A letter written by Charles Coates
… The question is raised by you as to whether the breach of 1908 was not caused by some misunderstanding. It appears that it is still your conviction that it was so. I would most gladly do anything possible to remove misunderstandings.
You say, I do not see disorder if, say, a saint in Laodicea or Thyatira, feeling the condition of things, and having read the instructions of 2 Timothy 2, withdrew and was received at Philadelphia. I cannot see that Philadelphia would be interfering with the Lord’s prerogative in receiving such a one.
If such a one had gone to Philadelphia it seems to me very probable that the brethren would have said something like this to him:
We are deeply interested in you, as being of the assembly in Thyatira, for we love the brethren everywhere, and we feel a special care for those who are comparatively near to us, as you are. We are conscious that the spiritual power we have is only little, but this makes us desirous of clinging tenaciously to every intimation of the Lord’s mind that we can gather from His word. And we should like to put before you what we have learned from Him.
For a long time we have had a copy of a letter written by the apostle Paul, and we recognise that the things he wrote are the Lord’s commandment to us. We have gathered from that letter that assembly exercises are to be taken up and worked out in each locality where the saints are found, for not only was it addressed to ‘the assembly of God *which is in Corinth*’, but to ‘all that *in every place* call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This has taught us to recognise the assembly of God as in local responsibility in each place where saints are found, and that ‘in every place’ the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ can be called on as One who is available to direct His saints, and to adjust them locally. Indeed we count it a most precious privilege that we can thus refer directly to the Lord in our own locality, and obtain His grace and help in seeking to keep His word and not to deny His Name. We thankfully own that we are set in Philadelphia in responsibility to maintain here all that is due to the Lord, and also to avail ourselves of all the resources and sufficiency that is in Him for us. We feel it to be a great privilege that in our local exercises we have not to look to our brethren in Sardis or Smyrna, but directly to our beloved and only, Lord. We have proved His grace and faithfulness and sufficiency in our local needs, and we earnestly and affectionately entreat you not to call upon us, who are of another assembly, but to call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ that He may show you His mind and act for you in the locality in which He has set you.
We may say, further, that we have just recently received from Patmos a copy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, and we have been intensely interested in John’s letters to the seven assemblies in this district. These have greatly confirmed us in what we had previously gathered from Paul. We have been greatly comforted by having a direct communication from the Lord to us locally. It has given us the sweetest sense of His love and concern, not only for the assembly universally, but for His saints in each local assembly. This is exceedingly precious to us, and we earnestly desire that you should prove the value of it in your own locality. We know something of your exercises, for we have read the epistle to the angel of the assembly in Thyatira, and it encouraged us much to know that the Lord was taking direct account of you in your locality even as He did of us in ours. We counsel you to attend to what He says. He is addressing you in your local responsibility, and your blessing will lie in owning this, and in obtaining His grace to answer to His mind.
As to what you say about withdrawing from the assembly in Thyatira, we do not understand what you mean. Are you not one of those of whom the Lord has spoken as the assembly in Thyatira? This is how *He* regards you, and therefore how *we* regard you. We could understand your having to withdraw from iniquity, and to purify yourself from vessels to dishonour, for we, too, have read Paul’s second letter to Timothy. But we believe it to be impossible for you to withdraw from the assembly in Thyatira so long as you are resident there. The Lord is unquestionably addressing you *there*, and though we have observed with sorrow that there is much in the assembly there of which He does not approve we have also noted that there are some exercised souls there whom He has addressed as ‘the rest who are in Thyatira’. Why cannot you take up your exercises with them?
If you have not been able to get on happily together with them you need the Lord’s grace locally to enable you to do so. He wants you to recognise His voice, and to obtain His grace for the adjustment of your local differences. We are ready to help you in every spiritual way that is in our power, but we believe the greatest help we can give you is to exhort you to be cast upon the Lord that you may prove His sufficiency in your own locality where He addresses you. He has reserved to Himself the authority to adjust and regulate things amongst you at Thyatira; He has not committed any charge as to this to us. We believe it to be your great privilege to recognise His direct authority where you are, and to obtain His personal direction and grace for every difficulty and exercise in regard to your walking together there. We believe it to be His holy and perfect ordering that it should be so.
Are you not prepared to accept that the above is according to Scripture? Then why accept another kind of action which is not at all in accord with it? If there is a divine order, that which is not consistent with it must be disorder. To acknowledge that there is a divine principle which should govern our action, and in practice to go contrary to it, is a course which I find it difficult to understand.
With love and greetings in our Lord, on behalf of your brethren in Philadelphia
Your brother X.