A Beginning Testimony
A FOUNDATION GUIDE FOR THE ASSEMBLY
[Some understanding of the scriptural assembly locally and worldwide, and in testimony as shown in the revival of 1827 AD which first met in a home, and is now in many cities and countries worldwide.] - By R. DeWitt, '07; rev. 03/17
Some Christians are associated with so-called High Churches who have a formal hierarchy of priestly men and many rituals, with their doctrines, rules, and form; some believers are at the other extreme with various independent, casual, and open sects who follow varied innovations to make them appealing and popular with men; and many Christian groups are somewhere between these. We need, rather, to endeavor to be yielded to God's Word, and that is what the fellowship from circa 1800 is about. A few thoughts are here from other papers to help Christians, who have never heard of the revival of AD 1827, and were not reared within a scriptural assembly.
The Gathering Place according to the scriptural order for the church, is probably not like anything one has known from the various Christian gatherings they have seen in the world, who often denominate: take a name, have a hierarchy of leaders, follow rituals, ceremonies and rules, may embrace worldly ways, have entertainment and activities, programs, innovations, etc. Others form independent gatherings in homes and do whatever they all agree to do in the name of Christianity; yet also fail to bow to Bible-only like all the various man-made religions.
While many intended scriptural assemblies begin in homes until they grow larger, they need to do it in fellowship with the universal Church as God established for some help, rather than independency which is divisive (note 1Cor. 12:25); and certainly not to be exalting certain men among them. There are various ideas developed to please man, rather than true to the Word of God. One needs to decide if they want to be a part of a scriptural assembly as a worldwide fellowship in "unity of the faith" as God ordained, and as a local expression of that, or just follow traditions and the popular ideas of men.
A true believer ought to seek to know church truth, church history, talk with the elders associated with the gathering, be baptized, pray much, and be an observer for a time before asking to be received into that scriptural fellowship, for unity with the revival of 1827 after the biblical order. It endeavors to hold to Bible-only for universal unity. Reception is not dependent on knowing all the Scripture, and one should come simply in faith as a learner. One should come with the thought of "one accord" as shown and in truth. Certainly, we do not expect perfection with any saints, but God has preserved the testimony and pathway that He ordained.
The Word Of God should be our only authority for the Christian faith, not rules, creeds, the reasoning of various men and personal preferences. One should study the Word, seek some counsel from sound Bible teachers, and pray earnestly. Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL is a sound source of church history and ministry.
The Assembly Life concerns Christian love, happy fellowship, and the various Bible meetings and function as in Acts 2:41-42 and the Epistles ---a Godly spirit, and the care and fellowship for all the saints. Some small gatherings in homes grow to need a larger building in time for the assembly. One should stand apart from various sects and appreciate the truth of expressing the "one body of Christ” as given for the church, rather than the independent ways or mergers of the various religious sects of men. Mergers are not scriptural. A seeker ought to learn such as the ground of gathering, the history of the gathering, the form of gathering, the functions of the gathering, the priesthood of the gathering, etc.; all to know if God is honored, the Bible is followed, and there is liberty of spirit.
The Holy And Royal Priesthood (1 Pet. 2) is a precious truth given all saints, and something different than one will find in the various sects and systems, where the liberty and gifts of God's calling and participation is not allowed. One should study this and value the priesthood of the saints. Men are not called to make rules for others.
The Order And Government Of God speaks of the scriptural form of the collective gatherings, unity worldwide, a Godly spirit, correction of waywardness, and honor to God; and God's mind and purposes for His testimony from the beginning of the church. This is by sharing of all the gathered saints and some guidance by elders. The saints worldwide should be essentially of one mind before God.
The Honor And Glory Of The Lord ought to be paramount among the saints in the assembly and in our personal life, rather than pleasing men with their religious ideas.
The Collective Worship And Ministry speaks of the Lord's Table and the Supper as worship in both a collective and personal way by the working of the Spirit (Matt. 18:20), and the ministry shared in Bible studies and in messages delivered among the saints needs to be sound and esteemed; and those visitors in the "room (place) of the unlearned" can profit from it, as God says (note 1 Cor. 14:16) .
[It is important to appreciate that in all this it is speaking of God's standards and testimony in the world after His order. There is no such thing in the Holy Scriptures as "a church of your choice", so one ought to seek to find what God intended for the church, rather than look for a popular place of convenience and our preference. One can learn more about such a fellowship at the site: www.biblecounsel.net and ask questions there. One cannot speak for others, and surely each child of God ought to pray earnestly to find God's mind for one's pathway. – RLD: CF15]
[What is the life in abundance that God speaks of John 10:10; 2 Pet. 1:11; etc.?]
Recently I was in a large and prominent book store and observed a number of books being promoted in the religious section on the subjects of "Think Better And Live Better"; "Living The Christian Life"; "The Life Of Abundance"; etc. One might think they would point a reader to the Gospel (good news) message of Jesus Christ, but that was not much in evidence. While they allude to God, the Lord Jesus is only mentioned in some of them, and the few references are about His example for man and some of His teachings of goodness. Some are counseling readers to trust a god (whatever one conceives that to be) and allows choice in having a god; then proceeds to advise one to have confidence in self, be positive, and trust all will work out well if one has a good attitude ---which is the philosophy of Humanism.
Most sound Bible teachers see that we are truly living in the end-times that the Holy Bible speaks of, and an age of humanism in more recent times, it appears ---which promotes trust in self and our basic goodness and creative genius. The Bible tells us our basic nature is SINFULNESS. Should not the Word of God be our authority for this? What does the Gospel message of Christ tell one ---found in all the four Gospel books of the Bible, and in the Epistles (especially in Romans)? What is our source for eternal matters and the abundant life God speaks of? Everyone needs to know this for their own good, and it is available for all in God's Holy Word! Are we reading a sound Bible daily, weekly, or not at all?
It is important that a reader also distinguish between the Old Testament of creation, history, and the religion for God's covenant earthly people of Israel; and see the fulfillment of that foundation and type which has come in the New Testament, for both Israel and the Gentile world. As the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6); and this is not speaking of just following His teachings, but receiving HIM ---the annointed Son of God, and communion with Him personally with faith as one walks through this world (note 1 Jn. 5:10-12). Let us value God's immutable Word and be reading it daily for hope and blessings!
- R. L. DeWitt: Rd-M: 12/16