The Ground of Gathering

A. E. Walker (1929).

A new basis of fellowship has sought to be introduced of late years by well meaning brothers "to meet simply as Christians" —  but it is not the ground laid down in Scripture, and by the Lord Himself*, and it is better for us to go by "The Law and the Testimony" than by "expediency." The object is well meant, for it avoids conscientious differences and difficulties — but it is catering for the circumference and not the centre, and rather a scheme to meet the confusion into which the professing Church has fallen — and it tends to come down to their moral level, and the principle of holiness is eliminated from "fellowship." Where there was a low state of things in former days, and a sense of departure from God, God's prophets ever had recourse to God, and He brought them back to the beginning. No new human methods will purify from worldly ways: we must get back to God and the Word of His grace (Acts 20:32)! Love to Christ, and love among one another, marked the early saints; it is to Ephesus that the apostle writes the confirming word (Eph. 4:2, 3). "With all lowliness and meekness endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." We cannot alter or keep "the unity of the Body," for this is the work of the Holy Ghost, and this new ground of meeting "as Christians" only is an effort to show that, but we are enjoined to endeavour to "keep the unity of the Spirit" —  for this is so easily broken — here is all the exercise and discipline of heart, so that we may be in heart that which fits us for a fellowship with One so Holy that the very "heavens are not clean in His sight." We desire to go on, beloved, by the grace of God, however difficult the path in that narrow way, in which we feel the Lord of the House has been leading His own in separation for so many years, so that we may know the joy of fellowship in its true character as in 1 John 1:3, "with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

*The appellation "Christian" was not known till years afterwards.