The Assembly of God (Duplicate): 3. Its Present State and the Duties That Result

9. SUMMARY
I conclude by a few propositions—
(1) The object to be desired is the gathering of all God's children.
(2) The power of the Holy Spirit alone can effect this.
(3) Any number of believers need not wait till that power produces the union of all, because they have the promise that, where two or three are gathered together to the name of the Lord, He will be in their midst; and two or three may act in reliance on this promise.
(5) A commission from man to preach the gospel is unknown to the New Testament.
(6) The choosing of presidents and pastors by the assembly is altogether unwarranted by the New Testament. The election of a president is merely human and quite unauthorized. It is a mere intervention of our wilfulness in the concerns of God's assembly, an action pregnant with evil consequences. The choice of pastors is a daring encroachment on the Holy Spirit's rights who distributes according to His own will. Alas! for him who does not profit by the gift which God grants to another. When elders were appointed, it was either by the apostles, or by those whom they directed for the purpose to the assemblies. If the assembly is in ruin, even for such a state God is sufficient; who will lead on and guide His children if they walk in humility and obedience, without setting about a work to which God has not called them.
(7) It is clearly the duty of a believer to separate from every act that he sees to be not according to the word, though bearing with him who unintelligently does so. And his duty requires this of him, even though his faithful-ness should cause him to stand alone, and though, like Abram, he should be obliged to go out, not knowing whither he goes.
10. CONCLUSION
My design in these few pages has not been to show, either the ruined condition of the assembly, or yet that the present dispensation cannot be again set up, but rather to propose a question which usually is altogether misapprehended by those who undertake to organize churches. The ruin of the assembly has been briefly considered in another tract. But as a brother, to whom these pages were read, felt that this question of present ruin was awakened in his mind, and desired to have some proof to satisfy such as were in like manner exercised, I add a few sentences.
(a) The parable of the wheat-and-tare field gives us the Lord's judgment on this point-that the evil wrought in the field where the good seed had been sown was not to be remedied but to continue until the harvest. Let it be borne in mind that the parable has nothing to do with discipline among God's children, but relates to the question of a remedy for evil brought in by Satan whilst men slept, and to the restoring the economy to its primitive footing. The question is decided with summary authority by the Lord in the negative; for He tells us that throughout its course no remedy shall be applied to the evil,—that the time of the harvest, or the judgment at the end of the age, will extirpate it, and that till then the evil is to go on. Let us here call to mind that our separation from evil, and the enjoyment of Christ's presence with the “two or three,” are altogether distinct from the pretension to set up again this economy now that the evil is come in. The former is both a duty and a privilege; the latter is a fruit of pride and neglect of the word.
(b) Rom. 11, already quoted, expressly tells us that the present dispensation shall be dealt with like that which went before it, and that, if it continued not in God's goodness, it would be cut off, not restored.
(c) 2 Thessalonians 2 teaches us that “the mystery of iniquity” was already working, and that, when an obstacle which then existed was to be taken out of the way, the “wicked one” would be revealed, whom the Lord is to consume with the breath of His mouth and to destroy with the manifestation of His coming. Thus the evil that began in apostolic days was to continue, ripen and manifest itself, when it would be consumed by the Lord's appearing.
(d) 2 Timothy 3 shows the same thing, that is, the ruin (not the restoration) of the dispensation; for in the last days perilous times are to come and men be lovers of their own selves (from whom the Spirit calls us to “turn away"), evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
(e) Jude also shows that the evil which had already crept into the assembly would be the object of judgment when the Lord came (compare verses 4 and 14); and this awful truth is confirmed by the analogy of all the ways of God with man. For man has perverted and corrupted what God had given him for his blessing; and God has never repaired the evil, but brought forth something better after judging the iniquity. And this better thing had been in its turn corrupted, until at length everlasting blessing is brought in. When the economy was a revelation to sinners, God gathered a feeble remnant of believers from among the unbelieving, and transferred them to that new blessing which He established instead of what had been corrupted; as for example the residue of Jews into the assembly at Pentecost, and so on. So in Romans 11 we are taught that the Lord will similarly deal with the present dispensation.
(f) The same thing is seen in the Revelation. As soon as “the things that are,” or the seven churches, are brought to a close, the prophet is taken to heaven: and all that follows has to do, not with anything acknowledged as an assembly, but with divine providence in the world.
I have done no more than refer to a few express passages; but the more God's word is studied, the more do we find this solemn truth confirmed. I say then, Do all that you can, but pretend not to do what exceeds that which the Lord has given you, which would but betray the pretensions and the weaknesses of the flesh. Humility of heart and spirit is the sure way not to be found fighting against the truth; for God giveth grace to the humble. May His name of grace and mercy be forever blessed!
J. N. D.
(Concluded from page 361)
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