Friday, January 10, 2014

Where two or three are gather to My Name (Part 4)

III. Now, as usual, I have taken up too much time with these first two heads, for the last is the most important, and that is, AN ASSURANCE MOST ENCOURAGING — “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

First then, very briefly, how is the Lord Jesus there? Notice the exact words. Catch the gracious sense. He does not say, “I will be there,” but he does say, “I am there.” He is the first at the gathering; “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I.” Not “I will be,” though that is true; but he puts it in a more divine fashion, — ”There am I.” Jesus is there already before another arrives. He is the first in the congregation, the first comer in the assembly, and they come gathering to him. He is the center, and they come to him. “There am I.”

How is he there? As we, his people, meet, he is there, because he is in every one of them. It is a blessed thing to see Christ in his people. Did you ever try to do that? I know some who try to see the old man in Christ’s people. It does not take them long to see the body of sin and death, and it is not a refreshing sight when they do see it. But oh, to see Christ in his people — what a charming sight it is! And I think, with regard to every child of God that I know, that I can see a little more of Christ in him than I can see in myself. I cultivate the practice of endeavoring to see my Lord in all his people, for he is there, and it is irreverent not to honor him. He is with them, and is in them; why should we doubt it? That is something worth remembering. If so many temples of the Holy Ghost come together, why, surely, the Holy Ghost himself is there, and the place whereon they stand is holy ground. Jesus is in their thoughts, in their objects, in their desires; ay, and in their groans, in their sorrows, in their spirits, in their inmost souls. Where two or three are gathered together in his name, there is he in the midst of them.

And, next, he is with us in his Word. When the Book is opened, it is not mere words, it is the living and “incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever”; and the Christ is in it as the immortal life, the secret life-germ in every seed that we sow. Christ is the way, if we teach men the road to heaven. Christ is the truth, if we preach the doctrines of grace. Christ is the life, if we enjoy and feed upon his precious name. Where his Word is 60 preached, there he is; for it shall not return to him void, but it shall prosper in the thing whereto he has sent it.

Christ is in his ordinances. He has not dissociated himself from baptism, which is the blessed symbol in which his death, burial, and resurrection are clearly set forth. He has not separated himself from that other ordinance, in which we behold his passion and see the way in which we become partakers of it, by feeding upon his body and his blood. He has promised to be with us even to the end of the world in the keeping up of those divine memorials of his incarnation and atonement, his life and his death.

And then the Lord Jesus Christ is with the assembly by his Spirit. The Spirit is his representative, whom he has sent as the Comforter to abide with us for ever. You must have felt him sometimes convincing you of sin, humbling you, and bowing you down; then cheering you, comforting you, enlightening you, guiding you, relieving you, sustaining you, sanctifying you. Oh, what light he brings! What life he brings! What love he brings! What joy he brings! When the Spirit of God is in the midst of God’s people what merry days they have! What days of heaven upon earth!

Does not this fact that Christ is among his people show us that he must be divine? How can he be everywhere in all the assemblies of his people unless he is the omnipresent God? There may be professing Christians who feel a kind of fellowship with Socinians, but I have none. I will not call them Unitarians, for I am as truly a Unitarian myself as any of them can be. I no more believe in three Gods than I believe in thirty gods. There is but one God to me, and therefore I am in that sense a Unitarian, and Socinians have no right to the name merely because they deny the Godhead of our Lord Jesus. We believe Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one God; but Jesus Christ is God, and whosoever casts that truth away casts away eternal life. How can he enter into heaven if he does not know Christ as the everlasting Son of the Father? He must be God, since he has promised to be in ten thousand places at one time, and no mere man could do that. Next, where is the Lord in the assembly? He has promised to be with his people; but where is he? “There am I in the midst of them.” Not up in the corner, but here in the midst of them is the Lord. He is the center to which all saints gather. He is the sun in the heavens lighting all. He is the heart in the midst of the body giving life to all the members. “In the midst of then.” Is not the: delightful? The Lord Jesus Christ does not come into the assembly of his people to bless the minister only. No, you are all equally 61 near in proportion to the grace of nearness you have received. He is in the midst of you, in the center of all hearts. Like the center of a wheel, from which all the spokes radiate, Jesus Christ is the middle of the company. Armies place the king or some great general in the heart of the host, in the place of honor and command; so, as our army marches to battle, our King is in the center. The King is in the midst of the saints in all his glory, and his presence is their strength and their assurance of victory. Glory be to our present Lord: he is in the midst of us now.

And if he be in the midst of his people, what will he do? Why, he is there to sanction every little gathering of his people — to say to the twos and threes, “You are not Dissenters, for you have met with me. You are not Nonconformists: you are conformed to me, and I am one with you. You are the Established Church — you two or three. I have established you in my everlasting love; those that meet in my name I have established them and I have endowed them; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. I sanction your assemblies if you are my people.” He is there to bless those who supplicate and adore. But, mark you, the text does not say this in so many words; and do not you say it, brother, next time you pray. Did I not hear you say, “Lord, thou hast said, ‘Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, and that to bless them, and do them good‘“? That last little bit is your own. That addition is not in the Bible, for it is not the Lord’s way to say what never need be said. What other blessing do we want than Christ in the midst of us? If he is there, the blessing is not what he gives: but he himself is the blessing. It is not what he does: it is himself. It is not even what he says: it is himself. Oh, blessed be his name for what he gives, and blessed be his name for what he does, and blessed be his name for what he says: but still more blessed be his name because he himself loved us, and gave himself for us, and now comes himself into the midst of his people.

Now, dear friends, if Christ himself be in the midst of his people, he will bring us peace, just as he did when he dropped into the assembly of the eleven, the doors being shut. He stood and said, “Peace be unto you!” and when he had said that he showed them his hands and his side. It was himself, his own peace, and his own person which made his disciples glad. Then he said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” This was his own commission from his own lips to his own servants, and baying said this, he breathed on them and said. “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Thus his own breath and his own Spirit coming upon them made them strong for 62 service, and that is what he means when he says, “I am in the midst or then.”

Does not this make our meetings delightful — Christ in the midst of us? Does not this make our meetings important? How one ought to strain a point to be there! If we have met with Christ aforetime we shall not bear to be away. We shall long to meet him again, and count it a great denial if we must be absent. Does not this make our meetings influential? The gatherings of God’s people are centres of influence. When the gathering contains but two or three, if Christ is there, the eternal power and Godhead are present; and out of this Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Where even two or three are met together, and he is in the midst of them, “there breaks he the arrows of the bow, the sword, and the shield, and the battle.” He will make his power known, and the glory of his grace shall go forth out of those little companies even to the ends of the earth:

“Where two or three, with sweet accord, Obedient to their sovereign Lord, Meet to recount his acts of grace, And offer solemn prayer and praise: “‘There,’ says the Savior, ‘will I be, Amid this little company: To them unveil my smiling face, And shed my glories round the place.’”

“Oh, but,” say you, “the pulpit is the great power of God, is it not?” I answer, it is so because of the prayers of God’s people. One may speak, but what of that, unless the rest shall pray? Preaching is God’s ordinance — his battle-axe and weapons of war; but, as far as the church is concerned, the arm that wields these weapons must be the prayer of the whole body of the faithful — the gathering together of the saints in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Wherefore, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,” but come ye together as often as ye have opportunity, not neglecting other duties, but balancing them one with the other. He says, “Seek ye my face.” Let your cry be, “Thy face, Lord, will we seek.” When Sir Thomas Abney was Lord Mayor of London, in the middle of the banquet which takes place on the first night, he disappeared for a quarter-of-an-hour, and when he came back, he said to the friends around him that he had been keeping a particular engagement with a most intimate friend, and so he had retired for awhile. That appointment was to have family prayer with his household in the 63 Mansion House, and that gathering for prayer he would not have given up on any account whatever. Say to all other things, “You must stand back, I have a particular appointment; I must meet the Lord Jesus Christ with two or three of his people. He says that he will be there, and I should not like him to say, ‘Where is my servant? Where is my son? Where is my daughter? Are they absent when I am here?’”

It is such a blessing to get to know the Lord Jesus personally. I heard the other day of a famous infidel, an agnostic, — that is, an ignoramus, a person who knows nothing, — and he went to a certain house to meet an elderly lady of considerable literary renown. He was told that she believed in the Word of God, and was a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus, so he thought that he would have a word with her before he went away.

“Madam,” said he, “I have been astonished to hear one thing of you. I hear that you believe in the Bible.” “Yes, sir,” she said, “every word of it.” “And pray, Madam,” he said, “however came you to believe in that book?” She replied, “One of the principal reasons that I have for believing in the Book is that I am intimately acquainted with the Author of it.” That was a blessed answer. Faith gets to know Christ; and so, knowing Christ, and meeting him in the midst of his people, it becomes armed against all unbelief, and goes forth in its panoply conquering and to conquer. So will it be with you, beloved, if you meet the Well-beloved alone in your closets, and if you add to this a frequent attendance at the holy assembly. I pray you, do not let us have to complain that one of you is away. Come always. My heart will rejoice if our meetings are filled with men and women who there seek communion with Jesus. Come, for Jesus is with us. Come, for it would be most unseemly for him to be here and you away. I pray you come, and make this house like heaven, which is thronged with shining ones who rejoice because Jesus is in their midst. Amen. - C.H. Spurgeon

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