by Pat Franklin
Some brilliant gems of truth came out at a Question and Answer session at our church in England, where Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum was doing a teaching weekend. I want to share a few of them with our readers. Arnold has often warned that scripture verses cannot be taken out of context, telling us: ‘A text without a context is a pretext.’
Many charismatics today believe they can ‘take authority’ over the weather, disease and all sorts of things – even over Satan and his demons – and ‘bind’ the things they don’t like. They believe they can ‘loose’ prosperity and cause money to come to them. Arnold disabused us of all this nonsense by looking at the ‘binding and loosing’ scriptures in context. He took us through Matthew 18:15-19 to show us exactly what is meant. It is all to do with church discipline, and the context is Jesus teaching his disciples how to deal with a sinning brother.
If your brother sins, go to him in private and tell him his fault. If he does not listen, take one or two more brothers with you, so that there are two or three witnesses. If he still refuses to listen and repent, take the matter to the church and excommunicate him. ‘Binding and loosing’ were rabbinic idioms which meant 'to punish' or 'to permit'. If the sinning brother did not repent, he was punished by being put out of the church.
Then Jesus said ‘if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them…’ Arnold said this is NOT instruction on prayer. It does NOT mean that two of us can agree on a new car, claim it, and find it in our driveway in the morning! The context is still dealing with the sinning church member. If the two witnesses against him agreed on a verdict to eject the church member, it would be done; the sinning member would be thrown out of the fellowship.
Then Jesus added, ‘For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.’ This is STILL the same context – dealing with the sinning brother. Arnold said it is NOT the definition of ‘church’. A church has elders and members and meets regularly for breaking bread, fellowship, study of the Word, etc. Two or three people meeting together is not a church. The two or three in this scripture refer to the witnesses against the sinning brother.
We learned many other things at the ‘Arnold weekend’ and, as I have time, I will be adding some more of his insights to our website. We also have much of this in our book ‘Cults and Isms: True or False?’ We would like to get copies of this into Christian homes round the world, as there is so much ignorance in churches today - these are times of great deception. The book is available via our web shop.