In the natural, if you are to have a symphony two things are certain: You must have a score, and you must have a conductor. In the spiritual realm, if you are to have symphony, you must have the same two things. The score is the will of God; the conductor is the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 18:19 we read: “If two of you agree on earth.” The Greek word for agree is precisely the same word that gives us the word symphony. It is not mere intellectual agreement; it is harmony, concord. It is two or more people being united in one spirit. When people come together in one spirit, in harmony, agreeing on the will of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit, then anything they need is accessible. This is a real promise, but you have to meet the conditions.
Sometimes people say to me, “Come, Brother Prince, let’s agree. We’ll pray for so-and-so.” I sometimes feel embarrassed because I think it is a shallow pretence and that it will not produce the results. Agreement is not just saying, “We agree.” Agreement is being in harmony in the Spirit with one another, and as we come to this place of real spiritual harmony, we are irresistible. Because of this, the devil will do everything in his power to keep Christians from coming into this place, and he has largely succeeded with multitudes of professing Christians.
I trust that I will not shock you by saying that the church, which is the body of Christ, is not an earthly institution. Generally speaking, Christians have felt obliged or impelled to produce some kind of institutional organisation through which they can tie themselves together to achieve unity. Yet the truth of the matter is this does not produce the kind of unity God intends for the body of Jesus Christ.
Under the Old Testament, God had a tremendous problem with His people, Israel. He had revealed Himself as One who could not be adequately represented by any kind of portrait, picture or image. The attempt to make an image of God was strictly forbidden. But we find again and again that Israel fell into the error of making an image or idol and saying it represented God.
I believe a corresponding mistake is made by Christians in this dispensation. The body of Jesus Christ cannot be represented institutionally. It cannot be represented as an organisation of the kind that we are familiar with in secular life. But time and again, Christians try to make something visible and tangible out of that which is spiritual. They try to produce an organisation, a union, a tying together that will replace the proper unity and relationship of the body of Jesus Christ, and invariably there is failure.
Take, for example, the Salvation Army (and this is no criticism of the Salvation Army). Within the Salvation Army there is strong organisational unity that is similar to that of an army. And there is a further tying together through uniforms so that you can look at members and see immediately that he or she is in the Salvation Army. Everything man can do to produce unity and organisational structure is there, yet two people may be at loggerheads with each other. So, far from being in real union and harmony, they may actually be in total opposition. Two people may be in the Salvation Army and one may be converted and regenerated and the other may be un-regenerated. They aren’t even in the same spiritual sphere!
Take for example the Anglican church, in which I was brought up. You could be a member of the Anglican church and be communist or Roman Catholic. Within that organisation, bound together by organisational structure, there are diametrically different ideas, totally opposed to one another, in absolute disharmony, with no union whatever in the spiritual life. The church structure is an outward substitute for the inward reality. The great danger that I see is that we often accept the outward as a substitute for the inward, and then neglect the inward. The result is that today there are multitudes of Christians within the body that are in wrong relationship to other people and they are not even aware that anything is wrong.
One night in a service, five people came forward for healing. I was led to ask each person individually, “Is there any unforgiveness or resentment in your heart against anybody?” Out of the five, three people said, “Yes, there is.” I replied, “Well, do you really want me to pray for you? I can go through the motions, but what kind of effect do you think prayer is going to have?”
And do you know what they said? “We’d better go away and put things right and then come back.” Remarkable! But what was really remarkable was that those people were not conscious of the wrong relationship. Why were they deceived? The reason is because they had allowed some external substitute to blind them to the inner reality. If we would look at the inner condition of the body of Christ today, we would be shocked at what we saw!