• Organizing the Church RSS Feed

    by Published on 04-20-2017 01:04 AM     Number of Views: 362 
    1. Categories:
    2. Apostles Set up Churches,
    3. Boundary of Local Assembly,
    4. Unity of the Body of Christ

    I can't be any more simple than this to describe the 7 church periods in Rev. 2 & 3.

    1st century - don't lose your first love (Biblocality)
    2nd century - endure martyrdom
    3rd century - don't marry church and state
    4th century - don't be like the Roman Catholic Church
    16th-19th century - weak revivals filling up a glass with less water each time
    19th century - brotherly love true overcomers (brethren movement, only wanted to be called Christians)
    20th-21st century - neither hot or cold, just lukewarm

    The first 3 church periods are consecutive, they came and past (their teaching is still true though).

    The last 4 church periods stay with us (RCC, Reformed/Calvinist, Brethren, and Emergent/Pentecostal).

    The RCC, Reformed/Calvinist and Pentecostal/Emergent are corruptions of the Church. Most people in these 3 groups are not born-again. They are going to Hell.

    The correct Church has these 5 characteristics: 1) OSAS Arminian; 2) Biblocality; 3) Partial Rapture; 4) Gap Restoration; 5) Dividing of Spirit, Soul and Body.

    by Published on 06-21-2015 08:04 PM     Number of Views: 369 
    1. Categories:
    2. Spiritual Christian Life

    Receive Not the Love of the Truth

    Not receiving the love of the truth is another big cause behind obsession. It is shown in 2 Thessalonians that for those who “received not the love of the truth . . . God sendeth a working of error, that they should believe a lie” (2.10-11). This is indeed a most terrible aftermath. People are obsessed by believing lies. They believe things which are non-existent. Because of their not receiving the love of truth, they just naturally incline towards lies.

    “Buy the truth, and sell it not, yea, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23.23). Truth needs to be bought, that is, a price must be paid. Blessed are we if our hearts are well prepared for the truth of God. We will love the truth and accept it whatever it may cost us. But oftentimes men do not have the love of the truth in them. They distort the truth and even discard it. Finally they actually believe it is not the truth. They proclaim as untrue what is the truth and preach as the truth what is untrue. They seem to do this with confidence. This definitely is obsession. . . .

    Seek Not the Glory That Comes from the Only God

    Not seeking the glory which comes from the only God is also a factor in obsession. “How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?” asks the Lord Jesus (John 5.44). For the sake of coveting glory from men the Jews rejected the Lord and lost eternal life. How very lamentable! This inordinate love of glory from men inclined their hearts to a lie. As a consequence, they believed in falsehood. They became increasingly confident of themselves. They were none other than obsessed. . . .

    “For with thee is the fountain of life: In thy light shall we see light” (Ps. 36.9). It is only by the light of God that we truly see light, that is, see the true character of a thing. The first light is that which enlightens, the second light is the true character which is seen. We need to live in the light of God if we wish to see the true character of a matter. . . .

    Those who know themselves in the light of God know their own selves indeed. If we are not in God’s light we may sin without being conscious of how wicked our sin is, we may fall without being fully aware of how shameful our fall is. We may do a little good outwardly but how deceitful is our inward state. We may show gentleness outside, but who knows how hard we are inside. We may put on a spiritual form, but in our reality we are full of the flesh. When the light of God comes, the true character of these things shall be manifested. We will then see through ourselves; we will confess how blind we were before!

    Herein is the difference between the Old and the New Testaments: in the Old Testament, people know right and wrong by outward law; in the New Testament, we know the true character of a thing by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is possible that we see our fault through doctrine or teaching but even so we have yet to see our fault in the light of God. Knowing our fault through doctrine or teaching is superficial; perceiving our fault in God’s light alone is thorough. This is the meaning of seeing light in God’s light.

    Spiritual reality has this outstanding characteristic, that it bears no mark of time. The time factor vanishes the instant you touch that reality. From the human point of view there is such a thing as prophecy, but from the divine viewpoint no such thing exists. “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2.7). With God it isalways “this day.” Our Lord says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22.13). He is both together, both at once. It is not that at one time He is first and at another time He is last. He is first and last simultaneously. Nor is it that having been Alpha for some time, He becomes Omega later on. To the contrary, He is Alpha and Omega from eternity to eternity. He is always first and last; and He is always Alpha and Omega. In the sight of man He is not Omega till He is manifested as Omega; but in the sight of God He is Omega now. With man, the past and the future are separate; with God they synchronize. The “I” of yesterday differs from the “I” of today; and the “I” of tomorrow differs further still. But “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yea and for ever” (Heb. 13.8). God is the eternal “I Am.” It is here that the knowledge of God comes in.

    Our Lord once said, “No one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven” (John 3.13). Note how these two different positions synchronize in Christ. There is no change of time or place with Him. Of God it is written: “the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning” (James 1.17). He is that in himself. He is that in His Christ: He is that in His Church. . . .

    Spiritual progress is not a question of attaining to some abstract standard, not a question of pressing through to some far-off goal; it is wholly a question of seeing God’s standard. Spiritual progress comes by finding out what you really are, not by trying to be what you hope to be. You will never reach that goal, however earnestly you strive. It is when you see you are dead that you die; it is when you see you are risen that you rise; it is when you see you are holy that you become holy. It is seeing the goal that determines the pathway to the goal. The goal is revealed by inward seeing, not by desiring or by working. There is only one possibility of spiritual progress, and that is by discovering God’s facts. Our great need is just to see the truth as Godsees it—the truth concerning Christ, the truth concerning ourselves in Christ, and the truth concerning the Church, the Body of Christ. . . .

    The Church is not a company of Christians working their way heavenward, but a company of Christians who are actually now citizens of heaven. Alas! Christianity in the experience of most Christians is an endeavor to be what they are not, and an endeavor to do what they cannot do. They are always struggling to not love the world because at heart they really love it. They are always trying to be humble because at heart they are still proud. This is the experience of so-called Christianity, but it is not the experience of the Church. The question of deliverance from the world or redemption from sin never arises in the Church, for the Church never had any connection with sin or with the world.

    The Church existed before the foundation of the world and was never in the world, so she has never been touched by the Fall. Alas, the human mind cannot dissociate the thought of sin from the Church. But in the divine mind, there is no relationship between sin and the Church. The Church infinitely transcends all thought of sin: in fact, the Church is the most positive thing in the universe. The Church is Christ. The Church has no connection with sin, and consequently no connection with redemption. Anything that calls for redemption does not belong to the Church. As individual believers, because we were born of Adam, we need redemption. It is not the Church that is redeemed, but we sinners who are redeemed; and being redeemed, we become part of the Church. In our experience the Church exists after redemption, but in the sight of God the Church existed before redemption. Redemption relates to our standing in Adam; the Church relates to our standing in Christ. The Church is the One New Man where Christ is all and in all. The Church is Christ in corporate form.

    The Church is not an organization, not something to beunderstood and attained to; it is something to be seen. When we see the heavenly reality of the Church, then we see our heavenly nature and we know that our starting-point as Christians is not earth but heaven.

    The Church is perfect, perfect beyond any possibility of improvement. Theologians often say: “That perfection is the standing (or position) of the Church; but her state is not so.” Yet in the sight of God there is no imperfection in the Church eternally. Why be bothered by the endless questions that relate to the old creation? They simply vanish when we see the reality of the Church. The Church is the sphere in which God exercises His authority on the earth; and today, even in the midst of a polluted universe, He has a sphere of unsullied purity for His abode.
    by Published on 02-13-2015 09:40 PM     Number of Views: 545 
    1. Categories:
    2. Consecration and Breaking

    Authority and Submission

    God’s Throne Established on Authority

    The acts of God issue from His throne, and His throne is established on His authority. All things are created through God’s authority and all physical laws of the universe are maintained by His authority. Hence the Bible expresses it as “upholding all things by the word of His power, which means upholding all things by the word of the power of His authority. For God’s authority represents God himself whereas His power stands only for His act. Sin against power is more easily forgiven than sin against authority, because the latter is a sin against God himself. God alone is authority in all things; all the authorities of the earth are instituted by God. Authority is a tremendous thing in the universe—nothing overshadows it. It is therefore imperative for us who desire to serve God to know the authority of God. . . .

    Authority, the Controversy of the Universe

    The controversy of the universe is centered on who shall have the authority, and our conflict with Satan is the direct result of our attributing authority to God. To maintain God’s authority we must be subject to it with all our hearts. It is absolutely necessary for us to meet God’s authority and to possess a basic knowledge of what it is.

    Before he knew authority Paul tried to wipe out the church; after he had met the Lord on the Damascus road he saw that it was hard for the feet (human power) to kick against the goads (God’s authority). He immediately fell to the ground and acknowledged Jesus as Lord. After that, he was able to submit to the directions given him by Ananias in the city of Damascus, for Paul had met God’s authority. At the moment he was saved he knew God’s authority as well as God’s salvation.

    How could Paul, being a clever and capable person, listen to the words of Ananias—an unknown little brother mentioned only once in the Bible—if he had not met the authority of God? Had he not encountered authority on the road to Damascus he could never have been subject to that obscure little brother in the city. This shows us that whoever has met authority deals purely with authority and not with man. Let us not see the man but only the authority vested in him. We do not obey man but God’s authority in that man. Otherwise, how can we ever learn what authority is? We are on the wrong road if we meet man first before we obey authority. The opposite is the right way. Then we will not mind who the man is.

    God has purposed to manifest His authority to the world through the church. God’s authority can be seen in the coordination of the various members of the body of Christ.

    God uses His utmost power to maintain His authority; therefore His authority is the hardest thing to come up against. We who are so self-righteous and yet so blind need once in our life to encounter God’s authority so that we may be broken unto submission and so begin to learn obedience to the authority of God. Before a man can subject himself to God’s delegated authority he must first meet God’s inherent authority.

    Obedience to God’s Will—the Greatest Demand of the Bible

    The greatest of God’s demands on man is not for him to bear the cross, to serve, make offerings, or deny himself. The greatest demand is for him to obey. God ordered Saul to attack the Amalekites and destroy them utterly (1 Sam. 15). Yet after his victory Saul spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, along with the best of the sheep and oxen and the fatted beasts and lambs and all that was good. Saulwould not devote them to destruction; he argued that these were spared to sacrifice to God. But Samuel said to him: “Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, attention than the fat of rams” (verse 15.22 Darby). The sacrifices mentioned here were sweet-savor offerings—having nothing to do with sin, for sin-offering was never called an offering of sweet-savor. They were offered for God’s acceptance and satisfaction. Why did Samuel say that “obedience is better than sacrifice”? Because even in sacrifice there can be the element of self-will. Obedience alone is absolutely honoring to God, for it alone takes God’s will as its center.

    For authority to be expressed there must be subjection. If there is to be subjection, self needs to be excluded; but according to one’s self-life, subjection is not possible. This is only possible when one lives in the Spirit. It is the highest expression of God’s will. . . .

    As God’s servants, the first thing we should meet is authority. To touch authority is as practical as touching salvation, but it is a deeper lesson. Before we can work for God we must be overturned by His authority. Our entire relationship with God is regulated by whether or not we have met authority. If we have, then we shall encounter authority everywhere, and being thus restrained by God we can begin to be used by Him. . . .

    Christians Should Obey Authority

    There is no authority except from God; all authorities have been instituted by Him. By tracing all authorities back to their source we invariably end up with God. God is above all authorities, and all authorities are under Him. In touching God’s authority we touch God himself. God’s work basically is done not by power but by authority. He upholds all things by the powerful word of His authority, even as He created them by the same word. His word of command is authority. We cannot say how God’s authority works; nevertheless,we know that He accomplishes everything by it.

    A beloved servant of a centurion was sick. The centurion knew he was both under authority and in authority over others. So he asked the Lord to but say a word, believing the work of healing would thus be done—for are not all authorities in the Lord’s hand? He believed in the Lord’s authority. No wonder our Lord commended him for his great faith: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matt. 8.10). Touching God’s authority is the same as meeting God. Today the universe is full of authorities set up by God. All the laws of the universe are established by God. Everything is under His authority. Whenever a person sins against God’s authority he sins against God. All Christians must therefore learn to obey authority. . . .

    No Unity of Body Without Authority of Head

    God is working towards recovering the oneness of the body. But for this to be accomplished there must first be the life of the Head, followed next by the authority of the Head. Without the life of the Head there can be no body. Without the authority of the Head there can be no unity of the body. To maintain the oneness of the body we must let the life of the Head rule.

    God wishes us to obey His delegated authorities as well as himself. All the members of the body should be subject to one another. When this is so, the body is one with itself and with the Head. As the authority of the Head prevails, the will of God is done. Thus does the church become the kingdom of God. . . .

    Philippians 2.5-7 forms one section and verses 8-11, another. In these two sections our Lord is seen as having humbled himself twice: first He emptied himself in His divinity, and then He humbled himself in His humanity. By the time He came to this world, the Lordhad so emptied himself of the glory, power, status, and form of His divinity that no one then living, other than by revelation, knew Him nor acknowledged Him as God. They treated Him as a man, as an ordinary person of this world. As the Son He willingly submits to the Father’s authority and declares that “the Father is greater than I” (John 14.28). Thus there is perfect harmony in the Godhead. Gladly the Father takes the place of the Head, and the Son responds with obedience. God becomes the emblem of authority, while Christ assumes the symbol of obedience.

    For we men to be obedient it should be simple, because all we need is but a little humility. For Christ to be obedient, however, is not so simple a matter. It is much harder for Him to be obedient than for Him to create the heavens and the earth. Why? Because He has to empty himself of all the glory and power of His divinity and take the form of a slave before He is even qualified to obey. Hence obedience is initiated by the Son of God.

    The Son originally shared the same glory and authority with the Father. But when He came to the world He on the one hand forsook authority and on the other hand took up obedience. He willingly took the place of a slave, accepting the human limitation of time and space. He humbled himself further and became obedient unto death. Obedience within the Godhead is the most wonderful sight in the whole universe. Since Christ was obedient unto death—suffering a most painful and shameful death on the cross—God has highly exalted Him. God exalts whoever humbles himself. This is a divine principle.

    To Be Filled with Christ Is to Be Filled with Obedience

    Since the Lord has initiated obedience, the Father has become the Head of Christ. Now because both authority and obedience have been instituted by God, it is natural for those who know God andChrist to obey. But those who know not God and Christ know neither authority nor obedience. Christ is the principle of obedience. He who accepts Christ accepts the principle of obedience. Hence a person who is filled with Christ must be one who is also filled with obedience. . . .

    Learning Obedience through Suffering

    It is told in Hebrews 5.8 that Christ “learned obedience through what He suffered.” Suffering called forth obedience from the Lord. Please note here that He did not bring obedience to this earth; He learned it—and He did so through suffering.

    When we meet suffering we then learn obedience. Such obedience is real. Our usefulness is not determined by whether or not we have suffered, but by how much obedience we have learned through that suffering. The obedient ones alone are useful to God. As long as our heart is not softened, suffering will not leave us. Our way lies in many sufferings; the easy-goers and pleasure-lovers are useless before God. Let us therefore learn to obey in suffering. . . .

    Those who are set up by God are to exercise authority for Him. Since all governing authorities are ordained and instituted by God, they are meant to be obeyed. If we would indeed learn how to obey God, we would then have no trouble recognizing on whom God’s authority rests. But if we know only God’s direct authority, we may possibly violate more than half of His authority. Upon how many lives can we identify the authority of God? Is there any room for us to choose between God’s direct authority and His delegated authority? No, we must be subject to delegated authority as well as to God’s direct authority, for “there is no authority except from God.”

    As to earthly authorities, Paul not only exhorts positively towards subjection but also warns negatively against resistance. He whoresists the authorities resists God’s own command; he who rejects God’s delegated authorities rejects God’s own authority. Authority, according to the Bible, is characterized by a unique nature: there is no authority except from God. He who resists authority resists God, and those who resist will incur judgment. There is no possibility of rebellion without judgment. The consequence of resisting authority is death. Man has no choice in the matter of authority. . .

    Be Fearlessly Subject to Delegated Authority

    What a risk God has taken in instituting authorities! What a loss God will incur if the delegated authorities He institutes misrepresent Him! Yet, undaunted, God has set up these authorities. It is much easier for us to fearlessly obey authorities than for God to institute them. Can we not then obey them without apprehension since God himself has not been afraid to entrust authority to men? Even as God has boldly established authorities, so let us courageously obey them. If anything should be amiss, the fault does not lie with us but with the authorities, for the Lord declares: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers” (Rom. 13.1). . . .

    Authority Finds Its Fullest Expression in the Body

    The fullest expression of God’s authority is found in the body of Christ, His church. Though God has established the procedure of authority in this world, none of those relationships (rulers and people, parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants) can give authority its fullest expression. Because the many governing authorities on earth are all institutional, there is always the possibility of the appearance of subordination without there being the real subjection of heart. There is no way to detect whether the people are following an order of the ruler from their hearts or merely rendering lip-service. It is equally difficult to tell whether the children are hearkening to their parents whole-heartedly or not. Hence subjectionto authority cannot be typified by the way children are subject to their parents, servants to their masters, or people to their rulers. Though God’s authority cannot be established without subjection, neither can it be if the subjection is not from the heart. Then again, all these instances of subjection lie within the scope of human relationships; consequently they are temporal and are subject to separation. So it is clear that absolute and perfect subjection cannot be found in them.

    Only the relationship between Christ and the church can fully express both authority and obedience. For God has not called the church to be an institution; He has ordained her to be the body of Christ. We often think of the church as a gathering of believers with the same faith or as a meeting of loving hearts, but God looks at her differently. She stands not only for the same faith and united love but even more so as one body.

    The church is the body of Christ, while Christ is the Head of the church. The relationships of parents and children, masters and servants, and even husbands and wives may all be severed, but the physical head and its body are inseparable; they are forever one. In like manner, Christ and the church too can never be sundered apart. The authority and obedience found in Christ and the church are of such a perfect nature that they surpass all other expressions of authority and obedience. . . .

    For the Body to Obey the Head Is Most Natural and Agreeable

    God has provided that the head and the body should share one life and one nature. It is therefore most natural for the body to obey the head. Indeed, in such a relationship disobedience would be strange. For example, it is normal for the hand to be raised at the instruction of the head; should the hand fail to respond, something would be wrong! In like manner, the Spirit of life which God has given us isone and the same as that which the Lord has; so is the nature of our life the same as His. Thus, there is no possibility of discord and disobedience. . . .

    Yet right here lies the common fault of God’s children. We need to recognize in other members the authority of the Head. The function of each member is limited; the eye is to see, the hand is to work, and the foot is to walk; we must therefore learn to accept the functions of the other members. We ought not refuse the function of any member. If the foot should reject the hand, it is the same as rejecting the Head. But if we accept the authority of a member, it is the same as accepting the authority of the Head. By way of fellowship all other members can be my authority. Although the function of the hand of the physical body is tremendous, it has to accept the function of the feet when it comes to walking. The hand cannot feel color, so it needs to accept the authority of the eye. The function of each member constitutes its authority.

    The Riches of Christ Is Authority

    It is impossible to make each member a whole body; we must each learn to stand in the position of being a member and of accepting the workings of the other members. What others see and hear is reckoned as my seeing and hearing. To accept the workings of other members is to accept the riches of the Head. No member can afford to be independent, since each is but a member in the body; whatever the other members do is taken as the doing of all the members and hence the doing of the body. . . .

    We often misunderstand authority as something which oppresses us, hurts us, and troubles us. God does not have such a concept. He uses authority to replenish our lack. His motive in instituting authority is to bestow His riches on us and to supply the need of the weak. He would not have you wait for decades and pass throughmany dark and painful days before you are able to see by yourself. By that time you might have led many into darkness. Indeed, you would become the blind leading the blind. What damage would God suffer through you! No, He first works in the life of another, and works thoroughly, so that He may give that person to you as an authority above you for you to learn obedience and to possess what you have never possessed before. This man’s wealth becomes your wealth. Should you overlook this divine procedure, though you may live for fifty years, you may still lag far behind the attainment of that person.

    The way God grants His grace to us is twofold: sometimes, though rarely, He grants grace to us directly; mostly He gives His riches to us indirectly—that is, God puts above you the brothers and sisters in the church who are more advanced spiritually so that you may accept their judgment as your judgment. This will then enable you to possess their wealth without you yourself having to go through their painful experiences. God has deposited much grace in the church; but He dispenses to each member some grace in particular, just as each star has its own particular glory. Hence authority brings in the riches of the church. The wealth of each member is the wealth of all. To rebel is to choose the way of poverty. To resist authority is to reject the means to grace and richness. . . .

    In the past both authority and obedience were objective, that is, an outward subjection to an outside power. Today authority has become a living thing, something inward. Authority and obedience meet each other in the body of Christ. Instantly both turn subjective and the two are merged into one. Herein is the highest expression of God’s authority. Authority and obedience reach their consummation in the body. Let us be built up here; otherwise, there is no way. The place where we meet authority is in the body. The Head (the source of authority) and the members (each with its function, ministering to each other as delegated authority as well as being obedient toauthority) are all in the church. If we fail to acknowledge authority here, there is no way. . . .

    Difficulties in the Church Often Derive from Slanderous Words

    Speaking inadvertently is largely responsible for the breaking of the unity of the church and the losing of power. Probably most difficulties in the church today are due primarily to slanderous words; only a minor part of the difficulties are real problems. In fact, most of the troubles in this world have been created through lies. If in the church we can stop slandering we will have eliminated the major part of our difficulties. How we need to confess our sins before God and ask for His forgiveness. All our words of reviling must be carefully and thoroughly terminated before God. “Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter?” (James 3.11) There ought not come from the same lips loving words and slanderous words. May God set a watch over our lips, and not only over our lips but also over our heart, that we be delivered from rebellious thoughts and reviling words. May reviling words forevermore depart from us. . . .

    “I Am the Lord Your God”—This Is the Reason

    In Leviticus 18-22, each time God orders the people of Israel to do certain things, He interpolates a phrase: “I am the Lord your God.” This is not even prefixed with the preposition “for.” It means “I so speak because I am the Lord your God. I do not need to give any reason. I, the Lord, am the reason.” If you see this you will never be able to live by reason any more. You will say to God: “Whereas in the past I lived by thought and reason, now I bow and worship You; whatever You have done, because it is You who have done it, is sufficient for me.” After Paul fell on the road to Damascus his reasonings were all cast aside. The question he asked was, “What shall I do, Lord?” He instantly put himself in subjection to the Lord.No one who knows God will argue, for reason is judged and set aside by the light.

    To argue with God implies that God needs to get our consent for all He does. This is utmost folly. When God acts He is under no obligation to tell us the reason, because His ways are higher than our ways. If we bring God down to reasonings we will lose Him because we make Him one of us. In reasonings we shall not have worship. As soon as obedience is absent, worship is lost. By judging God with our reason we set ourselves up as gods. Where, then, is the difference between the potter and the clay? Does the potter need to ask the consent of the clay in his work? May the glorious appearing of the Lord put an end to all our reasoning’s. . . .

    We may perceive whether or not one has met authority by observing whether his words, reasonings, and thoughts have been duly dealt with. Once one encounters God’s authority his tongue dare not freely wiggle, his reasonings and, deeper still, his thoughts can no longer be loosely expressed. Ordinarily man has numerous thoughts, all fortified with many reasonings. But there must come a day when God’s authority overthrows all the strongholds of reasoning which Satan has erected and recaptures all a man’s thoughts so as to make him a willing slave of God. Whereupon he no longer thinks independently of Christ; he is wholly obedient to Him. This is full deliverance.
    One who has not met authority often aspires to be God’s counselor. Such a person does not have his thoughts recaptured by God. Wherever he goes, his first thought is how to improve the situation there. His thoughts have never been disciplined, hence his reasonings are so many and so unceasing. We must allow the Lord to do a cutting work in us, to cut to the very depth of our thoughts until they are all taken captive by God. Thereafter we will recognize God’s authority and will not dare to freely reason or counsel. . . .

    Testimony of the Kingdom Brought In through Obedience

    God does not look at how fervently we preach the gospel or how willingly we suffer for Him; He looks to see how obedient we are. God’s kingdom begins when there is an absolute obedience to God—no voicing of opinion, no presenting of reasonings, no murmuring, no reviling. For this glorious day God has waited since the creation of the world. Although God has His firstborn Son who is the first-fruit of obedience, He is waiting for His many sons to be like the Firstborn. Wherever there is a church on this earth which truly obeys God’s authority, there is the testimony of the kingdom and there Satan is defeated. Satan is not afraid of our work so long as we act on the principle of rebellion. He only laughs in secret when we do things according to our own thoughts. . . .

    Submission Is Absolute, but Obedience Is Relative

    Submission is a matter of attitude, while obedience is a matter of conduct. Peter and John answered the Jewish religious council: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4.19). Their spirit was not rebellious, since they still submitted to those who were in authority. Obedience, however, cannot be absolute. Some authorities must be obeyed; while others should not be, especially in matters which touch upon Christian fundamentals—such as believing the Lord, preaching the gospel, and so forth. Children may make suggestions to their parents, yet they must not show an insubmissive attitude. Submission ought to be absolute. Sometimes obedience is submission, whereas at other times an inability to obey may still be submission. Even when making a suggestion, we should maintain an attitude of submission. . . .

    When delegated authority (men who represent God’s authority) and direct authority (God himself) are in conflict, one can rendersubmission but not obedience to the delegated authority. Let us summarize this under three points:

    1. Obedience is related to conduct: it is relative. Submission is related to heart attitude: it is absolute.
    2. God alone receives unqualified obedience without measure; any person lower than God can only receive qualified obedience.
    3. Should the delegated authority issue an order clearly contradicting God’s command, he will be given submission but not obedience. We should submit to the person who has received delegated authority from God, but we should disobey the order which offends God. . . .

    Indispensable Signs Accompanying the Obedient

    How can we judge whether a person is obedient to authority? By the following signs:

    1. A person who has known authority will naturally try to find authority wherever he goes. The church is the place where obedience can be learned, since there is not really such a thing as obedience in this world. Only Christians can obey, and they too must learn to obey—not outwardly, but from the heart. Yet once this lesson of obedience has been learned, the Christian will look for and find authority everywhere.

    2. A person who has met God’s authority is soft and tender. He has been melted and is not able to be hard. He is afraid of being wrong and thus he is soft.

    3. A person who has truly met authority never likes to be in authority. He has neither the thought nor the interest to become one in authority. He does not take delight in giving counsel, nor does hetake pleasure in controlling others. The truly obedient is always in fear of making an error. But alas, how many there are who still aspire to be God’s counselors. Only those who do not know authority are those who wish to be authorities.

    4. A person who has contacted authority keeps his mouth closed. He is under restraint. He dare not speak carelessly because there is in him a sense of authority.

    5. A person who has touched authority is sensitive to each act of lawlessness and rebellion around him. He sees how the principle of lawlessness has filled the earth and even the church. Only those who have experienced authority can lead others into obedience. Brothers and sisters must learn to obey authority; otherwise the church will not have any testimony on earth. . . .

    There is no one who is fit to be God’s delegated authority unless he himself first knows how to be under authority. No one can know how to exercise authority until his own rebellion has been dealt with. God’s children are not a heap of yarn or a mixed multitude. If there is no testimony of authority, there is no church nor work. This poses a serious problem. It is essential that we learn to be subject to one another and subject to delegated authorities.

    Three Requirements for a Delegated Authority

    Beyond a personal knowledge of authority and a life lived under authority, God’s delegated authority needs to fulfill the three following principal requirements:

    1. He must know that all authority comes from God. Every person who is called to be a delegated authority should remember that “there is no authority except from God; and those that exist are set up by God” (Rom. 13.1 Darby). He himself is not the authority, nor can anyone make of himself an authority. His opinions, ideas and thoughts are no better than those of others. They are utterly worthless. Only what comes from God constitutes authority and commands man’s obedience. A delegated authority is to represent God’s authority, never to assume that he too has authority. . . .

    For one to be in authority does not depend on his having ideas and thoughts; rather does it hinge on knowing the will of God. The measure of one’s knowledge of God’s will is the measure of his delegated authority. God establishes a person to be His delegated authority entirely on the basis of that person’s knowledge of God’s will. It has nothing at all to do with having many ideas, strong opinions, or noble thoughts. Indeed, such persons who are strong in themselves are greatly to be feared in the church. . . .

    2. He must deny himself. Until one knows the will of God he should keep his mouth shut. He should not exercise authority carelessly. He who is to represent God must learn on the positive side what God’s authority is and on the negative side how to deny himself. Neither God nor the brothers and sisters will treasure your thoughts. Probably you yourself are the only one in the whole world who considers your opinion as the best. Persons with many opinions, ideas, and subjective thoughts are to be feared. They like to be counselors to all. They seize upon every opportunity to press their ideas on others. God can never use a person so full of opinions, ideas, and thoughts as the one to represent His authority. For example, who would ever employ a spendthrift to keep his accounts? To do so would be to invite acute suffering. Nor will God engage a man of many opinions to be His delegated authority lest He too should suffer damage.

    Unless we are completely broken by the Lord we are not qualified to be God’s delegated authority. God calls us to represent His authority, not to substitute His authority. God is sovereign in Hispersonality and position. His will is His. He never consults with man nor does He allow anyone to be His counselor. Consequently, one who represents authority must not be a subjective person. . . .

    3. He must constantly keep in fellowship with the Lord. Those who are God’s delegated authority need to maintain close fellowship with God. There must be not only communication but also communion.

    Anyone who offers opinions freely and speaks in the name of the Lord carelessly is far away from God. He who mentions God’s name casually only proves his remoteness from God. Those who are near to God have a godly fear; they know how defiling it is to carelessly express their own opinions.
    Communion, therefore, is another principal requirement for one in authority. The nearer one is to the Lord, the clearer he sees his own faults. Having been brought face to face with God, he dare not thereafter speak with such firmness. He has no confidence in his flesh; he begins to be afraid lest he err. On the other hand, those who speak casually expose themselves as being far from God. . . .

    Authority is representative in nature, not inherent. It means that one must live before God, learning, and being wounded so as not to project oneself into it. One should never be so mistaken to consider oneself the authority. God alone has authority; no one else possesses it. When God’s authority flows to me, it can then flow through me to others. What makes me different from others is God, not myself.

    Hence we must learn to fear God and refrain from doing anything carelessly. We should confess that we are no different from other brothers and sisters. Since God has so arranged that today I should learn to be His delegated authority, I must live in His presence, commune with Him continuously, and seek to know His mind. Unless I have seen something there with God, I have nothing to sayhere to men. . . .

    Never Try to Establish One’s Own Authority

    Authority is established by God; therefore no delegated authority need try to secure his authority. Do not insist that others listen to you. If they err, let them err; if they do not submit, let them be insubordinate; if they insist on going their own way, let them go. A delegated authority ought not strive with men. Why should I demand a hearing if I am not God’s established authority? On the other hand, if I am set up by God, need I fear lest men not submit? Whoever refuses to hear me, disobeys God. It is not needful for me to force people to listen. God is my support, why then should I fear? We should never say so much as one word on behalf of our authority; rather, let us give people their liberty. The more God entrusts to us, the more liberty we grant to people. Those who are thirsty after the Lord will come to us. It is most defiling to speak on behalf of our own authority or to try to establish authority ourselves. . . .

    This is life out of death. Only those who have passed through death and come out in resurrection are recognized by God as His servants. The touchstone of ministry is resurrection. No one may point to his position; it must be of God’s choice. After God made Aaron’s rod sprout, bud, and bear fruit, and the other leaders had all seen it, they had nothing more to say.

    Authority, then, does not come by striving. It is set up by God. It depends not on a position of leadership but on the experience of death and resurrection. Men are chosen to exercise spiritual authority not because they are different from the rest but on the basis of grace, election, and resurrection. It requires great darkness and blindness to be proud! As far as we are concerned, though we might deposit our rods for a lifetime they would still not sprout. The difficulty in this present day is that so few fall on their faces acknowledging that theyare no different from the others. . . .

    Authority is of God, not of us. We are merely stewards of His authority. Such an insight makes us fit to be delegated authorities. Whenever we attempt to exercise authority as if it were our own, we are immediately dispossessed of any authority whatsoever. The dried rod can only dispense death. Where resurrection is, there is authority, because authority rests in resurrection and not in the natural. Since all we have is what is natural, we have no authority except in the Lord. . . .

    Nothing is more serious nor regarded more severely than for a delegated authority to do wrongly. Every time we execute authority we must ask to be united with God. If a mistake is made let us swiftly separate it from God lest we incur His judgment. Before we decide anything, let us seek to know His mind. Only after ascertaining His mind may we do it in His name. Moses could not claim that what he had done at the waters of Meribah was done in the Lord’s name. Let us not be foolish, but let us learn to fear and tremble before God. Do not render judgment carelessly; rather, control your spirit and your mouth, especially at the time of provocation. The more one knows God, the less he is careless. There are some times when one may receive forgiveness after having fallen into God’s governmental hand, but this does not always happen. The government of God ought not be offended. Let us be clear about it. . . .

    Authority Comes from Ministry, Ministry from Resurrection

    A person’s authority is based on his ministry, and his ministry is in turn based on resurrection. If there is no resurrection there can be no ministry; and if there is no ministry, there is no authority. Aaron’s ministry came from resurrection; without that, he could not serve at all. God has never set up as an authority anyone who is withoutministry.

    Today authority is not a matter of position. Where spiritual ministry is lacking, there can be no positional authority. Whoever has spiritual service before God has authority before men. This means that one’s spiritual ministry gives him authority among God’s children. Who, then, can fight for this authority, for there is no way to strive for ministry. Just as ministry is distributed by the Lord, so authority is also decided by Him.

    All authority is based on ministry. Aaron possessed authority because he had service before God. His censer could atone for the people and cause the plague to cease, whereas the censers of the two hundred fifty leaders were cursed by God. The rebellion in Numbers 16 was directed not only against authority but also against ministry. Aaron was in authority for he possessed ministry. No one’s authority can exceed his ministry.

    We should not attempt to outdo the authority of our ministry. Our attitude must always be that we dare not occupy ourselves with things too great and too marvelous for us (see Ps. 131.1). Let us learn instead to be faithful before God according to our portion. Many brothers mistakenly imagine that they can take up authority at random, not knowing that the authority which comes from ministry never lords it over God’s children. One’s authority before men is equal to one’s ministry before God. The measure of ministry determines the proportion of authority. If authority exceeds ministry it becomes positional, and is therefore no longer spiritual.

    If a delegated authority errs, God will come to judge. The highest principle in God’s government is His own vindication. Since God is willing to give His name to us and allows us to use it—just as someone trusts his seal to us for us to use—then He must exonerate himself if we misrepresent Him. He will tell the people that the fault is not His but ours. . . .

    All who are used by God to be in authority must have the spirit of David. Let no one defend himself nor speak for himself. Learn to wait and to be humble before God. He who knows how to obey best is he who is best qualified to be in authority. The lower one prostrates himself before God the quicker the Lord will vindicate him. . . .

    Authority Is Not Lording Over but Humbly Serving

    The Lord continued His teaching on the matter of authority. He called His disciples together and instructed them about future things in glory. He said that, among the Gentiles, men seek for authority in order that they may rule over others. It is good for us to seek for the future glory, but we ought not have the thought of ruling or lording it over God’s children. To do so would cause us to fall into the state of the Gentiles. To exercise authority and to rule are the desires of the Gentiles. Such a spirit must be driven from the church. Those whom the Lord uses are the ones who know the Lord’s cup and the Lord’s baptism. As we drink the cup and receive the baptism we will naturally have authority. It is a most ugly thing if we seek to rule over men externally. We must drive this spirit of the Gentiles out from us. Else we are unfit to lead others. . . .

    To Be Great, One Must Be a Servant

    The authority whom God appoints must have a spiritual background—he must drink the cup, that is, absolutely obey God’s will; and he must receive the baptism, that is, accept death in order to release life. He must also not have any intention of exercising authority; on the contrary, he must be prepared to serve as the servant and slave of all. In other words, he possesses spiritual ground on the one hand and the spirit of humility on the other. Because he does not seek to be authority God can use him as one. It is irrelevant to talk about authority if the cup is not drunk and the baptism notreceived. To one who is truly humble and considers himself unfit for anything except to be servant of all, to that one the Lord announces that he may be great.

    The condition for authority is consequently a sense of incompetency and unworthiness. From the Bible we can conclude that God has never used a proud soul. The moment a person becomes proud, at that moment he is laid aside by God. His hidden pride sooner or later will be revealed through his words, for words do not cease to leak out. At the future judgment seat of God even the humble will be greatly surprised. And if that be true, how much more shall be the horror of the proud on that day! We must sense our incompetency, because God only uses the useless. Polite diplomacy is not the thing here; rather is it having a sincere sense that we are but unprofitable servants. Though we have tended the flock and tilled the field, yet in coming back we still acknowledge ourselves as unprofitable servants. We do not forget to stand on the ground of a servant. God never entrusts His authority to the self-righteous and the self-competent. Let us reject pride, learn to be humble and gentle, and never speak for ourselves. Let us learn to know ourselves in the light of God. . . .

    Authority Is Based on Sanctification

    Authority has its foundation in sanctification. Without sanctification there can be no authority. If you wish to live with the crowd you cannot be an authority. You cannot represent God if you maintain a very liberal and loose communication with the people. The higher the authority the greater the separation. God is the highest authority; consequently He is above all. Let us learn to be sanctified from things unclean or common. The Lord Jesus may do whatsoever He likes, but for the sake of His disciples He sanctifies himself. He steps aside and stands on the side of holiness.

    May we heartily desire to please God too and thus seek after deeper sanctification. It means we will be distinguished from the common, although not separated from God’s children as though we were holier than they. The more we are sanctified and are subject to the authority of God the more we may be delegated authorities. If those in authority in the church fail, how can obedience be maintained? Unless this matter of authority is solved the church will always be chaotic.

    He who is in authority does not grasp authority; he serves God, is willing to pay the price, and seeks not excitement. To be in authority requires one to climb high, to not fear loneliness, and to be sanctified. May we be those who lay our all on the altar so that God’s authority may be restored. This is the way of the Lord in His church.

    —SA 10, 12-15, 24, 50, 69-70, 76-8, 80-3, 91, 97-8, 101-2, 105, 107-10, 118, 142, 145, 151-3, 167, 174-6, 185
    by Published on 09-17-2014 08:05 PM     Number of Views: 512 

    Head Gives Authority, Members Have Fellowship

    The use of the body lies in fellowship. The first body principle is that of authority, the second principle is that of fellowship. The supply of coordination is based on the supply of authority and the supply of fellowship. What comes from the Head is authority, what comes from the body members is fellowship. The Head gives authority that we may have order in the body—that is to say, order in the church. Further, though, within the members there is mutual fellowship. These are the two fundamental principles of body life.
    —CW, 111: 17-18, 56-7, 59-60, 148

    The ground of the Church is quite an important matter. For the Lord has truly shown in the Scriptures that the Church has a definite ground. I would suppose all the brethren know that the blessing of God is in the Church, that God’s Spirit is in the Church, that God’s light is in the Church, and that especially the life of our Lord Jesus is in the Church. Though we usually pay attention to the Lord’s life being in us individuals, His life is in fact in the Church. Since God has deposited so many spiritual things in the Church, it is evident that she becomes an important issue. . . . Whether the place I am in is a church forms a most serious personal challenge for each one of us to consider.

    We must see clearly before God that many spiritual things are in the Church, not upon individuals. The word of the Lord is plain yet wonderful: “upon this rock I will build my church.” And the outcome will be, added the Lord, that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16.18b). In other words, this promise is given to the Church, it is not given to individuals. How often in the Christian life it is hard individually to resist, but when the Church arises, Satan is defeated. I surmise that in these years there has not been a lack of personal blessings, but such are nonetheless rather limited. Only in the Church are the blessings unlimited and abundant. Hence, as a person walks outside of the Church the presence of God as well as the blessings he receives become circumscribed. He will not be able to touch many things in God. Pardon me for speaking frankly, but within the last ten years I have noticed that the people who do not know the Church are unable to keep that which they had had before but gradually lose out; whereas those who know the Church keep on growing and find the riches of the Head as their richness.

    Let me mention here two things which are essential to a local church. The New Testament clearly presents these two fundamental conditions. They are (1) the authority of the Holy Spirit and (2) the boundary of locality. Let us notice that without the Holy Spirit there can be no church. . . . From start to finish, the church can have only one authority, one power and one life—that of the Holy Spirit. There is but one authority, one power and one life, which is the Holy Spirit. . . . For the assembly of the saints is where the Spirit of God can unhinderedly express His thought. Just as the Lord while on earth used the body given Him by Mary, so today in the Holy Spirit He is able to use the church. . . . In one word, only that which can express the mind of the Holy Spirit can be called a local church.

    Today’s basic problem lies in our obeying authority. Yet to whose authority do we submit? Let me tell you that if it is considered an infringement should a younger brother speak out of himself, the action of an older brother who likewise speaks out of himself is also an infringement. Only the authority of the Holy Spirit is true authority. Why is it that the younger should be subject to the elder? Because the elder ones having learned more before God know more of the authority of God and thus make it easier for the Holy Spirit to flow out from them. It is like a pipe that—without any obstacle clogging up the passage—is accustomed to the flowing of water for many years. For the younger ones to be subject to the elders is not because the elders are themselves authority, but only because the Holy Spirit finds it easier to speak through them. . . . We do not establish the authority of the elder. We assent to the authority of the Holy Spirit which comes more easily through an elder. In other words, in the local church there is but one authority, the authority of the Holy Spirit. What comes out of man himself has no authority. Neither the elders, nor the older ones, nor the more spiritual have any authority in themselves. The Holy Spirit alone has authority. This is called the body of Christ. . . .

    You who serve God must remember one thing: Whether you have served twenty, thirty, fifty or sixty years till your hair has turned white, you are but a channel transmitting authority; you are only the outlet of authority, you yourself are not authority. Whenever you become authority, everything is finished!

    We use authority to serve brothers and sisters, not to control them. . . . Authority is not for control, but for supply. Therefore, do not exercise authority to rule over the brethren; rather, use it to supply and to serve them. . . . Let us learn to be the outlet of the authority of the Holy Spirit that we may support the brethren. Let us not establish our own authority. . . .

    A church must have the second fundamental condition earlier mentioned, which is the boundary of locality. You may ask, is it not enough for the establishing of a church if all who assemble together live under the authority of the Holy Spirit? No, that is not enough. For the Scriptures show us that two things are essential in the establishment of a local church. First is the authority of the Holy Spirit, and the second is the boundary of locality. Does this seem strange to you as though this is falling from heaven to earth? The church appears to be half heavenly and half earthly. Indeed, the divine church is on earth as well as in heaven. The heavenly half speaks of the authority of the Holy Spirit, while the earthly half speaks of the boundary of geographical locality. How marvelous that the Scriptures show us clearly that the church belongs to locality. This we can see in such descriptive phrases as “the church which was in Jerusalem” (Jerusalem being a city), “at Antioch, in the church that was there” (with Antioch being a locality) or “the church in Ephesus” (Ephesus being a seaport) (see Acts 8.1, 11.22, 13.1; Rev. 1.1). The ground of all the local churches mentioned in the Scriptures is set on the geographical localities where they are. They all take locality as their boundaries. . . .

    City Church vs. House Church

    In the New Testament there are four places which employ the phrase “the church that is in . . . house”: (1) “Salute the church that is in their house” (Rom. 16.5). The “their” points to Prisca, and Aquila who are mentioned in verse 3. This indicates the simple fact that the church in Rome, just as the churches in a thousand localities elsewhere, began in a brother’s home. The principal persons in that brother’s house are brothers and sisters. At that time the number of brethren in the local church was few; therefore, they could meet in a house. This is a matter of history, not a matter of teaching. Teaching can be explained away; history cannot be explained away because a fact of history is a fact. All who are familiar with history know that thousands of churches have begun in somebody’s house. The church in Rome at that early period was the church that met in the house of Prisca and Aquila. . . .

    (2) “Aquila and Prisca salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Cor. 16.19b). This was in approximately A.D. 59. At that time, Aquila and Prisca did not live in Rome but in Ephesus (see Acts 18.18-19). And the church in Ephesus met in their home. Hence, it is called “the church that is in their house.” This does not suggest at all that in Ephesus at that time there was on the one hand the “city church” and on the other hand the “house church” that met in the house of Aquila and Prisca. No, it means that the church in Ephesus was the assembly of the saints that met in the house of Aquila and Prisca. This is unalterable history.

    (3) “Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church in their [or, her] house. And when this epistle hath been read among you [Colossians], cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans” (Col. 4.15-16). It is a historical fact that the church in Laodicea assembled in the house of Nymphas. Nymphas was a believer in Laodicea, not in Colosse. Accordingly, Paul called the church in Laodicea the church that met in the house of Nymphas.

    (4) “To Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house” (Philemon 1-2). Philemon was a believer who lived in Colosse. He was Paul’s fellow-worker. And the church in Colosse was the church that met in his house. Again this is plain history. . . .

    Having now seen how the so-called “house church” was mentioned four times in the New Testament and what that meant, let us next look at it from another angle: Can or cannot the house be the unit of the boundary of the church? I do not know if you understand what this phrase—“the unit of boundary”—means. Let me try to explain. When we weigh a thing, we use the “pound” as the unit of weight. When we measure a thing, we use the “foot” as the unit of length. Can a “house” therefore be deemed the legitimate unit of the local church’s boundary? A careful reading of the New Testament will reveal that that just cannot be. No, the unit of the boundary of the local church is not a “house church” but is a city or a locality. This is God’s teaching.
    Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea were all localities at the time of the New Testament. And in each of these localities there was a single local church.

    So that with locality serving as the unit, in those biblical instances where there were two or more units spoken together, they could not be called one church but rather they were called churches. Accordingly, in the Scriptures we find such descriptive phrases as “the churches of Judea” (Gal. 1.22), and “the churches of Galatia” (1.2)—yet these were both provinces, and a province constituted a composite of many localities.

    Let me inquire again in our discussion as to whether a house can be deemed the boundary unit of a church. Here our mind needs to be very clear, or else we will be mistaken. We must understand that the term “house” as employed in the Scriptures (see earlier for the four instances) and the term house as spoken of nowadays by the advocates of the house church are two different things. The house according to the teaching of the New Testament Scriptures referred to the place where the local church met. And this meant that the church that was identified with a certain person’s house was also the church of that locality.

    But today? Man’s teaching asserts that in the city of Rome, for example, there can be two local churches: one whose location is on a given street and one that is in the house. Or that in Colosse, there could be three churches: one on the street and two in two different houses. And thus, according to the teaching of man, the house church is one that is smaller in boundary than the locality. Taking unjustified advantage of the word “house” in the Scriptures, they consider the unit of the local church’s boundary to be the house and not to be governed by locality.

    But does the New Testament warrant accepting the idea of the unit of church boundary being smaller than the locality? This question can easily be answered. We have already seen that there was but one church in Rome, one church in Colosse, and one church in Laodicea. The reference to the church in Laodicea in the Book of Revelation is always singular in number, and in heaven it is also represented by but one golden lampstand.

    What is even more striking evidence from the Scriptures is the fact that during the early days the saints who comprised “the church which was in Jerusalem”—which at that time had apparently possessed the largest number of believers, as many as perhaps ten thousand—had met in different houses: “day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home” (Acts 2.46). . . . The word “home” here does not refer to just one house. Once more the Scriptures tell us this: “every day, in the temple and at home” (Acts 5.42). Again, the word “home” cannot be limited to but one house. On a subsequent occasion, after Peter had been released from prison by an angel, he came to “the house of Mary” (Acts 12.12), which was one of the houses where the church in Jerusalem gathered to pray. The question now needs to be posed again: Can such a home be deemed the unit of church boundary? History shows us that among all the churches of that early period, Jerusalem had the largest number of believers and also had the greatest number of home meetings. If God had thought of using the “house” or “home” as the unit of the local church’s boundary, Jerusalem would have been best qualified to be set forth as the model. Yet God did not do so. And if He chose not to make the “house” or “home” the church’s unit of boundary at Jerusalem, then we know for certain that He has not deemed the “house” to be that unit in other places either.

    What, then, is the fact which confronts us? Jerusalem had so many home meetings, and yet God had only one local church in Jerusalem. Every time the Holy Spirit mentioned Jerusalem He only and always used “church” in singular number and never “churches” in the plural number. The Scriptures have only “the church in Jerusalem, never “the churches in Jerusalem” nor “the house churches in Jerusalem.” There may have been meetings conducted in many homes throughout the city, but the church in Jerusalem was one local church.

    Attempting to make the “house” as the local church’s unit boundary is a human conception; it is not scriptural teaching. The Bibilical formula on this matter—“the church which was in Jerusalem” (Acts 8.1)—makes impossible the establishing of single, independent, isolated house churches. . . .

    When the house is smaller than the locality, the house cannot serve as a unit of boundary for the local church. Only when the house is equal to the locality can it be acknowledged as such. Let us see and acknowledge that the unit is based on locality.
    —GOC 1-4, 6, 9, 18, 20-1, 22-4, 26

    What things the apostle John wrote, whether Epistles or Gospel, were written last. Revelation naturally was also written last. Matthew, Mark and Luke—these three Gospels record the acts of the Lord Jesus while on earth; the Gospel of John, however, narrates the life of Him “who descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven” (John 3:13). The Epistles of John were written at the time when the truth of God was being confused by the gnostics. These writings too, as it were, carry people to heaven to see there God’s eternal fact. John translates us out of ourselves as men into fully accepting the Son of God. What this apostle wrote has a specific characteristic—which is, to bring us back to the very beginning. The Gospel of John tells us that Christ is in the beginning; the Epistles of John communicate to us the Word of life which is from the beginning; the Revelation of John transports us to the eternity to come. The Gospel is to reveal to us the Son of God who came in the flesh. He was in our midst yet men mistook Him. They regarded Him as only Jesus of Nazareth. John nevertheless shows us that this Jesus who was in the flesh is from the beginning. This is the most hidden fact. The Epistles of John are no different. There, His Person is the Son of God and His Office is Christ. Sadly, men neither recognized Him as the Son of God nor acknowledged Him as Christ, the Anointed One of God. Consequently, John emphasizes in his Epistles these two points in order to bring us to the hidden fact at the beginning. When he wrote the Book of Revelation it was at the time of world chaos and the iron rule of the Roman Caesars. He also takes us to the hidden story in the future, enabling us to understand God’s view towards the world situation. Yet in Revelation there is not only the world situation to be dealt with but also the Church condition. The book discloses to us what the Lord is pleased with and what He condemns during the time of disarray in the outward appearance of the Church. It also reveals what is the Lord’s appointed way for His Church. The Church exhibits many varied appearances in history. Yet what kind of state is desired by the Lord? All these are the hidden secrets which John conveys to us in his Revelation writing.

    In the Bible there are two sets of seven letters. God used Paul to write the first set of letters to seven churches; namely, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He used John to record the second set of letters—likewise sent to seven churches. The first set of letters deals with the Church in a time of relative normalcy, while the second set of letters deals with the Church in an extraordinary time. Just as the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke convey a normalcy about them in that they help men to know God, the Gospel of John is God’s reaction to men’s distortion, and hence this latter Gospel lays much stress on truth and grace. The Epistles of John are also God’s reaction to abnormality, so they touch a great deal on light and love. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, God can be seen dealing with the abnormal conditions of the Church. The first set of letters to seven churches—those written by Paul—consider the proper conduct and behavior of the Church. But in the time of John’s writing, the Church has degenerated terribly. Accordingly, he was commanded to put into writing the second set of letters to seven churches as found in the Book of Revelation. The first set of church letters confirm the truths the Church should know; the latter set communicate the way the Church ought to travel during her earthly pilgrimage. Today we who really desire to walk in the way of the Lord must read Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Today the Church constitutes a very serious problem for the Lord. So Revelation tells us what we should do. If Christians are not going to Revelation to find the way, I wonder where they are heading!

    Going a step further in this comparison, the first series of church letters was written before “the last days”; on the other hand, the latter set was written during “the last days.” 1 John 2.18, for example, clearly mentions another time—“the last hour”: “Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that anti-christ cometh, even now have there arisen many anti-christs; whereby we know that it is the last hour.” Christians who only read the first series of Church letters will not be able to understand God’s will for the last days.

    In the Bible the ministries of three persons are especially prominent: those of Peter, John and Paul. 2 Peter is the last extant letter written by Peter. There he mentioned apostasy. 2 Timothy is the last extant letter written by Paul. In chapter 2 he wrote: “the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same [that is, the testimony] commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (v.2). In his 1 Timothy letter he had stated that the Church is the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth (see 3.15). But in 2 Timothy he wrote that “now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth” (2.20a). The issue revolves around whether or not a man purges himself from being a vessel unto dishonor to be one unto honor and follows after righteousness, faith, love and peace with all those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (see vv.21-22). The Epistles of John are the last extant ones written by that apostle too. In them he talked about the coming of the spirit of the Antichrist and how we need to hold on to the truth (see 1 John 4.1-3).

    I today sense a great burden within me. Usually we say that from the first formation of the Church to the present time is the Church Age. The matter is not that simple, however. We should at least distinguish between the normal and the abnormal therein. Today the outward appearance of the Church is in ruin. If we do not see this fact, how can we read with understanding the Book of Revelation? The first set of Church letters dealt with the normal. Now, though, things have become abnormal. What should we do about it? True, confusion on earth will not affect spiritual reality, for God’s reality remains unchanged. Yet in outward appearance, the Church is at least confused. The Roman Church declares that she is the Body of Christ. According to a 1914 report, apart from various fragmentary groups, there were already one thousand five hundred well-organized and formidable denominations. Each has proclaimed itself to be the Body of Christ. Even prior to the departure from the scene of John, Paul and Peter, disintegration within the Church had already commenced. Paul wrote to Timothy: “all that are in Asia turned away from me” (2 Tim 1.15a). This included even the Church in Ephesus where Paul had taught and labored the longest. In the light of such circumstances, every child of God must seek to know one thing: How should I follow and serve the Lord? When the Church is outwardly in ruin, we should ask ourselves what we must do. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 can show us the way. If we are truly seekers before God, these two chapters can tell us what to do.

    When reading the Book of Revelation, the first thing everyone would like to know is, what kind of book it is. All seem to recognize that Revelation is prophecy. But if we should pursue the matter further and ask whether the section dealing with the seven churches is prophecy, many would begin to waiver. Both in chapters 1 and 22 we are told that the characteristic of Revelation is its prophetic nature. Not only the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls are prophetic portions, even the portion covering the seven letters is prophetic in nature. For this is indeed a thoroughly prophetic book.

    No one, as the Book itself declares, should dare to add anything to it, nor should any man take anything away from it. Since, then, it is a book of prophecy, we ought to treat it as such and try to discern its fulfillment. Let us therefore pay attention to the nature of this Book of Revelation: that first, it is prophecy; and second, that because it is prophecy, it shall be fulfilled. At the time when Revelation was being set down, there were of course more than seven local churches in Asia. Why, then, did John mention only these seven churches? While on the island of Patmos receiving from the Lord the divine revelation he was to set down for the Church, John saw only these seven local churches because they were able to represent all the other churches. God chose these seven particular yet appropriate churches and infused each one of them and all of them with the prophetic element.

    According to Revelation 2 and 3, on earth there are but seven churches in view; in heaven there are likewise but seven lampstands in view. This presents a problem. A church on earth has a counterpart lampstand in heaven. Are there only these seven churches in the entire world? If so, then it would appear that the church in Chungking is cut off, so, too, the church in Nanking is excluded. How can this apparent discrepancy be solved? The answer can be found if we bear in mind that this of which we are speaking is prophecy. And hence, in prophecy only seven churches need be chosen for whatever prophetic purpose may be in view. These seven churches, therefore, can and do represent all the churches—the history of the church past, present and future. If so, then there is no need for an eighth item of representation beyond these seven. Though there are indeed more than seven local churches on earth, these seven now before us can be taken as representations of them all. There are only seven lampstands in heaven because the histories of these seven particular churches on earth reflect the history of the entire Church.

    Let us pay special attention to the word in chapter 1 that declares,

    “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand” (v.3). Let us also pay attention to what is written in chapter 22: “Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book” (v.7b). We may therefore conclude that these prophecies are the commandments of God. Though they are clothed outwardly with a prophetic garment, they are inwardly the commandments of God. And hence this is a book of practice (“keep the things”, “keep the words”) and not a book of research. The prophecy given here is different from the other prophecies of the Bible in that the prophecy of this book is given to men to keep. There is a common rule between John and us, which is, that this prophecy—from the beginning of it to the very end—is given us to keep. How can anyone who does not keep the words and keep the things written about in this book ever understand Revelation? How, for example, can he comprehend the section that deals with the seven churches?

    In reading Revelation 2 and 3 we see not just the prophecy we need to keep, we also see the Lord as the Lord of judgment. The very first portion of Revelation is the preface to the entire book, and the next portion serves as the prelude to chapters 2 and 3; for chapters 2 and 3 commence with the revelation of the Lord Jesus. Here we see the Lord “clothed with a garment down to the foot” (1.13). The priest of old would wear a long garment; hence, the Lord Jesus here is represented as the Priest. The lamp-stand mentioned is in the Holy Place of the tabernacle of old. Its light was never allowed to go out: it was to shine day and night incessantly. Thus it would require the priest in olden times to do the work of trimming and adding oil all the time within the Holy Place. The Lord Jesus is now the Priest who, as pictured here in chapter 2, walks among the churches to examine which lamp is bright and which lamp is dimmed.

    The act of trimming is representative of correcting and judging, and judgment—the Bible tells us elsewhere—begins with the House of God: the Church. Christ is therefore seen walking among the churches and doing the work of judgment. And that judgment today is viewed from the perspective of eternity. John was most intimate with the Lord, so much so that he had even leaned on His breast (see John 13.25, 21.20). The Son is in the bosom of the Father, and John is in the bosom of the Son. But in this moment of revelation, when John saw the Lord, he fell down as one dead because he saw the Lord as the Lord of judgment. In the past we have seen Him as the Lord of grace; now, however, we see Him as the Lord of judgment, and that will cause us to fall down as dead. His judgment now, though, is the judgment of a priest who performs the work of trimming. The day will come when it is pure judgment. Every child of God must one day encounter the terror and holiness of the Lord. Then he will not argue any more, for light eliminates all argument. Light not only enlightens, it also slays. Every enlightening revealed in the Scriptures slays the natural life of man. Man may have many reasons, but before the Lord of judgment all these vanish. Like John, all will prostrate themselves on the ground as though dead. The farther people drift away from the Lord, the greater shall be their self-confidence. But none can stand the light of God. We need one day to be dealt with by God.

    Now the heading of each of these seven letters reveals something of who the Lord is; and all the words of each letter which follow thereafter are based upon this facet of revelation as to who the Lord is. All who do not know the Lord cannot see the Church; for the Church is the continuation of the cross; and he who knows not the cross does not know in reality the extension or continuation of the cross.

    All seven letters commence with some facet of the Lord in revelation and conclude with the call to overcome. Who are the overcomers? Are they special, “above level” persons? The meaning of overcomers in the Bible denotes ordinary, common people. Those who do not conduct themselves in an abnormal way in an extraordinary time are overcomers. Today most people are “below level.” Yet overcomers are not above level, but are simply on or at the level. Today God is calling for overcomers who will respond to the normal rule of what was from the beginning. Let us see that the will of God never changes; on the contrary, it is like a straight line. Today men have fallen, and in falling they have fallen down below this straight line. Overcomers, however, are those who are being restored to God’s original purpose.

    Two more things need to be observed here: one is that the churches are said to be golden lampstands among which the Lord walks; the other is that in the Lord’s right hand are seven stars which are the angels of these seven churches.

    Let us discuss briefly the first of these two matters. Metals in the Bible have their symbolic meanings. Iron symbolizes governmental power; brass signifies judgment; silver, redemption; and gold, the glory of God. Whether in the ancient or in the modern world, there is one thing no one can ever know—which is, the glory of God. Though God’s holiness is hard to comprehend, we can still know it. We can also know His righteousness. But His glory is unknown to men because it is akin to God himself. Notice, however, what we are told here: that the Church is made of gold, the Biblical symbol for God’s glory and nature. People in the Church are born of God; they are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man (see John 1.13). The Church has absolutely no intrinsic relationship to men. What are the works of wood, hay and stubble as spoken of in 2 Corinthians (see 3.10-15)? They are the works of the flesh. But the works of gold, silver and precious stones signify that they are all of God.

    The second matter. These seven letters were written to the angels of the seven churches. They are different from Paul’s set of church letters in that these latter were written directly to the churches themselves. In the letter to the Philippians, for example, we read in it especially how Paul has mentioned all the saints, the bishops and the deacons—those to whom the letter had been addressed. The seven letters in Revelation, however, were written to the angels of these churches, notwithstanding the fact that they were words spoken by the Holy Spirit to all the churches. The seven stars to be seen in the Lord’s right hand, we are told, are the angels of these seven local churches. Angel in Greek is “angelos,” meaning “a messenger.” In reading Revelation 2 and 3, many have attempted to discover similarities between this latter set of church letters and the former set written by Paul, with the result that all sorts of wrong interpretations have been made concerning these angels. Who are these angels? The term angel used here is singular in number; and hence, each letter was written to but one angel. Yet the one angel to whom each letter is addressed, though singular in number, is corporate in nature. This is borne out by the fact that at the end of each letter (which, it must be kept in mind, was written to one angel) the repeated call to overcome is always addressed to a plural number. And hence the angel is a corporate messenger who is capable of representing the few in the entire local church. Accordingly, the way of God—though not His purpose—has changed. Formerly it was the church that stood before the Lord; now it is the angel who stands before Him. Lamplight is inferior to starlight. In this new situation, therefore, the Lord has chosen the star whose light ever shines—and shines more brightly. Moreover, He says that this star is His messenger. Let us note, too, that the star is in His right hand. Today a group of people is considered by the Lord to be His messenger, since the character of that local church is deemed to be reposed in them. Whenever the outward appearance of the church becomes a problem before the Lord, a group of people—as seen here in the angel—is viewed by the Lord to be representative of the church. Formerly, those who were representative of the church had position, they being elders of the church. Now, though, the responsibility of representing the church rests upon a spiritual messenger corporate in nature. The messenger may therefore not be elders or deacons but merely ordinary common saints who overcome. Today God places the responsibility of the church upon those who can truly represent the church. Today the issue of responsibility no longer lies in position or office but in real spiritual power before God.

    The Book of Revelation is written to all the servants of God (Rev. 1.1). Whoever is not servant in heart cannot understand it. All who are not blood-bought and constrained by divine love to be bondservants of the Lord are unable to comprehend the Book of Revelation.

    John wrote this book in about 95 or 96 A.D. during the time when Domitian was the Roman Caesar. Of the twelve apostles, John was the last one to die. The apostolic church ended with John. At the time of his writing Revelation these seven letters of chapters 2 and 3 were prophetic in nature. Today as we read them they are still prophetic though now they stand fulfilled in the history of the Church. John had looked forward, while we today look backward.

    In the first three letters [see Rev. 2], the call to overcome is placed after “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” First, “He that hath an ear,” and then, the promise to the overcomer. But commencing from the letter to the church at Thyatira, this order is reversed. This indicates that the first three churches form one group while the latter four churches form another. Between the two groups there is a basic difference. Formerly, only after the history of Ephesus had passed away would Smyrna come into view; only after Smyrna had passed away would Pergamum come into being; and only after Pergamum had passed away would Thyatira come into the picture. But now Sardius did not have to wait till Thyatira had passed away because Thyatira will continue on till the Second Coming of the Lord. Nor must Sardius pass away before Philadelphia came into being or Philadelphia pass away before Laodicea came into view. While Sardius yet existed, Philadelphia came on the scene, and while Philadelphia still existed, Laodicea came. Thyatira, Sardius, Philadelphia and Laodicea will all continue on till the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. The first group of three churches came and went—each of the three in turn; but though the four in the last group came indeed one after another, they all shall continue to co-exist till the Second Coming of the Lord.
    —OC 3-10, 44
    by Published on 04-20-2014 12:34 AM     Number of Views: 597 
    1. Categories:
    2. Unity of the Body of Christ

    The Rock is not a Stone, and the Stones are not THE Rock

    A workman of the Lord requires still another character feature. This we would call stability—a workman needs to be emotionally stable. Many before God are truly solid and firm, whereas many others are careless, unstable, and double-minded, and who oscillate according to their environment. This undependable nature does not stem from any lack of a desire to be trustworthy but from an unreliable character. Such individuals change with the weather. They are not solid. Yet God requires those who would serve Him to have a firm, reliable, and unshakable constitution.

    In the Bible we can find one particularly easily shaken man. We all know that man to be Peter. But before examining in detail the weak, vacillating, and unreliable nature of Simon Peter’s character, let us first consider a number of encouraging passages of Scripture that can give us all some hope in this area of concern now under discussion. First of all, we read:

    Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16.13-16)

    Now on the basis of 1 John 5.1a (“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God”) and 5.13 (“These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God”), we can assuredly say that Peter would not have known those things he uttered in his confession to Jesus at Caesarea Philippi unless he had touched the life of God; for note the very next verse: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven” (v.17). Please be aware of the fact that people may be with Jesus, even sitting with Him and walking with Him, but they will never know who Jesus is until such inward knowledge as Peter received is revealed to them by the Father who is in heaven.

    Now let us pay close attention to verse 18a. Jesus continued by saying: “And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter [Greek, Petros, stone], and upon this rock [Greek, petra, rock] I will build my church.” We ought to realize that the true Church of God is not a shaking entity. For the Church, as our Lord declared here, is built on the rock. Let us keep this rock in mind as we pursue our discussion further.

    Here in Matthew 16 the Lord would seem to be touching indirectly on what He had spoken about on another occasion as recorded in Matthew 7. There He tells us that a person had built his house upon the sand; but then the rain descends, the floods come, and the wind blows, and that house is smitten; and it suddenly falls. But another person, Jesus went on to say, had built his house upon the rock; and though, as before, the rain descends, the floods come, and the wind blows, and these things beat upon that house, it does not fall (see vv.24-27). So that when the Lord subsequently declares that He will build His Church upon the rock, He shows us that His Church, like the house that is built upon the rock, will never fall. However much the rain may descend, the floods may arise, and the winds may blow, the House of God will not fall. Rains descending or not, floods coming or not, winds blowing or not—none of these constitutes any problem to this spiritual House. For it is built upon rock; and consequently, the Church is stable, fall-proof, and unshakable. Such is the basic nature of the Church.

    Note, too, that when Paul wrote to Timothy, he called “the house of God . . . the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3.15). The Church is like a pillar which is fixed firmly and cannot be shaken. It does not matter much if one shakes a chair, but to shake a house is of great concern. The fundamental nature of the Church is that it is built upon the Rock which is stable and unshakable. All the children of God who are built upon this Rock are stones. Peter himself wrote in this very same vein much later in his first letter: “ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house” (2.5a). Each and every brother and sister is a living stone being built upon the Rock. So that in this construction, whatever is underneath is that which is above. Whatever the foundation is it is the same kind of material that the superstructure is, and vice-versa.

    In the Church there are no bricks, only stones. By sharp contrast, the tower of Babel had been built with bricks, for it had been constructed by men working with imitation stones. But in the Church there are no bricks, nothing of man-made imitations. The Church is built upon the Rock. Each one of us is like a stone before the Lord. And these stones are built together to be a spiritual House. So that we can very clearly see that the Church of God has this basic nature of stability.

    Now following upon all this, the Lord then makes this declaration: “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16.18b). As we have seen, this unshakable thing of which the Lord speaks is called the Church. Its foundation is Rock which is something unshakable and firm, and its building or superstructure is of like material—that is, of stones—which is likewise not to be shaken. But if all this be true, then how can the ministries in the Church be found so often to be shakable and unreliable? This is the very matter we intend to talk about in our discussion from this point forward. Do please be very clear here that we are not discussing the matter of the Church; rather, we are going to deal with this matter of the ministers in the Church. When the Lord told Simon, “Thou art Peter,” He meant, “You are a stone.” Peter here represents all the ministers in the Church. All who work and serve must be stones. Though these stones are not as massive as the Rock, they nonetheless bear the same nature as the Rock which is that of firmness and unshakableness. Here, therefore, we see that a minister must also not be shaken, for is he not a stone? Yet we all know only too well that unfortunately too many are shaken and unreliable. And this is the very problem we hope now to address.

    Proceeding further, we note that the Lord continued in His teaching by saying: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16.19). The promise the Lord gives to the Church is also given to Peter. For please note that while in Matthew 18.18 (and cf. v.17) we see this promise given to the Church, here in Matthew 16 it is given to Peter personally. All this indicates that our Lord views Peter as a minister of the Church. The Lord gives him the keys of the kingdom of heaven that he may open its door. And we believe that following the Lord’s resurrection and ascension Peter did indeed open the door of the kingdom of heaven—first on the Day of Pentecost and later in the house of Cornelius. He opened the door to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

    Now as Peter—that is, as a stone—he can use the keys. But whenever he is not a Peter, that is to say, not a stone, he cannot use the keys. Today, not all who are called Peter are really Peter, just as not all who are called Israel are strong. A person’s name may indeed be Israel, but he is still a weak person. Here is a man whose name is Peter; to him the Lord gives the keys. When he is really Peter, when he is truly a stone, he can use the keys. Whatsoever he binds shall be bound, and whatsoever he looses shall be loosed.

    Hence, the acceptable inward constitution of a minister is found in his stable character. This is a fundamental requirement. When a person is wavering, he cannot be a minister before God, nor can the Church follow him. Some brothers and sisters have this underlying defect in character. They are easily shaken, always changing, ever oscillating. They are not stable and solid before God. Such people cannot serve the Church because they are not able to stand firm, and consequently they will be prevailed upon by the gates of Hades.

    Thank God for using Peter as an example in His word. God looks for such a man whose nature is the same as that of the foundation of the Church. The one who ministers must be a solid stone. Thank the Lord for choosing Peter as a sample, thus assuring us who later follow that He is able to transform us into such stability even as He eventually did in Simon Peter. This man here is indeed called Peter, yet he does not look like a Peter. His name is truly “a stone,” but his personality is like flowing water that constantly shifts its course: sometimes he is resolute, at other times he is vacillating; sometimes he is strong, at other times he is weak. The Lord puts him before us in order to teach us that before anyone is dealt with by God, his temperament is rather irresolute. Before he becomes a stone he cannot use the keys, neither is he of any special use before God. Not until his weak disposition is dealt with by the Lord can he be used by God.

    We thank the Lord that human character may be changed. It is not something unchangeable. Like Peter, a vacillating person can be transformed into a stable person. Under the burning light of the Lord, your tongue can be so purified that though you were by nature talkative you now become a man of few words. Under the reproach of the Lord, the laziness of the slothful dies out. When the Lord cursed the fig tree, it withered from the root. For where the Lord’s reproach and curse is, there is withering and death. If you have not met the Lord deeply, you may be able to live on in a happy-go-lucky manner. But once you have truly met Him, your flippant nature is shriveled up. By the touch of the Lord’s light, whether it comes by listening to the preaching of God’s word or through the open reproach of a brother, you are undone. At the reproach of the Lord, you come to your end.

    What we are therefore saying here concerns the formation of character or, more accurately said, the reconstruction in character. Many have a weak disposition, one which is inattentive, cold or lazy, but when they are met by the Lord, they shrink under God’s enlightenment. How gracious the Lord is in selecting Peter; else all the weak and wavering among us will consider themselves to be hopeless. Our Lord chooses a man, names him Peter, transforms him to be a stone, then puts the keys of the kingdom of heaven into his hand and brings him to the Church.
    by Published on 07-29-2013 02:46 PM     Number of Views: 1764 
    1. Categories:
    2. Apostles Set up Churches,
    3. Boundary of Local Assembly,
    4. Elders

    What happens if you don't get the right understanding of the Church and how the Church is organized?

    Aristotle wrote, "The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold." In other words, a small lie at the beginning may lead to a complete break with reality somewhere down the line.

    Satan, therefore, tries to plant a small lie and over time lets it grow all the while man thinks he is doing the right thing or managing the problem as best he can when in reality the paradigm must shift and go back to the way it was originally intended.

    The Church is defined in two ways: (a) universal born-again body of believers; (b) according to locality, e.g. church of Houston in the churches of Texas or the church of Antioch in the churches of Syria. Such is the account of every instance of the word "church" in the Scriptures.

    It is not defined as a congregation of some denomination (denominations are outlawed in Scripture, for don't say "I of Cephas" or "I of Apollos" and don't even say "I of Christ" for that divides the body falsely also), nor is it defined even as an independent body of believers of some congregation. Congregationalism is most certainly false.

    If someone asks you what church you belong to, tell them the church of your locality and give the name of your locality you reside in. You could further respond by saying you fellowship at a particular meeting place at someone's house, and provide the Elder of that meeting place as well as the Elder of your locality who approved of the Elder of your meeting place.

    Do you know who the Apostle(s) - directly chosen by God - are for the churches of your state or region and the Apostle who appointed the Elder of your church locality? And are you aware whether or not the Elder of your meeting place has been approved by the Elder of your locality?
    by Published on 11-11-2011 02:14 PM     Number of Views: 1052 
    1. Categories:
    2. Unity of the Body of Christ

    That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us. John 17.21.

    Quite simply, oneness is God himself. When all of us set aside the things outside of God and begin to live in Him, then God who is in us becomes the oneness. Oneness is when God has His absolute place in us. Oneness is when He alone is in all, when He fills all. When the children of God are filled with God, they harmonize with one another. As a matter of fact, Satan, in his attempt to effect the disintegration of us as a body, does not need to stir up opinions and strife among us so long as he is able to plant some impurity in us or something else which takes the place of God. As an illustration of this, have you ever noticed how people mix concrete? If there is some clay blended with the sand, the cement will not firmly congeal. Now for Satan to destroy our oneness in the body, he needs to do nothing but spread a little mud—that which is incompatible with the life of God in us—and we as a body shall disintegrate. We have but one need, which is, to turn inwardly to God and let Him cleanse us and purify us with the cross and the Holy Spirit.

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