Question & Answer Forum

Is there a difference between being gathered to His name and being gathered to Him?

Strictly speaking, the New Testament doesn’t speak of “being gathered to Him.” The Hebrew believers however were to “go forth” to the Lord, bearing His reproach (Hebrews 13:13, JND). These believers were to identify themselves with Christ because the despised, yet exalted Jesus of this epistle drew them.

“Being gathered together unto My name” (Matthew 18:20, JND) is passive, emphasizing that the “two or three” present did not per se gather themselves to His name. Because the Spirit works to glorify Christ (John 16:14), the Spirit is likely the One Who gathers believers to His name. What is the Spirit’s purpose in gathering believers to that name? The Lord’s name, like Hebrew names, reveals His character; it testifies about Him. God said regarding Solomon’s temple, “My name shall be there” (1 Kings 8:29). The greatness of the temple that bore God’s name testified to the greatness of God. Thus, at present the Spirit gathers believers to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ because God has established a testimony in a locality; the church of God is to express the character and glory of Him Whose name it bears.

Love to Christ causes us to be identified with Him (“gathered to Him”) in assembly fellowship; the Spirit gathers us to His name, establishing and maintaining a testimony regarding the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

D. Oliver

What is the secret of the Lord in Psalm 25:14 and Proverbs 3:32?

In Job 19:19, the word “inward” is the word translated “secret” in both verses in this question, “All my inward friends abhorred me.” It suggests intimate, privy friends. Six of the 21 times it appears in the Old Testament, this word is “counsel.”

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed” (Proverbs 15:22), indicates that “the secret of the Lord” involves His plans by which He will accomplish His purpose. These are His ways to which only those intimate with Him are privy. “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel” (Psalms 103:7). The people saw what God did, but Moses whom the Lord knew face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10) came to know God’s ways, His counsel. This is further illustrated by the man known as “My friend” (Isaiah 41:8), of whom God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Genesis 18:17). His intimates must know His intentions.

Psalm 25:14, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him,” indicates that those who revere the Lord come to know Him intimately. Although the Lord despises the stubborn, He brings the righteous into His intimate counsels (Proverbs 3:32). These are unchanging principles. They should stir in us a longing to know greater intimacy with the Lord.

D. Oliver

What is the meaning of “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1)?

The first word of the verse, “forasmuch,” connects the first 6 verses of chapter 4 with the end of chapter 3. The context in chapter 3 deals with suffering for righteousness’ sake and for well doing (vv. 14, 17). “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh” revisits 3:18. Within that context, Peter has just spoken of baptism (v. 21), “which doth also now save us . . . by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (v. 21). In the opening verses of chapter 4, Peter amplifies this statement.

The salvation to which he refers is not from the penalty of sin but from a life of sin (see 4:3, 4). For righteousness’ sake (v. 14), Christ suffered for us. The believers to whom Peter writes were baptized and consequently suffered for righteousness’ sake. Being identified with us, Christ suffered for our sake; being identified with Him in baptism, believers suffered for His sake. It is fitting that these persecuted believers should be like-minded with Christ, submitting to God’s will (3:17).These believers were being restrained from their former sins (“ceased from sin”). They were saved from their former life, a life of sin, by 2 factors. First, by being baptized, they put a barrier between themselves and the “disobedient,” their persecutors. Second, baptism expresses what took place at salvation’s moment. United with Christ and His death, believers are dead to sin (Romans 6:2).

But Peter has said that this salvation is by the resurrection of Christ, not by His death. Being restrained from sin is not an end in itself, but a means to God’s purpose that believers should now live “to the will of God” (v. 2).

A free paraphrase of these verses could be, “Therefore since Christ suffered for us in His body of flesh, believers should likewise submit to God’s will when they suffer reproach for Him because they have been baptized. Those who have thus suffered have been restrained from (‘ceased from’) their former life of sin in order that they should not live to fulfill the usual lusts of humanity; they should live the rest of their time to the will of God.”

D. Oliver