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The Fear of Forming a Sect.
pp. 45 - 47
Some of the Lord's people who feel the need of fellowship with other fellow-members
have expressed hesitation to put their desires into operation, fearing that by so doing they
would be forming "another sect". It is well to retain a tender conscience over all our
actions, but at the same time we must not allow an unscriptural fancy to prevent us
fulfilling what may be a scriptural desire.
WHAT IS A SECT? We read in Acts 5: 17 of the sect of the Sadducees, and in
15: 5 of the sect of the Pharisees. In Acts 24: 5 we find the term the sect of the
Nazarenes. Here we have the same word used of two sects who were manifestly not of
God and also of the true Church of God. The Apostle takes up the word used by
Tertullus in 24: 5, in his defence saying:--
"But this I confess unto thee, that after the way they call heresy (same word as sect),
so worship I the God of my fathers" (Acts 24: 14).
Hairesis = sect is derived from haireomai = to chose (Phil. 1: 22; II Thess 2: 13;
Heb. 11: 25). The scriptural idea of a sect is "self choice", and is a work of the flesh
(Gal. 5: 20; I Cor. 11: 19 heresies). A company of believers seeking to manifest their
union with one another and with the risen Lord cannot be guilty of forming "another
sect" by so doing. Should unscriptural practices, leaders, or ideas be allowed, these
departures would merit the undesired title, and it is these "self choosings" we must shun.
One of the most important facts to remember in connection with any attempt to form a
meeting to-day is the condition that corporate Christianity had reached in the days of the
Apostle Paul. The second epistle to Timothy reveals a church in ruins, the foundation
alone remaining and exposed to view. Consequently the discipline that was possible
while the church was standing can no longer be put into operation. Instead of Timothy
being instructed to exercise his disciplinary powers upon others, he is urged to exercise
them upon himself. The foundation itself bears the seal:--
"Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2: 19).
The personal note is sounded in such statements as:--
"If a man therefore purge himself from these" (not purge others) (2: 21).
"From such turn away" (not turn others away) (3: 5).
Timothy is told to "shun" profane and vain babblings, to "flee" youthful lusts, to
"follow" righteousness, faith, love, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure
heart. Foolish and unlearned questions he is to avoid, knowing that they but gender
strifes (II Tim. 2:). These passages seem to indicate in a general way the mind of the
Lord as to the meeting together of His people.