CHURCH TRUTH - Bible Counsel - Section C
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For saints who value
There seems to be three great spheres of Christian experience: Redemption Way, Church Truth, &
Spiritual Life (John 14:6). Most believers can ap-preciate redemption way and spiritual growth, but church truth seems to be much neglected. We need to take "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
It is not required by God to be gathered in a scriptural assembly, but there is and will be blessing for saints to meet on that ground and part of a collective testimony worldwide, as God intended for His church, and by His revival of 1827 AD. Faithful readers here can gain some understanding of such fellowship, and may desire to be associated to also express the "one body in Christ", embrace "all the counsel of God", and show forth "unity of the faith" by the "Word of Truth". There is no such thing in the Bible as going to "the church of your choice", as many believers say. Write to the Site Manager for further understanding and to find a Scriptural fellowship.
CHURCH TRUTH is about faithful compliance and conformity to what God intended in Acts 2: 41- 42 at the beginning of the church, and then the Epistles. It speaks of obeying and honoring God collectively without innovations. One who is saved (Jn.3: 16) ought to follow the Word (see Jn.14:23-24; Jn.17:17; Titus 1:9; Phil. 2:2); including baptism, the gathering locally, the collective testimony in the world; and obedience to the Word, a Godly walk, the Lord's glory and honor, etc. A local gathering in accord with Scripture may be near to one to visit, if interested.
From time to time papers will be set forth here and on the Feature Pages herein, concerning various aspects of this truth. We ought to love all saints everywhere and be a help, even if we cannot walk with all. - RLD
NOTE: When we speak of a scriptural assembly we need to be prepared to show what it is biblically, and what it is not by the innovations of men. This writer feels free to invite inquiry on each issue or order of Scripture ---and distinguish between what men have invented (and often prefer), and what some of us are holding as true to God's Word and that recovery of 1825 AD. One might disagree, and that is a choice, but Scripture is quite plain as to what God has intended for His testimony in the world. One can write for help herein to find such a fellowship.
- RLD 08/15
W H E R E A R T T H O U ?
When "The Lord God called Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" (Gen.3:9), it was not at all a question of God finding Adam; rather, a soul searching indictment of a fallen creation. Adam left the place of blessing and fell in sin (Gen. 2 & 3)---so we received the malady of sin, and God might well say to man: "Look and see where thou art"; and to His saints who left their first love in ages to follow: "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works" (Rev.2:5).
A FAITHFUL WALK
Dear "born again" saints (John 3), where are we today as the redeemed of God who trust in the Lord Jesus? One speaks not of our standing, but of our state. Real Christians have been lifted up to a perfect standing with God, through that great love and sacrificial work of Christ which we have received in Him; so we know we are saved from eternal condemnation by grace, and are the children of God by birth and by adoption. Praise God for that! It is not now our soul's STANDING, but our spiritual STATE that should concern us, like the prodigal son (Luke 15).
After one becomes a child of God, by the spiritual new birth and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3; I Pet. 1:3-5; I John 4:9-15; I John 5:1-4), God intends that the believer should be faithful and obedient. He or she should be GATHERED according to the Scriptures, STUDY the Word of God, EXERCISE their priesthood in worship and in preaching the gospel, expressing the "one body" (note 1 Cor. 12:25), and YIELD to the leading of the Holy Spirit. How should one worship and what should one witness? Surely one should "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39; Acts 17:11), and learn the ways, purposes, and mind of God.
Believers ought to preach the glorious gospel message of salvation in Christ to others, that they may come to know Him, too. They ought to understand worship, and the value of the sacrificial blood, our eternal security, the meaning of the dispensations (God's administrations), and the coming again and reign of Christ; yet, so often we hear of some social gospel being preached, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of truth. Often the Christians are listening to religious ideas around them, rather than the Word of God. Some social activity or religious entertainment in the Name of Christ, seems to hold more interest today than a Bible study. This is how bad teaching gets an entrance and prevails in our midst (Gal.1:6-7).
God has a place for His people today---a place of blessing. He never left us to wander in the wilderness. There is a path provided (Job 28:7-8; Jer.6:16). When God comes "walking in the garden", as it were, will our shame cause us also to hide ourselves, like Adam and Eve? Have we left our first love? There is an urgency about this matter, dear child of God, for "the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:8). There are many voices saying: join this thing or do this work. True Christians must hold to the Word and yield to the Lord. We must return and "do the first works", then we will honor Him and receive eternal rewards. It has often been said, obedience and happiness go together.
A FAITHFUL GATHERING
Whenever a gathering of Christians meets on the ground of independence, rather than the "unity of the faith" universal as God enjoins us, they become a sect. Choosing a way separate from our brethren who value BIBLE-ONLY and are on scriptural ground, is heresy (I Cor.11:19). This is contrary to the mind of God, for the universal church (God's called out assembly) is established as "one body" (Eph.4:4-6) ---"Is Christ divided?" (I Cor.1:12-13). All the "born again" believers in the world make up that body, and the gathering in a locality ought to express or show forth that oneness in the scriptural way, in happy fellowship with Christians gathered thus elsewhere. We are not talking about inter-denominationalism or mergers.
Independent gatherings set themselves apart from others on the scriptural path by taking a name, establishing their doctrines, creeds, and practices. They thereby deny the true gathering center, the scriptural order, and the "one body" of Christ (Rom.12:5; Rom.16:17; I Cor.12). That is a sectarian spirit, whether it is one gathering or an association of gatherings.
God's assembly is not that which men organize and set up, but the Spirit of God, and the saints are called unto the Lord there (Matt.18:20). It is a place where God sets His "candelstick" (lampstand testimony - Rev.1- 3). He never gathers to rival centers. The gathering must hold only the Word of God, which makes provision to encompass and embrace every child of God; notwithstanding that many Christians choose to not be part of that universal testimony in the world:
a) Gathering to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Matt.18:20), not to popular personalities, which usurp the Lord, and sectarian systems---limiting other believers who want to hold to the Word of God.
b) Receiving "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), "rightly dividing the Word of truth" (II Tim.2:15), not traditions, entertainment, creeds, rituals, hierarchies and pledges; programs, religious ideas, emotional experiences, and unscriptural things which are for the flesh.
c) Expressing the oneness of the body of Christ in the world (Rom.12:5; I Cor.12:25), not independency, nor mergers and unions, organizational membership, etc., which is the deceit of Satan to divide the saints and compromise the truth.
d) Acknowledging the priesthood of believers (I Pet.2:5,9), not titles, offices, hierarchy, dominion over the saints with selected ministers to lead, preach, and manage ("nicolaitanism", Rev.2:6), etc., which denies liberty.
e) Trusting the Lord and His Word as the only authority and path for the Christian faith, rather than man's preferences or reasonings, which will lead one astray.
f) Worshipping collectively as is pleasing to God, rather than innovations for the flesh, which is pride and entertainment.
g) Appreciating the assembly and maintaining God's order and government, rather than the governmental ways of men, which is unprofitable.
h) Yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit as in the early church (II Cor.3:17), not to ceremonies, schedules, plans, arrangements quenching the Spirit (I Thess.5:19), which dishonors God.
There is room for conscience in the Word of God, but the saints must not compromise the Trinity, the Person and work of Christ, and church truth. It goes without saying that we are talking only about a Christian assembly, not a mixed multitude with unbelievers. Public meetings to preach the gospel should be a separate work, and everyone should be invited.
Some inventions, errors, and unscriptural practices: * SECTARIAN SPIRIT * TRADITIONS * CEREMONIES/RITUALS * INDEPENDENCY
* CREEDS * DENOMINATED GATHERINGS * RELIGIOUS INNOVATIONS * MERGERS/UNIONS * ENTERTAINMENT/PROGRAMS
* ORGANIZATION/RULES * POLITICAL ACTIVITIES * TITLES/PERSONALITIES * SOCIAL CAUSES * HIERARCHY/DOMINION.
In the mind of man it seems impossible to have a gathering without the above organization, but when we submit to God and follow the scriptural path we see how the Spirit works. The body of Christ is then shown in a Christ-honoring way, and the provision is made for all the faithful saints. Those who wish to come out of the various division groups and go on as one in Christ, find there continues to be in this day such a testimony as in the beginning of the church.
A FAITHFUL QUESTION
Do you, dear reader, value the Word of God and have a heart to obey and honor the Lord; or do you have a religion with traditions, emotional experiences, or social activity that holds greater interest for you? We judge no one, but let us examine ourselves. What is the normal Christian experience for us? Is it that which pleases us, or that which pleases the Lord? Christ is the Head of the body--the church, so should we not yield to Him? Should we not obey His Word? Let us, then, look more closely at the redemptive way, church truth, and the spiritual life (John 14:6); and seek to grow (Heb.5:12).
God says, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psa. 133:1). Those of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts, should know Him as the Head of the body, the church---also know one another as brethren and members of the body (Rom.12:5). The apostle, John, said love of brethren is a sign of the new life we have in Christ (I John 3:11-24; I John 4:7-21). How is it that brethren are not dwelling together in unity? How is it that there is division among us, when God speaks of oneness (John 17:21; I Cor.12:25; Gal.3:26-28)? The apostle, Paul, knew it was coming because he knew the work of Satan and the carnality of the saints (Acts 20:28-30).
Are we satisfied with the state of the church? Will we perpetuate the division and say: "Go to the church of your choice", as we often hear Christians say? Those that are saved through the help of a faithful brother or sister, usually follow that one and join themselves to that with which he or she is associated. Does that make the place right? Is that the truth of gathering---wherever two or three may choose to gather? God says He gathers, and it is where He chooses to place His Name (Deut.12; Matt.18:20; Rev.2:1-7).
Let us then ask, where on earth is the scriptural order carried out, that we might assemble ourselves together for prayer and worship, to keep the "unity of the faith"? God says to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Heb.10:25). Does God have a place today like the early New Testament church, apart from the traditions and innovations of man? "Come and see" (John 1:38-39).
Dear saints of God, there are indeed Christians gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, who are expressing the truth (allowing for human failure). It is not a new thing. They have been holding forth that testimony throughout the world, since God revived church truth out of the denominated sects in the early 1800 AD century. Does the reader know about this?
We might lament the division in the church all about us, but that does not heal it. A sister in one of the denominational sects inquired as to the order and manner of assembly meetings, and when it was simply explained to her she said: "Oh, you meet like the church did in the beginning". What an amazing thing it is, to hear Christians make such observations, and then continue right on with their man-made organizations. A brother was heard to say one time: "We are not interested in that doctrine stuff". How sad!
One might say, but what about service? Well, godly service comes out of a godly life, not some organizational plan. One elderly brother said he had learned: "The outflow comes from the overflow". That's it, exactly. Our occupation with Christ will produce the work God desires from the heart. Do we have a heart for the Lord? So often we forget communion and worship, and rush off to do a work, and it often may be the flesh acting. We are individually responsible to our Lord, and may we be reminded that God wants our love, faithfulness, and obedience. No one will stand in our stead at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Will we be found faithful when He comes, or every man doing that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25)?
- R. L. DeWitt: CM05; 8/98; add 11/05
One will hear teaching and diverse ministry along our pathway from many sources . One should always test it by the Word of God (see John 5:39; Acts 17:11; II Tim.2:15; II Tim.3:16; Titus 1:9). Whether it is profitable often depends, too, on our state of soul. This paper is prepared with much care and prayer to be a help and honor the Lord. Comments and questions are welcome. - RLD