Have read carefully the letter and the answer which appeared in the July issue of Food for the Flock. As I am another who has seriously considered going elsewhere, I feel urged to write you.
Mr. D. K. established a good premise by stating some very fine principles, but he did not deal with the very wrong practices that are in such evidence among many of the professing assemblies.
I have read considerable about the early movement of so called “Brethren” and their wonderful simplicity, but in my judgment they have become sectarian and hypocritical.
At a conference where the “open platform” as it was called received special emphasis and where much was stated as to the “leading of the Spirit in ministry,” I sensed a spirit of pride that was distasteful. Furthermore, I overheard two of the chief speakers arranging between themselves which would speak first at one of the sessions. Both apparently intended to speak irrespective of who else thought he was lead of the Spirit. To me the whole matter became nothing more than pretence.
At that conference there was more said against music than there was about Christ. One of the speakers certainly knew more about how the sisters dress than he did about expounding the Scriptures.
I have been used to Bible Conferences where not only were the speakers chosen, but where the subject was also announced. From such conferences I have gone home thanking God for the ministry of His Word. From one or two of the so called “open conferences” I have gone home, to say the least, disturbed by the pride and ignorance I have seen.
Would Mr. D. K. please help me? I feel that I would sooner be where maybe some things are wrong, but where there is godly sincerity than where there are such high claims of truth and such poor practices.
I shall sign myself as another who has seriously considered going elsewhere.
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Our correspondent was right in stating that we dealt with “principles” and not with “practice”. We had in mind the earmarks of a New Testament assembly, and not their failures. The failure of the Church to maintain those principles has already been faithfully recorded for our instruction in the first epistle to the Corinthians.
What our brother writes of failure of certain assemblies, no doubt may be very true, but we all need to solemnly remind ourselves that our failure to maintain divine principles does not nullify those principles. Paul had taught the Corinthian believers the truth as God gave it to him. When disorder came into the assembly, he did not write to those whom he believed had godly sincerity to move out and go to some place where ecclesiastical truth was neither taught nor practised.
The failure of the Church is again seen in the letter to Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6). The Lord rebukes the saints, it is true, but adds: “strengthen those things that remain” (ver. 2).
I hardly appreciate his remark on the “Brethren,” when he states, “In my judgment they have become sectarian and hyprocritical.” No doubt some of the saints in our assemblies have that “sectarian and hypocritical” spirit; but a thousand witnesses could come forward to say that they have found in those assemblies saints, who are “the salt of the earth”. It is true that some assemblies have gone to the extreme of a sectarianism, but others have swung to the other extreme of a looseness in assembly separation that grieves many of us.
He writes of ministry at Bible conferences on “music” and “sisters’ dress”. Let him learn that there are scores of conferences every year in Canada and U.S.A. where those matters are never mentioned. Personally, I hold no brief in the matter of music, but the subject of women’s apparel is a New Testament subject (1 Tim. 2 and 1 Peter 3). A little of that, coupled with the precious devotional theme of so many of our conferences, would strike a very profitable balance.
We ourselves grieve over the duplicity of the “open” platform, seen in some quarters today, but we will let God be the Judge in that matter. Our correspondent does not need to attend such conferences if he feels grieved. The vast majority of our brethren today, who control the conferences, learned long ago of the lack of wisdom of seeking to maintain the “open” platform, due to the restlessness of the flesh, indulging in a license (and not a liberty of the Holy Spirit). They feel it is wiser and much more profitable to arrange the platform.
May I warn our brother: if he thinks that he is going to find a group of believers who are marked by “godly sincerity”, not found in our assemblies in general, he is due for a big disappointment. If the Word of God put him in an assembly (as we speak), the Word of God will not take him out. Until the Lord removes the lampstand of any assembly, it is the duty of all of us, as well as a privilege, to remain there. Let us by our own godly sincerity, faithfulness in witness, and fervency in prayer seek to “strengthen the things that remain”.
Yours in Christ,
* * *
A letter such as this from one closely connected in former days with fundamental evangelical circles who felt called to a simpler and more scriptural way of church gathering is surely a rebuke. While agreeing with all that D. K. has said, we must realistically face facts. Few can understand the keen. disappointment of one who has been led to expect a closer adherence to the Word of God, a deeper devotion to Christ, and a more intimate fellowship among saints, when he discovers that through human failure, truths relative to the administration and testimony of the Church, although taught, are not always practised.
The Lord’s Name is as ointment poured forth. It is of sweet and lasting fragrance. Have some companies who profess to gather alone in His Name spoiled its fragrance? Have they failed to such an extent that the attractiveness of Christ in their midst has lost its divine magnetism?
In the early days (150 years ago) of that movement of grace that resulted in the establishment of assemblies all over the world, the blessed simplicity of meeting solely in the Lord’s Name drew many Christians from cold formal ecclesiasticism to the collective appropriation with other fellow-believers of the presence of Christ.
Confusion of face belongs to us. May we with humility and godly sincerity seek divine grace and strength to revert to the first principles of New Testament Church truth, and to accept with repentance this rebuke from a distressed believer. —Ed.