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The Pilgrim Church: The whole church cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place

Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in books, fellowship, unity | 3 comments

The Pilgrim Church: The whole church cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place

Yesterday, in a comment on another post, Chuck from “Being Filled” mentioned a book that I had not heard of before but which is available free online: The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent.

The book has the following subtitle: “Being some account of the continuance through succeeding centuries of churches practising the principles taught and exemplified in the New Testament.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read much of this book, but I did read a page or two. And, at the very beginning (the third and fourth paragraph), I read this:

As this body, the whole Church of Christ, cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place, since many of its members are already with Christ and others scattered throughout the world, it is appointed to be actually known and to bear its testimony in the form of churches of God in various places and at different times. Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His Name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members (Matt. 18.20; 1 Cor. 12.7).

Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord, draws its authority from Him and is responsible to Him (Rev. 2 and 3). There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organised union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them (Acts 15.36).

Like I said, I haven’t read much more than this in the book, but I have an idea that this quote tells us quite a bit about the focus of Broadbent’s book (the lack of “organized union of churches” for example). So far, I like his foci:

  1. Believers that are scattered around the world.
  2. All disciples of Jesus Christ in one area united together.
  3. Each church under the authority of Jesus Christ alone.
  4. A church connected to one another through fellowship and relationships.

Of these various concepts, I only see the first one actively displayed today. We recognize generally that believers are scattered around the world. But, we rarely see all disciples in one are united together, acting under the authority of Jesus Christ alone, and connected to one another through fellowship and relationship.

In fact, while we recognize believers scattered around the world today, we typically accept that we are also scattered locally as well. And, for the most part, we’re happy with that.

You see, when Broadbent writes, “[T]he whole Church of Christ cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place,” he means that we are scattered around the world. But, today, we would have to say that “the whole Church of Christ cannot be seen and connection act in any one place” – in any one location – because we are divided from one another and refuse to unite in the Spirit of God.

It makes me wonder… whatever divides me from brothers and sisters in Christ is something that I’m submitting to instead of submitting to God.


3 Comments

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  1. 9-25-2012

    Indeed, Alan, we must always be sure that our submission is to God.

    And I think I need to go through this book again soon. It really is good!

  2. 9-25-2012

    “In fact, while we recognize believers scattered around the world today, we typically accept that we are also scattered locally as well. And, for the most part, we’re happy with that.”

    Bingo. Not only do we accept it, we celebrate it. It seems that the closer other Christians are to us geographically, the less we seem concerned about being divided from them. Perhaps if we stopped seeing each other as competitors for resources we could start to see each other as partners in a common mission.

  3. 9-25-2012

    Chuck,

    Thanks for telling us about the book!

    Arthur,

    Competition for resources is part of the issue especially for those with similar beliefs. However, the source of our unity (or lack of unity) is also a huge problem, I think.

    -Alan