Challenges for A New Century: Consecration

One of the ten figures of a local Assembly in the New Testament is that of a “virgin.” To the Corinthian assembly Paul wrote, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2Cor 11:2). Behind this passage is the idea of a Jewish wedding. After the betrothal, a one-year period followed before the actual wedding day. During that time the bridegroom prepared a place for his bride. That waiting period was also to prove the virgin purity of the bride. When forming the Corinthian assembly Paul espoused it to Christ in view of presenting it to Him at His return. With that glorious day in view the believer’s heart’s affections were to be for the Lord Jesus alone. The apostle feared that their “minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (v 3); that is, that their heart would be divided and their love instead of being for Christ only as the one husband, would be given to someone else.

As we face a new millennium, we are strongly reminded of the nearness of our Lord’s return. The waiting period will soon be over and each of us will be presented to Christ. The searching question must be asked, “What about our love for the Lord Jesus and our devotion to Him?” When we started on the Christian pathway, the Lord Jesus was everything to us. He was our Beloved and we wanted to keep ourselves pure for Him, Who filled our hearts. His Name was so precious and His Word a real treasure. We could hardly wait for the next assembly meeting, where we could learn more about our blessed Lord and worship His wondrous person. Speaking to others about Him was a real joy. The love of His heart had such claims upon us that the world’s multiple pleasures could not charm us. How is it now, dear believers, have we left our first love? Let us notice two dangers facing every assembly.

A. Wrong Teaching

The Apostle could discern the subtle work of the old serpent in what was happening with the Corinthian assembly, “As the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety (v 3). The devil was using false apostles to draw away their affections from Christ. These men were seeking to discredit Paul’s apostleship so that the teaching he had received from the Lord would appear to have no authority. These false teachers are called deceitful workers (v 13). Like Eve, the believers were listening to the wrong voice. These false teachers were clever men, no doubt, and eloquent speakers, but they were enemies of the cross and its separating power in the lives of God’s people. Likewise we live in a day when some are trying to take away the binding authority of the apostles’ teaching by all kinds of human reasoning. The Lord Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and what the apostles wrote are the commandment of the Lord (1 Cor 14:37). Dear believers, could we raise a warning note at this junction? Let us be very careful to whom we listen. There was probably never a day when believers were so easily exposed to false teachers as today. Wrong teaching often appeals to the flesh but the consequences are dreadful. It will always produce wrong living. We thank God for written ministry, but not all so called “Christian books” are good. We suggest asking for advice from experienced brethren before buying books. Also we cannot give ear to all kinds of “Christian programs without eventually being influenced by the modern ideas of men who are not gathered unto Him outside the camp. Let us remember that liberal teaching will produce liberal thinking and liberal living.

B. Wrong Company

In 1st Corinthians 10, Paul points out an important inconsistency in the lives of some of them. By partaking of the loaf and the cup at the Lord’s supper they were expressing their fellowship with the Lord Jesus, yet during the week they made their way to the idol’s temple. No doubt they had no intention of worshiping the idols but simply wanted to enjoy a good meal at the feasts. Paul shows that such participation with idol worshipers meant that they were having fellowship with demons. It is a moral impossibility to have fellowship with the Lord on one hand and with demons on the other. What they did was an act of disloyalty to the Lord Jesus and provoked His jealousy (v 20-22). He will not share the affection of the assembly with anyone. How could this apply to us today? We must realize that the fellowship we express as an assembly when we break bread on a Lord’s day should affect the way we live the rest of the week. A believer’s need to join with the unsaved in obtaining satisfaction from sports and entertainment is as serious as what some of the Corinthians were doing. To participate with the unsaved in what is used of the devil to keep them happy without God is to be unfaithful to the One who alone is worthy of our love. It could be compared to a young woman pledging her love to her fianc one day, and the next day be found walking hand in hand with another young man. Beloved brethren and sisters, to profess loving Him is not enough; we must prove our love and devotion by the way we conduct our lives in His absence. May we all be found loyal to our heavenly Bridegroom by gladly obeying His word and not having any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.