Chapter 9 - God's Provision for the Faithful

 •  30 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Listen from:
Separation from evil is, as we have seen, the first step in the path of obedience. Christendom, with its sects, its human organizations, its departure from the simple truth of God, has become the great house, and from all that is not according to God's mind, the obedient are called to purge themselves. We have seen that this may involve trial and isolation. But while it is quite possible that in walking obediently, in separating from all denominational ties, the believer may find himself absolutely alone, this is not the Lord's usual way. He may thus test our faith. Where He does so, however, the circumstances are peculiar, a departure from His ordinary plan for some special purpose. In most cases, where a believer thus takes a stand for the Lord against the world, he finds one or more who have been led in the same path, and taught the same blessed truths. If so, these can meet simply in the Lord's name; nay, they are bound to do so, for it is His own Divine institution. “Let us consider one another,” says the apostle, “to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Heb. 10:24-2524And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24‑25)). While on the one hand, the believer is to “depart from iniquity,” he is, on the other, to follow “peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” He cannot have fellowship with that which is contrary to the Lord's mind, and must therefore separate from sects; but he is to desire fellowship with all the Lord's people, and should there be any walking in a godly way, who are willing to meet with him simply in the name of the Lord Jesus, he is bound to receive them and meet with them. Were there but two persons in the world assembled in this manner, they would be the two meeting in the Lord's way and on the Lord's ground.
But though those gathered out in the Lord's name in any particular locality form a meeting there, this meeting is not independent of those who assemble in the same name in any other place. Though the Church is in ruins, the principle of the Church remains intact according to God's institution. Those who, in every part of the world, meet together in the Lord's name are all one, each local assembly being but the representative of the oneness in its own town or village, and exercising discipline there, not as an independent body, but in real concert with the whole, whose joint action is secured, not by any human organization or mutual correspondence, but by the oneness of the action of Christ in all the assemblies. It is a matter of faith, not of sight-but none the less, so long as Christ's authority is owned and felt, a Divine and blessed reality.
Is this, then, it may be asked, a restoration of the Church? And is the local meeting the Church of the place? No, by no means. The Church is the whole body of believers in the world, and the Church of any place is the whole body of believers in the place. It would lead to confusion, arrogance, and intense sectarianism if those meeting in this way made any such claim. They are neither the Church, which means the whole of the believers now living; nor a Church, in the unscriptural sense in which the word is now used, meaning a sect cut off from the rest of believers by human regulations and barriers. What are they, then? They are those who, amidst the ruins of Christendom, having separated from the sects which divide it, for none of which they can find any Scripture foundation, have come out simply to the name of Jesus, refuse everything for which there is no warrant in the Word of God, and own no guidance except that of the Holy Spirit. Though they are not the Church, therefore, they have reverted to Church ground, and their gathering is on exactly the same principle as that of the apostolic assemblies. True they are in the midst of ruin, and numbers of the Lord's children, being unseparated in heart or intelligence from the ruin, do not meet with them. In fact, they are a mere handful, despicable in numbers, in worldly influence, in everything that meets the natural eye or satisfies the natural heart; but they have taken God's ground, and represent, though of course with much feebleness and failure, God's order in the midst of man's confusion.
Having, then, taken Church ground, while they must carefully bear in mind that they are not the Church, they are entitled to reckon on the blessings, the governments, and the gifts which God has bestowed on the Church, except indeed, so far as these in their nature can only belong to the Church in its perfect condition. Being gathered together in the Lord's way, and in the Lord's name, they can count on His presence. Every local assembly met on this Church ground, though consisting of but two or three persons, has this to reckon upon, and where, therefore, there is real subjection of heart, unity of discipline and order is maintained between it and other gatherings meeting in the same manner.
As to local officers, it is true, they see no way in which these can be scripturally appointed. Both elders and deacons were ordained by apostles or apostolic delegates, and as neither apostles nor apostolic delegates now exist, they find no scriptural mode of ordaining them. What, then, must they do? Add to Scripture by inventing a mode of their own? Deviate from Scripture by allowing them to be instituted in a way different from that which is there directed? Assume that because no provision is made, God forgot to give us directions, or left the matter to our own discretion? Vastly different from any of these ways. Reckoning with unshaken confidence on the sufficiency of Scripture, assured that God would never neglect the minutest detail necessary for His people's guidance, judging the flesh according to God's estimate of it, and knowing that its wisdom would only darken God's truth, they conclude that since no provision is made for officers being appointed, God meant that they should not be appointed. There were no officers left, after the apostles and their delegates were gone, but bishops or elders and deacons. Now Scripture gives no sanction to the idea of bishops and deacons being appointed by other bishops and deacons, or by synods of bishops and deacons, or by any other officer above both (for after the apostles' time there was no such officer), or by popular election of the various assemblies. Yet in one or other of these ways, infinitely modified and varied, all appointments of officers have taken place and must take place. That is, there is no possibility of having officers at all, but by some plan which does not rest on the authority of Scripture.
Which, then, we ask, is the true attitude for the believer to take—to act for himself without Scripture warrant, or to refrain from acting at all because he has no Scripture warrant? When Israel stood on the borders of the Red Sea, the waters in front and the Egyptians behind, God's word was — “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:1313And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. (Exodus 14:13)). Man's restless unbelief wanted to do something; God bids him do nothing, but wait for His word and work. So, in the wilderness, “at the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched; as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle, they rested in their tents” (Num. 9:1818At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. (Numbers 9:18)). However trying it might seem to linger month after month, and year after year in the same place, however slow their progress might appear, however much fleshly energy might prompt them to press forward, until God's express sanction was given, “they rested in their tents.” Man might scoff at their inaction and call it foolishness; man might censure their long delays and ascribe them to weakness. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The Lord led them into the land in His own time and in His own way; whereas when, on one occasion “they presumed to go up unto the hill top” in their own strength and without the Lord, “the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah” (Num. 14:44, 4544But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. 45Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah. (Numbers 14:44‑45)).
Look, again, at the action of the returned remnant, in the days of Zerubbabel. Certain persons, supposed to be of priestly descent, “sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found.” What was to be done? “Decide the matter by human rules of evidence,” is the natural reply; “determine their status one way or other, according to the best light we possess.” So would man bring in his own wisdom in the things of God. But Zerubbabel was a man of faith. He would not act without God. No motives of expediency, to strengthen the priesthood, would induce him to put them in without Divine sanction; on the contrary, “the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim” (Ezra 2:61-6361And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: 62These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. 63And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim. (Ezra 2:61‑63)). What a lesson for the day of ruin 1 How blessed and refreshing the faith, which, in the absence of Divine guidance, refuses to act in the wisdom of the flesh, or on the promptings of expediency, but simply stands still and waits patiently upon God!
But if those meeting simply in the Lord's name find no scriptural authority for office, if they conclude therefore, that God did not mean office to continue in a ruined Church, are they, on this account, left over to the self-will of man or to complete anarchy? So far from it, God has graciously shown us in the apostolic history, that assemblies are not dependent upon office at all. The Churches in which Paul and Barnabas ordained elders had, as we have seen, gone on for a considerable period and in times of great difficulty and trial, without any such officers. Titus, too, was to ordain elders in cities where, until then, there had been none. Will the same grace and power, which kept these early Churches before elders were appointed, fail to keep those which are in the same position now? What resource had they? God Himself—that God who “is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches of the saints.” Shall I say — “God is not sufficient for me; I must have some other provision, and since He has not made it for me, I will make it for myself?” Alas, how dishonoring to Him is all this appointment of officers, all this framing of rules and constitutions, without the sanction, even in opposition to the teaching, of His Word!
And, if we look to the means, we see how God acts. He has given directions, which, if observed, will maintain order. Has He not said — “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:55Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)). Here we have a rule widely removed from democratic license on the one hand, and with no reference to office on the other. It prescribes that godly subjection to age and gravity which nature enjoins and the Word of God ever inculcates. Where the mind was simple, there was a spiritual discernment of those who were fitted to exercise authority, quite apart from any appointment to office. We see this in the exhortation of the apostle to the Thessalonians — “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you” (1 Thess. 5:1212And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (1 Thessalonians 5:12)). Here nothing is said about office, and as this epistle was written very shortly after Paul's brief sojourn among them, he must have deviated from his usual practice if he had appointed officers. Besides, how could they be exhorted to know them, if they had an official character? The natural meaning of the passage is, that there were certain persons qualified to bear rule and guide the assembly, and that there ought to be in the assembly godly discernment enough to recognize such persons, and godly subjection enough to own their authority.
This, then, is the Lord's provision now; and if there is a subject heart and simple faith, its sufficiency will be readily recognized; while, if we look at the sad history of the Church since the days of the apostles, we shall feel unfeigned thankfulness that the Lord has not perpetuated office in a ruined assembly, thus lending the sanction of Divine appointment to all the abominations and atrocities which have left their bloody mark on almost every page in the annals of ecclesiastical rule.
Office, then, has no longer any scriptural foundation, and to feign office, built on another foundation, is simply to use “strange fire” in the Lord's service. It is “the gainsaying of Korah,” who, instead of accepting God's ordinance, brought in man's rights, and set these up against the institutions delivered by the Lord. It is true, indeed, that thousands of the Lord's real and honored servants are themselves exercising, or acquiescing in the exercise, of unscriptural official functions. This shows that the Lord is exceedingly gracious, and will not withhold His blessing because of man's ignorance; but it does not in any way alter His order. Every Protestant knows what godly and devoted men there have been mixed up with the errors and superstitions of Romanism, but this does not make these errors or superstitions any better. We are bound to own all that is of God, and to love all believers; but this should not blind us to God's truth. One of the most fruitful sources of error in all ages has been thinking of good men rather than of God.
But though office has disappeared, gift is just the same as it ever was. Office, in a ruined Church, would only have lent God's sanction to man's disorder But man's failure and disorder have never hindered the outflow of God's grace. “The perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body of Christ “—this has been going on amidst all the lawlessness and confusion brought in by man's self-will. How perfect are the Lord's wisdom and grace! Had He combined gift and office, He must either have sanctioned man's disorder by perpetuating office, or have left His people to starve by withdrawing gift. He has separated them, and thus has been able both to withhold His sanction from man's disorder by abolishing office, and yet to minister to the needs of His saints, and send out the gospel of His grace to sinners, by continuing gift.
Gifts are for the Church, even the Church in ruin. At no time have they been withdrawn. At no time has the risen Lord ceased to provide for His own by evangelists, pastors, and teachers. In having gifts,
those who meet in the Lord's name, outside all man's divisions, are in no respect different from the rest of believers. But though they are not distinguished from others by the possession of gift, they are by putting it in its proper scriptural place. God has never in His Word authorized the restriction of gift to a particular local assembly; He has never sanctioned the combination of gift and office, so that gift shall be exercised by virtue of an official position; He has never given directions, in the assembly, for any person, official or unofficial, to prescribe the order of service, to regulate the persons by whom prayer should be offered, thanks given, praise uttered, or gift exercised. To say that this is necessary to maintain order is to say that God doesn't know how to keep order, but that man does. It is an addition to, or rather a deviation from, Scripture — a thrusting aside of God's way in favor of man's—a quenching of the Spirit, whose presidency is treated as a fanatical delusion and transferred to the hands of some humanly appointed official. Who does not wonder at the riches of that grace which could still go on supplying gift to His Church, even where it was so grossly abused!
Those who meet simply in the Lord's name have no choice but to revert in this matter to His order. Where there is any real spiritual apprehension of what it is to meet in that name as distinguished from human systems, there could be no thought of returning to the most unscriptural feature of those systems in superseding God's order by their own regulations, or in gagging and bridling the gifts of an ascended Christ by restrictions and conditions which He has never imposed. Instead of authorizing an officer for whose appointment they have no scriptural authority, to exercise gifts which he may or may not possess, and to shut out the exercise of gift by those on whom Christ has conferred it, they meet, owning no guidance but that of the Spirit, and leave the flow of praise, prayer, thanksgiving, exhortation, or teaching, in His hands. If the evangelist preaches the gospel to sinners, if a gifted teacher invites saints to gather for instruction, this is not a meeting of the assembly, and the gift is exercised, not in responsibility to the Church, but to God. There is no such thing in Scripture as the Church regulating gift, any more than converting it into a function of office. Those, therefore, who meet in the Lord's name only, and in subjection to Scripture, make no such attempts, hut leave the matter as God has left it in His Word.
But it may be asked whether great disorder may not thus come in. Even if, where there is faith, the Spirit's guidance is sufficient, may not dire confusion result from want of faith? Undoubtedly, if the flesh acts instead of the Spirit, disorder will ensue. But what is the remedy for this? Is it to provide for the acting of the flesh, by setting up fleshly rules, or to look to God that He will keep the flesh from acting? Fleshly rules cannot prevent the acting of the flesh, but they can regulate it. They can keep things going on decently in spite of its actings, thus covering up the evil instead of letting it come to the surface. Is this what a truly spiritual mind would seek? Is it not better that if the flesh is acting, its true character should be discerned? And what is God's remedy? In the Corinthian Church, the very thing dreaded had occurred, and that in a shocking and revolting form. How does God meet it? By recalling the Corinthians to His own order and mode of acting, never by authorizing them to set aside His order and make rules of their own. If the meeting was in so carnal a state that it could not keep God's order, how much spirituality would there have been in the rules it prescribed for maintaining its own? Surely this question should be pondered by those who imagine that God's order is not sufficient, and that the only way of preventing confusion is to substitute an order of man's devising.
But is not a regular, paid ministry sanctioned in Scripture? “Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so, path the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:13-1413Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:13‑14)). This undoubtedly authorizes, what no godly person would ever object to, contributions from those who possess means for the support of those who are laboring in the Lord. A person thus laboring is justified in receiving such gifts as from the Lord, and he is not a true servant if he feels humiliated by so doing. But does this provision justify setting aside God's order of ministry altogether, and substituting for it an organization of man's? It may be urged that unless a gifted person is confined to a certain congregation or circuit, unless the number of times he exercises his gift is prescribed, and unless the salary received is duly arranged, neither side has any certainty; the congregation may receive too little for its money or the minister too little for his labor. This is quite true, and what does it show? That the moment we depart from God's order, a low fleshly standard of thoughts, reasonings, and motives comes in. Not that I would for one moment imply that all, or nearly all, of those in what is called the “stated ministry” are actuated by the commercial motives here suggested. Thank God, there are and have been multitudes to whom the bare idea of bartering gift for gold, measuring salary by service, would be as abhorrent to their own thoughts as it is contrary to God's Word. But this does not alter the system. If what is called a regular, paid, professional ministry is to be introduced in the place of God's order, this commercial argument is what is urged in its defense; only showing to what poor, low thoughts we descend when we leave God's principle to bring in our own.
This ministry is man's ministry, and receives not a shadow of foundation, but direct condemnation, from Scripture. It was before any such human systems were devised that the words above quoted were spoken. Their application, therefore, was to something quite different from what is called the stated or professional ministry of our day. We see how it was meant to be applied in the case of the apostle. Though for special reasons he would receive nothing from the saints at Corinth, he did from other Churches. When he was in Thessalonica, the Philippians “sent once and again unto his necessity.” When he was at Corinth, he says, “I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2 Cor. 11:88I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. (2 Corinthians 11:8)). But how different this from what is called a paid ministry. Here was one led of the Spirit to give up his time entirely to the Lord's work. The Lord would not let him want, and He supplies his lack by putting it into the hearts of individuals or of Churches to contribute to his necessities. Does anybody say—But how can an ordinary servant trust the Lord? If his faith is not equal to the occasion, it is manifest that the Lord has not called him to go forth in that way, and he will simply make a mistake to his own grievous injury, and that of others, if he attempts it. In such cases-and they are the vast majority—the Lord's direction is that he should work for his living, and honest work will not in anywise interfere with the proper exercise of his gift.
And those who thus gather in the Lord's name, rejecting all ministry but that of His own appointment, will seek to follow Scripture also in the object of their meeting. Where God's thoughts are put aside in one way, they will soon be treated with contempt in all. Our blessed Lord, on His last night with His disciples, just before the agony of the garden and the still more terrible darkness of the cross, instituted a feast as a memorial of Himself, specially showing forth His own death. When in the glory, to the one apostle who had never known Him on earth, and knew Him only there, He rehearses, as it were this touching scene, and again presses the tender words — “This do in remembrance of ME.” Setting forth, as it does, in its very nature, the oneness of the Church, it is essentially an assembly—act, and, as might have been expected, was the act for which the assembly especially met. All the rest was, so to speak, by the way. The great object of gathering was thus to remember the blessed Lord in His own touching manner. One might have thought that if there was anything which even. a Church that had lost its first love would not thrust into a corner, it would be this memorial. But what has been done? In the great majority of so-called Churches the whole meaning of the supper has been lost, and it has been converted into a means of grace instead of an occasion of worship and thanksgiving. Even where it has been retained in anything like its purity as to object, man has thought once a month or a quarter was quite often enough to remember Jesus in His own way, and has diverted the first day of the week from the object of doing Christ's will, according to His parting request, to the object of seeking for edification according to his own thoughts. Surely first love must not only have been lost, but have degenerated into Laodicæn lukewarmness, before so heartless a refusal, or so indifferent a compliance with the Lord's last injunction, could have been tolerated.
Those who meet in the Lord's name will necessarily revert to apostolic practice and teaching on this point also. No plea of expediency, no pretense of active service in the gospel, will draw aside the heart from simple obedience, or cause any neglect of this exquisitely expressive moment of the absent Lord. Was He who instituted this feast more indifferent to the need of sinners than modern religious denominations? Was Paul one who indulged in the selfish enjoyment of the blessings he possessed, or careless of the spiritual darkness and death reigning around him? Should those, then, who seek, instead of following their own thoughts, to follow the Lord's command, and the apostle's example, be subjected to this reproach, they have only to “rejoice and be exceeding glad.” Their answer to those who accuse them is this, — “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye”; or again, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” The question is—Who shall be judge, man or God? Is the word of truth given for the believer to revise or to obey?
Such, then, is the course which remains open to those who seek to separate themselves from the ruin and confusion of Christendom, and walk with the Lord. To re-construct is impossible. As well try to put man back again in Eden. But to leave the paths of self-will and disobedience, to build again on the old foundations, to bow down before the sovereign authority of the Word—this at least is still possible; and we see what rich provision the Lord has made for those who would thus walk. Who would not rejoice, in the midst of conscious failure and weakness, to hear those cheering words, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept MY WORD, and hast not denied MY NAME!” (Rev. 3:88I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)).
But before we leave this subject, the question may be asked — “Have not those who have sought to take this place sadly failed? Have they ever realized this ideal unity? Or have they exhibited such a success as to draw others into the same faith '? “Have they failed? “Much, every way.” Have they realized the ideal unity? “No, in no wise.” And why? Because the flesh in them is just the same as the flesh in others. But it is one thing to fail, and another thing to give up God's ground. We are told to walk even as Christ walked. No believer will deny that in this he has signally failed. What, then, shall he do? Shall he say — “God's standard is too high. I will set up a lower one for myself?” The very thought is monstrous. And yet this is just what Christians have done with respect to the Church of God. They have taken a conception of their own, instead of God's, and because they can come up to the standard of the flesh, while those who adhere to God's standard fail to reach that of the Spirit, they rest satisfied with their own systems and reject the teaching of God's Word. Those who have sought to follow this Word as their sole guide have done so with much failure, with only “a little strength,” but while confessing it fully, they can rejoice that through God's grace they have been able to keep Christ's word, and not to deny His name.
Many doubtless have come into fellowship, drawn by the simplicity of worship or other motives, without fully apprehending the position taken with respect to the Church. When, therefore, a question arose concerning the oneness of Christ's action in discipline, some missed its true point, and while themselves clear from false doctrine, received those who still associated with the teacher who put it forth. This rendered them personally responsible for the doctrine, and separation became necessary. In many cases want of grace and want of love may have been shown. But this does not alter the principle, however much it should humble those who maintained it, and however diligent and earnest it should cause them to be in prayer for those from whom this painful separation had to be made.
But do not those meeting on this ground convert themselves into a sect by refusing to receive Christians associated with the various denominations around them? I reply, emphatically, that such is not their principle, though, of course, from ignorance or mistake, it may occasionally have been done in practice. The table is the Lord's, and any believer, not, like those just spoken of, responsible for false doctrine, has a title to take his place at it. A believer from any evangelical denomination, asking fellowship, would be received, provided he came duly accredited as to personal faith in Christ, and was not by his position in association with some false doctrine. But this is a totally different thing from intercommunion. Those meeting in the Lord's name and on the Lord's ground, not as a sect, but on the true principle of the Church of God, cannot possibly have anything to say to sects as sects. They have left them behind, as not of God, and can enter into no arrangements that persons shall break bread one day among the sects and the next among them. Surely if one were to wish to act in this manner, it would be due to him and due to the Lord, that the difference of principle should be pointed out to him, and that he should understand the inconsistency of meeting at one time on a ground which condemns all sects, and at another on a sectarian basis. No man of conscience or intelligence, perceiving the distinction, would wish to pursue such a course. But this arises, not from any desire to exclude such a person on the part of those meeting in the Lord's name, but from the manifest inconsistency of the conduct itself.
The question for the conscience is, not whether those who take this ground have failed, but whether the ground itself is the Lord's. Sects and systems of man's devising have been shown to be contrary to God's Word. To say, then, as many have done, that there is no escape from them, is to say that God has made no provision for His people to walk obediently. Surely every spiritual heart will at once repudiate so fearful and dishonoring a thought. But if God has marked out a path in which the obedient may walk, what is it? It is clear that we cannot get into this path until we leave the path of disobedience, and therefore the first step is to separate from all those sects and systems which, as we have seen, derive no authority, but receive condemnation, from the Word of God. Having, then, got out of the path of disobedience, what finger-posts has God set up to direct us into the path of obedience? He has given us His own Word to tell us how to meet. If, following that Word, we meet in Christ's name only, He has given us the promise of Christ's presence in our midst. If, in obedience to that Word again, we meet for the object which that Word prescribes, and in the dependence which that Word enjoins, bringing in nothing of man, but leaving everything in God's hands, He has promised us the guidance of His own Spirit. What do we want more? Is it a constitution? We have the Word of God. Is it a preserver of order? We have the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Is it gifts and endowments? We have the gifts and endowments of an ascended Christ. We may fail in faith; but God, at all events, will not fail in faithfulness.
And now, in concluding, let us cast back a brief glance over the ground already traversed. We have seen that God has set before believers a present and precious hope of the Lord's return to take them to the mansions He has prepared for them; that the world, having refused the One in whom all God's promises of earthly blessing centered, has been left behind, and will not receive the rich promises in store for it until judgment has been executed; that during this interval of Christ's rejection by the world, God is gathering for Him a heavenly people, His body and His bride, and that for this purpose the Holy Ghost has been sent down to form this people into oneness with their heavenly Head; that the people thus gathered out are heavenly in character, have before them a heavenly hope, and will share the dominion of Christ over creation as His heavenly bride; that while here they are not to expect an earthly portion or to seek after earthly power, not to mix themselves up with the world, as though they belonged to it, but, as those who partake of Christ's earthly rejection, to be separated from it and awaiting the heavenly bridegroom; that their responsibility is to bear witness for Christ here, showing forth the heavenly character and heavenly oneness into which they are brought; that in this testimony they have signally failed, not answering in any way to God's thoughts, but departing entirely from His Word, setting aside His order, showing to the world a divided Christ; and that the true path of obedience and subjection which the faithful are now called upon to pursue is to detach themselves from all the human systems, to gather simply to the name of Christ, to accept no ministry but that which He has given, no presidency but that of the Holy Ghost, and no rules and regulations but those enacted in the inspired Word. This may be a lonely and a trying path, but it is the path of obedience, the path of faith, and the path of blessing. May our hearts be led to walk simply in it.
Courtesy of Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: