A brief outline of the principal truths developed in 1 Corinthians, chapters 9 to 16.
IN the Roman epistle there is set before us the great truth of the Gospel. On coming to the epistle under consideration, the great truth of the assembly is presented to us, and the godly order that should characterise the assembly. Having first believed and appropriated the great truth of the gospel, it behoves us all to pass on into the good of the truth of the assembly and to appreciate its importance. Many to-day will summon every endeavour to propagate the gospel, and rightly so, but have not so great a zeal and concern in propagating the truth of God’s assembly. Indeed they try to sever the one from the other. The gospel is an essential part of assembly truth and testimony. To borrow the words of a contributor to these pages : “The local assembly is the only company with divine sanction to witness for God.” As regards this last statement, it is significant to see that prior to chapter 16 of the Roman Epistle, there is no reference to the assembly as such, apart from an allusion to the Body in chapter 12. 5. In chapter 16, however, there are five references to the assembly or assemblies showing, we submit, that the principles hitherto revealed in connection with the gospel should be worked out in assembly gatherings. Morally speaking therefore, it is fitting that the Roman epistle precedes the first epistle to the Corinthians.
Ere we commence with the order of chapters 9 to 16 of 1 Corinthians, it is important that we mark well chapter 1. 2, where we learn that the truths contained in this epistle are not limited to the Corinthians, as some would have us believe, but are applicable to-day to “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours”, and should operate in all such gatherings. Paul, having mentioned the relative position of man and woman in the assembly, says, “But if any man seem to be contentious. we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (Ch. 11. 16), thus plainly showing that such principles were practised in all the assemblies existing at that time. (Compare also ch. 4. 17; 7. 17 and 14. 33). We cannot therefore set aside these truths as being solely for the Corinthians.
Beginning with chapter 9, we have an interesting moral order that culminates in chapter 16. Let us observe the development of the leading truths enunciated in these chapters and the links between them
Chapter 9 - - - - THE GOSPEL
Chapter 10 - - - - THE LORD’S TABLE
Chapter 11 - - - - THE LORD’S SUPPER
Chapter 12 - - - - SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Chapter 13 - - - - DIVINE LOVE
Chapter 14 - - - - GIFTS IN EXERCISE
Chapter 15 - - - - THE RESURRECTION
Chapter 16 - - - - GIVING
Chapters 9 and 10
If in chapter 9 we have the gospel, in chapter 10 we have the Lord’s table. The gospel of chapter 9 brings us into the privilege of partaking at the Lord’s table. The expression “the Lord’s table” refers really to the fellowship of Christ’s death. The partakers are identified with this fellowship, and therefore should be true to it. It is a matter of the greatest interest that the Lord has a table here to-day which involves much privilege, but also calls for faithfulness to Him. Only those who have believed the gospel have a right and title to enjoy fellowship at the Lord’s table. Moreover we may see a further connection between these two chapters. We have the gospel in chapter 9 and reference to baptism in chapter 10. Thus putting these truths together we note that, having believed the gospel, we should pass on in our spiritual experience into the truth of baptism. This is the proper progress that becomes every genuine believer. In Acts 18. 8 we find the Spirit’s comment upon the Corinthians’ reception of the gospel and their growth therein : “Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” Scripture does not contemplate an unbaptized believer.
Chapters 10 and 11
Let us now observe the connection between these two chapters. If in chapter 10 we have, as seen already, the truth of the Lord’s table, in chapter 11 we have the truth of the Lord’s supper. There is a widespread belief that the terms “Lord’s table” and “Lord’s supper” are synonymous. When we come together to break bread it is not correct to say, as so often is the case, that we welcome a brother or sister to the Lord’s table, for our presence at the Lord’s supper should be an indication that we are enjoying fellowship at the Lord’s table. In the Lord’s supper there is the coming together for the collective remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Lord’s table is rather the fellowship with which each one is identified than the gathering together. The cup precedes the bread in chapter 10, but the order is inverted in chapter 11. Surely there is reason for this. The subject of chapter 10 is fellowship; this, of course, rests upon the basis of the blood of Christ. It should also be noted that the baptism of chapter 10 precedes the Lord’s supper of chapter 11. It is not that being baptized gives us a ticket into the privilege of remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread, or that we wish to lay down stringent rules and regulations; rather that we recognise plain godly scriptural order. It is also true, we must admit, that if we are not living in the good of, or being true to, our baptism, then we cannot fully enjoy the privileges of assembly fellowship, of which the Lord’s supper is a part.
Chapters 11 and 12
Furthermore let us note the link between these two chapters. If in chapter 11 we have the truth of remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread, in chapter 12 we have spiritual gifts. What do we learn by putting the principal contents of these chapters together? We learn that the gifts come in after the Lord’s supper. When we come to break bread we do not come to exercise our gifts, we come to remember the Lord and to worship the Father in spirit and truth. The habit of ministering the scriptures, teaching, and exhorting the saints is being practised prior to the breaking of bread in many assemblies to-day. We do not go to minister or to be ministered unto. To remember the Lord and worship the Father is not a question of gift. If this were so, to lead the saints orally in remembering the Lord would then be limited to a few brethren. How it must delight the Lord to hear perhaps a young brother stand up and worship the Father, extolling the worth of Christ, even though his diction may be faulty, and he be timid and nervous! for whilst the emblems are for the eye of God, in the volumes that they undoubtedly speak to Him, the praises of the saints are for the ear of God. Thus, putting chapters 11 and 12 together,
we see that there is room for the exercise of gifts after the breaking of bread. W. Kelly in his notes on 1 Corinthians aptly states concerning chapter 12 : “It may be well to remark here the wisdom of God in furnishing the revelation of the due object and order of the Lord’s supper, before He treats of the Spirit’s presence and operation in the assembly. The observance of that holy fast is independent, not only of the presence of elders or bishops . . . but of the display of power in the assembly.”
“Be ye not called Rabbi for One is Your Master even Christ, and all ye are brethren” Matt. 23. 3.
By Evan R. C. Reynolds, Oxford.
TODAY, when education is almost revered, more and more young Christians are receiving university education. By their industry they are awarded degrees and diplomas and the Lord may use such Christians in a special way since they obtain unique positions. Thus they may be His witnesses among certain folk who will hear the good news from no other source. However, for the conduct of educated Christians, it is necessary to emphasise some half-forgotten Scriptures which show that professional qualifications are no substitute for spiritual standing, being irrelevant in the church. A saint should not parade his secular attainments before his brethren, nor should his fellow believers regard his diplomas. The denominations in Christendom have largely been marked by a failure to recognise these truths, with the result that some of the privileges and responsibilities of believers have been limited to a clerisy which could present paper qualifications. We must beware of such a deadening situation.
We realise the importance of this truth when we find that considerable parts of the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians are devoted to it. But first let us look at the human writer of this letter. Paul, though achieving academic distinction in his unconverted days (Acts 22. 3), rejected it as worthless so as to know Christ (Phil. 3. 8). The apostle even held his worldly qualifications in contempt, despising them. Therefore, Paul’s inspired thoughts on these matters should carry much weight with us.
In the Corinthian church, believers were taking labels to themselves and dividing into parties (1 Cor. 1. 11, 12). The passages concerning the right attitude to worldly wisdom are found in parentheses in Paul’s condemnation of these tragic events (1 Cor. 1. 17—2. 14; 3. 18-21). Thus we conclude that in the Corinthian church a wrong view of the learning and science of this world was at the root of much of the havoc.
Then, as now, confusion reigned as to the distinction between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom (1 Cor. 2. 6) : the latter is only given by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Man’s wisdom, when all is said and done, is laughable in the eyes of God (1 Cor. 1. 19, 25; 3. 20).
In Gospel preaching, worldly learning even detracts from the effectiveness of the cross (1 Cor. 1. 17), and will not produce the knowledge of God in an unbeliever (1 Cor. 1. 21). When Paul himself first came to Corinth, abandoning man’s wisdom, he preached (1 Cor. 2. 2, 4). He did not brandish his scholarship (1 Cor. 2. 2, 3) ! Those who received the Gospel were not required to hold learned qualifications (1 Cor. 1. 27, 28). Of course, the same is true today, though God very graciously calls some who are ranked as wise, mighty or noble by this world (1 Cor. 1. 26). Paul gives two reasons for God’s plan to dispense with human wisdom. Firstly, it is to prevent pride in the Christian : “That no flesh should glory in His Presence” (1 Cor. 1. 29; 3. 21). Any glory which a man might have in his academic career, is transferred to our beloved Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 1. 30, 31). Secondly, God’s way transfers the basis of the Christian’s faith from the wisdom of man to the power of God (1 Cor. 2. 5).
Is there any place for scholarship in the subsequent spiritual advance of the new-born child of God? Apparently not, for Paul turns to this and clearly states that worldly wisdom is displaced by the wisdom of God which requires to be revealed to the believer (1 Cor. 2. 6-9). The teacher is qualified in the Spirit (1 Cor. 2. 13) and the listeners receive by spiritual, not natural, perception (1 Cor. 2. 14).
“Let no man deceive himself. If any among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3. 18. 19).
Having glanced at the passage in which the Holy Spirit enforces and enlarges upon this matter, we can now go on to draw together many other Scriptures on the same subject.
In the parable of the unjust steward, the Saviour made it clear that there is wisdom which is typical of the unregenerate man : “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16. 8). Paul dubs it “fleshly wisdom” (1 Cor. 1. 12). and James calls ?t “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3. 15). Since it is abundantly clear that we are to be separate from the things which characterize the worldling (John 17. 11-19), we ought not to recognise academic status among us.
It is possible that some present-day exhibition of scholarship in the church is traceable to pride. As Paul wrote, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (1 Cor. 8. 1). The Lord said that self-promotion is incompatible with belief (John 5. 44).
The parallel error is the flattery which is all too frequently accorded to the man of letters. Often in our “classless society” the learned Christian is substituted for the rich of James’ epistle. He condemned partiality (James 2. 4) and wrote, "If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors ( James. 2. 9). Instead of favouring our educated brethren, we are told, “Let love be without dissimulation” (Romans 12.9).
To take worldly wisdom as a spiritual guide can be said to have been the downfall of the human race (Gen. 3. 5, 6; Rom. 1. 22, 23). In fact, it often prevents spiritual perception : “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Lven so, Father : for so it seemed good in Thy sight” (Matt. 11. 25, 26). Although worldly wisdom may be showy (Col. 2. 23), it causes some 10 err concerning the faith (1 Tim. 6. 20, 21) and is directly opposed to the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10. 5).
Perhaps we have dwelt so long on the negative side that the powerful positive side has almost been obscured: The knowledge of God and Spiritual Wisdom. As an Old Testament definition we may take the well-known words, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom : and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Prow 9. 10). In the Newr Testament we read, “The wisdom that is from above is first (pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3. 17).
If it is so desirable, how is this wisdom to be obtained?
It is not by University examination, but by an earnest request to heaven (James 1. 5), and by saturating ourselves with the Word of God (Col. 3. 16), having, of course, taken the hrst wise step through the Scriptures of truth (2 Tim. 3. 15). A godly man will follow Paul’s example, praying that his fellowsaints will take up spiritual study (Col. 1. 9, 10). The outcome of this education is the multiplication of grace and peace (2 Peter 1. 2), a recognition of the Will of the Lord (Eph. 5. 17) and, very practically, knowing how to behave as Christians (Eph. 5. 15).
The believer’s attitude to evidences of spiritual wisdom in another, contrasts with his reaction to an intellectual display. Thus the elders in an assembly are to be honoured and esteemed (1 Thess. 5. 13; 1 Tim. 5. 17), not those with university qualifications.
On the other hand, the believer who grows in God-given wisdom is instructed how to behave. Growth in knowledge must be linked with growth in grace (2 Peter 3. 18). James wrote, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wdsdom” (James 3. 13). There is no place for pride if there is love (1 Cor. 13. 4), and if there is obedience to the Lord’s command to wash one another’s feet (John 13. 14; see also Matt. 20. 25, 26).
Let us solemnly remember that our Lord Jesus Himself when accosted by comments on His lack of formal education, could give this wonderful account of His Source of Knowledge : “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me” (John 7. 15, 16). We ought to notice that Peter and John too were classed as ignorant, but contact with Jesus is more than an education (Acts 4. 13). Still looking at our example in all the dignity of His Person, He alone claims reverential titles ( John 13. 13) and graciously receives them (John 1. 38, 49). Dare any believer share His honour?
(A letter written nearly fifty years ago recently has been reprinted.* It relates these thoughts particularly to the training of missionaries, and is commended to your attention).
*“Training” by John Southey, 1919, Reprinted, Echoes of Service 91 (March) pp. 42-43, 1962.
“Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto men. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away (Job 32. 21, 22).
Mr. Reynold’s paper is enhanced by the fact that he holds the degrees of B.Sc. and Ph.D., and is a lecturer in Oxford University (W.B.).
The setting up of a Divine Court of Justice for those charged with sin against God is never actually reasoned out in any particular Scripture; it is stated once and again as an obvious necessity. That the “God in whom we live and move and have our being” should ordain an “accounting day” is surely highly reasonable. Man endowed with powers of thought, will and conscience, and so able to take decisions in the moral realm, is in a position of responsibility not seen in lower forms of creation. When to this is added the revelation of God and His claims as found in the Holy Scriptures, and taken to the highest degree by the unfolding of His love and righteousness, in the incarnation and redemption of His Son, we see this accountability heightened tremendously and the necessity for a Judgment Bar correspondingly so. It would be wholly inconsistent with the Sovereignty and Character of the Creator to ignore either the normal needs or the moral responsibilities of His creatures.
The judgment scene of Revelation 20 must not be confused with that of Matthew 25, where the governmental dealings of the Governor of the nations (Psalm 22. 27-28) are in view. Christ at His return in glory will assemble the nations which have survived Armageddon, to decide first of all their continuance or otherwise, as nations. His division of the sheep from the goats will determine the peoples who will share the glory of His earthly reign and those who will be banished into everlasting punishment. Read again Matthew 25. 31-46. These latter will no doubt meet Christ as Judge to answer for personal liability when the thousand years have run their course. The criteria of these two judgments are so distinct! In one it is a nationalistic prejudice that condemns, while in the other it is the individual answerability, as witness the presence of “the Books” and “the Book of Life.” The locations of the Thrones are just as different, one being “the throne of His glory” on earth, the other somewhere where neither Heaven nor Earth is found (Rev. 20. 11). The distance of time, one thousand years, puts them finally into different categories.
Simplicity and brevity lend their weight to this remarkable pre-view of the final Assize and emphasise its solemnity. The Throne and its Majestic Occupant are the objects of the first vision, while the vast assemblage of the resurrected dead are seen in the second. The identity of the Judge is put beyond controversy in many Scriptures, none of them more emphatic than John 5. 22 : “The Father hath committed all judgment unto THE SON.” The Christ of the judgment halls of earth will preside over and pass sentence upon all of the fallen race who have never been born again. The issues will hang upon two important personal matters—“the works” of a lifetime, and the enrolment of a name.
Now every Bible-taught believer rejoices that he never has to meet God on the score of “his works.” Judicially these do not exist. He is fully assured that these were atoned for in the death of his Substitute and then blottd out by the absolute and undeserved pardon of a propitiated God (Heb. 10. 12, 17, 18).
“No condemnation, O my soul!
’Tis God that speaks the word.
Perfect in comeliness thou art,
In Christ thy glorious Lord.”
His works, whether “of the flesh”, “wicked”, or “dead”, were judged once and for all at the Cross and so are “remembered no more.” His works as a believer, being no longer the deeds of an “enemy” but of a child in the family, are either disciplined down here on earth, if need be, or await the testing of another Seat where his eternal destiny will not be in question (1 Cor. 11. 30-32; Romans 14. 10). At the “Bema” it will be our having glorified in service and having given pleasure to the Master’s heart, that will ensure reward and preclude loss. The judicial aspect of Revelation 20 is entirely absent from the Judgment Seat of Christ.
How different for those who have died in their sins— awful thought—and whose “works” remain in Heaven’s ledgers, ready to come down upon their hapless heads in that solemn day! The investigation of these by the eyes of Omniscience could have only one outcome—the condemnation and punishment of their authors. The absence of the condemned one’s name from “the Lamb’s Book of Life” infers an attitude of soul and an abuse of the mercy of Him Who purchased and proffers LIFE to the “whosoever will” (Rev. 21. 6).
Here at the Great White Throne there is no token of mercy nor promise to relieve the judgment scene, such as is found in Isaiah 6. 1-6 and Rev. 4. 2, 3. It is a “white” throne where purest justice prevails and where no sinner unsheltered by the blood of Christ can escape. The findings of that great Court of Justice are inexorable : “Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.”
The consecutive survey of last things given to John is concluded in chapter 21. 1-8, leaving the way clear for a special and detailed view of the Church, before this remarkable prophecy closes. In this short section we are shown that to which the outworkings of God’s all-wise purposes are converging. “And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth”, introduces that great eternal perfect state, where all that was occasioned by sin will be gone forever. The presence of our God in these new spheres of habitation will crown His gracious activities, banishing broken hearts and tear filled eyes and removing death and separation forever. One has no doubt that the millennial reign of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ was not only the prelude to, but the pattern for, the new heavens wherein righteousness shall “dwell” and not merely “reign.’
The section is wound up with a loving offer and a solemn warning. Those who accept the offer will share the blessedness of that eternal state, while those who disregard both the offer and the warning shall have their portion in the burning Lake. What a dread inheritance—to mingle there for eternity with the craven coward, the unbeliever, the filthy, the superstitious and the deceiver ! In the eternal state the Bride would seem to know no confining limits, but to have access freely to Heaven or Earth (v. 2).
TWICE does God command, “Come Out”, to the believer.
In 2 Cor. 6. 17 He requires our separation from the world in all its defiling aspects. In Rev. 18. 4 He requires our separation from Christendom’s corrupt profession. “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” (Rev. 17. 5), is none other than Christendom in its final form. Linking both these commandments is His appeal to our loyalty and devotion to Christ in Heb. 13. 13. “Go Forth” here is the same word as “Come Out", above. In each case the effect is “Unto Him”, and the cost, “Bearing His Reproach.”
WHAT IS CHRISTENDOM?
The parables of Matt. 13 show that the kingdom of God at the present time is in mystery phase, on earth, amongst men. It is called “mystery” because powerful hidden forces, both good and evil, are operating in connection with it. The King being absent, it is administered by those occupying the place of His servants (Mark 4. 11, 26-29). Man’s part in this administration produces a mixture of the false with the true; because all persons who take the place of being under the spiritual rule of the King, Christ, are regarded as comprising this outward aspect of the kingdom; it is the sphere of outward profession, whether true or false.
Hence we find the “darnel” (tares) amongst the wheat; the unclean birds lodging in the mustard tree, grown to unnatural dimensions; the insidious leaven permeating the meal; the bad fish amongst the good. Christendom is the whole set-up of outward profession which Romanism and Protestanism present to the world. But distinct from this are those who form the true witness of Christianity. It is this present-day Christendom which finally develops into “Mystery, Babylon the Great”, and from which God to-day expects every true believer to be completely separated.
“BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN”, Rev. 14.8; 18.2.
The purpose of God for His true Church is that it might be “a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2. 22).
But the time is fast ripening when Christendom’s divisions will amalgamate into one great ecclesiastical system to “become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18. 2). This is Babylon, the symbol of apostate Christendom in its final form. Its full development awaits the Lord’s coming for His own. But note, “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thess. 2. 7), and signs of such working are plain in the religious-political movements of to-day. Herself “the great whore”, and “the mother of harlots”, Babylon has even to-day many daughters in her image. This then is Babylon’s fall. God exposes her degrading, spiritual fall before her actual fall in judgment occurs. Could there be a greater fall than for that which once professed to form part of the bride of the true Christ, to become the harlot of Antichrist! God points this out to us, and calls upon every true believer to recognise it. If we fail to discern Babylon as already “fallen”, we are likely to be influenced by what Babylon is represented by to-day. Achan did not see Jericho as “fallen”, nor concur with God’s judgment of her, and was found with a “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7. 20-21). Ananias and Sapphira tried to bring into the assembly the Babylonish garments of false glory and counterfeit devotion (Acts 5. 1-10). Both distances brought defilement, and the judgment of God. The elements of Babylon may not be far from any one of us. To judge them is to be delivered from them.
"HER SINS HAVE REACHED UNTO HEAVEN,” Rev. 18. 5.
“The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” Movements for the formation of religious Babylon are already operating. Liaison between Romanism and Protestantism is an established fact. Denominations are joining up. The majority are sitting together in a “World Council of Churches.” Soon only one great religious Organisation will remain. Babylonish in character, the divisions of Christendom will become Babylon in fact. It should exercise many hearts to-day to consider to what extent various “evangelical movements”, involving compromise of the truth and co-operation with unscriptural bodies, are assisting in the formation of this coming great unified religious system. How serious for a believer to be found promoting something which God exposes as “fallen”, which He holds in the utmost abhorrence, which He regards with unparalleled indignation, and which
He will destroy with terrible judgment (Rev. 14. 8; 16. 19; 17. 16-18; 18. 1-8; 19. 1-13)!
“BE NOT PARTAKER OF HER SINS”, Rev. 18. 4.
“Come out of her, My people”, is God’s present command, just as much as it will be in the future, because all believers will be taken when the Lord comes, and no God-recognised assemblies (churches) will remain. How many to-day linger on in unscriptural associations; associations which will soon merge into Babylon! Perhaps there are family, social or business reasons; or they feel that their presence will halt the corruption, not realising that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”; that the woman has already hidden the leaven in the meal and the leavening of the whole is inevitable (Matt. 13. 33). How can a believer either maintain or improve what is not of God? God’s only message to such is to “come out.”
“BE YE SEPARATE . . . TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING”, 2 Cor. 6. 17.
It is sad that there are many to-day who, while professing that their rightful place is “without the camp, bearing His reproach”, in works deny their profession. They co-operate to some degree with one or other of Christendom’s divisions. But what they are helping to build up “is fallen”, God says, and doomed to judgment. Obviously, Babylon “is fallen” before her actual judgment, because once judged and destroyed there will be nothing left from which to come out. Thus are we called upon to judge and avoid now all that Babylon represents.
“YE THAT LOVE THE LORD, HATE EVIL”, Ps. 97. 10.
The issue then is plain. We are either building according to the principles of “the New Jerusalem”, or the principles of the old Babylon. The future Babylon and her present daughters are characterised by moral and spiritual features identical with Babylon of old, which God threw down. What have His people to-day to do with rebuilding Babylon, or furnishing material for it, Satan’s great religious edifice? From heaven’s viewpoint we shall see her pomp and splendour vanish; her ornate architecture blasted into ruins; her fascinating music forever silenced; her elaborate ceremony and imposing ritual come to nought—and in their place, “her smoke rose up for ever and ever” (Rev. 19. 3). We shall see Babylon’s actual, literal fall then; but God’s present call is to see her “fallen” now, and to act accordingly.
we read the pages of the New Testament we find that the early Christians gathered together for seven different purposes. Sometimes one meeting may well have served two or more of these. Let us note them in turn :
Prayer (Acts 4. 31). It is the responsibility of the men to lead in prayer in the assembly (1 Tim. 2. 1-8). This passage also contains many subjects which are suitable for public prayer. Brethren praying in public should remember
to use the plural first personal pronoun, “we”, not “I”, as the one praying is acting as the representative of the assembly.
to be audible. If the other believers cannot hear the prayer, how can they say “Amen” to it? (1 Cor. 14. 16).
to be brief. Note the example of Acts 4. 24-30 and the precept of Eccles. 5. 2.
Teaching (Acts 11. 26). The Apostles' doctrine is still of first importance. Brethren with the gift of teaching the Word of God must carry out this ministry (Rom. 12. 7). They should be careful to seek to teach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20. 27) and not to concentrate on only a few subjects.
Hearing Reports of the Lord’s Work (Acts 14. 27). Those serving the Lord should be given opportunity to tell of the work that God is doing through them, so that the believers can more intelligently have fellowship with them (2 Thess. 3. 1 ; Phil. 4. 15).
Reading the Scriptures (Acts 15. 30). The epistle referred to is part of the Word of God. The public reading of the Scriptures is also referred to in 1 Tim. 4. 13 and Rev. 1. 3. It is vitally important in a church where some of the members are illiterate.
Breaking of Bread (Acts 20. 7). Each Lord’s Day the Lord’s people should meet to partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11. 20), and should seek to be prepared in heart to worthily partake.
Oversight (Acts 15. 6). The elders of the assembly should meet together as often as needed to discuss and pray about matters concerning the spiritual well-being of the assembly.
Discipline (1 Cor. 5. 4). When open sin occurs in the assembly, a solemn gathering to put the erring believer out of fellowship must be convened. At this meeting the nature of the sin must be stated, the believers exhorted to fully endorse the action taken, and prayer should be made for the speedy restoration of the sinning brother or sister to the assembly.
Scripture plainly indicates that it is the responsibility of the men in the Assembly to preach (1 Cor. 14. 26), and to pray (1 Tim. 2. 8), while the women are to be silent (1 Cor. 14. 34) and in subjection (1 Tim. 2. 11). This does not mean that there is no place for women in Christian service, but it does mean that it is not a place of prominence in church meetings.
It will be noted that no mention has been made of a Gospel Meeting. In the next chapter we will deal with this subject as we consider the witness of the local church to those around about it.