Mt. 18:12 π 1 Cor. 3:10 π 1 Cor. 3:12-13 π 1 Cor. 15:45-50 π 2 Cor. 11:4 π Gal. 5:22 π 1 Jn. 2:27
There are some simple safeguards that we can implement in regards to whether or not we should be gathering, safeguards that the genuine leaders (the truly more mature members of the body of Christ) should be sounding forth. These are not "laws" that we should enact in our midst but they are standards that we can use and directions we can move in to protect the whole of the people of Christ around us, however few or many that might be.
- In His name. If we are gathering a group in His name, we are using His authority to accomplish His purpose. If we cannot specify what purpose of Christ and God we are obeying in calling for a meeting of more than two or three, we do well to cancel the meeting. There are many purposes that are legitimate for which we might call for a larger corporate meeting - but these are the exception and, especially in this time and culture that uses meetings to avoid the will of God for our lives, we need to handle them with extreme caution much as we would treat alcohol at an AA meeting.
- In one accord. If all the genuine followers of Christ who are expected or asked to attend cannot agree in unanimous agreement that the Lord wants a larger meeting called or cannot unanimously agree that the intended purpose of the one(s) prompting the meeting is the Lord's purpose, then we do well to cancel the meeting.
The most-often heard objection to this is founded in pragmatism and impatience. Most "leaders" of groups of people who come together in the name of Christ 1) don't even ask the people to participate in each and every decision that comes up, 2) don't wait for the people to come together in unanimous agreement according to the will of the Lord (those who do involve the people often rely on a simple majority rule) and 3) make the decisions for them in "the best interests" of the people and adjust accordingly if too many people object to any decision made. All this is Nicolaitanism - but this is not the way of the Lord.
Those who don't have time to be sure that all one hundred of the sheep are in the fold ( Mt. 18:12 ) and who simply don't have time to painstakingly and lovingly build the body of Christ as a wise master builder ( 1 Cor. 3:10 ), simply are not Christ's shepherds and leaders among His flock. These ought rather just go back to "church" and waste their time there. But if we're going to build with eternal gems, gold and silver ( 1 Cor. 3:12-13 ), we must make the time to attend to these "details" - patience (or longsuffering) is still a core fruit of the Spirit of God. ( Gal. 5:22; top ) Impatience is only a sign of operating according to the flesh and requiring all genuine members of Christ's body with whom we are asked to gather to be in agreement before we act is the safeguard that keeps false or deceived teachers from luring us to give ground to the deceivers of our souls.
- Life and equipping. It is not enough to come with the right facts about Jesus. It is not enough to know the functions of how to become recipients of eternal life. It is possible to know these things and have a life-quenching spirit of deception or religiosity or even lawlessness (what is right in one's own eyes) and not have the life-giving spirit of the second Adam who came to bring us into the fullness of being the sons and daughters of the living Most High God. ( 2 Cor. 11:4 , 1 Cor. 15:45-50; top ) Any larger meeting (more than two or three) must also be about equipping the people in some way for their individual two to three size encounters. Even in evangelistic or apostolic meetings, there must not be one "teacher" who dominates the discussion by delivering a monologue "sermon" - real body interaction requires dialogue. Knowing all the "right answers" and yet not bringing forth the life of Christ in others is only yet one more way we deceive our selves and open up our lives - and the lives of those we are trying to serve and help - to the very real influence and power of the demonic.
Those who would complain that these safeguards would make any "teaching ministry" virtually impossible are absolutely correct - at least where carnal methods are employed! And these who would sound this complaint also betray that they know virtually nothing of the real life that is to be found in obeying and hearing the Spirit of Christ for one's self! We must then make a choice - we must decide whether today's widespread teaching practice is an aberration, a false practice, a fulfillment of prophecies about the apostasy of the last days, or else we must decide that John's statement that we do not need that any man should be regularly and continually teaching us ( 1 Jn. 2:27; top ) is just another lie - just as then would be his first letter, all his letters and gospel and even the whole of the New Testament also be a lie.
Logic and reason, aided by spiritual understanding, demand that we choose which of these choices is the true one - they simply cannot both be true. Either John lied or was mistaken and we really do need teachers to follow Christ or else the New Testament is true and the apostasy with its heaped up teachers is upon us and men most commonly call it "church." Which are we to believe? And, yes, obedience to these simple safeguards above would effectively shut down the ability of the false and deceived teachers to simultaneously soothe and stimulate our ears. Which do we want more, the soothing, stimulating ear scratching of men and demons or the precious but costly voice of the Spirit of truth and God?
The body of Christ has been robbed of many of the precious things of God by the traditions of men. The ability to gather according to the will of the Lord by the leading of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the purpose of God (to build His family) is a fundamental aspect of our corporate life that has been surrendered to the schemes of the devil. This must be regained if we are to be the spotless and blameless bride of Christ ready for our Husband's return.
Let he who has ears hear.
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