First to the Lord, and to us
– Have we had it the Wrong Way Round?
If we desire to walk in the light of the assembly, we must always be mindful as to the One whose assembly it is. I look over some of the things I have written over the past few years, even on ADOSS, and see how much I have been governed by a mind-set, structured in accordance with right scriptural teaching, but without the Lord Himself as my prime object. What the Lord is looking for? Soundness of teaching is important, but it is not the most important thing. Being close to our Lord Jesus, and being true to Him, surely is. Many true believers without the teaching have a much closer relationship with our Lord and Saviour than I do.
A couple of weeks ago, I was writing to a brother, and the scripture came to mind in 2 Cor 8:5. ‘And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God’. Interesting: ‘not as we hoped’. Paul commended them for putting the Lord before them. Paul would not have wanted them to be in a subservient position, so ‘to us’, I take to mean Paul’s teaching and the practical fellowship and service to the Lord. That Saturday afternoon, a nearby gathering arranged a meeting for prayer to seek the Lord’s guidance, and I gave a short word, reading this scripture, and ventured to suggest we have in the past put things the wrong way round. It came to me that we have been relying on all that good teaching, the meetings and our relationships with our brethren – and then we have attached the Lord to what we have set up. He has been gracious and supported us, but is He saying ‘Put me first’
The Lord has given us an Opportunity.
It has been a very turbulent year amongst the Christians with whom we have been gathering. I do not want to go into details, other than to say we concluded that the ground of their gathering was sectarian. Many readers will be fully aware of what I am referring to. Whereas we had been in an average-sized company my wife and I are now breaking bread with just one elderly sister. Sadly, we felt we had to leave the gathering where we had been for 42 years and the brethren that we still love. Having been found in the situation, we broke bread simply, in answer to our Lord’s request, based on two-or-three gathered together to the Lord’s Name, and seeking to call on the Lord out of a pure heart (Matthew 18:20 and 2 Timothy 2:22).
Next, were there others with whom we could share full Christian fellowship? There are many gatherings nearby with sincere devoted lovers of the Lord Jesus, but are they gather on a sectarian basis, or are they run by human clerical organisation, or are they follow an open or independent path, not recognising the unity of the body. We can share experiences with individuals there, but cannot have part with them collectively. Thank God, we found three other gatherings, within an hour’s drive, with whom we can share full fellowship. They may be small, and we are having to travel more, but we are learning to work things out in love, above all putting our Lord Jesus first.
As to the future, who knows? God does of course, and it is for us to be with Him, and we are sure that Satan will attack. In the early 1800’s, many believers in small gatherings were moved to leave the organised denominations, where clericalism and established form has impeded the operations of the Holy Spirit. They did not know what the Lord was going to do, and that it would lead to a worldwide movement. It was said at a recent meeting, ‘When we come to practical fellowship, it is not for us to make rules, but to test everything – Is it in accord with the death of Christ?’ It is for us, first individually, and then as we find others, to seek to be faithful to Christ in the power of the Spirit, to walk simply as believers. Then let us see where the Lord leads.’
It is not an easy path. We have not been promised it. But it is a blessed one – and the Lord’s coming is very, very near!
‘Today if ye will hear His Voice’
My wife and I with some who had been through similar experiences (and a few others) met in Northern Ireland in October. I believe the Lord showed clearly in those meetings that there is ‘another way’. Accordingly, I have taken on the exercise of publishing these and other meetings. Under the title, ‘Today if you will hear His Voice’. if you would like a to receive this by email to you please click on the heading below. The first issue was distributed last month – on ‘Seven – what is Perfect, and what is Maintained in a Day of Reduction’: seven months, seven bullocks, seven loaves, seven baskets, seven lamps, seven stars, seven assemblies and seven overcomers (Word by Martin Cook). Two more issues are in the works.
An interesting observation
I don’t spend much time on social media, but going for a walk yesterday I sat down and logged into Twitter on my iPhone. Correspondence between two brothers with whom I correspond came up:
The first sign that Moses did was to turn water into blood – judgment (see Exodus 7:20). The first sign that Jesus did was turn water into wine – grace (see John 2:10-11). ‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17).
And … 3,000 die at the giving of the law, the first Pentecost (see Exodus 32:28); 3,000 given new life at the giving of the Spirit, the second Pentecost (see Acts 2:41). ‘For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (2 Cor 3:6).
God’s blessings and greetings in our Lord