The Importance of New Testament Church Principles

by W.E. Vine

In the Holy Scriptures God has provided for us “the faith which was once for all
delivered unto the saints,” Jude 3, not once upon a time, as if the provision of the
faith was a passing event, leaving something else to be provided later, but “once for
all,” indicating its completeness, its finality and its permanent authority. The Lord
Himself confirmed this authority as being binding and decisive by constantly appealing to
the Scriptures. When, for instance, a certain lawyer questioned Him on a matter of the
greatest importance, He said, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?”.

What was taught by Christ and His apostles, as set forth in the New Testament concerning
His will as to the principles of the formation, the gatherings, the worship and testimony
of an assembly, was designed to be both sufficient and obligatory during the whole of the
present period until His return. Changed conditions in Christendom, which in large measure
have constituted a departure from the New Testament teaching, only make that teaching
stand out the more conspicuously as the mind of God for the unprejudiced believer. Altered
circumstances were never intended to involve any departure from the Word of God. The
Scriptures are of such a nature as to need no modification. It has been found possible for
those who desire to be obedient to Christ to carry them out through all the centuries of
this period.

It is of paramount importance for us to discern and follow the will of the Lord, and that
not only in our individual capacity, but in our association with other believers in church
life and practice. At the judgment seat of Christ the Word of God will be the criterion by
which we shall either receive a lasting reward for our adherence to its teachings, or
suffer irretrievable loss for failure to fulfill
them.

The teachings of the New Testament concerning a local church or assembly are clear for all
who desire to know and follow the will of God instead of the traditions of men. The claims
of the Word of God demand our adherence to it and our acceptance of that alone which is in
accordance to it. To follow any teaching contrary to the doctrines of Scripture is to
challenge its accuracy and to deny the prerogatives of the Spirit of God and the Lord
Christ.

It is therefore the responsibility of each believer to identify himself with those who are
seeking to assemble in accordance with the teaching of the New Testament. Our fidelity to
the Lord must not depend upon the fidelity of our fellow-believers. We should be steadfast
enough to be true to Him and to His Word even if others may fail to act consistently.
Where any assembly is marked by failure or faithlessness on the part of some of its
members, it is ours to set an example by remaining faithful, and this example will meet
with the Lord’s approval here and will receive its reward in the coming day.

The genuine acknowledgment of Christ as Lord will keep us faithful in our adherence to the
Scriptures in the recognition of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in regard to
worship. The fulfillment of the will of the Lord should be our consuming ambition, and
this will mean a repudiation of the traditions of men and of human additions to the faith,
as well as of all that undermines its teachings as set forth in the Scriptures of truth.

The craft of Satan is ever at work to beguile us from allegiance to our Lord. What need
then there is to receive the exhortation He gave to His disciples when He warned them
against mere profession of faith! It is quite easy to imagine that we are rendering
service to Him while all the time His revealed will is being ignored. He said, “Not
everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he
that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven,” Matt. 7:21. Let us beware of
substituting our own preferences for what He has enjoined upon us, lest, in setting aside
His authority, whether in private life or in our church capacity, we are after all found
wanting.

The Lord still walks amidst “the lampstands,” the local assemblies, as He did as
recorded in Revelation 2-3. He discerns the ways of His people and knows all that is going
on in each assembly. Blessed are those to whom He will be able to say, “Thou hast
kept my word, and hast not denied my name,” Rev. 3:8.

True obedience neither procrastinates nor questions. Francis Quarles

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