Jack Carroll - Special Gatherings - California - 1951

I am going to talk to you about some things that might help during the year, in connection with the coming together on the first day of the week. In O. T. days there were regular meetings of God's people and there were also many special gatherings. The regular gatherings, as we know, were the annual feasts, the feasts of the Passover, Feast of Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. The people of God came from the north, south; east and west traveled many miles to reach Jerusalem to keep these feasts. The Children of Israel were expected to keep these feasts, the purpose of which was mainly to unite the widely scattered people of God in one Fellowship.

There were also many special gatherings mentioned in the O. T. There are regular gatherings of God's people mentioned in the N. T. and also special gatherings. This Convention is a special gathering of God's people and we are very grateful to those of our friends throughout the world who are willing to place their homes and property at our disposal so that God's people can spend four days away from home reasonably comfortable and enjoy fellowship with others and with God as His word is spoken.

I don't want to speak about these special gatherings today, but about the regular gatherings of God's people that all of you are more intimately associated with. You've often heard that there are two fundamentals of the "faith of Jesus" from which we dare not depart. The first is "The preacher without a home" and the second, "The Church in the home." No preacher in our fellowship can have a home of his own. He must be willing to have fellowship with Jesus in His homelessness.

One of the first conditions those who think of entering the ministry must face is willingness to have fellowship with Jesus, the homeless Son of man, Son of God. He Himself said, "Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." There are men and women in this meeting who have voluntarily made themselves homeless for the Gospel, in order that they might have fellowship with Jesus in His homelessness as the pattern Sent One, the pattern Servant. This is the first of these two fundamentals of the "faith of Jesus - "the preacher without a home."

The second fundamental is "the church in the home" and only in the home. We value very highly all in this state and other states, who are willing to have fellowship with their brethren in using their homes as the early Christians did in N. T. days, in welcoming each first day of the week little groups who gather together to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We make no secret of the fact that we are deliberately and purpose fully teaching men and women in the world over how to do without the hireling ministry, and the public building and to worship God in spirit and in truth as those early Christians did in homes consecrated to God, as recorded in the N. T.

When in Rome some years ago, we planned to visit one of the oldest churches in the city. We found that the present structure was 16' below the level of the street. The foundation of the church was built on the foundation of another church still older, and that second church was built on the foundation of a private home. When we entered this home, which had been excavated, the floor of one of the rooms had been preserved marvelously. The Franciscan priest that was our guide told us that away back in the first N. T. days the church met for worship in this home. He said, "This home is supposed to be the home of Pudens, whom we read about in II Timonthy 4:21." The point I wish to make known is that this Catholic priest told us that in this home believed to be the home of Pudens, the early church met for worship in the room that we were standing in. From there we went to St. Peter, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world. We went into several of its chapels, looked into the crypt where Peter is supposed to be buried, went up into the dome, and from the dome we went right up into the cupola from which we could look over the whole city. One of our company remarked that every step taken from that home 50' below the level of the street to give the world St. Peters was in the wrong direction and only tended to blind the eyes of men and women to the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We glory in this fact that God has opened our eyes, and made clear to our minds that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth, without priest, parson or church building, without the religious ritualisms which is considered so necessary by all the daughters of Babylon. For this reason it is true to us as it was to those first Christians that 'after the way that they call heresy, so we worship.'

You may wonder why we insist upon this, that the early Christians met in small groups and worshipped in homes only, and in these consecrated homes had fellowship with Him and their brethren. We all have heard quite often that there is a close connection between the O. T. Passover feast and the N. T. Breaking of bread. It would be a helpful study to read the 12th chapter of Exodus, Luke 22, and other portions of scripture concerning the "breaking of bread," and have this fact firmly established in our minds, that there is this close connection between the first Passover Feast and the first N. T. breaking of bread.

Some years ago, in the city of Vancouver, the Church of England put on a Palestine Exhibition to raise money for their missionaries. It was very interesting and in some ways very instructive. I attended a lecture on the Passover and listened to the speaker explain very clearly and scripturally how the Passover feast was established and what it signified. After the lecture he asked some to come forward and ask any questions in connection with the Passover Feast. I asked if the Passover Feast was established in the homes of the Children of Israel and never celebrated anywhere else? He replied, "That is true, and even to this day the Jews keep the Passover Feast not in their temples nor in their synagogues but in their homes." I asked him then, "What is the connection between the O. T. Passover and the N. T. Breaking of Bread? The N. T. Breaking of Bread is the perpetuation of the O. T. Passover Feast." He said, "In a private home in Jerusalem, later they 'Broke Bread from house to house.'"  "When did they cease to Break Bread from house to house?" I asked. "I cannot tell you neither can I justify the church in taking the communion service out of the homes of the people of God and placing it in the hands of the priest in a public building." I then asked, "Would it not be a good thing to take the Breaking of Bread to the place where Jesus established it?" He replied, "It would be revolutionary, it would turn the world upside down!" and hurried away. To take the Breaking of Bread out of the hands of the hireling preacher, priest, or parson out of the church building into the homes of the people of God, and place the responsibility of providing and distributing the emblem in the hands of common ordinary working men would revolutionize Christendom.

There are those who don't value the privilege of meeting together on the first day of the week to Break Bread in a home consecrated to God. The reason is they don't clearly understand its meaning and significance. When you leave your home on the Lord's day to go to the home of another to keep the Feast, this memorial, you are not only obeying the scriptures, but you are registering a protest against every false system of religion that has blinded the eyes of men and women through all the ages to the glorious Gospel of Christ. All should make themselves acquainted with the scriptures that refer to the Church in the home, and only in the home. One of our brothers expressed his disappointment that so many of God's people were unable to give a simple, clear reason of the hope that is in them. When a stranger asks questions, he is not able to give an answer that satisfies the minds and hearts of those who may be seeking for the Truth.

Read over Exodus 12, and notice the different statements that are made about the Passover Feast, and try to establish in your mind a parallel between what you read in this chapter, and so many chapters in the N. T. about the Breaking of Bread. The First day of the week is to the Child of God the most important. Jewish people and Seventh Day Advents keep the seventh day. God's people keep the first day of the week, they begin the week with God. We are glad that on the first day of the week God's children have the privilege of Beginning the week with God and of seeking to live in such a way that He will honor them in their homes and in their business lives. We believe that the spiritual health of the people of God, to a very great extent, depends on how they spend the Lord's Day. Some have wrecked their health rushing here and there to places not necessary and certainly not profitable. If you are anxious to spend a day in the way that will please Him, you will find ways and means that day to bring honor and glory to His name - not for your pleasure but for His pleasure.

We are living in a strange age, everybody is in a hurry. How good it would be if God's people would set aside some hours of the Lord's day for quiet reading and meditating. It would be a help mentally, physically and spiritually. One of the reasons people are as nervous is because they have not learned the value of waiting patiently and quietly on the first day of the week, to get the rest of mind, body and spirit that will warm their hearts and illuminate their minds, and fit them better for the conflict in the days that follow. I have often heard workers speak of feeding the heart of God. We can bring great pleasure to the heart of God by the way we spend the Lord's day. If we are purposeful in this we will be able to fight a better battle, and get more victory within and without on the other days of the week. We can safely leave the matter with God's own people as they seek to spend the Lord's day in helping others, visiting others, or trying to relieve the need of others.

Don't let your sacrifice be limited to those inside God's family, but allow an overflow to reach out to those on the outside who are needy. When you minister to those in need do so in the spirit of not "letting your left hand know what your right hand doeth." The regular meeting on the first day of the week is very important. It is a double appointment. First of all with our Master and Lord; second with our brethren. None should permit anything, unless it is very serious, to hinder them from keeping this double appointment on "the first day of the week." Don't come too early and don't come too late. Try to arrive on time and take you seat, quietly meditating until the time to begin. Every meeting consists of four parts and each is very important. There is singing, praying, speaking and Breaking of Bread.

I have been to meetings in many different lands, and the same plan - singing, praying, speaking and Breaking of Bread - is followed. Everything in connection with the way of Christ is simple - all can understand it, even the youngest can lay hold on this. The singing part of the meeting is important. Unfortunately I can't sing. One of the brethren sympathized with me in this and undertook to give me singing lessons. He gave me one lesson and never offered to give me another without any explanation. I learned later that my voice isn't baritone but monotone, whatever that means. It isn't the music that makes singing important or helpful, but making the words we sing the language of our hearts. A number of the hymns are written by brethren. They have written these Hymns to help us express our desires, prayers, praises in song. Singing can only be helpful when we sing "in the spirit and with understanding also."              

The second part of the meeting is taken up with prayer. What shall I say about this? We have appreciated that here in convention that the prayers have been brief. Sometimes just one or two petitions from the hearts of those who prayed. The place for long prayers is in the secret place. It would be sad if God's people prayed longer in the meeting place than in the secret place. When we come together in the meeting place we are to pray to edification. Pray so others can join in your petitions and say a hearty "Amen." I have said that if I attended some meetings for six weeks, I would be able to memorize most of the prayers. I would hear the same prayers week in and week out - a matter of repetition. It would be far more helpful to be brief in prayer, so that the youngest babe might feel free to voice his or her petitions in true prayer on the Lord's Day. Nothing so helpful as when the Lord's people come together on the Lord's Day- the first day of the week, with some fresh prayer in their heart, some fresh petition to which they gave expression audibly so that the brethren can share with them in their desires.  We are not voicing any criticism, we value every voice we've heard praying for God's blessing in the meetings here and in this you are having real fellowship with us. All prayers, audible and inaudible, can be of help in the meetings.

The third part of the meeting is taken up with testimonies. There are three ways which the Lord speaks to His people. First the Lord speaks to His people by His voice in their hearts. It is possible for us each day to hear His still small voice. Second, He loves to speak by His word as they read it. The real value of God's word is they read it not to learn geography, biography or history, but to have our hearts fed as we hear His voice through His word. No child of God can be healthy that habitually neglects reading the word of God. Third - God loves to speak to His people through His people. This is the real value of a fellowship meeting on the first day of the week. God takes great pleasure in speaking to His people through His people.

I sat in some little fellowship meetings with twelve or fifteen brethren, and listened to what the Lord had been teaching them during the week, and have been amazed at how much spiritual food was placed upon the table as each one rose - one after the other - and gave expression to the thoughts the Lord had put in their hearts. What a poor substitute is this in going out to a public building and listening to a hired preacher. We are most anxious that the meeting on the Lord's day should be most helpful to one and all, each brother and sister should feel free to take part in prayer and testimony. It isn't wise and certainly not edifying, for someone to take a chapter and comment on every verse. Far more helpful to select a few verses that have spoken definitely to your heart, and pass these verses on kindly and graciously with comments to your brethren.

It is hurtful to a meeting (to the spirit of a meeting) to preach to, or at, a brother or sister. On one occasion a brother did not take part in a meeting and was asked, "Why didn't you speak today," the brother answered, "The man I had my testimony for wasn't there." That man came prepared to preach at his brother in that meeting, to take advantage of the liberty that is ours in Christ and knowingly sin so grievously.

There was in North Ireland a man professing who was not behaving too well and a great source of worry to his brethren. He stayed away from meetings for some time and his absence was a relief to all. One Sunday meeting he returned and was not very welcome, but was first on his feet and said, "He that is without sin amongst you let him cast the first stone." All their ammunition was taken away and they did not know how to continue the meeting. You know when we come to the meeting on the Lord's day, we are in the Lord's presence and should avoid any attitude or speak any words that would "grieve the Holy Spirit of God wherewith we have been sealed unto the Day of Redemption."

I have been surprised how much can be said in three or five minutes or less. One of President Wilson's sons was asked how much time it would take to prepare a 20 minute address? "Two weeks hard work and study." How long would it take to prepare a 30 minute address? "One week." How long would it take to prepare a 60 minute address?" He answered, "I’m ready right now." It takes more prayer and meditation to prepare a short helpful word than to give a long testimony. If we learn to be brief and to the point, we will find we will be more helpful in the church.

President Roosevelt's son asked his father on one occasion how to become a successful public speaker. The father answered, "It is very simple - just be clear, be brief, be seated." Don't try the patience of your brethren by a long discourse, or taking a long chapter, commenting on every verse, or by recounting conversations with friends or neighbors. This is not profitable. Give expression to some thought that the Lord has given to you as you read His word that has given you the desire to do His will, this will edify and encourage. There are some converts who hesitate taking part because they can't speak as long as those who are older. We would encourage those who are older to consider those who are younger.

The fourth part of the meeting is the Breaking of Bread. I sometimes feel that this fourth part of the meeting is not valued as much as it should be. To some it has become a form, a meaningless form. It was never intended to be that. The main purpose for coming together, according to the teaching of the N. T. on the first day of the week was, to Break Bread and thus to express their fellowship with Him and each other in the family of God. The first disciples of Jesus came together on the first day of the week to Break Bread "To perpetuate that Old Testament feast - the Passover Feast, which was a memorial of the Children of Israel."

Those in Christ keep a memorial of their redemption on the first day of the week in the Breaking of Bread. It is a wonderful privilege to partake of these emblems that cost so much. Everything in the way of Jesus is simple; simplicity characterizes everything in connection with the service and worship of God, just a little piece of Bread and some Wine. The Bread speaks of His broken body and the Wine speaks of His blood shed for us. We are reminded that that blood was shed for the remission of sins.

A man came to me up north and said, "It's not the sins I committed before I professed that trouble me, it's the sins I've committed since I professed." Therein is one of the real values of our coming together on the First Day of the Week. For we are reminded that sins confessed and put away can be forgiven and the blood speaks to us of the remission of sins. John says, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. These things write I unto you that you sin not. If any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world."

Some think that it makes no difference if we sin, but John said, "Sin not." When any of you have no sins to confess, no sins to be forgiven, then you can set aside the cup which reminds us of His "Blood which was shed for the remission of sins." When we partake of these emblems it reminds us of His love for us, and when we pass these emblems on to one another we express our love for one another; as well we, above all, express our love and appreciation for Him.

After briefly giving thanks by brother or sister, the Elder takes the Bread and later the Wine to the one nearest him. The seating should be so arranged that when it comes for the time of the fourth part of the meeting it is easy for the leader to reach for the Bread and Wine and pass it to whoever is nearest. The leader is not supposed to take these emblems to each one individually. These emblems should be passed one to another and so on until they came back to the leader of the meeting.

Each individual is responsible for partaking or not partaking. It isn't right for the leader or any other person to set himself up as a judge who should partake or not to do so. Some occasionally come to meetings who are not of this fellowship. We leave it entirely with themselves whether they partake or not. When the emblems are passed around and they partake or not, that is their responsibility and no offense is given.

Some have the habit of speaking against other religious groups in the fellowship meetings especially when strangers are present. That is most unwise, just forget about them being there, and as they listen to you speak to edification they may leave saying, "God is with these people." We want to manifest to all, the love and grace of God. Strangers who come to Sunday morning meeting should be treated with greatest courtesy and encouraged to come back.

We are sorry to learn that some have formed the habit of not taking part on the first day of the week. We would like all to take part. We seek to arrange the number in each meeting place so that within a reasonable time all present will have time and opportunity for a word of prayer and a word of testimony. The reason some don't take part is because they feel they can't speak as long or as well as some older. A short word of edification from those who are older would encourage them.

Prolonged pauses between the testimonies spoil meetings. Mid-week meetings: we have been greatly pleased that weekly evening meetings are a great help to God's people in the studying of certain chapters and Bible characters. We would like to think that all of you value the privilege of attending the mid-week meetings. We feel that surely God's people can deny themselves a little so that they can attend these meetings, and take part and be a help to others.