The Lord’s Day Service

So when we come together for the breaking of bread who should we thank? Who died for us? Who shed His blood? Whom are we remembering? – Jesus. Then I think it is best to address Him personally. He loves to hear us

bread-and-wineSome time ago I was talking to some Christian friends. The meeting that they had been going to closed, and they started to break bread at another Christian assembly nearby. They enjoyed the fellowship. The people there were committed (I know that because I know a few who go there), the gospel was preached, and in general they were well taught. But what upset them was the fact that the worship service on Lord’s Day mornings was limited to thanking the Father for His giving the Lord, and for His mercies. They did not even address the Lord Himself.

Admittedly they broke bread at the end of the meeting, whereas our friends were accustomed to breaking bread near the beginning, as we do at our meeting. We come together to break bread. We are to examine ourselves and then eat – that should be beforehand. So we should do it straight away (we just have a hymn to the Lord before doing so, to set us together). I know that in Troas Paul discoursed for hours beforehand, but I guess that was an exception. Paul was not a regular visitor!

So when we come together for the breaking of bread who should we thank? Who died for us? Who shed His blood? Whom are we remembering? – Jesus. Then I think it is best to address Him personally. He loves to hear us. Is it wrong to address the Father? A couple of years ago an elderly, and somewhat senile brother – but absolutely clear in the Lord’s things gave thanks to the Lord before the loaf and to the Father before the cup. That is what they did when he was young. We had a good meting. But I would not do that.

Then after the supper what? Is it not a time to express our love for God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

We can speak to the Lord about what He is, and what He has done – a completed work. He did it in view of the joy lying before Him (See Heb 2:12). We can enter into His joy. The first thing the Lord said after the resurrection was ‘Go tell my brethren’ (John 20:17). We can enjoy that relationship. Then He delights in His assembly. The marriage of the Lamb is future, but she is His wife now. And she can commune with Him.

His glory is in the praise of His Father. ‘The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:23). Clearly the Father is the object of worship in the Service of praise, and that involves the Holy Spirit.

This brings me to the question of worship to the Spirit. Some have difficulty about it, as there is no direct reference to worshipping the Spirit. Scriptures like ‘Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it’ (Num 21:17) help. Also in Philippians ‘For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit’ (ch. 3:3). Darby says ‘To worship “in spirit” is to worship according to the true nature of God, and in the power of that communion which the Spirit of God gives.’(Collected Writings vol 7- Doctrinal 2 p100 ‘On Worship’). James Taylor Sr. said, ‘If we worship God we worship the Spirit. He has part in the Godhead, and thus it is very simple and very practical, but very true, that the blessed Spirit, as having part in the Godhead, is worshipped’(Ministry – Vol. 67 page 515). It has been said that if you have a best Friend here, surely you can say ‘thank you’ to Him.

Worship should be spontaneous, springing up by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately we all know so many good phrases and it is easy to string them together forming a well turned out part. Which gives God the most pleasure – the erudite composition, or the simple ‘Thank You Lord’ from a sincere heart?

There has been much good ministry, leading to an orderly progression in the service. But the order is not the thing. There is no liturgy; there are no rules. After all, who is the Minister of the sanctuary? (See Heb 8:2)

PS I have refrained from using the expression’Holy communion’.  It is that, but the expression is often associated with book-read formality.

Sosthenes

October 2015

J N Darby – French Letter No. 129 – Encouraging a Labourer

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

 

Elberfeld – 29th October 1861

To Mr B

Look how long it is, beloved brother, since I ought to have written to you, and I had thought of doing it; but, always travelling or in conferences, and pressed by desk work, your letter has remained among the unanswered letters. I take the pen at last, and be assured that it was not a lack of will or interest, for your letter has interested me a lot as news of the brethren always does. A stop of two or three days following a conference allows me a little time to answer you. ‘Dolce far[29], I understand a little, but dolce farniente[30] I hardly ever get, while rest is in God and one does not fail to enjoy it. This gives us the power to work.

I have been told that you are established at V, so that your doubts as to your stay at St are over. I think however that you continue to visit G-I-P and other neighbouring villages, for there are open doors around V. Have good courage, dear brother. When God wills, we will harvest if we do not weary; and then His power is perfected in weakness[31]. Our brethren in V are quite independent, but I have always found a little affection in walking happily with them. One could wish that there would sometimes be a bit more order, but there is a good foundation. For the rest, it is Jesus who is able for all, and His grace which does all.

Who is working at St now? After all, if the meetings are happy it is the great thing. For St to begin at nine so to say is not evil. Do they still meet at G in the same place where they met in Mr L’s time?

As to your labours, dear brother, seek the Lord’s face and rely on Him. When the body is not robust, one is in danger of doing this as a chore, as an obligation, and the spirit becomes a bit legal, or even one yields to fatigue and is discouraged before God. The work is a grace which is accorded to us; be fully in peace and happy in the feeling of grace, then go and spread this grace on souls. This is true work: one can become very tired in body but sustained and happy, one rests under God’s wings; and takes up His labours until the true rest is reached. One renews one’s strength like that of eagles[32]. Always remember these words: “My grace suffices thee, for my power is perfected in weakness”[33]. May communion with God be your first concern, as the sweet relationships in which we are placed with Him. All is well when we walk thus; then one discovers and judges day by day all that hinders communion. Thus the heart is not hardened, or the conscience dulled, and one easily enjoys these communications of grace which give power. Yes, seek above all personal communion with the Lord.

As to your Italy, in effect all is quite dark, and not just Italy but the whole earth. Soon the world will no longer suffer from man’s ambition, only it will be stopped by Him who has the right to it. England, up to now so prosperous, is in difficulty like every other country. The American business tends to ruin it. In France, it is the same again; Austria, Poland, Turkey, are like the others. Here, workmen are without work; everywhere enormous preparations are made for war. How small the wisdom of man is! Why therefore? The Lord is coming and we belong to heaven. In the church, there is neither Greek nor barbarian nor Scythian[34]; we are Christ’s bondmen, sure of our Master’s victory, victory which will give peace to the whole world. In waiting, in this place where He has set us as a testimony to the real peace which God gives, may God’s love and grace which set us in an intimate relationship with heaven fill our hearts, and may we know how to bring to agitated and suffering souls the tranquillity and peace which nothing in this world can destroy. We are not of the world, as Jesus was not of the world[35]. Our life comes down from heaven and goes up there to its source. Keep there, dear brother. It is possible that we will have tribulation in the world, but be of good courage, he has overcome the world[36].

May God in His goodness keep all the brethren in this spirit, so that at least someone in the midst of this world of trouble and worry for such a great number knows to wear peace in their countenances, because it reigns in their hearts. All that happens, happens by the hand of God; not a sparrow falls to the earth with Him. He forgets nothing; nothing escapes Him. Then the Lord will come. Oh may the children of God think of that! I believe that this truth has more practical power in the hearts of the brethren in England. May God be blessed. Conversions are still numerous; meetings grow a lot, and new ones are formed. There is a little more devotion, and I believe a good spirit and unity. There are meetings which are ten times more numerous than last year, others twice, and although there was more activity than now and for some, the danger of being caught up in the current of revival, I believe that the brethren’s principles are dearer to them than ever. There are superficial elements in this revival more than in Ireland, but a lot of true conversions too.

Brother O is married and gone to Italy to seek the brethren; might it be possible or him to communicate with G or B if they are still there? As he has gone a bit for his health, he will not be visiting la Valais.

Greet all the brethren in V with much affection on my behalf; I am reminded of their good memory in their prayers.

Your very affectionate brother

______________

 

[28] most of this letter also appears in JND’s published Letters – vol 1 p317

[29] Italian for ‘pleasant work’

[30] Italian for ‘pleasant idleness’

[31] See 2 Cor 12: 9

[32] See Isa 40: 31

[33] 2 Cor 12: 9

[34] See Col 3: 11

[35] See John 17: 14

[36] John 16: 33

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 111 – News of the Work

Carlisle – 1874

Dear Mr P

Very dear Brother,

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

It does not go badly at X. God has raised up several workmen; there were some already but the wine business had done a lot of harm in this country. When I was there, although visits by brethren had been a bit revived, there was a lot of languor, even where at one time a lot of life was found. This weakness had left the door open to the entry of other Christians in the path of the work, and one could not reproach them. I thought that you could perhaps visit them.

… We have had good meetings; the Lord, in His great grace, is with me; several workmen are raised up; but there is now a mass of people who leave the systems without having well considered principles. This complicates the work a bit, but the brethren in general do not walk badly, and the work is fulfilled.

P has gone to Egypt, and R has left him and walks with the brethren; he has gone back to America.

At this time, I am making fuller acquaintance with the brethren from the north of England. We had a conference of workers during three days here, and I leave, God tomorrow willing, for Scotland. It is possible, God knows, that I will still go to America. The steam boats make regular trips between San Francisco and New Zealand.

I have good news of Switzerland. N devotes himself to the work in England, and in France we really need workers. Let us ask the Lord of the harvest. For my part, I find that everywhere where a testimony of Christ is rendered, simple and according to the fullness of grace, the attentive listeners are not lacking.

Salute the brethren affectionately… Peace be to you, dear brother, and may God direct you in your labours.

Your affectionate brother

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.
 

I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills – Psalm 121

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

A Song of degrees. 

1Psalm121I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

 

It is Lord’s Day morning. Instead of being at the Lord’s Supper, I am sitting beside my bed in hospital, having had a routine prostrate operation. Hopefully, God willing I will be out today. Meanwhile my wife is at the meeting; she will be coming to see me afterwards.

So I spent a little time with the Lord, thanking Him for what He has done, rejoicing in His resurrection and ascension, praising Him for His glory as the Son of God, glad to be one of His brethren and in a vessel which is so precious to Him, His assembly or church, soon to be united to Him in glory. Then I thanked the Holy Spirit for His service, taking the things of our Lord and showing them to us, but worshipping Him too, as being God – no less than the Father and the Son. Then trough Christ we have access by the Spirit to the Father, who sought and found worshippers. I was able to thank the Father for the Son, our blessed Lord who has brought the many sons to glory – and just to think that through grace I am one of those worshippers! I missed being with the brethren, of course, but what a privilege it is to give God praise and worship even from a hospital.

Then I got out my iPad and looked for a ‘morning service’. I found a site where a preacher, an elderly American gentleman, spoke from Psalm 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help (v.1). He prayed; he spoke of God’s goodness and the gospel and what Jesus had done and redemption was in His name. Then a woman sang ‘My Redeemer is faithful and true’. After that one would have expected the preacher to give the glory to God. Instead he read a series of letters from persons who had received blessing and ended with asking for money* to be sent to an address in South Dakota. What was the object of his preaching?

I don’t want to be critical. I am sure he loved the Lord and desired the blessing of souls. But surely worship is the object of the preaching. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

* Let’s face it. What were his costs? What are mine? Pretty well zero! You don’t need a studio/church; you don’t need professional broadcasting equipment; you don’t need trained singers and musicians. A home camera or video recorder, and a web-site or even You-tube are sufficient.

 

Sosthenes

January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

J N Darby – Little Flock No 411 – Lord! let us wait for Thee alone

 C.M.
1 Lord! let us wait for Thee alone:
Our life be only this –
To serve Thee here on earth, unknown;
Then share Thy heavenly bliss.
2 Lord, we would wait, in labour still
In Thy blest service here:
What Thou hast giv’n us to fulfil –
Thy will – to us is dear!
3 We well can wait! Thou waitest yet
The word of that dread hour,
Which shall Thy foes for ever set
As footstool of Thy power.
4 Yet, Lord! were once Thy will fulfilled,
How better far with Thee,
With Thee, our joy, our strength, our shield,
In cloudless light to be.
5 Lord, be it soon! Thou know’st our heart,
In this sad world, no rest
Can find nor wish but where Thou art:
That rest itself possessed!

 

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

Little Flock Hymn Book (1961/1973) No 411

Part of JND’s poem   The Call – What powerful, mighty Voice, so near, Calls me from Earth apart