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ACTS I. 26.

“AND they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias.”

A lot in the land of Canaan was that portion or plot of ground which fell to the tribes of Israel by measure and assignment. The portion assigned was the inheritance of the tribes by name and allotment. The head of the tribes represented their inheritance. The will and purpose of each head in the commonwealth of Israel was determined by the use of the lot which represented their franchise of citizenship in the land, being sons and daughters of Jacob, who was Israel. Thus the children of Jacob possessed a natural franchise in the kingdom of Israel.

The word “lot,” as employed in the Hebrew Scriptures, represents an inheritance in the land by birth and circumcision. This determined, we proceed to examine the word “lot” in the choice of one to be a witness with the apostles of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The lot as here employed then represents a franchise of sons and daughters in the kingdom of Christ in visible manifestation and organization in the world. The history by Luke narrates, And there were together in the room about an hundred and twenty. These were together in unity of the spirit, but not yet in organic and visible unity as a church, in order of business, but were tarrying in Jerusalem, awaiting the promise of the Father, which was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, by which baptism the apostles were to be endued with power from on high to go into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them.

But preparatory for this grand spread of the gospel among the Gentiles, Peter rose up and said unto the small number assembled together in the name of Jesus Christ in the room, Of these who have companied with us from the baptism which John preached must one be chosen to be a witness with us of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This speech of Peter brings out the official announcement that the quorum of the apostles must be filled up to the number of twelve witnesses. Wherefore the congregation set two candidates before the apostles, resulting in no choice, as only one was required to fill the place vacated by the fall of Judas. This brings prominently to view God’s way of showing his will and choice in the assemblies of the saints through the lot of the people of the Lord when together in one place in unity of the Spirit and the bonds of peace. Here in this example we find the initial step, and an apostolic precedent, in the manner and form of all church government to be followed by the churches in after times, the members voting in their inheritance or allotment as the children of the mighty God of Jacob, by faith in Jesus Christ, and joint-heirs with him, being born of God. When this right of franchise shall be destroyed the children of the house of God will be brought into bondage, and the commonwealth of Israel be destroyed, and the city new Jerusalem razed from the foundation of prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief Corner-stone (if this were possible).

As the mutual relations of the tribes and their separate interests needed adjustment, the great council at Jerusalem was called into requisition; so when the mutual relations and interests of the local churches are to be determined and regulated, appeal is had to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, as the foundation of the ministry in the spirit, with Jesus Christ as the chief Corner-stone in the same ministry, in proclaiming the gospel under the great commission in all the world, teaching and commanding to observe all things commanded them by Jesus Christ, the head and foundation of the whole church, which is the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The church, therefore, with the ballot in hand, is the highest ecclesiastical authority on earth, subject only to the Lord Jesus Christ and the commandments of the apostles in their writings. The visible and organic union of the churches can be maintained by a strict adherence to the apostolical Scriptures in the New Testament as standard authority in all the churches in mutual recognition of the whole body of churches, each in local assembly only. No councils are needed to settle general fellowship, which can be done at home by the simple rule of James v.: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” This being done in the spirit of the commandment, peace, fellowship and union will reign harmoniously, and God will trample Satan under their feet shortly, and they shall be sons and daughters of God Almighty, and manifestly declared to be the epistles of Christ ministered in the spirit by the apostles, though dead, yet speaking in their words on record. When every church shall have obeyed the word of the Lord by the apostles, the witnesses of Jesus, their mutual relations will be peaceable and their union dear; then it shall come to pass “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.”

As individuals deal with individuals, churches should deal with churches in local and visible organic union, each on terms of a common equality. Let none be puffed up one against another. The custom or habit of sending communications abroad unofficially by individuals of local churches, spreading their complaints abroad, is a pernicious practice, and the offenders should be dealt with by their churches as disturbers of the peace of the brethren, and all churches who permit their members to do this are partakers in their evil deeds. It is wrong. Paul writes to the Gentiles, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.” “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” All other building is on the sand. No expression of opinion, testimony or council of members should have any weight in other churches without the seal of authority by the churches to which they respectively belong, signed by the moderator and clerk; all testimonies without such seal should be treated as rumor, and the talebearers held accountable to the church to which they belong. This precaution would save much confusion in the exercise of discipline.

I. N. NEWKIRK.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 74, No. 2
January 15, 1906