THE G-R-E-A-T-W-A-Y OF THE CHURCH
An acronym explained here showing something of the scriptural order and testimony for a faithful expression of the Church worldwide and locally. If one should find a sound assembly of Christians that meets in worldwide fellowship fully in accord with the Scripture as follows, would one value it and want to be associated with it? One might consider the following order and conditions ---which does exist:
GATHERING of true "born again" believers in Christ locally with other saints worldwide of like mind, to fellowship, worship, study, serve, etc. in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, in the biblical order as Matthew 18:20 and all related Holy Scripture. This could not include various religious ideas of men, and denominated or other such man-made church sects, nor appointed chosen leaders, or religious preferences which usurp the Lord's order; for the Church is A NAMELESS FELLOWSHIP, "one body" without innovations, and is occupied only with Christ and God's Word by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It should be emphasized that the interest and historical revival of circa 1800 AD was for that purpose, to return saints to Bible-only from sectarianism as God intended. The notable gathering of 1827 AD is viewed here and appreciated as a true work of God, to recover and set forth that church truth lost after the apostolic period. One ought to be clear about it and appreciate and uphold it, without including a sectarian spirit of independency and man's reasoning with denominationalism. GOD ONLY HAS ONE CHURCH TESTIMONY IN THE WORLD (though many individual gospel works). Real Christians should want to be on that ground, though God allows for ignorance ---though not for rebellion.
RECEIVING "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), and "rightly dividing the Word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). The thought here is understanding the mind of God from His complete Word and being in conformity to it, without adding or taking from it. One needs to resist the temptation to add religious reasoning and following men. If a thought is not true to the Word, then it has no place in God's assembly.
EXPRESSING the "one body of Christ" in the world with "...no schism in the body" (John 17:21; Rom.12; 1 Cor.12: 7-25; 2 Cor. 13:12-13; Eph. 4; Phil.2; Col.4:14-16), etc., not independency, nor mergers and unions, organizational systems, etc., which is the deceit of Satan to divide the saints and compromise the truth. This order can only be accomplished fully by fellowship with all assemblies of believers in Christ in the world, who value and hold all these truths, are free of evil, and are not merging religious ideas of believers, following men, and thus setting up barriers to those who want to be true to the Holy Scripture. There is no thought of independent assemblies in God's Word, so the universal church must be a practical expression of the "one body in Christ".
ACKNOWLEDGING the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet.2: 5,9), not titles, offices, hierarchy, dominion over the saints with selected ministers to lead, preach, and manage ---as 'nicolaitanism' (rulers over laity) Rev.2:6, etc., which denies liberty. If a saint of God is in a gathering of Christians where they cannot exercise their priesthood in the meetings in accord with the Word of God, and there is a hierarchy of men to preach, teach, manage, then it is not a scriptural assembly. It is noteworthy here that elders are appointed by God (not men) to guide the assembly and maintain the truth of the Word, but they are not rulers or lords over the priesthood (1 Pet. 5:3).
TRUSTING the Lord, and keeping His Word in love (John 14:23) as the only authority and pathway for the Christian faith, rather than man's preferences or reasonings, which will lead one astray. One may be trying to hold God's Word, but it can only be accomplished where the Holy Spirit has liberty to apply all the Word, and the saints have a conscience individually and collectively before the Lord. There is much failure in this in christendom today.
WORSHIPPING collectively as is pleasing to God (Luke 22:10-20), rather than innovations for the flesh with stage shows, and only preaching sermons, which is pride and entertainment. We know what pleases God, and it is homage and devotion to His Son and obedience to His Word, not the practices of men with their ceremonies and activities. In the collective assembly worship time there should be liberty for silent worship in the hearts, and also the table for the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-29). with appropriate Bible readings and songs of praise, showing thankful hearts to the Savior for His supreme sacrifice for us. =
APPRECIATING God's assembly, order, and government, and maintaining it for the collective good (1Cor.14:40), rather than the ideas and governmental ways of men, which is unprofitable. The saints need to esteem God's ways, not promote innovations and things to please men; and it is essential that assembly government be carried out as given in the Word for the glory and purposes of the Lord and the good of the saints. The collective judgment of an assembly with its overseers in accord with the universal testimony in the world, must also be allowed and respected elsewhere, for as the Lord said: “…there am I in the midst”. Assembly judgments "are bound in heaven", and can only be judged by other assemblies if evil is being allowed, which is the concern of all saints. Doctrinal evil, moral evil, and any divisive behavior and offenses needs to be addressed.
YIELDING to the leading of the Holy Spirit---individually and collectively as in the early church (2 Cor.3:17), not to ceremonies, schedules, plans, arrangements quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), which dishonors God. This requires prayerful waiting on the Lord, not religious activities, schedules, etc. allowed to become the practice; and ideas and thoughts not found true to the Word.
These standards are about Bible-only, and can be a help to us all who desire God's way. One might inquire at the Internet site: biblecounsel.homestead.com for more information; and at Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL -USA.
- R. L. DeWitt: CF08; 10/06; add. 09/16