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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There is a great need in the Church for getting back to the basics of Christianity because the present-day Church is so much like the Laodicean church that Jesus so harshly rebuked in Revelation 3:14-22, "For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). There has been so much religious froth and foam added to modern-day church policy and practice that many have become totally unacceptable to Christ, and He would surely proclaim to them as He did to the church of Laodicea, "I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16)! One of the saddest things that Jesus had to say about this church was that it was completely unaware of its corrupted condition, and apparently thought is was functioning splendidly and in favor with God – such is a large portion of the present-day Church!
In an effort to help those who wish to restore or keep themselves or their group in favor with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will use this series on Church Policy to try to show from God’s Word the way that He would have us to function and conduct ourselves, and a good place to start would be to examine the format for our gatherings and how they should be conducted.
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!
If possible, 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 is good and advisable. 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.