Power Not a Guarantee of Order

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There is often a disposition to consider that difficulties and disorders among the saints of God are due to a want of government and ministerial power. But no amount of gift, in few or many, can of itself produce holy spiritual order. Disorder is never the result of weakness alone. This, of course, may be taken advantage of, and Satan may tempt men to assume the semblance of a strength they do not possess. No doubt assumption would produce disorder; but weakness simply (where it leads souls, as it should, to spread out their need before the Lord) brings in the gracious action of the Holy Spirit, and the unfailing care of Him who loves His saints and the assembly. It was not so at Corinth. Theirs was rather the display of conscious strength; but at the same time they lacked the fear of God, and the sense of responsibility in the use of what God had given them. They were like children disporting themselves with not a little energy that wrought in vessels which altogether failed in self-judgment. This was a source, and a main source, of the difficulty and disorder at Corinth. It is also of great importance to us, for there are those that continually cry out for increase of power as the one panacea of the Church. What reflecting spiritual mind could doubt that God sees His saints are not able to bear it? Power in the sense in which we are now speaking of it—that is, power in the form of gift—is far from being the deepest need or the gravest desideratum of the saints. Again, is it ever the way of God to display Himself thus in a fallen condition of things? Not that He is restrained, or that He is not sovereign. Not, moreover, that He may not give, and liberally, as suits His own glory; but He gives wisely and holily so as to lead souls now into exercise of conscience and brokenness of spirit, and thus keep and even deepen their sense of that to which God's Church is called, and the state into which it has fallen.
At Corinth there was a wholly different state of things. It was the early rise of the Church of God, if I may so say, among the Gentiles. And there was not wanting an astonishing sample of the power of the Spirit in witness of the victory that Jesus had won over Satan. This was now, or at least should have been, manifested by the Church of God, as at Corinth. But they had lost sight of God's objects. They were occupied with themselves, with one another, with the supernatural energy which grace had conferred on them in the name of the Lord. The Holy Spirit in inspiring the Apostle to write to them in no way weakens the sense of the source and character of that power. He insists on its reality, and reminds them that it was of God; but at the same time he brings in the divine aim in it all. "God," says he, "is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." Immediately after, he alludes to the schisms that were then at work among them, and calls on them to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment, informing them of the tidings which had reached him through the house of Chloe, that there were contentions among them, some saying, "I am of Paul," others, "I am of Apollos"; some, "I am of Cephas," and others said they were of Christ Himself. There is no abuse to which flesh cannot degrade the truth. But the Apostle knew how to introduce the Lord's name and grace with the grandly simple but weighty facts of His Person and work.