From Notes of Addresses
“Gather My people together,” has ever been God’s desire since He has had a people on earth. His intention always was to dwell among them, and on occasions He specially gathered them together. To this end He had the silver trumpets made, and there were those “holy convocations” of which Leviticus 23 speaks. Three times every year He called them together on a very large scale.
It is His delight to have His people together, and nothing more plainly declares it than the fact that at a much later day in their history, when things were terribly broken, He registers their gatherings and the theme of their conversations (See Malachi 3:16). In earlier days He had said, “Gather the people together, and I will give them water” (Num. 21:16). “Gather Me the people together, and I will make them hear My words” (Deut. 4:10). So He evidently loves the gatherings of His people. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Blessing is connected with it in this psalm.
Scattering is the work of the wolf. Aloofness is one of the characteristic marks of a bad condition. The fact that the Lord calls us His sheep is significant, for there is no more gregarious animal than the sheep. Danger and fear specially drive them together, but apart from that they love to live together.
The Lord Jesus spoke of our being “gathered together in My name” (Matt. 28:20). There it really is “TO My Name,” that is, His Name is the rallying point during His bodily absence. We get our being “gathered together” and “IN His name,” in 2 Corinthians 5:4. In His name, signifies as representing Him.
Christ is the centre of all God’s thoughts and purposes, and He will actually be the centre of all God’s people in glory. Meantime His Name is the centre of gathering for His people on earth. The fact that His Name is the gathering point indicates that He personally is not here. His absence has been occasioned by His rejection, and it is that which makes it necessary to have His Name as the rallying point while we wait for Him.
His Name—Jesus Christ our Lord—sets forth all that He is. It sets forth His character. Jesus, the Name given to Him when He became Man, bespeaks His humanity, yet it means, Jehovah Saviour. Christ and Lord are titles acquired by reason of His work. “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). As Christ He is the anointed Man. As Lord He is in the place of authority, and all God’s rights are vested in Him.
Now a false Christ could never be the centre of a true circle, according to God. To deny His deity, or His humanity, or His work, or His authority; is to proclaim you have a false Christ, and hence to proclaim the falsity of any claim to be gathered together to His Name. Moreover, we must each be in right relations with Him. We may have a perfectly true centre, but even then we can only have a correct circumference as every part of it stands in true mathematical relation to the centre.
We cannot say at all times, “We are gathered to His Name.” Indeed the Scripture does not speak of being “gathered to His Name,” but of being “gathered TOGETHER to His Name.” That is to say, the words do not describe a certain ecclesiastical position, but an actual coming together of God’s people. When actually gathered together with others it might be possible for us to apply such a word to ourselves. But only if we really gather in the truth of, and in the character of, Christ’s assembly.
It may help us to remember that a meeting of members of Parliament does not of necessity mean a meeting of Parliament. In the first case they meet as individual members in a voluntary gathering of some sort. In the second case the Speaker takes his seat in their midst, parliament is convoked, and they have collective powers of action which they had not before. A large number of members might have a meeting—300, let us say. That does not make their meeting a parliamentary session. They meet to gain information, to confer together and decide upon a course of action for themselves, but they can do nothing administratively. At a later hour exactly the same members may be assembled in the Chamber and the Speaker takes the chair. Now they become a corporate body, under one head. They now represent their constituents and can act on their behalf.
Now the assembly of God—according to His thoughts—is not merely a collection of believers, but a corporate body acting under one Head. It is composed of all believers united together under Christ. It fills a place in the purpose of God that nothing before ever did, and nothing in the future will ever do. An aggregation of individuals or “churches” does not meet the case.
There is no such thought in Scripture as a union of churches. A unity already exists—the unity which has been established by the Spirit of God between Christ, the Head in heaven, and His members on earth. Nothing can make it, for it is already divinely made; and nothing can mar it, save as to its outward expression while still the church is on earth.
Before Pentecost the unity did not exist. Then it was just Christ and His disciples, and the gathering in the upper chamber was of the nature of a believer’s meeting. The Holy Ghost came down, and He baptized them into one body, one living organic whole, vitalized by His life, energized by His Spirit, and to be directed by Himself.
If we would be truly gathered together to the Name of the Lord we must be very careful not to make His Name a kind of sectarian badge. That is what they were doing at Corinth. Some were Paulites, some Cephasites, others more pretentious than all, were saying, “We are of Christ,” as if they would make Christ the Head of a school of thought in contrast to, and better than, Paul’s teaching.
If we would gather together according to the character of Christ’s assembly, we must,
1. Yield to Him, and to His Name, the central place.
2. Be characterized by His love, reciprocating His love to us.
3. Be in subjection to His authority.
4. Respond to His claims, in the recognition of His supreme rights.