Notes as to questions raised in “Recovery not Reconstruction,” Scripture Truth, 1917.
The thought of revival is as happy and as possible as the idea of reconstruction is hopeless and impossible. The church has ever been the subject of gracious revival throughout her long sojourn here, just as Israel of old was frequently visited of God in mercy, until “there was no remedy.”
Our living Head in glory is the life of His saints—the members of His body—and it is because He lives that they live also. How comes it that the church is here today, spite of two thousand years of opposition, persecution, seduction, failure, and temptation by a trinity of hostile powers, but by the wonderful and ever blessed support of her Head on high, and of the Spirit of God by whom she is animated here?
Her course has been marked if, alas, by many a failure, yet, also, by far more grace on His part; so that, not only has individual faith been reinvigorated all the way through, but seasons of glad and special revival have been granted frequently and generally. There have been times of spiritual refreshment enjoyed deeply and consciously by myriads of weary saints, to whom truth, in varied fullness and power, has been ministered by the Holy Spirit.
This is proof positive of the life and grace of Him who knows our need and fails not to meet it for our good, and His own glory. It is the church, the living organism, in which life already exists, that needs and receives reviving at the hands of her faithful Lord. Her life is constantly sustained by revival—daily, hourly revival! What a wonderful fact it is that there should be such a body possessed of vitality and power, light amid darkness, salt where all else is corrupt, truth where falsehood abounds, love surviving the hatred and enmity and degradation of the world! Oh! it is wonderful, and but for constant revival that wonder would cease.
But it is not reconstruction. How can such an organism as Christ’s mystic body be reconstructed, or how the family of God? The thought is impossible.
That saints already possessing life may receive fresh energy, so that, detaching themselves from ways and habits and associations unworthy of Christ, and who, under the influence of the Word and Spirit of God, gain further light and a clearer apprehension of the mind of the Lord, with a corresponding line of conduct, is easily understood. This is true revival; but not reconstruction. Such revival draws hearts and souls together in the name of the Lord, and, in true testimony to Him, as a mere construction or reconstruction never could.
But this is the movement that is needed today. Then a reconstruction that is according to God, and of His making, would inevitably follow a divine revival. Hence, I do not think that we need devote our efforts to such a thing as a reconstruction of Christendom, or even to any part of it. It would be only a waste of time and bitter disappointed at the end—the labour of a Sisyphus. The tares and wheat grow together till the harvest in their common field. The fowls of the air are not driven from their lodgement in the mustard tree, nor is the leaven removed from the three measures of meal. Things are left as they are, in the administration of the kingdom, for the adjustment of the Lord at the close. The reconstruction of all this is for Him.
Our part, that of the church, is to devote ourselves to the development of the divine life and nature that every saint possesses, according to the marvellous prayer at the end of Ephesians 3, and which precedes the injunctions as to practical life and conduct in the chapter following. This is gloriously positive and sets the heart on the accomplishment, not of a hopeless reconstruction, but of that to which the whole work of the ministry, appointed by Christ on high, is devoted, in view of the edifying of the body of Christ “till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” This is His structure and will be completed without fail. It is for us, in all lowliness, to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit, and that alone, but that most surely; and to see to it that, by the help of God, we have no other structure, great or small, in our minds, or for our object. This one is sufficiently large. It was the life-work of the Apostle Paul to whom Christ Himself was everything; and then, necessarily, the church which is His body.
Our business is neither the construction nor the reconstruction of organizations; but it is the practical recognition of the Name and Word of the Lord Jesus Christ, as in Philadelphia, whose distinguishing mark was faithfulness to the Lord and love to His saints
In cultivating this grace we may leave all the building and construction with Him.