The current trend is to "dress down" for a gospel meeting. I understand that expensive clothing is not becoming to the gospel, but how far do we go in "dressing down"?
There is a growing tendency in assembly gospel meetings to dress down so as to make any unsaved present feel more comfortable. Is this a good enough reason to dress down? In the first place most sinners in under the gospel are not too comfortable anyway, for mans heart is not naturally disposed to the gospel message. We live in a day of casual dress and this trend has come in among us in assembly gatherings. Jacketless and tieless worshippers wearing jeans is not a rare thing among us. If the gospel meeting is an assembly gathering, are we to dress down in the presence of God? Surely holiness, dignity and sobriety should mark the believer, and these characteristics of necessity be reflected in the way we dress even in the gospel meeting. Are our sisters, for example, in light of Pauls teaching about the women at Ephesus being adorned in modest apparel (1 Tim 2.9) to disregard this exhortation merely because of what the world may think? Modesty would demand that our sisters dress becomingly. It is of course possible to dress suitably and yet be proud and carnal in our hearts. It is still true that "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam 16.7).
Under law God gave specific instructions as to how Israels high priest should dress, and in the future millennial Temple God will require the new priesthood to dress in linen garments, but nowhere in the New Testament are we given any dress code to follow. One may wear clothing merely for display or to let others see how affluent we are. In such cases our motive is wrong. It is wrong to assume that the style of dress that should be worn in meetings is the one that is seen today in our western world, for in time fashions often change, and people in other countries and cultures may wear different types of clothes. A nice suit will not necessarily prove that we are sincere in our hearts to God. I would say that we should avoid being either over dressed or very casual in the gatherings of the assembly. Allow also the standards of Scripture relative to character to manifest themselves in your appearance. Try to choose clothing that best commends the gospel to the unsaved present in a gospel meeting (Phil 1.10), and make sure they are made to feel welcome.
John J Stubbs.
How do you understand 1 John 2.28 which reads, "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming"? Is there to be shame in heaven?
Verses 13-27 of 1 John 2 may be regarded as a parenthesis. Having completed his special addresses to the fathers, the young men and the little children (Gk. paidia), John now resumes his message to the whole family, "And now, little children (Gk. teknia)
". The command is to "abide in him", i.e. the Son, in the deepest possible communion, to continue in intimate fellowship with Christ.
The apostle then expresses the motivation for such continued abiding in Christ: "that if he shall be manifested (RV) we may have confidence". The "if" does not imply any doubt as to the fact, merely indifference as to the time. The Lord Jesus will be manifested to believers at the rapture - Paul speaks of "heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour" (Phil 3.20), and to the world at large at His appearing - "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (Rev 1.7).
Here in 1 John 2.28, the reference is primarily to the circumstances which will pertain at the Judgment Seat of Christ before which all believers are to be made manifest (2 Cor 5.10). The benefit of present abiding in Christ for the children of God is stated both positively and negatively. Positively, "that we may have confidence" - it tells of that freedom and boldness which will enable the believer in that day to speak with assurance and with courage.
Negatively, present abiding in Christ is enjoined that we might "not be ashamed before him at his coming". The "we" may embrace both the apostles and Johns readers. Remember that there will be losses at the Judgment Seat, "he shall suffer loss" (1 Cor 3.15). But in which ways? i) By missing a full reward: "that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward" (2 Jn v.8); ii) by another taking ones crown: "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev 3.11); iii) by regret as one sees ones work burned up: "if any mans work shall be burned" (1 Cor 3.15).
However, any such "shame" at the Judgment Seat will not be further experienced in heaven. We shall be occupied alone with Him!
David E West