Christ The Centre
by E. H. Bennett
THE will of the Lord is that His people should own no Name among men but His own. It was through His Name that as sinners, they each received the remission of their sins when they believed (Acts x. 43). It was by believing in His Name that they received eternal life (John xx. 31). In His Name, they present their prayers to the Father (John xvi. 23), and receive of the fulness of His grace. And it will be His Name alone that they shall bear when glorified and serving Him in heaven (Rev. xxii. 4). They are to be known among men as "Christians," the name which has been divinely given them (Acts xi. 26). Sectarian names divide and sunder those whom He died to "gather into one" (John xi. 52), but a true confession of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. i. 10), unites in heavenly harmony all whose hearts are as one to own Him as Head and Lord.
It is unto His Name that the assemblies of His people are to gather, and whether few or many, those who so gather have His own precious promise—good for "all the days" (Matt, xxviii. 20, R.V.)—"there am I in the midst " (Matt, xviii. 20). He is there to meet all their need, to give to them of His fulness through those He chooses and raises up to minister His Word, and by the Spirit to guide and control their worship (1 Cor. xii. 5). The early assemblies of the saints owned no Name but His as their centre of gathering, and no authority as their guide but "the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor xiv. 37), given for their obedience and for ours. How happy it would be if we simply went according to "that which is written," without departing from it in any detail! The Lord delights in those who honour His Name and keep His Word (Rev. iii. 8), even if they are only a despised and feeble few in the eyes of the world. But it is long since the traditions of men were allowed to come in and divide the once beautiful flock from the "One Shepherd" (John x. 16), some bearing the name of a leader, some of a doctrine, and others of a form of church government, which becomes their rally-point and a barrier between them and their fellow-saints. In order to be free to assemble in the one uniting Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be where we are at liberty to give effect to what He has commanded in the Word, it is necessary to separate ourselves from religious systems in which the traditions and commandments of men have made the Word of God of "none effect" (Mark vii. 13), and go forth unto Him without the camp, "bearing His reproach" (Heb. xiii. 13). That there are true children of God, many of them personally estimable and godly, actively spreading the Gospel, connected with some of these associations, we most surely believe, and seek to love and think of them as fellow-members of the one body, in which Christ is Head and all His people members. But the systems they are in being contrary to God and opposed to His Word, we cannot share nor can we go into these associations which deny the order of His Church, to share their fellowship there.