This department is provided for the free and courteous discussion of biblical and spiritual problems which may be considered edifying to the people of God. Letters concerning such matters are requested.
Dear Mr. G.
With reference to the excommunication of assemblies discussed some time ago in Food For The Flock, I would like to make a few observations. The statement made at a conference that there is no such thing in all of the New Testament as an assembly being out of fellowship is absolutely correct. It is individuals who are put away, and that for specific sins which are clearly defined in the Word of God.
To substantiate this statement, may I point out two divine principles that are to control the relationship of the churches. Had these been acknowledged, it would have saved the Lord’s people from many a heartache and the disgrace of a broken testimony on this continent.
1. Every assembly stands upon its own base and is responsible to the Lord alone. Circles of fellowship, to the exclusion of other saints, is a device of the wicked one. Its purpose is to divide and ruin the testimony of the whole.
No one can draw a line through the churches of the New Testament in spite of their differences. No one can say this one belongs to this circle and that to another circle. Ephesus is not to interfere with Smyrna, nor Smyrna with Laodicea. Each is held directly responsible to the One Lord who walks in the midst.
Dissolution is the daughter of dissension. Our divided condition is the scorn of the worldling, the delight of the devil, and it leaves us a positive disgrace in the eyes of all men. Certain among us, who lack the grace of God in their lives, will make every little difference an issue in order to divide the saints. The sure evidence of this corrupt, religious fervour is found where the most carnal are the most contentious, not in matters of doctrine, but of procedure.
2. The removal of the lampstand is the prerogative of the risen Lord alone (Rev. 2:5).
This proper and scriptural relationship of the churches is maintained in three ways: First, by their common loyalty to their glorious Lord, not by rules and regulations that would bind them in a cold, lifeless uniformity, but by constraining love. Second, by their acknowledging that each is a part of one great whole (1 Cor. 16:19). The united rays of the lampstands, focussed upon the One in the midst, are necessary to give to the world a full and comprehensive testimony to our blessed Redeemer. Third, by the exercise of the gifts from the risen Head, among the saints. This is for the threefold purpose of their perfection, unity and growth (Eph. 4). Unfortunately, not all who profess to be gifts to the Church bear the “ordination of the pierced hands.” It is to our shame, that these men can move freely among the churches, seeking dominion over the faith and conscience of the Lord’s people. Their aim, seemingly, is to build a confederacy of assemblies patterned after the Needed Truth system, over which they can assume complete control. This is what has confused the saints and led to such unscriptural expressions as, “This or that Assembly is not in fellowship.”
Yours in Him,