Building the Church

MEMORY SELECTION: “Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” —I Corinthians 14:12

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 14:1-5, 26-33

ONE of the fundamental requirements in God’s arrangements for his church is order. “For God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (I Cor. 14:33) Apparently, in the Early Church there was much disorder, with each one endeavoring to serve and praise God in his own way, and all at the same time. Much of this chapter is devoted to instructions as to how the meetings should be conducted in the church. The objective, of course, was to provide an atmosphere in the meetings of the Lord’s people that would be conducive to edification and fellowship. The 31st verse of our selected scripture text reads, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”

We must remember that the Early Church did not have the New Testament as we know it today. They had the Old Testament and the oral teachings of the apostles. As time went on they probably had an accumulation of letters written by the apostles—Paul, Peter, James, and others. But, of course, the principal source of enlightenment was the action of the Holy Spirit upon the minds of the thoroughly consecrated, spirit-begotten members of the church. We can well imagine the enthusiasm that would be manifested by these newly converted Christians as the true meaning of the Scriptures was revealed to them. They were truly being released from the abyss of darkness and brought into the glory of his marvelous light.

With some this emersion into light and knowledge was difficult to handle. They began to believe that this all resulted from their own intellect, and as a result many strange and unscriptural ideas began to be introduced. These false teachings were disruptive and non-productive with respect to the true edification of the church.

The Apostle Paul, at the beginning of this letter to the church at Corinth, states in 2:4,5: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Therefore idle words, speculations, man-devised theories, endless discussions about technicalities do not edify but subvert the hearer. This was not profitable in Paul’s day, nor is it in ours.

The objective of the Lord with respect to the operation of the individual churches is outlined for us in Ephesians 4:11-15: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: … [that] speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.”

In the Early Church the gift of speaking in different languages was bestowed for the purpose of assisting in the spread of the Gospel. There were no newspapers or other means of communication. The apostles were from one general locality. Without this special gift it would have been impossible for them to spread the Gospel in areas that did not speak their language. In Acts, the 2nd chapter, after the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost and they began to speak in tongues, the multitude who were outside came together “and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” Because of the miraculous nature of the gift, it came to be looked upon as a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. (I Cor. 14:22) The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 13:8, indicates that speaking in tongues would cease, and we believe that, as soon as there was no longer a need, this miracle did cease, just as visions, healing, and other miraculous powers ceased when there was no longer a need for them as a sign.

And so the real edification of the church is accomplished by those whom the Lord has appointed to preach the truth—that is, the Gospel message—in love.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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