By E.L. Bevir
It is evident that no single truth, however great and blessed in itself, can ever be taken as a ground of fellowship in an evil day when Christendom presents one vast field of ruins; for ruin it is, whatever may be the pretensions of the Roman, Greek, or other "churches".
It may seem to be insisting too much upon what is too patent; yet it is well, sometimes, to insist upon what is visible to those who have eyes to see; the very fact, too, of insisting may cause some to open their eyes. Let us then insist upon this; that we are not living in Pentecostal times, but in the nineteenth century, when all the characteristics of the last days (2 Timothy 3: 1, "the very last days") are to be seen on every hand, and judgment is imminent upon the whole Christianized portion of the globe.
The question before us is whether it be possible, in the existing confusion, to be in the position of a true remnant, and that without falling into narrow sectarianism on the one hand, or into Romanism on the other. Much has been said lately about a remnant; and I shall confine myself to this, I believe, true aspect of one, that it represents a true part of the whole thing.
I believe the illustration has been made of part of a large piece of woven silk, saved out of a fire; the loom, let us suppose, has been burnt, but a piece of the woven texture has been saved, and is a true specimen of the whole piece. There are two passages that may be useful at this point; one is, the whole of 2 Timothy, the other is Revelation 3: 7-13. The latter passage is of so purely an unsectarian character that any such sentiment as, "We are Philadelphia!" is precluded.
Some indeed have indulged such an idea with notorious consequences; but the passage applies evidently to those who are in the position of a remnant, who would at once disclaim being the church, but who recognise and are governed by the grand truths of the church of God. But we must not confuse the recognition of these truths with the taking any of them for a basis of fellowship. It is one thing to be faithful to the Lord and to receive His word but quite another to claim as a foundation to communion any truth, however blessed.
Such a course must end in one of two things either in pretension like that of Rome, or the very narrowest sectarianism under the sun. If we were to take, for example, the blessed truth of the unity of the body in this way (in a day like our own) there would be imminent danger of thinking that we are the body, instead of being a feeble remnant dependent entirely upon the Lord to carry out, in our measure, the truths he has confided to us.
Timothy's second epistle, too, will keep us from sectarianism. That we cannot get out of Christendom (without becoming Jews or pagans) is well known. The great house contains a very miscellaneous collection of vessels, but the faithful one is called to purify himself from such as are to dishonour, and then he shall find fellowship with those who pursue, righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
That the blessed truths of the church will be known in this little company we cannot doubt; that they may be recognised as binding on the conscience will be the very first effect of "follow righteousness"! But this is very different from making any one of them the basis of communion. May the Lord give us to call upon His name out of a pure heart!
- E. L. B.