The World Church

With the lamp of prophecy in our hands, this ‘murky’ world is seen to have dark shadows cast by coming events. The last days are to be times of apostasy from the truth of God, and the “itching ears” of the congregations will “accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings” (2 Tim. 4. 3, Revised Standard Version). The vapourings of such teachers would be “blasphemous” (1 Tim. 1. 20), “lies” (4. 2), “unwholesome” (6. 3), “gangrenous” (2 Tim. 2. 17), “devoid of spiritual discernment” (3. 8, margin), and “unhealthy” (4. 3).

It is unnecessary to produce proof that we are living in such times, for error has now become organized. Most denominations have acquiesced in the dissolution of the truth, despite those in their midst who have taken a commendable stand for the basic beliefs of the gospel.

A hotch-potch of pseudo-Christianity will yet be formed and, abandoning distinctive truths of Christianity, will boast of its unity as well as its power. This Babylon - for such she is called - has her precursors, and we are right in expecting that she will prepare beforehand for her short time of Jezebel-like glory (Rev. 17). In view of this it behoves those who look for the Day Star, to assess present religious movements in the light of the Word of Truth, lest the winds of false teaching carry them along in the current of merely fashionable Christianity.

Now, the confused state of Christendom is apparent to all, and varied have been the attempts to bring harmony among the. many factions. Most of these attempts have miserably failed, but we are now witnessing a new and far-reaching attempt to establish a universal church. To this end, major portions of many denominations have joined together with the purpose of establishing this “inclusivist” church. The Roman church, so far, has superciliously drawn its garments tighter and frowned upon the new venture, yet it is shewing more than a passing interest, for it has frequently been invited to become an essential part of the ecumenical church. The Greek church sometimes deigns to associate with the movement.

The movement already has attained to tremendous proportions, and has exerted no small power in some lands. Its platform includes all “Christian” creeds, whilst by misapplication the Lord’s prayer “that they may be one” (John 17) seems to have become a religious totem. Of course it often finds difficulty in expressing itself in terms of belief, and not all its member-groups feel at home in it (as an archbishop confessed), but its local councils often contrive to clear up such difficulties.

It should not be thought that an idea is just being toyed with. Rather is it being translated into action, and being aggressively pursued. Not a few theological colleges are doting on the idea, and courses in “Ecumenics” will soon be general. Some mission-fields have felt the pressure of this movement, resulting in some Missionary Societies feeling capitulation to be the safer course.

Yet, mere criticism of these associations is quite inadequate. What provision have we for such times of apostasy? Is there a workable plan for pure Christian testimony? Our spiritual instinct tells us there must be, for we rightly expect the Head of the Church to have left nothing to fortuitous circumstances. It is for just such a time that the word is prepared: “the foundation of God standeth sure, … AND, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2. 19). To assert the fact of the first clause, whilst neglecting the warning of the second, is akin to confessing a fruitless creed.

The last days have their own characteristics (see 3. 1-5), but they should throw into better relief “the doctrine” AND “manner of life” which have been found in the God-breathed Scriptures (vv. 10, 14 and 16). Let the reader collate references in the Epistles to Timothy regarding the inspiration, value, and authority of Holy Scripture for individual and church alike. It will prove more than interesting!

It is evident that in view of world developments, both religious and political, God’s principles for church life are the most suitable, as well as authoritative. Under pressure of unfriendly governments, or the persecution of religious systems, it is found that God’s way works. This does not mean that the cold blasts of earth are not felt by such churches, for they are exotic plants which will not be in their native soil down here. Nevertheless, New Testament Christian vigour, testimony and “body-consciousness” are best perpetuated in such gatherings.

China is a good proving-ground, and it must be conceded that local churches, each directly responsible to the Lord and without central denominational authority, not only have the best possibility of survival, but also the best means of propagation. Other lands witness to the same truth, and if a world-survey were possible it would decisively and universally justify apostolic methods. How we should value them and encourage one another in God’s ways!

Objections to these truths are due, we feel, to two weaknesses. Firstly, an ill-informed criticism, which wrongly equates bigotry with adherence to the pattern. Secondly, the attempt to use the Spirit’s principles of gathering without the accompanying Spirit’s power. But mists of doubt born of our weakness should not be allowed to becloud the pattern “shown in the Mount.”

It is good that we “measure the pattern,” not just as a lifeless blue-print, but to lead to “shame” for our shortcomings (Ezek. 43. 10, 11). Then the glory of the Lord will fill the house. At such times as these, how necessary to be “taken up by the Spirit” into the “inner court” of God’s purposes (v. 5), and then to allow no intruder into the gate which belongs to the Head alone (44. 2), so that God may have “glory in the Church” (Eph. 3. 21).


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