer answered. This flawed understanding literally keeps these believers in a position of trying to perfect the way they do things so they can have faith for their prayers… rather than simply praying because of faith.

Sadly, I am absolutely certain there are many Christians out there who cannot even understand what I just said. Because they been taught things incorrectly, they are left believing “faith” is something they must somehow muster up to compel God to move on their behalf, or even to hear their prayers.

We often witness another naive, though popular tactic to apply faith to prayer. This happens when people conclude their prayer request with that notable fluctuation in their tone as they say, “In Jesus name!” It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and we would see another kid aspiring to be a magician wave his plastic wand and say “Abracadabra!” That’s because that was the magical word that was going to make the magic trick work.

However, scripture says faith comes by hearing and that hearing the word of God, so obviously many are hearing the word of God incorrectly and are failing to discern when they do. Faulty hearing leaves people trying to apply another kind of “faith” to their prayers, rather than permitting the word of God to be the vehicle whereby true faith is given unto them. That is why scripture states over and over, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.”

Regarding verse 20, it is evident it is being misunderstood by someone when you can sense they feel the need to verbally remind the Lord that there are “two or three are gathered together” in the His name. When I hear such usages of the scriptures it saddens me; because these are not the context in which the scriptures are given. Therefore I am writing this post to go over these verses to show how they are misused and address an error that is too common among those professing to know and walk with the Lord of Glory.

First, let’s look at this belief that if “two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything” then they will get whatever they are praying for. This misunderstanding is one reason why a lot of Christians hold hands when praying corporately. That doesn’t mean holding hands is wrong, but rather believing there needs to be “touching” is wrong. Most believers have witnessed this on religious TV shows, and perhaps that is where they were taught this erroneous belief.

While I discourage viewing the whole video, this is an example of  what many preachers do when they call on the people and those out in the viewing audience to come into an agreement together. Sometimes they will use the added touch of encouraging the people to reach their hands forward towards the pulpit and those at home to lay hands on their TV sets, as they pray for everything from financial prosperity, a revival, the salvation of family members, physical healing, and once again, some more financial prosperity.

It seems the more people can “do” while they are praying the more likely they are to have the faith for what they are praying about. What these preachers are doing is literally asking the people to make a conscious decision to willfully consent to surrender their minds and use their bodies to accept whatever is being told to them to do.

However, Jesus’s reference to “agree . . . as touching anything” is actually to imply an indication that such faith is authentic; and was not issuing an instruction to make physical contact. “As touching” is the proof faith is already present in their hearts; the kind of faith spoken of in Hebrews-

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Substance is tangible; it can be held and thus touched. Such is the gravity of true faith, evidence that has undeniable weight with God. But this faith comes only by correctly hearing, or rightly dividing, the word of truth. A hearing that receives understanding into the heart whereby we firmly lay hold of the promises of God.

Heb 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

When “two of you shall agree ” it is an indication that there exists a like-mindedness and unity of faith. Jesus wasn’t teaching us that we should solicit others to agree about issues of prayer so it will be more likely they will be answered, He was explaining when believers truly come together in a unity and faith regarding something (to be discussed later) then He will hear and their prayers will be answered by Him. Of course, the “agree as touching” or unity of faith will be dependent on each yielding to the Holy Spirit as He imparts to them a correct understanding of a matter through their”hearing” of His word.

Which brings us to verse 20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Perhaps what I would like to do first with this verse is address what it is not saying. It is not saying that there needs to be “two or three gathered together” to have Jesus in our midst. His promise to all His children is evident in the verses below–

Ge 28:15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

There are many other passages that confirms the Lord is with each of His children. Remember, we are the temple of God, so to think Christ would not be with us when alone would be a rejection of the greatest promise of God to never leave or to forsake us. So then, if we are to be good “workman that needs not to be ashamed” and rightly walk in the light of this word, we must determine what Jesus was in fact speaking about.

To start, keep in mind the whole chapter from verse 7 to the end is dealing with “offenses.” However, from verses 15 to 35 Jesus begins dealing specifically with a “brother” being offended by another. When that happens we are instructed to go and “gain” our brother back. That is because sin separates men from God and each other, causing a breach in the unity of faith and the bond of peace to be broken. Jesus begins by telling us to first go privately and explain to our brother how he has “trespassed” against us.

Sometimes people don’t even recognize that the thing they did offended someone, or perhaps know what they did or failed to do was actually a sin. This instruction of scripture requires us to be willing to humble ourselves and to go seeking to remedy the situation by lovingly reasoning with our brother regarding the nature of their offense. Should they fail to hear us individually we are further instructed to take another brother with us so that these truths which are given to guide our love and behavior towards each other “may be established” according to God’s word.

If the brother continues to be unwilling admit or unconvinced that they have truly sinned, then Jesus says we are to tell it unto the whole church so that the whole body can judge the matter and together attempt to persuade the transgressor of his sin. However, the success of this will only be achieved through unfeigned love together with fervent prayer and often times requires fasting; thus placing the whole focus on restoration of unity and the bond of peace so the body might remain fitly joined together in service and worship to the glory of God.

Again, this all comes down to the transgressor humbling himself to correctly hear the word of God regarding the nature of his actions (or inactions). If he hears you, or the multitude of witnesses, then we have gained back our brother. If not, then we are clearly told that a willful sinner who continues to reject God’s word is to be unto us as “an heathen man and a publican.”

This “retaining” of their sin isn’t placing the brother in a state of condemnation, for his own continuance in sin has done that. Rather it is the churches responsibility to not enable sin by allowing people to continue in a known sin by permitting them to continue with us in a false fellowship. Yet this is what churches do all the time under the banner of “Love the sinner, Hate the sin.” Light and darkness have no meeting place for godly fellowship. However, if he acknowledges the truth and repents of his sin, then we can “loose” him from his sin with prayer and forgiveness.

When the sinner acknowledges their offense, it is here that we see the agreement “as touching anything” that Jesus was speaking of. All the parties involved have come to an agreement and a unity of faith regarding both sin and righteousness; the issue having been rightly divided and the offender humbled thereby and now seeks forgiveness. It is here at this precious moment we truly see how “two or three” are gather in Jesus name for righteousness sake and the petition that would be foremost upon their lips and hearts is for the Lord of Glory to forgive and heal the body of believers by strengthening the bond of peace and increasing our passionate charity one for another. Jesus’ promise assures us that He is there in our midst to heal us and bind us together in His Spirit, for He loves when we acknowledge His word and repent of our sins.

To take these verses and reduce them to a willful consent to accept another’s notion or desire about anything else and to pray holding hands to accomplish such, does enormous damage to the true intent of Jesus’ words. He has instructed us to love one another as He loves us and to humble ourselves, even when we are in the right. We are to go seeking restoration of that one who has perhaps ignorantly slipped out of the path of righteousness. Brothers and Sisters, what incredible healing God could work in His church if only they would correctly hear His words that were sent to heal us.

Concerning our praying “in Jesus name,” we do so as the qualifier of the object and reason of our faith; for because of Him and what He has done is why we have faith to come boldly before His throne of grace in our times of need. We know “as touching” that we have our petitions because what we ask is according to His will and not our own, for His glory and not our wants. And thus faith does work, for faith works by love. It comes from hearing and that hearing the truth of God’s heart, love and will for us.

Therefore, faith’s focus is always God and His steadfast faithfulness to His word. Faith exists solely because of what He has wrought for us and desires to complete in us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Faith finds rests only in His word and believing what He has done and what He has said He’ll do; never depending upon anything within or from ourselves. Faith is given to us simply because we believe what “He has said…”

Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

1Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Jesus is always with us. But He is especially there in our midst as a healer to strengthen and bond us together when in love we strive for the unity of the faith, confess our sins and pray for one another, for this is the greatest witness of the Gospel.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Peace to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

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