Assembly Related Papers

Table of Contents

1. Jesus in the Midst or the Communion of Saints
2. The Lord’s Table, and Its Place in the Church
3. No. 1 What Is Worship?
4. No. 2 Whom Do You Worship?
5. No. 3 How Do You Worship?
6. No. 4 With Whom Do You Worship?
7. No. 5 Who Is Your Center of Worship?
8. No. 6 What Is Your Place of Worship?
9. The Ruin of the Church and the Believer’s Way Out of It

Jesus in the Midst or the Communion of Saints

Suffer a word of exhortation! The Lord has a controversy with us! At the very moment when we are calling ourselves “The Brethren,” and speaking of our origin, progress and testimony, the Lord is shaking us to our very center. I am afraid many of us have no higher thought, corporately, than that we belong to the Brethren, who began fifty years ago, and when we compare such a thought with Scripture we cannot find it, except as 1 Cor. 1 shows it to be, a wretched sectarian thought — human wisdom which needs to be judged by the cross. In our conversation together we talk lightly of the sectarian name, Plymouth Brethren, put upon us, and soon, I am afraid, we shall go further and accept it, as a matter of little consequence—it is only a name! Suffice it to say that 1 Cor. 1 utterly condemns it; it strikes at the root of the fundamentals of Christianity, and is a copy of the human wisdom of the Greek philosophers (see chaps. 1 and 2 of 1st Corinthians). It strikes at the root of the true nature of the Church as shown forth in ch. 3. Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who of Him is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). We do not belong to a teacher or a company of teachers, however blessed, but we belong to the Temple of God, and the Holy Spirit of God dwells in it. We are not “The Brethren” (called Plymouth Brethren by sectarians and the world in reproach) who had their origin fifty years ago; but we are “Brethren” amongst the many brethren of God’s large family which existed before; who, by God’s grace, have been delivered from the Church’s Babylonish captivity of many years, and have returned to the original ground of the Assembly being seated in heavenly places in Christ, to confess the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the source of unity, the God and Father of the whole family of God scattered or gathered (Eph. 1:1-18); to confess Christ as the Head of His body (Eph. 1:19-23; 2:1-18); and to confess the Holy Ghost as the Builder and Inhabitant of the house of God (Eph. 2:19-22). Our origin is not of teachers, however blessed and owned of God, who were used mightily of Him fifty years ago to revive truths long buried amidst the rubbish of the professing Church, but of the God who called Peter, Andrew and John by His sovereign grace (John 1); who delivered Christ up to death for our offences, and raised Him for our justification (Rom. 4:25); and who afterwards called Saul of Tarsus from the glory, delivered him out of the Jewish and Gentile world which had rejected Christ, and sent him forth from the glory as one united to Christ, to bear witness of His glory and of the union of the saints with Him as His body and bride. Our position is not in a body that had its origin fifty years ago, but in the Christ who, after telling Mary the new relationship formed in the words,
I ascend unto my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, and your God (John 20:17-20),
came unto the midst of His assembled brethren, and breathed the peace upon them which He had made for them when He died on the cross, and of which He gave a proof to them in His wounded hands and side. We are in the Christ who breathed peace the second time upon them, as the Son sent from the Father, breathing into them His own life of resurrection, thus connecting them with Himself a the risen Head of the new creation. We are in the Christ who, after this, ascended up on High as man, and sent down the Holy Ghost, as the promise of the Father, to dwell in them. So that now the new fully established family of God could each, individually and mutually cry “Abba, Father!” (John 20:19-22; Acts 1:4).
At the same time the Holy Ghost baptized them all into one body, and builded them together to be His habitation on earth. Such is our origin, such is our position! To this family, and to this body, and to this house alone do we belong, and to this we are called to bear testimony as well as to the One who is the God and Father of it. Oh, noble origin! oh, high descent! Brethren, forget it not; let no man take your crown!
The progress of the Church of God I trust you know well. I need not dwell on it. It spread wonderfully, but, alas! as it spread it declined. Zealous about putting away evil, alas! it left its first love, and the candlestick was threatened to be removed. The evil, stayed for awhile by persecution, broke out afresh in the Church getting joined to the world, by the hired leaders of Christendom. An evil system then sprang up in the very midst of the House of God, teaching idolatry — Babylonish captivity spread over the Church. The truth of the real unity of the body of Christ, and the coming of the Lord was lost, and all was midnight darkness. The cry of the Reformation sounded and there was a partial coming out, but again lapsing into a name to live and moral death reigning over the profession. Then the Holy and True One’s voice was heard, and a remnant of the sheep followed, and returned to Christ alone. But, brethren, remember, it was a remnant coming back, and not the whole. We are “brethren,” a returned remnant come back to Christ, but not “the brethren,” much less “Plymouth Brethren,” as a new body. Such has been the sad history of “the brethren” and of the house of God. And remember that there is a sad future before the House of God. Laodicean lukewarmness is to follow, and to run on parallel with, Philadelphian trueheartedness to Christ, till He comes. What is the great distinguishing mark between the two circles? It is thus with Philadelphians; Christ is all, and His Word; with Laodiceans, “the brethren” are all, as they say,
I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing {Rev. 3:17}.
There is such a thing as an ugly corporate I, which needs judging by 1 Cor. 1, as well as the individual I, the old man of Romans.
Oh, then, let your testimony be simply Christ and His Word, leaving, nothing out, not neglecting Peter’s testimony about the rejected Jesus, now exalted, and going to sit on David’s throne, made Lord and Christ, in the meantime, giving salvation and remission of sins (see Acts. 2:30-38; 4:6-12; 5:30-32); and thus establishing the kingdom of heaven in its present shape; holding fast Paul’s testimony, as blessedly many of you do, proclaiming an opened heaven, the second man seated there, righteousness and the Spirit ministered from thence, and the Holy Ghost come down uniting believers to Christ in heaven, and to one another on earth, with the blessed hope of the return of the Son of God from heaven, the Bridegroom of His Church, to introduce her into the Father’s house before the judgments, and then to return with Him to reign over the restored earth. Brethren, let us not talk of our testimony, but proclaim it as the testimony of God, and we shall continue, to have the Holy and the True One’s smile. The love of the brethren, Philadelphia, will reign really in our midst, and towards all the scattered brethren; we shall continue to get the open door which no man can shut, and we shall be the only circle of people that, as a corporate thing, will escape the judg- ments. All other individual Christians will also; but Philadelphia only as a corporate body will cease to exist on the earth when the Lord Jesus Christ returns (see Rev. 3:10). Oh, then, hold fast the name of Christ; don’t let a false presumptuous name be put upon you. The beautiful name of Christ the Holy One and True is sufficient, who is not ashamed to call us “His brethren” — but remember! amongst many other scattered ones, as much, “brethren” as ourselves, though not manifesting it together. Again I say, suffer a word of exhortation, and may the faithful God lift up the light of His countenance who has called us unto the fellowship of His Son. Such is our origin, which, if we are a true witness, we shall bear witness to; such has been the progress of the Church to which we belong, and such is its testimony. But we are only “brethren” (amongst many others who are scattered) who have returned to Christ, to bear testimony to the grace that has called us back, and bears with the whole, and that will bring every brother, scattered or gathered, “the brethren,” to glory. A. P. C.
How often many of us have said, “I believe in communion of saints,” when we did not know we were saints, and thought it meant something hereafter in heaven. The Scriptures, however; have corrected our thoughts. We do not find fellowship or communion of saints in the Old Testament, nor in the Gospels. It begins after the ascension of Christ and the coming down of the Holy Ghost. The meaning of the word is shown us in Luke 5:10, when the Holy Spirit uses it to show that James and John were co-partners with Simon in the boat.
Read — Mark 4:34-41
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Luke 8:22-25
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
In resurrection He gathers His brethren, and fifty days after He sends down the Holy Spirit to lead them into the fellowship to which all His redeemed ones are called by our faithful God — the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 2:9.
Soon a great company profess His name, and speak “of the year of our Lord,” but the multitude is mixed, and many forsaking the doctrine of the apostles commence building a ship for themselves, to accomplish the voyage across the sea.
So we find “the early Fathers,” the successors to the Apostles, who add their own teachings to the Apostles’ doctrine. Their ship gets so bad that by and by new ships are built on “National Lines,” and some of their crews also bring in other doctrines, and ships are multiplied. Others become occupied with personal holiness, and inscribe on the flag of their ship, “To me to live is Holiness.”
An “Alliance” is formed to rejoice in this great flotilla, and an “Association” endeavors to make a mighty catamaran out of the whole.
Some, at length, through the Spirit’s leading, give up all the modern ships, and, gathering around Christ alone, they find the ship which was provided at the beginning, but had been lost sight of and neglected, and enjoy His presence in their midst — His path being the path of fellowship. These find themselves in rougher seas than when in their former ships, and the Master is apparently asleep. A portion of the crew, to avoid a big wave, raise the cry, let us drop the apostolic doctrine, “There is one body and one spirit,” and lowering a boat for independent companies of believers, away they go. Other big waves follow, and two other boats are lowered to the cry, “We separate from unrighteous judgments,” and they each pursue their own course; the remainder, trusting Christ in their midst ride over these stormy billows.
Now, some on the shores of Galilee, seeing boats lowered, say, let us build a new ship, “with Christ for center, and Jesus in the midst,” and let us sail out and pick up the boats. So they set themselves to this work. Another says; I cannot tell whether Jesus is in the ship or in one of the boats, but I know it is not right to build ships, so I shall cross over alone, trusting to His Word, that He will sup with me and I with Him.
We hear of only one ship arriving on the further shore, but no doubt, though the Master has been grieved with those who left His ship, He will gather all His own company around Him to be forever with their God.
Unbelief cries out loudest. The Master quietly reposes on His pillow. Let us wait like Him.
A beloved brother, now with the Lord, has warned the crew against painting the boat.

The Lord’s Table, and Its Place in the Church

The Epistle to the Romans lays the foundation of Christianity. There, first, we see man, whether Gentile or Jew, a guilty sinner under the judgment of God which awaits him, and God as a justifier through Jesus and His blood; secondly, man, connected with Adam, born in sin, and God a deliverer through the same Jesus, whom He gives us His gift of eternal life (Rom. 1-7). The fruit is that the Holy Ghost is also given to him that believes, and Rom. 8 shows his full place as being in Christ, and Christ in him, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. In this position he waits for his body of glory, and the deliverance of creation by the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
First Corinthians follows in beautiful order. The individual place of the Christian having been settled, his corporate place in the church of God is then seen. We have there the internal condition of an assembly of God laid before us, and the true place the church holds in the midst of the world explained. It is addressed to the assembly of God at Corinth, which is looked at under two aspects, namely, the body of Christ and the temple of God. In 1 Cor. 1-10, the church is looked at as the temple of God, and in chapters 10-14 as the body of Christ. This double portion is seen in the first few verses, where the saints are first looked at as sanctified in Christ Jesus, and then as those who in every place called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (see ch. 1:1-8).
The first great point in the epistle is to bring out the three great foundations on which Christianity as a corporate thing is founded; to correct that human wisdom which was acting amongst the saints, and creating Paul, Apollos, and Cephas into heads of schools of opinion, and thus forming sects. These three great foundations of corporate Christianity are first, the cross of Christ as the judgment of everything of man as looked at in the flesh (see ch. 1:1-29). Second, Christ in glory made unto us wisdom, righteousness, justification, and redemption (vers. 30, 31). Third, the Holy Ghost come down here as the Revealer and Communicator of that wisdom of God, which was written in Spirit-taught words, namely, the scriptures (1 Cor. 2:6-16). This is Christianity in its foundation principles as contrasted with the world’s wisdom and power.
The fruit of these three great principles that make up Christianity is seen in 1 Cor. 3. The temple of God is formed by Paul, the wise master-builder; God had handed over the work of His temple to him to lay the foundation, namely, Christ Jesus, and to other Christians as the builders to build upon it. The walls were being built of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; and the builders were warned as to the material with which they would build it; but the assembly or the temple was God’s, and God the Holy Spirit dwelt in it. All this is brought in as a corrective to the evil of divisions, which was the fruit of that human wisdom that created great philosophers in Greece, as the heads of human opinion and schools of thought. This leaven was working among the saints at Corinth. The true corrective power was for the saints to see that the vineyard was God’s, that the building was God’s, that they were the temple of God, and that God the Holy Spirit dwelt amongst them as in a house. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were but laborers in the vineyard and in the temple, servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God; but the assembly was His, not theirs.
Thus we see that, Christ having been rejected of the world, it has been judged by His cross; and God having exalted Him to His right hand in consequence of His obedience unto death, the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven, and baptized all believers into one body {1 Cor. 12:13}, and builded them together on earth to be His habitation, His temple. How important, then, for the saints in these last days to gather on these principles, to realize the judgment of the flesh, their place in Christ where He is, and their union with Him by the Holy Ghost come down, as members of His body, builded together as God’s temple and under God’s rule.
It is only as thus gathered that God can in any way own a remnant as {meeting as} His assembly. For where the people of God are united together in any other way than to Christ, the Head of the church in heaven, and where they submit to human rules and ordinances, instead of the Holy Ghost, they are verily a sect; they are not gathered as God’s assembly, and He cannot own them as such.
Now the church set up in its responsibility to God is the way in which it is looked at in the Epistle to the Corinthians, especially in the first ten chapters. It is looked at in ch. 3 as the temple of God, founded by Paul, built up by Christian builders, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in it. In ch. 12 it is the body of Christ, as we shall see further on.
1 Cor. 5 introduces us to the assembly of God gathered together to exercise discipline and the Lord’s table is introduced as the place on earth from which the evil that had got into the assembly was to be put away (see vv. 4, 5, and 7, 8). Consequently the Lord’s table held a special place, as it were, in God’s temple, that is, the then gathered assembly; just as the feast of the Passover had its place amongst the Israelites as the memorial of their redemption out of Egypt. At that feast the lamb was slain, the blood was sprinkled, and each household fed on the roasted lamb inside their house, under the shelter of the blood, and at the same time put away all leaven out of their house. So Christ, our Passover, has been once sacrificed for us on Calvary’s cross, and Christians gather to the Lord’s table, on the ground of the blood of Christ, to remember this, and feed on the Lamb slain, which they see by faith in the memorials spread before their eyes, having put away all evil from amongst them, of which the leaven was the type (see vers. 6-11). If any Israelite ate leavened bread, he was cut off from the congregation of Israel; so a Christian who eats the Lord’s supper, having fallen into sin morally or doctrinally, ought to be put away from the assembly.
Thus we see that the Lord’s table holds a most important place as the gathering place for the assembly of God. It is the memorial of redemption from sin, Satan, and the world, and consequently sin and untruth can have no place there. If it enters as a public known thing, it must be judged and put away, as the leaven was put away from the houses of the children of Israel when they kept the Passover. Thus the death of Christ holds a double place; whilst it is that which saves and redeems us, it is at the same time that by which all evil is judged.
Thus the temple of God is kept clean; thus the assembly preserves its character of being an unleavened lump (vers. 6, 7). Formed by the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God on the ground of redemption, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, the assembly was a new creation outside the world; it is called practically to walk up to its standing, by exercising discipline and putting away manifested evil from the midst.
This the assembly at Corinth were not doing. A man had committed adultery among them; and, instead of mourning that such a sin was there, and that it was not taken away from them, they were puffed up, and glorying in their gifts. The apostle, therefore, writes to them, and connecting the holy name of Christ with the assembly, and bringing to their remembrance His power for the judgment of the evil, he forces them to do it, not for the destruction of the man’s soul, but on the contrary for the destruction of the flesh; the outside thing which he would not judge, that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
All this brings out that God’s assembly is the place of judgment for the saints on earth. The world is outside, and God will judge it in the day of judgment; but the responsibility of the gathered assembly is to guard the Lord’s character and doctrine; hence discipline must be exercised. There, also, difficult cases amongst the saints should be settled by some wise brother or brethren; for saints should never take their causes before the world’s law-courts (see 1 Cor. 6:1). The world’s law-courts are the place of judgment for the world; but the assembly of God, of which the Lord’s table is the place of gathering, is the place of judgment for the children of God. 
1 Cor. 10:14-22 brings out the more blessed place the Lord’s table holds in connection with the communion of the saints, and the unity of the body of Christ. It is the place where the fellowship of the saints with Christ, and His death, and with one another, is exhibited, and that on the ground of the unity of the body of Christ.
The assembly is the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:12, 13). The Lord’s table is the place where that unity is exhibited by the members, all partaking of the one loaf, the symbol of unity (see 1 Cor. 10:17).
This is put in contrast with Israel, and the Gentiles, in 1 Cor. 10:18-22. The Israelites, by partaking of the sacrifices offered on the altar of Judaism, showed their fellowship with that system of worship. The Gentiles, by partaking of the sacrifices offered on their altars, showed their fellowship with that system. But they offered to demons, consequently it was fellowship with demon worship.
At the Lord’s table the Christian exhibits fellowship with the Lord, and His altar, His death, and that as a member of the body of Christ with the others gathered on that ground {i.e., basis}. This would show the Corinthians the utter impossibility of mixing up fellowship at the Lord’s table with fellowship with devil worship. Thus we see that the Lord’s table holds the very central place in Christian worship; so much so that if saints are not gathered as members of Christ’s body to that table, there is no exhibition of the church of God in the place. The Lord’s table is where the members of Christ are gathered as members of one body, to show it by partaking together of the one loaf, which is the symbol of unity, and where the authority and claims of the Lord are owned. It is the Lord’s table. The Lord therefore invites; the assembly, as representing Him there, receives in His name (Rom. 15:7).
In 1 Cor. 11-14 we have {directions for} an orderly exhibition of the assembly and its working. 1 Cor. 11:1-16 gives the introduction to it, in showing God’s present order in His creation, and the place the man and the woman hold in regard to it. Thus whilst these verses go wide of the assembly, yet they bring out the place the man and the woman hold in it. And this, too, explains why there are regulations about the praying and prophesying of the woman with her head covered, this having reference to her place in creation: whilst, inside the assembly, there is the absolute prohibition, in other places, to speak when the assembly is gathered together.
1 Cor. 11:17-31 shows plainly that the Lord’s supper is the assembly meeting, though the apostle would not allow that the way in which they were celebrating it was to eat the Lord’s supper. They were mixing it up with a common meal, and making it a time of feasting, forgetting altogether its real import.
To correct this the apostle lets us into the secret of having had a spiritual revelation from the Lord in glory in reference to the administration of the Lord’s supper. Before leaving the world (we know, in fact, before the Lord’s death) He instituted the feast, putting it in the place of the Passover, which was the memorial of Israel’s redemption out of Egypt. But the full revelation of Christianity had not been brought out then. But now the Lord, having been finally rejected by Israel as a nation, had taken a new place at the right hand of God, so that not only was the kingdom of heaven set up in a new form, but the assembly of God, the body of Christ, was formed. The special revelation of this mystery was given to Paul, namely, that Jew and Gentile were now fellow-heirs, members of one body, common partakers of God’s promise through Christ by the gospel (Eph. 3); and the Lord’s table was the place where the truth was exhibited, as we have seen in 1 Cor. 10. In the kingdom the Jew always had the first place, and the Gentile was to get the blessing sent through him; but in the body of Christ there is no difference — Jew and Gentile arc quickened out of a state of death together with Christ, are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. The cross of Christ ends the enmity; the law of commandments contained in ordinances that kept them apart is abolished, and one new man is formed, united together on earth by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, and to Christ the Head in heaven.
The further revelation connected with the unity of the body of Christ did not annul the former institution as given us in Luke by the Lord Himself. In fact we have it renewed from the glory in almost the identical words that we have it in Luke, only with the further light which had come in since the rejection of the Lord. Thus the individual remembrance of the Lord, which is so precious in the original institution, is still there. The little photograph, as it were, of our absent Lord, as pictured in the broken bread, and poured out wine is handed round to each one. “Do this in remembrance of me,” comes out in all its original freshness. But, besides the original thought of the Lord’s absence, is brought in the blessed thought of His coming. “As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” It is the gathering of the family of God at the Lord’s supper to remember their absent Lord, to remember His death for them, to show His death till He come. The aspect of the Lord’s death is rather His death for us here, which seals to us all the blessings of the New Testament, though also we show His death, which leads us on to the judgment of the flesh (see vers. 26, 27). In 1 Cor. 10 it is fellowship with the sacrifice — we participate together as members of the body of Christ in His death; but here it is more individual — we remember the Lord dying for us. We show His death till He come. But this last thought, as I said, leads us on to the judgment of the flesh, for the flesh killed the Lord; to allow it at the Lord’s table, to eat and drink in an unworthy manner, is then to allow that which killed the Lord, and to be guilty of His body and blood. Thus we are led to individual self-judgment. And where there is not this in exercise, the Lord’s hand is laid on us in chastisement, sickness or even death, to the end that the flesh in us may be judged.
1 Cor. 12 brings out the truth of the presence of the Holy Ghost in the assembly, and His workings in the several gifts He gives to men; then the unity of the body, formed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and its working in the members. Thus, the Lord’s supper being the great assembly meeting, we are prepared to see there how the Holy Ghost works in the assembly, which is now wholly viewed as the body of Christ, not using one member only (for the body is not one member, but many), but working in the unity of the whole body which should be there exhibited; many members, and yet but one body. Thus the principle of one-man ministry and many different bodies is entirely set aside. The double principle in the order of God’s assembly, is many members, yet working in one body. 1 Cor. 13 shows the true character of Christ and the Spirit, which is love, the true bond of union of the members. 1 Cor. 14 regulates the working of the assembly, for the Corinthians had turned the liberty of the Spirit into license. But all through the principle is, the reality of the presence of the Holy Ghost in the assembly, His free workings in the members of the body which He Himself formed, and His character love, which should mark each member. In the assembly the women were to keep silence, for it was not permitted to them to speak.
Thus we have seen in this blessed epistle the assembly in its double aspect of being the temple of God, and the body of Christ. In the former aspect it was the fruit of the wisdom of God in contrast with that human wisdom which was forming sects and parties, following leaders. It was founded on the cross of Christ which judged the flesh, Christ Himself in the glory, God’s wisdom and the Holy Ghost come down here as the Revealer and Communicator of that wisdom. In 1 Cor. 5 the Lord’s table is seen as the gathering place of the assembly on earth, a place from which all evil must be put away, as the leaven from the houses of the Israelites when eating the Passover. Thus the assembly is the place of judgment for the saints on earth, where also amongst wise brethren any difficulties among the saints may be settled (chap. 6). In 1 Cor. 10 the Lord’s table is seen connected with the thought of the assembly being the body of Christ. There the saints have communication together over the Lord’s death. There they exhibit the unity of the body. This also guards them from fellowship with any other false system of worship. In 1 Cor. 11 we see the Lord’s supper plainly shown forth to be the assembly meeting, yet seen rather in the family aspect of the supper, the saints there individually remembering the Lord’s death till He come, and exercising themselves in habitual individual self-judgment before they come there, so that the flesh might not dishonor the Lord. The great thing to realize is that it is the Lord’s table — the Lord’s supper. The Lord is present in Spirit, though actually absent in body. His authority, therefore, should be owned there. According to the word in Eph. 4: 4, 5, there is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The ground of gathering is the unity of the body, the center of gathering is the Lord’s person, the place of gathering on earth is the Lord’s table.  Here the Christians gather to be occupied with the Lord Himself, to break bread (Acts 20:7) in remembrance of His death, and to worship the Father through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).
May the Lord bless these few thoughts to the reader, that he may be enlightened both as to the true place the church holds, and as to the place the Lord’s table holds in connection with it.
The Bible Treasury 12:183-186.

No. 1 What Is Worship?

If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou won1dest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water (John 4:10).
These words tell us of the streams of God’s grace which flow down through the Son, by the Spirit, into our hearts; and just as a river has its eddies, and the water in those eddies flows back again towards its source, so is it with worship. It is the outflow of a heart, that has known God as a Giver; that has known the Son, through whom the gift flows down from heaven; that has tasted of the living water of God the Holy Ghost; and, having drunk, has found in that Holy Spirit a source of living water within his heart, that springs up unto everlasting life, and flows back again towards its source in adoration, worship, and praise (John 4:10, 14, 21). It is the answer of a soul that has found out that it is by God’s will that he is saved and sanctified, that that will has been carried out by God the Son, by a sacrifice that has for ever put away his sins, and given him a perfect conscience; the Holy Ghost testifying to his heart, — Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:7-17). Such an one will cry, “Abba, Father,” which name is revealed to us Christians, for the adoring worship of our hearts; and will be one of the true worshippers whom the Father seeks, during this dispensation, to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
But we must go to the Greek Testament, in which language the New Testament was originally written, to see the exact meaning of the word “worship.” Two words in the Greek language are used to express it, proskuneo and latreuo. The former word signifies to do reverence or homage by prostration, to pay divine homage, worship, adore (Matt. 2:2, 11; 4:10; John 4:20, 2l; Rev. 4:10). The latter is used in Heb. 9, 10, rather in regard to the public worship of the sanctuary, and is translated often by the word “serve,” “service” (Heb. 9:1, 6, 9; 14). In other verses, however, it is rightly translated worship (Heb. 10:2; Phil. 3:3). The general idea, then, is giving praise and homage to God and the Father, for what he is in Himself, and for what He is for those who approach Him. Thus we see that it is the very opposite of prayer, which asks something from God, whereas worship gives to God. Prayer may be truly mixed up with it, and be included in the general thought, but I may pray without one thought of worship, beyond the acknowledgment of God.
Going to hear an Evangelist preach is not worship. The Evangelist addresses himself to the world, whereas worship flows back to the Father from Children’s hearts. The mixture, then, of the two together in one service is mischievous, and calculated to destroy the division which God has made between the world and the Church. Going to hear any kind of ministry is not worship, though it may produce it. Ministry flows down from God to the people, whereas worship is what ascends from the people to God.
Alas, alas, the idea of worship is well nigh lost in Christendom. The world is invited to worship God, the people of God are mixed up with it, and then in the same meeting oftentimes the Gospel is preached to the unconverted. The Word of God carefully keeps the two things apart; Satan has mixed the two up together to the great detriment of God’s children and dishonour to the Lord, for it is written, The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 21:27). See, also, Isa. 1:10-15; Psa. 50:14-21. But let us look at two or three instances the Word of God gives us as to what worship is: — (See Deut. 26.) When Israel came into the land of Canaan, they were to bring the firstfruits of that land to the place where the Lord had chosen to put His name and offer it to the Lord. The offerer was to go to the priest, and to him profess that he was come into the land which the Lord had given to them. How beautiful! It was as an Israelite already come into the land, and professing it, that he offered his basket of first-fruits to the Lord. It is as a Christian already seated in heavenly places in Christ, and confessing it, that we worship the Father. (Cp. Eph. 1:3; 2:4-6, 18.) Then he was to say to the Lord,
A Syrian ready to perish was my father; and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: and he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first-fruits of the land which thou, O Lord, last given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God {Deut. 26:5-10}.
Such is worship. The worshiper is himself seated in the heavenlies in Christ and blessed with all spiritual blessings. He gives back to the Lord the precious fruits of praise and adoration which spring from a heart filled with Christ. We have a beautiful picture of worship in Matt. 2:1-11. The wise men having found the Christ they were seeking, in the manger of Bethlehem, right outside the religious center of worship at Jerusalem, they fall down and worship Him, presenting their best treasures as gifts — gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Lastly, in Rev. 4, 5, we see what the worship in heaven will be, and surely that is what we should follow most closely. In Rev. 4:11, it is the worship of the Creator:
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Not a word of prayer in it. It is the ascription of praise for what God is, and for what He has done. In Rev. 5:9, it is worship for redemption:
Thou art worthy, . . . for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Such even now should be the pattern for our worship; but, alas, how few worship-meetings do we find where such worship is expressed. Reader, do you understand what such worship means? Do you find yourself in a meeting where such worship is expressed?
Yet, beloved reader, Christ is made unto all believers, sanctification; (1 Cor. 1:30), That is, He is the measure of our separation to God. He is set apart for God’s use, in His very presence, as the High Priest Aaron was set apart for the service of the sanctuary. So are we. We are sanctified through His offering; we are separated to God, we have boldness to enter into the holiest through His blood. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. Let us give then unitedly, and all together, the fruits of this heavenly land, an offering to the Lord. Let us own the Lord Jesus in heaven as the only center of worship, as we see in Rev. 5:6-10, the redeemed saints in heaven will do, and as we see in Matt. 2 the wise men did, when He was a young child on earth. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, and say, — “Thou art worthy.” Reader, do you know what such worship means? Surely, if you do, you must see that the general worship that goes on around falls far short of it. Is such worship what agrees with heaven? Will such worship do for the holiest? Are the worshippers that fill the churches of Christendom sanctified ones? Yet you must be that for worship in the holiest. The Lord give the beloved reader to consider what is God’s due, and to see that worship is a gift which is to be given to God, and therefore must be perfect to be accepted; lest any should get His rebuke;
If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil; and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil; offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person? saith the Lord of Hosts: But cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of Hosts (Mal. 1:8, 14).

No. 2 Whom Do You Worship?

Christian, whom do you worship? This may seem a very plain question to you; but I mean it. You answer, perhaps: I worship GOD as everybody else does, of course. Well, I answer, if you get to the heart of many of the so-called worshippers, who fill the churches of Christendom, they do not worship at all. GOD is not in all their thoughts. I know this is not true of the Christian; but it is on this very account that he should he able to answer the question: Whom do I worship?
Whom did the LORD JESUS worship? Look at Matt. 4:10:
It is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy GOD, and HIM only shalt thou serve.
See also Matt.11:25:
At that time JESUS answered and said, I thank thee, O FATHER, LORD of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.
The LORD JESUS worshiped GOD, His Father. Whom did Paul worship? See Eph. 1:3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
He worshiped the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew a God and Father who had blessed him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and the consequence was that an upward stream of adoration and praise went back to that God who had thus let His streams of grace flow down into his heart.
Whom did Peter worship? Listen to 1 Pet. 1:3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Peter knew a God and Father who had begotten Him again by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and this thought so filled him with praise that the upward stream of worship flowed back to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who had thus so blessed him.
And who is this wonderful Being whom we are called to worship? Hear what a voice answers: —
And straightway coming up out of the water he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him; And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:10, 11).
Here the Trinity is revealed; the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; three unmistakable persons, yet as He said of old,
The Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4).
The seraphims veil their faces before Him, and say unceasingly, Holy, Holy, Holy (Isa. 6:2, 3). The four and twenty elders fall down and worship him, crying out,
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Rev. 4:10, 11).
The Son, however, must have equal honor, for by him were all things created (Col. 1:16).
The Holy Ghost must have equal honour, for by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens (Job 26:13).
He is the SAVIOUR GOD also, who hath saved us, through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (see Titus 3:4, 6).
As one of feeble mind (but who had the wisdom of God), once said when called on to describe the Trinity: —
Three in One
One in Three,
And the Man in the Middle
He Died for Me,
And the Man in the Middle
Is the Man for Me.
Reader, here is the God you are called on not to reason about, but to bow your head to and adore.
But, again, what is this God whom the Lord Jesus (as man), Paul and Peter worshiped and adored, and whom you and I are likewise called to worship and adore?
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
He is a God that cannot have fellowship with evil, so that if we (Christians) say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. (See 1 John 1:5, 6.)
Is that the God you worship? Then take care you don’t walk in darkness yourself, nor worship with those with whom God can have no fellowship.
But, again, what is this God whom we are called to worship?
God is love,
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:8-10).
Is this the God you worship? Do you know a God who is in himself love? who loved you as an ungodly one, who, when you were yet a sinner, gave Christ to die for you; who, when you were still an enemy, reconciled you to Himself by His Son’s death? Then joy in such a God fully revealed (Rom. 5:6: 11). Worship Him with full confidence yourself and in company with those who have the like confidence because they know Him.
But again, I ask you, fellow believer, whom do you worship? The Lord, speaking to the poor woman of Samaria, in John 4:21, said to her,
The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father.
The Father’s name was presented to this poor sinner, as the object for the adoring worship of her heart when renewed by His grace. It drew her on, doubtless; for what is so sweet to an orphan heart as the Father’s name? but still she could not, and did not understand it then. The hour was coming, however, when she should know it. It was only then known to the Son. Even the disciples, who were the constant companions of Jesus, did not understand the Father’s name when revealed to them before the cross (see John 14:7, 10), though they had been taught to say it in a form of prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). No, dear reader, Jesus must die and rise again, before He can associate any with Himself in this new revealed relationship of children of God; as he said,
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24).
He must die and rise again, I say, before he can appear to Mary Magdalene, and say,
Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God (John 20:17).
He must also ascend to heaven, and the Holy Ghost come down, before the newly-made sons (John 20:17, 22) could cry, Abba, Father.
Do you see, dear reader, that the Father’s name can only be known and adored by sons? Your natural father’s name is only known as such to his own family. So it is only those who are accepted in the beloved, who really know the Father’s name. His name is only held in honour amongst the sons. Jesus said,
I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee (Heb. 2:12).
Are you, beloved reader, worshiping in an assembly in which the Lord Jesus is free to lead His people’s praises and is declaring the Father’s name in the midst of the assembled brethren?
“Abba, Father,” we approach Thee,
In our Saviour’s precious name;
We, Thy children, here assembling,
Now the promised blessing claim;
From our guilt His blood has washed us,
’Tis through Him our souls draw nigh;
And Thy Spirit too has taught us,
“Abba, Father,” thus to cry.

Once as prodigals we wandered,
In our folly far from Thee;
But Thy grace, o’er sin abounding,
Rescued us from misery;
Thou the prodigal hast pardoned,
“Kissed us” with a Father’s love;
“Killed the fatted calf,” and called us
E’er to dwell with Thee above.

Clothed in garments of salvation,
At Thy table is our place;
We rejoice, and Thou rejoicest,
In the richness of Thy grace.
“It is meet,” we hear Thee saying,
“We should merry be and glad;
I have found my once lost children,
Now they live who once were dead.”

“Abba, Father!” we adore Thee,
While the hosts in heaven above
E’en in us now learn the wonders
Of Thy wisdom, grace, and love.
Soon before Thy throne assembled,
All Thy children shall proclaim
Abba’s love as shown in Jesus,
And how full is Abba’s name!

No. 3 How Do You Worship?

Many have no more idea of worship than the poor woman had whom Jesus met at the well of Samaria (John 4). And yet it was to this poor sinner that the Lord made known, first of all, the principles of Christian worship. She could boast of the difference between the Samaritan religion and that of the Jews. She could not understand how a Jew could talk or hold fellowship with a woman of Samaria (v. 9). She could boast of her people’s descent from their forefather Jacob (v. 12), and could talk fast enough as to whether it was right to worship in the mountain of Samaria, or at Jerusalem (v. 20). But, alas, with all that religion, she was living with a man that was not her husband (v. 17, 18).
Professing Christian, do you know anything more of Christian worship than that poor woman did? If I were to come and ask you “How do you worship?” would you not answer me, “Well, of course I go to church on Sunday, and I was baptized and confirmed, and I go to the sacrament regularly, and I am not like some people who always are going with Dissenters.” Or, perhaps some one else says, “I glory in being a Wesleyan, and you know Wesley was a good man, and our Church is getting on wonderfully in the world. Others may think it right to go with the Baptists, but, as for myself, my forefathers followed my Church and I mean to stay where I am.” Professing Christian? I mean no offence in thus speaking so plainly; these expressions are by no means uncommon around. I want really by them to arouse your conscience as to whether your religion is not merely a cloak to cover your sins, just as it was with the Samaritan woman.
But if you tell me, “I am a Christian; this time nn years I was born again; I then rested on the blood of Christ, and I know my sins are forgiven,” then thank God you can worship God, and oftentimes your heart has individually praised your God and Father. Still, my fellow-believer, I would ask you how do you worship God in the Assembly? Perhaps you answer, “Oh, it does not matter where I worship; wherever I find most Christians, I like to go, and wherever there is a godly minister I like to hear him. The Lord said, did he not? that the hour was coming when it did not matter where one worshiped, and I like to go where I can get most good.” Yes, dear fellow-believer, He did say
The hour cometh when ye shalt neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father (John 4:21).
This hour was in contrast to what the system of worship was in the day when the Lord Jesus lived. It was then right to worship at Jerusalem, for Jehovah had set His name there, and salvation was of the Jews (ver. 22). But the hour was coming, after the Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, when a world-wide worship should prevail, and then it would not matter in what place in the world the Christian worshiped.
But, though this is quite true, it greatly matters how the Christian worships; for the hour was coming when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).
After the rejection of Messiah by the Jews, and His ascension to the right hand of God, the system of worship was entirely changed. The Father is how seeking worshippers out of the wide, wide world. They are formed by being born again, by faith in the Lord Jesus and by the reception of the Holy Ghost. God has this gift in store for them. It flows down to them through His dead and risen Son; they receive the Holy Ghost and drink, and immediately He becomes a source of living water within them, springing up unto everlasting life (John 4:10, 14). These are the true worshippers, and they are called to worship in spirit and in truth; for God is a Spirit and they must worship according to His mind. Thus we see, dear fellow-believer, that whereas, under Judaism, Jehovah was seeking a nation to worship Him, and godly and ungodly all worshiped together in an earthly sanctuary after a manner that suited the flesh; the Father now is seeking true worshippers out of the world. Thus, first of all, only the saved compose the worshippers; secondly, they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Having received the Spirit of God, they were to find in Him their sufficient power of worship; and, as He flowed down freely into them as the gift of God, so now He was to be the source of life within them to send back to the throne of God the streams of a pure worship, thanksgiving, and praise, acceptable to God through Christ. The people of God were to find in Him their sufficiency for worship, both individually and corporately. God the Holy Ghost dwelt in the body of each individual believer (1 Cor. 6:19), as also in the assembly (1 Cor. 3:16), and that was sufficient. But the worship was also to be in truth, that is, according to the Word of God. Judaism and its worship were regulated by the law, Christian worship must be regulated by the New Testament Scriptures. The one has passed away, the other has taken its place (Heb. 7:12, 18, 19; 8:13).
But in 1 Cor. 14 we have an account of the manner in which the worship meetings of the early Christians were conducted.
First of all we see, in 1 Cor. 11:17-26, that when the Christians came together in the assembly (as it is called, ver. 18), when they came together in one place, it was to eat the Lord’s Supper, (ver. 20). The apostle, however, would not allow it was the Lord’s Supper, owing to the manner in which they were meeting. He corrects them accordingly (ver. 23). The assembly, when met thus, gathered on the basis of the one body of Christ (1 Cor. 12); of which breaking together the one bread was the expression, as well as of the communion of the Saints with the death of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16, 17). The Lord’s table being thus the expression of the one body of Christ gathered together, it was the place where the action of that body was seen. And as the Holy Ghost had formed the church, and filled it, so He manifested His action in the members when the assembly was gathered together. This is what we see in 1 Cor. 12. The character of that Spirit was love, and this was what was to bind the Christians together, 1 Cor. 13. Now these Corinthians were taking advantage of these gifts of the Holy Ghost, who had endued many with the miraculous gift of tongues, by childishly displaying these gifts of unknown tongues in the assembly when gathered together (1 Cor. 14:23). The apostle shows the great advantage of the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues (1-13). The one was for edification, the other could not be understood. He mentions four things which might be manifested in such a worship meeting (ver. 14), prayer; (ver. 15) singing; (ver. 16) blessing or worship; (ver. 19) speaking. But the great point was that their prayers and singing and worship and speaking should be with the spirit, and with the understanding also. But where was the use of Paul’s thus addressing them, if their usual way of meeting was by having one man to do the whole service? Ver. 23 plainly shows the perfect liberty that reigned; which was turned into license. Everybody was speaking with tongues, so that an unbeliever coming in would think they were all mad. After exhorting them not all to speak at once, for the spirits of the prophets were subject to the prophets (vv. 26 and 32); how does he correct them? Does he appoint one man to do the whole service? No! but he says
God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (ver. 33).
That was the corrective power for them to remember that God the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the assembly (1 Cor. 3:16, 12:4-13). Now, here we find the way how to worship God in the assembly, viz., To own the presence of God was there. This was truly united worship in spirit (John 4:23, 24).
Dear brother in the Lord, are you in an assembly which worships God after this manner? This is the manner for an assembly to worship God in spirit and in truth.
1st. We have seen that every believer, composing such assembly, should be a true worshipper.
2nd. The Father’s name is known and adored by these worshippers.
3rd. The presence of the Holy Ghost in the body of each believer is his power of worship.
4th. The presence of the Holy Ghost is as sufficient for the assembly as for the individual believer. He rules and guides in an assembly, rightly gathered. For further rules as to Christian worship, see Heb. 9, 10:1, 30.
O Lord, we know it matters not,
How sweet the song may be;
No heart but of the Spirit taught
Makes melody to Thee.
Then teach Thy gather’d saints,
O Lord, To worship in Thy fear;
And let Thy grace mould every word
That meets Thy holy ear.

Thou hast by blood made sinners meet,
As saints in light, to come
And worship at the mercy-seat,
Before th’ Eternal throne.

Thy precious name is all we show,
Our only passport, Lord;
And full assurance now we know,
Confiding in Thy word.

O largely give, ’tis all Thine own,
The Spirit’s goodly fruit:
Praise, issuing forth in life, alone
Our living Lord can suit.

Henceforth let each beloved child
With quicken’d step proceed,
To walk with garments undefiled
Where’er Thine eye may lead.

No. 4 With Whom Do You Worship?

I generally go with the Presbyterians; I like their doctrine, and there are many nice Christians amongst them.
B. But, dear brother, where do you find such a name in Scripture; where do you find a people called Presbyterians?
A. But it is only a name; people must have a name, you know, in religion; they must belong to some Church or other.
B. Pardon me, my dear friend; taking a name is not such a light matter. Satan has used these names to divide Christians one from another who are members of the one body, of which Christ is the head. It is distinctly forbidden in 1 Cor. 3:4, when the Christians were saying:
I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.
They are said to be carnal and to walk as men.
A. But don’t people call you by some name or other, one must belong to some Church in this world.
B. There is but one body and one Spirit, and the name of Christ is written upon that body, (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:l2). Those who meet on the basis of that one body cannot help being called names, but, if they think the name of Christ is written upon them, they can’t help rejecting such names as Plymouth Brethren, &c., lest they should dishonour the Name of Christ. Surely that name is sufficient to hold together Christians, for the Lord Jesus said, Himself,
Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them {Matt. 18:20}.
You are not ashamed of that name when you think of it in regard to your salvation. Why should not the name of Christ the Anointed be as sufficient for the assembly as that of the Lord Jesus is for your individual salvation?
A. Well, it does seem a beautiful theory, but it seems to me, in practice, to be impossible; what could we do if we had no one to preach to us?
B. Why come together to break bread every first day of the week as the early Christians, whether a Paul was there or not (Acts 20:7), and if no one uttered a word, except in silence, it would honour the Lord Jesus, who has given authority thus to come together,
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
Remember, what God wants is the adoring worship of your heart, which is almost unknown in a corporate sense in Christendom. That is His due, and, if you give Him His due, He will surely respond to your need, by sending the needed ministry at the right time.
A. But with whom then am I to worship? I don’t see clearly yet.
B. Because you don’t see that Christ and the assembly, His body, are one. That is why I have dwelt more on His person and His name, that you might see that He is the life and sufficiency of the assembly, His body, and that you might see that I am not speaking of a sect, or of anything outside Christ. But this, of course, limits me to worshiping only with those who are the members of His body, and only those are members of that body who have keen baptised by the Holy Ghost into it (see 1 Cor. 12:12). They are members not of Presbyterians or Methodists, or of any other sect, but of the body of Christ.
A. But where do we see that body now? I own to being a member of the body of Christ; but that is invisible.
B. Its invisibility proves that the Church is in ruins, for, on the day of Pentecost, we read that all who repented, and were baptised, received the gift of the Holy Ghost, to the amount of three thousand souls, and they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, and in the fellowship and breaking of bread, and in prayers,
And all that believed were together (Acts 2:38, 42, 44).
This was a visible assembly, was it not? and expressed by breaking the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17). So, the apostle addressing the assembly of God at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), says,
Now ye are the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).
They were all together. A letter now addressed to the assembly of God at N. would go into the dead letter office.
A. But then if I owned the body of Christ as an existing thing, and that it was a visible assembly, it would separate me from all I love, and from many dear Christians; for, if that membership is the only membership, then all sectarian membership must be wrong.
B. It would separate you, dear brother, but you would have Christ with you even if you were alone, and you would be in a position whence you could truly love all the children of God, because you own that membership and the Holy Ghost as the only bond between Christians.
A. But did you not say, the other day, that all Christians were priests, and that we ought to worship owning that truth? How does that bear on the subject?
B. Yes, dear brother, all Christians are priests, and it is as priests we draw near to worship God. The priests were separated in the Jewish economy for the service of the Sanctuary; and their office was to offer the sacrifices on the altar, and to offer incense; a beautiful type of worship. See Ex. 28, 29, 1 Chron. 13:10, 11. In this dispensation all Christians are washed in Christ’s blood, and made kings and priests to God (Rev. 1:5, 6; 1 Pet. 2:5); and a true worship meeting should be composed of such worshippers, and their true attraction should be Christ the Great High Priest, who is set down on the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven (Heb. 8:1). The one man System of Christendom has destroyed this idea of a worship meeting. It is a going back more or less to Judaism, where the people were kept afar off, and only could approach God (who was hid behind a veil) by the priests.
A. Oh, but that is not true of Protestants; that is only true of Romanists.
B. Then why, dear brother, supposing the minister should not come, is there no service? Surely any sensible man would say that that congregation could not worship God without a minister. Is not this, after all, a modified form of the Roman system? Why should not the Christians be satisfied with Christ? And, besides, the majority of worshippers in the churches are composed of unconverted people who have not a purged conscience. They do not know whether their sins are forgiven.
A. What is a purged conscience?
B. Why, dear brother, that is one of the chief contrasts brought forward in Heb. 9, 10, between the worshippers of Judaism and those of Christianity. The sacrifices of Judaism could never make the comers thereunto perfect (Heb. 9:9-10; 10:1). So, being imperfect themselves, they needed constant repetition and constant applications to the worshipper. But, now, the blood of Christ perfectly purges the conscience from dead works to worship the living God. Christ, having offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; and that sacrifice applied to the conscience perfects it for ever (Heb. 9:13, 14; 10:12-14). The Holy Ghost then testifies,
Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more {see Heb. 8:12, 10:17}.
This gives the character of the worshippers of Christianity, who are to draw near, with a true heart and full assurance of faith. Such are not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but to exhort one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching (Heb. 10:22-25).
A. But I always applied that text to those who talked to me about leaving my Church. I see now it has a totally different meaning. Oh, how blind we all are!
B. The Lord give to you, dear brother, to enjoy communion with blood- sprinkled worshippers, and to be content with the Great High Priest, the minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8:1-2).

No. 5 Who Is Your Center of Worship?

Is he a minister or priest, without whom (should he not come to the church) you cannot worship? Is it a human name, so that, if there were not some in the place worshiping under that name, you cannot worship God? Is it a building or church, so that you say, “I have no church to go to in that place”; or is it Christ? Is Christ your alone center of worship, so that you want nothing but Himself to attract you? Who is the minister of the Sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord hath pitched, and not man (Heb. 8:2)? Is the Name of the Lord Jesus sufficient for you to gather to? As Scripture says,
Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20);
and are the members of His body or church, and the living stones of His temple, sufficient associates for you to worship with, not in a worldly sanctuary, but in the heavenly places in Christ?
Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, &c., and having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near &c. (Heb. 10:19-22).
Look through Scripture, dear believer, and see if there be any authority for one man to lead the Assembly in worship. When ministry is exercised, this is of necessity the case; but in worship never,
for the body is not one member but many (1 Cor. 12:14).
Under the Mosaic economy, true, the priests drew near to God for the people; but Aaron alone held the supremacy above them. In Christianity, all Christians are priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6), and Christ is alone supreme over them.
So in all the places of the New Testament where we have our rules for worship, such as Eph. 2:18; Heb. 9, 10; and 1 Pet. 2:4, 5, there is no idea of ministry entering into them. In the former passage, we worship on the basis that Christ has been exalted as man to God’s right hand, and made head of His body, the church (Eph. 1:20-23). We who were dead in trespasses and sin have been quickened together with Him, raised up together, and made to sit together in Heavenly places in Him (2:1-7). Saved by grace, there is no difference now between Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of partition, consisting of the law and its ordinances, has been broken down by the cross. Jew and Gentile see the end of their enmity there, and in resurrection are formed into one new man, peace being made in Christ. He is in heaven the Head, and through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father (vers. 8, 18). What a blessed center of worship to have! If the saints only knew their calling, how could they wish for any other basis of worship or center but Christ? He fills the body. He is the life of the Assembly. The members are linked to Him and to one another by the Holy Ghost, who draws every member to Him by a common attraction and power.
In Heb. 9, 10, we are shown in direct contrast to Judaism, that we need no one to come between us and God in such worship but Christ. Under Judaism the people were not allowed to approach God. The priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God for them (ch. 9:6). But even they could not enter the holiest. A veil shut God out from them. The High Priest could only enter once a year (ver. 7). Thus it was a system keeping God and the people apart from one another. It was a worshiping afar off (Ex. 24). What did it all mean? Why, that the way into the presence of God was not made manifest under that economy (Heb. 9:8). The sacrifices, too, that were offered up could not give a perfect conscience (ver. 9). There was no approach to God. No perfect conscience. An imperfect High Priest was their center of worship too, who had to offer for himself as well as for the people. But now, blessed be God, the sacrifice of Christ has put away sins once for all; the blood applied to the conscience perfects us for ever (Heb. 10:12-14). Christ, by His death and resurrection and ascension, is the open way into our place of worship. The veil is rent by His death. We enter in with boldness by His blood, and find in Him our Great High Priest, our perfect, worthy, and all-sufficient center of worship, through whom we approach God without fear (Heb. 10:19-21).
He is the living Stone, and Foundation Stone of the building to which we come. Rejected of the Jewish builders, He is laid in Death and Resurrection a sure foundation. He ascends to heaven, the topmost Stone of the building, thus uniting heaven and earth together. We come to Him, a rejected Christ of the world, but chosen of God and precious, and are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Where is there an idea of ministry in these passages? In the one case, it is the figure of a body united to a Head. Such is the church; Christ, as Head of His body, is its all sufficient center of worship. 2nd. It is the figure of a great High Priest in the midst of a family of priests, all on a level. All approach God on a common basis. Thirdly. It is the figure of a building. Christ, the foundation and corner stone, uniting all the living stones together, as well as heaven and earth. With no veil between them and God, the true Aaron and his sons (Christ and believers) worship inside, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Oh, my dear fellow believer, I pray you consider Him, under these varied aspects. Consider what He is, as the risen and ascended man, placed in heaven by God, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; how that God hath put all things under His feet and given Him to be the Head over all things to the church which is His body (Eph. 1:18-20). Consider Him as the man of God’s purpose, set up from everlasting or ever the world was (Prov. 8:23); born in due time into the world, and in whom God hath purposed, in the dispensation of the fullness of times, to gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him (Eph. 1:9, 10). In that millennial glory all in heaven shall be centered around him, and shall cry,
Worthy is the Lamb (Rev. 5).
All things on earth likewise, for He shall be King over all the earth, with Israel in the center. (See Zech. 14:9-16, 17.) Oh! fellow believer, have you entered into the thought of God’s purposes that are revealed about Christ? If it is God’s purpose thus to have Christ in the center of all things in heaven and earth in the ages to come, know that already He has set Him up in heaven to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body; and that now every believer’s place is to be a member of that body, to be attracted to Him as the Head, as to a common center, and to find in that Head the source from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God (Col. 2:19).
Consider Him, likewise, as the Son of the living God, the one over whom the gates of Hades have not prevailed, the foundation stone, and chief corner stone of God’s spiritual house; as He said (Matt. 16:18),
Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Who is this wonderful person?
The brightness of God’s glory, the express image of his Person {see Heb. 1:3}
whom the angels worshiped when He was born in this world; of whom one said,
Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands; They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but thou art the same and thy years shall not fail (Heb. 1:3, 6, 10-12).
Yes, before the foundation of the world, set up from everlasting He was there, and, when the heavens and earth are all rolled up as a scroll, He shall be there. Well might the Apostle find a refuge in such a Person, as the Head over all things to the Church, when it had all outwardly gone to ruin, and say,
Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure (2 Tim. 2:19-21).
Lastly, consider Him as the Great High Priest of our profession. Read Ex. 28, and see in the High Priest, clothed in His garments of glory and beauty, a faint shadow of the Person who is set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8:1). See Him clothed in the garments of righteousness and salvation. See Him holding His people on His strong shoulder, and bearing them on His loving heart; and see there your Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man (ver. 2).
Dear fellow believer, is this Christ your sufficient basis and center of worship?
Jesus, Saviour, we adore Thee;
Christ of God, Anointed Son!
We confess Thee Lord of Glory,
Fruits of victory Thou hast won.

Access to the Father’s mansion
Through the Christ of God we have,
By the Spirit sent from heaven,
Promise of the Father’s love.

No. 6 What Is Your Place of Worship?

Israel’s place of worship was the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the temple in Jerusalem.
The Christian’s place of worship is heaven, into which Christ has passed, and of which the holy places of the tabernacle were faint pictures. (See Heb. 9:23, 24.) But these shadows and figures are beautiful; they are often God’s picture books for His young children, to instruct them in His truth.
Let us look, then, for one moment at Israel’s history. It was not till they were redeemed out of Egypt and brought to God at Mount Sinai, that the tabernacle, their place of worship, was set up. Has this no lesson for us, dear young Christian? Does not this at once shut out from the worship of God all except those who are brought to God? But there are three great steps in Israel’s history before their place of worship was set up. What are they? First, they are set right with God (Exodus 12), and saved from the judgment of the first born, by the blood of the Passover Lamb.
Secondly, they are delivered from Pharaoh by the passage of the Red Sea, and sing the song of redemption and salvation outside Egypt (Ex. 14, 15).
Thirdly, they are brought to God at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:4).
Are not these wondrous types of God’s dealings with your soul?
1st. As a needy, ungodly sinner you found the value of the blood of the Lamb slain, and were justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9).
2nd. You found that your greatest enemy was an evil nature of sin within you, and which pursued you, as it were, after you were justified, till you found deliverance from sin, the world, and Satan, by the death and resurrection of Christ. Now, as having died with Christ, and Christ living in you, you sing the song of salvation (Rom. 5:12; 8).
3rd. You have found that Christ died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring you to God (l Pet. 3:18). You stand now in God’s presence without fear, because in a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), in the light as God is in the light (1 John1:7). You are not come, however, to a mount burning with fire, &c., as Mount Sinai was; but to a God of grace, of which Mount Sion is a picture. See Heb. 12:18-24.
Now, dear young Christian, God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, but in heaven itself, as Stephen told the Jews. There is your place of worship.
There the Great High Priest, the center of Christian worship, ministers. There are the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8:1, 2).
This place of worship is in direct contrast to the Jewish tabernacle (Heb. 9 1, 2), of which it is said,
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of Divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made,
divided into two parts; the outer tabernacle was called the Holy Place, and the inner chamber the Holiest of all. Inside this inner chamber Jehovah’s presence was manifested, and a veil shut Him in. No one could approach but Aaron the High Priest, and that only once a year, with blood and a cloud of incense. Outside the tabernacle was the brazen altar, on which the daily sacrifices were offered up, in view of all the people. But these applied to the conscience could not satisfy or cleanse it. Under the law, dear young Christian, there was no approach to God, no perfect conscience (Heb. 9:6-9).
Still, what a beautiful figure of the way in which the Christian approaches God. The first step is to the altar, but that altar signifies Christ’s death, which is the step out of Judaism and all worldly religion suited to the flesh (the camp was a type of this), for He was put to death outside the gate of Jerusalem. But then we enter, by Christ into the true tabernacle (Heb. 13:10-15). The veil is rent by His death, we enter in by Christ Himself, and our place is in the holiest by virtue of that same blood (Heb. 9:24, 10:19), with a perfect conscience cleansed from all sin. Dear young Christian, what beauties do you now see in Christ! Outside, the tabernacle looked plain with its badger’s skin covering, but inside all was gold. See Exodus 25, 26. To the sinner outside there is no beauty in Christ. He is despised and rejected of men, but, to the worshipper inside, oh, what glories do we see in His Person, the Son of God, the Creator of the worlds, yet the perfect man who has opened up for us this place in the very presence of God!
It is related of the Queen of Sheba (2 Chron. 9:1-9) that when she had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house he had built, and the meat at his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent, by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit left within her. In the light of the glory of Solomon all that she was became nothing, and immediately her tongue was loosed to praise Solomon, and to praise the God of Solomon.
Dear young Christian, the way to have the spirit of worship is to be so in communion with the Lord’s death that, nature being in the place of judgment, the life of Jesus may flow out in worship, adoration, and praise. If consciously dwelling and walking in the light of God’s presence, this will be so. And this is your place of worship.
In Heb. 10 the altar and the tabernacle are again reproduced; Christ’s death setting aside the old altar and sacrifices of Judaism, and the heavenly sanctuary setting aside the earthly one. Our title to go into the presence of God is the blood of Jesus; our way in the Lord Jesus Himself through the rent veil, that is to say, — His flesh; our center of worship, when inside, the Lord Jesus Himself, the High Priest over the house of God (ver. 19-21).
The blood, applied to us, causes the heart to be sprinkled from an evil conscience; Christ’s flesh (or the veil rent), applied to us, causes our bodies to be washed with pure water (ver. 22). The old nature is set aside for faith, and we approach God in a new nature by the power of the Spirit; and, knowing we have a Great High Priest who is soon coming out to bless us, we hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering (Heb. 10:19-25). There as brought outside the religious world or camp by the death of Christ yet brought into the holiest of all, by Him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name (Heb. 13:10-15).
Let us there anticipate the worship of heaven as pictured to us in Rev. 4, 5, and there, in company with the four living creatures and four and twenty elders, with the angels, and every living creature in heaven and earth, fall down and worship Him that sitteth on the throne, and the Lamb, and say, “Thou art worthy.” Let us own Christ as the alone center of worship, and sing together the new song, the peculiar portion of the redeemed, saying
Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred and nation and tongue, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign over the earth {see Rev. 5:9, 10}.
The veil is rent — our souls draw near
Unto a throne of grace;
The merits of the Lord appear,
They fill the holy place.

His precious blood has spoken there,
Before and on the throne;
And His own wounds in heaven declare
The atoning work is done.

“’Tis finished on the cross,”
He said, In agonies and blood:
’Tis finished! — now He lives to plead
Before the face of God.

’Tis finished! — here our souls have rest,
His work can never fail;
By Him, our Sacrifice and Priest,
We pass within the veil.

Within the holiest of all,
Cleansed by his precious blood,
Before the throne we prostrate fall,
And worship Thee, O God.

Boldly the heart and voice we raise,
His blood, His name, our plea;
Assured our prayers and songs of praise
Ascend, by Christ, to Thee.

The Ruin of the Church and the Believer’s Way Out of It

Rev. 1, 22:16, 17
Revelation chapter 1 teaches us a solemn lesson, and that is that the Church had already become, in John’s day, the object of Christ’s judgment. Not that it was then executed, nor has it been yet, but it had already become an object of that judgment having already failed as the vessel of God’s testimony on the earth. When I say this also, I would guard the fact, that the Church is not looked at in that chapter as the body of Christ. It is the professing Church, figured by the seven assemblies of Asia, who represent there the complete figure of the professing Church of God in John’s day (ch. 1:4, 11, 20).
The Church is looked at in two great aspects in the New Testament. It is figured in 1st Corinthians by a temple and a body (ch. 3:12). In Ephesians by a temple, habitation and a body (ch. 3, 4:4). In Colossians by a body. In 1st Timothy by a house (ch. 3:15). Thus generally we say it is the house of God, or we may say, it is the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus having been rejected by the Jews and Gentiles in the world, the cross of Christ became their judgment before God, and consequent upon this God glorified the Second Man above every created being in the heavenly places, and sent down the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, baptizing all those who had by grace believed in God’s Son, into one body, and building them together to be His habitation by the Spirit.
The Church then existed on this three-fold basis; first, the cross as the judgment of man in the flesh, saving at the same time those that believed (1 Cor. 1:22). Second, Christ’s exaltation (1 Cor. 1:30). Thirdly, the descent of the Holy Ghost, (1 Cor. 2:10, 16). Thus it was set up as a new man, the believing Jew and Gentile having died in Christ on the cross. Christ glorified being the Head of the new creation (Eph. 2), and the Holy Ghost come down uniting the believers together to Christ in Heaven, and to one another on earth, in a new life entirely (1 Cor. 12:12, 13). Such was the body of Christ.
As a building the Church may be looked at first as Christ’s building which He builds (Matt. 16:16-18), growing up to be when He comes again a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:20, 21). In this aspect it is only composed of living stones, real believers (1 Pet. 2:5). Secondly, as handed over to the responsibility of man, as we read in 1 Cor. 3:10, 17, where the Apostle Paul laid the foundation among the Gentiles as Peter had among the Jews, and other Christian builders built it up, some with good material, others with bad, whilst an unconverted builder might corrupt the temple of God, and by God be destroyed. But anyhow, whether the walls were built in of living stones or bad material, God the Holy Ghost had come down from heaven, and taken up His abode in the midst of these believers as in a house, and so the Church is called the house or temple of God.
Now, man in whatever way he has been tested, has failed; tried as innocent before the fall, he listened to the lie of Satan and brought ruin and death on the whole race. Left to himself as before the flood, he did his own will, and filled the earth with violence and corruption. Tried under government in the hands of Noah, he got drunk, built the Tower of Babel and went into idolatry. Tried under law he broke it. Tried under Christ, he rejected and crucified Him. It has been no different since the cross. The Jews resisted the Holy Ghost; the flesh in the believer lusts against the Spirit; the church as a corporate body has began by boasting and self-confidence (1 Cor. 1); and will end by being cut off.
Moral evil began and was allowed at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:5). Doctrinal evil in Galatia. To the Philippians the sad testimony had already gone forth,
All seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:21).
In Colosse many had left holding the Head. In 2 Timothy all they of Asia had departed from the Apostle Paul. The Church was then figured as a great house, with a mixture of vessels in it, and the believer was to purge himself from the vessels of dishonor (2 Tim. 2:19, 22). In 1 Pet. 4 the time was come when judgment must begin at the house of God. In the second Epistle, the future days of Christendom are described, by false teachers bringing in damnable sects, marked by denying the Mastership of Christ and His rights over men; by scoffers openly railing at the second coming of the Lord, (ch. 2, 3). John speaks of many antichrists as already existing, and preparing the way for the antichrist who should deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2:18, 22). Jude likewise traces the progress of evil by the three forms of evil, as pictured in Cain, Balaam, and Korah, ending up with Enoch’s prophecy of the Lord’s coming to execute judgment.
But not till Rev. 1 do we find the Church as actually become the object of judgment itself. In John’s Epistle the good was still so strong that the evil had been forced out (1 John 2:19). In Jude evil men had crept in, and there seemed no power to put them out. But in Rev. 1 we have the awful picture of the seven lampstands figuring the complete Church of God on earth as God’s vessel of testimony with the Son of man in their midst in the awful aspect of Judge; going to spue the Church out of His mouth as a loathsome thing (Rev. 1–3).
The seven candlesticks which represented the seven assemblies in Asia, may be taken in two ways. 1st, as a complete picture of the state of the whole professing Church in John’s day; 2nd, as a seven-fold development of the history of the professing Church from John’s day when he wrote a book, to the time of the coming of the Lord to judge it. Seven is a scriptural figure of completeness. We have seven parables of the kingdom of heaven in Matt. 13; seven candlesticks; seven stars and a seven sealed book, seven trumpets, and seven vials; all these latter figure in Revelations. In reference then to the first head, we have this awfully solemn fact, that the Church set up as a light-bearer in this world had totally failed in its responsibility to God in John’s last days. The Son of man stood in its midst as a Judge, finally going to spue it out of His mouth as a loathsome thing.
As to the second idea being Scriptural, I would add that the four last Churches are addressed in reference to the coming of the Lord, which would have little or no meaning unless it was to picture the state of the professing Church when He actually does come. The seven phases of address to the Churches so agree too with the actual history, that it cannot be doubted.
In the address to Ephesus we have pictured before us the first departure of the Church from Christ. It had left its first love to the Lord, though outwardly showing many good works and zeal against evil and antinomianism. In Smyrna we have before us the age succeeding to that of the Apostles where ten persecutions were used by God for the purifying of a declining Church. In Pergamos we have pictured the Constantine age when the Church became united to the world. This is shown by those who held Balaam’s doctrine, who was hired by a king of Moab to curse the people of God, and failing in this taught him how to mix them up in unlawful marriages and heathen worship with his people. Antinomianism was likewise allowed there. In Thyatira, we have the age of the Church when Rome got power, and when the Pope exercised rule over the kings of Christendom — like a second Jezebel married to Ahab, the king of the people. This will continue to the time of the Lord’s coming. Space has been given to repentance since the reformation, but without avail. A remnant, however, will be found faithful in that circle when the Lord comes.
In Sardis we have the reformation age and what succeeded in Protestantism; a name to live, but really as to the mass dead. This circle will be judged as the world at the appearing of Christ. A remnant will be saved. In Philadelphia we have the present time pictured to us in those who have returned in trueness of heart to the Person of Christ, the Holy One and the True, who keep His Word and do not deny His name. This circle will be preserved from the great tribulation that is coming on the world, and will cease at the coming of Christ for His saints. In Laodicea, we have the last phase of the professing Church pictured by lukewarmness to the Person of Christ, and satisfaction with itself as a corporate body. In. Philadelphia nothing satisfies but the Lord and His Word. In Laodicea, the Church’s state satisfies, and the Lord’s full claims are disallowed. Christ is outside this last assembly knocking for admittance. It is loathsome to Him, to be spued out of His mouth. Nevertheless, a remnant even in it will be saved; but Philadelphia is the only corporate witness that is held faithful when Christ comes. May God give His saints to understand these things, so as to be found not only as saved ones when He comes, as there will be some in each of the Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicean circles, but also true to Him ecclesiastically, exercising discipline on everything that is false to the claims of His Holy Person, and that is false doctrine to His truth.
I was immensely struck lately in noticing in Rev. 1:12, 13, the reality of the presence of the Son of man in the midst of the seven candlesticks representing the complete professing Church of God of the day. He is seen on earth, not in heaven. In Rev. 5, after the history of the Church is over, we see Him as the Lamb in the midst of the throne with the heavenly saints in heaven. But here He is seen on earth, in spirit of course, but in reality, and as the Son of man. Just as He said conversely in John 3,
the Son of man which is in heaven {John 3:13}.
And is not this, beloved reader, what the professing Church has lost? I do not mean that it has lost the presence of the Son of man. But has it not lost the sense of His actual presence there? Have not even real Christians lost the sense of it? Could they go on mixed up with idolatry with a name to live and yet dead, with lukewarmness, worldliness and false teaching, if they really believed in the actual presence of the Son of man in their midst? And in what aspect do we see Him here? Is it as He was (after having accomplished redemption and the putting away of our sins), when He appeared in the midst of the trembling disciples assembled in the upper room with doors closed, and proclaimed “peace unto them” (John 20); and when He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side, then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord? Alas, no! Do you remember again, beloved reader, when the blessed Lord appeared in the disciples’ midst as Luke 24 describes it, and when after He had proclaimed peace to their trembling souls, He sat down as the real risen Son of man and ate before them, showing the reality of His manhood by eating the broiled fish and the honey-comb? Doubtless you do if you are familiar with the Scriptures, and then He went on to open their understandings to understand the Scriptures, to talk of His going away to heaven, and of His sending the Comforter down from heaven, to dwell with them on the earth during His absence. And then we read in Acts 1 of His actually going away and sitting down at the right hand of God, and in Acts 2 of the descent of the Holy Ghost baptizing them into one body, and building them together to be His habitation. We read of the blessed results at the end of the chapter, how they were all together, had all things in common, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
But now all was changed; the Son of man is there still, true, but no longer joyful and singing praises, and comforting His assembly, but clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; He is the Ancient of days of Dan. 7:9, 10, 22, to whom judgment is committed. His eyes were as a flame of fire piercing for judgment, and His feet like unto fine brass, strong for judgment as if they burned in a furnace, and His voice was as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength. The only relief is the long priestly robe down to the feet, and the golden girdle of divine strength for service. On account of this perhaps there is forbearance as to judgment up to this day.
So fearful was the sight that John, the beloved apostle, the one who lay on the Lord’s bosom, and who got the secret of Divine love there, fell at His feet as dead. What! the beloved object of Christ’s affections, the espoused pure virgin of Paul’s day, now so departed from her espoused husband as to have become an object of His judgment? Yet so it was. I do not mean that the Church as Christ’s body, the object of God’s eternal counsels had failed, but the Church set up in its responsibility in this world had. This was what John had to learn: that the Church, as Israel, had failed as God’s witness on the earth, and it was now going to be set aside by Christ’s coming to set up His kingdom. This is what I mean, beloved reader, by the Church being a ruined thing. Man has failed in everything. Individually he is ruined; Israel became a ruin, the Church has become a ruin, and what remains but Christ?
And now, dear reader, it will not do for you or me to trust in our Church position, however correct, any more than in our individual selves for salvation. Man is ruined, and become an object of judgment; the Church is ruined, and become a circle of judgment. Where is the remedy — where is the way out of this circle? Suppose you are in a prairie, and it has caught fire all around you, and the fire gets nearer you every moment, how are you to get out — that is the question!
We shall see there are two ways out; first, by the Lord’s holding the keys of death and of hades in His hands after having opened a way clear through death by His work of redemption (see Rev. 1:17, 18). Second, by the coming of the Lord as the bright and morning star for His saints, before the day of judgment (Rev. 22:16, 17).
We left the beloved apostle at the feet of the Lord as dead, having learnt the ruin of the Church. The Lord lays His hand upon John, and says, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living One: and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hades and of death (cp. Isa. 41:1-4; 44:6, and 48:12-14). Jesus is the first and the last, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the world, the Sender of Cyrus for the deliverance of Israel, their Redeemer and King, who would chasten them, but finally deliver them from the yoke of Babylon. And He is the same in principle for the individual overcomer in the Church, for there it is the Christian has now to overcome. He is the first and the last, God Himself (cp. Heb. 1:10-12); but there is a blessed truth between: the Living One who was dead, and is alive for evermore. John’s eye was raised to Him who had risen as man over the whole power of the enemy. He was the Eternal Life in heaven who had been into this scene of ruin, had met the whole power of the enemy, sin, the world and Satan, and had overcome, and who has now communicated to every believer that overcoming Life, so that he is constituted an overcomer in the very midst of the Church’s ruin. If the Church has so departed from its standing in the new creation that the flesh being set up again it has become the object of judgment, blessed be God, the Eternal Life remains, the foundation of God stands sure, and every believer that clings to Him, or rather is held by Him, having that eternal life communicated to Him, stands firm with Christ as partaker of His victory, and judges everything in the Church with His judgment. He overcomes, having the life of the great Overcomer as his, and standing with Him judges and discerns everything in the professing Church with His judgment; or ought to do so.
And should death come, it is no weapon of the enemy against him. Jesus has passed through death, taken the keys out of the enemy’s hands, and stands to let the believer through into the glory. Judgment for him is a passed thing. Death is for the believer the open door into the glory. And when the Lord comes, the dead in Christ shall rise even before the living, and all shall be caught away together to meet Him in the air. Thus the overcomer should eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7). He should not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:11), though he might have to pass through death. Blessed comfort for John’s soul, and for our souls too. Though the Church is ruined, there is power for the individual believer to overcome, as linked with the Living One who was dead, with the assurance of final victory over death, should he have to pass that way, through Him who has the keys of hades  and of death in His hands.
But there is a still more blessed way of getting out of the circle of the Church’s ruin for those who live at the end of the dispensation, and that is shown to us in Rev. 22:16, 17. The Lord Jesus is coming again as the bright and morning star to take His real believing ones to glory before even a drop of judgment falls on this poor world. What is the name of the One who is coming? It is Jesus: Jehovah-Savior. Blessed name! It involves three things (cp. Matt. 1:21). 1st, He is Jehovah, God from all eternity. 2nd, It was His name given Him when He became a man; it is Jehovah become a man, but what for? 3rd, To save His people from their sins by His death and resurrection. So that we see in the two little words, “I Jesus,” with which the verse commences, the great fact, that Jehovah has become a man, and as we were sinners, He has gone to the cross and died for our sins, and after having done it He sat down on the right hand of God.
Beloved reader, I present you this Person in the glory as the One whom we have seen as the Judge of the professing Church, but here the Savior of those that believe. And why is the Church become an object of judgment, except that she has departed from her Head, and finally from her Savior? But blessed be God, the “I Jesus” remains. It was He who had sent His angel to testify these things in the churches. He is the Savior in the glory, the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. In other words, the coming One, to make good the promises in regard to Israel, His earthly nation; and the bright and morning star, going to appear at the end of the long, dark night, and before the day of the Lord, to take His believing ones home to glory.
Israel is scattered, they have rejected Him who was David’s root and David’s offspring (cp. Isa. 11:1, 10). But He is coming to fulfill the promises, to inherit, as the rightful Heir the throne of David in Jerusalem, and to bring in blessings to the Gentiles and the whole earth. But now there is no response from Israel. When He sets Himself before them with this title, there is no answer.
But hark! again He speaks,
I am the bright and morning star {Rev. 22:16},
coming again after the long, dark night, to take away the watcher to the glory. Who is she? And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” I was journeying in the Metropolitan Railway some years ago, in London. We emerged from the tunnel at the west end of the city, and as we were rounding the curve to one of the stations, I noticed a handkerchief waving from some one on the platform, and I saw a little child, with its mother, looking intently for the approaching train. All at once the gentleman sitting at my side answered by a wave of the hat. I said, “Is that your wife and child?” He replied, “Yes.” I thought at once what a beautiful picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ awaiting His return! Not a shadow of doubt or fear, there was a relationship existing, and a heart beating true to the approaching husband! And so we have here:
And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come {Rev. 22:17} .
She looks for Christ as the morning star, coming before the day of the Lord, for salvation. The world awaits Christ in the character of the Sun of righteousness, who shall burn the wicked up as an oven (Mal. 4:1, 2) at the commencement of the day of the Lord, which is always connected with judgment as to the world.
Just one word more as to the Church being the Bride of Christ. Here we have the difference brought out, which was mentioned at the beginning of the tract, between the Church being the body of Christ, and the house of God. As the visible house of God it has failed, but as the body of Christ it is preserved in living union with its Head in heaven, and the Lord is coming back as the Bridegroom to take His Bride to glory, whereas the professing Church will turn into Babylon (Rev. 17) and the world, to be judged after the real Church is taken away. This recalls us to God’s present purpose to call out a heavenly people from amongst Jews and Gentiles, to be the Bride of His Son; this is what is called the mystery hid in ages and generations, but was revealed in the Apostle Paul’s day to Christ’s apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This is the truth to which Christians are called to bear witness corporately and together, but in which they have so failed. Nevertheless the truth remains. And this heavenly body is to be the Bride of God’s Son. Beloved reader, do you know your relationship, or perhaps do you hear it for the first time, now? Then let him that heareth say “Come.”
Up to the end of the 17th verse the Lord Jesus had been the speaker; setting Himself before His Church as the coming One. The Spirit and the Bride had then interrupted Him by inviting Him to come. The hearer, too, was invited to take up the cry and say come. But now the Lord Jesus takes up the word again, and thinking of the time of His speedy approach, He invites the thirsty soul to come to Him; and whosoever will to take of the water of life freely.
Blessed Jesus! He cannot let the sinner go! He thinks of you, the thirsty one. He invites every one to come. Oh, sinner why will you die? why will you sink with all your profession into the deep abyss of hell? Look up into the glory and behold the living fountain opened there. See the river of God’s grace flowing down freely at this moment for you to drink. Freely it flows down from Jesus in the glory. Freely it is brought to you by the Spirit through the Word of the Gospel. Freely it was bought for you at the cost of Christ’s precious blood. Jesus is offered you. Eternal life is given. Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth on the Lord hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. But fearful will be the doom of the mere professor in Christendom in the day of the Lord; if Rom. 1, 2:1, 4, show clearly that the heathen will be righteously put into hell, with only the light of Creation and conscience as the measure of their responsibility; if we see likewise, from Rom. 2, 3, that the Jew will be damned if he rejects Jehovah, and the law as the rule for his conscience; how much more shall the professing Christian, (with the full light of the revelation of God shining upon his soul, and Christ as God’s gift of salvation offered him as the way of escape,) be cast away from the presence of the God of grace whom he refused to know! There is no place too black or too deep in the fathomless abyss of the lake of fire, to receive a rejecter of God revealed in grace, a treader under foot of God’s Son, and one who counts the blood of the covenant an unclean thing, and does despite to the Spirit of God (Heb. 10).
Rev. 1–3 only recount Christ’s governmental ways with the Church in judgment, whilst she is still upon the earth, with individual promises to the overcomers of blessings afterwards. But such passages as Rev. 14:8, 11; 19:20; 20:11, 15; 21:8; 22:13, 15, show the fearful doom of those who finally reject Christ, although professors of His name whilst here. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal (Matt. 25:46). When the eternal state begins and the Judge says from the throne,
It is done (Rev. 21:6),
where are the wicked? Alas! in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15; 21:8).
“It is finished,” once sounded out in their ears from the cross. “It is finished,” has sounded in their ears from messengers of the glory of Christ. Then, “It is done,” shall sound in the same ears as the great iron gates of the lake of fire slowly close them in there, and the Judge shall be seen getting up from the last judgment on the great white throne. Oh, reader, where will you be? Where will you spend eternity? Will you choose the “It is finished” work of salvation, or the “It is done” work of eternal judgment? What is “finished”? Why, God’s work of redemption. God’s work of salvation.
I have glorified Thee on the earth, says the Son, I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do (John 17:4).
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Now, reader, if God has been fully honored as to His outraged character, by the work on the cross; if the work of salvation has been fully accomplished; if God has given the blood of Christ on the altar to make atonement for the soul, and that work is done and God is satisfied, what are you waiting for? Why will you die? Accept the death and resurrection of Christ and you are saved for time and eternity.
One word more. There is a fearful lie going about, and it is this, learned men, believers in the professing Church, are saying there is no such thing as eternal punishment. The wicked may die in their sins, but they will have an opportunity to repent after death; and after a purgatory, for no one knows how long, perhaps of different durations, they will all be finally saved through the efficacy of the blood of Christ. This doctrine, they say, magnifies the atonement, and exalts Christ and the love of God.
But, my reader, if there is no such thing as eternal punishment, if eternal does not mean eternal in this case, I should say that instead of magnifying the atonement, it takes away from its value, for the atonement only saves from time- lasting punishment instead of from everlasting punishment. The love of God only gave Jesus to save from this, and so the love of God too is dishonored and not so glorified. The Holy Ghost’s work in the soul at the same time is totally set aside for the wicked who die in their sins. They are not saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, but by the fires of hell. It would also require a less than a Divine Eternal Being to save from time-lasting punishment. I need not weary my reader any more to shew from the Scripture the reality of eternal punishment. Suffice it to say that eternal judgment is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:1, 2). To go back from this is to go back from the foundation instead of going on to perfection. 2 Pet. 2, I have no doubt, classes it amongst the damnable heresies of the last days of Christendom. It is a denial of the Lord’s rights over the wicked; and to these teachers God gives a threefold warning of judgment. The same word “everlasting” is applied to God, to the Spirit, to life and to redemption by the Word. May the Lord save my reader from any of such false teachings, and deliver those who are led aside by them. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet. 2:9).
I would add a word here as to what I believe is Christ’s present testimony to the Church! Since the beginning of this century He has been presenting Himself as “the Holy One,” and “the True One” (see Rev. 3:7-12). Now I do not believe that these are simply moral titles, no doubt they are that, but they take in a great deal more than that! And it is of the greatest importance, my reader, that we should understand the meaning of these titles!
Turn then with me to Psa. 89:18-20; we find there the Psalmist rehearsing the sure mercies of David {Isa. 55:3; Acts 13.34}.
These having their start from the unconditional promises made to David, and to his Son, i.e., Christ, are the basis of the future blessing of Israel, when the Christ shall return. Israel will then be blessed as Jehovah’s nation, under Christ the King, and made the central nation of the earth. But what is the title ascribed to Jehovah, by the faith of the godly Israelite who writes this Psalm? (see ver. 18.)
Jehovah is our defense: the Holy One of Israel is our King!
Then he rehearses Jehovah’s unconditional promises in reference to David, His king, anointed with the holy oil. We see then that this title, whilst moral, is a kingly title of Jehovah.
In the prophecy of Isaiah it is the common title of Jehovah, recalling His poor nation of Israel back to Himself, which had departed into unholiness and sin. In the first five chapters the whole nation is tested, when brought face to face with the Holy One (Isa. 1:4). It is likened to a diseased man from head to foot (ver. 5, 6); its covering of religion loathsome to Jehovah (ver. 10-15); its men full of pride (Isa. 2:10, 22); its women, full of vanity, occupied with their dress (ver. 16-26). The vineyard of the Lord, where there should have been good fruit, only brought forth wild grapes (Isa. 5:1-7), and the chapter ends with six woes on the whole scene.
Finally the king, the last resource of the house of David, dies a leper outside the camp, and all earthly hope is given up, as to the nation.
But in the very year that King Uzziah died, the prophet sees a vision of the Holy One, the glory of the coming King of Israel! (Isa. 6). Who is He? John 12:40, 41, quoting from this very chapter, lets us into the secret of this! It is the, glory of the Christ, the coming King of Israel, and He is Jehovah, the thrice Holy One (Isa. 6:3).
Before His coming glory the regenerate prophet falls, owning his unfitness for His glory, crying, Woe is me: I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts!
I think I need not then go further, my reader, into this prophet, to prove that the title of “the Holy One” is a title of Christ as the coming King of Israel! But how then can He be said to present Himself under this title to the professing Church as seen in Rev. 3:7? I believe the answer lays here! It is a warning to the church of its failure and ruin, of its final setting aside as God’s witness on the earth, and that Christ, the King of Israel, was coming to take its place!
And like with Isaiah in his day, the effect of this on the church should be to produce a humbling, and a turning to the God of this Holy One, in repentance and self-loathing, so that instead of its being set aside, it may become, at all events in a remnant, a vessel of testimony (like Isaiah was after the humbling and healing), to the whole professing Church.
But in Heb. 2:11 we have the present position of Israel’s King, the Holy One, in consequence of His rejection by Israel. He is now the set apart One, in the heavenly glory, the Sanctifier of a new heavenly people, who own the King during the time of His rejection by Israel. They are called the sanctified, set apart ones, or holy ones, called out into association with Himself during the time of His rejection. He is not ashamed to call them “His brethren!” Who are these, my reader? Why, Christians, of course, “holy brethren,” partakers of the heavenly calling! But then of course if they are associated with the Holy One during the time of His rejection by Israel, they also stand outside Israel and Judaism. It is their only proper true place. “Inside the veil, outside the camp!” This is the place the Epistle to the Hebrews gives us. And this will be the result of every true humbling of heart, that is the result of getting into the presence of Him who is God’s coming King to replace the Church which has been unfaithful to Him.
Thus, beloved, the Holy One of Israel, when He came the first time, presented Himself to Israel, to fulfill the promises made to the fathers, but was rejected by the Jews. He now sits in consequence on the Father’s throne in heaven, the rejected King of Israel, but presently He will come again, and sit on His own throne, fulfilling the unconditional mercies of David to His ancient people, and reign in Jerusalem as their King! In the meantime He is calling out His heavenly associates for the kingdom, whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, and they will finally, after being translated to heaven, reign with Him over Israel and the nations. Now our place is that of rejection with the King, and outside Judaism. Such will be the position of every humbled heart at the present time! Whatever is Judaism in the professing Church, such an one will be outside of!
But Christ also presents Himself as the True One. That is, in all that He is as revealed in the Word. The King in Matthew’s gospel. The Prophet in Mark. The Son of man in Luke (now God’s heavenly Priest). We see the present heavenly application of “the Christ,” i.e., the Prophet, Priest, and King, in the Epistle to the Hebrews; and preached so in the Acts of the Apostles. He is the Son of God in John’s gospel, with the result to us applied in Paul’s and John’s Epistles. His personal name is Jesus, “Jehovah the Savior,” which is the name of the Christ, the Son of God, from Matthew to Revelation. He is the Lord, made so in heaven as man, and preached so by Peter in Acts 2, and others (Acts 11), and applied so specially by Paul to the Church in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Also as the Lamb of God (John 1:27), the Holy Victim fulfilling the sacrifices, and finally going to take the earth in the power of redemption (Rev. 4–19). Oh, my reader, do we consider Him enough under all these titles? Finally, during the time of His rejection taking for Himself out of this world a body, His Church, to be His Bride, as the raised-up glorified Head of His assembly (Eph. 1:19-23). Beloved, are we together thus confessing Him as the “True One,” so that we can say in the consciousness of our souls,
We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ {1 John 5:20} our Lord?
But besides this, He is the true Eliakim of Isa. 22:20-25, setting aside every one who in the professing religion rules in the flesh like Shebna, who has the key of David, type of the administration of David’s house, the unlocker of all his treasures, and so making known to the Church what belongs to Israel, as distinct from what belongs to the Church. He who opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens. He is the One who presents Himself to the Church at this present time, and sets before it an open door which no man can shut. May you and I, dear reader, understand to-day how the blessed Lord is presenting Himself, so that you and I, hearing His voice, and obedient to His word, may be found in these last days in this circle of blessing, and waiting patiently for His coming.