Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother
ADOSS Newsletter No 8 – May 2014
Dear Christian Friends
Here is the latest ADOSS Newsletter
Walking in the Light of the Assembly
This subject has engaged me a lot recently, not least because Satan is doing his best to spoil what is closest to the heart of our blessed Lord. As soon as man’s mind, with its politics and organisational ability, starts to get involved the result is sorrowful. The service of praise continues; believers still enjoy bible readings and preachings, but is the Lord still the centre of everything?
Some years ago I was on a plane from San Francisco to Sydney. Across the aisle from me there was a family of Taylorite Exclusives. I cried to the Lord for a word for them. In my bag I happened to have a volume of James Taylor Sr’s ministry (that is the older JT – not his infamous son!). I found there something I have never found since, though I have tried with the ministry search engine. It read ‘There comes a time when we realise that the Lord is the centre, not the system’. So often we make the system the centre, our own sect, our little meeting, our circle of Christian friends or whatever, and we protect it in every way we can.
I am producing another booklet including a paper I have written Walking in the Light of the Assembly. It is still a draft, so I would appreciate yourcomments and suggestions before putting it forward for publication. I also include three helpful letters by Charles Coates, and one by J N Darby on the ‘Bethesda’ (ie Open) matter.
May we all have a greater appreciation of the infinite resources available to the Church of Christ, and be filled with grace. We have been forgiven so much, so we are to be ‘kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Eph 4:32).
Theological Seminaries – Do we need them?
There are many sincere believers, and sound teachers who work in these institutions. There are many earnest young Christians, men and women, desirous of serving the Lord, who attend them, and have gone on to serve Him faithfully. But is there any scriptural basis for them?
I have looked at a few websites recently and there are some noble statements. The Dallas Theological Seminary, for example, is very much influenced by the ministry of John Nelson Darby, and has produced some worthy alumni, such as my friend Paul Wilkinson. It states, ‘The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide.’ Nobody could criticise that – in fact the church needs more and more workmen. But what do many desire? A Doctor of Ministry degree? A wonderful graduation ceremony in robes? And how much does it cost? not that a degree should be without cost, of course. Timothy was told ‘for those who shall have ministered well obtain for themselves a good degree, and much boldness in faith which [is] in Christ Jesus.’ (I Tim 3:13 JND). They get their degree by ministering; they do not get their degree in order to minister.
Furthermore, like any college, it is a social institution with sports, clubs etc., and you only need to look at Facebook to see that. Nothing wrong, of course, with sport and social activities, but are they part of the church?
There was the School of Tyrannus in Corinth. It was a place to read and discuss the word, and for interested persons to come to the Lord. If it was a formal school, I don’t think it was more than a place of convenience for Paul. Then there was the home of Aquila and Priscilla. I don’t think either had a doctorate, but they were able to take Apollos (who maybe had one) expound unto him the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:26).
So, maybe the best place to learn is in the assembly. We are to learn in the school of God. There is a good book by James Butler Stoney (1814-1897) – Discipline in the School of God. Maybe this is a good place to start. Though we had best start on our knees first.
This is a subject which creates quite a bit of debate. Believers’ baptism, infant baptism, household baptism – which is right? Baptism by water puts us on Christian ground; it puts us into the house. It does not confer salvation on us. It does not put us into the assembly (or church) – By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body (1 Cor 12:13) – That is because of God’s work, and our faith, which itself is God-given. In an earlier project, I translated a very helpful letter, which I have put on ADOSS – see Why I could not be a Baptist. – Believers’ Baptism – Infant Baptism – Household Baptism – the House and the Assembly.
Even after a few months, the ADOSS website is getting a bit unwieldy. I am therefore reorganising it, using ‘posts’ rather than ‘pages’ and indexing using categories. Hopefully I shall avoid dead links, but apologies if you find some.
Money, Money, Money
A song of the world, by Abba, I think! But I really get upset when I receive messages, some in heart-breaking terms, asking for money. Maybe there is a genuine need; I don’t know, and cannot judge. I am happy to help a known individual who I have met, and shared Christian experiences together who have a need. Other than that there are organisations who know what local needs are, and are worthy of financial support.
I don’t like saying ‘No’, so please do not ask. I will just point you to our heavenly Father who knows what we need and will give us everything necessary to prove His goodness. Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.3But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:31-33)
May you be blessed
Greetings in our Lord’s name.