"Gather My Saints Together" (continued)
The Nature of the Gathering
Being, then, clear as to "who" are concerned - and that constitutes a test, even as they constitute 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 - a conviction that rests, for the most part, upon the use of the phrase, "If any man ...", in the message to Laodicea (Revelation 3:20).
Let us hasten to say, then, that we have nothing in mind in the nature of an organized movement, a sect, a society, or a fraternity.
Having said this, however, there are some things which need saying quite definitely on the other side.
The Church of the New Testament never was an organized movement. Neither was there any organized affiliation of the companies of believers in various places with one another. It was a purely spiritual thing, spontaneous in life, united only by the Holy Spirit in mutual love and spiritual solicitude. There were other factors that acted as spiritual links, which we will mention presently. Further, and still more important, there 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 concerning the Body of Christ in nearly all the letters of Paul, is not 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 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. 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 in prayer is becoming greater as we approach the end.
What, then, is the nature of this 'gathering together'?
1. "Unto Him"
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. This is NOT now the Lord's way. Not that men sought to draw in themselves, or that the Lord was not reached through them, but people have a way of making a greatly used servant of God the object of attraction.
God's End is Christ, and as we get nearer the end He must take the place even of instrumentalities and become almost immediately the only object of appreciation. Our oneness and fellowship is not in a teaching, a 'testimony', a community or a place, but in a Person, and in Him not merely doctrinally, but livingly and experimentally. Any movement truly of God must, as its supreme and all-inclusive feature, confess that it is the Lord Jesus alone Who is the object of heart adoration and worship: not things, themes, experiences, but the Lord Jesus Himself.
(continued with # 34 - (2. Prayer-Fellowship)