Monday, July 23, 2018

The Power of Two or Three

The Scriptures have much to teach us about the power of two or three believers. Let's examine that in God's Word to see what it says.

All Things Established
Firstly, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. This was taught in the law by Moses and repeated in the New Testament, and I would like you to keep this point in mind as you read through the remainder of my points in this article.

Moses wrote, "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed." (Deu 19:15)

Likewise, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "This will be my third visit to you. 'Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'” (2 Co 13:1, NIV). It's interesting to see how Paul even applied that verse from the law to his visits to the Corinthians. He considered his third upcoming visit there to be a confirming one that would establish the matters there that he was writing to them about.

The Holy Trinity
God Himself is one God in three divine Persons, and we see this Trinity all throughout Scripture.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27)

As I wrote in my article, The Holy Trinity, the Hebrew word for "God" here is "Elohim", which is a plural noun. In order for it to be plural, that means it must refer to more than one, even though we know that God is one (Deut 6:1). And even if you don't know any Hebrew, you should be able to easily see in these verses in Genesis 1:26-27 that there is more than one divine Person, since God speaks of Himself in the first person plural. He uses terms like "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." He was certainly speaking of Himself in the plural form.

Another example of the Trinity all in one verse is the words of Jesus before His ascension, when He said, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49). Here we have Jesus speaking about "the Promise," which is the Holy Spirit, and the Father, so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in one verse.

Then again He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:7-8). Here we have Jesus speaking of himself when He says "My" witnesses, and of the Father when He says, "times or epochs which the Father has fixed," and of the Holy Spirit when He says, "the Holy Spirit has come upon you."

The last example I will give is from Revelation. John wrote, "John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—" (Rev 1:4-5)

In these opening verses of his apocalyptic book we again see all three Persons of the Holy Trinity. We see the Father as "Him who is and who was and who is to come," and the Holy Spirit as "the seven Spirits (or seven-fold Spirit) who are before His throne," and finally we observe "Jesus Christ" the Son. For more on this topic, please see The Holy Trinity.

So this power of two or three originates with God Himself who is three in One. The members of the Godhead are always in perfect agreement together, and He has existed like this throughout eternal ages past, without beginning. Therefore, the power of two or three is embedded in the very nature of God Himself, and perhaps it even has some connection with His other attributes, such as His omnipotence.

Triune Man
Likewise, man is made in God's image with a spirit, soul, and body. In other words, you are a spirit with a soul in a body, which means you are one person with three parts. The apostle Paul wrote, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th 5:23)

I am not saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely three different parts of God, because they are actually three distinct and divine Persons, not parts. But there is an analogy that can be drawn between the triune nature of God and man.

A Cord of Three Strands
A cord of three strands is not easily broken and two are better than one. Solomon wrote:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecc 4:9-12)

This is self-explanatory. There is no question as to the wisdom and truth of this instruction. Two are certainly better than one for multiple reasons. For one thing, they can perform at least twice as much (if not more) work as one person.  Another thing is that one will lift the other one up if he falls. Moreover, two are able to keep each other warm.

I recall that this was an Army survival tactic in cold weather when I was in the infantry, and perhaps it still is. In fact, the Army's "buddy system" uses this same principle to ensure that the two buddies assigned to each other look out for each other in all aspects of training and warfare, not just cold weather survival.

Another reason two are better than one is that they can better defend themselves against an attacker. And finally we see the wisdom of this principle proven in a cord of three strands, which is not as easily broken as a single strand would be. Anyone who is given the choice to climb the face of a cliff using either a cord of three strands or a rope made from a single strand will choose the cord of three strands unless they have a death wish.

Church Discipline by Two or Three
The power of two or three also applies in matters of Church discipline, such as taking two others with you to address a brother who has sinned. Jesus said, "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed." (Mat 18:16)

Agreement of Two or Three 
If two or three agree as touching anything in prayer, it shall be done. Jesus said, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 18:19). That is an amazing promise the Lord made to us based on the agreement of two or three believers.

Praying alone is wonderful, but you also need to pray with others. You need to have a prayer partner. So if you are a believer married to another believer, then you already have a prayer partner. If not, then ask the Lord to give you a prayer partner. This is also why group prayer meetings that have at least two or three people are even more powerful than when individuals pray alone.

In the old days, after making a significant point while preaching, fiery preachers would sometimes shout, "Can I get a witness!?" Then someone would shout, "Amen, brother!" or "Hallelujah!" When you understand the power of two or three, you will realize when someone says "Amen" (meaning "so be it") to a prayer or to some part of a message being preached, then the two come into agreement in the spirit, which powerfully establishes whatever they have agreed upon.

Two or Three Gathered in Jesus' Name
Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, He is there. That means if they are gathered for prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, hospitality, or whatever purpose -- as long as it is in Jesus' name, then He has promised to be there. He said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Mt 18:20).

This is one reason why you should be a part of a congregation, because there are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God. I learned this the hard way as a new believer over thirty years ago. As a young infantryman in the US Army stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia in the United States, I had only been saved for about three months before I received a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to Berlin, Germany. I brought my Bible with me to Germany, along with my Christian music recordings, and Christian music videos, but I could not find a solid Christian friend to fellowship with. I also did not agree with something about the way the Protestant chapel conducted services, so I did not attend them. Instead, I tried to walk with Jesus alone, without any fellowship, and this led to me drifting away from the Lord for the first few months I was in Germany. You can read more about that in my article Drifting Away. It was not until I went back to church and repented for my sins that I came back to the Lord six months after being transferred overseas.

That's one reason why the Bible teaches us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves. The apostle said, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:24-25, NIV). There is power when two or three gather in Jesus' name, and the presence of the Lord is there.

Let me also say to you that this point, combined with my previous point about the power of agreement among two or three believers, is one reason why Life Transformation Groups, as well as small home group meetings and house churches are so effective. It is easier to have two or three or ten or twelve people in agreement that to have three, four, or five hundred people all in perfect agreement. The larger the group, the less likely it is that they will all be in perfect agreement.

Sent Out Two by Two
Jesus sent the Twelve out two-by-two in six pairs to preach that men should repent. "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;" (Mar 6:7). Likewise, Jesus later sent the Seventy out two-by-two in thirty-five pairs (Lk 10:1). They were instructed to heal those "who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" (Luk 10:9). They went out, and returned afterward rejoicing. "The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'" (Luk 10:17). Once again it was the Lord's power demonstrated in pairs of two people who were in agreement in Jesus' name. This was the apostolic pattern followed by Peter and John, as well as Paul and Barnabas, as well as Paul and Silas.

Twelve Witnesses
Jesus chose Twelve to be witnesses of His life, death, and resurrection (Mk 3:14-19; Ac 1:21-22). The fact that He died and rose again from the dead, and all that He taught during His earthly ministry, are established by the testimony of the Twelve.

Three Synoptic Gospels
Consider the fact that there are three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that testify of essentially the same things, plus a fourth gospel by John to overlay a spiritual layer of understanding. The Lord established the gospel not with one witness, but four.

Not Good to Be Alone
It is not good for man to be alone. Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Ge 2:18). This was true of Adam when he was all alone in the world without a companion, and it is true today as well. There are many lonely people in the world, such as widows and widowers. Many of these people are shut-ins and they are all alone. Others may be in the hospital, the nursing home, or even in prison, and while they have people around them, they are lonely. They need a visit from someone who cares.

This Scripture doesn't necessarily mean it is better to be married than single. As I wrote in my article, The Gift of Celibacy, some remain single for the sake of the kingdom; and it's best for them to do so. But that doesn't mean they are supposed to be a "lone ranger" and go through life all alone. While they may not be married, they still need fellowship. And even those in ministry need to have a ministry partner. Sometimes this will be a family member or someone else in Christ that they serve with in ministry as the early apostles did.

Two Become One
The two (man and woman) shall become one flesh. This is repeated many times in Scripture.

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen 2:24, NIV)

Jesus said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Mt 19:5. NIV)

In Mark's gospel, he records that Jesus said, "And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mk 10:8, NIV)

The apostle Paul wrote, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Eph 5:31).

This illustrates how two people can be one in the same way that the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity are One. And since there are two of them, then as long as they come together in Christ, they are a microcosm of the Church. They both have a partner to agree with in prayer anywhere they go in the world.

Jesus Had a Witness
Even Jesus had a witness. He had the Father and the works He did by the power of the Spirit.

He said, "If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form." (Joh 5:31-37).

Jesus identified His two witnesses: 1) "the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me." I believe this implied the Holy Spirit through Whom He did all of His works; and 2) "the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me." So the Father and the works that Jesus did by the Spirit provided the powerful testimony that established all that He did and said, as well as His divine identity.

Two Final Witnesses
Let me also remind you that there will be the two final witnesses who prophesy for three and a half years.

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." (Rev 11:3-4; cf. Zech 4:11-14)

These two witnesses operate together in Jesus' name and we can assume based on Scripture that the Father does for them whatever they ask of Him in agreement. If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouths and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire." (Rev 11:5-6)

Three Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration
We also see the power of two or three in that Jesus took three apostles with Him onto the Mount of Transfiguration. "Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves." (Mat 17:1).

Two Prophets on the Mount of Transfiguration
Then there was the appearance of Moses and Elijah - two witnesses on the mountain with Jesus.

"And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" (Mat 17:2-5)

That was an amazing experience that was powerfully established by three witnesses from heaven -- God the Father, Moses, and Elijah, as well as three witnesses from earth -- Peter, James, and John.

Witness of the Spirit
We have the testimony (or witness) of the Spirit.

Paul wrote, "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:16)

The apostle wrote, "And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying..." (Heb 10:15). After saying this, he quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. This illustrates that the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture testifies to us as believers through the Word of God.

Satanic Trinity
Even satan has an evil counterfeit trinity, consisting of himself the dragon, the beast (or antichrist), and the false prophet. Apparently satan seeks to play a role corresponding to the Father, while the antichrist attempts to replace Jesus Christ in ruling the world, and the false prophet performs miraculous signs and wonders that counterfeit the works of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle John wrote, "And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names." (Rev 13:1). In this verse we see the dragon or devil and the beast or antichrist.

John continued later in the same chapter, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon." (Rev 13:11). In this verse we see the false prophet, which together with the devil and the beast comprise the satanic trinity. The devil, too, understands the power of two or three. He knows this power is evident in the Holy Trinity, and is embedded in all life that God has created. He will seek to counterfeit it on earth during the three-and-a-half year Great Tribulation. During that time he will seek to rule the whole world through the beast and the false prophet, but will do so to his own ruin. For the Scripture tells us of his final demise in Revelation 20:10. It says, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Rev 20:10). Their condemnation is deserved.

Tower of Babel
One last example of using the power of two or three for evil was when the people of Shinar decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. God went to see it for Himself and "The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'” (Gen 11:6-7, NIV). Thus the tower was never finished and became known as the Tower of Babel. But it serves as an example of the power of two or three in agreement, because had they continued what they were doing, nothing they planned to do would have been impossible for them.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, there is amazing power in two or three in Christ. This applies in many different ways to every area of life, whether to Jesus being in the midst of two or three believers gathering in His name, or the Father doing anything that two or three believers agree about and ask Him for in Jesus' name. It also applies to matters of Church discipline, as well as marriage and ministry. In fact, as we have learned, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I hope this has helped to build your faith, strengthen and encourage you, and show you another important secret of the kingdom of God. Now go put it into practice for the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB., copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zonervan, used by permission. Photo image copyright Saint George Island United Methodist Church, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Dependence in God's KingdomThe Holy TrinityLife Transformation Groups, How to Start an LTGThe Gift of CelibacyOutpouring of the Spirit, The Link Between Two RealmsDrifting Away, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples, as well as other articles found on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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