Today some say that it is not necessary to do these types of things, to which I answer that it was not necessary then either. They did these things not out of any identifiable command, but as they felt compelled to, to aid and assist one another as much as they could with the means they had collectively at hand.
If churches had continued to follow the patterns given and as new congregations were established and each maintained the central premise of adhering to the teaching of the apostles’ doctrine, and if that had been closely followed and not debated as to its worth, and had they continued to maintain the pattern of good works given all churches, then all of these congregations would still be flying the flag of Christian union as far as the Christian faith has extended. But you know that is not and has not been the case.
If we are to seek unity today we must start with what we have and using that, set up one congregation that is united within its own. Does anyone reading this know of such an assembly? Do you know where it is located? Would you not be willing to travel many miles to meet with such a number? Even if it was only a small group, if it could be said that they were complete in knowledge and application of the word of God and striving to be all that they could to God, to Christ and to one another; where it could be said, “they were of one heart” and no one says anything he has is his own —would you not cross the county or the state just to locate them?
I am not distaining the work of those Christians whose assemblies come near this mark, for there surely are some. But until we have such churches on common ground and in every common place — how could we possibly have Christian union?
You and I both know that if we could bring together all of the so-called conservative congregations and have what would amount to a church convention that you would not have Christian union (do not get me wrong, I am not encouraging such things). You would have an amalgam of teaching and ideas, with some agreement, and some discord. You would get some argument, some head butting, a good fight here and there, and more than a few differences of opinion over the word of God and on the interpretations of things. Guess what? You would have precisely what you have in the religious world today and in churches right now. Nothing would be changed.
You know that some people look in the wrong direction for a restoration of the unity and the spirit that once for a time existed. It does not exist in some imaginary assembly of the future, where compromise and emotion set tones and trends. Nor is it in some church of long ago in days gone by and mostly forgotten. It is only found in the here and now.
Union must begin and end with the local congregation. What begins with a local assembly begins with each individual member. When a single-mindedness of purpose exists between all as they are guided by the word of God, that then becomes the will of the congregation. When one congregation becomes united in rightly dividing the word of God and in its purpose and duty under the authority of Christ — then you have the right starting point and the same start that the apostles made in the church at Jerusalem. With that accomplished, then another congregation needs to step up to the plate and set about doing the same things, following the same patterns, and doing the things with the same spirit, and then another and another, and so on and so forth. They would be united with one another and within themselves in the Lord, and the model would grow and promote itself exactly in what we are talking about, in Christian union. Well, if it is so simple, then what hinders us from setting to work right now?