The question of arranging speakers for annual conferences has become a controversial issue amongst us. Could you give us some help as to what the Word of God teaches? Would 1st Corinthians 14 have any bearing upon the subject?
Your brother in Christ,
Dear Brother G. R.,
The question of arranging or not arranging speakers for annual conferences is the responsibility of each assembly alone. As the Holy Scriptures are silent on legislating for these occasions, each assembly must act before the Lord for the best interests of the saints.
There are two types of what may be called “closed ptatforms” represented among us. In the one, the assembly invites men whom they know to be gifts from the Risen Head of the Church to minister for the edification of the people of God. In the other, it is intimated that a certain type of preacher, described by a somewhat ambiguous term will be welcome. All other brethren, no matter how gifted or Godly, are refused the platform.
It is not unscriptural, and no principle is infringed when speakers are arranged to bear the responsibility of ministry at a Christian conference. Each assembly has its own special events as well as its own local functions. No one thinks it is contrary to Scriptures in arranging teachers for the Sunday School, Evangelists for the gospel service each week, or one or two brethren to conduct a series of meetings. Why should it be thought unscriptural for some assemblies to arrange for a number of gifted men to come for two or three days of ministry?
You mention the order of 1st. Corinthians 14; this is a description of a local assembly met in church capacity where the local gifts function before the Lord. If this applies to a special event such as a conference as some contend, then any local brother has the same right and liberty to act irrespective of the presence of other visiting gifts; in fact, there would be no necessity for the presence of visitors at all. It may be that assemblies do possess men of outstanding ability who follow a secular profession. Nevertheless, there are men who by divine calling and approval are distinguished as gifts to the Body as well as to the local assembly (Eph. 4:11-13). God has His universal gifts as well as His local gifts. He has fitted men for countrywide evangelism, others for the exhortation of the saints in general, and still others for the proper unfolding of the teaching of the Word of God in a larger sphere. It is the failure to distinguish between things that differ that confuses the saints, and creates irritation among them.
From the very beginning of the assembly movement, many of the Lord’s people who gather in His name alone never have considered it contrary to divine principles to arrange speakers for a conference. Why then should brethren be harassed by the cry of “Departure, departure?” The procedure of arranging conference speakers has been the practice all over the world for over 130 years, and subscribed to by the most godly and intelligent men among us.
This reply is longer than I intended, but in the next issue, we should like to quote the opinion of Mr. J. N. Darby who was one of the great pioneers in the recovery of divine truth.
Yours in the Lord,
A recommendation in these book reviews does not necessarily endorse every work written by the authors cited, nor does it necessarily confirm all that is advanced in the books under survey. Bible students must learn to prove all things and to hold fast that which is good. All human authors are finite, and only can be followed as they strictly adhere to the Holy Scriptures. We recommend only such books as are considered, in spite of natural limitations, profitable to Christian life, development, and testimony.
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Such matters as the national and individual salvation of the Jew, the believers’ sins at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the restoration of animal sacrifices during the Millennium are investigated, and helpful solutions are offered.
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