Brethren Archive

The Lordship of Christ

by Alfred John Holiday

Tom said ...

Interesting comments on Assembly Fellowship in the last section;

So that while on the one hand we do not find instructions given to six churches to combine in taking away the candlestick from the seventh, on the other hand we find no warrant for indifference on the part of six as to what is going on in the seventh church. 

The taking away of the lampstand seems to be equivalent to the breaking up of the assembly, or the taking from it that which distinguishes it as an assembly of God, and this is a matter that is kept within the control of the Lord Jesus. We may, and should be so in fellowship with Him, as to perceive and own what He is doing, but He does not tell us to do it. The difference may seem slight to some, but a little consideration will show us that it is one thing for the Lord Jesus so to deal with an assembly, that all shall perceive that He has removed the lampstand, and quite another for Him to delegate authority to a number of assemblies to remove it. The joining together of any number of assemblies to cut off another assembly, is an act wholly without warrant from the Word of God. But, on the other hand, we are plainly taught that we ought to be in fellowship with the Lord as to His earlier action in calling the offending assembly to repent, and also as to His subsequent removal of the lampstand where there is no repentance. And in all this there is to be not only fellowship between each separate assembly and the Lord, as to what He is doing, but, of necessity, also fellowship one with another about it. 

Still, this is very distinct in character from the commandment as to putting away an individual from the fellowship of an assembly. In that case, if the Word of God has been faithfully carried out, the offender has been put away at a definite moment by those who were commanded by the Lord to perform the solemn act. It would, therefore, be a matter of flagrant defiance of the authority of the Lord Jesus, for another assembly to receive such an one. But we have nothing similar to this in regard to our action towards an assembly that has gone astray. Here the Lord keeps the control in His own hands. He alone removes the lampstand, and it is our responsibility to take heed to what He does, so that we may acknowledge it in our own action. One result of this difference is, that all may not clearly recognise the Lord's action at the same time. Some may be fully persuaded that He has removed the lampstand, while others may believe that the assembly character has not yet been wholly lost, but that the Lord is still granting space for repentance. When, in obedience to the Divine commandment, an assembly have put away an unrepentant transgressor from among them, they can inform others of what has been done, and should be able to count upon all to act accordingly. But we cannot put our perception of what we believe the Lord has been doing upon the same footing, or claim that, because we believe that the Lord has taken away the lampstand, therefore all others shall acknowledge the same thing. 

But if in this, or in anything else, we go beyond the Word of God, we are practically adding to His Word, and He will presently have to reprove us as liars, because we presumed to give to our thoughts the authority that belongs to His commandments alone.

"But can it be the mind of God," some are asking," that there should be such confusion as exists to-day? Here is a company acting in such self will, that some of us cannot conscientiously acknowledge them as a church at all, yet others persist in maintaining fellowship with them. Thus, while we would not receive them if they came to us, we go elsewhere and find ourselves seated with them at the table. Is not this disorder? Assuredly it is, and disorder that we need to weep over. But there is something worse even than such disorder, and that is a man-made remedy. The disorder may exercise our consciences, and bring us in brokenness of heart to the Lord for help. But when we have adopted a human device for putting things right, confession ceases, and our hope of help from God is gone. 

Saturday, Dec 8, 2018 : 22:54

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