The Church with No Name

Why do we like to Fall Back on Labels?

I am guilty of a serious thing.  This week I met a fellow believer and we enjoyed a happy conversation.  Then came up the inevitable question ‘Who do you meet with?’. My friend said something indirectly pointing to a group of Christians.  Immediately I pigeonholed him into a division of that united vessel (I wish I could think of another word) and associated this with preconceived negative thoughts and doctrinal differences.  The result – our warm and happy conversation was marred, and we went away thinking of differences, not of our Saviour, His glory and His return to rapture His saints.  I owe that brother an apology.

Why do I do such a thing?  Doubtless, Satan has us resting on this or that group of Christians.  We are comfortable with the fellowship, the structure and the part we can play.

This is so different from what we have been taught.  There is only one church – the assembly of the living God, purchased with the blood of our Lord Jesus; there is only one fellowship – the fellowship of God’s Son.  We have confused the true function of the church – something perfect, with its origin and destiny in heaven with what we as Christians can and should do down here.  In God’s grace, we may have been led to reject human organisation and church leadership, sectarianism, the building up of things here.

The question comes up. ‘Who do you meet with?’  –

Answer – ‘We don’t have a name’.

Question ‘I see, so which of the many groups of Brethren are you?’

However much we try, it seems as we cannot get away from that label.

The Church with No Name

The Church with No Name

Here is a picture of a little chapel or meeting room, about an hour’s drive from where I live.  Formerly an evangelical church, it was disused and in a bad state when a few lovers of our Lord bought it and painstakingly renovated it.  When finished they invited many from the area to join in prayer – not to bless the room or any group, but to seek the Lord’s guidance as to what they should do.  I was led to give a little word from 2 Cor 8:5 – ‘They gave them selves first to the Lord, and to us by God’s will.’ (Darby).  (See ‘Have we had it the Wrong Way Round?’)

.

There is no name.  All you can say that is where there is a gathering of a few simple Christians who seek to be true to our Lord in very confused circumstances.  They break bread in obedience to the Lord’s request ‘This do in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19).  Those who go there regularly know the certainty of their eternal salvation and have received the Holy Spirit.  They are not connected with any humanly organised sect – nor are they in that meeting by membership.  Collectively, they do not know who they are, apart from a collection of lovers of the Lord Jesus, and, though bound for glory, do not know where the Lord is leading them in their testimonial pathway. May it remain that way!

May you be encouraged

In God’s grace

Sosthenes

October 2018

6 comments

  1. Brother Charles from the Midlands writes in an email

    It seems that there are three main responses to what ‘name’ a group of Christians should be called:

    Firstly, I know of some who just simply and honestly say that we are ‘brethren’ (or say that’s what we’re called by others/ that we are a ‘form’ of brethren/ words to that effect). While this may be a wise response to a believer who knows that there ‘brethren’ and ‘brethren’, I am sure that you can appreciate the reluctance that there is to call ourselves ‘brethren’, especially as the popular image of the brethren is the Taylor/Hales PBCC. Indeed, given this, I would certainly be reluctant to say to an unbeliever or someone new in the faith, without much knowledge of church history, that we are ‘brethren’ or at least not without giving a explanation beforehand! There is also the problem of if we are asked whether we are ‘open’ or ‘exclusive’ brethren! And, of course, every dear believer is part of the brethren of Christ: ‘all ye are brethren’ (Mathew 23:8)!

    The second response, perhaps a reaction to problems associated with the name ‘brethren’ and no doubt with the best of intentions, seems to be to (suggest) that our gatherings should be labelled after a geographical area. So, for example, we would be the ‘XYZ Christian Fellowship’ While this avoids the ‘denomination’ problem, it creates the impression that each gathering is independent. However, obviously that impression is problematic as seeking to pursue the truth of the one body and we are in fellowship which is universal in character (by that I simply mean that we break bread with more Christians than those in our local gathering, I not claiming/ implying at all that the ‘universal fellowship’/ ‘fellowship of God’s Son’ = those that we break bread with).

    Finally, there is what we may say is in one sense the ‘standard’ or ‘traditional’ response of saying that we are ‘Christians (seeking) to gather to the Name of the Lord Jesus’. While this may raise further questions about what type of church we attend and other believers may say that they are seeking to do the same (we can praise the Lord for that!), I think that you are absolutely right in your piece that we are a ‘no name’ church. Indeed, while we may be called ‘brethren’ by others, I am sure that you would agree, that we are simply seeking to be Christians drawn together by a desire to experience the Lord’s presence by the Holy Spirit and as saved by grace, infinite, wondrous grace. Although I feel that I have often fallen short, dishonoured and failed that precious Name of Christ, we are nothing more or nothing less than Christians so I am glad that we don’t have a name.

    Forgive my few scattered, simple thoughts, dear brother.

    Edited for publication. Any messages to Charles will be passed on.

  2. Brother Fin writes in an email;

    May the Lord strip us of all our natural concepts that we may obtain a clearer heavenly vision.

  3. Brother Trevor from Queensland Australia writes in an email

    Hi Sosthenes

    A great article and one which brethren of all persuasions should contemplate deeply.

    In the group I am with, we struggle with the issue of ‘reception to the Lord’s table’ and the criteria whereby we decide if a person who (let us say) is visiting should be allowed to ‘break bread with us’ or not. We like to hide behind the cliché which goes something like this. ‘Reception is to the fellowship of the assembly… not to the breaking of bread’. But this falls over in the case of a casual visitor.

    In other words, we have conflicting considerations… let us say we have a person who would like to remember the Lord in obedience to His request. But this imaginary person does not come from our ‘circle’ and in fact, let us say does not hold the same view of baptism as us. Should they be allowed to partake?

    Our assembly is rightfully mindful about the whole question of ‘assembly discipline’ and the obligation on an assembly (where necessary) to put out and to restore. Against that background and mindful of various scriptures dealing with letters of commendation etc, they then struggle to put it all together and work out whether we should let them in or not..

    Then you have the truth of the ‘Unity of the Body of Christ’ and the seriousness of overlooking that important fact. How easy it is to fall into sectarianism.

    Not easy to sort out. It seems that we brethren have ‘division’ built into our very DNA!! Be glad of any thoughts you might have.

    In Christ,

  4. My response to Trevor

    Dear Trevor
    I have a problem with ‘Reception is to the fellowship of the assembly… not to the breaking of bread’. This is very ‘brethren’ but there is only one fellowship and we have fellowship with all believers with the Holy Spirit. The question is to what extent can fellowship be enjoyed. With some we can talk about the gospel. Others we could share more, and (just beginning to fee free) to attend a meeting. As I understand breaking bread is the highest expression of fellowship and cannot be taken up casually and involves associations, and what we are committing one another to. Of course this is the opposite to the ‘open’ principle.

    As to somebdy wanting to remember the Lord, Does this person hold to what is essential – the gospel, the authority of scripture, the Person of the Lord Jesus etc. In my opinion I would not exclude somebody if he had difficulties as to household baptism oe addressing the Spirit. If he tried to force his ideas on the gathering there might be a problem .

    As to assembly disciplie – Always tricky as to when and how. Some of us were broughtup amongst the Taylorite Exclusives in the 1960’s up on ‘withdrawing from’ for all sorts of things. As I see it a gathering cannot withdraw – 2 Tim 2 is individual. Also a gathering which is not the whole assembly cannot ‘put out’ as in 1 Cor 5. I am working though the publication I wrote about 4 years ago ‘Walking in the Light of the Assembly’, and would value thoughts of godly persons on the matter.

    When I was young there was a brother who when young (1920’s) was in a meeting where the question was ‘Do we go by 1 Cr 5 or 2 Tim 2?’ The wise nswer ws ‘both’

  5. Brother Michael from California writes

    Dear brother Daniel,

    Long has it been the tradition of brethren to call the structures in which they meet some XYZ Chapel or Hall name. Yet those gathering unto the Lord within own no other name but Christ. That is what counts. Sometimes brethren rent space in buildings that bear secular names. Thus I try not read anything into building names per say, only the agenda of saints gathering inside. Often that is known by endorsement. Sometimes not.

    Mr. Darby once remarked that he favored the simplicity of Christians meeting in true repentance before God. Yet in this day one must be prudent of very many false agendas that demerit the holiness of gathering before our Lord. Thus, I must limit myself to gathering for our Lord’s Remembrance with those likeminded about doctrine and polity. I might pray with a Baptist apart from established meetings, but I would not expect to attend his schism’s Communion Service.

    As to the group you mention, what agendas might they subscribe? There are no believers without motivating agendas. Hopefully, it is thoroughly Biblical. If not, I would steer clear. I hold that the believer in Christ unto salvation has but one agenda, and that is Christ alone as defined by scripture. Family whether biological or adopted, or our assembly families are Divinely appointed so supporting and nuturing them is part of that one agenda.

    By His marvellous grace,
    Michael

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