The Three-Fold Cord

“If two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” – Eccl. 4:11,12.

A recent Article posted to Insanitybytes elaborated upon an ongoing discussion on the topic of “Listening to God”. The conclusion of that Article inspired the creation of this.

“There’s a 3 fold cord that is really powerful, that helps to keep you on the path, and that is when you can read the bible, ask God, and talk to others. The reason why we try to stay on the path is because there are less sticker bushes and more stable ground under our feet”.

When Saul of Tarsus was so deep into his religious convictions that he wrongly rejected his Messiah, the Lord met him on the road to Damascus, where Saul hoped to eliminate the growing church there. The idea of “staying on the path” reminded me of this.

Of course, Saul became Paul the Apostle after his conversion experience on that road. But prior to that, he was dedicated to his ‘path’, so the Lord challenged him.

“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” – Ac. 9:5.

The goads were prickly ‘boarders’ along the sides of ancient roads to keep beasts of burden from straying off the path. Kicking against such goads was a constant test of the beast’s will over the master.

Like Saul, many of us are so busy focusing on what is beyond the path, that we lose sight of the Lord, and are kicking against the pricks.

The ‘three-fold cord’ is also consistent with another passage:

“But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven ” – Mt. 18:16-18.

Whenever I share a ‘word from the Lord’ with others that I believe to be born again, I’ve already ‘tested’ it against Scripture. Because God never contradicts Himself, His spoken word ALWAYS agrees with His written word. The ‘third fold’ of ‘hearing the church’ cements a righteous conviction by confirming what God has indeed spoken.

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” – 1Pt.1:19-21.

Some people have become disillusioned by certain polity that is perceived as extra-biblical within the organized church. Indeed, there abounds in today’s world too many denominational differences in doctrine that have tended to separate Christians, rather than promote unity in the universal ‘Body of Christ’. Many false doctrines stem from poor interpretations of Scripture, or are based upon mere ‘traditions of men’, NOT the true ‘Oracles of God’

The concept of the ‘three-fold’ approach to confirming spiritual truth culminates quite naturally with the sharing of experiences among the ‘brethren’ – truly born again, Spirit-filled believers. How else can we know whether or not we are in agreement? This is the primary reason for the following Scriptural admonition:

“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhort one another so much the more as you see the Day approaching” – Heb. 10:25.

Receiving a righteous conviction that establishes ‘sound doctrine’ requires the ‘three-fold’ process of discernment outlined above. This is how spiritual Truth becomes human reality. Attempts to ‘short-cut’ the process leads to false doctrine and the lack of assurance that your faith is being built upon a proper and firm foundation. Of course, this is predicated upon the understanding that the guidance of the Holy Spirit enables such revelations.

“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” – Jn. 16:13.

While it should be realized that disagreement among believers has existed since the earliest days of church history, attempts to eliminate divisions have traditionally resulted in further division. Even the most basic tenets of Christianity are still debated among theologians, requiring the sincere seekers of truth to research controversial matters of faith on a deep personal level.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” – Heb. 5:12.

Investigation into the historical attempts to resolve schisms provides some insight. When the ‘church’ is perceived as an institution, rather than the living organism that Christ intended, politics and regulation become primary concerns. Acceptance and compliance to ordinanceswrongly define quality of membership from sect to sect; where local custom further restricts unity with the greater, universal congregation of believers.

Where the ‘church’ has become primarily religious, rather than promoting and enabling individual personal right relationship with God, it has established itself as merely an organization – NOT the ORGANISM – consisting of individual Spirit filled believers, Christ initiated.

“… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – Mt. 16:18.

When Jesus said this, it was immediately following Peter’s confession of faith, rightly identifying Christ as the Incarnate Son of God. Some have taught that the ‘rock’ to which Jesus referred was Peter. But the preceding narrative shows that it was Peter’s declaration in answer to the question posed by Jesus: “Who do men say that I am?” turned PERSONAL“But who do YOU say I am?”

Therefore, the ‘rock’ upon which the true ‘church’ is founded is the individual PERSONAL confession of faith that comes from the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit.ONLY God gives such revelation of spiritual truth, evidenced by Christ’s commendation of Peter’s proclamation.

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” – Mt. 16:17.

The true ‘church’ is made up of many such individual members, each having distinctly different personalities and functions. Unity within the body is NOT uniformity, which is often regulated by doctrine. Agreement among the brethren does NOT necessitate unilateral conformity to a per-programed ideology sold as THE proper interpretation of Scripture.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” – Ro. 12: 3-5.

For a fuller appreciation of “Listening to God” please read the Article that inspired this one @ Insanitybytes.