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Those from another locality who come with a letter of recommendation should be received by us. But we have to know from where the letter of recommendation came. If it is a letter of recommendation from the denominations, we will not know whether he is clear about the truth and whether he is saved. Hence, those who are recommended by places that we do not know cannot be received by us based on a letter. But if it is a letter written by an assembly such as the one in Hangchow, we can trust in such a recommendation and receive the recommended person. We should trust that what Hangchow does is the same as what we do.
Those Recommended bythe Testimony of Two or Three
If two or three brothers testify for and recommend a certain brother to the bread-breaking meeting, we can receive this one. There is a problem among us today of how to receive transient visitors. They pass by us on their way to other places and intend to break bread only once with us. This is difficult to handle. There are also members of some denominations who break bread with us but return to the denominations to break bread there. This is also difficult to handle. In my opinion, it is best to have two or three brothers talk with these ones immediately to check whether they are saved and then decide whether we will receive them for the bread. We cannot ask these people to wait until the next week before we answer them. They are not like those who intend to have long-term fellowship with us, whom we can ask to wait a little.
Three Kinds of Letters of Recommendation
The letters of recommendation which we send out should be of three kinds: (1) those that recommend a brother as one who has not left the denominations yet; (2) those that recommend a brother as one who is standing on the ground of the church; and (3) those that recommend a brother as one who has some gifts.
A Few Things One Should Knowin Recommending Someone to Break Bread
(1) We should ask whether such a one is saved or not. (2) We should know whether he commits the sins worthy of excommunication as recorded in 1 Corinthians 5. (3) We should show him that the breaking of bread is not only for the remembrance of the Lord, but for the discerning of the Body of Christ and for taking a stand in the Body of Christ. The first two matters are the conditions; a man must be saved and must be clean. The third is the teaching; a person must be able to discern the Body of Christ and must take the stand of the Body of Christ. If he does not discern such things, in God’s eyes he eats judgment for his sins to himself (1 Cor. 11:29). If he does this, the breaking of bread will not be of much benefit to him.
If a man is saved and has not committed the sins of 1 Corinthians 5 but does not see the truth about discerning the Body, we must still receive him because we have to receive those who are weak in the faith. I think we have not been faithful to those who visit us from the denominations. We have not told them the importance before God of discerning the Body. We should show them this point. However, if we make the discerning of the Body a condition for receiving a person, we become a sect. This is why we have to be careful. However, we should not forget the teaching of Titus 3:10.
Question: After a person is saved, does he have to wait until he is baptized before he can break the bread?
Answer: It is best for a saved person to be baptized before taking the bread. In the Bible, there is no such thing as believing first and then waiting for a long time before being baptized; believing and baptism are always linked together. There is no such thing as putting a man aside for a few months after he is saved and then baptizing such a one. Such a practice is not found in the New Testament. But we should not make baptism a condition for partaking of the bread. Some have only been sprinkled and do not know that baptism is a testimony. We should still receive them for the bread-breaking meeting. Those from the Salvation Army do not believe in baptism at all, and none of them are baptized. The Quakers, particularly those who are in China, do not have baptism and bread-breaking at all. There are other smaller denominations which believe the same way as the Quakers. If these people come to us, we should receive them. Since God has received them, we should receive them also. We should receive those who are weak in faith. We can receive them because they belong to God. We cannot make baptism a condition for receiving a person; we can only consider baptism a teaching. Neither should we excommunicate those who are not baptized. When a person sees the cross, he will spontaneously be baptized and obey this truth.
Question:The meetings in Gordon Lane and Wen-teh Lane are actually one assembly and are one. In receiving a visitor, should one meeting inform the other of such?
Answer: If it can be done practically, one should inform the other concerning the receiving of a visitor. But if it cannot be done practically, there is no need to inform the other meeting. If anyone wants to remain with us for a long time, those who serve as elders in either meeting should stand on the ground of the church and discuss the matter properly before making a decision. This is why the announcements made in the prayer meeting in Gordon Lane should also be made in the prayer meeting in Wen-teh Lane and vice versa so that there can be prayers in one accord. I hope that the meeting in Gordon Lane can install a telephone. When this happens, it will be easier to discuss matters between the two places.