Nuggets of Bible Truth

Mar 5, 2011 at 20:04 o\clock

Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

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The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 1:

The Truth of Gathering in Simplicity — Luke 22.8-14

One of the defining Scriptural principles in relation to a New Testament local assembly is the truth that the believers gather simply to the Name and Person of the Lord Jesus. The Lord is at the centre of every gathering of the saints; our gathering centre is Christ Himself; He is the One who is “in the midst” of His people both now and will be also in the future, Matt.18.20, Heb.2.12. This is a truth that will keep and preserve the believer in God’s assembly for the rest of life, or until our Lord returns, regardless of any possible causes for discouragement that may exist. When this truth of gathering makes real impressions upon the soul, there will be produced strong convictions about the assembly so that there will be no desire to leave.

If the conviction of being gathering to the Name of Lord Jesus has never been firmly developed, then there is the likelihood of following in the path of others who drift away and eventually cease to attend. It may be they profess salvation but never take the step of being received into the fellowship of the assembly, and then simply stop attending the meetings, or if they have been received into the fellowship, their attendance becomes increasingly episodic and inconsistent, until it ceases. However, this truth of gathering to the Lord Jesus will keep us in God’s assembly, because it gives a unique distinctiveness to the local assembly, compared with so much else that exists in our day and generation. Surely the grandest and the most blessed truth connected with local assembly fellowship, is that of gathering simply to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. No other name can be owned and being gathered to His Name adds a dignity that can be found nowhere else.

It is a Scriptural principle all through God’s Word that it is His purpose and desire to simply draw His own people around Himself. In the past, it was His earthly people, the children of Israel, who were gathered around Him. We see that in the tabernacle in the wilderness where God dwelt among His people and they gathered around Him, Ex.25.8, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” The entire camp of Israel, and their 12 tribes, was organised around the tabernacle in a very orderly way; Num.2.2, “Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.”

Presently, it is God’s heavenly people, the Church, who gather here on earth in local companies, around the Person of God’s Son. In Lk.22, we have a delightful illustration of the simplicity of gathering to Him. The Lord instructed Peter and John to go to prepare the Passover, and they were directed to “a large upper room furnished,” v.12. In a way which involved no great activity of the flesh, “they went, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him,” vv.13-14. Clearly the twelve disciples were the invited guests of the Lord, He was the divine Host. He gave the instructions regarding the preparation of the place, v.8, that “guestchamber” where He would eat the Passover with His own, v.11, and He made all the arrangements for the twelve to be in His presence, to be “with Him,” v.14, as His invited guests. So it is, in the gatherings of the local assembly, that our Lord desires our presence, when we can simply be with Him as a company, and be His invited guests.

In v.10, we note there was a guide, to lead Peter and John to the place; it was “a man … bearing a pitcher of water,” and the Lord’s instruction was “follow him.” Normally in those days this would be a woman’s occupation; to see a man doing this was somewhat extraordinary. Scripture uses water as a type of the Holy Spirit of God, Jn.7.38, and the Word of God, Eph.5.26. Thus this man, with the pitcher of water, would be a picture of the Spirit and the Word of God guiding a soul to the gathering centre, and all who obey the Word of God will find the assembly. The truth of gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ ultimately (like all divine truth) must be divinely revealed to the believer by the indwelling Spirit; “God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit … for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” 1Cor.2.10. Believers in the Lord Jesus must, therefore, be sensitive to the teaching of the Spirit of God and the Word of God, and be prepared to receive such divine truth. The only reason any of us had desires to be gathered to Him in assembly fellowship, is because we have a divine Person within us, Who desires only to bring us to Christ. As sons of God, we are characteristically “led by the Spirit of God,” Rom.8.14, and we follow the Spirit’s leading and guiding into that upper room, to know and enjoy the privilege of being seated “with Him,” in His holy presence.

In v.12, in the expression “a large upper room furnished,” we note three spiritual features of the local assembly, as a place prepared by Christ, where we gather unto Him. The local assembly is, firstly, a “large” place, not in terms of absolute numbers of believers, for many assemblies are just a few, “where 2 or 3 are gathered together,” Matt.18.20. But “large” in the sense that there is room in the local assembly for all types of men and women, those who are saved and baptised and thus “added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women,” Acts 5.14. What characterises a local assembly is that there are believers from many different backgrounds, different cultures and different races and nationalities, and they gather as a company of brothers and sisters in the Lord. Any distinctions, divisions or prejudices that human society would recognise, are all set aside, and all the saints together are able to equally enjoy gathering to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly in v.12, the local assembly is an “upper room,” or an upper loft, which means it is above the level of the street. How important it is to remember that when we gather to the Lord Jesus, we must never bring in to the assembly anything that is of the street. The language, dress and behaviour of the street should not be displayed in the local assembly. Sometimes, sadly, the local assembly is brought down to the level of the street, such that saints behave like unsaved men. But to be “with Him,” we go up above street level, to an “upper room,” to gather to Him where He is.

Spiritually, when we gather as an assembly, to praise and worship God the Father, we leave this world and the level of the street far behind: Heb.10.19, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” We enter into the heavenly sanctuary, Heb.8.2, “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” When we worship, we are above the level of the street, spiritually we enter into the holiest, into heaven itself. Let us never lose appreciation of this truth, for the danger is that in our worship we bring Christ down to the level of the world, so that what is regarded as “worship” is indistinguishable from worldly entertainment. God desires to lift us up above the street, to the level of purged worshippers, to “draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water,” Heb.10.22.

When Christ first found us, in His grace, we were at the level of the street; in the language of the Samaritan , Lk.10, He came to where we were. But if we are now going to gather to Him, to enjoy fellowship “with Him,” as His invited guest, He will lift us up above street level, and give us all the dignity that is linked with being sons of God. That means, therefore, that whatever I am at street level really matters nothing when I gather to the Lord Jesus in the local assembly. I might be a very important person, have all kinds of titles, degrees or letters; I might have accomplished much at street level, but when we gather to Him in the upper room, all that is left behind — we are all equally brothers and sisters in the Lord, and sons of God, a title that is far superior to any earthly title. All the titles and accomplishments of men are of no spiritual value in the assembly, where we gather simply to the Person of the Lord Jesus.

Thirdly in v.12, the local assembly is “furnished,” the tense is the perfect participle (Newberry), which means “having been furnished.” The local assembly is a place that has been divinely furnished by God, and fully furnished with nothing less than the presence and Person of Christ. We have all that we will ever need when we gather, when we have Christ, our risen and glorified Head in our midst. We do not need to bring in things from outside, from the world, to equip or furnish the local assembly. It is obviously sensible to have a suitably comfortable venue to gather in, but we do not need overly elaborate, ornate buildings, grand furnishings, stained-glass windows, beautiful organ music and choirs, men dressed in robes and fine garments etc. That is what pertains in much of Christendom, but it is all just man-made religion, and based upon what pertained in a past dispensation under Judaism, which God ended at Calvary. In this present age of the Spirit, the local assembly needs not to be furnished with any of these things, for with Christ in the midst it is divinely furnished, it is fully furnished with His holy presence, and we can enjoy His presence with nothing of the distractions of man-made religion.

To the world and to unbelievers, there is nothing about the assembly to attract, it appears weak and unimpressive. But as God’s beloved Son is given His proper and pre-eminent place in our midst, as we gather to Him, it means everything to God, and it delights the heart of His Son. This is the simplicity and beauty of gathering, as we do presently in local companies, to the Person of the Lord Jesus. We seek to continue steadfastly gathering unto Him, until He comes again, when the entire Church will be raptured out of this world, and we will all gather around Christ for a blessed eternity.

In the subsequent papers, God willing, we will look further at this truth, as it is brought to us in Scripture; the truth of gathering in prophecy, in picture, in promise, in pattern and in prospect. 

The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 2:

The Truth of Gathering in PROPHECY — Genesis 49v.10

In Gen.49, we have the blessing and prophecies of the aged Jacob upon his sons, and when it comes to Judah, v.10 “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between His feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” This prophecy found an initial fulfilment in the son Judah; 1Chron.5.2 “For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler.” It also found fulfilment in God’s earthly people, the tribe of Judah becoming the royal or kingly tribe; from Judah was to come God’s lawgiver, His chief ruler. But the prophecy had in view ultimately the Lord Jesus, who sprang from that royal tribe of Judah; “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah,” Heb.7.14, He is “the Lion of the tribe of Juda,” Rev.4.5. It has always been God’s purpose for His people to be gathered around His own dear Son, in acknowledgement of His Lordship, appreciating Him as the sovereign Ruler, that “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.”

In the Revised Version and Newberry, the word “people” is “peoples” (plural), and really this prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus will find its ultimate fulfilment in that coming day of Christ’s glorious Kingdom, when He will sit on the throne of His father David, and reign over this world as King of kings and Lord of lords, the divine Chief Ruler. Then, the Nation of Israel, and every nation and people on earth, will be gathered around Christ, acknowledging His righteous rule and desiring His blessing. The name “Shiloh” may therefore be seen as a Messianic title of the Lord Jesus, and has the thought of Him as the Pacificator (Newberry) or Peacemaker, for He will reign as “the Prince of Peace,” Isa.9.6, and preside over a Kingdom in which there will be unprecedented peace.

Today, men’s hearts are perplexed and fearful, as they think on a world so insecure with violence and terrorism, capable and seemingly intent on destroying itself. But the Psalmist says “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” Ps.24.1, and He will not allow men to destroy what He has created, and what belongs to Him. This whole earth was purchased at Calvary by the precious blood of Christ. In the parables of the Kingdom we learn that He purchased the field, Matt.13.44 and that “the field is the world,” v.38. There will yet be very far reaching implications of the death of Christ for this world, a day when the creation will be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God,” Rom.8.21. In that glorious Millennial day the whole earth will enjoy a time of unparalleled peace, when He who is the Peacemaker (Shiloh) comes, and all peoples and nations will be gathered unto Him. Isa.11.10, “And in that day there shall be a root out of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people (peoples, Newberry); to it shall the Gentiles (nations, Newberry) seek: and His rest shall be glorious.”

The Old Testament prophets speak of the peaceful conditions of that coming Millennial age. Isa.2.4 and Mic.4.3-4, “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.” All then will dwell in safety and security, without fear. Jerusalem today is a city under siege; every house and apartment block has its underground bomb shelter. But in that day of peace, all will be able to enjoy God’s fresh air, sitting at peace under their vine and fig tree. Zech.8.4-5, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for every age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” In that Millennial day, it will be completely safe for young and old alike, there will be no danger, no mugging of pensioners or abuse of children.

It will be a reign of peace that will extend also to the animal kingdom; Isa.11.6-9, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of an asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Animals which today prey upon one another and upon man, will in that day dwell in peace and tranquillity. It is all a lovely description of the peaceful conditions that will prevail when Shiloh, the divine Peacemaker, shall come.

These are wonderful Scriptures which convey something of the blessing for all in a coming day, when Christ is the future centre of gathering. After all the days of great tribulation and dreadful unrest, He will bring real and lasting peace. Such will be that glorious Kingdom of our Lord Jesus, Isa.9.7, “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” When Shiloh comes, and all are gathered to Him, it will then be a glorious Kingdom of unending peace and justice, presided over by the Prince of Peace.

He will then take His place in the midst of His people. In the closing chapters of Ezekiel’s prophecy, there are visions of the millennial temple and the millennial city. In Ezek.43, Ezekiel is brought to the east gate of that temple, where he sees “the glory of the God of Israel (Christ) came from the way of the east,” v.2. In v4, “And the glory of the Lord came into the house,” and in v7, “He said unto me, Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever.” He will be Christ in the midst of a restored Israel, their future centre of gathering.

The name of the millennial city is given, “The name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there” (Jehovah-Shammah), Ezek.48.35. He will be there, in the midst of that restored Nation in a future day. Zeph.3.14, “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.” Why such joy? Zeph.3.15, “The LORD hath taken away thy judgements, He hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee.” The cause for rejoicing and gladness is that the LORD is in their midst. In the similar language of Zech.2.10, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.” Zech.2.11, “And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be My people: and (He repeats) I will dwell in the midst of thee.” Zech.2.12, “And the LORD shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” Truly Israel will in that millennial day be “the holy land,” because the LORD will be there, dwelling in the midst of His people and many nations — “and unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be.”

All these scriptures convey scenes of great joy, gladness and rejoicing, the enjoyment for a restored Nation of Israel, the LORD dwelling in their midst, He will be the future centre of gathering. But what joy, gladness and rejoicing for believers today in the Church, the bride of Christ. What God will yet accomplish for that Nation in a coming day in a physical way, with the LORD in their midst, He has already accomplished today in the Church, spiritually. Every time we gather, we can say Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there, we can sing and shout for joy, we can be glad and rejoice, because we know the reality and blessing of gathering with the risen Christ in our midst.

The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 3

The Truth of Gathering in Picture — 1 Samuel 22.1-2

In this passage, we see a group of about 400 men gathering to David, who was being hunted by Saul the king, in the cave Adullam. In v.2, “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them.” They came therefore to David in all their need of him, in order that their needs be met by him, and they were happy to be under David as their captain and to know his protection.

What a lovely picture this is of our gathering to the Lord Jesus today. We came to Him in all our great debt and need as sinners, and He met our need according to the riches of divine grace, and He blessed us according to the riches of divine glory, with an abundance of spiritual blessings, and thus we are happy to gather to Him who has fully met our need. And truly He has become a Captain over us; He is “the Captain” of our salvation, who is bringing many sons unto glory, Heb.2.10, and we know His spiritual protection over us will never fail.

When we think of David as “captain over them,” those who gathered to David must have had desires to serve him, and to please him. When David expressed in the cave Adullam, his longing and the desire of heart to drink again of the water from the well of Bethlehem, by the gate of Bethlehem, it was like a command to those around him. Three of his mighty men then risked their lives in breaking through the host of the Philistines, to bring that drink to David their captain, 2Sam.23.13-17. So those who gathered to David yielded to him as their captain and his word must have been as a law to them. We are caused to appreciate that the One to whom we gather is our sovereign Lord. He is the One to whom we must yield in subjection. In gathering to the person of Christ, we truly acknowledge His Lordship in His assembly and that it must be His will and His Word that is carried out, as we desire to serve Him and to please Him alone.

Every step of progress in the pathway of faith involves acknowledging the Lordship of Christ, and bowing in obedience to Him. At our conversion, we confessed Him as Lord and Saviour: Rom.10.9 “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved;” 1Cor.1.9 “called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” The language of conversion is, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Acts 9.6. The next specific step involves our baptism in which we also acknowledge His Lordship. Baptism is not optional, it is a public confession of the Lordship of Christ, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” Eph.4.5.

It is interesting to notice the language of the Acts, relevant to those who were added to the Church. In Acts 2.47, “And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” Then in Acts 5.14, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” Similarly in Acts 11.24, “and much people was added unto the Lord.” So there were those being added by the Lord, Acts 2, and to the Lord, Acts 5 and 11, indicating that the Lord only adds to the sphere where His Lordship is collectively acknowledged. The exhortation of Barnabas to those who gathered in Antioch was “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord,” Acts 11.23.

All this emphasises the Lordship of Christ, individually, locally and dispensationally. We have acknowledged His Lordship in salvation, baptism and in reception local assembly fellowship. It is important that we grasp this basic truth, that as we gather in the assembly to the Lord Jesus alone, we are acknowledging that He must be Lord in His assembly.

There will come a day when all the universe will be obliged to bow down before Him, “That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Phil.2.10-11. It will then be an obligation upon all to bow the knee, to confess His Lordship. That will not be for universal salvation, it will be for universal subjugation: all will be subject to Christ. He will receive universal vindication. But what will be an obligation for all men in that coming day, is an obligation for us today, who gather to Him in the local assembly. We are pleased to confess His Lordship, and in every collective gathering of the assembly, His Lordship is acknowledged, and publicly pronounced. That is what makes the breaking of bread meeting in particular so very precious; every Lord’s day morning we gather to partake of the Lord’s supper, 1Cor.11.20, and in so doing we “shew the Lord’s death till He come,” v.26.

Acknowledgement of His Lordship leaves no room at all for self-will or self-pleasing. It means there is the responsibility to be absolutely obedient to His Word, since He is Lord. We cannot pick and choose which parts of the apostolic teaching we do want or do not want to obey. We cannot decide, for example, to accept Paul’s teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ in Ephesians, but then reject his teaching relating to the local church, such as he gives in 1 Corinthians regarding the visible expression of headship and sisters keeping silent in the church. As we gather to the Lord Jesus, acknowledging His sovereign Lordship in the assembly, we are responsible to obey His every command, as it has been given to us in His Word. In Acts 2.42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Further, for those men who gathered to David in the cave, it was not a grand and glorious place, it was just a cave. But what drew them was their love for a person, David. They were not looking to anyone else or anywhere else to meet their needs. So it is in the assembly, as we gather to Christ, we look only to Him for all things, and we do not need anything else from the world outside. This is connected more with an acknowledgement of His Headship. Christ is “the Head of the Body, the Church, Col.1.18, and His Headship of the Church is to be acknowledged and displayed in the local assembly.

Headship (as distinct from Lordship) emphasises care, support, succour and direction, all flowing from the Head to edify the Body, and all in a sphere of love and affection. The assembly must, therefore, be ordered around the appreciation of Christ’s Headship. That will mean that in the assembly, everything we need flows from Christ the Head, and will be made good to us through the ministry of the Spirit of God. In the assembly, we look only to Christ for supply, for succour, for direction, for impulse, for motivation, for edification. We gather, therefore, wholly dependent on Him, not looking to the world for any resources. He will control and motivate the members in a way that will best serve His glory and be for the blessing of His people. We do not need to bring into the assembly anything from the world, as far as its wisdom or entertainment is concerned. It is not the wisdom of men or the world that we need in the assembly; it is only the constant supply of Christ our Head.

As we gather acknowledging His Headship, the assembly is to give expression to Christ and all His desires. The local assembly is not primarily for the world, nor even for the saints who gather; but it is for Christ the Head. It is not fundamentally about what we get out of the assembly, but rather it is about what we give to it, what we bring to it, and specifically what we bring to Christ, and what He receives from His assembly.

So, just as David had that pre-eminent place in the cave Adullam, amongst those who gathered to him, he was “captain over them,” so in the assembly Christ must have the pre-eminent and central place, “That in all things He might have the pre-eminence” Col.1.18. In his third epistle, John speaks of one called Diotrephes, v9, “who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them.” As such, he was taking the place Christ alone should have. It has often been noted that in the Scriptures, there is a man called Quartus (number 4, Rom.16.23), a man called Tertius (number 3, Rom.16.22), and a man called Secundus (number 2, Acts 20.4), but there is no-one named Primus (number 1), because Christ is Primus, He alone is pre-eminent. Diotrephes loved to be Primus; he was usurping Christ, and we must be preserved from such a thing as that. In gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ, we give Him the pre-eminent place, as we acknowledge His Lordship and His Headship in His assembly.

The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 4

The Truth of Gathering in Promise — Matthew 18.20

Matthew is the only gospel that makes specific mention of the Church, for he puts things in a dispensational order and context. So Matthew tells us of the place that the Church has in the dispensational dealings of God with man, and it is here that the Lord Jesus speaks about the Church in a two-fold way.

In Matt.16.18, following the confession of Peter “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Lord says “upon this rock (not Peter, but the truth of Peter’s divinely revealed confession regarding the Lord) I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is in reference to the Church in its largest aspect, the Church in its universal character, embracing every individual believer born of the Spirit of God. It is Christ the Son of the living God who is the bedrock, the foundation of the New Testament Church. But in Matt.18.17 we read, “if he (the offending brother) shall neglect to hear them (2 or 3 witnesses), tell it unto the church.” Obviously the matter cannot be told to the Body of Christ, since most are now in heaven, but the local church is here in view. Thus it is to the local assembly that v.20 refers “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” The Lord has, therefore, given to us the promise of His presence in the midst of the gathered saints.

All who are in assembly fellowship must have a real sense of this great privilege, that every time the saints gather in capacity as the local assembly, the risen Christ, the Lord Himself is present in the midst in a very real and special way, according to His own promise. Physically and bodily, He is in heaven, but spiritually and personally He comes amongst companies of His people on earth, “there am I in the midst of them,” and the saints gather around Him with a conscious appreciation of His personal presence.

Gathering unto His Name supposes His absence, but it secures His presence. So, Christ has promised to be in the midst of His gathered saints, a Divine principle for gathering for a local assembly. We are assured of His personal presence in our midst, and this is His rightful pre-eminent place. Every gathering is Christ-centred; we gather unto Him and His Name; we own no other name; we have no other cause for gathering. It is this conviction that gives a unique character to every gathering of the local assembly.

This truth is clearly not affected by the size of the company; be it literally the two or three believers, or be it two or three hundred. Whatever the number, His presence is the same; He takes His place in the midst of those who gather to His Name alone. The Lord it seems had the latter end of this dispensation in mind when He spoke of the “two or three.” The process which the Lord describes requires a company of greater size than just two or three; there was the offended party, the offender, plus one or two more witnesses, v.16, then the whole church, v.17. It was not two or three when the Church began, in the early Acts it was thousands who were gathered. W. W. Fereday writes “There were no twos or threes in the first days of the Church; all that believed were together. Men speaking perverse things had not arisen, nor had grievous wolves come into the flock to scatter and devour” (Bible Treasury Vol.N1, page 231). It is the case in present last days, in some parts of the world, that there are many assemblies that are small numerically, barely a handful of saints, but continuing steadfastly to gather to the Person of Christ, and the promise of His presence will hold good to the end, until He comes again.

The gathering together in this verse is not primarily the action of the two or three believers, they are actually passive, it is the perfect participle, i.e. “having been gathered” (Newberry). It is the idea of two or three being gathered together by divine agency, i.e. gathered together by the Spirit of God unto His Name. So for younger ones perhaps, who are saved and baptised, but do not gather with the believers in the local assembly; we would encourage all to be exercised about this truth of gathering. There is the need to be sensitive to the guiding of the indwelling Spirit of God, as He would gather together believers into the fellowship of a local assembly who gather to the worthy and authoritative Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One might ask, “Do we base this doctrine all on this one verse alone, Matt.18.20?” One verse alone of the inspired Scripture would be sufficient, but there are other New Testament verses that promise the personal presence of Christ in the midst of the church. In Heb.2.12, which is a quotation from Ps.22.22, the Lord says to God His Father, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren. In the midst of the church (assembly) will I sing praise unto Thee.” The specific interpretation of Ps.22.22 relates to Israel in a future day; the New Testament assembly is not in the Psalms, it was a mystery previously hid until revealed by the apostle Paul, Eph.3.3-5. But the quotation by the Spirit of God in Heb.2.12 gives New Testament authority to apply this statement to the Church today. So we have His promise to us in Matt.18, and also His promise to His Father in Heb.2; the double promise of the presence of Christ in the midst of the saints when we gather. This is the simplicity and beauty of gathering to the Name and Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this is really what defines a New Testament local assembly.

In 1Cor.1.2, Paul defines a local assembly as he addresses the assembly at Corinth, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” A local assembly, by definition, comprises those saints who gather and “call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” We do not gather to a creed or doctrine, nor to a place, nor to a human preacher, teacher or pastor, nor to an ordinance, but to a divine Person alone, the blessed Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know and believe that at every gathering of the assembly, we have the inestimable privilege of the risen Christ in the midst. It is His pleasure to take His place in the midst of His own, He loves to gather us around Himself, and thus we gladly claim His presence with us when we come together.

It might also be noted that in the context of Matt.18.20, the gathering together of the two or three is specifically for the matter of prayer: v.19, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” We would not say that Matt.18.20 applies exclusively to the assembly prayer meeting, but it certainly does apply to that gathering. When we gather as an assembly for prayer, to unitedly make our requests known to God, the presence of Christ in our midst makes all the difference, for it gives authority to the prayers that ascend to the throne of God.

The assembly prayer meeting is not, therefore, to be regarded as an optional gathering. Some might think “I can’t make it to the prayer meeting tonight, so I will just stay at home, and say my prayer for the assembly at home.” Surely for those that are old, frail, sick and shut-in, God will fully honour their prayer for the assembly made at home, in hospital or nursing home. But if we really are physically able to be at the prayer meeting, be clear that any prayer made at home will not have the same power as if it were offered with the gathered saints, and in Christ’s presence, at the assembly prayer meeting.

The assembly prayer meeting is a time to gather together with the Lord in our midst, to ask of the Father, and the Lord’s presence in our midst will be honoured by the Father, and we will, as companies, receive power and blessing from on high to sustain us in our testimony for Him. Notice the language of 1Cor.5.4, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” While this specifically refers to a meeting for discipline, we may enjoy the principle that when we gather together in His Name we will know “the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Assembly fellowship is, of course, never confined to the breaking of bread, but it involves all the exercises and responsibilities and gatherings of the assembly.

The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 5

The Truth of Gathering in Pattern — John 20.19-20

The risen Lord has already appeared first to Mary, and now the disciples are assembled. These are fearful men, the doors shut “for fear of the Jews.” Suddenly and miraculously, the Lord appears and “stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” His glorified, resurrection body was not subject to physical constraints. He had passed clean out of the grave clothes, and clean out of the tomb, and now He miraculously appears in the midst of the disciples, bringing peace to their troubled and frightened hearts. The occasion typifies countless gatherings of believers since, the present gatherings of the saints. The Church did not come into existence until the day of Pentecost, after the Lord had ascended back to heaven. But we have here foreshadowed the pattern of assembly gatherings, with Christ as the central focal point of every gathering. In v.20 we read, “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” They literally saw Him in their midst, and when we gather, we are glad to see Him by the eye of faith.

The Spirit is careful to record for us that the day of His resurrection was “the first day of the week” — the same day when the risen Christ thus came and stood in the midst of His gathered disciples. It is the morrow after the Sabbath, the fulfilment of the feast of Firstfruits, Lev.23. The Lord thus puts His sanction upon the gathering of His saints on that specific day, the first of the week, to remember Him. The other New Testament references to the first of the week show clearly that it was the practice of the early Church to gather together on this day. In Acts 20, Paul and his companions were at Troas, and they abode there seven days, clearly waiting to gather “upon the first day of the week … to break bread,” Acts 20.7. Paul preached that day till midnight, and they departed the next morning, but they did not gather on the first of the week to specifically hear Paul, they gathered to break bread. And this was not merely a local custom at Troas, but it was the pattern of the churches of God. Thus in 1Cor.16.2, Paul reiterates to the assembly at Corinth his instruction previously given to the churches of Galatia, regarding the collection for the saints, when they gathered “upon the first day of the week.”

In Old Testament times, it was the seventh day, the Sabbath, that was set apart for God, as the fourth commandment of the Decalogue emphasised, Ex.20.8-11. One might ask, “are we not expected to keep the Ten Commandments today, not to obtain salvation, but as those who are saved, surely we ought not to be breaking any of them?” Of those Ten Commandments, the other nine have to do with relationship to God, and moral behaviour towards humanity; but the fourth commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy is primarily ceremonial. In the New Testament, the spirit of the nine other commandments is to be found in many places. That we give God first place, we worship only deity, we honour parents, we display love to all, we do not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, covet etc. is found in the teaching of Christ and in the exhortations of the epistles. Thus Rom.8.4, “The righteousness (righteous requirements) of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The accuracy of Scripture ought to be noted. It does not say, “the law might be fulfilled by us” but “in us.” A person moving under the control of the Holy Spirit will fulfill these moral requirements, but not as matter of necessity and law keeping. But in Christianity, there is no obligation to keeping the ceremonial aspects of Judaism; Gal.4.9-10 “how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days and months and times and years;” Col.2.16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.”

The difference between the Sabbath and the first of the week is fundamental; the one is Judaism and the other is Christianity. The seventh day, the Sabbath of rest, marked the end of man’s week of work. But the first of the week takes us away from man’s work completely, to the totally new order of the new creation of God, founded entirely upon the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We recognise that human flesh and works are set aside as worthless, and that our redemption is accomplished in the risen Christ, our hearts delight in the risen and exalted and glorified Man, “we rejoice (glory) in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phil.3.3.

In the Church, we are not linked with the Lord before Calvary. There was no Church until the risen Lord had ascended and was glorified at God’s right hand. Our links are entirely with a Man who is on the other side of death, raised and exalted in heaven. We remember, on the first of the week, the risen Christ; Rev.1.18, “I am He that liveth, and was dead: and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” If Calvary was a day of shame and sorrow and apparent defeat for our Lord, the first of the week was His day of victory and triumph, when He was fully vindicated, raised by the mighty power of God and “raised up from (among) the dead by the glory of the Father,” Rom.6.4.

The first of the week is therefore very precious to us, when we enjoy the peace, v.19, and gladness, v.20, of gathering to the risen Christ, with the knowledge that He is no longer on the cross, the tomb is empty, and we gather around our risen Lord. In v.19, we see the peace of knowing the risen Christ in the midst, He says to those troubled fearful men “Peace be unto you.” In v.20, the Lord shows them those wounds of Calvary, not His hands and feet (as in Lk.24) but His hands and side. The disciples knew of three individuals crucified at Calvary; all had wounds on hand and feet, but Jn.19 tells us that only one blessed Man had a wound in His side. It could only be the risen Christ who could show them His hands and His side, and “then (therefore) were the disciples glad,” immediately enjoying that peace, fear of the outside world had been dispelled. There is the peace and gladness associated with knowing that the power of death is broken, the peace of His close presence. This is the comfort of our gathering with the risen Christ in the midst.

Many things in this world are a potential cause for real fear. But all our hopes for time and eternity are secured for us in the risen Man of Calvary who is alive, in heaven exalted and glorified. It will be fresh appreciation of His risen presence in our midst, in the centre of our gatherings, that will help dispel all fear in relation to this world, and we can know His peace, even in the face of death. In Acts 7, in that terrifying experience of being stoned to death, Stephen looked up and saw the risen Christ, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God,” Acts 7.56, and there was surely a measure of peace for Stephen even as the stones rained down upon him. As we gather together, with the risen Christ in our midst, we can enjoy the comfort of His peace and His close presence.

In v.20, we see also the cost of our gathering around Christ, “His hands and His side,” those unique wounds of our Lord at Calvary. It necessitated His suffering and death to fit each one of us for His holy presence. It required His precious shed blood that we might enjoy gathering with Christ in the midst. Every time we gather to Him, we are surely caused to appreciate Calvary, and His sacrifice for us, and what it cost Him to redeem us to God.

Yet, that immense cost of gathering is also the confidence of our gathering. This was the first time these disciples had ever gathered together on the ground of a finished work. Every time we gather, it is on the ground of the finished work of Christ on the cross; His sacrifice is the absolute confidence of our gathering. We gather knowing that from that pierced side there flowed the “blood and water,” Jn.19.34, the answer to all our need. The blood is God-ward, God has been propitiated, divine requirements satisfied by the precious blood of Christ. The water is man-ward, for cleansing from the guilt of sins. There at Calvary, God was eternally satisfied and all our need was met by the finished work of Christ. The blood and water from His pierced side, the wounds of Calvary, are the confidence of our gathering.

No doubt, when the Lord appeared in the midst of the disciples, every eye was fastened upon Him alone. So too when we gather, we must keep our gaze fixed by faith upon Christ in our midst. Often saints become discouraged, perhaps cease to attend the gatherings regularly, because when they gather, they are focused upon the rest of the saints. They see all the failings, weaknesses and inconsistencies of the saints, and they feed upon that, and thus become discouraged. If we could but keep our eyes fixed upon Christ in the midst, there will not be discouragement or disappointment. There will always be imperfections in the saints, but there is no failure and no imperfection in Christ who is in our midst. So when we gather, we must keep occupied with Him alone, feed only upon Him, saturate our souls in the wondrous truth that He is in our midst, and if we do that we will always be encouraged.

Furthermore, with the great privilege of His presence, there comes great responsibility. Our assemblies must be morally suitable for His holy presence, and we as individual saints each have a responsibility to ensure that this is the case. This is not a matter of outward correctness, but of inward holiness. The truth of Christ as the centre of gathering should greatly influence our attitude, our behaviour, our deportment, our general demeanour and the way we conduct ourselves when we gather. We won’t consistently arrive late for the gatherings when we have a deep realisation that the Lord is there; we can’t barge into His hallowed presence. There should be a holy calm prevailing if His presence is properly realised; a dignity, an order, a reverence that is appropriate to the fact that we are gathering with Christ in our midst. Such feelings can even find expression in outward appearance and dress, for when we gather to be with Christ, as His invited guests, we ought to show the appropriate respect for His hallowed presence in every possible way that we can.

The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 6

The Truth of Gathering in Prospect

2 Thessalonians 2v1 In this verse, Paul points us forward to the day when the Church in its entirety will finally be gathered around the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again; “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.” What a tremendous prospect that is for the Church, when the Lord Himself descends out of heaven to the air, the dead in Christ are raised, and together with those alive He will draw every child of God to Himself, to gather His own, together unto Himself. He will then be the unrivalled object of our affections, as we gather eternally to Himself in changed and glorified bodies, fitted for the glory of heaven.

The New Testament Greek word for “gathering together unto” in this verse (episunagoge, from which is derived the word synagogue), in the noun form, it is found in the New Testament only here and in Heb.10.25, “Not forsaking the assembling (i.e. the gathering) of ourselves together as the manner of some it is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We must all, as individuals, be greatly exercised and influenced by the knowledge that at every gathering of the assembly He is in our midst. Such a truth should mean that we will be exercised about our attendance at the gatherings of the local assembly, and not neglect them since Christ is there. Every gathering is another blessed opportunity and immense privilege to be in His presence, to be where He is, and He is the One who is so worthy of our presence.

There will be times when duties of employment and family, legitimately prevent perfect attendance, but the bent and habit of our lives should be organised around our attendance at the gatherings of the saints. The saints should be able to depend upon our consistent presence; they should be surprised when we are not there, rather than be surprised when we attend. When perhaps you get home from work late on a weeknight, exhausted from a busy day of work, and there is the assembly prayer meeting and bible study to attend, the truth of gathering to Christ in the midst should be the deciding factor in our decision.

This word for “gathering together unto” is also found in other New Testament Scriptures in the verb form; the first such reference is in Matt.23.37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wing, and ye would not.” The Lord is weeping over the city, for it had been His great desire to gather them together unto Himself, and yet they would not receive Him, they would not have Him, and we see how it broke the heart of Christ. He laments for those who would not gather to Himself. So in the assembly, He desires so much to have His own gathered unto Himself, and to be enjoying our presence with Him. What sadness it must therefore bring to His heart, when believers have little interest in the gatherings of the assembly, and little interest in gathering unto Himself.

And we can miss so very much spiritual blessing and encouragement when we absent ourselves from the gatherings. In Jn.20, Thomas was not with the other disciples the first time the Lord appeared in their midst; Jn.20.24 “Thomas … was not with them when Jesus came.” He missed out on tremendous blessing, seeing the risen Christ, and even receiving the Holy Spirit when the Lord had breathed upon the other disciples. Who can know what blessing we are missing, if we are not in attendance where Christ is?

So then, the future prospect of gathering to Him in the air in a coming day becomes the great motivating principle for assembling ourselves together, to gather around His Person today in the gatherings of the assembly. Just as the Lord will be the gathering centre of the raptured Church when He comes, so He is today the gathering centre for us in the assembly. We all long for that gathering in the air. There is no believer who does not want not to meet Him in the air and so to be gathered around our Saviour; and no true believer will miss that gathering. But really, the true measure of how much we feel that, and how much we long for that future prospect of gathering to Him, will only be shown today by how greatly we desire to gather today around His Person in the gatherings of the assembly. Thus Paul is beseeching the Thessalonians, “by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.”

We have a little preview of this wonderful prospect of gathering around Christ in heaven in Rev.5, where we see Christ as the freshly slain Lamb in the midst of heaven’s throne, and He is the centre of all praise and worship. He alone is worthy and able to take the seven-sealed scroll from the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. It is because of His finished work on Calvary’s cross, when by the shedding of His precious blood, He eternally satisfied God. Thus He has the right to take this book, the very title deeds of the universe, He has every legal, moral and divine right to reclaim it all for God, to redeem His purchased possession.

The rest of Rev.5 details that tremendous, unprecedented response of praise and worship of the Lamb, God’s Son. Beginning with the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders, they fall down and worship before the Lamb in the midst of the throne. Then, there is that innumerable company of angels surrounding heaven’s throne, all saying with a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing,” Rev.5.12. Then, it is every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, all similarly praising and worshipping Christ, all “fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever,” Rev.5.14. Truly no tongue can be silent, Christ is the centre of all worship, He receives that which is His right, and indeed the very opposite of what He received from men when He first came to this earth.

We might well read such a chapter as Rev.5, and wonder “what will it be like, to be there and to take part in that.” Well, every believer in Christ will surely be there to participate. But let us remember, what God is purposing for His Son in heaven in a future day, He is already accomplishing in measure today, in local companies of believers, who gather around Christ on the first day of the week, to worship and praise and adore the freshly slain Lamb. In our remembrance of Christ, He must be the centre of all our worship. What is it that occupies our thoughts on a Sunday morning? Of course, we are truly thankful He has saved us, and it is absolutely right to give God thanks for it. But we need to get beyond ourselves, such that Christ alone is the centre of our worship, and we gather to remember Him, and to speak to God about the worth and beauty and glories of His dear Son.
In conclusion, we must ask ourselves, what is the assembly all about? Why do we attend the local assembly? How do we decide where our allegiance belongs? Do we gather just to be with the other Christians? The saints are always a blessing, we can enjoy their fellowship and help and encouragement, but the assembly is not to be just like a Christian social club. It is not primarily the people we gather with, but it is specifically the blessed Person we gather to, the risen Lord Jesus. We must all grasp this truth: the local assembly is all about Christ and it is all for Christ. The last recorded gathering in New Testament Scripture is Laodicea, and it serves as a dire warning, because at Laodicea the door was shut, but with Christ outside the door, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Rev.3.20. That is the general trend of this world’s religion, keeping Christ outside, and it is all heading up towards that coming Babylon system of Christ-less religion.

The assembly must be distinctive, with Christ at the centre of every local assembly, the centre of His gathered people. If this does not motivate us, it is possible that assembly life will become familiar and routine and ultimately arduous. But the truth of gathering with the risen Christ in the midst will never be arduous. Do we believe it? Of course we do. But may the Lord exercise our hearts before Him, so that we always value it, treasure it, and act in accordance with it.

http://www.assemblytestimony.org/?q=node/26

Dec 12, 2010 at 04:25 o\clock

Enough ?

My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them - that is not the reason - but the reason is, because they are not things
proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God
Himself. --Jeremiah Burroughs

Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately upon them. - John Flavel

How shall I depend on Him for raising my body from the dust; and saving my soul at last; if I distrust Him for a crust of bread, towards my preservation. --Joseph Hall

As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so He will not forsake you because you are low. --John Flavel

whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then
vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." -- James 4:14-15

"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. -- Mt 6:30-33

Nov 27, 2010 at 18:06 o\clock

Our Almighty Friend !

Our Almighty Friend!

(Mary Winslow, "Words of Loving Counsel and Sympathy")

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

The Lord knows what we require every step we take through this poor, trying, wilderness world--and stands ready to supply our needs, small and great. He is concerned in all that concerns us. Let it be our daily habit to cast our care upon Him--who cares for us.

We must be growing in a better acquaintance with our own souls--as poor and needy; and with Christ--who is all and everything to us. For in Him all fullness dwells--and that fullness is for us! He is our rich storehouse. We need only to go and tell Him--and His heart is open to us in a moment. Let us live upon Him--and go to Him constantly! He is our Almighty Friend!

Could we look into His heart, and see how precious we were to Him, and how truly He is near to us, watching over us, directing all things for our good and His glory--how would our present grievances vanish from our minds, as we sit as beloved children at the feet of Jesus.

Nov 11, 2010 at 20:53 o\clock

More of Christ !

More of Christ! More of Christ!

by James Smith, 1860


What is it my soul, which causes this uneasiness, this dissatisfaction, this deep inward yearning after something which you have not, or do not at present enjoy? I am not at rest. I am not rejoicing in God. I am not singing from the heights of Zion. Yet, I have no slavish fears, I have no gloomy doubts of my saving interest in Christ, I have no actual dread of death or the judgment. But I feel a desire to climb higher, to know more, and to enjoy the power of religion within — as I have not of late. It seems to me that all my needs lead me to Christ, and all my desires go out toward Christ. I want — well, what do I want?

I want to feel more of my NEED of Christ. I have imagined at times, that I could not have a deeper sense of my need of Christ, and of all that Christ is, and has — than I have already experienced. But I am persuaded now that I may, and that only in proportion as I daily feel my need of Christ — shall I desire to know him, trust in him, and enjoy him. I know theoretically, that I need Christ in every office which he sustains, in every relationship which he fills, and in every character which he has assumed. I need him not only to rescue me from death — but to feed me, clothe me, teach me, keep me, guide me, and comfort me. I need him to do all for me, and all within me — which either God, or my circumstances require. O to feel more of my need of Jesus, that I may not be happy one moment — but only as I look to him, lean on him, and receive from him!

I want to KNOW more of Christ. O how little do I really know of Christ! I have thought of him, spoken of him, and wrote about him — but how little I really know of him. I want to know more of the person of Christ, more of the grace of Christ, and more of the work of Christ. I want to know more of Christ for me, and more of Christ within me. I want to know more of the words of Christ, and more of the heart of Christ. I want to know Jesus as God's Christ — and as my Christ. I want so to know Christ, as never to doubt his love, question his veracity, or to fear his coming. Yes, so to know him — as to devote myself wholly to him, and be ready at any time to depart and be with him!

I want more AFFECTION for Christ. Yes, I want to love Jesus — and to feel that I love him. I want to love him — and to prove by my conversation, conduct, and spirit — that I do so love him. There ought to be no doubt on my own mind on this point — but I should be ready to say, "I love him — because he first loved me." There ought to be no cause or occasion for any who know me, to question whether I love him. O no, his love should so influence my conduct, and his love should so season my conversation — that all about me may feel sure, that if I love anyone, I love Jesus. O that the Holy Spirit would shed abroad the love of Christ in my heart more and more — that my love to him may be as strong as death!

I want to realize more sensibly my UNION with Christ. Christ is the head of the church, and all the true members of that church are in union with him. I cannot but believe that I am one with Christ. I often feel as if I could not live without Christ. But I want daily and hourly to live under the impression — that Christ and my soul are one. That I am a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. What privilege can exceed this — to be united to Christ! Then, because he lives — I shall live also. Then he will use his influence for me, spend his wealth upon me, and desire to have me with him to behold his glory. O Jesus, dwell more sensibly in my heart, and let me dwell more sensibly in you!

I want more COMMUNION with Christ. Communion flows from union — and proves its vitality. No union to Christ — no communion with Christ. And if there is no communion with Christ — then there is no evidence of union to Christ. The branch being one with the vine — receives its life, sap, and nourishment from the vine. Just so, we being one with Christ — receive our spiritual life, holiness, and happiness from Christ. The member lives, grows, and is strong — because it is in union with the head. Just so, the believer lives, grows, and is strong — because he is in union with Christ, the head. In proportion as we realize our union with Christ, will be the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ. And in proportion to the sweetness and constancy of our communion with Christ — will be the assurance of our union to Christ. O for more sweet, sanctifying, and soul-ennobling communion with Jesus!

I want more ASSIMILATION to Christ. What I see in Christ I admire, and I admire all that I see in Christ. But admiration is not enough. I want to be like Jesus, just like him — altogether like him. The more I am with him, and the more I see of him — the more I sigh, cry, and long to be like him! I think one may live at such a distance from Christ, and have so little to do with Christ — that he may not be very anxious or desirous to be like him. But I am sure that we cannot be much in his company, or be led by the Holy Spirit, to see much of his moral and spiritual beauty — but we shall desire to be fully like him. At times, this seems to be the one thing needful with me, the one thing that I desire of the Lord — that I may be like Jesus. But it is not always so, it is not sufficiently so — therefore I cannot but wish for more assimilation to Christ.

I want to be fully POSSESSED of Christ. Not only to be like him — but to be with him — not only with him in grace — but with him in glory! I am sure that I shall never be perfectly satisfied — until I have Christ always with me — until I am always with him in his Father's home and kingdom. This is promised me, I must believe the promise, and wait for its fulfillment. Soon it will be true in my experience, "Absent from the body — present with the Lord." I shall "depart and be with Christ — which is far better" than being here, distant from him, and so often sighing for the enjoyment of him! Then I shall possess Christ! Then I shall be fully satisfied with the presence of Christ.

O Lord, let me have a deeper sense of my saving interest in Christ now, let me enjoy more of him while on earth — and then I know that I shall be satisfied when I awake up in his glorious likeness!

Now it seems to me that these things go together, or naturally follow each other:

In proportion as I feel my need of Christ — I shall desire to know Christ — to know him fully, to know him experimentally.

In proportion as I know Christ — shall I desire to set my affections on Christ, and to love him with an unquenchable love.

Just in proportion to my love to him — will be my desire to realize close and vital union to him.

In proportion as I realize my union to Christ — shall I want to have and enjoy communion with Christ.

In proportion as I enjoy communion with Christ — shall I long for assimilation to Christ.

And as I long for assimilation to Christ — shall I desire fully to possess him, and to be forever with him!

Reader, do you know anything about these things? I have written these lines out of my own heart, and they express the feelings and desires of my soul.

If I know anything — I do know in a degree my need of Christ.

If I desire anything — I do desire to know Christ.

If I wish to love at all — I wish to love Christ supremely.

If I prize anything — I prize union to Christ.

If I desire anything — I desire communion with Christ.

If I aspire to anything — I aspire to be like Christ.

If I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with anything — I am persuaded that I shall be satisfied with the presence and possession of Christ.

All my religion finds its center in Christ!

My whole creed begins, goes on, and ends with Christ!

I value doctrines — but I set more value on Christ!

I prize ordinances — but I think more highly of Christ!

With me it is — Christ first, Christ middle, Christ last!

Reader, is it so with you?

Oct 21, 2010 at 03:00 o\clock

Preciousness of this truth !

O the preciousness of this truth!

(Arthur Pink, "The Sovereignty of God")

God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible for any to withstand His will, or resist the outworking of His decrees!!

Such a statement as that is well calculated to fill the lost sinner with alarm--but from the believer, it evokes nothing but praise.

Let us add a word, and see what a difference it makes--"My God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible for any to withstand His will, or resist the outworking of His decrees!!"

My God is infinite in power! Then "I will not fear what man can do unto me!"

My God is infinite in power! Then "whenever I am afraid--I will trust in Him!"

My God is infinite in power! Then "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep--for You alone Lord, make me dwell in safety!" Psalm 4:8

"There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you!" Deuteronomy 33:26, 27

O the preciousness of this truth! Here I am--a poor, helpless, senseless 'sheep,' yet I am secure in the hand of Christ! And why am I secure there? None can pluck me thence--because the hand that holds me is that of the Son of God, and all power in heaven and earth is His!

I have no strength of my own--the world, the flesh, and the Devil, are arrayed against me--so I commit myself into the care and keeping of my Lord Jesus. And what is the ground of my confidence? How do I know that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him? I know it because He is God Almighty--the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Oct 10, 2010 at 21:17 o\clock

Grand secret !

The grand secret!
(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"This is real love. It is not that we loved God--but that He loved us and sent His Son as a  sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10

Deal much and closely with a crucified Savior! This is the grand secret of a constant ascending of the affections to God. If you find it difficult to comprehend the love of God towards you--then read it in the cross of His dear Son!

Dwell upon this amazing fact,
drink into this precious truth,
muse upon it,
ponder it,
search into it,
pray over it,
until your heart is melted down, and broken, and overwhelmed with

God's wondrous love to you, in the gift of Jesus!

Oh, how will this rekindle the flame that is ready to die in your bosom! How it will draw you up in a holy and unreserved surrender of body, soul, and spirit!
Deal much with Jesus!

Whenever you detect . . .
  a waning of love,
  a reluctance to take up the daily cross,
  a shrinking from the precept
--go immediately to Calvary!

Go simply and directly to Jesus!

Get your heart warmed with ardent love by contemplating Him upon the cross--and soon will the frosts that gather round it melt away, and the congealed current shall begin to flow!

"Who loved me--and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

Sep 30, 2010 at 03:28 o\clock

Divine Sympathy

DIVINE SYMPATHY

(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")
"I know their sorrows!" Exodus 3:7

Man cannot say so. There are many sensitive fibers in the soul, which the best and most tender human sympathy cannot touch. But the Prince of Sufferers, He who led the way in the path of sorrow, "knows our frame." When crushing bereavement lies like ice on the heart, when the dearest earthly friend cannot enter into the peculiarities of our grief--Jesus can, Jesus does! He who once bore my sins--also carried my sorrows. That eye, now on the throne, was once dim with weeping! I can think in all my afflictions--"He was afflicted;" in all my tears--"Jesus wept."

"I know their sorrows!" He may seem at times thus to forget and forsake us; leaving us to utter the plaintive cry, "Has God forgotten to be gracious?" when all the while He is bending over us in the most tender love. He often allows our needs to attain their extremity, that He may stretch forth His succoring hand, and reveal the plenitude of His grace! "The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy."

And "knowing" our sorrows, is a guarantee that none will be sent--but only what He sees to be needful. "I will not," says He, "make a full end of you--but I will correct you in measure." All that He sends is precisely meted out; wisely apportioned. There is nothing accidental--no unneeded thorn; no superfluous pang. He "puts our tears in a bottle." Each one is counted, drop by drop, tear by tear, they are sacred things among the treasures of God!

Suffering believer, the iron may have entered deeply into your soul--yet rejoice! Jesus--a sorrowing, sympathizing Jesus--"knows" your aching pangs and burning tears, and He will "come down to deliver you!" Exodus 3:8

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are!" Hebrews 4:15

Sep 19, 2010 at 14:42 o\clock

Guidance from God

ALMIGHTY GUIDANCE

(John MacDuff, "THE THOUGHTS OF GOD")

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with My eye." Psalm 32:8
 
No more precious assurance can I have, than this: that I am under the constant, loving guidance of my heavenly Father--that He appoints the bounds of my habitation, and overrules all events for my good--that my whole life is a plan arranged by Him! Every apparent little contingency, as well as every momentous turn and crisis-hour--forms part of that plan! "A man's heart devises his way--but the Lord directs his steps."

"I will instruct you and teach you." How patiently does this almighty Preceptor train, and with what infinite wisdom and tenderness does He adapt His varied teachings to the needs and requirements of His people! It is "line upon line;" or if need be--cross upon cross, trial upon trial. Or it may be that startling providences are no longer required--the gentle indications of His will are enough, "I will guide you with My eye." The earthquake--the hurricane--the wind--the fire, may now have fulfilled their mission. "The still, small voice" is now sufficient.

And HOW does He promise to teach and to guide? Not in the way that we would like to go--not in the way of our own choosing--but "the way which you shall go." Often we would decide on pursuing the sunny highway. But God says, 'the rough mountain-track is best for you!' Often we would, like Israel, take the near and smooth road to Canaan. But God's pillar-cloud decides otherwise, and takes us by a circuitous route "by the way of the wilderness." Often we would prefer, like the disciples at sea of Tiberias, the safe path by the seashore, so as to avoid the gathering storm, "for the wind is contrary." But God says, "No!" He constrains us to get into the boat!

"He led them by the right path--to go to a city where they could live!" It is not for us to question His plans. He led His people of old--He leads them still--by the right path. There is a day coming--when we shall own the wisdom of every earthly lesson, the "needs-be" of every wave in the troubled sea!

The gardener has occasionally to subject his plants to apparently rough treatment--cutting, lopping, mutilating; reducing them to unsightly shapes--before they burst into flower. Summer, however, before long, vindicates the wisdom of his treatment, in its clusters of varied fragrance and beauty. So also, at times, does our heavenly Gardener see fit to use His pruning-knife! But be assured that there is not one superfluous or redundant lopping. We shall understand and acknowledge an infinitely wise necessity for all--when the plant has unfolded itself into the full flower, bathed in the tints and diffusing the fragrance of Heaven.

Believer, go up and on your way--rejoicing in the teaching and guidance of unerring Wisdom! "I will guide you with My eye." The sleepless eye of Israel's un-slumbering Shepherd is upon you by day and by night--in sickness and in health--in joy and in sorrow--in life and in death!

"The Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love."

Sep 13, 2010 at 00:42 o\clock

God is our Treasure

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Having the Source of all things, he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever. -- A.W. Tozer

Mar 2, 2010 at 05:22 o\clock

Christ above all

Some of you have truly been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growth in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ.

No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh, what low, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer - look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Jesus. Oh, believer, consider Jesus. Meditate on these things. Look and look again, until your peace flows like a river. - Robert Murray M’Cheyne

To those who love the Lord Jesus and believe in Him, and yet desire to love Him better, suffer this word of exhortation, and apply it to your heart. Keep before your mind, an ever-present truth, that the Lord Jesus is an actual living person, and deal with Him as such. I fear the personality of our Lord is sadly lost sight of by many Christians in the present day. Their talk is more about salvation than about the Savior; more about redemption than about the Redeemer; more about justification than about Jesus; more about Christ's work than about Christ's person. This is a great fault, and one that fully accounts for the dry and sapless character of the faith of many Christians.

If you would grow in grace, and have joy and peace in believing, then beware of falling into this error. Cease to regard the gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard it as a mere set of abstract propositions and principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious Friend. This is the kind of gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ. Nothing surely is so likely to prepare us for that heaven where Christ's personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face, as to realize communion with Christ as an actual living Person here on earth. Oh, there is all the difference in the world between an idea and a person. - J.C. Ryle

Here let us examine ourselves with great anxiety, for on many points we may come short. As for instance, we may fail in reference to the Object of our faith. A man may say, “I have faith,” but another question arises, “What have you faith in?” “Well, I have faith in what I have felt.” Then get rid of it! What you have felt is not an object of faith, nor to be trusted in at all. “I have faith,” says another, “in the doctrines which I have been taught.” I am glad you believe them, but remember, doctrines are not the Savior. A man may believe all the doctrines of the Truth of God and yet he may be lost. A creed cannot save, neither can a dogma redeem.

What is the object of faith, then? It is a Person. It is a living, Divine, Person. And who is that Person? He is none other than Jesus, the Son of God, God over all, blessed forever, born into this world for our sakes! No faith will save a man which does not rest upon Jesus Christ. To rely upon Christ in part is deadly—our faith must be altogether unmixed. If I depend in part upon the righteousness of Christ, and in part upon anything else, I am lost forever! Jesus will be a whole Savior or no Savior. I must throw my whole weight upon Him and cling to Him, alone, for no other can save me from destruction. - C. H. Spurgeon

Sep 16, 2009 at 13:13 o\clock

Our duty to Him

The higher our privileges,
the richer our blessings,
the nearer our relationship, 
the more does it become us,
the more solemnly are we bound,  to be faithful,
and to seek in all things
to carry ourselves
in such a way as to be
well-pleasing to Him
who has called us
into the very highest
and most blessed place
that ever His perfect love could bestow.                                   
CHM:  Deuteronomy  Vol**  P444

Aug 25, 2009 at 02:27 o\clock

Unity of the Spirit (Wm. Kelly)

The Unity of the Spirit, and what it is to keep it.

Being notes of a lecture delivered in 1882 by Wm. Kelly.

Third Edition

'The unity of the Spirit.' Ephesians 4: 3.

It is needless for one to insist at length on that which is sufficiently plain to every Christian reader — the importance which God attaches to keeping the unity of the Spirit. It is true that 'endeavouring' fails to give the real force of the word employed by the Spirit of God. 'Endeavouring' is an expression which in the ordinary language of the day is habitually applied to that which men essay or seek after, even if they have not a hope of accomplishing. They feel that they may fail, but at any rate they try or 'endeavour' to do this or that. Such is not the meaning of the word here, but rather zeal in heeding and carrying out what is already true, giving diligence 'to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' This, however, shows that not mere effort to attain, but earnestness to maintain, is the exhortation intended.

For the unity of the Spirit is to faith a subsisting fact; and the keeping it is no less our present duty. It is not that we have unity of ours to make, or that God is to make it for us in heaven by and by. It is here and now that the Spirit has formed this unity, the keeping of which is clearly our responsibility on earth. No doubt there is much to learn from the fact that it really is, as it is called, 'the unity of the Spirit.' It is not at all mere unity on our part, nor is it the unity of the body, though this is one result, but of the Holy Ghost who baptised into one body all who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free. It puts forward the Divine agent, the efficient source and power of unity, the Holy Spirit; but it supposes and includes the one body, which itself is so positive and permanent a reality that expressions often used about it are proved thereby incorrect. Of rending the body we hear in man's language or writings, never in God's word. Just as a bone of Christ was not to be broken, so the body of Christ, the church, cannot be rent. 'There is one body, and one Spirit, even as there is one hope of our calling.' These are the vital, abiding, and unchangeable truths in that new relationship. As surely as one Spirit has been sent down from heaven, there is but one body on earth; but that which the members of the body are called to keep is the unity of the Spirit.

It is not, as many interpret it, the unity of the family where the Lord guides one and all in communion with the Father and the Son; which is no doubt a very desirable, right, and blessed thing in its place, but provided for rather in John 17: 21, 22, than here. 'That all might be one,' in the Gospel of John, refers to our rising by grace above all that would set or keep us apart, one in the Father and the Son. So the Lord asked for us of the Father that we might be characterised by unity. But in the scripture before us, as in the writings of Paul generally, at least where the 'body' is introduced, it is another truth attaching to the same objects, yet not at all a contingent or changeable condition of soul, but the permanent and blessed fact, that God has established unity for His own glory by the presence of His Spirit, who has united us to Christ our exalted Head in heaven.

There is since Pentecost a divine unity on the earth; not the mere aggregate of the individuals evermore called by grace, but those now made one by the Spirit of God. There is thus a divine corporation on the earth, if one may be allowed to use so familiar an expression. This divine society — here below is not formed by the will of the persons who compose it, although it is to be supposed that their hearts if right and intelligent thoroughly go along with the grace that so united them. But the church or assembly of God is formed by God's will; as it was purposed by His grace, so is it made good livingly by His power, the Holy Ghost being the effectuator of this blessed unity. Hence the Spirit of God for that very reason has the deepest and the most intimate interest in carrying out this unity for Christ's glory according to the counsels of the Father. It is called the unity of the Spirit; yet let none imagine that he can intelligently keep the unity of the Spirit and forget for a moment in principle or practice the one body of Christ.

There are, of course, various ways in which the saints may fail to keep this unity; but there are two general though opposite directions in which the failure may work, which are as prevalent as they are manifest. The first is by setting up a unity larger than that of the Spirit; the second by making it less. There may be a worldly looseness on the one hand, or mere partyism on the other; and the danger is so great that only God's Spirit can keep us looking to Christ by the word. Whatever may be the object or excuse, the will of man himself must be at bottom the motive at work in opposition to God's will.

In the first case men are prone to enlarge the unity. They insist on taking in multitudes beyond the members of the body of Christ, souls recognised as of Christ without adequate ground for it. Oh what dishonour to that excellent Name! I speak not of infirmity in accrediting any supposed to be true, but of the deliberate intention to accept, and treat as belonging to Christ's body, persons who do not themselves even profess to be His members, and have evidently never passed from death unto life. Rome, it is true, had so done in its medieval sway over the west; and the Eastern bodies, the Greeks, Nestorians, etc., were no better, any more than the Catholic church before that great rent which set them at variance. They had all sought and received the world by means of fleshy ordinances, apart from faith and the reception of the Spirit. The Reformation, much as it did, in no adequate way rectified this radical error. Protestantism rejected the woman ruling over the nations, and if possible all nations; but, ignorant of the unity of the Spirit, it set up in each realm, where its influence extended, its own independent religion as by law established.

Such is the well-known principle of nationalistic bodies, wherever found, whether in England or in Scotland, in Germany or in Holland. They profess to receive all decent people in the districts or parishes. It is avowedly a religion for every body, and in no way the intention or the desire to incorporate none that are not living members of Christ. Birth or local connections are allowed unless there be open scandal. There is no demand of life or faith, still less of the gift of the Holy Ghost, as of old (Acts 11: 16, 17). It is rather such a pattern as Israel affords, not the church wherein is neither Jew nor Greek but all are one in Christ Jesus. It is a question of family life and of geographical limits, and people are not Israelites or heathen but own the Christian religion, being in what is commonly called a national church: yet is it not clear that in a national church the unity of the Spirit cannot possibly be kept? One may be a true christian, or child of God, but there is neither the thought nor the possibility for a member of a national church to keep therein 'the unity of the Spirit.' Hence they speak of the Church of England, not of the church of God in England: still less do they contemplate all that are Christ's on the earth.

The fact is that, in escaping from Babylon, they have come to acknowledge a unity wholly different from, and opposed to, that of the Spirit. They have set up a unity which, if carried out with complete success, would comprehend the whole nation, saving perhaps those who eschew all show of religion. For I do not forget that the Rubric provides against heinous or manifest scandal. Notoriously, however, in every quarter, and almost in every family, there may be persons of more or less respectability, moral and amiable men, who know they are not born of God, and would shrink from pretending to be members of Christ, if they were not misled to claim the place on ritual ground. Most of these would shrink from being called 'saints,' and hesitate not to apply the word as a cant term of reproach to God's children who are not ashamed to call themselves what they are.

Clearly then such as disclaim the name thus are not saints, unless you can honestly conceive of a believer so sunk or dark as to make a scorn of God's designation for His children. And you may rest assured without a doubt that he who thinks and talks so does not walk as becomes a saint. Now if a man is not what scripture calls a saint, he is certainly not a Christian, except for God's judgment of his hollow profession. Is it not plain that a Christian is a saint, and a good deal more? There were saints in Old Testament times; there were saints before the cross of Christ; but were they really Christians so called? A Christian is a saint since redemption, one who is separated to God by faith of the gospel, in the power of the Holy Ghost, on the ground of the work of Christ. Whatever he may have been naturally before, God has quickened him together with Christ, having forgiven all his offences; and now, brought nigh by the blood of Christ, he draws near to God as a child. He is also a member of Christ's body.

Now these are the persons who are called in the bond of peace to keep with diligence the unity of the Spirit, setting their faces against everything which might falsify that unity. It is not merely that the Spirit inwardly, and the personal conduct outwardly, must be suitable to it, which of course is true; but if the affections and walk were ever so excellent, it would be a serious thing for the Christian to annul or overlook the expression of that unity. Yet does not every believer dishonour it who owns any unity whatever that is not of the Holy Ghost? If he owns the fellowship of nationalism in this or any other country, is it not clear that he is off the ground on which scripture places all the saints? As a nationalist, how can he be keeping the unity of the Spirit? He may behave as a true child of God otherwise; in general he may walk worthily of all respect and love; and certainly he ought to be an object of tender concern to any who are zealous in keeping the unity of the Spirit. For if true to their calling they must pray for the deliverance of all the children of God who are not in this following the will and word of the Lord Jesus.

Unquestionably those who own a unity which takes in the flesh, on the basis of rites open to all the world, are on ground far wider than that of the Spirit, and cannot be walking in accordance with it., True unity is exclusive of every other; as you cannot serve two masters, you cannot share a twofold communion. The unity of the Spirit admits of no rival.

But there is another form of departure from the truth which may hinder God's children from keeping the unity of the Spirit. By misuse of doctrine or discipline they may form a unity not only in fact but in principle and design narrower than Christ's body. Are such on God's ground? I trow not. They may openly draw up their own form of government, or they may privily have an understood, though unwritten, system of rules which exclude saints as godly as themselves who cannot accept these rules. Here we have a sect. Their decrees are not the commandments of the Lord, yet they become practically as authoritative as His word, or (as is usual) yet more so. What is it for men to pretend that they have no human rules, when they introduce some unheard of conditions of fellowship, here rigidly, there loosely, according to varying policy or the caprice of their rulers, for those who come within their range? Anything of this nature takes the shape, not exactly of nationalism, but of sectarianism, which (instead of too wide or loose borders) rather seeks to split up those who should be together, making their communion express their difference from their brethren, and in no way standing together on that unity which is of God. It is in principle sectarianism; and, if they know better, they are more guilty than ordinary dissenters.

Under this head we find God's children often scattered through the pressure of questionable and even wrong discipline, or of unduly urged if not false doctrine. Some prefer a communion which is distinctively Arminian, or decidedly Calvinistic. Some might press particular views as to the coming and kingdom of Christ; others as to ministry, bishops, elders, etc.; others again as to baptism, the mode or the subjects. These ecclesiastical legislators seem not at all aware that their abuse of these doctrines or practices is incompatible with keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, they themselves being wrong, if not in their views, at least in the way they are pressed.

Behind these public and settled aberrations from the will of God about His children, it will be found that there lie predisposing causes that grieve the Holy Ghost and hinder the true and spiritual perception of the saint. The most personal and perhaps most common hindrances flow from the state of the soul, through ignorance of a full delivering gospel. Sin in these circumstances has never been thoroughly judged as before God, and consequently deliverance (Rom. 8: 2) is but partially, if at all, known even in principle. Still less is there the power of the Spirit in unsparing application of death with Christ to self practically. Perhaps even the forgiveness of sins as a complete thing has been but feebly apprehended, as made apparent by the notion of the need of a fresh recurrence to the blood of Christ, or (as others would put it) of a constant process of cleansing going on, which they ground on a misunderstanding of the present tense in 1 John 1: 7, ignorantly reducing it from its moral import to mere actual time. Others again have a wholly superficial and even fallacious view of the world, as if it were now all consecrated to the Christian by that cross of Christ, whereby on the contrary the Christian is crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to him.

The flesh and the world being thus inadequately judged according to God's word in the light of the risen Christ, the heart is not in communion with God touching all within and without. Though there may be the utmost zeal for souls as far as their danger and God's pardoning grace are understood, and true and burning love that Christ should be honoured in their blessing, nature still has a large place, and the word and spirit of God do not absolutely govern the heart separate to Him who is dead, risen, and on high. In such a condition how can souls be expected to form a sound or spiritual judgment on the church, complicated as the question now is by its ruined state? They value science, letters, philosophy, which exalt the flesh, as well as associations which allow of ease and honour in the world. From lack of intelligence in the word, and feeble sense of fellowship with the Father and the Son, they fail to judge the present evil age and are absorbed in 'their own things,' if not ever seeking greater. They are consequently in danger of being the victims of prejudice and prepossession. They do not give to Christ His due and supreme place in a practical way; nor do they freely rise above brotherly kindness into the purer atmosphere of love according to God, so as to care for the church unselfishly as Christ's body. They are not prepared to break fully through the vain conversation which tradition has generated as much in Christendom as of old in Judaism. They shrink from the trying consequences which unhesitating and thorough obedience of the truth must entail on every one who is subject to the Lord. The eye is not single, and therefore the body is not full of light; the path looks uncertain, the word seems difficult, and danger appears to lie in the faith that follows the Lord at all cost.

Are we then to fall back on prudence and require a certain measure of intelligence before reception? This is just one main mischief that has to be ever assiduously avoided, and treated as a mistake in principle, yea, a sin against Christ and the church. Nor could anything more directly tend to make the most sectarian of all sects than to exact, from the souls who seek to come in, a right judgment as to truth least known by the saints, the mystery of Christ, or in particular the one body for them made harder still, as it is apt to be in practice, by sections growing out of the actual fallen condition of Christendom.

Never was such a requirement heard of, even When the church began and the presence of the Holy Spirit was a wholly new thing. Saints were received on the confession of Christ's name, God having given to all the like gift, His seal and passport. The intelligence was on the part of those who recognised the worth of that Name and the gift of the Spirit as to themselves at the beginning. Had they claimed intelligence of the church as a condition of fellowship, it would have really proved their own lack of intelligence, and counteracted that for which Christ died -the gathering together in one of God's scattered children.

Has the present ruin of the church altered this primary principle? The firm foundation of God stands, but with this seal: The Lord knows them that are His; and, Let every one that names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. What bears His name is like a great house with vessels of honour, and vessels of dishonour, from which last a man has to purge himself, if he would himself be a vessel of honour, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work. If the public state be evil, individual fidelity to Christ is imperative: unity is not to overbear it, nor bind the Christian to unite the Lord's name with unrighteousness. Personal purity is to be followed also; and this not in isolation but with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Not a word about requiring ecclesiastical or doctrinal intelligence, but 'with those that call' etc., i.e., with real saints in a day of lax and hollow profession.

At a later day, 'the last hour' of John, we see how strongly the spirit of God insists on first principles. 'Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?' In presence of many antichrists, Christ abides the touchstone. The spirit holds to His person unhesitatingly. To add aught is to take from Him, to dishonour His name.

Is then knowledge of truth or growth in spiritual intelligence to be slighted? In no way; but it is false and vain to require either as a preliminary condition from saints who seek fellowship according to God. Help them, instruct them, lead them on in both. This is a true service, but arduous withal. The other is sectarian, and wrong.

If there are any who plead for so great a departure from Scripture and more especially from the characteristic truth of God's assembly, let them betray their new invention in opposition to the Lord, that others also may fear. Christ ever abides the one test, the only centre, to whom the Holy Spirit gathers. What the Lord declared just before the church began remains even more manifestly true, now that He is dishonoured in the house of His new friends no less than in that of His old. 'He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad' (Matt. 12: 30). It is imperative to be with Christ for one's soul, in order to please God and not dishonour His Son; but there is now the privilege and duty of gathering, as well as of individual allegiance; and he who does not gather with Him only scatters, whatever appearances may say to the contrary. It is the once rejected and dead, the now risen and glorified, Christ, who is the attractive centre; and hence the sign of His death in the breaking of bread is equally the sign of the one body, which they in effect deny and contemn who would restrain it to their few, refusing the many, that is, all whom Christ contemplates and welcomes. He has not asked this at their hands; nor does He sanction such action in His word. And if not warranted of Him, what is it but party and arbitrary restriction, which does not refuse the vile only but the precious, unless they fall in with their unauthorised course whether they think it right or not?

Thus the direct tendency is to coerce and demoralise; for what is sought is not conviction on ground of Scripture, but, where there is no conviction, a blindfold subjection, a bare and often reluctant and unhappy acquiescence, an appearance of fellowship which is no longer living but dead. For the Spirit we have received is assuredly a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind; and in no way does He endorse what is thus formal in character, under human pressure or influence. The consequence is terrible: a premium to the more vaulting and turbulent spirits, who now more than ever would 'hold the reins'; the comparative retirement, from their just and grace-given place, of those who care not 'to rule save in the fear of the Lord and by His word; the destruction of moral principle in such (and they are very many) as seek to silence their disapproval of the movement as a whole and in detail, either by attachment to leaders, or in holding to the greater number, which they fondly call unity. Protest (say some), but stay within; that is, protest but only in word! This we used to regard as the painful compromise of place-loving evangelicals; now do we not see it standing where it ought not? It is anything but truth and right; and this unity!

But there is all the difference of truth and error, on the one hand, between consistency with the unity of the Spirit for Christ's glory, carried out in holiness and grace according to His word, and, on the other, self-deceived and misleading abuse of unity to cry up a party bent on division with violence, which refused humiliation and prayer to arrest the evil, and declared Scripture needless for its demands or its justification.

No intelligent saint would ask for a positive letter of commandment, like a Jew; no one expects a modern place or passing circumstance to be named in the Scripture: to speak as if anything of the sort were sought is to evade and condemn oneself yet more. Where is the scriptural principle for turning a local difference into a wedge of universal division? Beyond controversy, when a question is raised with a world-wide scattering of the saints as the penalty, all who love the church are bound to be assured that the test is of God according to His word.

Some of us remember such a test more than thirty years ago. But then it was whether we could consent to make a true or a false Christ an open question. This we rejected with horror, when a large company of saints adhered to their leaders (even while they ignored the judgment of the assembly where the evil occurred), who let in the known partisans of a proved anti-christian teacher, and denied formally their responsibility to judge it solemnly for themselves.

This was no test of man. It is the certain distinct requirement of the Lord. We are divinely commanded to reject any who bring not the doctrine of Christ (2 John). This goes far beyond the dealing due to those who act independently or make a sect. No ecclesiastical error, however real or grave, could justify such rigour.

The foundation truth of Christ demands it. We owe it to Him who is our Lord, who died for us, whose glory the word guards as nothing else. To say that then it was a question of the Head, now of the body, in order to put the two as much as possible on a level, is both want of faith in Him and want of intelligence in the word. It is an undue and even unholy exalting of the church, and so not only an unspiritual blunder but an evident excuse for yielding to sectarianism. We should never have been warranted to have acted as we did in 1848-9, if Christ had not been blasphemed. As a test it is absolutely unscriptural to equalise the church with Him, even if it had been true, which it was not of late, that the one body was at stake, for the meeting wrongly begun was nowhere recognised.

The comparison is a sophism. For the question of old was not about Christ as Head at all, but about His person and relationship to God as such. An antichrist was taught; it was not a mere failure, bad as this may be, in holding His headship. And so far now from maintaining the unity of the Spirit, so far from acting faithfully on the ground of the one body, the object has been and is to force on us the recognition of a meeting which had deliberately gone out and set up in self-will as a party, a meeting that never yet adequately and honestly owned these public sins to those against whom they sinned, not to say to all saints. The aim, of course, really was division, for no sober Christian thought such ways right; but certain were resolved, cost what it might, to sever between those prepared to accept as of God a meeting guilty of unjudged party work, and those who cannot but reject such independency for Christ's and the church's sake.

If this is not a human test, and as the result a sect, it would be hard to find either; for the ground is not even a difference of doctrine, still less as to Christ, but at most a question of discipline, even if the discipline were right. But I will go further. Take the hope of the return of the Lord Jesus. You know how very important it is for Christians to be waiting in truth and heart for Christ from heaven; but would you require that those who seek fellowship in the name of the Lord should understand and confess that hope before you receive them in the Lord?

Would not this be a sect? Be it that your assertion of the Christian hope is ever so right, and that the person in quest of fellowship is ever so ignorant on that subject; but who authorises you or others to stand at the door and forbid his entrance? Perhaps by entertaining some wrong thought, he may fancy that the Christian, like the Jew, or the Gentile in Rev. 7, has to go through the great final tribulation. Granted that he little understands the place of the Christian from not seeing his union with Christ in heaven, which is made known by the Holy Spirit in this day. Hence he is in confusion and knows not that the Lord will come and take His own before the days of that terrible retribution which is coming upon the world. He may even share the thoughts of men ,is unwise as any in Thessalonica and fall into the delusion of trying to escape the great tribulation, as some did forty years ago by going to Canada. Too much occupied with prophecy, they had lost or never known the true hope of Christ's coming; and whenever we get absorbed in anything, whether prophecy, or the church,* or the gospel, rather than with Christ, what but grace can hinder us from going farther astray?

If any one wants proof of the schismatic misuse of truth at work, he can see it in the 'Voice' for August, 1882, where the writer is so betrayed by his anti-evangelistic zeal as to say that 'a company of saints gathered by an evangelist seldom is sound in principle' (p. 247)! This crying up of one's own line is as unsound in heart as it is in principle; an offence alike against grace and truth. Every right-minded evangelist hails with] joy the service of pastors and teachers, that they may perfect the work. begun by the Lord through himself. But if these ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοποι were not blinded by self-occupation they would rejoice in the blessing (or what they call 'the success') of the evangelist, as alone furnishing them with a sphere for their own ministry: for how in general are saints to be called and gathered if not by the evangelist? And think of the confusion in what follows, where brethren from whom these men differ are contrasted with 'a member (however unintelligent) of the body of Christ' (page 248)! Is the evangelist then not a member of that body? The apostle (Eph. 4: 11, 12) ruled differently his place, relation, and function; but this pretentious school not infrequently show the worth of their intelligence by independence of Scripture. If this be the sort of thing the sheep now get, they are truly to be pitied.

And this brings me to the main point I would now press. The unity of the Spirit embraces not only the intelligent but the simplest of God's children; it contemplates the body of Christ, and all the members in particular. For those who believe the gospel of salvation have the Holy Ghost dwelling in them and are Christ's members. They are therefore responsible to walk, as we are to own Him, in that relationship which grace has given to all. As members of Christ's body, they are bound diligently to keep the unity of the Spirit. There are national bodies and dissenting societies which have within them many, if not the mass, of God's children; and these systems, by claiming to be churches, prove a great perplexity to the believer. The evil of party, which showed itself in the early days, not only repeats itself, but works now with very great aggravation. Notwithstanding, grace would strengthen those who seek to do Christ's will according to their true relationship. It is man, and man pushed on by the enemy, that makes stumbling-blocks and difficulties great, yea, in appearance insuperable, so that the children of God may be tempted to give up true unity. Of course every faithful servant of the Lord has to seek, if not the removal of these obstacles, at least to help God's children in surmounting them. In a day of growing confusion, the constant effort of the enemy is to deceive and baffle and make it seem hopeless to keep the unity of the Spirit.

It is for us to consider whether we are using diligence to keep that unity in peace. No doubt there are internal dispositions or conditions requisite to do it aright. Some say the mystery must be known. Of such intelligence I do not doubt the importance in its place and time; but of this the apostle hints not a word here. What does he say? 'With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.' Such are the declared and worthy qualities which the apostle seeks in those who would keep the unity of the Spirit.

And is it not well for us to challenge our souls, whether our confidence is in the apostle's word or in man's theories? Oh, that we might cultivate such ways of grace as these in ourselves, and urge them on others, in order to a walk worthy of our calling! Can we doubt that it is in this condition only that we can duly keep that unity: not in haste or harshness, not in impatience of others or self-confidence, but with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love? There was need of all this then: is it less indispensable in our greater difficulties now?

For then there was no perplexity through open rivals, no competitors for the claim of God's assembly on earth. The main hindrance was from within. Now there are those and other obstacles. Am I connected with any association which ignores the one body and one Spirit? Am I attached to anything that systematically opposes this unity? It is not a question merely of wrong persons coming in unawares; for the fatal thing is not that evil should enter, but that it is known and allowed. What evil things did not effect an entrance into the assembly even in apostolic days? But God owns the unity as of the Spirit so long as there is the true-hearted purpose, in dependence on the Lord and according to His word, to keep, or purge, out evil. It is not the entrance or amount or even character of evil that destroys the assembly, but the continued acceptance of it under the Lord's name, even when it is known.

But God will not sanction in His assembly the allowance of any real evil whatever; and evil, no matter what its shape or measure, must be judged as inconsistent with His presence who dwells there. The assembly is the pillar and ground of the truth: how then can falsehood be a matter of indifference in the house of the living God? Christ is the truth; and, without controversy, great is the mystery of piety. Hence the church's intolerance of that which undermines Christ. There must be the disallowance of all leaven where the feast of Christ the paschal Lamb is kept. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump; and none can be tolerated, be it moral, as in 1 Cor. 5, or doctrinal, as in Gal. 5. If one called a brother be characterised by corruption or violence, by ways wholly opposed to the truth and character of Christ and to the very nature of God, he must be excluded from His assembly.

What then is to be done if we find views, judgments, and principles at work which trench on and narrow, and so really counteract, the Spirit's unity? What if unscriptural tests be pressed so as to shut out deliberately souls at least as godly as themselves? What if conscience toward God be not respected, if there be no longer room for liberty in the Spirit and responsibility to the Lord Jesus? Were it merely an opinion of one or more, which was held without forcing it on others, there would be in this no sufficient ground for resistance. It would be sad to see saints preoccupied with their little theories in presence of Christ and that word which lives and abides for ever. Ordinarily it would suffice to express regret at, and protest against, what one might believe unsuitable among Christians; for we are called to peace and forbearance as well as fidelity. If you find in others what you cannot approve of, does not Scripture amply forewarn you of this, and call for patience, whilst looking to the Lord?

The children of God, called though they be to the enjoyment and expression of Christ, habitually demand the exercise of long-suffering and grace, as beyond doubt you yourself draw largely on the forbearance of your brethren. It cannot seriously be expected that those who compose the church of God should forego the character of a family, with its fathers, young men, and babes, to imitate an army under martial law. Regimental order is as far as possible from that which the written word prescribes to God's church, where, instead of a regulation standard, the utmost variety prevails, high and low, strong and weak, or even uncomely. 1 Cor. 12.

Scripture lays down the rule by which foreign elements, if they enter, are to be tried; and as there are manifold evils that may seek a footing, so there are distinct scriptures that apply to each case, from private rebuke to public censure, or in the last resort putting away. Those who cause divisions and stumblings are to be avoided; the factious, after a first and second admonition, to be refused; the disorderly, to be withdrawn from; those that sin, to be reproved before all; the wicked, to be put away. Reserve and rebuke have their application, no less than the extreme sentence of excision.

Nor would one deny the just practice of declaring outside those who have either gone away, wilfully refusing all admonition, or who audaciously despise and deny the unquestioned assembly by setting up another meeting, and so render admonition to be scarce more than a form.

The lesser excommunication was not yet invented, that is, the 'declaring out,' so stretched as to take in brethren who had no intention of going out: a convenient, but unscriptural way of getting rid of such as gave umbrage. Surely whatever is done ought to be according to the plain positive teaching of God's word. It is for the Lord to command — the church has only to obey. I take for granted that I address Christians who believe not more in the sufficiency of the written word than in the supreme authority of Him who wrote it for our guidance by the Spirit of God. Development is of man's will, and unbelief. God has left nothing to be added. The church is under the orders of the Lord. If the church recognise any one, it is because the Lord has already received him; and if the church put away, it is simply as doing the Lord's will. The church has no independent authority to legislate, but is called to believe, pronounce, and execute His word, Consequently, in all things the church has to remember that she is subject and He the Lord. He is to order, she to obey — her one place, privilege, and duty. The moment the church lays down an extra-scriptural test, she takes the place of the Lord, and there is a practical assumption, yea, a virtual denial, of His authority. The result is to form a sect in departure from the unity of the Spirit.

The apostles, though set first in the church, were patterns of Christian humility. Who was so remarkable for patience as he who was not a whit behind the very chiefest, to whom a unique place was given by the will of God and the authority of the Lord Jesus? How much then should every true servant of Christ cultivate lowliness in these days! If a man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things written are the commandments of the Lord. Let his very subjection to the word of the Lord prove the reality of his mission from Him. This is of the last moment for our souls now; for perils and perplexities are constantly springing up, which affect the saints wherever they may be, and not least those who are gathered to the name of Christ.

Let none fancy this is to disparage those admirable men whom the Lord used in days gone by. Cherish unfeigned respect for such as Luther, Calvin, Farel, and Zwingle, though quite allowing the infirmities of everyone of them. It is childish to find fault with Tyndale and Cranmer, whilst idolising Melancthon or John Knox. They were all of like passions as ourselves; and if disposed to study their lives and labours, there are ample materials not far to seek for criticism; and so with other men of God in our day. But is it of Christ to be on the watch for that which may not be of Christ? Faults are easily seen; it needs today the power of the Spirit to walk, not in their traditions, but in the like faith. Rarely has there been a time when faith has sunk to a lower ebb among those who might be supposed long inured to it than the present. It is most common to find saints who groan over a course as utterly wrong, and yet persevere in it for the sake of company, etc. How often they have to others insisted on the ancient oracle: 'Cease to do evil; learn to do well.' They believe it doubtless: why not, giving all diligence, add to their faith virtue? Have they lost all courage in Christ and for Christ? I speak of what is now going on to our common shame all over the world. The compromise which you would hardly expect in new-born babes of God characterises men who have long known the Lord, and even suffered not a little at one time or another for the truth's sake.

Beloved friends, it is of the greatest moment that we should try our ways, whether we deceive ourselves, or are in deed and in truth keeping the unity of the Spirit. Do not set against that duty the sad fact that the church is now a ruin. The question is, Are we not always to be obedient? It is not the point, how many or how few of Christ's members may act together according to the word of the Lord. Do we own, ourselves, the obligation to be thus faithful? The unity of the Spirit is a constant responsibility for the children of God to keep with diligence as long as they are upon the earth. He abides with us for ever. To keep it therefore is always a paramount duty.

Take a practical illustration. There is assembled in this room a company of members of Christ's body, who can allow neither the broad ways of nationalism nor the narrow alleys of sectarianism. They desire above all things to walk together so as to please the Lord Christ. What then must be their stand? What position ecclesiastically ought they to take, if they would act with spiritual intelligence and fidelity? If any in this city be already gathered to His name on the ground of the one body, they should not be ignored. It would be independence, not the unity of the Spirit, to take no account of such a gathering. The member of Christ's body who sought fellowship would ask, as he ought, if and where saints were gathered to His name. He finds, we will suppose, there are some meeting in this room, and prefers his desire to be with them on the same blessed ground of Christ. If they challenge his faith, it is not from lack of love to him, but from care for Christ's glory. They do not receive him because he says that he is a member of Christ's body, They require adequate testimony, where they have no personal knowledge. Nobody ought to be recognised on his own bare word; even the apostle Paul was not at the first. God took care to give an extraordinary witness through a certain disciple named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt in Damascus, as in Jerusalem subsequently through Barnabas. The word is so plainly thus, and the danger so great otherwise, that no saint, who duly reflects with a heart and conscience true towards God, would wish to be accredited merely on his own word. Souls may deceive themselves, even if upright; but if you or I were to be so accredited, where is it to end?

Again, a christian is brought before them, who desires to remember the Lord along with them. Perhaps he belongs, as they say, to the national establishment, or to a dissenting society. But he is well known as a child of God, walking according to the measure of light already possessed. What is to be done? To refuse this member of Christ, without the strongest ground of known sin, would put shame not on him only but on the Lord. It were to deny our title, the true centre of gathering. Membership of Christ attested by a godly life is the sufficient and only right ground on which a Christian should ask to be received. If one understood all mysteries and all knowledge, if one had all faith so as to remove mountains, one ought to plead His name alone.

Are there then no exceptions? May there not be valid reasons to forbid even an accredited member of Christ's body? Certainly there are, as Scripture shows. Leaven of malice and wickedness is intolerable (1 Cor. 5); leaven of heterodoxy as to the foundations (Gal. 5) is yet worse; and the word is, 'Purge out the old leaven that ye may be a new lump.' Here are unquestionable barriers reared in the word of God, and due to the Lord Jesus. If any man that is named a brother be unclean in deed or in word, in ways or in manifested spirit, we are commanded not so much as to eat with him. And it were a far graver sin, if one did not bring the doctrine of Christ, or even denied everlasting punishment for the lost. God assuredly will never allow the profession of Christ to be a passport for him that dishonours Christ. Here, and here most of all, is the Holy Ghost jealous, if the word of God is to be our rule.

All truth is no doubt important in its place and season; but it is worse than ignorance to put the body on the same level as the Head. Ecclesiastical error, even if real and grave, never approaches the denial of the doctrine of Christ. Weigh how the apostle of love, the elder, solemnly warns us to be on our guard in such a case. We are not free to receive even privately, much less publicly, those who bring not the doctrine of Christ. We are unequivocally bound not only to disallow heterodoxy in general, but in particular to reject that which is, and those who are, a lie against Christ, yea, to treat those who receive such as partakers of the same evil deeds. But we are not entitled to equalise the church with Christ, like a Romanist, or to put ecclesiastical error along with evil against Christ's person. This is not faith, but fanaticism: what can we think of such as conceive, or of those that circulate, this trash as the truth?

Still, in keeping the unity of the Spirit, we must accept the scriptural responsibility of purging out leaven. And, as we have seen, the Spirit of God writes direct to an elect lady and her children, because on such a question as Christ the duty is immediate and peremptory. Years ago, in having to do with such an one, that Epistle stood us in good stead. For on her pleading that she was but a sister, and it was not her responsibility to do this or that, she was at once reminded that, it was not to an assembly, nor even to a Timothy or Titus, but to a lady and her children that the Holy Ghost wrote, insisting on her own personal and unavoidable responsibility. We may be sure that the Spirit of God did not thus inspire a letter to a lady and her children, without the most urgent necessity, and in order to meet just such an excuse for shirking what is due to Christ at any time.

All know that women are liable to err on the side of their affections, being naturally more disposed to act through feeling than with calm judgment. The word of God recognises this in repressing them ordinarily (1 Tim. 2), and in the special warning of 2 John. Their activity is always to be dreaded in cases short of Christ, a dishonour to themselves and to the men whom they mislead. The truth may not be always pleasant, though ever wholesome and good; and it is the truth that one desires to press upon souls, and that we ought to welcome. We are bound to see to it that the church of God be not made a cover for any known evil, and above all not to admit or screen knowingly that which sullies Christ's glory. But women are bad leaders or even instruments, save as Scripture warrants.

Let us distinguish things that differ. The English Establishment, in spite of many and grave drawbacks, had a holy object in its rise, turning its back as it did on an abominable and ever swelling imposture. Though much hindered, especially by the king, in its work of clearing itself from many inveterate superstitions, it honestly set its face against what was known to be evil. But it retrograded afterward, until its ritualistic observances being made a test forced out many pious nonconformists, whose origin thus was morally respectable and godly. For it was no mean struggle in those days to keep a good conscience, and to stand opposed to those who were dragging them down into formalism. We need not speak of the Wesley and Whitfield movement, which was in main missionary, not ecclesiastical We know later on, how powerfully God wrought in awakening His children fifty years ago to a sense of the departure that had taken place from the original ground of keeping the unity of the Spirit. In such days it was no small thing to recognise that there is such a reality on earth as the presence of the Holy Ghost, and consequently the body of Christ. Hence, if members of that body, it is our inalienable duty to keep that unity in its true character, whilst subject to the conditions which the Lord has laid down in His word, and to none other. The Spirit has created that unity, a unity which takes in all members of Christ's body, excepting those whom discipline according to the word requires us to reject.

It may interest all to know that not the least weighty testimony that was ever given of late on this momentous subject was written in the year 1828 'Considerations on the Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ'. The point was to show how impossible it is for saints who would honour the Lord to go on with the world, instead of walking (were they but two or three) in that unity which is of God; that in denominations the bond is not their unity but in fact their differences, and in no case therefore the communion of God's church at all, in faith contemplating, as every true assembly does and must, all God's children. Those who call this looseness do not know divine ground, and have unwittingly slipped into a sect.

Far from looking for or valuing ecclesiastical intelligence before souls take their place at the Lord's table, it is quite a mistake for us to expect it, and a shame rather than an honour to the few who may possess it. For how did they as members of Christ acquire such knowledge? In manifest unfaithfulness; either still continuing in their denominational enclosures and activities with a bad conscience; or in the anomalous state of mere hearers outside, seeking to attain a more familiar acquaintance with that truth in which their outside position declared them to have neither part nor lot, as if their heart were not right with God. Yet all the while they were members of the body of Christ; and as such they should have been within, learning more soundly and happily the truth they were acting on in their simplicity, a truer and better sort of intelligence than that intellectual insight into the church, which has been so erroneously over-rated by some in our midst.

The fact is that we are apt to forget our own beginnings and the gracious dealings of the Lord with us when we ourselves first broke bread, knowing as little perhaps as any. How many brethren are now among the firmest and most intelligent in fellowship, who saw but dimly not the church only but even the gospel of salvation, and revealed truth in general, when they found in the Lord's name an. immediate passport to His supper! They were by no means clear as to their future course, though attracted by the grace which saluted them as brethren, and enjoying the simple faith which bowed to the word of the Lord in a way and measure beyond their previous experience. How unwise and unbecoming for such now to exact from enquiring brethren a knowledge of the church far beyond their own standard at their start, and in fact not to be got save within the assembly, and in the path of obedience where the Spirit guides into all the truth! To those thus growing up and led, catholicism or denominationalism is judged by the word, and felt to be altogether unsatisfying and distasteful, as being evidently of man and not of God. What gives these new and strong convictions? Neither influence nor prejudice, neither argument nor imagination, but the truth appreciated by the power of God's Spirit.

Are we then to play fast and loose with divine truth! Nay, but it is a question of the Lord's way with those who are His and have yet to learn: is it to be in liberty or in bondage? Doubtless every Christian ought to keep the unity of the Spirit, as gathered to the name of the Lord and to none other. A saint cannot legitimately have two communions. Is not the communion of Christ's body in principle exclusive? Follow with all your soul the Lord Jesus, own the one body and one Spirit, receive every godly member of His in His name. In this there is neither looseness nor sectarianism. As the word of God is plain, so does the presence of the Spirit abide; nor do I allow that keeping the unity of that Spirit is a vain show. As He abides, so does His unity; and those who have received the Holy Spirit are bound to walk in that unity, and in none other. They are added of the Lord together, members of the assembly which God has formed for Himself in this world; and I deny the title of anyone to set up either rival or substitute. If you have His Spirit, you already belong to this one body, and are called to carry it out to the exclusion of all others.

Thus it is no voluntary society we have to do with. It is no question of framing something better than either nationalism or dissent, nor an alliance which really condemns, while ostensibly it sanctions, the existing institutions of orthodox Protestantism. The truth however, is that, before all these essays, God had Himself formed His church on earth; and such as have His Spirit are thereby constituted members, responsible to act accordingly. In His church leaven of doctrine or of practice is intolerable, if we bow to Scripture. Every Christian is bound to reject falsehood and unholiness, and this corporately as well as individually, For the ruin of the church does not shut us up to individuality. If we follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, it may and should be with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Isolation it is a sin to seek, as being a denial of fellowship. The church of God means the assembly of those that are His. But if ever so many, we are one bread, one body. As the Lord's Supper is the outward expression of this unity, it is unworthy of believers to complain that too much is made of His Supper and Table; for it is God who calls them His, not we who only cleave to His word and confide in His will. Doubtless we need to keep Christ in this before our eyes; if not, we are in danger of moulding His Supper according to our will or caprice. If by the grace of God we have the Lord Jesus before us, our hearts will go out towards all that are His walking after a godly sort.

For a long time Satan has been endeavouring to falsify the testimony of Christ amongst those professedly gathered to His name. One of his wiles has been, under pretence of light and righteousness, to undermine grace and truth in recognising freely the members of Christ's body. Utterly misconceiving the stand against neutrality, they would make no Christian welcome to the Lord's Table who did not judge his old position by more or less intelligence of the one body and one Spirit; that is, without a virtual pledge never again to enter their so-called church or chapel. This is, to my mind, not unbelief only but a bad and base principle. It is in an underhand way to make a sect of those that know the church, but really to prove how little they themselves appreciate the one body: else they could not let knowledge override relationship to Christ, as they do. Never is the church rightly or truly learnt save within, according to the word, where you must leave room for growth in the truth by faith and God's grace.

There is then the danger of virtually denying Christ's membership by looking for an antecedent intelligence about His body which it is as unscriptural as unwise to expect, and the more wrong as it exists but feebly in many who have for years been in fellowship. But besides, there may be no less difficulty and danger among those already received, where the claim of truth or righteousness is pressed without grace. And those who are most wrong are apt to talk most loudly of that which they really imperil or unwittingly annul.

There are not many who remember the Plymouth division in 1845-6. Moral charges were not wanting then, but it mainly turned on an effort of a large and influential party which lost faith in the Lord's presence and the Holy Spirit's free action in the assembly, seeking independency with its leaders. It is needless to say that the heavenly character and the unity of the church had faded away, as well as waiting for the Lord Jesus as an immediate hope. God would not suffer in our midst such lack of faith and of faithfulness. But the mass of the saints were beguiled by the error, and deaf to the warning; and but few separated, branded as schismatics by those who boasted of their numbers, gifts, and happiness.

What was the relation of those who for the Lord's and the truth's sake were forced in conscience to stand apart? The high-minded majority utterly refused humiliation and rejoiced that those were outside from whom they had been long and with increasing bitterness alienated. The minority met at first in private houses only to humble themselves and pray, as after a little to break bread. But they never thought of rejecting the poor famished sheep who occasionally sought to break bread with them, without severing their connection with Ebrington Street. For indeed they were not only bound there by many ties, but under great fear through the swelling words and persecuting deeds of their old leaders and friends, not least of sisters who played an unenviable part in that sad history. They had of course this moral safeguard that none committed in will to the Plymouth defection, especially no chief, but scorned the seceders. Only the simple came, and, because they came, were cut off by the Ebrington Street party. But we received them freely in the Lord's name, even though they might be weak enough to wish fellowship still with their old friends.

But the moment that the blasphemous heterodoxy as to Christ appeared, there was an end of all this forbearance. The door was closed on all that continued with an antichristian faction. As long as it was an ecclesiastical error, however firmly we refused it and came out from it, there was patience with those who failed to discern it, or to judge it practically. Such known saints of Ebrington Street as came were cordially received; and who ever heard of even one in these circumstances refused? But on the contrary, when the false doctrine against Christ was known, an uncompromising stand was made from the first; and no soul was received thenceforward who did not clear himself from association with so deadly an insult to the Father and the Son. With partisans of that evil Bethesda identified itself, and necessitated the world-wide division which ensued in 1848.

What then can be judged of those who confound these two things so fundamentally distinct? the ecclesiastical error, and the false doctrine as to Christ's person and relationship to God? or the ways to be pursued in each case?

The divisionist party of today seems to me as guilty of independency and clericalism as that of Ebrington Street in 1845. And, believing them to be thus false to the truth of the one Spirit and one body, I cannot but feel thankful for God's overruling grace in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. For their intolerance of others has taken the initiative; and they have either gone out from, or driven out (too often by unworthy manoeuvres), their brethren whose one desire is to abide gathered, as we have so long been, to Christ's name. But they have proved their ignorance in the plainest way and to a surprising degree by prating malicious words about Bethesdaism, when they might know, if not blinded by haste and ill-feeling, that there is not allowed a shade of that evil for which Bethesda and the so-called neutrals were judged.

Let them beware lest, beginning with ecclesiastical error like Ebrington Street, they themselves fall ere long into like heterodoxy. I pray that in God's mercy our brethren may be spared such further sin and dishonour of the Lord. But detraction and neglect of Scripture and of facts as well as of consistency with all we have hitherto learnt and done before God, are a slippery bypath; from which it would be joy indeed and great grace from the Lord to see them recede.

Source STEM Publishing www.stempublishing.com/authors/kelly/

Also available in The Bible Treasury volume 14, pages 140-142, 154-158, 168-172

 

May 14, 2009 at 19:13 o\clock

Definition of Love

 

LOVE is conformity to the nature of GOD, the living expression of what HE was. 
Communion with GOD alone sustains it.  The manifestation of having been made a partaker of HIS nature.
J.N. Darby

May 8, 2009 at 01:50 o\clock

Scriptural Principles

Scriptural Principles of Gathering

OR

Why I Meet Among Those Known as Brethren

by Alfred P. Gibbs


 

Foreword

by John Bloore Plainfield, N. J.

February, 1935.

As the years pass and the Lord calls home those who have been used to bring out the essential teachings of God's word as to the truth of the gospel and the scriptural order of the assembly, and as a new generation of believers grows up, many of whom are children of the Lord's people who come into the assemblies under circumstances quite different from their fathers, it is very needful that the fundamental principles relating to the fellowship of believers as taught in Scripture should be freshly presented for their help and guidance.

This, too, may serve to enlighten others who may be exercised about the disorder, confusion and apostasy of Christendom, as these features are found in its existing religious organizations.

In the following pages this twofold service has been rendered in a worthy manner.

The reader will find that this pamphlet gives him, in simple language, a clear, concise and pointed statement of the teaching of Scripture as to the manner in which the Lord's people are to gather together; and in this connection the order it lays down as to reception, worship and ministry. In doing this, the author also makes plain the reasons for separation from the existing unscriptural sects and denominations of Christendom. Such a separation is indeed needful so that the will of God for His people may be carried out--a thing not possible in the religious systems of men with their humanly devised names, offices of service, ministry and ritual; along with which, in the main, gross indifference is found as to the faith and manner of life of those composing their organizations; and, as might be expected under such circumstances, they give shelter to the active propagators of evil doctrines by which the foundations of Christianity are attacked and efforts made to destroy the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3, 4).

May all of us who know something of the spiritual liberty, godly care and soundness of doctrine found in the assemblies of God's people who gather together as described in this pamphlet, be stirred to a fuller appreciation of the association in which we are found; and, along with increasing gospel activity for the salvation of precious souls, seek to help and deliver our fellow believers that they may enjoy the same privileges.




 

Author's Preface to New Editions


The kindly reception accorded to the previous editions of this pamphlet, which have had a wide circulation in this country and other English speaking lands, has been an encouragement to issue this revised edition with larger type. May the great Head of the Church be pleased to bless this simple setting forth of these "Scriptural Principles of Gathering!"

A. P. G.


 

Introduction

This subject was selected by those responsible for the convening of this conference, and was chosen for the purpose of helping young believers of the various assemblies of the Lord's people to a better understanding of assembly, or church truth. By "assembly truth" we mean, first, the scriptural warrant for the mode of gathering or assembling as believers; second, the Christian's position in that gathering; and third, the privileges and responsibilities of being so scripturally gathered.

God's word thus enjoins the believer: "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15). Supposing the question that forms our topic were to be put to each believer associated with those known as "brethren," what would be the response? To the query: "Why do you meet with believers in this manner?" How many here could give a scriptural reason for his position amongst believers so termed? It is to be feared that many young believers, and old ones too, who could give a scriptural reason for their assurance of eternal salvation, could not give a similar reason for their assembly, or church association. Surely one ought to be as necessary as the other. The One who has assured us of our salvation by His inspired word has left us in no doubt, by that same Word, as to how and with whom we should gather in church fellowship.

It has been felt by many that teaching along this line has been somewhat neglected of late, with the result we have a large number of young believers in our assemblies who do not know why they are where they are. They have little or no assured convictions as to the Divine principles of gathering and, in many cases, are drifting hither and thither at the mercy of every vagary of men. Unlike the early disciples, they seem to have no definite link with a company which can be designated as "their own company" (Acts 4:23). In some quarters this line of ministry has been so over-emphasized to the exclusion of all else, that a spirit of sectarianism has been fostered which, of course, is equally to be deplored.

The first question that naturally arises after one is saved is: "Where shall I go, and with whom shall I meet for church fellowship"? There will be plenty of voices to advise. Some will reply: "Go where you can get spiritual food, no matter by what name they call themselves." Others will say: "Go to those with whom you will feel most at home socially, where there are plenty of young folks and lots doing." Still others will respond: "Join the church of your preference, and be guided by your own tastes." The sincere believer, however, will not be guided by any such advice, but will rightly enquire: "Has the One who has saved me by His grace and assured me of my blessedness by His word given me no guidance, from the Bible, as to how and with whom I should meet?" He will then begin to search the Scriptures to discover what God has to say about this most important matter. It should be the solemn responsibility of each believer in this audience to so study the word of God for himself, that he is made absolutely certain, from it, that he is among those with whom the Lord would have him associate in assembly fellowship.

This introduces the subject of scriptural principles of gathering. Inasmuch as we shall use this expression quite frequently during this talk, let us define its meaning. By the word "principles" we mean that which is inherent in anything, determining its nature. It is a settled law or rule of action, especially of right action, consciously or resolutely adopted. It is the essential character of a thing, and the source from which a cause proceeds. We speak of "a man of principle," and by this we mean that this person's life is governed by certain definite and right laws which motivate and control all his actions. A right principle is always right, whatever the circumstances surrounding the case may be. Neither time, place nor circumstances affects the correctness of a right principle.

By the word "scriptural" we mean that which has the general teaching of the word of God, both by precept and practice, to support it. Note the phrase, "the general teaching of the word of God." Most heresies can point to a verse of Scripture which apparently supports their contention, but when a heresy, or wrong doctrine, is examined in the light of all Scripture, its falsity is at once apparent. "No ... scripture is of any private interpretation" (II Peter 1:20). This simply means that each statement of Scripture must be interpreted in the light of all the other scriptures bearing on that subject. This is a most important thing to remember when studying the word of God.

By the word "gathering," we mean the coming together of believers for a distinct purpose, such as worship, prayer, or the ministry of the word. We trust that the meaning of the term, "scriptural principles of gathering," has thus been made clear.

It may be good at this juncture to state that I was saved among those known as "brethren." This will probably be true of many here. I never heard the clear unadulterated gospel of the grace of God until, at the age of twenty-one, I heard it through those known as "brethren." It may be of interest to state that, scattered throughout the world, there are many hundreds of companies of believers who meet simply as Christians to carry out those principles of gathering so clearly revealed in the word of God. Wherever such a company gathers, a gospel testimony is maintained. By this means, thousands of precious souls have been led to a saving knowledge of the Son of God, Whom to know is eternal life. These companies, assemblies or gatherings of believers, because of their refusal to accept any name that is not common to and inclusive of all believers, have been called "brethren." (The use of the term, "brethren," throughout this booklet, must never be understood as a sectarian title that distinguishes certain believers from other Christians. This title is true of all genuine believers everywhere, by whatever other name they may call themselves.) After I was saved I naturally desired to associate myself with those who had been instrumental, under God, in bringing me to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior.

This fact, however, is not in itself a sufficient reason for linking oneself with and remaining amongst a company of believers. As I began to study the Scriptures for myself, it became clear to me that those believers who had been used to lead me to Christ were also maintaining scriptural principles in their gatherings.

The fact that one has been saved through the preaching of the gospel on the part of a certain company of people does not, in itself, justify a person remaining within the borders of that company, for there may be unscriptural things taught or practiced in that assembly that would prevent the young believer from growing in grace and in the knowledge of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Luther was saved while in the fold of the Roman Catholic Church. Should he therefore have remained in that ecclesiastical circle which both ignored and denied certain truths revealed in God's word? Had all the Christians who were saved, while in the Roman Catholic church, remained therein, there would have been, humanly speaking, no Reformation, no Bible for the common people, no clear gospel and no liberty of scriptural thought and action such as we enjoy today. These men, for whom we should never cease to thank God, were not content to remain where God had saved them, but they searched the Scriptures for themselves. When they discovered the unscripturalness of their assembly position, they separated themselves from that which did not conform to the truth of God's word.

It would be well if every believer here were to give himself no rest until he has been assured, by the infallible Book, that the principles governing the assembly with whom he meets can stand the test of the general teaching of the Scriptures. Once this has been settled, he will never be happy or contented anywhere else. Young believers, get established, by a diligent study of the word of God, in these scriptural principles of gathering! They will prove to be an anchor to your soul in these troublous days of declension, denial, doubt and apostasy!

Now we come to the question before us, and it has been made a personal one: "Why do I meet with those known as 'brethren'?" We shall try to answer it in as clear, simple and orderly a manner as possible, so as to leave no uncertainty in the minds of anyone present. We shall state eight distinct reasons for being so gathered.

First: because they accept no name but what is common to and inclusive of all believers, and therefore refuse to recognize man-made and man-named sects and parties.

We shall search our Bibles in vain to discover the "Baptist" denomination, or the "Presbyterian" or the "Episcopalian" or the "Congregational" or the "Methodist," or a host of others we might name. Within each of these denominations there are very many genuine believers in our Lord Jesus Christ and, as such, we love them and gladly own them as members of the body of Christ; but we cannot love or own these denominations, for they are unscriptural in their formation, excluding as they do, many people of God. Is every believer in Christ a Baptist? an Episcopalian? a Lutheran? a Methodist? a Presbyterian? a Congregationalist? Of course not. These man-formed divisions separate the people of God into various distinct companies. With some it is an ordinance that distinguishes them, as with the "Baptists"; with others it is a form of Church government, as "Presbyterian," or "Congregational." Others bear the name of the founder of that particular sect, as "Lutherans" and "Wesleyans," but all such divisions are unscriptural.

When we open the pages of the New Testament we find that the people of God are called "Christians," "disciples," "saints," "believers," "brethren," etc. Are these titles true of all believers? Yes. Every child of God is a "Christian," a "saint," a "believer," a "disciple," and one of the "brethren." "One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren" said the Lord Jesus (Matt. 23:8). By the term "brethren," therefore, every true believer in Christ is included, and so with each of the other scriptural titles of God's people. The moment a person is saved, he is included among "the brethren," by whatever other man-made name he may be called, or call himself, later on.

Scripture unsparingly condemns denominationalism, or the dividing of the people of God into sects, parties and systems that exclude many Christians, who are sound in doctrine and life, from their fellowship. This spirit of sectarianism early manifested itself in the assembly at Corinth. Paul, by the Spirit of God, rebuked it and said: "Ye are yet carnal, for whereas there is among you envying and strife and divisions (or factions), are ye not carnal and walk as men? For wile one saith,'I am of Paul'; and another 'I am of Apollos'; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?" (I Cor. 3:3-5). In the first chapter of that epistle he asks: "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (I Cor 1:13).

If Paul had been crucified for them, or had saved them, or they had been baptized in his name; then only had they the right to adopt his name as the founder of a party. Think of the hundreds of different denominations into which Christendom has been divided! Is this of God? We reply emphatically, "No, ten thousand times, no!" It is the work of man and the result, not of spirituality, but of carnality, which has scattered the people of God instead of uniting them! In that wonderful prayer, just before He went to the cross, our Savior prayed that His people "might be one; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (John 17:21). The multiplicity of denominations certainly does not combine to present a spectacle of unity to the world, but rather of division and of confusion worse confounded.

Many believers excuse their denominational affiliation by saying: "What's in a name? We're all out for the same thing. We'll all go to the same place!" These same believers would change their tune if someone forged their name to a check for a large amount and cashed it at their bank! What would be the reaction of these people if their wives suddenly decided to change their names and take another more suited to their poetic fancy? These husbands would rightly argue: "I gave you my name at our marriage, and you cannot change that name to suit yourself!" Why, then, should we alter the name that Christ has given to His own blood-bought people, and substitute for it another of our own making?

Many have sought to liken the various denominations of Christendom to so many different regiments of an army, each separate from the other, but all united for the common purpose of defending the country' from invasion, or attacking the enemy, as the head of the army orders. Such an illustration surely cannot apply in this case, for denominationalism is not content with the marching orders of the Commander-in-chief, as found in His word; but has substituted for them their own rules and regulations, and has thus virtually denied His supreme authority for faith and practice. The exhibition of rival denominations, each under a different flag, each commanded by a general of its own choosing, and each striving for the preeminence, is not calculated to suggest the unity of an army under the absolute control of a commander-in-chief!

Saturday night has often witnessed a large congregation of believers singing heartily the beautiful words: "We are not divided, all one body we; one in hope and doctrine, one in charity." The dawn of Sunday, however, witnesses a sad contradiction to this blessed truth as each believer wends his way to his own particular denominational church building. To many, the words of that hymn were but the expression of a lovely theory to be sung, rather than a blessed reality to be practiced and enjoyed! The great truth, emphasized by the Spirit of God through Paul, needs to be proclaimed far and wide: "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3: 28) .

The story is told of two Christians who met for the first time in a railroad coach. After some pleasant conversation about the thingsof God, one inquired: "To what denomination do you belong?" The other replied: "That's just my difficulty, and I wish you would help me. Supposing you had only the word of God to guide you, what denomination would you advise me to join?" His fellow Christian thought for a while and then said: "Why, if I had only the word of God as my authority, I couldn't advise you to join any!" "That is exactly my position," responded the other, " and I therefore meet with those who act upon what they find written in the word of God, and who seek to assemble in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, apart from all the confusion that denominationalism has wrought." This is the position that those known as "brethren" occupy. They refuse to accept any name that is not inclusive of every believer, and firmly repudiate these man-made divisions and names that are not common to all the people of God.

It may be argued by some that these companies of so-called "brethren" are as much a sect as any other, but this is not true. The mere fact that a company of believers is called a sect does not make it so. Everything must be tested by the word of God. Naturally, those in a sect will seek to justify themselves by calling others, who do not see eye to eye with them, a sect also.

Let us define the meaning of the word, "sect." A sect is a body of people who make church claims, yet in principle and practice violate the essential principles of the Church of God as described in the New Testament scriptures. In other words, a sect cannot stand the test of all Scripture. A sect usually adopts as its distinguishing features, some distinct form of ecclesiastical government, or some ordinance or ordinances, or some particular doctrine, or the peculiar teaching of some person. Its conditions of membership cannot bear the light of the New Testament. It often allows unsaved people to enter its fold, and excludes many Christians who do not see their way to subscribe to its particular creeds. It depends principally for its functioning on its own rules and regulations, or "book of discipline," and usually has a humanly ordained ministry and its own self-appointed oversight.

Those known as "brethren" unhesitatingly repudiate such pretensions, and seek to gather in accordance with the pattern described in the New Testament. Naturally they are thus distinguished from denominations, but they are not a sect, for they have no gathering center but Christ; no name but what is common to and inclusive of all believers; no authority but the word of God, and no conditions of reception to the local assembly but those found in the Scriptures, namely: the person must be regenerated, be sound in the fundamental doctrines of Scripture, and be living a clean moral life before the world that commends the gospel.

It has been well pointed out that in the early days of Christianity there were congregations of believers, but no "Congregationalists!" There were baptized believers, but no "Baptists!" There were presbyters in the assembly, but no "Presbyterians!" They had method in their meeting, but there were no "Methodists!" They had bishops in the church, but there were no "Episcopalians!" They trembled at the word, but there were no "Quakers!" They all shared in the blessings of Pentecost, but there were no "Pentecostalist!" The brethren had all been united to Christ, but there were no "United Brethren!" They met simply as Christians, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and were obedient to His precious word.

Second: They recognize and act upon the scriptural truth of the unity of the Church of God, which is the Body of Christ, of which Christ is the Head, and every believer a member.

Notice those words, "recognize and act upon." Every intelligent believer, whatever his denominational affiliation may be, would be willing to recognize and concede that Scripture reveals the existence of but one Church, with Christ as its Head and every believer as a member. But comparative few seem prepared to follow this revelation to its logical conclusion, and act upon this truth, cost what it may and lead where it will. It is one thing for a person to hold a truth, and another for that truth to so hold him that it causes him to regulate his conduct by it.

The Scriptures make plain that there is but one Church, which is called "the body of Christ," of which He is the Head, and every believer a member. The word of God is very definite as to this. Listen to these quotations from the Bible: "So we (believers), being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members ones of another" (Rom. 12:5). "For as the body is one, and hath many members and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so is Christ" (I Cor. 12: 12). "There is one body and one Spirit" (Eph. 4:4). "Now ye (believers) are the body of Christ and members in particular" (I Cor. 12: 27).

Each regenerated person is described, in Scripture, as having been joined, by the Spirit of God, to the body of Christ, the Church. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (I Cor. 12:13). Each believer is not only united by the Holy Spirit to the Head in heaven, but is also united to every other believer on earth, in whom the Spirit of God dwells. This is the great truth of the unity of the body. Christ is thus linked eternally with His Own, and they, in turn, are described as being "all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).

Since there is but one body, of which Christ is the Head, then there is obviously no room in the world for many bodies with many heads, as exemplified by denominationalism today. Seeing there is but one body, of which every believer is a member, with Christ as the Head, what necessity is there for forming other bodies with men at their head? No one can "join" the church, which is the body of Christ, any more than one's finger can "join" his body. As the finger was joined to the body at physical birth, so the believer is said to be joined to the body by the Spirit of God at spiritual birth. (I Cor. 6: 17; Eph. 4: 16; Col. 2: 19). Thus it is clearly seen that the Church is not an organization to' be joined, but an organism (the body of Christ) to which every believer has been joined. Let us underline this fact in our minds.

Since, therefore, there is but one Church, to which every believer has been joined, why try to join oneself to another? Is not what God has joined together good enough? Is not the Headship of Christ sufficient for the Church? Is not the word of God of sufficient authority? Those who are called "brethren" recognize and act upon the scriptural truth of the one body; and seek, not to form another body, but to own, as sufficient, what God has already formed. They therefore meet together as members of the body of Christ, in subjection to the authority of the Head, and in accordance with the principles He has laid down in His own word. Could anything be simpler, or more scriptural than this? We are nowhere told to make a unity but, on the contrary, we are enjoined to "keep the unity of the Spirit (which God has already made) in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4: 3). How anyone, who has really grasped the truth of the one body and the one Head, can continue in a denominational affiliation, is a problem that only the judgment seat of Christ must solve.

It is one thing to be ignorant of the true character of sectarianism, which virtually denies the truth of the one body; and another to remain in such association after one has been enlightened as to its unscriptural character. When a Christian is unaware of the fact that a denomination is contrary to God's word, his conscience is undefiled and God can use him; but the fact that God uses such an one must not be interpreted as proof that God approves of his denominational position. As long as a man walks according to the light he has, he will be blest; but woe betide the man who sees the evils and unscripturalness of denominationalism, and yet remains in it! "Light accepted bringeth light; but light rejected bringeth night,"--and how great is the darkness of wilful ignorance!

Each local church, or assembly of believers, represents and expresses, or should represent and express, the church as a whole, even as a tiny dewdrop reflects, in miniature, the same sky as the mighty ocean. Each local assembly therefore should have Christ as its Head, believers only as its members, the word of God as its guide, the Holy Spirit for its power, and the glory of Christ as its aim.

Does the company with whom you meet thus recognize and act upon the truth of the oneness of all believers in Christ; or does it create artificial barriers that shut out regenerated believers who are sound in doctrine and moral in their lives? Such a company is not contemplated in the New Testament, and therefore has no scriptural authority for its constitution, existence and perpetuation. The "brethren" seek to hold and practice this truth so clearly revealed in the Book of books, and therefore have scriptural authority for their position.

Third: They own no authority but the word of God for their manner of meeting, and the maintenance of godly order in those meetings.

Like the Bereans of old they have "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so" (Acts 17: 11). They believe that they have no more right to make a new mode of meeting for the Lord's people than they have to make a new way of salvation. Since the way of salvation, given by Divine inspiration nearly two thousand years ago, is good and sufficient for today; then God's principles of gathering, revealed in the same book, are just as necessary for our guidance in assembly fellowship as they were in the days of old. We cannot improve on the pattern God has given His people in the New Testament. Do you believe this? The "brethren" do and act on it.

We shall search the New Testament in vain to discover anything described therein that approximates a denomination of today, which selects one man as its minister to do all its preaching, teaching, praying and the leading of its worship; which calls itself by some man-given title; which is regulated by its own by-laws and books of discipline; which has its own creed, to which all must subscribe ere they can join; which, in many cases, has added rites and ordinances and ceremonies the word of God knows nothing about, and which often allows unsaved people to join and remain in its fellowship. This is not a distortion of facts, as a visit to and examination of many denominational organizations will soon convince the sincere inquirer.

A reading of the New Testament, especially the Acts, will reveal the fact that believers, and believers only, gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 18: 20); for remembrance of the Lord in the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:23-24); for edification (Acts 2: 41-47; I Cor. 12th to 14th chapters); and for prayer, etc. (Matt. 18:20; Acts 4:23-30). These companies, whether large or small, are called "churches" or "assemblies." We find the expression, "Churches of the saints" (I Cor. 14:33); "Churches of God" (I Thess. 2: 14): "Churches" (Acts 9:31; 15:41; 16:5); "Churches of Christ" (Rom. 16: 16).

In these churches, or assemblies of believers, there is no mention of "the minister," or "the book of discipline," or "the creed," or any special name such as "Baptist," "Presbyterian," etc., by which these assemblies were distinguished from each other. It was merely their location that distinguished them. We find "The church of God which is at Corinth" (I Cor. 1: 2), "The churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1: 2), etc. The church which was at Corinth included all the believers in Christ in that city. A letter addressed "To the church of God in Chicago," or any other city you wish to name, could apply to and include every regenerated person in that city; for that term includes all who, by the Spirit of God, have been joined to the body of Christ.

In the Church, which is His body, Christ the Head has given certain gifts for the edification, or building up, of the whole body of believers. These gifts are evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4':8-16). These are recognized in and discharge their ministry in and with the fellowship of the local assemblies. Then also there are bishops, or elders, and deacons in these churches, as for example in Philippi (Phil. 1:1). There is no mention whatsoever of one man in charge, to whom the assembly delegated the task of teaching, preaching and shepherding. There is no such term as "the pastor of a church" or "the teacher, or preacher of a church." The word is always in the plural, except where the requirements and responsibility of their work is described. In the same assembly there were pastors, evangelists, teachers, bishops and deacons. How does this fit in with what is seen in modern denominationalism?

If a person were to examine the New Testament to discover how to get rid of "the pastor of a church," he would discover that there was no such person described, or even contemplated therein. There are two kinds of troubles from which a company of believers may suffer: scriptural and un-scriptural. The former can be dealt with according to the directions of the Bible; but the latter must be decided by the by-laws and discipline books of men. Scripturally gathered companies of God's people have their troubles (for the flesh is within them as it is amongst all the other "brethren in Christ"),but these troubles are anticipated in, and the remedy provided by the word of God.

For example: here is a company of believers who have failed in acting toward one another in love. Jealousy and strife have been allowed to remain unjudged in the assembly; the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched, and confusion and barrenness follows. What is the remedy? There are two methods. One is for every believer in that assembly to so humble himself before God in confession of his sin and restitution to his brethren, that God will be pleased to come in and revive the assembly of believers with the conscious sense of His presence, and the liberty and power of the Holy Spirit. The other method is to appoint one man as the head of that assembly, and allow him to have the management of the meeting, the responsibility for the ministry of the word, the dispensing of the Lord's supper, the conducting of the prayer meeting and the preaching of the gospel, so that all confusion will be brought to an end.

Which is the right method of restoration, the first or the last? Such a question has only one reply. Every child of God will agree that the first method is honoring to God and is the scriptural remedy. The other method is seen in denominationalism with its attendant evils of clerisy, hierarchies, synods, councils, books of discipline, etc.

It cannot be emphasized sufficiently that scriptural principles of gathering require scriptural power -- the Holy Spirit--for their operation. When that power is absent, confusion follows; but it is not the principles that have failed, but the people. Once the people of God are restored in heart, the power will once more be apparent. The principles, being scriptural, are always true and right. Let us not adjust the principles of God's word to our form of gathering but our form of gathering to the principles found in the good Book. Is this clear? So long as the flesh remains in the people of God, there will be manifestations of it which will make painful history; but the principles of Scripture remain unchanged and unchangeable. The apostle Paul, in I Cor. 14, rebuked the Corinthian believers for their shameful behavior in the assembly, which had resulted in disorder and disgrace; but never, for one moment, did he suggest that those scriptural principles, which he had delivered to them, should be revised to suit their carnal ideas and backslidden condition of soul.

Fourth: They are uncompromisingly loyal to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In other words, they seek to hold, or acknowledge the supreme authority and Headship of Christ. (Col. 1: 18; 2: 19). Nothing derogatory to the Person and work of Christ would be allowed to remain unchallenged and unjudged for one moment in their assemblies, and this is true the world over, wherever these scripturally constituted gatherings are to be found. The essential Deity of the Son of God, as coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit; and the necessity for, and the efficacy of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ as the only ground for the believer's acceptance before God, is emphasized constantly in their assemblies.

Those who meet among those known as "brethren" may not be noted for their oratorical gifts, but one thing is certain: wherever one stands up to preach the gospel, Christ's Person is exalted, His eternal Deity is confessed and the all-sufficiency of the work of redemption, which He accomplished by the shedding of His precious blood, is proclaimed with no uncertain sound.

It would be good if this were true of all denominational gatherings, but alas, it is more often the exception than the rule! Men are allowed in the pulpits of many church buildings who deny the Deity of Christ, scoff at the doctrine of redemption through His blood, and belittle or refuse to accept the Bible as the Divinely inspired and therefore absolutely inerrant and authoritative word of God. The tragedy is that many professing Christians seem to see no inconsistency in listening to this denial of their Lord and travesty of the gospel. By their very membership, presence and financial support of such an organization, they thus help to perpetuate this disgraceful thing! The Deity of Christ is the foundation stone of Christianity. The person who denies Christ's Deity is not a Christian, and therefore has no place whatever in a professedly Christian pulpit. Any company of people that tolerates a preacher who denies Christ's Deity and His redemptive work, is no place for a true and faithful child of God. If Christ is not God, we do not need Him. Since Christ is God, we cannot do without Him!

To continue in a company of professed believers that permits doctrinal evil to be preached and remain unjudged, is disloyalty to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. To continue in such an association is to give one's support to it. The word of. God is clear as to the attitude of a believer in such a case. "What part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters saith the Lord almighty." (II Cor. 6:15-18). "Evil communications corrupt good manners," declares the Bible. (2 Cor. 15: 33). A man is known by the company he keeps. It is far better for a person to stand alone for what he knows to be the truth of Holy Scripture and the honor of God's Son, than to be linked, by membership, with the enemies and blasphemers of his blessed Lord.

Loyalty to the commander-in-chief is essential to the united attack of an army against a common enemy. What would you think of those in an army who were afraid to face the foe lest some of their own number should plunge a bayonet into their backs? This is the situation in many denominations, where loose and blasphemous views of the Person and work of the Son of God are tolerated. A member of such an organization never knows when the Deity of his Lord will be attacked from behind the pulpit, the efficacy of His precious blood ridiculed and denied, and the truth and authority of God's word questioned. Thank God, such is not true amongst the thousands of assemblies of believers known as "brethren" scattered throughout the whole world.

Fifth: They welcome into their assemblies all whom Christ has received, to the glory of God.

That is, all regenerated persons who are sound in doctrine and godly in their walk before the world. To make any other conditions for welcoming a person to the Lord's supper and the privileges of the assembly, is to act in a sectarian manner that has no scriptural warrant, and which only serves to bring confusion and dishonor to a company of believers.

A reading of the book of Acts and the Epistles will indicate that the early churches were composed of professed believers only, and were not a mixture of saved and unsaved. With these assemblies each believer associated himself upon his conversion. There was no need for a person to ask in that day: "What denomination shall I join?" There was only one place for the child of God to go, and that was where believers met together in the name of the Lord Jesus, either for prayer, praise, worship, or the ministry of the word.

On the day of Pentecost, those who gladly received the word were baptized and added to the assembly that had already been formed by the Spirit of God (Acts 2:41). Peter and John, after their arrest and acquittal, "went to their own company" (Acts 4: 23) . We are told: "And of the rest (the unsaved) durst no man join himself to them" (Acts 5: 13). Simon, a false professor, was told by Peter that he had "no part nor lot in this matter" (Acts 8: 18-23). Saul of Tarsus, after his conversion, "was with the disciples certain days" (Acts 9: 19). When he "assayed to join himself to the disciples" at Jerusalem, the believers were afraid to receive him because he had been such an enemy of Christians. Barnabas, however, vouched for the reality of his Christian profession and character, and he was then gladly welcomed (Acts 9: 26) . This is the story all through the Acts. The apostle Paul was greatly used of God, through the preaching of the gospel and teaching of the word, in establishing little assemblies of believers who met together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. To these local assemblies every Christian, doctrinally and morally sound was gladly welcomed.

In the early days of Christianity, it was the custom for a believer, who left one town to go to another, to take with him a letter from his home assembly, commending him to the love and care of the assembly in the town to which he was going (II Cor. 3:1). By this means it was made reasonably certain that believers and believers only met at the Lord's supper to show forth the Lord's death. While a letter of commendation serves a good and useful purpose; it must not be allowed to become a rigid rule, or made an essential condition ere a believer can be welcomed to the Lord's supper. This is mere formalism. It is with principles and not rules that the New Testament concerns itself in this matter. The spectacle of saved and unsaved, linked together by a common membership of church fellowship, such as we see around us in Christendom, has no counterpart in the New Testament. We read there that "all that believed were together" (Acts 2: 44) .

The "brethren" have sought to return to these New Testament principles of gathering, and no unsaved person is knowingly permitted to partake of the Lord's supper, or allowed to associate with them in their assembly fellowship. Neither is any person who is unsound in the fundamentals of God's word, or who is morally wrong in his life permitted to continue with them in church fellowship. If any person in their assemblies is proven, after careful and unbiased examination, to hold and teach wrong doctrine, or is immoral in his life, or guilty of the sins enumerated in I Cor 5: 11, he is put away from that assembly until such time as it is quite clear he has been restored in heart to the Lord (I Cor. 5: 11-13; II Cor. 2: 6-8) .

The "brethren" rightly argue that as the Lord's supper belongs to the Lord, it is for the Lord's people only. The Lord only invites His own blood-bought people to thus remember Him. An assembly of believers simply welcomes the Christian who is sound in life and doctrine, and who has seen from the word of God his privilege and responsibility to be there. If, from what you have seen and heard from God's word, you have been brought to realize that your place is amongst those who meet thus in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, in scriptural simplicity, and apart from the ecclesiastical forms invented by men: make known this desire to an assembly of believers. They, in turn, will interview you to see whether you can give a reason for the hope that is within you, and whether you are sound in life and doctrine. Once this is established they will gladly welcome you to share with them the Christian fellowship and assembly privileges that is the birthright of every true believer in Christ.

Sixth: They observe the ordinances, given to the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ, in a scriptural manner.

These ordinances are two in number, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; the first is administered to the believer once, the second observed by the believer often.

BAPTISM is the God-ordained figure, symbol or picture of the believer's death, burial and resurrection with Christ. By his baptism with water the Christian confesses his identification with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, and his determination to walk in newness of life to the glory of Him who went under the waves and billows of God's wrath to deliver him from the penalty and power of sin, and from this present evil world. (Psalm 22: 1-21; 88: 1-18; Rom. 6: 1-14; Gal. 1: 4).

The Savior's commission to His disciples was: "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ,and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (age). (Matt. 28: 19, 20). In obedience to this commission, those known as "brethren" have gone forth with the gospel. When souls have been won for Christ, the truth of baptism has been placed before them, and the believers have been baptized, or immersed in water, symbol of their burial with Christ. There is no such thing taught in the New Testament as baptism before profession of faith on the part of the individual. The scriptural order of Christian baptism is: "He that believeth and is baptized." (Mark 16: 16). Search the history of the Church as found in the Acts of the Apostles, and you will not find one case of infant baptism recorded. Baptism is conditioned upon believing, which comes through an intelligent hearing of the gospel (Rom. 10:6-17). Surely this cannot be true of a helpless babe in arms!

Of the theory of so-called "Household Baptism," (which teaches that each member of the household of a believer, including the infants of the home, should be baptized), we cannot do better than quote C. H. Macintosh, author of the world famed and greatly used C. H. M.'s "Notes on the Pentateuch," who wrote: (Dec. 22, 1871) "I believe the course of some of our friends in urging this question of (household) baptism will, unless God in His mercy interpose, lead to most disastrous results. For my own part, seeing the question has been thus forced upon me, I can only say I have, for thirty-two years, been asking in vain for a single line of Scripture for baptizing any save believers, or those who profess to believe. I have had inferences, conclusions and deductions; but of direct Scripture authority, not a tittle."

Many Christians seem to regard water baptism as a "non-essential," and treat it with indifference by saying: "Well, it doesn't affect one's salvation, so why worry?" But surely the distinct command of the Lord Jesus is not a non-essential for a believer. It is true that baptism does not secure the soul's eternal salvation and acceptance before God, but surely it is necessary to complete obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ if He declared it should be done. Though the Lord puts the responsibility to carry out His command to baptize directly upon those who preach the gospel (Matt. 28: 18; Mark 16: 15, 16), it is fitting that the believer should be prayerfully exercised about having this Divinely-appointed ordinance carried out in the way that Scripture teaches, especially in view of the deep spiritual significance attached to it by the apostle Paul. Read carefully Romans 6: 1-14.

While maintaining firmly that baptism by immersion, subsequent to profession of faith in Christ, is the plain teaching of the New Testament, we should be careful not to make this ordinance the door of admittance to and participation in the Lord's supper. Nor should we make it the basis of our fellowship with other Christians, who have not yet been brought to see, from God's word, the distinctive truths of believer's baptism, or the privilege of gathering in scriptural simplicity.

We must ever keep in mind the fact that we are living today in the midst of something the New Testament does not contemplate: namely, a baptized mass of humanity. Practically every genuine Christian we meet has passed through some form of baptism, so-called. In a great number of cases he was sprinkled with water as an infant. When, in later years, he was saved by the grace of God, he imagined that this christening was the equivalent of believer's baptism, and his denomination encourages him in this belief.

By all means, let us place before such, in a kindly, courteous and Christian way, the teaching of God's word as to these things; but, at the same time, let us never forget that every believer is a child of God and a fellow member of the body of Christ. May it be ours to extend to all those who "belong to Christ" (Mark 9:41) that Christian love, care and forbearance that the Head of the body declared were the marks of true discipleship (John 13: 34, 35; cp. I John 3: 14, 16; 4: 20; 5: 1) .

Many a godly Christian has been stumbled because of the harsh, hyper-critical, uncharitable and contemptuous attitude adopted towards him by a better taught believer, or company of believers, who failed utterly to take into consideration his spiritual environment. Let us ponder carefully and prayerfully the words of the inspired apostle: "Owe no man anything, but to love one another" (Rom. 13: 8) , and: "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God" (Rom. 15: 7) .

THE LORD'S SUPPER, as we have already seen, is for all the Lord's people who are sound in life and doctrine. An examination of the practice of the early Church, as seen in the book of Acts, seems to indicate that brethren of a given community came together each Lord's day to show forth the Lord's death in the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7). They came primarily, not to hear preaching, but to break the bread, symbolic of the body of their Lord and Savior; and drink the cup, symbolic of His precious blood.

For this ordinance also we have abundant Scripture testimony. The very night in which Christ was betrayed, He gathered His disciples together and instituted this feast of remembrance. (See Luke 221 19, 20; Matt. 26:2628; Mark 14: 22-25). From John 13, It seems certain that .Judas left after the Passover feast, and before the Lord's supper was instituted. In I Cor. 11:23-34 this ordinance of the Lord's supper is given, by the glorified Lord, as a distinct revelation to Paul the apostle. It is introduced because the brethren in Corinth had abused the privilege of the Lord's supper by turning it into a feast in which every man satisfied his own appetite for food and drink. The purpose and propriety of this blessed ordinance is there stated as a direct revelation from the ascended Lord in glory, and every Christian should read and re-read this whole passage carefully and prayerfully.

Some think that in the primitive Church this feast was celebrated each day (Acts 2:46); but by the time assemblies were spread throughout Asia it became the established custom for the disciples to come together the first day of the week to break bread. (Acts 20:7). Notice the expression used. It was not the first Sunday of the month, or the first Sunday of the quarter, or the first Sunday of the half-year, or the year; but the first day of the week. The same term is used again in I Cor. 16: 1, 2 where Paul, speaking of the collection for the saints says: "Upon the first day of the week, let each of you lay by him in store as the Lord has prospered him." The primary purpose of these believers, in assembling themselves together on the first day of the week, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, was to remember Him in His own Divinely appointed way, and thus "proclaim the Lord's death until He come."

This is what those called "brethren" still seek to do. Throughout the world, at a time most convenient to the majority of the believers, Christians, and Christians only, gather together in the Lord's name alone. In their midst is a table upon which is placed a loaf of bread and a cup containing the fruit of the vine. Inasmuch as it is the Lord's supper, there is no one present who attempts to usurp the Lordship and authority of Christ by attempting to take His place, or arrange its program. One after another of the brethren arise as the Spirit leads--one with a hymn, another voicing the worship of the assembly, another with some Scripture exposition in keeping with the feast of remembrance. One rises to give thanks for the bread, and it is broken and passed so that all may break it and eat. Perhaps another rises to give thanks for the cup and it, in turn, is passed from one to the other.

Thus, in scriptural simplicity, this feast, instituted by the Savior, is kept. There is no visible head at this feast of remembrance, for none such is contemplated in Scripture. Christ, however, is there according to His promise: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them," and who would dare to take His place? This is what clerisy has done and, whether consciously or unconsciously, Christ's place of preeminence in the assembly of His saints for worship has been superseded by the so-called "minister," who has been humanly ordained, who "dispenses the elements" and, apart from whose presence, the Lord's supper cannot be partaken and enjoyed! From such a travesty of the pattern given in the New Testament we turn with abhorrence. Scripture makes clear that Christ is the Host at His own table, and each believer is His greatly privileged and highly honored guest.

There is no greener spot on the face of this wilderness of a world in which the believer's lot is cast, than when believers meet around the Lord, each Lord's day, to remember the Lord Jesus Christ in the Lord's own appointed way, proclaiming the Lord's death until the Lord comes back again. Is this your happy privilege, fellow believer? Rest not until it is, and you can truthfully sing:

              "Lord Jesus, in Thy precious name,
              And, in that name alone;
              At Thy request we gladly meet,
              Thy Lordship here would own.

              As on that dark betrayal night,
              Thou didst this feast ordain;
              We too, the bread and cup would take,
              Thy death, Lord, thus proclaim.
              The bread, Thy body doth portray;
              The cup, Thy precious blood;
              By which our sin was put away.
              Our peace was made with God.
              The Host art Thou, O blessed Lord,
              Thy honored guests are we;
              With grateful and adoring hearts,
              We would remember Thee!
              Lord Jesus, Whom, unseen we love,
              As thus we muse on Thee;
              We none would see, save Thee alone,
              Thou Man of Calvary!"

Seventh: They give liberty for the exercise of the priesthood of all believers, and have room for the development of all the gifts given by the risen Head to His Church.

The abominable heresy that divides the church of God into two classes, called the "clergy" and the "laity," is utterly unknown in the New Testament. This did not come into existence until the latter part of the second century, as a perusal of any reliable 'Church History" will prove. This innovation was undoubtedly the work of the Devil, and it has wrought untold havoc in the church of God. The word "clergy" comes from the word "kleeros," which is translated, "heritage." In I Peter 5:3 the Spirit of God declares that all believers are God's "kleeros," or heritage. The term "laity" comes from the word "laos," which means "the common people."

In Christendom today we hear of "clergymen and laymen," or the "kleeros and the laos." The clergyman belongs to a particular class in the Church who, by reason of education along certain religious lines, plus human ordination, has authority conferred upon him to preach, baptize, administer the elements in the Lord's supper, and also lead the congregation in public worship, prayer and ministry, as well as shepherd the flock. The layman, not being so educated and ordained, has no such privileges, and must be content to occupy a subordinate place. This detestable heresy finds its fullest expression in the Roman Catholic Church, but Protestantism also, is greatly corrupted by it.

There is not the slightest ground for this division of Christians in the New Testament. You will search therein in vain for it. It is foreign to the whole language of Scripture in which every believer is viewed as a "priest" (I Peter 2: 5-9). As such he is exhorted to "offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2: 5) . All God's people are described as being constituted a kingdom of priests unto God (Rev. 1: 5, 6; 5: 10) . All are invited to draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, through "the great high Priest of their confession," whose blood has opened up the new and living way into God's presence and favor (Heb. 10: 19-22).

The elaborate ritual of Judaism, with its special priesthood, was done away in Christ! The veil has been rent, and every regenerated person has been constituted a priest unto God. All enlightened Christians will acknowledge this, yet many continue to maintain their membership in a system which both recognizes and supports this multitude of unscriptural "reverends," "right reverends," etc., etc. Inasmuch as the church of God is likened to a human body, each part being necessary for the proper functioning of the whole; there can therefore be no division of the body into two separate bodies or classes, such as is practiced in most circles of denominationalism.

Among those known as "brethren," no such distinctions are tolerated for one moment. As they meet as an assembly for worship or prayer, all the believers occupy the same common ground of priesthood, and liberty is given to the Spirit of God to express Himself audibly through any of the men so gathered, the women being expressly enjoined to be "silent in the churches" (I Cor. 14: 34, 35).

In such gatherings, worship is given its proper place. Christendom has practically eliminated the place of the worship meeting, where believers gather for the purpose of giving God that which He is seeking from His people, the worship of their hearts. Worship is not prayer for one's needs, or praise for one's blessings, but the overflow of the soul in adoration to God for what He is in Himself, as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is the occupation of the heart with its needs; praise, the occupation of the heart with its blessings; but worship is the occupation of the heart with God Himself. (See Author's book on "Worship, the Christian's Highest Occupation." Same publisher.) How little of this is found in Christendom and denominationalism, and God is consequently robbed of His portion from His people!

While it is quite true that all believers are priests, yet it is also true that not all are evangelists, pastors, or teachers. These are gifts, given to the church by the ascended Head. But the fact that one of the believers exercises either of these gifts does not place him in a superior class above his brethren: he merely exercises the gift he has been given as part of the body of Christ, and thus the whole assembly is edified or built up. In the assembly, as a whole, there are evangelists, pastors and teachers. As such they are not limited to any one church. There is no such thing as the evangelist of a church, or the pastor of a church, or the teacher of a church. Bishops and deacons are local in their sphere. As regards the bishop, he is a very different person from what we know of that high ecclesiastical office as found in the sects of Christendom. The acceptance of this truth would greatly upset some of the highly organized denominations of today.

The "brethren" seek to recognize and give liberty for the exercise of these gifts in the assembly. They believe that God meant what He said when He declared: "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10, 11). Gift will make room for itself, and it will soon become apparent to the assembly whether this person or that has really the gift of an evangelist, a teacher, or a pastor. The saints are exhorted to "know, or recognize, them that labor among them" (I Thess. 5: 12) ; but are never asked to elect, choose, or appoint them. With the business affairs of an assembly, however, this is different (Acts 6:1-4).

Christendom presents the spectacle of one man being elected and appointed by a congregation, for a certain stipulated salary, to do all the evangelism, teaching and shepherding of the flock; but seldom indeed is there a person who has all these gifts combined in himself. Furthermore, Scripture does not contemplate a stipulated salaried ministry. The New Testament knows nothing of a minister hired to preach at so much per annum. It is foreign to New Testament principles, which describes the evangelist, teacher, or pastor, who is devoting his whole time to such ministry, as looking alone to the Lord for his support. (I Cor. 9:14). We need not be surprised by attacks on the part of so-called "ministers" of denominations against the "brethren." These men realize that if they accepted what the "brethren" practice along this line, both their position and salary would be lost. Their opposition is simply a gesture of self-defense to defend a system from which they derive a livelihood. (III John 7).

The idea of taking collections of money from a mixed audience of saved and unsaved has also no scriptural warrant. "Freely ye have received, freely give," was our Savior's exhortation (Matt. 10: 8). There is not the slightest suggestion in the New Testament of money being solicited from unsaved people to "help the cause," or to "pay the minister's salary," or to "pay off the mortgage on the house of God." The collections of money were to be taken from the Lord's people only (I Cor. 16: 1, 2). What shame and disgrace Christendom has brought to the name of Christianity, by using worldly means to extract money from the reluctant pockets of unsaved people to support what is professedly of God!

To sum up: We have seen that an assembly of believers, according to the New Testament, gives room for the manifestation of all the gifts given by the Head of the Church for the edification of the assembly. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the Spirit of God, after describing the gifts given by Christ to His mystical body, reveals the purpose for which they were given (v. 12), and then describes the effect of these gifts in the assembly. We read: "From Whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4: 16) .

Thus the evangelists in a local church should be busily engaged in preaching the gospel to the unsaved. The teachers should be faithfully seeking to instruct the believers. The pastors should be lovingly shepherding the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers (I Peter 5: 1-4). The bishops or elders and deacons should be sincerely fulfilling their God-given functions. Is this possible in the assembly of which you form a part; or are you associated with a humanly conceived, humanly organized and humanly directed assembly, that allows no liberty for the exercise and development of the gifts given to the Church to function within the local assembly?

Eighth: Their gospel activity is governed by the principles laid down in God's word.

From the assemblies of those known as "brethren" more than a thousand have gone forth to preach the gospel in the foreign mission fields, looking alone to the Lord for their support. As many more are busily engaged in the homelands opening up new places where little or no clear gospel is heard, and where these scriptural principles of gathering are not known or practiced. Besides those who spend all their time in the Lord's work, there is a large army of business and professional men and tradesmen who devote their spare time to preaching the gospel, distributing tracts, visiting the sick and teaching the word of God.

The only difference between these and the other workers is that they are part-time, and the others are whole-time laborers in the same harvest field. In every place where any of them are scheduled to preach the gospel, you may be absolutely certain of hearing nothing but the clear statement of man's need and God's remedy, and the proclamation of a full and free salvation, conditioned through faith in Christ's finished work, acceptance of Him as Savior, and confession of Him as Lord of the life. (Rom. 10:9-10).

Go where you will in this world, and you will be certain of this: wherever these companies of Christians known as "brethren" are found, you will hear a scriptural presentation of the gospel that is honoring to God and glorifying to Christ. They are prepared, as individuals, to go anywhere, providing they can take the whole Bible with them, and are given liberty to declare the whole counsel of God. Wherever they go, they preach the word without fear, or favor, or charge. Eternity alone will reveal the countless thousands who have been led to own their need as sinners and trust the Savior who has been presented to them through the gospel as preached by them.

Of course, each servant of the Lord is responsible, to his own Master alone, as to his sphere and methods of service (Rom. 14:4). While he should welcome advice from godly brethren, he should not allow himself to be dictated to regarding these things, for he is not "the servant of man" (Gal. 1: 10). An ever increasing number of assemblies, from which goes forth the Word with no uncertain sound, bears eloquent testimony to the fact that God's principles of gathering are as workable today as when they were laid down many years ago; providing God's people will bow to the authority of Scripture, and allow the Lord to have His rightful place as Head of the assembly, which is His body.

Being thus on scriptural ground, and acting upon scriptural principles of gathering, those that are added to an assembly thus gathered have freedom to develop their gift, and also to grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One-man ministry tends to stifle this development of gift, as also does narrow sectarianism and unscriptural principles.

A friend of mine once spoke to a very well known teacher amongst the denominations. During the conversation he asked him why it was that the average young Christian in an assembly of believers known as "brethren," could give a good scriptural definition and a clear exposition of the great doctrines of the Bible, while the average young Christian amongst the denominations could not. The worthy doctor of divinity, since gone home to be with Christ, though agreeing with the fact of the statement, could not furnish any explanation of its truth. My friend then pointed out that the explanation lay in the fact that those who met on scriptural lines were able to function according to scriptural principles, and a scriptural atmosphere was thus created that made possible the recognition, exercise and development of God-given ability.

On another occasion in Johannesburg, South Africa, an elderly clergyman, a true and godly Christian, came to the meeting for the breaking of bread and, of course, was received as a believer. After the bread had been broken and the cup passed, he arose and, among other things, said: "Brethren, value the liberty you have in meeting thus, and let no one bring you into ecclesiastical bondage." Personally, the more I read and study the Bible; the longer I remain associated with those known as "brethren"; and the more I see of denominations and meet those who are linked to them; the clearer do I see the scripturalness of the position of those who meet as believers only, and thank God that He ever, in His grace, led me to gather among them.

As companies of believers we freely admit to having failed in many respects, and bemoan the oft manifestations of the flesh amongst us, which has grieved the Holy Spirit and brought shame to the testimony of our Lord. We have to confess our lack of love ofttimes to those of our brethren with whom we have not seen eye to eye; but, in spite of all the failure, those known as "brethren" are seeking humbly and consistently to put into practice those principles of gathering found in the New Testament scriptures. Because of this fact, I do not want to be anywhere else but among those who seek to gather in the alone and sufficient name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who accept the word of God as the sole authority for faith and practice.

Conclusion

The foregoing eight reasons for my being associated with those known as "brethren" really represent the privileges of being so gathered, but privilege always carries with it a corresponding responsibility. Since these principles of gathering are scriptural, it develops upon each Christian to act as before the Lord in the light of them. I would suggest that each believer give his earnest and undivided attention to the four statements which follow.

First. That each genuine believer, who is sound in life and doctrine, and who realizes, from the Scriptures, the unscriptural character of denominationalism and all that it involves, will not rest until he or she is meeting with those who hold and practice these scriptural principles of gathering. Remember, it is not a case of "joining the brethren." If you are saved, the Spirit of God has already joined you to the body of Christ. It simply consists of intelligently and deliberately associating oneself with those who have seen and are acting upon the truth of the one body of which Christ is the Head, and every believer a member. The person who really apprehends this truth will never rest content until he has gladly gone forth from that which, in practice, denies Christ the place of preeminence in the assembly, and the Spirit of God the liberty to minister through whomsoever He will in the assembly. The scriptural assembly of believers, to whom vou make known your decision, will gladly welcome you and extend to you the right hand of fellowship after a godly sort.

Second. It will mean that he who has seen his privilege and has taken his place thus will surely desire to support the assembly by his presence at all its meetings whenever possible. He will earnestly cooperate with his fellow believers in the assembly and, by his wholehearted support financially, and his sacrificial efforts individually, will seek to encourage, strengthen and edify the company of believers with whom he meets.

There is a noticeable lack of this on the part of some who apparently imagine that their responsibility to an assembly ends with their being present at the meeting for the breaking of bread on Lord's day. It needs to be emphasized that the prayer meeting, the Bible reading, the gospel meeting, and special meetings are just as much meetings of the assembly for the purposes named, as the feast of remembrance.

How can an assembly hope to develop spiritually if the prayer meeting is neglected? How can it be edified if a mere handful attend the Bible reading? What will the unsaved think, if only a few of the believers gather to support, by their presence and prayers, the one who is to deliver the gospel message? Only an excuse that can stand the light of the judgment seat of Christ should be made for not attending these meetings; yet the most trivial excuses are often put forth by those whose lack of heart, or ignorance of these principles, causes them to absent themselves from these meetings.

A Christian man whom I know, used to put it thus: "What kind of an assembly would this one be, if everybody in it was just like me?" Would there be a prayer meeting? a Bible reading? a gospel meeting? An assembly is formed by a number of believers, and the spiritual tone of the assembly is determined by the spirituality, or otherwise, of each individual composing that assembly. When a person avoids the prayer meeting, it is a sure sign he needs that meeting more than anything else. Many a discouraged believer has been tempted to stay home on a prayer meeting night because he was tired in mind and body; but when he went, he discovered how true was the promise: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." (Isa. 40:31). Perhaps the very word of comfort or rebuke that we so much need is waiting for us at the Bible reading, but we must be there to get it, or it will do us no good.

If I would emphasize one thing above another to young believers in assemblies, it would be this: Be loyal to the assembly of which you form a part. Do not be a liability, be an asset. Do not go visiting around here and there on your own meeting night, or get so involved in Christian work outside the assembly that you have no time to be present at its regular meetings and fulfill your obligations to your own home assembly. Concentration is a splendid thing. I have known an assembly to die because those composing it assumed no responsibility to it, and devoted their energies in this work and that effort, in many cases under denominational auspices, which were opposed to the very scriptural principles they professed to hold.

If the assembly with which you are connected is scriptural in its principles, back it up by all the means in your power, and concentrate your energies on edifying, or building up that which is according to the pattern revealed in the New Testament. It is a case of either concentration, or dissipation of energy. Do not develop into a "sermon taster," or become a "floater," or a "thrill hunter," following this or that man around, to the neglecting of your own responsibilities in your home assembly. The story is told of a man who saw a boy about to drown a dog. On being asked why he was going to drown the dog, the boy replied: "Well, it's like this. This dog follows everybody, and a dog that follows everybody is good to nobody!" The moral is obvious.

Third. The Christian who seeks to gather according to these scriptural principles will need to have a big heart for all the children of God, by whatever name they may call themselves. He will have to continually challenge himself to distinguish between personalities and principles. He may not be able, in loyalty to the word of God, to have any fellowship with the system or sect with which this or that Christian is connected; but he ought to show that believer, as an individual, all the love and care that is his due as one of "the brethren." It is sadly possible for an individual or an assembly who professes to have seen these scriptural principles, to become very sectarian in heart. Let us remember that all who "belong to Christ" are dear to His heart, and are in the Church which is His body. As such they should be the objects of our love. Our Lord's words should be deeply pondered in the heart: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, by your love one for another" (John 13:35).

Any true Christian, who is morally clean as to his walk and sound in the fundamentals of God's word should be gladly welcomed to the Lord's supper, on no other condition than that he "belongs to Christ." To impose any other conditions of reception to an assembly is to form a sect with all its attendant evils. There is no such thing in Scripture as the sect of "The Brethren;" but there is such a thing in Scripture as brethren being assembled together on the common ground of the Headship of Christ and the unity of all believers as members of the body of Christ.

Any assembly that knowingly refuses a believer, who is sound in life and doctrine, a place at the Lord's supper becomes, by that very act, a sect, however strenuously those composing it may deny the fact. Let us beware of sectarianism in any form! What mischief--and worse--has been wrought by a narrow, bigoted attitude adopted towards the Lord's people! If they belong to Christ, and are walking as becomes believers, count it the greatest privilege to welcome such, and so "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4: 3). All snobbery is detestable, but religious snobbery is the most nauseating of all. May the Lord give us to realize what a hateful thing it is to Him who "loved the church and gave Himself for it"! A well known teacher once wrote: "If you fail to provide an amount of fellowship for every known child of God, that moment you deserve to go out of existence." J. N. D.) .

Fourth. The believer who meets on scriptural lines should so study his Bible that he will be able to help other Christians who are not similarly placed as to their church association. One has no need to apologize for his position amongst the so-called "brethren." Since it is of God, and according to His word, let us boldly affirm it, and seek to deliver our fellow believers from the evils of sectarianism, with its ordained clergy and all the confusion that goes with it. Plenty of good literature has been published on this subject by able teachers, so that there is no excuse for not knowing the certainty of the things we stand for. While careful to make no claims for perfection in our behavior whilst so meeting, let us, however, boldly maintain the scripturalness of the principles that we seek to hold and practice.

A well-known teacher amongst the denominations once confided to me: "I'll come amongst you when you brethren cease your quarrels." At the time he said this, his own denomination was in the midst of a fearful row over the question as to who should govern its church policy, the modernists or the fundamentalists! Apparently this quarrel did not enter into his thoughts, or cause him to leave his denomination!

As "brethren," we have differences of opinion but, thank God, they are not over fundamental truths that question the inspiration of God's word, or the Deity of Christ, etc. We do not have to dispute about the pastor's salary being raised or lowered, or whether a modernist preacher shall be allowed to speak on our platform or not, or how we shall get rid of an unsaved "minister." All our differences can be solved by submitting to Scripture and manifesting that love, forbearance and humility the word of God enjoins upon all the brethren. Let us then heed the injunction of Paul to Timothy: "The things that thou hast heard of me amongst many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also" (II Tim. 2: 2) .




 

May we so study and obey God's word, that we shall each be found in the place where our Lord would have us to be, gathering in His name alone with those whom it has pleased Him to call "His brethren"; owning the alone authority of His word; welcoming all true believers sound in doctrine and life; and allowing the Holy Spirit liberty to minister through whomsoever He will, to the glory of God and the edification of the assembly!

Jan 10, 2009 at 22:04 o\clock

Memorable proverbs - part 2

51

                 Suffering seasons are generally sifting seasons.

The more we fear God the less we shall fear man.

There are Christians who know little but do much, and there are Christians who do little but know much.

There are two ways in which Christ shows His perfect love: first, by coming down to earth to bear my sins; second, by going up to heaven to give me His glory.

Many will admit that Scripture contains truth, but few will accept that all that it contains is truth.

There are many dead religions but only one living Christ.

Truth is truth whatever the vessel used to convey it.

52

The world cannot rise to the level of the Christian, but the Christian can sink to the level of the world.

Corruption within the camp is much more dangerous than opposition without (compare Josh. 6 and 7).

Christendom today is infatuated with power, and indifferent about piety.

God is “slow to anger”, “ready to forgive” and “mighty to save” (Neh. 9: 17; Ps. 86: 5; Is. 63: 1).

Christians ought to have only one ambition: to be like Christ.

A Christian is always in uniform, and always on duty––always representing Christ in a Christ–less world.

Our aim should always be to hold the truth in proportion, for truth out of proportion becomes error.

With Christ you cannot lose; with the Devil you cannot win.

Where we find power is on our knees before God.

53

To refrain from sin doesn’t make us holy, but holiness makes us refrain from sin.

We master the Scriptures only when the Scriptures master us.

Sincerity is no substitute for truth.

The godly life is a life that expresses God.

The best use of time is doing the will of God.

Sin will add to your trouble, subtract from your energy and multiply your difficulties.

Service must flow from occupation with the Master.

Conscience is a safe guide only when God’s Word is the guide of the conscience.

A Christian company can either evangelise or fossilise.

54

To know Christ the living Word, is to love the Bible, the written Word.

A care for the things of Christ is the very best evidence of a saved soul.

People who think much of their humility are often the proudest people of all.

Ministry without power is words without God.

To be loved by the Son of God! Can you conceive of anything more wonderful?

Popularity is not to be our aim, success is not to be our object, results are not to be our guide––we are called to be faithful in our testimony.

Only two things ever caused the Lord to marvel: the faith of a Gentile (Matt. 8: 10) and the unbelief of the Jews (Mark 6: 6).

There is a vast difference between going to Scripture to reinforce my opinions and going to Scripture prepared to be moulded by its teaching.

55

The bigot’s mind is like the pupil of the eye: the more light you pour in, the more it contracts.

The cross of Christ is the perfect expression of the love of God.

If you trust God you shouldn’t worry yourself.

Man has turned away from God. Solemn the hour that is coming when God will turn away from man.

If we say that we are going to heaven, then we must live as if leaving earth.

Some hymns are composed in the head, others flow from the heart.

Man’s answer to sin is to try and mend the first Adam. God’s answer is to bring forward the second Adam.

Science builds everything on the assumption that there is no God; Scripture builds everything on the assumption that there is.

56

Routine Christianity can be a short and dangerous road to ritualism.

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

Judaism only produced one man who became a missionary––Jonah. In Christianity, every man should be a missionary.

The man who is not prepared to stand alone is not prepared to stand.

The same One who began His ministry with blessed, blessed, blessed (Matt 5), ended it with woe, woe, woe (Matt 23).

On the day that the Law was given, about three thousand souls perished (Ex. 32: 28); on the first day that grace was preached, about three thousand souls were saved (Acts 2: 41).

When the brain runs ahead of the heart, there is a grave risk of derailment. The two must be coupled together.

Cold prayers always freeze before they reach heaven.

There are many forms of unbelief, but one faith––faith in the Son of God.

57

Some preachers are like bad photographs—underdeveloped and overexposed.

Eternity on its own is an horrific thought. Eternity with Christ is utter bliss.

Read your Bible and pray every day—there is no simpler or better advice.

If I am religious, I look to my merits; if I am converted, I look to His mercy.

God may allow our physical health to suffer in order for our spiritual health to prosper.

It is possible to hold the position, and let go the Person.

There was once a great spiritual movement filled with godly men and women grieved at the many divisions of Christendom. They spoke much of “the ruin of the Church”. Gradually the power of the movement ebbed away and it divided into many sections—its adherents thereby learning the truth of “the ruin” amongst themselves.

58

The trials of life should make us better Christians, not bitter Christians.

When fear knocks at your heart’s door, let faith open it.

Spiritual idleness is the nest in which spiritual mischief lays its eggs.

Love in deed is love indeed!

Riches have eternal value only when we use them to bless others.

The degree of a man’s devotion to Christ can be gauged by the degree of his rejection by the world.

We must either be strangers in this world, or strangers to the next.

As man’s world crumbles, we have a hope secure: salvation in an unchanging God.

Faithfulness is always in proportion to faith, and where faithfulness breaks down, it is because faith has been dim before that.

The person who asks for a command for everything is a person who does not really want a command, and because he does not think there is one, he asks “Where is it?” He who has a truly obedience heart does not ask for a command but finds it.

59

Lust sees the bait offered, but is often blind to the hook.

Once we are redeemed, God no longer looks on our sins, but on Him who put our sins away.

Christendom is marked by an abundance of controversial theology and a dearth of practical holiness.

Heaven shall not only be all that we hoped for, but infinitely better than all our hopes.

Those that are not born again, shall one day wish they had never been born.

The dead are not only found in churchyards, but in churches too.

Saul vanquished the Ammonites, but not the Philistines whom he was raised up to overcome (1 Sam 9: 16). If people do not discharge the duty given them by God, it matters little how much else they do.

We may belong to the best of churches, and never belong to Christ.

Any fool can break things up; it takes God–given skill to build things up.

60

When you feel you have no need to pray, then you have most need to pray.

The world is like an ocean and we are like boats on that ocean. Now if the boat is in the water all is well, but if the water is in the boat it will sink. Such is the Christian and the world.

The Lord Jesus commenced His public ministry with prayer (Luke 3: 21) and He ended it with prayer (Luke 23: 34).

Living to God inwardly is the only possible means of living to Him outwardly.

Christianity is occupation with Christ, not the mere avoidance of evil.

How many of my thoughts today have come from Christ and how many from elsewhere?

Outward worldliness is simply the end result of what has been long incubating in the heart. 

The moment that you think your service has become indispensable is the moment God may dispense with your service.

Some people tone down the Gospel message in consideration of ‘people’s feelings’. Better hurt feelings now, than a future lost eternity!

61

In His presence I am nothing, and He is everything.

You can walk according to the Word, or you can walk according to the world.

Christ in the midst at Calvary. Two thieves––one brought nigh, and one, oh so very, very far away!

The word Lord necessarily implies its counterpart––slave. Yet though we call him Lord, can we honestly say we act as His slaves?

Enoch walked with God. What an epitaph!

Over 500 years ago in London, a number of poor men were praying for liberty to read God’s Word. On the very spot where that prayer meeting was held stand the buildings of a bible society today. God answers prayer.

Those who have little interest in Scripture, have little interest in Christ (Luke 24: 27).

It is one thing to preach that Christ is coming soon, quite another to live as if it were so.

Lot lived as if he were part of this world but Abraham was only passing through. How about you?

62

We may divide people into two great classes with regard to their treatment of the Bible: those who put the Bible above everything, and those who put something above the Bible.

When God gave His Son, He gave everything––there was nothing more He could give.

Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.

Two or three together in subjection to God’s Word is better than two or three thousand who are not.

If you sleep spiritually, the Devil will feel able to sleep too; if you become active, the Devil will have to be active too.

We can never find strength in looking at the condition of the Church–– we must look at Christ.

Take an interest in what goes on outside your immediate circle. It is of great interest to Christ, and if your heart is right, it will be of great interest to you.

Ignorance of the truth is one thing, indifference is another.

When you cannot give time to read the Bible, remember those who gave everything so that you might have a Bible to read.

63

Salvation is totally free (Is. 55: 1), but not without cost (Luke 14: 28).

A hypocrite has God on his lips, but the world in his heart.

You may speak of a Saviour, even the Saviour, but unless you can say my Saviour, all is worthless.

Men of the world can spend a lifetime making a name for themselves. Christians ought to spend their lifetimes glorifying the Name above every name.

People often speak of serving the Lord ‘full time’. Actually, God is never interested in part–time commitment.

The more we study the Word, the more we discover our ignorance of it, and the more humble we shall be.

Adversity should make us better, not bitter Christians.

In your walk, you can be either out of step with the world, or out of step with Him.

It is possible to be in a low state and still ‘hold the truth’. To be held by the truth is quite another thing altogether.

64

Nothing shows the things of this world in their proper value like a ray from the glory where Christ is.

An inconsistent Christian is an ineffective Christian.

What we need more than anything else is individual devotion to the Lord.

Some see a dead Jew at Calvary––the Christian sees the Saviour of the world.

God’s grace is like an exhaustless deposit placed at the bank, so that all who are poor and needy may obtain “the forgiveness of offences, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1: 7).

The desires of the heart reveal the state of the heart.

Divine principles in the hands of unspiritual people are like swords in the hands of drunkards. 

You are either cultivating likeness to Christ or likeness to the world.

We need to pray more, read more and sing more.

All human statements must be inferior to Scripture, even when drawn from it.

Whoever fathomed the full meaning of the words ‘My Father’ (see Luke 2: 49) but Christ? And who but He sounded the depths of “My God” (Matt. 27: 46)? Yet now in grace, we have been enabled to enjoy something of the same blessed relationships (John 20: 17).

65

You can either be a glory–bound saint, or a hell–bound sinner.

You will learn nothing of value in man’s college, that cannot be learned in God’s assembly.

One man’s faithfulness is another man’s extremism. God’s view is what matters.

We may cease to have dealings with Him, but He loves us too much to cease dealing with us (Heb. 12: 7, 8).

Grace must not be dispensed at the cost of truth. Truth must not be maintained at the expense of grace.

God knows my darkest secret, yet loves me with the deepest love.

Death may or may not come; the Lord will come.

An increasing likeness to Christ is the true measure of where we are in our Christian pathway.

The attachment of the name of the Lord to something said or done does not necessarily make it Christian!

66

The Bible is a best–seller that has never been popular.

Every great revival can be traced back to a kneeling figure.

God’s servant does God’s work in God’s way for God’s glory.

He that loves little, prays little; he that loves much, prays much.

Books and sermons may be resisted, tears and entreaties despised, but a Christ–like life is not easily disregarded.

People complain because their days are few then act as though there could be no end to them.

We are born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, and taught by a supernatural teacher from a supernatural book.

My time here is utterly wasted unless I spend it on something that will outlast it.

A true servant of the Master will never be able to complain of having time on his hands. There is always work to be done––the lack is not in the work, but in the time to do it.

67

There will be no world peace without the Prince of Peace.

Man credits God with nothing, but blames Him for everything.

Giving up requires no faith; going on demands absolute dependence.

The encouragement of the saints is a service open to all––irrespective of gift or growth.

Man’s pleasures come to an end, God’s last forever (see Ps. 16: 11).

The Bible either has absolute authority, or no authority at all.

God’s love is immeasurable, but it is not unknowable.

There is one thing worse than seeking a place in this world: seeking a place above your brethren.

A servant is not judged by how busy he is, but by his obedience to the Master.

68

Those who have studied a subject for years shouldn’t expect others to accept the fruit of their studies in seconds.

It is worth a world to have an intimate eternity with Christ.

The pathway of Christ can be compressed into three words: He Humbled himself (see Phil. 2: 8).

A real revival in our hearts is always the revival of the place of Christ in our hearts.

If you have opinions you may change them; if you have convictions they will hold you.

In proportion to how much the world creeps into our lives, so Christ is pushed out.

For everything that is of God, Satan has an imitation.

A man may be outwardly blameless but inwardly barren.

What God is determines what God does, and what God does proves what God is––love.

69

True repentance is never too late, but late repentance is seldom true.

If it is worthwhile to be a Christian, it is worthwhile to be in earnest about it.

The flesh can be cultivated and reformed, but it remains the flesh, and will never do for God.

The Christian has one ambition only––to be like Christ.

If in the civil sphere there is weakness where there should be strength, in the ecclesiastical sphere there is darkness where there should be light.

It is dangerous to acquire a corporate name: God will invariably test you by it. Boast in your unity, and you are but a step from breaking up. Take pride in your orthodoxy, and you are on the road to error.

“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaph-nath-paaneah” (Gen. 41: 45)––‘Saviour of the World’. How early is the largeness of God’s heart revealed!

He came down that I might go up, was made poor so that I might be rich, became dead so that I might live.

70

If Christ died for me, then I must live for Christ.

Some like to repeat what others have mined from the Scriptures, but never do any digging themselves.

The Gospel is not entertainment. If you get the world laughing with you, it will not be long before they are laughing at you.

In true Christianity, faith works, hope purifies and love acts, (see James 2: 18; 1 John 3: 3,16, 17).

Real testimony is not so much what we say, but what we are.

In prayer, I speak to God; in Scripture, God speaks to me. The two must go together.

Christ: your greatest lack, or your greatest possession.

It is very well to be liberal with what is my own; but if it is God’s truth then it is very presumptuous of me to be liberal with it!

71

God loved us - he could not like us. Yet He makes us what he likes - like Christ.

You cannot exaggerate, and no one has exaggerated, the grace of God.

Men can train others in theology, but only God can give gift.

Much of Christendom worships an “unknown God” (Acts 17: 23), so little is God really known.

Our service is in this world, but to be effective it must be in view of another, better world.

Read the “word of truth” (James 1: 18) written by the “Spirit of truth” (John 16: 13) with a prayerful desire to know “the truth” (John 14: 6).

The more you study Scripture, the more you become aware of your ignorance.

The worldling trusts in the limited resources of this world. Faith trusts in the limitless resources of God.

72

The grand business of the evangelist is to bring the soul and Christ together. The business of the teacher and the pastor is to keep them together.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.

When led of the Spirit, the child of God must be as ready to wait as to go, and as prepared to be silent as to speak.

Let the fact of what our Lord suffered for you grip you, and you will never be the same again.

No one ever lost out by excessive devotion to Christ.

If lips and life do not agree, your testimony will not amount to much.

Church history: a record of man’s failure and God’s grace.

Christ can be your substitute––but you cannot substitute anything for Christ.

John was a "burning and shining lamp" (John 5: 35). A true servant, he burnt himself out for Christ.

Excommunicating the wicked man was a big test of the obedience of the Corinthian saints. Welcoming him back was an even greater test.

73

Man always underestimates God.

At Calvary everything is laid bare––what man is, what sin is, and, wonderful fact, what God is.

To believe that God is––that He exists––is not the same as believing God––what He has said.

We should mine the Scriptures––get beneath the surface. Superficial knowledge produces superficial Christians.

It is a greater sin to practically deny the Holy Spirit His place in the Assembly whilst accepting the doctrine, than to resist it doctrinally alone.

Grace teaches as well as saves (Titus 2: 11, 12), and if we are not coloured by its lessons, it is not likely we have experienced its salvation.

Indifference to the Gospel is just as much a rejection of it as outright hostility.

God is quick to bless, but slow to judge.

74

Christians are like coals of fire––together they glow, apart they grow cold.

Lot got a place in the world, but paid for it with his family.

Backsliding always begins with the heart.

That Christ died is just history; that he died for me is salvation.

From the sinner God demands repentance; from the saint He demands reality.

At conversion, I get a change of heart, a change of master and a change of home.

As we grow spiritually, sins seem darker and God’s salvation brighter.

The ecumenical movement is unity without the Spirit.

A man is not judged by the darkness he cannot help but by the light he refuses.

75

A broad path means a broad conscience not a broad heart.

The flesh in a believer is exactly the same as the flesh in an unbeliever.

Science tells us that in the beginning there was nothing out of which came everything. The Bible tells us that God was in the beginning and made everything.

Many Christians were persecuted in the past. Some are still being persecuted in the present. None of us knows what the future holds for us before the Lord comes.

God never records the past, nor reveals the future, without desiring to affect us in the present.

Think nothing of yourself––but never forget how much God thought of you.

Satan is never so dangerous as when he comes to us with a Bible in his hand.

The eye must be on Christ. Not on Christianity, but on Christ.

Nothing on earth can justify the neglect of communion with heaven.

76

In spiritual things it is not what we know but what we actually possess that enriches our souls.

History can relate what has been. Speculation can guess what may be. God alone can reveal what shall be.

In the Church we are either a help or a hindrance––we cannot be neither.

Live today in the light of standing before God tomorrow.

The Dead Sea receives but never gives––hence its deadness. May it not be a picture of you or me!

Man wants proof of the existence of God. Everything around us is proof––if we have eyes to see it.

We have more than enough to occupy us in revelation without indulging in speculation.

In the Church some do everything, some do anything and some do nothing. Our place should really be to do his bidding––nothing less and nothing more.

The measure in which we love the brethren is the measure in which we love the Lord. That there has been such a breakdown in brotherly relations tells its own story.

77

Untold millions are perishing––untold about salvation.

Complacency is the enemy of the Church and the friend of Satan.

The thing we need above all else is to be prayed for. It is the greatest thing we can do for one another.

God is for us (see Rom. 8: 31). Would that we believed it more.

The enemy does not care what you believe, so long as you do not believe God.

You can only measure the departure from the truth by being acquainted with what things were like at the beginning.

Some are occupied with past glories; our eyes are to be on future glories.

You cannot be occupied with Him without being occupied with the needs of others.

In Christ there was the perfect setting forth of God to man, and also the perfect setting forth of man to God.

The Bible is no ordinary book: to properly understand it, you must know its author.

Law compels, but Grace attracts.

78

This world is a small thing when compared to the vastness of the universe, but it is not a small thing that God has done upon it.

Christianity is not so much what I say or what I do, but what I am––am I like Him?

The best thing becomes the worst thing if it is corrupted.

Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you (see James 4: 8).

There is a world of difference between being zealous for the truth and hunting out error.

The more you give, the more you will receive.

I may not believe in God, but my unbelief does not alter His existence.

We hear a great deal about the power of the Spirit but see very little of the fruit of the Spirit.

79

My career, if I am true to my calling, is Christ, and everything else must be subjected to that.

Some people quote Scripture, others live it.

Friends, family and brethren fail us. God will never fail us.

Fellowship is most appreciated by those who have known what it is not to have it.

The Scriptures are an exhaustless mine of precious jewels.

When service becomes the be all and end all it ceases to be service in the true and worthwhile sense.

Gift in a meeting is no substitute for love.

What you display in your character is the greatest part of your testimony.

How much we fear God will be seen in how we handle the Scriptures.

Some conform themselves to the fashion of the world. others conform themselves to the traditions of the Church. You and I are to be conformed to Christ and His Word.

80

The Christian’s business in life is to magnify Christ––not his purse, or his tailor or himself.

There is a difference between speaking the truth from the head, and speaking it from the heart.

Some serve with a view to being recognised; others serve knowing they will be rejected.

When a man thinks he has become wise, he is, in reality, only ripening into a fool.

Dying people speak of being ‘ready to go’. As living people, we should be just as equally ‘ready to go’.

Some preach to entertain, others to educate, and many simply to moralize. A true Gospel preacher preaches to save.

What catches the eye in a magazine are the pictures not the words. Christianity is no different––people notice the ‘pictures’ of our lives far more than our words.

I may be a good actor or orator. I may be well-meaning, and I may know my stuff. the key question I must answer, however, before standing up to preach the Glad Tidings is 'Am I sent from God'?

Some people weep in the gospel just as readily as they do in the cinema.

81

A crooked generation needs a straight and narrow way.

God’s principles may first be relaxed, and then ignored, before finally being despised.

As a Christian I must think like Christ, talk like Christ, and act like Christ.

What Satan cannot destroy he will discredit.

The evidence may be undeniable, but science will still deny God.

Some read the Bible out of habit; better to read it on account of hunger.

What I am at home is a far better measure of my faith than what I am in ‘church’.

Love covers a multitude of sins; human nature delights in exposure.

In Christ there is no condemnation, under the law there was nothing but condemnation.

He who was the apostle of the enmity of man, became the apostle of the grace of God.

82

First pure, then peaceable is God’s order; first peaceable, then pure is Satan’s order. 

To introduce musical instruments into the service of God because we cannot sing well is really only to make things more pleasant for ourselves, and not for the Lord who knows our hearts.

God saves us from Satan (Col. 1: 13) from the world (Gal. 1: 4) and from sin (Rom. 7: 24).

A true preacher speaks as of God, before God, and in Christ (see 2 Cor. 2: 17).

Truth without love is like sunshine without warmth: just as the one cannot melt snow, so the other cannot melt hearts.

If God says it, then that settles it, and I must believe it.

For the soul trusting in Christ for salvation, the chasm between himself and God has not been bridged––it has been removed.

True Christianity is a living relationship with Christ––it is not simply a pious manner of life, however close it might seem to the NT pattern.

83

God is far more ready to hear than we are to ask.

To see His face is the deepest longing of His people. To be hid from His face (see Rev. 6: 16) will be the one desire of those left behind for judgment.

Men can only see our public side; God sees our private side––what we are really like.

If we expect great things of the brethren, then we shall often be disappointed. If we expect great things of the Lord we shall never be disappointed.

There are three mighty kings in Daniel 6. But neither the King of Persia, nor the King of Beasts could touch Daniel while he was in the care of the King of Kings,

It is in times of pressure that we find out how much we really know God.

Travel on the broad, downward road is easy. Travel on an upward, narrow path is difficult.

The moment of triumph is the moment of greatest danger. Thus while division over fundamental doctrine was averted in the early part of Acts 15, Satan succeeded in dividing God’s servants from one another in the latter part of the chapter––and for much less serious reasons.

We are left here to represent Christ. Our lives will either glorify Him or bring Him into disrepute, shed light or cast shadow.

84

In 1 Cor. 15: 9, Paul describes himself as “the least of the apostles”, in Eph. 3: 8 he is “less than the least of all saints”, and finally, in 1 Tim. 1: 15 he is the chief of sinners.

In God’s race, you should arrive at the end fitter than when you began.

Familiarity can interfere with our sense of wonder at all that God has done. Take time to reflect on ‘Amazing grace’.

Anyone can act out passages of Scripture––but we are to act them out in the power of God.

When Athanasius wrote his faithful statement of truth, he was told ‘The whole world is against you’. He answered ‘Then I am against the world!’ Are we ready for that?

Abraham had a stand–alone faith. Lot’s faith was somewhat second–hand and he went wrong the moment he stood alone.

This world’s books are soon read. The Bible is the only book you can never finish.

As we get older, sin should appear more awful, grace should be more wonderful, and our thanks more wholehearted.

Some churches are obsessed with making rules, others believe in a kind of ‘pious’ anarchy. God’s Assembly has its own house–law (see 1 Tim. 3: 15). We are not to add or take away from it.

There is only one fellowship in Scripture––the fellowship of God’s Son (see 1 Cor. 1: 9). That being so, I cannot see we have any licence in the Word for speaking of any other fellowship. It is to His fellowship that we are called, and everything else is vain. Let us shrink from even giving the slightest impression of having in our minds anything less than the divine thought.

85

It is one thing to be a disciple of God’s greatest servant (see John 1: 35–37), quite another to be a disciple of Christ.

‘I haven’t got time’ is a feeble excuse with regards to the Lord’s things. We must make time.

I have never met a soul in the good of the things of Christ who did not enjoy singing.

We do not know “what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27: 1), but we do “know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8: 28).

In natural things, growth leads to independence. With the Christian, growth leads him to become ever more dependent on God.

Each individual ant is a tireless worker for the good of the whole colony. Similarly, self–interest ought to be foreign to a member of Christ’s body.

If the Bible has its true place in our lives, then so will Christ. If Christ has His true place in our lives, then so will the Bible.

The Lord must not only be important in our lives - He must be the centre-piece.

86

There is no reward from God to those who seek it from men.

Creation speaks of a designer, but Calvary speaks of a Saviour.

My ministry may be small, but in God’s eyes, never insignificant.

Our greatest lack is not enthusiasm for the Gospel, or understanding of the Scriptures, but personal acquaintance with Christ.

‘Is He coming?’ is a question followed by another: ‘Am I ready?’

Building up requires patience and skill. Breaking up requires neither.

Natural sunshine is invigorating. See if you can bring a little bit of spiritual sunshine into someone else’s life.

If God passes us through hardship, it is often because our hearts need softening.

With each passing year, the spiritual darkness around us only deepens. How cheering then to know that the day is at hand!

87

The Lord Jesus was born of a virgin––his mother had never known a man. He rode into Jerusalem on an ass upon which no man had ever sat before. Finally, He was laid to rest in a new tomb where no man had ever been laid (see Luke 1: 34; Mark 11: 2; Luke 23: 53)

Satan’s ministers of unrighteousness are often easily discerned but what about his ministers of righteousness? (see 2 Cor. 11: 15)

Man’s judgment of his ‘progress’ differs radically from God’s––civilisation is merely the refinement of sin.

If you neglect feeding upon the Bible––the Word of God––then you will inevitably lack spiritual power. Energy comes from food.

God never judges persons until their consciences have first judged them. The Lord did not drive the first man out of paradise until the man fled from His presence. Adam fled to hide himself from God, and God only sentenced him afterwards to what his own conscience had already sentenced him.

Christ should not be a small part of our lives, but nor a large part either. He is to be our life (see Phil. 1: 21).

This world is like a sandbank—shifting, unstable and dangerous. Put your trust in God’s rock—Christ.

88

There might be thousands of lambs but it was still the Passover. Similarly, there might be thousands of loaves, but it is still the Lord’s Supper.

The object of pressure is to bring me into company with the Lord.

We judge acts, God alone judges motives.

God can use my body but not my will.

If punishment of sin is not necessary and the benevolence of God alone could have met my case, then plainly Christ need not have died at all. 

“God is love” (1 John 4: 16) does not mean ‘God is indifferent to evil’.

Unity is not so much on the basis of one body as of one head.

Holding fast requires spiritual energy, giving up requires no energy at all.

89

If you do not pray, then you are like a man who had a friend but never spoke to him. If you do not read your Bible, then you are like a man who wouldn’t let his friend speak to him.

Abiding in a company may come naturally; abiding in Christ does not.

We can fool ourselves that our home is in heaven, but if our lives speak otherwise, then the world is not fooled. 

As men see things, the ministry of John the Baptist ended in abject failure. The all–important judgment of Christ, however, was that he bore “witness to the truth” (John 5: 33). 

The Lord Jesus drank a cup of sorrow alone so that we might share a cup of joy with Him.

Both looking back and looking ahead can have an effect on our living now. Both, too, can affect us for good or bad.

A personal relationship with the Saviour is a pressing need for the saint as well as the sinner.

As the day draws to its end, and the shadows of evil close around us, let us not forget that another, better day is coming.

In a desperate hour for his country, Winston Churchill offered nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat. The language is also remarkably apt in describing the Christian’s passage through a dark and hostile world.

90

If we hold fast the head, we shall hold each other.

The Bible is a rock from which all the hammers of criticism have never chipped a single fragment.

If the Bible is trustworthy, then we must take seriously its claim to be more than trustworthy.

“It is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118: 8).

Getting a prediction right did not make a man a prophet in biblical terms. The test was far more stringent––he was never to get it wrong (see Deut. 18: 22).

If the earth got out of right relation with the Sun, disaster would be the inevitable result. So it is with Christ and the Assembly.

Men have their heroes – Christians are to be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5: 1).

Every believer is a priest and has direct access by the Spirit to God in prayer and praise. Show me a religious system that is not designed to thwart that access.

When Abraham and Isaac went to worship (see Gen. 22: 5) what was their focus? Death - the death of one that was loved!

91

“This man receives sinners” (Luke 15: 2).You can sneer at it, laugh at it, or thank God for it.

You may depend upon it that Scripture puts things far better than we can. It is much better to accept things as Scripture puts them than as we think they should be.

A doctrine cannot be proved by the number of its adherents, or by the length of time during which it has been received.

Strange fire (see Lev. 10: 1), in the present day, is whatever is not of the Holy Spirit.

The Father: “No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him” (John 6: 44). The Son: “No one comes to the Father unless by me” (John 14: 6). The Holy Spirit: “no one can say, Lord Jesus, unless [in the power of the] Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 3).

Only those who worship within the veil, can live outside the camp.

If, like Lot, you have a tent without an altar, you will soon give up the tent.

There was no inventing in Eden for there was no need.

It takes a funeral to bring the Lord's people together these days - sadly, the showing forth of His death will not do it.

92

What God scatters, the devil unites; what God unites, the devil scatters.

We do not know what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future.

Musical instruments, “lifeless things giving a sound” (1 Cor. 14: 7) originated with the line of Cain. Not until God’s people were redeemed (see Ex. 15) do we read of singing.

“A morning without clouds” (2 Sam. 23: 4)––when the glory of Christ can shine unhindered.

Attendance at the prayer meeting is a measure of our dependence.

Trials can bring the best out of us or the worst, what is of the Spirit, or what is of the flesh.

Critics come and go, but the Bible remains.

‘Just a forgiven sinner’ is man’s thought, not God’s. Man thinks only of mercy, God thinks also of grace (comp. Luke 15: 22–23).

The Bible presents Adam, the first man, as historic (see Gen. 5: 3; Luke 3: 38). Christians should not fall into the trap of using the expression "prehistoric man".

93

Worship is now entertainment, evangelism merely a branch of marketing, and conversion a question of meeting God on my own terms. What will be the end of these things?

“I will not leave thee”—wonderful promise—“I will not be afraid”—wonderful faith (Heb. 13: 5, 6).

Be wary of any Christian who reacts negatively to the Word of God—particularly those in positions of leadership.

God desires my blessing—that is a thought that bears much meditation.

If the Lord Himself ceases to be the object of ministry then some form of compromise will inevitably follow.

The understanding of Scripture depends as much on what is in the heart as on what is in the head, if not more so.

Some cause trouble and others avoid it. The way of faith is to face trouble and pursue peace.

The best ‘theological college’ is among the saints—reading the Bible together, praying together and worshipping together.

94

“For you”––there is His love; “in remembrance of me”––here is our response to it (1 Cor. 11: 24).

If you divorce the Gospel from the Church you will get evangelicalism rather than Scriptural Christianity.

One stone cannot make a building, nor do stones choose their own place in the building (see 1 Pet. 2: 5).

In Christianity there is a unity, not of a nation, and not only of family, but of the members of one body.

It is said that we are to accept lower standards today because circumstances are different to those our fathers experienced. Follow the logic through and we have a recipe for ever lower standards as each generation passes!

People speak about believing in God, but the Gospel really goes deeper than that. It is do you believe God ––believe what He has said?

God dwells not only in a “high and holy [place]” but also “with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Is. 57: 15). We neglect this side of our Christian character to our loss.

95

What cannot be proved from Scripture cannot be necessary for our salvation.

The more we count our blessings, the more we realise that they are uncountable.

Sometimes we think that God isn't doing much in our day. We need to look behind the scenes.

Not only could we not pay the price of sin, we could not even measure the cost.

Increasingly, things are done, not because they are in the Bible, but because other Christians are doing them. The test is no longer ‘Is it Scriptural?’, but ‘Is it fashionable?’

Sight may have a reward but only in this world. Faith has a certain and glorious reward in the next.

‘What can I do?’ is not the same question as ‘What wilt thou have me to do?’

Relax and you will always give up. Holding fast requires constant, unremitting effort.

We live in strange times. To be in step with the Lord may involve being out of step with his people, being in step with His Word being out of step with their words.

96

Truth cannot live without warfare in a world away from God.
 
There is nothing more uplifting than to meet a soul who loves Christ.
 
Gift and spirituality are quite separate and distinct.
 
Not only could we not pay the price of sin, we could not even measure the cost.
 
That He offered Himself (see Heb. 9: 14) is wonderful beyond words. That such a One could do such a thing!
 
Following the herd is not the same as following the Shepherd.
 
The Word of God is like an arch of bricks. Knock out one brick and you never know which one will go next.
 
A house doesn’t fall apart overnight. It only does so because of years of neglect. So it is with things ecclesiastical.

97

The world is ripe for judgment. Is the Church ripe for rapture?

If you believe the Gospel is good news, how can you keep it to yourself?

How much there is to give God thanks for: what He has done for us, what He has done in us and what He has promised to us.

Tell me what you know of Christ and I will tell you where you are as to your Christian experience.

The Lord’s day is the LORD’S  day, whether you are on holiday or at home.

If churches cannot get people in, then “Go into all the world” (Mark 16: 15) might be the answer.

God loved the world (see John 3: 16), the Father loves the Son (see John 3: 35) and Christ loved the assembly (see Eph. 5: 25).

In the thirty years of His private life Christ set forth what a man was to God; in the three years of public ministry He set forth what God was to man.

We once heard a Christian remark of another, with gravity and a tinge of sadness, ‘Well, if we could buy that brother at the price we put upon him, and sell him again at the price he puts upon himself, we would make a huge profit!’

98

‘Someone advised me to’ will not sound good at the judgment seat of Christ! We need more personal communion with God.

It is one thing to be full of what you can do for Christ; it is better to be full of Christ.

Men preach tolerance until they are faced with biblical truth—at which point they become markedly intolerant.

We ought not to read Scripture as a formal task or duty but out of hunger.

A shared ecclesiastical history is an inadequate basis on which to form links of fellowship.

To be an ambassador for Christ you need to have been sent from the court of the King. Speaking for Christ is not the same as speaking on His behalf.

The same apostle who was used so that “all that inhabited Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19: 10), lived to pen the sad lament that “all who [are] in Asia ... have turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1: 15).

The flesh may set up to be energetic in service, to be profound in humility, to be intelligent in the things of God or to be devoted to Christ, but it will always break down.