Knowing the All-sufficiency of Jesus' Name in God's Ecclesia

by C. H. Mackintosh


POWER OF GATHERING

Third, we must now very briefly glance at our next point: What is the power by which the assembly is gathered? Here again mm and his doings are set aside. It is not man's will choosing, not man's reason discovering, nor man's judgment dictating, nor man's conscience demanding. Rather, it is the HOLY SPIRIT who gathers souls to Jesus. As Jesus is the only gathering Center, so the Holy Spirit is the only gathering power. The one is as independent of man as the other.

It is "where two or three are gathered." It does not say "where two or three are met." People may meet together around any center, on any ground, and by any influence, but they will merely form a club, a society, an association, a community. But the Holy Spirit gathers people to Jesus on the ground of salvation. And this, wherever they convene on this ground, is the assembly of God. The gathering may not embrace all of the saints of God in a locality, but it is really on the ground of the assembly of God, and on nothing else. It may consist of only "two or three." Although there may be hundreds of Christians in the various religious systems around, yet the "two or three" are on the ground of the assembly of God.

This is a very simple truth. A soul led by the Holy Spirit will gather only to the Name of Jesus. If we gather to anything else - whether it is to some point of truth, some ordinance, or something else - we are not led of the Holy Spirit. It is not a question of eternal life or salvation. Thousands are saved by Christ, but they do not own Him as their Center. They are gathered to some form of Church government, some favorite doctrine, some special ordinance, some gifted man. The Holy Spirit will never gather to any one of these. He gathers only to a risen Christ. This is true of the whole church of God upon earth, and each local assembly, wherever it convenes, should be the expression of the whole.

Now the power of the assembly will very much depend upon the heart's integrity of each member - is he truly gathered to the Name of Jesus only? For example, if I am gathered to a party holding peculiar opinions, or if I am attracted by the people or their teaching, I will only prove to be a hindrance, a weight, or a cause of weakness. In other words, if I am not led to the true Center of God's assembly, I am not in the power of the Holy Spirit. I will be to the assembly what a waster is to a candle - instead of adding to the general light and its usefulness, I will do the very reverse.

All of this is deeply practical. It should lead to a great exercise of heart. We need self-judgment about what is drawing me and what is my attitude in the assembly. The tone and testimony of the assembly have been greatly weakened by the presence of certain persons not understanding their position. Some attend the gatherings because of the teaching and blessing not found anywhere else. Some come because they like the simplicity of worship. Others come looking for love. None of these things are up to the mark. We should be in the assembly simply because the Name of Jesus is established as our only standard and the power of the Holy Spirit has "gathered" us only to Him.

Submission to the Spirit

Undoubtedly, ministry is most precious, and we will have it in more or less power where everything is in harmonious order. Worship is simple, real, and true when we realize the Divine Presence and fully submit to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. However, if we go looking for love or for ministry, we will certainly be disappointed. But if we are enabled to cultivate and manifest it, then we will get a great deal more than we expect or deserve.

Generally, those persons who are perpetually complaining of the lack of love in others are utterly failing of love themselves. On the other hand, those who are really walking in love will tell you of receiving ten thousand times more than they deserve. Let us remember the best way to get water out of a dry hand-pump is to pour a little water in. You may work at the handle until you are tired and then go away fretting. Impatiently, you complain of the horrible pump. However, pour in a little water and you will receive a gushing stream to satisfy every desire.

We have but little conception of what the assembly would be were each one distinctly led by the Holy Spirit and gathered only to Jesus. We should not then have to complain about dull, heavy, unprofitable, trying meetings. We should have no unhallowed intrusion of our natural temperament and its restless doings. For example, avoid making a prayer, refrain from talking for talking sake, and refuse seizing a hymnal to fill in a gap. Each member would know his place in the Lord's immediate Presence. Each gifted vessel would be filled, fitted and used by the Master's hand. Each eye would be directed to Jesus. Each heart would be occupied with Him.

If a chapter were read, it would be considered as the very Voice of God. If a word were spoken, it would manifest the power it has upon the heart. If a prayer were offered, it would lead the soul into the very Presence of God. If a hymn were sung, it would lift the spirit up to God and be like the sweeping of the strings on a heavenly harp. We should have no ready-made sermons. No teaching or preaching prayers should be offered as though we could explain our doctrines to God. Our prayers should not tell Him a whole host of things about ourselves. No praying should be aimed at our neighbors. No request should be made about the lofty graces that are lamentably deficient among ourselves. Neither should singing be made for music sake, nor should we be getting disturbed if the harmony is interfered with. All of these weaknesses of our natural dispositions should be avoided. We should feel ourselves in the enjoyment of the very sanctuary of God. It should be a foretaste of a time when we will worship in the courts above and "go no more out."

We may be asked, "Where Will you find all of this down here?" Ah! This is the question. It is one thing to present the ideal on paper, and another to realize it in the midst of error, failure, and weakness. Through mercy, some of us have tasted, at times, a little of this blessedness. We have occasionally enjoyed moments of heaven upon earth. But oh, for more of it! May the Lord, in His great mercy, raise the tone of the assembly everywhere! May He greatly enlarge our capacity for more profound communion and spiritual worship! May He enable us so to walk in our private life from day to day and to judge ourselves and our ways in His holy Presence, that we may not prove to be a lump of lead or a wasted candle to the assembly.

Although we may not be able to reach in experience the true idea of the assembly, yet never be satisfied with anything less. Honestly aim at the loftiest standard and earnestly pray to be lifted up to it. As to the ground of the assembly, hold it with jealous tenacity and never consent to occupy any other.

Exercises in the Spirit

The tone and character of an assembly will vary immensely from place to place, depending upon the faith and spirituality of those gathered. Sometimes, the tone of things is felt to be low, especially when meetings seem to be unprofitable. At other times, things are said and done repeatedly when they are wholly out of place. Let all those who feel it wait on God -wait continually and believingly, and He will certainly hear and answer. In this way the trials and exercises related to God's assembly will have the happy effect of casting us more immediately upon Him. Thus, "the eater will yield meat and the strong sweetness."

We count on the trials and difficulties in the assembly, because it is the only and right divine thing to do on this earth. The devil will put forth every effort to drive us from the true and holy Name of Christ. He will try our patience, tax our temper, hurt our feelings, and cause an offense in untold and countless ways to make us to forsake the assembly.

It is well to remember this. We can only hold His Name by faith. This marks the assembly of God and distinguishes it from every other human system. You cannot make progress there except by faith. Moreover, if you are ambitious to be somebody, seek a place for yourself, or exalt yourself, you need not consider the assembly. But you will soon find therein your level and measure of function, whatever it should be. Fleshly or worldly greatness in any shape will be of no account in God's assembly. His Presence will wither up everything of that kind and flatten all human pretensions.

Holiness in the Spirit’s Presence

Finally, you cannot make progress in the assembly if you are living in secret sin. His Presence will not be agreeable with you. Have we not often experienced in the assembly a feeling of uneasiness caused by the recollection of many things during the week which had escaped our notice? Wrong thoughts, careless words, and unspiritual ways have all crowded in upon our minds. But they have caused our conscience to be exercised especially in the assembly!

How can this be? Because the atmosphere we are breathing in the assembly is more intense than what we have been breathing during the week. We have not been in the Presence of God in our private life. We have not been judging ourselves. Hence, when we take our place in the assembly, our hearts are under His detection. Our ways are exposed in His light. And, the exercise of self-judgment, which ought to have gone on in private, goes on at the Table of the Lord. This inner working of the Spirit is poor and miserable for us, but it demonstrates the power of the Presence of God in the assembly.

Things must be in a miserable, low state if our hearts are not consciously exposed under His detection. It is a splendid evidence of spiritual power in the assembly when careless, carnal, worldly, self-exalting, money-loving, unprincipled persons are driven out by the intensity of its atmosphere. God's assembly is no place for such persons. They can breathe more freely outside of its meetings.

Now, the numbers who have departed from the ground of the assembly have done so because their practical ways were not in accord with the purity of the place. Doubtlessly, it is easy in such cases to find an excuse in the conduct of those who are left behind. But if the roots of those things were in every case laid bare, we should find that many left because of their inability or reluctance to bear with its searching light. "Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, for ever." Evil must be judged, for God cannot sanction it. If an assembly can sanction it, then it is not God's assembly at all, though it is composed of Christians. To pretend to be an assembly of God and not judge false doctrine and evil ways would involve the blasphemy of saying that God and wickedness can dwell together.

The assembly of God must keep itself pure, because it is His dwelling place. Men may sanction evil and call it large-hearted liberality. But the house of God must keep itself pure. Let this great practical truth sink down into our hearts and produce its sanctifying power upon our direction and character.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)