- regarding God’s Order and the ‘Open’ Meeting
“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him recognise the things which I write to you, that it is the Lord’s commandment. But if any be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Cor. 14:37-38).
‘To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for profit: For to one, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit and to another prophecy” (1 Cor. 12:7-10). “But he that prophesies speaks to men in edification and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). “And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if there be a revelation to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For ye can all prophesy one by one that all may learn and all be encouraged. And spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:29 -33).
Fewer and fewer assemblies are issuing notices inviting saints to fellowship meetings where time is made available for ministry as the Spirit of the Lord guides. More and more assemblies are selecting speakers. Each assembly is quite within its responsibilities to make such a selection, provided that a ministry meeting as described in the first epistle to the Corinthians is arranged for the local brethren. It will be freely acknowledged that the epistles to the Corinthians describe order for the guidance of every local company today. It can never be outdated. It is the Lord’s commandment (1 Cor. 14:37 ).
Is the Spirit of the Lord dead? Such a thought is blasphemous. He indwells every believer and will do so until the end of the dispensation of grace (John 14:16). Let us make ourselves available to Him that He might supply ministry that will edify, encourage and console. Where we are humble and dependant, He will not fail us. His great service is to glorify Christ (John 16:14).
It must be admitted that the meeting for open ministry has been sadly abused. Unseemly haste in rising to speak has had a deadening effect upon gathering. A long pause before a hymn is given out and an equally long pause before a prayer is offered to the Head of the assembly is also an evidence of lack of power. But who is to blame for these failures? Each saint must take the blame. How many brothers or sisters pray before attending a fellowship meeting? Is this not one of the root causes why the open ministry meeting has sometimes been so unsuccessful? (Not always, because very many occasions have been blessed where godly order has been maintained). If we cannot take time to pray for these meetings, it is not surprising that the Spirit’s power is not evident in our midst.
That failure has been evidenced in the open ministry meeting is no indication that it should be abandoned. Which gathering of the saints has not been affected by failure in one way or another? Let us confess our failure and humbly and dependently give the Spirit of the Lord the opportunity to bless us.
No gathering of saints desires to be guilty of Disorder. If we do not have a meeting locally for the Spirit to speak through His servants as He chooses, then we are guilty of disorder. If numbers are small so that there are few brothers who can minister, that is a problem, but not insurmountable. God in His grace and kindness will help those who desire to honour Him and His word. He will bear with our weakness but not with our wilfulness.
F.Wallace, May 1996
Beloved brethren in Christ. Greetings to you all in our Saviour’s precious Name. Why do brethren speak so much about order? The answer is that it is a question as to how we view the authority of the word of God. Are its instructions binding for today in 1996 in relation to the assembly? or to please ourselves? It is solemnly suggestive that when Samson, the last of the Nazarites in the Book of Judges died, it was after that that it was said, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. When separation from evil is ignored the authority of the word of God is adversely affected. An illustration of this is seen when David brought the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. It was not brought correctly because Jehovah was not sought after the due order, 1 Chronicles 15:13-14. Precise instructions were given by God to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle, nothing was left to the imagination of men, see Exodus 40:4,23. In Leviticus the sacrifices were offered according to God’s order, Leviticus l:8. Anything will not do for God. Paul rejoiced when he took account of the assembly in Colosse and its order, Colossians 2:4. He was distressed when he saw the disorder in the Corinthian assembly because God is not the Author of disorder.
F.Wallace, June 1996