APPRECIATING SCRIPTURAL ORDER
[Letter about differences in the scriptural assembly and the various sects ---adapted some for ministry and to avoid personal references]
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know that some new believers, especially young people, are disappointed to find the Bible-only assemblies among this worldwide fellowship as not “exciting”, as you say, but one needs to ask self why the meetings are not interesting to him/her. We surely are not occupied with entertainment, having thrills, etc, for that is not God's mind, but we should have happy fellowship together in communion with God as given.
If the gathering is true to the Bible as God's Word, then we as believiers in Jesus, the Christ of God, ought to do what we can to support it, for our spiritual life before God depends on this eternal truth. Social activities and fun times should be outside the assembly meetings, and within it is about learning about our Creator-God, His great salvation for our eternal soul, and enjoying His love and care and promises. Worship in thanksgiving is paramount, and the Lord's table and His supper there must be honored. That will satisfy and bless the real faithful "child of God".
I can appreciate that in some small gatherings spiritual gift might be limited, and some of us fail to be the kind of shepherds we should ---we all need to be more stirred up and careful. We must not fault God and His orderly gatherings, however, for our worldly interests and personal failures; and we need to ask self what we are looking for, and if this place is a true scriptural fellowship. That is the real issue, not whether we have interesting activities. A faithful believer needs to be conformed to God, and not put ourselves and interests forth as the ideal. What is your interest, friend?
Study of God's message by His immutable Word in our Bible, and being with those who are also happy to know God and His many blessings, needs to be our thoughts. As a song writer has said: "life at best is very brief, life the falling of a leave ....be in time", and that speaks of the brevity and urgency in our sojourn here to find salvation; and it also should speak to the believer of our need to be in conformity to the mind and ways of God.
There is surely failure among us, but having been saved at a time when I was yet with a religious sect of men, I know something about divisions and internal discord there. I had tried several sects before I was gathered here as to the Lord and Bible-only. All Christians have the problem of the flesh, and each believer ought to exercise his "holy" and "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2) to shepherd others, not just sit back and expect that of someone else (and surely not to hire one to do it and the leading). I need to always point the finger at myself, and ask what I am doing to help the fellowship. Leaving does not help anyone. Remember, it is God’s assembly (if scripturally established)!
Having said all this, dear brother, I would like to share some further thoughts about this fellowship and why I am still here over 60 years. I am not being critical of you or any others, but I want to always help Christians to understand and appreciate the ground of gathering for God's honor and glory. It MUST be Bible-only!
God's testimony in the world has more to do with the mind of God and His purposes than our reasoning, likes and dislikes, entertainment, activities, programs, and the appearances of things. We must gather according to the Word rather than religious ideas people have. One can see in the tabernacle in the wilderness with Israel, that the pillar of fire and the cloud of witness remained where God placed His testimony, regardless if some chose to leave. This is a critical thing to understand in connection with the ways of God, and not just regarding Israel.
I am glad you value a place where they seek to preach Christ, and I do hope you can grow spiritually and learn the Word. At the same time, I have to say that my experience has shown that when a preacher in the denominations who has gift and can build a happy church group, finally leaves, much can change for much is built on his personality. We are not gathered to personalities. Since we here do not invest all ministry in one preacher, and do recognize the "priesthood" of all believers (1 Peter 2), we are not greatly diminished if one leaves, though we are saddened. God shows the need for evangelists, pastors, and teachers (always in the plural in an assembly) to balance the ministry and ensure one brother does not lead all astray.
In the Word of God I do not find such a thing as "the church of your choice", as many Christians like to say. God never gave us a choice. Sectarianism is not true to the Word. There is "one body in Christ" (I Cor.12 ---and note v.25). We need to take "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
God's testimony in the world is not a thing of "choice", but is according to His mind, and we are bound to maintain His work (if we hope to honor Him). We should not bring the world into the assembly. Just as faithful saints of old knew, the gathering place means something special to God, even if we would like to add innovations to please self, or we have trouble getting along with some brothers. We must yield to God!
One of the first things a sincere seeker needs to see and appreciate is church history, and that good revival of the early 1800's. If one does not see that, they will likely think any place that Christians choose to gather and set up a sect is alright; but that divides the truth of "one body in Christ". Through the years some have left this ground and fellowship and set up their own tables, which surely dishonors the Lord. A study of the Word should show us the truth of the church as "unity of the faith" in the world.
Well, I will not go on. I surely do not want to trouble you, dear brother, but wanted to share some thoughts about the Word and God's honor. Look up always, and if I might be of any assistance to you, please let me know. It is good to seek answers regarding the mind of God.
- Ever in Christ by grace alone, Robert DeWitt: 03/04; add: 08/17