The Forum

The Forum


If our manner of meeting is, as we believe, founded on New Testament principles, and according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, how is it that our Sunday morning worship meeting is frequently so barren and devoid of uplifting ministry, being often taken up with prayer and ministry, which are, to say the least, unsuitable, unprofitable, and certainly not conducive to worship?

Is this merely a display of the flesh? Is it a failure on the part of those who should, but do not take part? Or, is it a failure on the part of the elder brethren to exercise the necessary restraining discipline that avoids this type of ministry?

One who, because of this, has seriously considered going elsewhere.


Before seeking to answer this problem (a very real and common problem it is in our assemblies today), let us establish the premise that the familiar order of the “morning meeting” is a scriptural one.

The honest student of the New Testament has no difficulty in agreeing with the premise. Two chapters; namely, I Corinthians 12 and 14 make it abundantly clear.

Let us consider the first eleven verses of chapter twelve. Note verse four, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” Let us also consider verse seven, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Several of these gifts are detailed in verses eight to ten, and then the statement is made, “But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit.”

The figure used in this chapter is that of the human body which, of course, is one, but has many members. All the members of the body function to the profit of the entire body, and are under the direction of the head. In a true local New Testament assembly the spiritual exercises must be under the direction of Christ Himself, the Head, and they must be performed by the energy of the Holy Spirit, Who has been rightly called the Vicar of Christ. Our premise is perfect but our practice is questionable in many of the assemblies. Why?

The answer to this question seems to lie in the fact that licence has been taken to mean liberty. Such a misconstruing of principles results, no doubt, from believing that every man has his part. It is well, therefore, to point out that the function of the member is profitable only when it functions under the direction of the head. Physically speaking, serious anomalies occur when a member functions “on its own”. If a brother participating in the “worship meeting” (for that matter, in any meeting) would only ask himself two questions: first, “Am I acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit?” and, second, “Will it be to the profit of the Body and the honour of the Head?” perhaps much of the improper participating would cease, being, as the questioner says, “A mere display of the flesh,” by which no one is profited, and the Holy Spirit is grieved. Certainly, the greatest failure is on the part of those who take part. If a brother persists in taking such part, the elders are responsible to counsel and admonish, for, as undershepherds, they are responsible to see that the flock of Christ is fed. Alas, many today who are positionally regarded as elders, are “overseers” without being shepherds.

Continuing with the thought of the body and the members, we make one more point. Each particular member is used for a particular function, e.g. the eye for seeing, the ear for hearing, etc. When the saints are assembled, the Holy Spirit will have the “member” of his choice for each function; if He has His way no other brother will be just so fitted as the “member” the Holy Spirit has chosen. The Body, consequently, will be profited, and the Head glorified.

Two prevalent errors must be avoided. The first, the evil of one-man ministry; the second, the evil of any-man ministry. Let us recognize the importance of a particular-man ministry, and the abuses will be remedied.

The questioner signs himself as, “One who … has considered going elsewhere.” To him, and to any others in a similar frame of mind, we ask, Where will you go if you leave a group of believers who seek to maintain New Testament principles and not find evils a thousand-fold worse?