Recovery not Reconstruction

Some cannot understand the difference between RECONSTRUCTION and RECOVERY in regard to the truth of the Assembly, but these two things have nothing in common.
Reconstruction is the putting together of material that has fallen to pieces.
Recovery comes from the revival of the powers of life within the members of the body.
Reconstruction may be accomplished by the ability of men.
Recovery can only be by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost.
Reconstruction must result in worse ruin, for all man's work must perish with him.
Recovery means a revival in the truth and in the knowledge of the God whose faithfulness brings it about.
Reconstruction occupies the mind with the material apparently available.
Recovery comes from turning the eye away from the failure and from men, whether promising or otherwise, to Christ in whom dwells all the fullness of God for us.
Reconstruction must be lifeless and formal and powerless against external attacks and inward decay.
Recovery is vital; it breaks through hostile surroundings and will show its power in those blessed traits of divine life, zeal and wisdom, fervour and forbearance, deep-toned joy in the Lord and sorrow that He is so slighted and belied, and a tender interest in every fellow-member of the body of Christ.

We do not intend to labour for the correct expression in words as to what is before us. What we desire for ourselves and for all is to have the experience of it, and then we know it will find its own expression for the glory of God.

There are some who strongly hold that God never restores a testimony that has failed; we confess that we do not know what they mean, but of this we are persuaded, for we see it everywhere in the Word that God in His dealings with His people constantly labours to recover them to THE TESTIMONY THAT HE HAS GIVEN OF HIMSELF. If He did otherwise He would not be faithful to Himself and His purposes. Take the revival in Hezekiah's day, God then recovered His people to the testimony that He had given of Himself in the passover, which was that of their Redeemer who brought them out of bondage. "So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of King Solomon the son of David King of Israel was not the like in Jerusalem." Then in the power of that blessed recovery they dealt with the idols within and turned to God in confidence in regard to the foes without. Again, in the days of Nehemiah, God recovered His people to the testimony He had given to Himself as the One who would infallibly fulfil all His promises to bring them into blessing, so that they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, and that in such a way as had not been done "since the days of Joshua the son of Nun … And there was very great gladness." These two revivals of the past dispensation clearly prove that God does not abandon His testimony, even though His people fail in their response to it, and that He is always ready to bring them into the brightest enjoyment of it WHEN THEY TURN TO HIM AGAIN.

When we come to the New Testament the same encouraging thought is impressed upon us, were it not so we could only despair. We find comfort in the Lord's call to Ephesus to repent, for we believe and are sure that He would not have so called them if there had not been grace with Him to restore them to their brightest day when they did so. Moreover, in the fact that the Bride says "Come" to the Lord Jess, in unison with the Spirit we read the hope of recovery to first love, not certainly of the whole church, but, at least, of those who feel how great has been the departure from Him. Yet this response of love is put down to the bride; those who make it will not separate themselves in their thoughts from the church, which is the bride.

The truth as to the assembly, which is the body of Christ, is woven into the whole texture of Paul's epistles, but it is in his first letter to the Corinthian believers that we find it set forth in the simplest way. And many on reading this Epistle are amazed at the awful and universal departure in Christendom from the truth there so clearly stated. Naturally the first impulse of the zealous soul is to put things right, and herein lies the danger of attempts at reconstruction instead of seeking recovery. For instance, chapter 12 shows us that the body is one, but there is not a town in Christendom in which this oneness is not denied in practice. This ought not to be, but how can it be changed? Would it solve the problem if all Christians agreed to come together and find some way of compromise, as an Irish convention seeking to frame a constitution under which all could live happily and as one? No, that would be reconstruction, and could only end in disappointment and fresh disaster. It would be an endeavour to attain what is right in a wrong and human way. It would be occupation with the circumference without reference to the Centre, and if anything were accomplished it would only foster self-complacency instead of self-judgment. We must come at chapter 12 through chapter 1, and only thus can we be recovered to the truth.

It is a common thing to talk of the truth being recovered for us. We object to this expression, as it appears to us to be most misleading. The truth has always been what it was, and where it was, in Christ the living Head in heaven, and in the Holy Spirit indwelling believers on earth, and plainly set out in terms for our faith to act upon in the Word. But believers have departed from the truth, they have substituted other things for it, and it is they who need to be recovered to it. Recovery to the truth does not consist in the adoption of correct ecclesiastical forms and practices, this we might have — and it be only a name to live and yet dead, for the flesh can take up these things and make them the rigid rules of a sect. Recovery consists in the revival of divine life and health in the members of Christ's body which will make them rally afresh to the uplifted standard, the testimony of the Lord, and expresses itself in whole-hearted fidelity to Him, and in love to one another, and it will reach out in spite of barriers to which the divine sanction is not given in order to help other members of the body. For each member has been made necessary to every other member "that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another." If we have lost the sense of this great truth as the Corinthians had in their carnal zeal for their sects and parties and circles we must come to the recovery of it through chapter 1 of the Epistle, and then step by step through all the chapters that lie between 1 and 12.

Chapter 1 tells us that "GOD IS FAITHFUL." And here lies the basis of all recovery. Were it not for this the failure to respond to the testimony of God on the part of those whom He has called would fill us with despair, but in this we have hope, and in this we can rest. But the blessedness of this great and absolute statement will only be realized by those who have been led to face the failure, whose hearts have been sorely burdened because of it, and who have come to their wits' end in regard to it. It is then that we are face to face with God, and then we learn that God is faithful, and that everything depends upon that.

We learn as we dwell upon the faithfulness of God that He will never abandon His own thoughts in respect to His saints, and that He has found a way by which He can bring those thoughts to pass, and that if we desire to be experimentally and practically according to His thoughts for us He is able to make us so. We learn also that if we have been false to His call, and have grown indifferent to His thoughts about us, that He abides faithful and recalls the heart and recovers the soul-sickness and restores us to His way. That may not all be done in a moment, for God's way is to produce heart searchings and self-judgment, but there is no experience that gives the failing, weak saint such confidence in the faithfulness and grace of God as that of being led into a true judgment of self in the presence of God. Here the soul reaches its Peniel, and can say, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Gen. 32:30). No failure after such an experience can utterly daunt the one who has passed through it, for the lesson has been learnt that the faithfulness of God is greater than the failure of man, and that He holds the truth in His own divine power, and then we are contented to simply obey His Word.

Space and time prevent us from continuing this subject in this issue, but we hope to return to it. Meanwhile we desire to emphasize what we have already stated, that the basis of all recovery lies in the faithfulness of God, and it cannot be brought about except as we have to do with Him in true self-judgment.