Gathered Together

Table of Contents

1. Gathered Together: Gathered Together

Gathered Together: Gathered Together

AT 18:20{"The path of the church of God is a narrow path, such an one that mere moral sense will continually mistake it. But this should be welcome to us because it tells us that the Lord looks that His saints be exercised in His truth and ways, unlearning the mere right and wrong of human thoughts, that they may be filled with the mind of Christ."
(Extract from a tract entitled, "Woolen and Linen", by J. G. Bellett).
In a day of ruin, failure and apostasy, what is the mind of the Lord in regard to the path to be followed by His saints? Is each to do "that which is right in his own eyes?" (Deut. 12:8; Judg. 17:6.) "There is a path which no fowl knoweth and which the vulture's eye hath not seen" (Job 28:7), which is discernable only to the eye of faith.
EB 10:25{His mind is expressed in the desire which Heb. 10:25 lays before the children of God. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is but exhorting (encouraging) one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." But does this warrant Christians to assemble according to their own thoughts and ways? Is scripture silent as to where and how we are to be assembled? If those who profess His name are directed not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, especially as we see the "approaching day" drawing nigh, surely God will have provided a meeting place for His saints. "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb. 13:13.) Here we have a direction to go not merely "outside the camp" but "unto Him," that is Jesus, our Lord, who suffered outside Jerusalem, the place of religious profession. (Read carefully noting the connection of the verse with what has gone before it, Ex. 33:7). And where do we find Him? "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20)
No doubt almost every company of professing Christians has appropriated this promise. But let us examine this verse closely. It says that the "two or three are gathered together" and does not say "gather themselves together" or "where two or three meet together"; the form of the expression "are gathered together" points to a gatherer. To use a simple illustration, I see a basket of fruit on the table. How did it get there? It was gathered together, did not get there by its own efforts. The word for "gathered together" in the Greek is "sunago" whose literal meaning is, "to lead together" and could be translated "are guided together", all of which suggests a gatherer.
Who is this gatherer? Surely it can be none other than the Holy Spirit. Who but He could the Lord Jesus entrust with the gathering of His loved ones unto His name? The best intentioned of men have gathered the Lord's people under man made rules and standards. I am persuaded that believers would be just as incapable as the fruit on the table to be brought together in accordance with Matt. 18:20 unless guided by the Holy Spirit.
And is the Holy Spirit gathering all the various divided and independent companies who seek to appropriate this promise? Such an assumption necessarily involves placing the blame for the existing deplorable and Christ dishonoring division and independency upon the Holy Spirit. Are these multi-centers seen in the professing church due to the work of the "Spirit of Truth" who came to glorify Christ? (John 16:13,14). Far be the thought!
He is gathering saints "in My name" (A. V.) or rather "unto My name" (N. T.). Are we to connect man's self-will in forming multi-named centers with that name? "Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you." (1 Cor. 1:10.) "Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor. 1:13.) "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name." (Psa. 29:2.) "Holy and reverend is His name." (Psa. 111:9.) Is it that Name or the power of the Holy Spirit that divides God's people and acts on their hearts to bring them together in independent groups? Does the Lord sanction these companies by His presence in the midst? Can the saints meet in schism and yet find scriptural warrant for a claim that the Holy Spirit has gathered them unto the name of the Lord Jesus? Is it not true that some other name or object than Himself has separated them from their brethren? Let every believer ask himself in the presence of God where he stands, for I believe that it is trifling with the truth of God to attach the name and authority of the Lord Jesus to these schismatic companies. "He that gathereth not with Me scattereth" (Luke 11:23). There may be gathering but if not "with Me", it is scattering.
"Then there shall be a place (Mark, it is one only) which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there: thither shall ye bring all that I command you, your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest. But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings and there thou shalt do all that I command thee." (Deut. 12:11, 13, 14). Comparing the quoted scriptures with Matt. 18:20, can it be maintained that these diverse companies are of the Holy Spirit's gathering and that the presence of the Lord is found among them approving all? Is it not alone, in "the place" which He chooses that He gathers and not "places."
Let us turn to Luke 22:7-13. Here we find the Lord sending two of His disciples to prepare the passover,-that which pointed forward to Christ's death, to which the Lord's Supper points backward. The question is asked, "Where wilt Thou that we prepare?" And He said unto them, "Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water: follow him into the house where he entereth in." (Verse 10). Here we discern the Holy Spirit again in the man carrying the pitcher of water for he clearly represents the Spirit in suited activity, and that which marks His guidance, the "written word" of God. (For water in Scripture is repeatedly used as a type of God's Word.) The disciples are directed by the word of the Lord to follow the "man" where he enters. He leads to a definite place of meeting, one which the Lord sanctions and where He promises to meet His own, "there" He says, "make ready" (verse 12). And note that they are to ask the goodman of the house "Where is the guest chamber?" and not merely "Where is a guest chamber?"The Lord has only "the guest chamber" for His appointed place and that of His choosing.
It may be said, "I can see that the denominations have missed the directions of scripture in these respects, but it is not clear that such may be equally true of the divided companies of those who profess in much greater responsibility to be gathered to the Lord's name alone." Prayerful and subject consideration of the word of God, particularly as to the passages I have referred to will, I trust, make it plain that it may be just as true of those professing to be so gathered as it is of any other company of professing Christians. The various companies which, regardless of their claims cannot establish their charter from Scripture, are just as much of man's work and will as the denominational bodies. To assert that they all are gathered by the power of the Holy Spirit would put the blame of division upon Him who caused the Apostle Paul to write, "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them," (Rom. 16:17) or "turn away from them." ( New Trans.).
It may be deemed charitable or broad minded to hold that all these believers are so gathered, to the "Name above every name", but in reality, it is, tested by the infallible Word, indifference to the name of Christ. It may be thought that to assert that one company only may be truly gathered in accordance with Matt. 18:20 is a pharisaical presumption, but is this not evidently the teaching of scripture?
To say that all are so gathered leads to indifference to the claims of Christ as to the ground of His people's gathering during His absence and as to whether or not we are truly gathered to His name.
It may be asked, "How am I to know which, if any, saints of God are truly so gathered in this day? How am I to find the "guest chamber"? I answer, "By following the man with the pitcher of water and asking the goodman of the house:"`If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering:'(James 1:5,6). The place or the path is one which no natural intelligence can discover though it be keen as the eye of the vulture; nature can neither find it nor walk in it, though it have the strength of the "young lion." It is a path which faith alone can find; "wisdom and understanding" from God are necessary. "And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom: and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28:28). "The light of the body is the eye, therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light." (Luke 11:34). But the eye is not single if looking upon and guided by man, no matter how trustworthy or intelligent in the truth of God, one's natural kindred, friendships or activities may be. Christ said, speaking to the Jews, "If any one desire to practice His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine." (John 7:17 New Trans.).Do you desire to practice His will? Let us give earnest heed to His word spoken by the apostle Barnabas who "exhorted all with purpose of heart to abide with the Lord." (Acts 11:23 New Trans.).
Quench not the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:20) who does the gathering and "prove all things, hold fast the right."(1 Thess. 5:21 New Trans.). This proving and holding fast may be disagreeable to the fleshly or carnal mind, but is the Lord not worthy to be sought?
Canst thou say, "Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of Thy words giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Psa. 119:129,130.) God's Word abides, and furnishes light for every step. We still have His Word and His Spirit. What is needed then but to have hearts exercised in His presence, to seek the path of obedience according to that Word and under the guidance of His Spirit? "Where-fore be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17)
Are there no Christians near you whose hearts and minds have been exercised and have, by God's mercy, been gathered apart from all divisions of the professing church? Are there none who, weary of sectarianism and party names, have been gathered only to the holy name of the Lord Jesus Christ? None who see that there is "One Body" to which all God's people belong and not the many groups which can be seen everywhere who deny it practically? None who are endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?
If there be none such as we have described, then stand alone and be much with God in secret. Peradventure, He will soon give you the fellowship of another of His children and then you can look up together for guidance. "The meek will He guide in judgment and the meek will He teach His way." (Psa. 25:9). And forget not, that where two or three are gathered unto His name, be it in a kitchen or a barn, there He is in the midst of them.
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