The Church Where, and What is it?

1913 319 In these days, when christians are ranged under so many different names, it behoves us to consider well whether there is a visible church on this earth, and if not, whether the children of God can meet together as the early christians did.

Now it must be evident to any thoughtful student of scripture that in the apostles' days there was a church — visibly united. "And the Lord added to the church (or together) daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). It was composed of those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no thought then of believers and unbelievers joining together in worshipping God.

Again there will be a church when the Lord Jesus comes, for He will take the church to be with Himself. But now you will find a few members here, a few there — scattered, divided: members of the body of Christ it is true, but not gathered as the one body, the church.

When Christ ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, to gather together the children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:52). God is still seeking worshippers, who shall worship Him in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him (John 4:23, 24). It is children, yea, sons of God by faith of Jesus who are called to worship their Father.

In the Lord's well-known intercessory prayer (John 17) He prays, that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they all may be one in us." And why? "That the world may believe that thou hast sent me." Is it God's mind that the members of Christ's body should be scattered? No; "that they all may be one," etc. He would have all His children worshipping as one family. Nothing will suit God but what is of divine authority.

In Eph. 2:20-22, Paul says, "Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

We have Christ, the chief corner stone, on which the building rests. Take away Christ, and the building is gone; but give Him His own proper place, as the only Centre, round whom the Holy Ghost is drawing the children of God, and there God can dwell. If there are but two or three even gathered to His name, He is in their midst. This was the only ground on which the early christians met for worship, and this is the true ground of the church of God now. See 1 Cor. 12:12-27; 1 Cor. 14; Eph. 4:3-16; 2 Thess. 2:1.

I admit there are a few, who by God's grace do meet together, led by His Spirit, to worship Him in spirit and in truth. But is this the church? The church, being composed of all believers, it cannot be; but then these few are meeting on the ground laid down in scripture, and acted on by the apostles.

Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, etc. (Eph. 5:27).

And now, in closing these few lines, I would affectionately entreat any who read this, to consider on what ground you meet to worship God. Will your worship stand the test of scripture? Will it stand the test of that day when every man's work will he made manifest? (1 Cor. 3:10-17).