TO ESTABLISH AN ASSEMBLY YOU NEED:
Before you go to the place: while you are there and after you leave.
2. Cor. 12. 12; Romans 5. 4 Patience to wait God’s time, and patience with converts. In Isaiah 42. 19 we read ‘Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect and blind as the Lord’s servant?’.
In new work it is often necessary to close your eyes and ears to a lot of things; not sin of course, but mannerisms, actions, certain expressions, and phraseology new to us and our background, and not altogether scriptural, nor in some cases unscriptural.
One must be patient and let the Word of God and the Spirit of God adjust these things. One may cause offence in trying to do it personally. When we try to force growth we often hinder it, like forcing open the petals of a rose or seeking to help a butterfly out of its silken tomb. Much patience is required until some people unlearn a lot and then learn ‘the more excellent way’. Some good brethren were once rough diamonds; patience saw them polished. Other Christians with possibilities were stumbled because of impatience on the part of the older brethren.
There will be bitter with the sweet; rough and smooth. The main thing that enables one to persevere is knowing he is in the will of God; to have God’s assurance that He has ‘much people in this place’. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2. 10, ‘Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory’. When Paul entered a city he knew some of the elect were there and he preached and endured until the material for an assembly was gathered.
Power of God the Spirit
This is the most important of all. 1 Cor. 2. 1-5, ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God’; 1 Thess. 1. 5, ‘For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake’. No doubt these verses refer to Paul’s pioneer effort. Note the emphasis on the power of the Spirit.
A sanctified, a strong spiritual personality. One has said that ‘personality is the kind of person you are’. ‘The outward expression of the inner life which influences other people favourably or unfavourably.’ ‘A strong positive personality is the magnetic outward expression of the inner life, dominated by positive and pleasing qualities, such as courtesy, courage, graciousness and truthfulness, thus attracting people and influencing their lives. It makes a man a leader in the affairs of life instead of a follower, for the greatest and most vital power in influencing life is a sanctified personality.’ Some have personality without spirituality and power; others may have spirituality and power without personality. The latter certainly is preferable of the two, but when both are combined you have a power for God.
Fellowship is your grip on God; personality, your grip on man.
Your work will likely correspond with the amount of each of the things listed above; little of them will produce a small work, much will produce a large one. The field may qualify somewhat this remark.
‘According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon’, 1 Cor. 3. 10.
We often have been foolish learners trying to build, instead of wise masterbuilders. The one who plants an assembly lays the foundation; presents and instructs in foundation truths, such as the gospel, salvation by grace, assurance, law and grace, the two natures, soul-winning, the Lord’s supper, baptism, the Lord’s coming. The man or men who follow build upon that foundation.
The superstructure may mean such truths as the ones in the foundation more fully developed; also the one Body, the Spirit and His work, the priesthood of Christ and of all believers, could be included in the superstructure.
Sometimes the pioneer or the one who lays the foundation has to remain long enough to build the framework of the superstructure before leaving it. The framework of course is not too solid or secure; much filling in and much hard work remains for the follow-up man or men before the building or assembly can be termed solid and stable; in a building the filling-in or finishing work takes longest and is the most tedious. Elders and overseers are not produced overnight, are not to be novices, but often take from ten to fifteen years to develop; they must first be proved. Many a work that had a good start faltered because it was left to local or inexperienced men too soon.