Preserving the Inheritance

Many older readers would reject the idea that assemblies comprise a sect, claiming that we are attempting to recover original simplicity by establishing churches as they existed in New Testament times.  However from the sociological point of view we are regarded as being a sect since we seceded from the main bodies of established Christianity.  This give the opportunity to quote the opening paragraph of a new book on religious sects, “Sects are movements of religious protest.  There members separate themselves from other men in respect of their religious beliefs, practices and institutions, and often in many other departments of their lives.  They reject the authority of orthodox religious leaders, and often, also, of the secular government.  Allegiance to a sect is voluntary, but individuals are admitted only of proof of conviction, or by some other test of merit: continuing affiliation rests on sustained evidence of commitment to sect beliefs and practices.  Sectarians put their faith first: they order their lives in accordance with it.  The orthodox in contrast, compromise faith with other interests, and their religion accommodates the demands of the secular culture.”

The implication of the above quotation would be that the maintenance of such bodies of people requires continued devotion to the same convictions.  Are we in danger of becoming like the “orthodox,” compromising our faith with other interests?  It is the very fact that the orthodox do this shows that they are not direct descendants of primitive Christianity.  Nothing was more demanding than the claims of Jesus Christ.  If Christendom finds Christianity easy it can only be because they have compromised and accommodated.  Our meritage can only be maintained by conviction and devotion.  Have we sufficient zeal to maintain it?

Far too many of us a losing the best years of our lives.  If we do not invest in the assembly in youth before the responsibilities of home, family, business and profession descend on us we are not likely to become as useful as otherwise.  Two extremes are to be avoided.  The first is to be so completely uninterested as to appear completely lacking in interest.  The other is to regard all that the elders are doing to be completely on the wrong track.  Even if it is, don’t be completely surprised if they do not take kindly to criticism from the completely inexperienced who are very likely to change their minds in a few years anyway.  Youngsters who do their best to make the thing work are far more to be commended and far more likely to be listed to.  Let your progress command a hearing rather than your forcefulness.  Prove that you are in the thing before you try to alter it.  It is rather appalling to find young folks who seem to want to help everybody and everything but the assembly.

Any church is a reflection of the kind of people who compose it.  Its activity or inactivity is directly related to the activity or inactivity of those who comprise it.  The old couplet is still veery telling:

“If everybody in our assembly were just like me, What kind of assembly would our assembly be?”

If we are to survive in the materialistic 20th Century with its couldn’t-care-less attitude to spiritual things we shall have to give far more than many of us have been giving.  If we are to continue being New Testament churches we shall have to give more time to the New Testament than many of us have been giving it.  If we are to add to our members from the world around we shall have to make evangelism a more concentrated business than many of us have been doing.

You’ve all heard of Naboth.  His particular heritage was next door to the king’s and the king was a bit unscrupulous.  Seeing to expand he cast greedy eyes on Naboth’s inheritance.  Would he exchange?  Would he sell?  May God write his answer on our sous:  “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”  Naboth died rather than surrender it.  Have we convictions about the buses like that?

Perhaps, though, we are in danger of losing it by more insidious means.  In the 20th Century Satan is more danger of having his way by more subtle methods,  Encroachment, compromise, lack of conviction, ignorance of truth, carelessness -- all these can cause us to lose our heritage.


© Douglas Carr 2021