Saturday, March 28, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 14

What are the purposes for gathering together as a church? Most of us would immediately say that we gather for worship, and certainly that is one of them. As I’ve been studying the book of Acts, I’ve taken a slight detour into I Corinthians 12-14. Even though the main emphasis in these chapters is on spiritual gifts, it’s interesting to pay attention to the principles that Paul lays out for the church. I think the principles he lays down for evaluating the use of tongues in the church can also be used to evaluate anything we do together.

Look at these phrases from verses in I Corinthians 14.
5: he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
6: …if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you…?
9: …unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand.
12: let it be for the edification of the church.
14: if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful
16: he does not understand what you say.
17: you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
19: I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also.

These are brief phrases taken from these verses so that you can focus on what is important. Several words keep coming up: edification, profit, understanding, teaching. My purpose right now is not to look at the issue of tongues but to point out that in Paul’s discussion of tongues he focuses on the purpose of their time together. He wants to be sure that everything provides edification of others, helps people learn and understand the truth for their spiritual profit.

Each of us who has any input into the events of a worship service should evaluate our contribution in terms of these characteristics. What about music for example. Is the music understandable? As a pianist, in the past I may have played an offertory that sounded beautiful, but was a song no one knew. How then could people say amen to that which had no meaning to them? (Verse 16)

Whether you are a leader or someone who participates in the pew, make sure your participation encourages understanding and edification of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

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