OUT OF THE WOODS
by J.F.T. Woods
Q.The Bible says, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father, who is in heaven.
" My mother had cancer. Our whole church agreed in prayer repeatedly that she should be healed, but she still died. Was this from lack of faith on our part? What can I believe about the promises of God after such a disappointment as this happened to me?
A.I'm sorry about your loss. I can identify with your grief, as I lost my own mother after a "prayer of agreement" also. Each of us has different messages for the various people in our lives. In this, Christ is not different. He frequently said things to one individual or group that could hardly be applicable to another individual or group. Certainly we would not take "Tell no one that I am the Messiah" as a directive to us today. It was spoken, for very good reason, to someone else at another time. It is God's Word for us...that is for our learning, but it is not God's Word to us...that is for our application. In the verse that you mention (Matthew 18:19), Christ was addressing the Twelve. We must not limit Him by requiring Him to speak only words that apply universally; we do not so limit ourselves or each other. Some of His words are addressed to all. Some are addressed only to believing Jews, some to unbelievers. Some to individuals: His mother, the apostle Peter, the woman at the well, even Satan. Scripture and reason forbid us to make too general an application of words spoken to specific individuals or groups. This promise was for the Twelve, to meet a specific need and accomplish a definite purpose regarding God's program at a given time. There are many wonderful promises made to us, the Body of Christ, in the Pauline Epistles. Other promises made to all of God's people at all times can be found throughout Scripture and applied to us as well as to those of other dispensations. This is not one of them. God has not promised the miraculous healings that belong to the Millennial Dispensation to us who occupy the Dispensation of Grace. Nor has He promised us that He will deliver on anything on which any two of us agree. God sometimes revealed His will to the Twelve by direct divine revelation to them. We determine His will by a study of His Word, rightly divided. Prayer must always be according to His will.
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