Friday, January 10, 2014

Spiritual Gathering Center (Part 6)

The Divine Gathering Center
Having considered the divine ground of gathering, we shall now speak of the divine center around which God's Assembly is gathered. What center or gathering-point is the right one for believers to rally to and to meet around? What center properly become "The Church of the Living God," whose Head is Christ in glory? In a day like the present, when so many varying names are set up as gathering centers, and when almost every new idea becomes the center or gathering-point of some new religious association, it becomes us to earnestly search the Scriptures and to have divinely formed convictions as to what God's appointed center of gathering for His people truly is.

"Unto My Name"
Let us turn to Matthew 18, where we have the second mention of the Church by the Lord. Its formation was then still future, but here He laid down some great principles for His Church as to discipline and gathering together. He promised to ratify in heaven its decisions in His name and to grant them anything agreed upon and asked by but even two. And then He gave the great reason for it all in those sublime words of the glorious promise of verse 20: "For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them" (New Trans.). 

Here we have what has been called the great Magna Charta of the Church, guaranteeing its rights and privileges, and herein is presented the only divine gathering center for God's Assembly. "Gathered together unto my name"; this is the gathering-point which God has ordained for His children. He would have them gathered unto the worthy name of His beloved Son, the name of their Lord and Savior, the Name above all names. No other name would do and there can be no other center but Christ for those who truly love Him and would be loyal to Him.

To those thus gathering together unto His precious name alone, be they but two or three or two or three hundred, He vouchsafes His blessed presence "there am I in the midst of them." He is personally present and takes His place in the center of the gathered Assembly. And this is the place we should give Him, too, the place of pre-eminence, the place of presidency and of authority -the central place. Genesis 49:10 also gives us an instructive prophecy as to Christ being the gathering center for His people. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." So also Psalm 50:5 says, "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."

And in John 20:19-26, when the disciples were assembled together on the first day of the week, we see the resurrected Savior coming and taking His place in their midst as their center and saying, "Peace be unto you." Here was the first fulfillment of His promise to be in the midst of His own gathered together unto His name, and multitudes through the centuries have experienced this since that day.

A Living Person
In later years Peter wrote to the believers about the Lord Jesus and said: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious" (I Peter 2:4). And Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians saying: "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" (Heb. 13:13).

It was around the Person of a living Christ, then, that God's people were gathered in the first century and around whom they all should gather today. It is not around a doctrine, however true; or around an ordinance, however important; or around a wonderful preacher, be he ever so godly; but around a living, divine Person that the Church is to gather. It is not said "To which coming," but "To whom coming." We do not come to a thing, to an organization, or to a human leader, but to a divine Person, our Lord and Savior.

The Holy Spirit leads only to Jesus and His precious name and not to the names of men or dead organizations. And the word is, "he that gathereth not with me scattereth" (Luke 11:23). Anyone leading souls to any other name but Christ's is scattering and not gathering, for when other names are introduced beside that blessed Name, the sheep of Christ are scattered. Gathering to the name of Jesus alone, around His blessed Person, then, is another great cardinal feature of the local aspect of the Church of God, and where this is not found God's Assembly cannot be.

Not Denying His Name It follows, then, that if we are truly gathered unto Christ's name and Person we will not hold up other names as banners around which we rally and under which we are enrolled or be called by names such as those of the denominations about us. Those truly gathered to Christ's worthy name will disown all other names which displace and dishonor that worthy Name, and will call themselves only by His precious name -Christians, or other names given in the Scripture which mean those belonging to Christ.

To call ourselves by the names of men and denominations is to deny His adorable name and grieve Him, our Lord and Savior. To the Church at Philadelphia Christ could say, thou "hast not denied my name" (Rev. 3:8), which shows how He values our being true to His name. If we are upholding other distinguishing names beside His wonderful name, or the names He has given us in His Word, and gathering under such names we cannot claim to be truly gathered together unto His blessed name. James 2: 7 speaks of "that worthy name by the which ye are called." Shall we set it aside for another name? God forbid.

Five names are given in the Word of God to describe the people of God and they fit each believer and are uniting names. They are Christians, Believers, Brethren, Saints, arid Disciples. These names are common to all believers and are not sectarian as are the many names which have been adopted by professing Christians in our day. For believers to adopt any name which does not include all true believers in Christ is to become a sect and to deny the truth of the One Body.

Truly the name of Jesus is all-sufficient for the Assembly of God. There is everything in that name, not only for our salvation and our individual needs in the Christian path, but for all the urgent wants and various needs of the Assembly, for worship, communion, ministry, discipline, everything. Reader, is that precious name sufficient for you as a gathering center, and are you gathered unto His worthy name and His adorable Person? If not, why not?

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