Two or Three

It would be out of keeping with the Lord’s mind if we should assume to be the collective thing; it would not be according to the truth. We are on individual lines now, in the public aspect; but after all, the principles hold – they are always workable; and the “two or three” of Matthew answers our position. But if we lose sight of the whole church, failing to own the dreadful breakdown, we shall be only a sect, and we shall not have the Lord.

(J. Taylor New Series volume 29, p. 300)

 

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A Letter to those who might know me

I am therefore seeking, with God’s help to produce some simplified summaries of helpful articles, papers and ministry, presented in a way that is more intelligible to Christians in the 21st century, and accessible using current technology, and above all free of sectarianism, the ministry being for the whole Church of God. I seek humbly to keep to the essential message, and cover it adequately without introducing my own ideas and thoughts. The site is in its early stages www.adayofsmallthings.com. Please have a look at it.

Not the ruler of the synagogue but a brother
Sosthenes

Dear brother or sister in the Lord

Having retired I have been seeking direction from God as to how to use my time, abilities and resources to His glory, whilst recognising limitations, both physical and above all spiritual.

As some may know I have done some translation work on JND’s letters, so his ministry has been opened up to me more freshly.  For many years I had regarded it as beyond me in many ways, and I would still say that it is as Peter said of Paul ‘hard to be understood’.

If that is true of me, what of my fellow believers, most of whom have not enjoyed the privileges I have had of being under teaching, and able to participate in reading meetings where this ministry, and that of others, were valued and generally felt to be of the Spirit of God.

I am therefore seeking, with God’s help to produce some simplified summaries of helpful articles, papers and ministry, presented in a way that is more intelligible to Christians in the 21st century, and accessible using current technology, and above all free of sectarianism, the ministry being for the whole Church of God.  I seek humbly to keep to the essential message, and cover it adequately without introducing my own ideas and thoughts.   The site is in its early stages www.adayofsmallthings.com.  Please have a look at it.

In order not to draw attention to myself, I am using a pseudonym, Sosthenes (he just wanted to be a brother). Sosthenes Hoadelphos on Facebook; @BroSosthenes on Twitter.

The ministry itself of course is not infallible:  and my simplified summaries are certainly not.  Without getting into arguments I would value the comments as to content or style by any who feel I have not explained things well, or have missed the point.  Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness Psalm 141:5.

I look forward to your comments, either by e-mail (Sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com) or by making comments on the site.

With love and greetings in Christ.

Your brother

Sosthenes

August 2013

ADOSS Newsletter – No. 8 – May 2014

Walking in the Light of the Assembly
Theological Seminaries
Baptism
Money, Money, Money,

Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother

sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com – 

ADOSS Newsletter No 8 – May 2014

Dear Christian Friends

Here is the latest ADOSS Newsletter

Walking in the Light of the Assembly

Special Note

Since writing this newsletter in 2014, I have come to it that much of what I had written was faulty. The biblical principles are of course right, but in the application of them we need to avoid what is sectarian.  In seeking to judge one, it is easy to slip into another.  In 2017, my wife and I had to leave the company of Christians we had met with for over 40 years – that was sad,  We have continued to seek to walk in the Light of the Assembly – but that does not need another book.  Hence I have withdrawn this publication,  Please feel free to contact me sosthenes@adayofsmallthings.com.

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 GodMaybe this is a good place to start.  Though we had best start on our knees first.

Baptism

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.

ADOSS Website

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.

Sosthenes

 

 

A Day of Small Things – Not drawing on Divine Resources

Who Hath Despised the Day of Small Things? – Zech 4:10

I speak of this [the feeding of the 5000], dear brethren, lest there may be any assumption or self-satisfaction with us. The position we are in, is a very, very humbling one — externally small, and weak. It is not, however, to be despised, for “who hath despised the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10. Divine resources are unlimited, but there is very little drawing upon them. The thing is to know how to draw upon them; to be in the secret of the Lord, and know what He will do.

Ministry of James Taylor Volume 19 p 424