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A Touch of Heaven

October 27, 2016

Matthew 18 contains a precious jewel of a promise. Miscreants have snatched that promise out of its proper context, broken it apart and sold the pieces at a fraction of their value to the unsuspecting church.

“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

These verses are not a series of three different promises. This is a single promise stated, restated and certified.

Matthew 18:18-20 is the capstone of Jesus’ teaching that began by declaring the childlike the greatest in the kigndom of heaven. Because God cherishes His children so greatly, every expedient must be taken to protect them from stumbling into sin and condemnation. The radical expedient enjoined in verse 17 is the amputation of one member of the body of Christ.

The authority of the church to amputate a member is declared in this promise. God promises His authority and presence with the church when it gathers together in love to call a member to repent. God is present with the church when the church gathers together and in love removes the unrepentant member. What the church does in church discipline is done with God’s blessing and on God’s behalf. But this article is not about church discipline.

When the church binds a Christian to her as a member in good standing that action is a reflection of heaven. When the church releases a Christian from the church that action is a reflection of heaven. When two Christian’s agree together in their prayers about the sin of another what they ask of God will be done for them in heaven.

The promise of Matthew 18 cannot be separated from the the preciousness of God’s children and the necessity of restoring sinning brethren. Yet this promise is built on something astonishing. God is uniquely present in His church when it is seeking His will and following His purposes. When the church acts in the name of God, that is, when the church acts in accord with the will, character and purposes of God, He extends to His church an incredible authority. God allows the church to act and speak on His behalf.

This is crazy! If the history of the church has taught us anything it is that the church is incredibly unreliable. From its earliest years the church has shown itself susceptible to frauds using the body of Christ for their own gain. Yet, God has given the church body- not the universal church, but the local church- a unique authority to do that which is also done in heaven.

If this isn’t about church discipline, what is it about? It is about your local church. Your church family is much more than a gathering of people who go through the same routines every Sunday. Your church prayer meeting is more than a handful of people giving an “organ recital”. When the local church gathers together under the authority of God to do the will of God then that church is an expression of heaven!

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