A Word of Exhortation
As an elder* I am venturing to address a word of exhortation to my young brethren; addressing specially those of you, who find your place in assemblies of the Lord's people, gathered unto His Name, where the direction of the Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is sought in a practical way. In these assemblies the truth of the one body of Christ is happily stressed—the ascended Christ in glory the Head of the body; the Lord's people, the members of that one body, through whom the life of our Lord is to be perpetuated on earth; the Holy Spirit indwelling believers, uniting them to the Head in heaven, and to each other on earth in a most blessed and wonderful way.
*Note (biblecentre): as an elder brother. Since we do not have apostles today we cannot appoint elders. See "Elders, Overseers, and Deacons" by R K Campbell
When we gather to remember the Lord in His death, or in other meetings of an assembly character, such as prayer meetings, it is noticeable that active part in these meetings is so often left to the elder brethren. It is well indeed that elder brethren should be recognized, if they have maturity and experience in the things of the Lord. Such are presented in Scripture as “guides” (Heb. 13:7), and exhorted to be “ensamples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3). Such are worthy to be esteemed.
On the other hand we have to beware of clericalism, the bane of the professing church of God. It was an evil day when a sacerdotal class was recognised, and Christians outside that caste were called “the laity,” and not expected to take audible part in the worship. In this way the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:5) was practically denied.
Scripture very plainly teaches that the Holy Spirit is free to lead in praise, worship, or prayer, any brother, who is present. I once heard it said that every brother has a right to take part in assembly meetings. I ventured to dissent from this, and pointed out that no brother has a right to take part, but it is his privilege to do so as led of the Spirit of God.
Alas! is it not true that it never enters the mind of many a young brother that this privilege is theirs, and consequently there is no exercise of heart as to placing themselves in the hands of the Spirit of God for His direction? It is sad indeed to be in an assembly meeting when the pauses are dreary and long, and those taking part are all elder brethren, while the young brethren sit in silence, with no thought that the Spirit of God might lead them as the mouthpiece of the assembly in praise, worship and prayer. It is true that many assemblies are small and isolated. It is wonderful how year after year they carry on; a tribute to the sustaining power of the Spirit of God, spite of the feeble condition of things.
We are surely living in Laodicean days, characterized by profession neither hot nor cold, not absolutely dead, and certainly not fervent in spirit. If this article stirs up any young brother to prayerful exercise in this matter, it will be well worth while writing these few lines.
Reverting to assemblies small in numbers with few brothers present, the writer remembers when he was young that it was pointed out that the smaller the meeting the more important each brother became. If it were an assembly of one hundred persons, the brother would be one percent, of the whole; if the meeting consisted of ten individuals, he would be ten percent. If he were meeting with a single individual he would be fifty percent, and so important that, if he failed to attend, the meeting could not be held at all. To such small meetings how cheering are the words of our Lord, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20 ). How wonderful it is that we have such a cheering assurance from the lips of our Lord Himself. Where realized, what a wonderful character it would give to the gatherings unto His Name.
When a young brother is led of the Spirit to take part in an assembly meeting, all who are spiritual will recognise that it is so, and rejoice, and none more so than the elder brethren. There is nothing more offensive than a forward young brother, who will insist upon taking part, when it is very apparent that he has the spirit of Diotrephes, of whom it was said, that he loved to have the pre-eminence among the saints (3 John 9).
Now a word to the young sisters. They are just as much an integral part of the assembly as the young brothers, and just as much priests unto God the Father. Yet Scripture for its own wise purpose bids them to be silent in assembly meetings. But how helpful and sweet it is when an assembly has among it earnest devoted sisters, who are exercised before God as to the meetings, so that their exercises may often put a brother upon his feet to give utterance to what is passing in their minds. The presence of the sisters as exercised members of the assembly is a great cheer and encouragement to the brothers, and to none more than the elder brethren.
Some may feel there is little or no young society in an assembly, or may feel the pull of counter attractions, such as large numbers, agreeable society, good singing, and the like, and so may wander away from the assembly. May this article stir our young brethren to give their interest and energy to the welfare and worship of the assembly. Then they themselves may develop in due time into elder brethren, “guides”, “ensamples to the flock.”
It is very evident that the old brethren, if the Lord tarry, will pass off the scene one by one, and if the young ones do not develop then weakness increases. The Lord lead us all, brother and sister, young and old, to give the Lord what is His due and to “continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42 ).