Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    December 5, 1906

    “The Church of Christ: Her Liberty” The Medical Missionary, 15, ns, 23, pp. 186-188.



    BY every evidence of the Word of God it is certain that the Holy Spirit was the sole, sovereign, controlling, and guiding authority in the Church of Christ throughout New Testament times.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.1

    In the nature of things, therefore, there was liberty in the Church; because “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.2

    Now liberty is “the state of being exempt from the domination of others or from restricting circumstances.” It is “the power in any rational agent to make his choices and decide his conduct for himself, spontaneously and voluntarily in accordance with reasons and motives.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.3

    This was the principle announced by the Lord himself for his Church, while he was yet on earth, in the words, “Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Amongst brethren there is no place for domination, nor for distinctions of superiority.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.4

    Yet, like all other men, the disciples had it in them to dominate; for throughout the whole story of the disciples in their association with Jesus, they were thinking and discussing among themselves which of them “should be greatest” in the coming kingdom. But He said to them, “the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever shall be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.5

    Such was the principle announced before, for their guidance in their relations one to another and in the Church. And the Holy Spirit was to bring to their remembrance all things that He had said unto them; to guide them into all truth; and to take the things of His and show unto them. Indeed, this principle was remembered and recognized by them, even before the remarkable descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. For in the very first chapter of Acts it is recorded that when the disciples were together to the number of “about one hundred and twenty,” the eleven apostles did not in any way take it upon themselves to name or to choose one in the place of Judas. But Peter said to the whole company, “Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.... For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and his bishopric let another take.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.6

    He told them that in compliance with this Scripture, there must be chosen and ordained one who had “companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.7

    In response to this “they”—the disciples, the one hundred and twenty—“appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, Thou Lord which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And “they”—the whole company of the disciples, the one hundred and twenty—“gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.8

    After Pentecost, when a similar thing was to be done, we find it done in the same way. For “in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied” to more than eight thousand, “there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” Therefore, the matter had to be considered, and something done to relieve the situation.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.9

    Now how was it done? Did the apostles sit as a board of bishops, or as a general committee, and decide the matter?—No. Did they appoint a committee to consider the question and report?—No. What then did they do?MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.10

    This is what they did: “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.11

    What! Called together thousands of people! eight thousand or more, and these only new disciples, inexperienced in Church work, and inexperienced in parliamentary usage, and in how to conduct themselves in such a large assembly?—Yes, the twelve actually did just that thing; they called the multitude together for the consideration of this matter, and for action upon it. They did not need any experience in parliamentary usage; for it was not a parliament but the Church of Christ that was to assemble. And as for experience in church-work, they were to get it by doing the work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.12

    But how could the apostles risk the calling together such a great company?—They didn’t risk it; simply because there was not risk in it. There is never any risk in trusting the Holy Spirit, nor in recognizing the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.13

    But how could they expect to manage such a crowd?—They did not intend any such thing as even to try to “manage” them. They with the whole company were subject, and intended to be subject, to the Holy Spirit.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.14

    But was there not danger of disagreement, discord, and confusion, in trying to do business with such a mass of such people?—They did not intend to “do business” with them. They simply intended that the people themselves should consider their own business, and to their own business themselves, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.15

    But was it not a much wiser way to the twelve to select a few of “the wiser and more substantial ones,” the ones of “the best judgment,” and lay before them “the plan” devised by the apostles or some one of them, then call together a larger number and have them agree to what had been already decided, and also have them agree to advocate in the general meeting what had been decided first of all by few of “the leaders,” and thus prevent confusion and secure unanimity?MEDM December 5, 1906, page 186.16

    No, such would not have been a wiser way; because the apostles did not have any plans, nor schemes, nor politics, nor superiority of their own, to work upon the Church or the people. There was a matter that pertained to the Church, and the Church should consider it. There was something for the Church to do, and the Church should do it; and the apostles were not the Church. The membership of the Church was the Church; and when there was something for the Church to do, the Church in its whole membership was called together to do it.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.1

    Nor was there necessary any scheming, or political working, or wire-pulling to make sure of unity and unanimity in so large a company. This for the simple reason that apostles and people all recognized the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in and over all things to the Church, and were possessed of the Holy Spirit, and could safely depend upon that Spirit, for both the unity and the unanimity that comes by the leading of the Spirit.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.2

    And so “the twelve called the multitude unto them and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appointed over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.3

    “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they”—the whole multitude, the Church—“chose ... [the seven] whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.4

    And that was all written for our learning. And the thing to be learned from it, that which lies on the very face of it, is that the work and business of the Church is to be done by the Church—even by “the whole multitude;” and not by a few men who happen to be in the place of leaders, who choose to assume superiority over the Church and presume themselves to be the Church and presume themselves to be the Church. Also that the business of the Church is to be done by an open statement to “the whole multitude,” and is to be submitted to the free consideration and actions of “the whole multitude;” and is not to be done through any planning or scheming of a few; nor by any manipulation of a few by fewer, and then the manipulation of the whole by the fewer through the few. In other words, it is to be done in open trust and confidence in the Holy Spirit’s sovereignty over the Church, and in His ability to guide the Church.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.5

    Note also that the apostles had been attending to the daily distribution and ministration as every one had need. By some oversight, some widows were neglected. When the attention of the apostles was called to this, they proposed that the Church should pass over to others the whole matter of “this business;” for the reason that “it is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.6

    For the apostles to attend to so true a Christian work as the daily distribution to the needs of widows and other disciples, was so much to leave the Word of God, and was so much “business,” that it was “not reason” that they should do it.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.7

    That, too, was written for our learning. And plainly the thing to be learned by it is that those who are ordained to preach the gospel, should preach the gospel and let business matters alone; yes, to let alone even such “business” as administration to the needs of widows and other disciples; and how much more, other business which in its character cannot in any sense be compared with this!MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.8

    At Antioch there was a Church. In this Church there were certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas, and Saul, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. “As they ministered unto the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. And they being sent forth of the Holy Ghost, departed.” From this record it is evident that the Church of Antioch had the same liberty as had the Church at Jerusalem. And the Church at Antioch had this liberty from the Lord, exactly as had the Church at Jerusalem. And the Church at Antioch had this liberty from the Lord, exactly as had the Church at Jerusalem. For neither the Church at Jerusalem, nor the apostles at Jerusalem, had anything at all to do with this matter at Antioch.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.9

    It is also evident that in the true order, the New Testament order, of the Church of Christ, the individual, local, Church at Antioch had full and complete right under the Holy Spirit to ordain and send forth ministers of the Gospel; yes, to ordain and send forth even the apostles of Christ for the work to which He had already called them.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.10

    It was ten years before this that Christ had called Paul and appointed him his work. Yet Christ did not send him forth definitely to that work till he was ordained by the Church. And Christ did not send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to be ordained by the apostles. He did not send apostles down from Jerusalem to Antioch to ordain them there. He simply directed the Church at Antioch where they were, to ordain them; and that Church alone did it. And these two apostles recognized this Church in their commission and their work; for when they had finished a long and interesting tour they returned to Antioch and “gathered the Church together” and “rehearsed all that God had done with them.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.11

    And all this was written for our learning. And if we do no learn what it tells, then of what use is it now, and of what use was it ever?MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.12

    To Antioch there came men from Judea teaching the Christians that “except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Then the Church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas and certain of their number to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were “received of the Church, and of the apostles and elders.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.13

    When the apostles and elders and the whole Church came together to consider the matter there was individual freedom of speech; for the record says plainly that there was “much disputing.” And when plainly to all the question had already been settled by the Holy Spirit, “then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole Church to send chosen men of their company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas” with the letter from “the apostles and elders and brethren” saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” etc.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.14

    This tells us again that in the matters of the Church, the order of the Church of Christ is that in the place where the matter is to be considered, “the whole church” considers and acts upon it.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.15

    After this Peter came to Antioch, and at first acted according to the conclusion that had been published. But when certain ones came from James at Jerusalem, Peter left the ground of the truth and “dissembled.” Upon this, Paul spoke out to him openly before the whole Church: “if thou being a Jew livest after the manner of the Gentiles and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.16

    This was liberty in more ways than one.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.17

    First: It was not denying to Peter, liberty to do as he had chosen to do. But it was rightfully demanding that he should recognize the same liberty to the Gentiles. It was granted that he had liberty to live as did the Gentiles, which at first he had done. Paul therefore insisted that the Gentiles had the same liberty to live as Gentiles, and not as did the Jews. And though Peter had abandoned this and had gone back to living only as did the Jews, still Paul insisted that the Gentiles must have the same liberty to live as did the Gentiles, as the Jews had to live as did the Jews.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 187.18

    Second: This record reveals the liberty of one Christian under the Spirit of God to speak the truth to another Christian, even publicly, without that other Christian being offended, and turned to enmity or resentment by it. For Peter still considered the one who did it as “our beloved brother Paul.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.1

    That, too, was written for our learning.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.2

    One time Paul, the apostle of the Lord, wanted very much that Apollos, another disciple, should go with some other brethren from Ephesus to Corinth. But Apollos’s “will was not at all” to go at that time. Yet this was not held against him by Paul. Apollos was not held as guilty of high treason, nor of insubordination, nor of willfulness, nor was he suspected of “wanting to run things himself,” because he would not go where and when even the apostle of the Lord wanted him to go.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.3

    No: the apostle of the Lord recognized that Apollos, as well as himself, was the servant of the Lord, and not the servant of Paul or of any other man. The apostle recognized that Apollos, as well as himself, was subject to the sovereignty and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The apostle of the Lord recognized that Apollos, as well as himself, was led, of the Spirit of God.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.4

    Paul was an apostle of the Lord, who more than once had seen the Lord in person, yet he did not presume to exalt his apostleship into an assertion of sovereignty in the place of the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. No: he held loyally to the whole fundamental principle of the Church of Christ, that the Holy Spirit is alone sovereign, ruler, and guide of the Church, of each member of the Church, and over all things to the Church. And in that loyalty to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, lay the assurance of the perfect liberty of Apollos and of every other Christian.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.5

    And this was written for our learning. And that which it teaches needs much to be learned to-day by very many ecclesiastics who are far inferior to any apostle of the Lord. And if Christians do not learn what this record is written to teach, then, either what is the use of its having been written? or else, what is the use of their profession of Christianity?MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.6

    Yes, all these things were written for our learning. Let us learn what they are written to teach—the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit over the Church and over all things to the Church; and, because of that sovereignty, the liberty of the Church, and of each individual person in the Church.MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.7

    “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” “Ask and ye shall receive...... . He that asketh receiveth.” “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”MEDM December 5, 1906, page 188.8

    Larger font
    Smaller font