The Policy of Precious Seed
J. H. Large
Readers who appreciate the particular ministry of Precious Seed can rest assured that the Editorial changes announced above will involve no change in our policy. The magazine was launched 17 years ago because it was felt at that time that the teaching of the New Testament with regard to Church life and fellowship was being neglected. It has been gratifying to receive testimonies that by such ministry many have been encouraged to maintain this truth and others have been brought to see its value who previously had not been enlightened on the subject or had been prejudiced against it because of extremists. It has always been our aim to avoid extremes in this matter and also to provide a balanced spiritual fare. Undue emphasis on one line of truth is apt to lead to obsession and of late we have had melancholy evidence of the fantastic absurdities which certain 'exclusive' tendencies can breed, bringing the testimony of Christ into ridicule. To those who at the other extreme belittle assembly teaching we would say that the admission that God's mind for the Church is revealed in the New Testament carries with it an obligation to carry it out. Can any doubt that God's way is best? In saying this we are far from supposing that a cold and formal adherence to certain principles is either pleasing to God or likely to result in blessing to ourselves or to others. Assembly life is not some sort of elaborate game where people go through the motions according to a rigid set of rules. There is always a danger of formal correctness taking the place of spiritual reality, but the existence of human weakness is no justification for abandoning the divine ideal but rather a challenge to greater earnestness in implementing it in dependence upon God and in the love of Christ. The church is a living organism and assembly fellowship is not an end in itself but a means of fostering those conditions in which the Spirit of God can develop Christian character and equip believers for the service of Christ. We are convinced that the New Testament reveals the most effective way of providing these conditions, without for a moment supposing that God sees fit to use and bless only those companies which accept the New Testament concept as their guide. Only the most bigoted could be blind to the absurdity of such a contention in the face of facts. We should all thankfully recognize devotion to Christ wherever it is found and be sufficiently mindful of our own failure to abhor sterile criticism of those whose zeal in the cause of Christ might well stir us to emulation. Unctious complacency must surely be one of the things which grieve the Spirit of God and stifle spiritual power. Who are we to judge another's servant? To his own Master he stands or falls, and we must await the verdict of the Day of Christ. 'Lord, and what shall this man do? . . . What is that to thee?' Let us remember, however, that the Lord added to Peter 'Follow thou me'.
Whilst acknowledging the vast amount of work accomplished elsewhere, we think it fair and relevant to say that much of this is made possible, directly and indirectly, by the zeal and energy of men and women in assembly fellowship. Has the charity which compels us to acknowledge the valuable work done, made us blind to the wasteful dispersion of effort among a multitude of organizations, resulting in overlapping, the absorption of a great deal of man-power in administration and a disproportionate expenditure of the Lord's money on 'overheads'? If the local church is the only organ recognized by the New Testament (and we invite anybody to show the contrary) we suggest that more attention should be paid to the possibilities of Spirit-led service emanating from the assembly. We cannot help thinking wistfully of what could be accomplished if the zeal and energy mentioned earlier were channelled into the life and witness of the assembly. At the same time we do not overlook special work of proved value which by its very nature could not be undertaken by a local company.
To say that assemblies have fallen short is merely saying that they are not exempt from the human weaknesses found everywhere. No one who has caught a glimpse of the ideal would dream of claiming to have reached it, but he will not be deterred from striving after it because of weakness within and without. At any rate, that is the aim with which we commenced this ministry and our experience since has done nothing to shake our conviction that we shall be doing a service to the Lord's people by continuing to present Church truth in a balanced and constructive way.