Friday, January 10, 2014

Where two or three are gathered to my name (Part 3)

So much on non-essentials.

II. But now, secondly, there is A MATTER WHICH IS MOST ESSENTIAL, and that is, that they should be gathered in Christ’s name. Does not this mean that the gathering must be that of Christians met together as Christians to have fellowship with Jesus Christ and so with one another? Does it not mean that they must be met together in obedience to his will as they understand it to carry out his will as they find it in the New Testament, and as the Spirit of God opens up that New Testament to them? Does it not also mean that they must be met together distinctly for the Lord’s purposes? — to honor Christ, to bring glory to his to worship him? They must be met together not to a kind of mystic, invisible, unknown Christ, but in his name, for Christ has a name — a distinct personality, a character, and that must be known, loved, and honored; or else we have not met in his name. Are we not to meet because he bids us meet, and because we have his authority for meeting, his authority for breaking bread, his authority for baptism, his authority for prayer, his authority for praise, his authority for the ministry of the word, his authority for reading the Scriptures, his authority for mutual edification, or whatever form of worship seems most suitable? We meet not to carry out our own devices, but to carry out that which is appointed us by our Lord himself.

And does not this gathering into his name mean that we are, first, to be known by his name, and then to get close to one another by drawing more and more near to him? The way to be gathered together is to be gathered by him and to him. If all press to the center, they all press to one another. If each man’s aim be personal fellowship with Christ, personal knowledge of Christ, personal trust in Christ, personal adoration of Christ, personal service to Christ, and the getting of a personal likeness to Christ, then we are all coming together. While our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ, we also have fellowship with all the saints. This should be the great object of all our gatherings, to be brought more fully into Christ; and all of us must meanwhile believe that Jesus is in the midst and we must come together unto him. You do not meet to-night to listen to a certain preacher, but because through that preacher you have been helped to get nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and, therefore, you are glad to hear his voice, and glad to worship God with those friends with whom you have fellowship in Christ. You do well to come where you have found Christ before: and you do well to stay away from any gathering wherein you have not found Christ. Some, as they go out of the place where they usually worship, are sadly compelled to cry, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” Do not go where Jesus is not present; and if distinctly you are obliged to say, “I have heard sermon after sermon almost without mention of his name; I have gone for months together, and I have not had a sweet thought of heavenly fellowship arising out of the service;” then do not go there again. Do not go to any church or meeting-house merely because you have been in the habit of going. If your father used to live in Islington, but has now removed, you do not think it needful to go and call at his empty house: do you? Go where the Lord has met with you, and where you may expect that he will meet with you again. Sabbaths are too precious to be thrown away by sitting still to be starved. Even a cow does not care to be tied up in an empty stall, and a horse does not run to an empty manger. Seek the Lord Jesus, and do not rest till you find him. We must gather into his name and get closer and closer to it, or else the Lord’s day will run to waste, and barrenness will devour our souls.

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