For many of us, “time flies.” A new year makes us look back and thank God for all His grace and mercy to us. We can trace His unfailing goodness and remember his boundless love in all His care of us in the year that is past. The fellowship, love, and kindness of fellow believers is more real to us than every before in our experience. Let us not be partakers of the spirit of the age, “Neither were they thankful.”
As we look ahead, we should be aware that to meet our need, nothing less than the presence of the Lord and the display of His power would be effective. The human mind constantly devises methods that appeal to the natural senses, and seem to be superior to anything attempted in the past. A method is not wrong because it is new, nor is it right because it is old. What is very wrong is if we put our trust in methods or machinery when what we need is the power of God. This power does not come down on methods, but on men and women on their knees that are submissive to His Word and Spirit. The words of the Lord still apply, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Through many years, we have learned some very solemn lessons about the failure of human methods and organizations to do the work of the Lord. “Let’s organize” has often been thought to be a panacea to meet every need. Committees are formed to handle every need, great or small, but there is a terrible temptation for our hearts to trust human organizational methods instead of simply trusting God. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov 3:5).
I have heard sincere believers say that assemblies need new activities to appeal to the young. It has been a heartbreak to me that I was saved, baptized, received into fellowship, and commended from a large assembly that no longer exists as I knew it. New men with new methods took over. Their methods failed. The young people to whom they were appealing are gone to places where they could have even greater “liberties.” If the truth of the Word of God does not keep us, no method, devised by men, will work. I wish with all my heart that the experience of this one assembly were an isolated case. Tragically, the same disaster has happened wherever new methods are a substitute for personal conviction and obedience to the Word of God. The words of Paul to the Ephesian elders have lost none of their relevance: “I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace” (Acts 20:32).
Let us not forget that God, in His sovereign grace, has visited the nations, “to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). The strong language of this verse leaves us in no doubt that the divine purpose has been to take us out of the world. The Lord said, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). Is separation an unpopular theme in 2003? I know that we have been sent into the world as witnesses to a rejected Lord, but let us not forget that true separation from the world is moral, social, religious, matrimonial, and political. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (2 Cor 6:17-18).