This Biblical Christianity website encourages people to know and to live, God’s Word; thus enabling us to live now as God intended for us to live, and preparing us for eternal life in God’s kingdom.
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If the Body of Christ is ever going to correct, cleanse, and free itself of the devil’s rituals, teachings, and practices; it will need to begin by conducting their meetings, when they gather together, like Paul instructed them to in the following Scriptures. Beginning in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve, Paul declares and explains that there are various gifts or abilities, that God gives and the Holy Spirit energizes, that should be used to perform whatever service or administration God’s Church requires. Just as God placed various and different body parts in the human body when He created it, so that it can function properly; in like manner He has placed, in the Body of Christ, the various gifts and abilities that are needed for this Body to function properly. In another words, out of love for His people God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); God reminds us, in chapter thirteen, that this same love and concern for the Body are to be the motivating force in the proper use of these gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 14:1-25, we are shown the proper and the improper use of some of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Then starting in verse twenty-six we are instructed how we are to conduct our meetings when we gather together.
1 CORINTHIANS 14:26-40.... What then, brethren, is [the right course]? When you meet together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information, an utterance in a [strange] tongue, or an interpretation of it. [But] let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all.
27If some speak in a [strange] tongue, let the number be limited to two or at the most three, and each one [taking his] turn, and let one interpret and explain [what is said]. But if there is no one to do the interpretation, let each of them keep still in church and talk to himself and to God. So let two or three prophets speak [those inspired to preach or teach], while the rest pay attention and weigh and discern what is said. But if an inspired revelation comes to another who is sitting by, then let the first one be silent. For in this way you can give testimony [prophesying and thus interpreting the divine will and purpose] one by one, so that all may be instructed and all may be stimulated and encouraged; for the spirits of the prophets are under the speaker’s control [and subject to being silenced as may be necessary], for He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order.
33bAs [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people), the women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says. But if there is anything they want to learn, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to talk in church [for her to usurp and exercise authority over men in the church].
36What! did the word of the Lord originate with you [Corinthians], or has it reached only you? If anyone thinks and claims that he is a prophet [filled with and governed by the Holy Spirit of God and inspired to interpret the divine will and purpose in preaching or teaching] or has any other spiritual endowment, let him understand (recognize and acknowledge) that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. But if anyone disregards or does not recognize [that it is a command of the Lord], he is disregarded and not recognized [he is one whom God knows not]. So [to conclude], my brethren, earnestly desire and set your hearts on prophesying (on being inspired to preach and teach and to interpret God’s will and purpose), and do not forbid or hinder speaking in tongues. But all things should be done with regard to decency and propriety and in an orderly fashion.
This is not just Paul’s suggestion, but as he declares — it is a command of the Lord! By commanding us to conduct our meetings in this way God has subscribed the way for us to detect, refute, and purge, if necessary, all the work of the enemy and man. This section of 1 Corinthians should be held up as a goal for the local church to work toward in order to arrive at God’s normal operating procedure. The Church has drifted so far from God’s norm that we cannot expect to arrive there easily or quickly, it’s a long way back.
Most of First Corinthians is devoted to trying to correct errors and excesses that resulted from a lack of spiritual understanding. Paul states in chapter three, "However, brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ. . . . For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]" (3:1-3a). The simplest way to explain the waywardness of the Church is the failure to dwell in Christ as we have been instructed to in John chapters fourteen through seventeen. Therefore, we must go back to these, and related passages, and learn them until they are thoroughly established in our hearts — then we will be ready for spiritual gifts.
God desires that all be able to take part in our meetings, but is quick to remind us that it must be in a way that builds up and encourages the whole Body. Speaking in an unknown language is to be allowed, but there must be one to interpret what has been spoken. There should be at least two or perhaps three recognized preachers or teachers prepared to instruct the gathering, while all the rest carefully evaluate the contents of the message for Biblical correctness. If God wishes to inject some additional information through one of the other members of the congregation, the speakers must give them an opportunity to do so. "For the spirits of the prophets are under the speaker’s control [and subject to being silenced as may be necessary], for He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order" (14:32-33a).
Paul says that all the churches recognized that God has not authorized the women to be preachers or teachers, nor to have a vocal part in discussions; and therefore none of them allowed the women to participate in these ways. But that does not hinder or prevent them from participating in congregational prayer, praise or worship. Because this subject has the potential to provoke strong disagreement, Paul reminds them that this is not his idea but is rather a direct commandment of God.
This sort of Biblical procedure could be well instituted if we were to discontinue Sunday School, except for the very young, and the Sunday night service, and have instead one long continuous afternoon service starting about 10:00 a.m. and lasting as long as required to accomplish what God wants done. People would be free to come and go as they please, some would probably leave early and others would probably come late – requiring less space. We could have brief intermissions, which would lend itself well to having 2 or 3 people (verse 29) prepared to present instruction from the Lord, and our musicians could call us back to the beginning of each session with singing, praise and worship. Giving the Holy Spirit opportunity to move non-scheduled persons to inject comments and questions would encourage more interest, participation and input, hopefully resulting in instruction coming forth from the Word of God that is much more relevant to what the people are experiencing in their ever-day lives; this is what the people are hoping for, what we find recorded in Scripture, and what God expects (verses 26 & 40). This would, of course, require discerning leadership!
The church should have a good video as well as audio system; a computerized projector and a screen that is visible to all so that the people can see as well as hear what is being presented. Studies have shown that people show more interest and retain much more when they can see what is being presented to them. I believe that our Lord’s use of parables illustrates this point; He used examples that were so familiar to them that they were very vividly impressed – making it clear and almost visible to them.
Paul had told the people previously, that God has given to His Church grace, power and ability, and spiritual enablement or gifts (1 Cor. 1:4-7); that the wisdom of this world is of no use in regards to spiritual matters (1 Cor. 1:18-2:9); that it is only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that spiritual truth can be understood and appreciated (1 Cor. 2:10-13); that even Christians who are still reasoning according to natural ability, instead of being spiritually minded, are unable to comprehend and thus unable to instruct the body (1 Cor. 2:14; 3:1-4); and that to be spiritually minded is to know and have the mind of Christ.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:15-16.... But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him]. For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.
Paul further instructs them that leaders in the Church should regard themselves and be looked upon as servants and workmen with and for God, for the purpose of building up God’s house, whom we are (1 Cor. 3:5-10). This is part of what it means to have the mind of Christ; if this is God’s plan and desire, then it must be ours also! Utmost importance and primary consideration must be given to the foundation that holds the whole house of God together, and that can only be the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (1 Cor. 3:10-12)! God’s Word has laid down the fundamental truths concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we can add nothing to it and we dare not subtract anything from it!
Some things are more important than others, and some things are of no value at all, but we must be especially watchful against anything that can be harmful to the body, such as false teachings and practices (1 Cor. 3:12-17). The following Scriptures tell us how we can recognize that which if false.
1 CORINTHIANS 4:6.... Now I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your sakes, brethren, so that from what I have said of us [as illustrations], you may learn [to think of men in accordance with Scripture and] not to go beyond that which is written, that none of you may be puffed up and inflated with pride and boast in favor of one [minister and teacher] against another.
1 CORINTHIANS 4:17.... For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches.
2 TIMOTHY 1:13-14.... Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth] which has been entrusted [to you], by the [help of the] Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us.
2 TIMOTHY 2:15.... Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16-4:5.... Every Scripture is God breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
4:1I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His coming and His kingdom: Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching. For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry.
As can be seen from the above Scriptures, the source of our instruction and protection is the Word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is through this process that our minds are set upon things above (that which God has revealed to us in His Word), and we are transformed from the world’s way of thinking and doing, to God’s way.
ROMANS 12:1-3... I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. For by the grace given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought, but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.
Man needs to receive instruction from someone greater than himself to regulate and control his thinking and actions. Only God can be entrusted with that assignment! Even before the fall, when man was at his very best, the record shows that man lacked the ability to make responsible decisions; he couldn’t even abide by one restriction -- not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). Starting from this failure, God began to reveal the truth about Himself, and the way that we are to live.
About seventeen hundred years after creation the earth’s population had become so corrupt that God decided to destroy all living things, except Noah and his family, with a flood (Gen. chapters 6 & 7). Only Noah had learned to live righteously before the Lord (Gen.7:1). What would it take for others to learn the same lesson? The program that God chose is recorded for us in the Bible, they would first need to know God sufficiently, and so about 400 years after The Flood God began forming the curriculum for our instruction by appearing and speaking with Abraham; revealing Himself and His plans for the future (Gen. chapters 12-25).
God’s next major curriculum advance, about 600 years after Abraham, began when He chose Moses as His servant, to reveal the way He expected them to live and conduct their lives. "And God said to Moses, I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El-Shaddai], but by My name the Lord [Yahweh -- the redemptive name of God] I did not make Myself known to them [in acts and miracles]" (Exodus 6:2-3). The events that took place when God gave the ten commandments to the nation of Israel appear to be highly significant, let’s take a look at them.
In the twentieth chapter of Exodus God gave to the nation of Israel what He was requiring of them. God descended upon the mountain and spoke directly to the people in such a way -- thunder and lightning, fire and smoke, and a long loud trumpet blast -- that the people were terrified. Moses explained that God had revealed Himself in this way, so that seeing this tremendous display of God’s power would develop in them a required reverential fear of God, which in turn, should caution them against turning aside from His commandments and into sin (Ex. 20:20).
Therefore, we can assume that the basics of the curriculum for Christian growth should include these same characteristics, a correct knowledge of God and His requirements, a fear of incurring God’s discipline or wrath if we disregard His instructions, and learning and living by His instructions. "The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do [the will of the Lord]. Their praise of Him endures forever" (Ps.111:10; Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7). Those who do not have enough sense to realize the great danger of disobedience, have not even started down the road of true wisdom. These are the basic fundamentals of successful Christian living. To neglect these basics will bring unnecessary trouble and discipline into our lives (Heb. 12:5-11). God knows our every thought, we cannot deceive Him about our foolishness, nor can we avoid His discipline.
About 1400 years after Moses and the Law, God sent His Son to finish His great Biblical revelation. So we see that God’s revelation to mankind was progressive and gradual, and according to human thinking very slow; suggesting that old habits are hard to break and that we learn very slowly.
If the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ expects to adequately train and prepare individuals for successful Christian living, it will have to have and pass on to others the absolute conviction that the Bible is God’s ultimate authority in life. If it truly is God’s book given unto us, then we need to follow His method and curriculum in our endeavor to experience a meaningful and fulfilling life. His method is through the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit given to individual members of His body, as taught in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14, functioning according to 1 Corinthians 13: and 14:26-40. The curriculum or subjects then taught must instill in the people the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, a Biblical knowledge and love of God, the awfulness of losing favor with God and incurring his discipline, and the blessedness of learning to live a Biblical life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
COLOSSIANS 2:8-10.... See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].