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.

The other day a brother and I were praying for another when he quoted parts of these verses when in his prayer. It got me to thinking about how these verses are possibly the two that I hear believers quote most out of context when praying. Both verses each have their own catch phrases that tend to be utilized by young and/or untrained believers. Many believers nowadays who appear mature and seasoned are still only doing what they’ve heard from some preachers, trying to claim the promises of God. However, was that Jesus’ intent here? Was He merely trying to teach us the formula of what and how we need to do things so we can claim His promises to get our prayers answered?

When people misused verse 19 it is actually somewhat troublesome to me, because they’ve been taught that by getting me or another to consent in agreement with them that they’re more likely to receive that for which they are praying. This flawed understanding causes these believers to be in a position of literally trying to do certain things so they can then apply faith to their prayers rather than simply praying because of faith. Sadly, I am certain there are many Christians out there who wouldn’t even understand what I just said. Because of their incorrect understanding they imagine “faith” is something they must muster up to somehow compel God to move on their behalf or to even hear their prayers.

I often see this naive effort to apply faith to prayer when people conclude their prayer request with a notable change in their tone as they say the words “In Jesus name.” It almost reminds me of when I was a kid and we would see a another kid aspiring to be a magician wave his wand and say the magical word “Abracadabra!” Because that was the magical word, saying that word is what made it the trick work. We know faith comes by hearing and that hearing the word of God, but obviously many are hearing the word of God incorrectly and failing to realize it when they are. Such faulty hearing leaves them 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 they feel the need to verbally acknowledge the Lord has to be there because “two or three are gathered together” in the Lord’s name. When I hear such usages of the scriptures it always astonishes me; because these are not the context in which the scriptures are given. But that is why I am writing this post in the first place, to go over these verses as to why they are misused and to 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 erroneous belief that if two or three agree on something “as touching” that they are going to get it. That is why some people hold hands sometimes when they pray corporately; they feel the need to be “touching.” Most believers have witnessed this on TV religious shows; maybe that is where they were taught it. The speaker calls on the people and those in the viewing audience to all agree together. Sometimes with added touch of people reaching towards the pulpit or those at home laying hands on their TV sets as they pray for everything from a revival, the salvation of family members, physical healing to financial prosperity. It seems the more people can “do” themselves while praying the more likely they are to have the faith for what they are praying for.

This reference to “agree . . . as touching anything” is actually an indication that their faith is authentic; not an instruction to make physical contact. “As touching” in an indication there is 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, touched. Such is the gravity of true faith, it is evidence. It comes from correctly hearing, or rightly dividing the word of truth which brings with it an understanding whereby we lay hold of the promises of God.

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

The “agree” part is an indication that there exists a like-mindedness and unity of faith. Jesus wasn’t teaching us that we should go and solicit others to agree with us about an issue of prayer so it will be more likely to be answered, He was explaining how when if we could come together in a unity and faith regarding something (to be discussed) that our prayers will be answered by Him. Of course, the “agree as touching” or unity of faith will be dependent on each yielding to Holy Spirit for correct understanding by our properly hearing 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 confirm that the Lord is with each of us. To think that we who are the temple of God would not have Christ with us would be to reject many of the promises of God to each of His children. 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 then.

First, the whole chapter from verse 7 to the end is dealing with “offenses.” However, from verses 15 to 35 Jesus is dealing specifically with a “brother” being offended by another and how we are instructed to go and “gain” our brother back. That is because sin separates men from God and each other causing 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 really recognize the thing they did offended someone or perhaps 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 can often only be achieved through unfeigned love and fervent prayer, placing the whole focus on restoring unity and the bond of peace so the body might remain fitly joined together in service and worship 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.” With this comes the authority of the church to cause that sin to be retained till the transgressor acknowledges his offense, or if he acknowledges the truth and repents of his sin to “loose” him from it via prayer and forgiveness. This “retaining” of their sin isn’t our holding the brother in a state of condemnation, for his own continuance in sin does that. Rather it is the responsibility of the Church not to be enablers by “lovingly” ignoring the sin and allowing the sinner to continue in their sin and permitting them to have a false fellowship with the saints. Light and darkness have no meeting place for godly fellowship.

But if the sinner acknowledges their offense, it is here 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 has been rightly divided and the offender is humbled thereby and is asking for forgiveness. 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 and love when we acknowledge His word and repent of our sins.

To take these verses and reduce them to a consenting agreement about anything else it to do considerable damage to the intent of Jesus words. He has instructed us to love one another as He loves us. To humble ourselves, even when we are in the right and to go seeking to restore that one who has perhaps ignorantly slipped out of the path of righteousness. What incredible healing God could work in His church if only they would correctly hear His words that were sent to heal us. Our praying “in Jesus name” is simply the qualifier of our faith, it because of Him and what He has done 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.

Faith works. Faith works by love. Faith comes from hearing and that hearing the truth of God’s heart, love and will for us. The focus of faith is God, His faithfulness to His word because of what He has wrought for us and desires to complete in us through Christ Jesus our Lord. True faith rests solely in His word and what He has done and said He’ll do. Faith is given to us simply because we believe “He hath 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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