Babylon or Jerusalem
As the apostasy of the professing Church gathers momentum and prepares the way for the manifestation of the Antichrist, the assemblies of God’s people cannot remain immune from its deadly influence. Their only safeguard is to keep, by His grace, their Nazarite character, complete separation from the evil and a whole-hearted dedication to God.
When the Hebrew children were carried captive, Babylon sought to change their diet, their names, their dress and their worship. By their love to God and strength of character they resisted every Babylonish approach and God was with them and honoured them.
The great false Church is in the making. The ecumenical spirit, like leaven, permeates the whole of Christendom. By fair speeches and plausible arguments the leaders of this movement would almost deceive the very elect. But it is a Babel of tongues with a false foundation, the superstructure of which will fall and bury all in its ruins. An old servant of Christ has said, “No doubt there is spiritual wealth in Babylon at the present time and many precious vessels that really belong to the House of God, but they are enriching and adorning the wrong city.” God says to such, “Come out of her (Babylon) My people and be not partakers of her sins.”
The role of the assemblies of God’s beloved people is to remain separated from it all and loyal to their rejected Lord. Only as they do so, will they be a beacon of truth and love to which seeking saints may come and find rest for their weary souls.
To maintain the dignity of a testimony for God on earth we must be true to the biblical and ethical standards of God. We must be true to the Pattern of the House and we must be true to the Law of the House (Ezek. 43:10-12). To handle the holy things of God in a flippant and worldly manner is to lose our sense of values and grieve the Spirit of God.
Let us emphasize these two things in this day of declension: the Pattern of the House and the Law of the House.
The Pattern of the House
In contrast to Jerusalem which is from above and which is the mother of all believers, is Babylon the great. It embraces within its fold every religious voice in Christendom and aims at embracing the other religions of the world. It is a confused mixture of ritualism, modernism and fundamentalism. The National Council of Churches, in co-operation with Rome, is determined to create one universal Church. Modern Babylon, true to its character, seeks to change the diet, the dress, the names and the worship of God’s people. With its high ecclesiastical claims, its great religious pretensions, and its priestly hierarchy, it seeks to silence the voice of truth within its fold.
Jerusalem was the city where God had placed His Name. The New Testament counterpart is, “Jerusalem above which is the mother of us all.” Each New Testament church is to be the local expression of the whole. To this God has linked the holiness of His Name, the love of His heart and the wisdom of His mind (Matt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4, 11:20, 23, 14:23-24).
The pattern of the House is clearly discernible in the Word of God. Each local assembly is composed of believers only, baptized by immersion in public confession of their faith in Christ (Acts 18:8). They meet in the Lord’s Name alone, rejecting all denominational names as contrary to the pattern. They acknowledge, in truth and practice, the priesthood of all believers, the liberty for the development of spiritual gift and the divine sovereignty of the Holy Spirit to use that variety of gift as He pleases. Each assembly rejects clericalism, with its claims and titles, as contrary to “what is written.”
In government, each assembly has godly overseers to shepherd and guide the saints in godly order and discipline. Each has a special ministry or deaconship to meet other needs of the saints. This latter is appointed by the church to meet the material needs of the assembly (Acts 6:3), the former is appointed by the Risen Head of the Church to meet the spiritual needs of the saints (Eph. 3:7-8, Col. 1:25).
In government, each local church is independent and autonomous, responsible to the Lord alone. In fellowship, each is interdependent, being part of one great whole.
Each is to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the Word of God, and to move forward in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31, 16:5-10).
In the planting of these indigenous churches of the saints, God has three great purposes: first, the collective worship of God, when the saints meet on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day, to partake of the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7); second, to engage in prayer and the edification of the saints (1 Cor. 12-14); and third, to act as outposts for the evangelization of the world.
For many centuries God’s people languished in the captivity of spiritual Babylon. But over one hundred years ago there was a movement of the Spirit of God that opened the door of liberty for a return to first principles. Many of God’s dear people came out to meet simply in the Lord’s Name alone. Godly men and women, like Nehemiah of old, surveyed the ruins from “the valley gate” (in humility of soul). The repairing of the walls began at “the sheep gate,” for all recovery must begin at the Cross. “The dung gate,” through which the refuse was removed, was not neglected. Thus, the ethical standards of God’s centre were clearly discerned and the injunction of 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 was humbly obeyed, resulting in a purity of life and walk. The Word of God was read at “The water gate” and the sense given thereof. God raised up men who could teach and expound the Scriptures in the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God. “The horse gate” also is mentioned as being repaired for truth can only be recovered and maintained in spiritual conflict that will go down in “the book of the wars of the Lord.” “The east gate,” through which the glory departed from Israel and through which it will return (Ezek. 10:19, 43:1-2), was also repaired. The truth of the Lord’s coming was recovered in those days and the hope of the Church restored. Truly, they were men sent by God.
Alas, through the constant assault of the enemy, breaches have been made in the walls again, and Babylonish tendencies are creeping in. But instead of the saints standing shoulder to shoulder in defence of recovered truth, some have resorted to building walls inside Jerusalem. The folly of this is seen in the history of the Exclusive and Needed Truth movements. The climax of such folly is seen in the Raven Party, who, in substituting the word of their leaders for the Word of the Living God, now wallow in the quagmire of mystic confusion. Their present practices have led to the truth of God being evil spoken of.
Our safety lies in loyalty to Christ in an evil day and a humble submission to the authority of the Word of God alone. Let us repair the breaches by re-emphasizing those truths that are most surely believed among us.
The Law of the House
We must not only view the Pattern of the House, but we should be fully acquainted with the Law of the House as well. “Holiness becometh Thy House, Of God for ever.” God has very high standards for the leaders in the House. These test a man, inwardly, domestically, and before the world (1 Tim. 3, Titus 1). Morally and doctrinally he must be sound. The moral standards of the House are high for all saints (1 Cor. 5-7). Everything that is low and mean and unworthy of the name of our Lord must be judged, if the Spirit of Holiness is to remain ungrieved among us.
The Law of the House deals with the deportment of saints as they meet in assembly capacity. The Word of God distinguishes between the sexes, in dress, manner and position. Men meet with uncovered head, because the Head of every man is Christ, and He must never be covered. Women meet with covered head, for the head of every woman is the man, and he must be put out of sight. The vision of the saints must be filled with Christ alone. All fleshly intrusions are rebuked by the covered head of the sisters. Such intrusions mar the Spirit’s aim of unveiling Christ to every heart. The double covering of the sisters should be jealously guarded because of the angels. Shorn hair is strictly forbidden to Christian women by the Word of God. It is an insult to the Spirit of God. Godly elders are responsible to see that the Law of the House is respected (1 Cor. 11).
Modesty is to mark our dress. Compromising fashions in the world are not to be copied by Christian women. The emphasis, for both brethren and sisters, is to be on the adornment of the inward man (1 Pet. 3). Dress can be with dignity and attractiveness without the gaudiness and make up of Babylon. Christian deportment forbids the imitating of the Jezebels of this world.
Women are to be silent in the Church while men are to assume the responsibilities of oversight and public ministry.
Two women are brought before us in the Word of God as the examples of the obedient and the disobedient woman. The one is Sarah, the example of obedience and subjection (1 Pet. 3:6); the other is Eve, the example of disobedience and insubjection. Eve acted in the absence of her head, Adam, and by doing so left her place and was involved in the transgression. If sisters continue in faith, love, and holiness, they will be saved in childbearing. That is, by a quiet submission to the dispensation of God, to keep their place in the home and bring up children for God. They will be saved from dishonouring the Lord’s name and from a life lived outside the current of the will of God (1 Tim. 2).