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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 18

"Gather My Saints Together" (continued)

The Nature of the Gathering Together

Having then in view the kind who are concerned, which forms a test as well as a testimony, we are able to look at the nature of the gathering together.

We are well aware that there is a widespread doubt as to whether we are to expect anything in the way of a corporate movement or testimony at the end. Indeed, it is strongly held by some that everything at the end is individual, and this conviction rests, for the most part, upon the phrase "If any man," in the message to Laodicea.

Let us hasten to say that we here have nothing in mind in the nature of an organized movement, a sect, a society, a fraternity, or even a "fellowship" if, by that, any of the foregoing is meant.

Having said this, however, there are some things on the other side which need saying quite definitely.

The Church of the New Testament never was an organized movement. Neither was there any organized affiliation of the companies of believers n various places with one another. It was a purely spiritual thing, spontaneous in life and united only by the Holy Spirit and mutual love and spiritual solicitude. There were other factors which acted as spiritual links which we will mention presently. Further, and still more important, was the abiding fact that a "Body" had been brought into being. This is called "the body of Christ." You can divide a society and still it remains, but you cannot divide a body without destroying the entity.

Are we to understand from  the exponents of the individualistic interpretation that all the teaching of the Lord, in nearly all the Scriptures concerning the House of God, and in nearly all the Letters of Paul concerning the Body of Christ, is now set aside or is only an idea without any expression on the earth? Are we to blot out the mass of the New Testament and live our own individual Christian lives with no emphasis upon working fellowship with other believers? Surely not. This would be contrary to all the ways of God in history, and would certainly spell defeat, for if there is one thing against which the adversary has set himself it is the fellowship of God's people.

Ultra-individualism is impossible if the truth of the "one body" still stands, and what is more, the Lord's people are becoming more and more conscious of their absolute need of fellowship, especially in prayer. The difficulty of 'getting through' alone is becoming greater as we approach the end.

What then is the nature of this gathering together? It is a gathering to the Lord Himself. "Gather My saints together unto Me"; "our gathering unto Him."

In times past there have been gatherings to men, great preachers, great teachers, great leaders; or to great institutions and movements, centers and teachings. At the end the Lord will be very much more than His vessels or instrumentalities.

God's end is Christ, and as we get nearer the end He must become almost immediately the object of appreciation.

Our oneness and fellowship is not in a teaching, a 'testimony,' a community, a place, but in a Person, and in Him not merely doctrinally, but livingly and experimentally.

Any movement truly of God must have this as its supreme and all-inclusive feature, that it is the Lord Jesus Who is the object of heart adoration and worship.

The two great purposes of the 'gathering' are prayer and 'building up': supplication for all saints," and spiritual food. These two things have ever characterized Divine gatherings or convocations - representation before God, and feeding in His presence.

This, then, is the meaning of "call a solemn assembly" (Joel 1:14; 2:15).  The need more than ever imperative as "the day" approaches is the gathering together unto Him.

May we see more of this as His Divinely inspired movement to meet the so great need!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19 - ("Whither The Tribes Go Up")

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