[very important and interesting reading that we need to take to heart!]
A Candlestick All of Gold (continued)
Absolutely According to God (continued)
The Reformation was such a reaction, and by it He recovered the great foundational truth of justification by faith; which puts Christ into His absolute place as the Chief Corner Stone of the House of God. It was a grand thing, though very costly. But all too soon men pulled it down to the earth, and the Protestant Church as such issued; a tree in the branches of which almost every kind of credal bird can lodge. Protestantism, as such, is by no means a synonym for what is wholly according to Christ.
Since then the reactions of the Lord have been seen in many other instances.
The Moravian Brethren, through a great fight and affliction, were used to recover the great truth of the Church's responsibility for the testimony of Jesus in all the nations. Not the responsibility of a missionary society or adjunct to the Church, but the Church itself directly. This was, and is, wholly according to Christ. But again, human hands mold this movement into a 'church', with all the outward elements of a religious order. There is no question but that there has been considerable spiritual loss.
A further reaction of God was seen in the Wesleys and Whitfield. Here, in addition to a mighty recovering of soul-saving evangelism, there was the recovery of the doctrine of practical holiness. This was grand while the instrument remained; but, alas, there came those human hands again, and an earthly organizing into a system - ' the Wesleyan Church'. We are perfectly sure that Wesley would not have wished this.
Then about a hundred years ago, there was what all ought to recognize as a movement of God in the shape of the 'Plymouth Brethren'. There were several most precious recoveries made in this instance. The Lord Jesus was given an exclusive place which was not common in those days, nor is it common now. The great truth concerning the Body of Christ - the One Church - was brought again into view, after perhaps centuries of obscurity. God was in this, and is still in it, but the most ardent devotee to this community is both grieved and ashamed to contemplate its divisions today. Is it that men have again been insinuated or have insinuated themselves? Has this, like so much more, been taken into the governing hands of men? Has that subjective work of the Cross, by which in a very deep way man is cut off and the Holy Spirit governs, failed of adequate application or acceptance here? These are questions, not charges; we are seeking to speak, not destructively, but constructively.
Many more are the reactions of God through the past nineteen centuries; we only use these by way of illustration. It will be seen that each fresh movement was an advance upon those that preceded it in the matter of truth recovered: from the Divine standpoint it was a movement nearer to the original position. The big questions which at once arises is: Will the Lord do a new thing yet? Are we to know of a fresh reaction to His first position? The only answer we can give to this question is that, whether or not there should be anything in the nature of a 'movement', as open to general recognition, we are certain that there is a more or less hidden movement on the part of the Spirit of God, working through deepening dissatisfaction with things as they are toward that which is nearer the original thought than as been since the beginning. It will be such a thing as cannot be 'joined' by men, but in which only those who will share who are moved by deep inward exercise, so that it becomes a matter of a common spiritual travail.
(continued with # 29 - (The Two Olive Trees and the Two Anointed Ones)