[Jesus continued,] "I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
"I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."
— Matthew 18:18-20 NLT
Several key understandings are implicit in this passage:
- Because the Lord is present when two or three of his disciples are gathered together, his power and authority are present, too.
- The power of two or three to agree is not a general statement — in other words, this is not a blanket promise that if two Christians agree about something, God will have to carry it out. It is in the context of church discipline, sin, and fellowship that these verses apply.
- Because the power and the authority of the Lord are present, the agreement between these Christians is a reflection of what has already happened in heaven, not vice versa! (This is a key grammatical issue that most conservative scholarly commentaries can help us understand.)
The Lord is present when his people gather together. The fellowship they share is vital. The decisions that are made under the Lord's guidance by the Christians gathered reflect the decisions in heaven. To put it succinctly: Jesus wants his disciples to be a redemptive community of Godly character.
Holy God, make our churches more like you want them to be. Draw us into deeper fellowship. Give us a deeper commitment to your holiness. Give us a revulsion against sin and yet a deep love for those struggling to move from sin in their lives. We want to be your family that reflects the grace and character of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.