But Thou Oh Man of God

After 2,000 years of Church
history, the backward look is disturbing and the present perplexing.
The brethren movement has no quarrel with the great cardinal truths of
Scripture. It does, however, beg to differ in its view on Church Truth.
Mong with this it finds sufficient Scriptural grounds for rejecting an
officiating minister. This practice makes us a people rejected by some
of the best elements of Christendom. Consistent with this there comes
the call to separate from the world and worldly Christianity, which
adds to brethren’s unpopularity. One good point out of all this is that
it tends to take pride from man because of being out of step with some
cherished opinions. As Saint Athanasins held to the truth of Christ’s
absolute deity in his day when such was attacked by Arius; as Luther
recovered the gospel smothered by a gaudy ritual and corruption; so the
brethren are convinced that they have reintroduced the principles of
the New Testament Church. Only those who are fully persuaded that this
claim has the support of Scripture will be sufficiently attracted to
the brethren and endure to the end. Shallow convictions will not do
here. One finds himself a square peg in a round hole in his
associations with most other Christians. Resentment is provoked when
commended workers prove that service can be performed apart from a
distinctive name, organization and distasteful methods of raising
money. Such Scriptural literalness and renouncement of expediences are
not proving appealing to the young. There are a couple of generations
that have been born into the movement. They know nothing of the
exercise that led their forefathers to such spiritual discretion. There
is the temptation to join para church movements that are in many
respects more successful. Those that could have stayed where their
roots are have oped for greener pastures, or have they?

If brethren principles can be upheld by
Scripture, and I believe they can, then it behooves the searching soul
to give this inquiry a top priority. Just as the sinner can find
excuses aplenty for refusing Christ because of the behavior of some
professing Christians he knows; so not a few have excused themselves
from identifying with the assemblies and tragic failures because of the
poor showing of some. The only answer to this is, “what saith the
Scripture?” Human shortcomings in this area should in no wise be
allowed to annul a revealed truth. “Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” Matt.
7:7. Then, after an honest waiting on God, “let every man be fully
persuaded in his own mind” Romans 14:5. The local church should be a
microcosm of the church universal. It could be just two or three are
gathered to the Name of Christ and capable of developing into an
autonomous body coming behind in no gift. It is described as God’s
workmanship, or as the margin renders the word, masterpiece. “To the
intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places
might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God” Eph. 3:10.

Without being sectarian there are sound
reasons for being preferential. The local assembly, or assemblies,
warrant our undivided support. This is not an interdenominational
movement. It is a modest attempt to approximate the will of God
concerning His Church. If this is so, and it is to some of us, then
what was said of Christ when He cleansed the temple should characterize
us, “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” John 2:17.

Consistent with this go the weekly
observance of the Lord’s Supper, no promiscuous financial appeals in
the Church. Those who minister the Word are brothers among their
brethren and recognized by their possession of a Spirit imparted gift.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” II Corinthians
3:17. The open meeting as outlined in I Cor. 14 is the forte of the
brethren. Appreciated and extolled by those who have discovered its
sweetness, it revolves around the breaking of bread. We say to all pure
in doctrine and morally upright, “come thou with us, and we will do
thee good” Num. 10:29.

The words of another supplement our
thoughts. “But a person may ask, are any upon that ground? I can only
say that the Christians who fall back on Scripture, owning the faithful
presence of the Spirit in the assembly on earth, are taking an immense
deal of trouble for a delusion if they are not. They are very foolish
in acting as they do unless they are sure that it is according to the
mind of God. Ought you to have more doubt how Christians should meet
together for worship or mutual edification than about other directions
in the word of God?”

E. Fesche