It is right to state at the outset, that gathering together in the name of the Lord (in Truth) is absolutely the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, there are many different divisions in "Christendom" which creates a serious problem for the sincere Bible student. There can be no doubt that where the heart and mind are sincere before the Lord and the Almighty, to know Truth, that with due diligence, prayer and effort, much startling and often new to the reader information emerges from Scripture.
The fact is that this "new information" is not new, but is re-emerging or uncovering of what has been available for many centuries, and is what the early Church was already aware of, discussed enthusiastically and actively; the points which Scripture raises. That was healthy debate, and was stopped in its tracks primarily by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, who "unified" all doctrine, teaching into conformity, under pain of death. That stifling of healthy enquiry and diligent working at Scripture, which is clearly exhorted by the Apostle Paul (2Tim. 2:15); under the Holy Roman Empire led to the corruption that is well-known and documented by the Roman Church, and still applies.
It is an interesting fact that after AD 100 approx. the early Church was “taken over” by the “Church fathers”; all Gentiles! They lost the wonderful truth of the “Mystery Church” of Paul’s teaching from the Risen Christ Jesus (Roms. 16:25; Eph. 3:3-5 & 3:8-10).
It took the courage of Martin Luther to begin the process of undoing and unpicking the power of the Roman Church with his "re-discovering" that Salvation is by faith alone in the work of Christ Jesus on The Cross (Eph. 2:8-9), as opposed to the practise of the Roman Church at that time of selling indulgences (a paper which gave permission to sin in the future for a price), and pardons (a paper which gave forgiveness of sin for a price). That outrageous degree of corruption perpetrated by men in the Roman Church calling themselves Bishops, Priests and Popes, must eternally be guarded against in its lesser forms now prevalent, but equally if not more pernicious miss-teaching.
The basic principle underlying any sincere Christian's natural desire to meet with like-minded persons, must include the basic premise that Christ died for the sin of the world and the individual, that He is The Son of God, (not a son), and that He will return to the Earth to restore Israel, and the world and set up the 1000 year reign as shown in Scripture. See: God's Only Begotten Son.
The simple statement above clearly shows that any group that calls itself Christian must be open to questions as regards its teachings and its leadership. If it will not allow such questions, there is clearly a force at work that must not be accepted by an openhearted and sincere Christian. It is clear that a Christian who is attending a group, is showing support for that group to human kind and also to heavenly witness (Eph. 3:10).
This does not mean that there are not many sincere Christians abroad on the face of the Earth, and in fellowship in many Churches; but it does mean that many are deliberately submerging their doubts and perhaps their knowledge, so as to be members of a group which allows them some degree of what they can accept as fellowship.
The argument is presented frequently that such principles as laid out above should be submerged by the individual. That the individual or individuals should attempt within the framework of membership to conform to the groups teaching and norms. Any questions and doubts that may be held by the individual should be presented in an open way at a group forum. In practice this may not work, as the attempts may create insecurity and friction in many groupings; with perceived threat to the groups’ membership and hierarchy. This can lead to closing of ranks, and possibly sanctions on the Christians doing the questioning. To greater or lesser degree this type of response to questioning of a group’s teachings is unfortunately quite common.
The verse in Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching", which is usually quoted against such people that show independence of study etc., was in the context of the Hebrews at the time of Paul's writing to them. There was relatively growing uniformity of teaching at that time, and a clear expectation that the Lord's return was near (which could have been the case had the Jews accepted Christ, the final offer for that Age expired at Acts 28:28), those conditions, or similar, in our opinion will yet re-emerge and are described in the first 3 Chapters of Revelation, when a Jewish context will exist and that verse may well apply again.
At the present time, and were the apostle Paul to be here on the scene now, he would be appalled at the corruption of the teaching in many groups, especially those that advocate miracles etc., as proof of the individuals Salvation. Also those that do not accept Christ as God's Son, but a son!
However, the studying of Scripture, and the search for like- minded Christians should continue until this Administration (time) is complete.
Comment by Dr. Bullinger regarding Church meetings
You ask, Where you are to worship? We reply wherever God is glorified, Christ is exalted, God’s Word is honoured, the Holy Spirit’s power is evidenced and man abased. Never go anywhere where you do not know more of God’s Word than when you entered. Never be in any Body where you may be scratched out. Be content with the membership which God has given you in the spiritual unity of the Body of Christ, from which no power in Earth or Hell, (see: Hell; study) can cut you off: and be content that your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world, and from which no power in Earth or Hell can ever take it out. Do nothing to imply that you do not hold these priceless privileges to be of infinite value; or that they can be added to in the slightest degree by any man’s corporate unities.
The unity of the Body of the Lord will eventually be without question, without any division, striving or different interpretation of Truth. In Psm. 86:11 the principle of unity in truth is without question expressed; "Teach me Thy way, O Jehovah (Lord); I will walk in Thy truth: Unite my heart to fear Thy name". When the principle is followed here expressed, whilst in the flesh, we shall be the nearest possible to unity and truth until Christ Reigns! (See: Millennial Purpose).
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