at Assemblies Gathered Unto the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as Members of the One Body of Christ.
--By R.K. Campbell
Click References for the Full Passage
A movement of the Spirit of God during the past 150 years has formed groups of Christians throughout the world who meet solely in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine gathering center (Matt. 18:20).
They have sought to return to New Testament principles and practices. Believing that “the church of the living God,” which the Spirit of God has formed, is composed of “one body” of all born again, Spirit indwelt believers in Christ, they meet together locally simply as members of that “one body” (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 4:4
The Spirit of God is owned as the rightful president and leader in the Assembly and the Bible as the all-sufficient, divinely inspired guidebook and authority.
The Bible teaches these believers that all true Christians are a royal and holy priesthood, so there is liberty of the Holy Spirit to use whomsoever He will as His mouthpiece in prayer and praise (1 Peter 2:5,9; 1 Cor. 12:11 ).
These believers acknowledge that Christ is the Head of the Church and has given gifts unto His Assembly, such as prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and that “unto every one of us the gift of Christ…for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:7-12 ). So these assemblies do not have a “one man” or an “any man,” or a humanly ordained ministry, but a ministry of gifts which Christ has given to His Church.
These companies of believers have no church organization, headquarters, presiding bishops, appointed elders or ordained clergy. Yet there is not independency. They function together, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3 ). They believe that each assembly is a local representation of the whole Church and recognize its actions in the name of the Lord and according to God’s Word as authoritative and binding everywhere (Matt 18:18
If you enter the modest meeting place of Christians meeting together thus on a Lord’s day morning, you will see them gathered around a table upon which is a loaf of bread and a container of wine. This is the only prominent feature, for there is no presiding clergyman, elder or human being in charge. If you ask what the program is, the reply will be that there is none. If you inquire as to who will dispense the bread and wine, you will be told that any brother in good standing in the assembly may do so. Should you ask if anyone will preach, the answer may be that they have not come together to hear a sermon, but to bring praise and worship to the Lord and to remember Him in His death. In this meeting the believers function as “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 ). A brother may minister the Word of God after the observance of the Lord’s supper.
What then is the purpose of this service? It is an honest effort to fulfill the request of the Savior on the night of His betrayal, “This do in remembrance of me” and to carry out the instructions given by the revelation to the apostle Paul as to the observing the Lord’s supper (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-29 ). The endeavor is to follow the example of the early Christians who “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and prayers” and “upon the first day of the week…come together to break bread” (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7 ). In reception to the privilege of partaking in the Lord’s supper, the practice is not an “open” or a “closed” communion, but a “guarded” table of the Lord in responsibility to the holy character of Him whose death is commemorated.
These Christians own and practice the spiritual presidency of the Holy Spirit. Believeing that the Spirit of God divides “to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11 ), any brother not under any discipline may name a hymn to be sung by all, lead in prayer, read Scripture and give thanks for the bread and cup in participation of the Lord’s supper. In obedience to the divine injunction, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” sisters do not lead the congregation in any audible part. They also cover their heads in recognition of God’s order as to headship (1Co 11:3-13 1 Cor. 14:34 ).
At the meeting for the remembrance of the Lord in His death and worship, an offering is received from those who participate as known Christians. As the sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of giving of our substance are associated together in Heb 13:15-16
, the only collection of the assembly for its expenses, giving to servants of the Lord and His work and the needy, is, generally speaking, taken at this service. This is also in accordance with instructions as to collection for the saints upon the first day of the week as given in 1Co 16:1-2
A service for children, commonly called “Sunday School,” is held each Lord’s day morning in most assemblies. Bible classes are conducted for various ages and adults usually join in this hour in a Bible class of their own. On Lord’s day evening a meeting for the proclamation of the Gospel for the unsaved is held by those gifted to preach the glad tidings of salvation in Christ. Or an “open meeting” for ministry of the Word of God may be the order of service.
During the week, a mid-week service is usually convened for prayer and study of the Bible. Each brother has a similar freedom for participation as was evident in the Lord’s day morning service. Meetings for youth and special meetings for women may be held periodically.
As for names, these believers prefer the simple title of “Christians,” “saints,” “brethren” etc., which apply to all children of God. Refusing denominational names, they desire to be know simply as “Christians gathered unto the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James 2:7 speaks of “that worthy name by which ye are called.”
A welcome is extended to anyone interested in hearing the Gospel of God’s saving grace and ministry of the Word of God to attend meetings of these assemblies. The answer of the Lord Jesus Christ to perplexed and questioning souls was-“COME AND SEE” (John 1:39).
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