God uses the Church to enact His sovereign will.
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Read Matthew 18:15-20
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 83
Q. What are the keys of the kingdom?
A. The preaching of the holy gospel
and Christian discipline toward repentance.
Both preaching and discipline
open the kingdom of heaven to believers
and close it to unbelievers.
One of the key moments in the gospels is when Peter realizes that Jesus is no ordinary teacher. Matthew record of Peter's confession comes in chapter 16, and as soon as Peter exclaims that Jesus "is the Christ, the Son of the living God (v16)," Jesus responds by issuing Peter the 'keys of the kingdom.'
Be lest we conclude that Jesus was giving this massive power to just one individual, Jesus uses nearly the same phrase over again a couple of chapters later that we read today, this time as a follow up regarding how to handle conflict in the Church, and this time using the word 'you' in plural: 'whatever y'all bind or loose.' When after going through the multiple steps Jesus prescribes, the Church - certainly not the whole church, but even as few as a couple of representatives of it - comes into agreement on a matter of discipline, the matter is as settled (bound) in heaven as it is in the Church.
In giving the Church this responsibility, God doesn't provide unlimited power. He preserves His sovereignty over all things, including which individuals will be 'bound' and 'loosed.' R.T. France puts it well, “The fact that God has given his people the role of declaring his will on earth does not mean that he is bound to add his divine sanction to anything they may think up.”
It might seem like we should be taking much more advantage of the promise Jesus makes in v19, that if any two of us agree on anything they jointly ask for in prayer, our Father in heaven will do it for them. We certainly should be taking more advantage of the this promise, but we also better understand the parameters of the promise being made here.
First of all, the promise is made in conjunction with the formal administration of the Church, but although this doesn't limit the promise's power just to large group meetings since Jesus applies it to groups as small as two or three, this promise is not meant to guarantee you that when you get together with two or three friends and ask God to grant the Twins or Vikings a championship that God is forced to comply.
The key to this promise comes in the phrase "gathered in my name." This means that those who've come together on behalf of the church in prayer are fully aligned with God's will, and therefore will be asking for things that God eagerly desires to provide.
What are some of the things that God eagerly desires for your church that you ought to be coming together to ask Him for, especially now that you've been reminded of the promise Jesus made to you?
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who lovingly provides for His Church through His Church;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that as you gather with others from the Church that you will be 'gathering in Jesus' name.'
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 24