Gathered Together in His Name

Matthew 18:20  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Listen from:
With regard to our behavior in the house of God, which was brought before us last evening, it is surely of all importance that we know what it is to be truly gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: for, of such, He is " in the midst." Few passages of scripture are more frequently quoted, or misquoted, throughout Christendom; than the words which we have just read; and yet how little understood! Now, observe, it does not say, as is often stated, "when two or three are met," but it does say, "gathered together;" for there is no room left for the activity of man's will, because it is evidently the action of the Holy Ghost thus to gather. Observe also, He said, "in my name," for it is only to His name that any are gathered together according to His mind; and this is certainly a root principle as to our behavior "in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God."
And oh! how precious is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is "in the midst" of us when so gathered! Into what untold blessedness are we thus brought! What unfathomable resources we have in Him! What a center! What a reality we prove it to be! What unutterable peace and comfort, what savor, what sweetness we enjoy, when occupied with Him who is "in the midst!" It is Himself that then engages us, it is Himself that so fills the vision of our souls that our whole heart becomes filled with thanksgiving and praise!
But we must distinguish between His being "in the midst," and the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost; for we are gathered to the name of Him who died for us. Moreover, ever since the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost has been here, and is always in the church, and in the individual child of God, even if we were never gathered together any more on earth in the name of the Lord Jesus; but, when so gathered, He takes His place "in the midst." What wondrous grace! But does it not show how dear we must be to His heart? I have said "gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," because that is His name since He ascended—"God hath made that same Jesus.... both Lord, and Christ;" and also because it was so used by the apostle. If we speak merely of the name of Jesus it usually connects our thoughts with Him in the days of His flesh, but we are gathered together to the name of Him who is at God's right hand, "our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus we know Him now. Blessed be His holy name!
And when so gathered in the consciousness of His blessed presence, can we fail to think of Him as the One "in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace"? Were not His first words when He appeared "in the midst" of His disciples, after He rose from among the dead, "Peace unto you," and "He showed unto them his hands and his side "? Is it any wonder it was added "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord"? What joy, beloved brethren, it gives, when we are taken up with Him "in the midst" of us, as the One who loved us and gave Himself for us!
But we also know Him who is "in the midst" as the Sender of the Holy Ghost. Before His death on the cross, He said, "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send;" after His resurrection, He said unto His disciples, "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence;" after He was ascended into the heavens, it was said of Him, "Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear." (See John 15:2626But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26); Acts 1:5; 2:335For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)
33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33)
.) Can we then, if truly gathered together in His name, fail to remember Him as the One who sent down the Holy Ghost to be with us on earth as the power for all godly edifying, testimony, and ministry of every kind during the whole time of His absence, yea, to abide with us forever?
Nor should we ever forget that He who is "in the midst" is the Head of the body, the church. In His death on the cross, He gave Himself for us. In Him risen we have life—a life the other side of death—risen life; but in Christ ascended, we have union with Him by the Holy Ghost sent down. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." (1 Cor. 12:1313For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13).) It was also in ascension, as we read at the end of the first chapter of Ephesians, that Christ was given to be "Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." After Christ was given to be Head in heaven, the body was formed on earth when the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost. This being so, and the work going on ever since, how can we be truly gathered together in His name, and occupied with Him who is "in the midst," without entering into this endearing relationship of Head and members, One body—"one new man"? How true it is that
"The Father's smile of love
Rests ever on the members here,
As on the Head above."
And while thus occupied, can we ever fail to remember His sweet promise, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also"? Will not the hope of the Lord's coming be bright and clear on our hearts, if we are really taken up with Him who is "in the midst"? How can it be otherwise? Is it not the most cheering prospect of our hearts that we "shall see his face"? And we know how lovingly He desires to have us with Himself; for He said, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory”. What a "gathering together with him" that will be when we are "caught up" to meet him in the air!
What present blessing, what joy and comfort then are associated with being gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yet how few in Christendom seem to enjoy this sweet privilege! It does not need much spiritual discernment to perceive how far the church at large has drifted away from it.
But there is a very solemn thought in connection with this precious subject. It is that He who is in the midst has eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet are as fine brass, thus judging and disciplining as well as instructing and cheering His people, for He is the "holy" and the "true." Everything is noticed by Him. He can truly say of all, "I know thy works". The One who threatened to remove the candlestick from Ephesus except there was repentance, and said of others at Corinth, "For this cause many are weak, and sickly among you, and many sleep," is the same still. We are not our own, but His. He has redeemed us, He has bought us with a price; yes, and at what a price! We are therefore not to live to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and rose again.
Beloved brethren, the days are evil. Many are being deeply exercised; but it is for our profit. Let us cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and He will assuredly guide and bless us. Without this, let none expect blessing. But as to being gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, can we truly and intelligently do so without knowing Him who is in the midst as the One who has accomplished redemption, as the Giver of eternal life, as the Head in heaven over His members on earth—-one body; as the sender of the Holy Ghost to abide with us forever; as the One who is soon coming to take us to glory and be forever with Him, and like Him; and who now looks for a life and walk in us suited to His holy name. May we know then, dear brethren, how we ought to behave ourselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Croydon. H. H. S.
" For as yet they knew not the scriptures that he must rise from the dead;"—there was faith by sight, but not with the word, and hence there was no gathering; Mary was ignorant, but she had personal attachment to Christ,—the sure way to knowledge as to the church.