Who can I Break Bread with?

Principles of Gathering

J N Darby (1800-82)

Entitled ‘Principles of Gathering,  this is the substance of a letter by JND as to the question of who should read and her should not.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 349. 

The Reception of Saints to Partake in the Table of our Lord

JN Darby raised the question is as to the reception of saints to partake in the table of our Lord with us: whether any can be admitted who are not formally and regularly amongst us[1].

Clearly, a person who is not sound in faith or ungodly in practice should be excluded. However, should a godly and sound person, not associated with a system with an ordained ministry be shut out?  Should he be excluded simply because his conscience has not been enlightened as to such wrong practices?  Simply put, sects meet on their principles, Baptist, Congregational etc.  If a believer belongs formally to such, you do not admit such.

No Membership of ‘Brethren’

There is no membership of ‘Brethren’. Membership of an assembly is unknown in Scripture.  Every case must be treated on its own merits – on the principle of being members of Christ’s body – the unity of all members.  If you say, ‘You do not belong to us, you cannot come’, the whole principle of meeting is gone.  Such a path is not of God.

Darby said that he had heard persons talking about communion services as being the table of devils. They may be sectarian, but they are not heathen alters.  This is monstrous nonsense and shows the bad state of the person who says such things.

A local assembly should always receive a person who is a true believer, and who has dissociated himself from that which is not of God. There cannot be too much care as to holiness and truth: the Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of truth; but ignorance of ecclesiastical truth is not a ground of non-reception or excommunication when the conscience and walk are undefiled. 

However, if one insisted on his right to break bread with two divergent companies, he would not come in simplicity in the unity of the body. It is evil: he has no right to impose any condition on the church of God.  Such a person cannot have a pure heart.

Satan is busy, seeking to lead us one side or the other — to destroy the largeness of the unity of the body, or to make it loose in practice and doctrine.  Reception of all true saints is what gives its force to the exclusion of those walking loosely.  If a local assembly excludes those walking godlily, power is lost, for those who are godly are shut out too.


[1] I always have a little difficulty on anything that refers to ‘us’. What do we mean by ‘us’?   Applying ‘us’ to a particular group of Christians is blatantly sectarian.

Author: Sosthenes

Once the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth Then a co-writer of a letter by Paul - just a brother - no longer an official Now a blogger seeking to serve the Lord by posting some words that the Lord has given His Church.

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