Does a sister violate the truth of I Corinthians 14:34-35 when she says “Amen” audibly after a brother’s prayer?
No. We read in verse 16 of the same chapter, “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks?” Clearly, it was customary for assembly saints to say “Amen” at the close of a brother’s prayer, praise, or thanksgiving. In Nehemiah 8:6 we read, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the Great God. And all the people answered Amen, Amen.” “All” must have included the women.
When we say, “Amen,” at the close of a brother’s prayer, we express our agreement, therefore we must listen and understand what he has said. It would be good if every assembly saint were as ready to say “Amen” as New Testament saints were, but we should never use “Amen” as a political tool. The less politics we have in an assembly, the better.
Some large assembly gatherings use more than one cup. Is this scriptural or should this practice change?
The significance of the “one cup” is that it is “the communion of the blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). When we partake of it, we are professing that the one ground of our fellowship with God is the precious blood of Christ. The “one loaf” of I Corinthians 10 is the emblem of the oneness of assembly fellowship. This is the greatest chapter in the New Testament dealing with the fellowship of an assembly. Verse 17 very likely means that the “one body” is the Corinthian assembly rather than the large aspect of the Body (Eph 1:22-23). In the three Gospel records of the institution of the supper and in the two passages in Corinthians (10:16 and 11:25), it is important that “cup” is singular. Individual cups can never be construed as being a “cup of … the communion of the blood of Christ.” In Acts 2:41 and 4:4 as many as 3,000 and later 5,000 met together to break bread. I have never heard anyone explain how such a company could use only one cup in their remembrance of the Lord. “One cup” is most significant and we should maintain this principle to the best of our ability. When necessity demands that several cups are needed, we should not let this deteriorate into individual cups. It should still be “a cup of communion” or a common cup.
When can a newly baptized believer be received into the fellowship of an assembly?
Baptism and salvation are indisputably linked (Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19; Acts 8:36-38), being like twins in the apostolic doctrine. Baptism is the first expression of a genuine believer’s spiritual progress. The Spirit of God envisages only “baptized believers” in local testimony (Acts 18: 8; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Salvation, baptism, and reception are a threefold cord (Acts 2:41). In the early church era work was genuine and therefore the steps following conversion were immediate. Today, wisdom would guide shepherds to observe a definite change in new converts, then to baptize and to prepare them for the privileges and responsibilities of the assembly fellowship by instructing them in assembly truth. Local teachers should teach such truth consistently as this is vital for new believers. The Bible-class is very valuable in this respect. The newly baptized believer should manifest a teachable, submissive spirit, desiring to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ (John 2:5). This will avert a prolonged waiting for months in the room of the unlearned (I Corinthians 14:16). When the believer requests to be in the fellowship, it is imperative that answers be given within a short period. This will preserve the young believer from discouragement and frustration. Negligence in these matters is serious and can result in stunted growth. Honesty, care and courtesy are essential. Having a care one for another (1 Corinthians 12:25), “let all things be done unto edifying” (14:26).
Would assembly-sponsored summer camps be helpful?
The New Testament provides us with all the teaching God intended for the functioning and service of the local assembly. One cannot find any teaching or references to assembly-sponsored summer camps in Scripture. The primary activity in summer camps has been recreational, rather than spiritual. A number of such camps do have campfire gospel messages for the young people every evening. The campfire environment tends to have an emotional impact on young people. Unfortunately many children and teenagers, who have vacationed at church-sponsored summer camps, have made campfire professions which have turned out to be false. Such professions have often hindered them from coming to Christ until they have given up their false professions and admitted they were lost. It would be much safer and more profitable to hold daily children’s meetings or Gospel meetings for teenagers in a manner that would reach their hearts and consciences rather than their emotions. Summer camps are very common in the evangelical, denominational religious world. God warns His people both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament of the danger of copying the practices of the religious world around us. This has always resulted in a gradual drift from God’s plan for His people and eventual discipline from the hand of God.