“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” (Ps. 119:18)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – For the New Testament Christian, church was never a place you went on Sunday but who you were on Monday through Saturday. It was not an organization you joined but a family into which you were adopted.
The church existed in two modes: the church gathered and the church scattered. The church gathered existed in its meetings. It met more often than we do, but the meetings were never its primary mode of existence. The church gathered would meet for instruction, training, encouragement, and worship so that the church scattered – which was its primary mode of existence – would be equipped and mobilized to expand the Kingdom of Christ in the world.
In today’s passage, the Holy Spirit (through Paul) describes the meetings that build that kind of church:
“Whenever you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, another tongue, or an interpretation. Everything is to be done for building up. If anyone speaks in another tongue, there are to be only two, or at the most three, each in turn, and let someone interpret …Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should evaluate. But if something has been revealed to another person sitting there, the first prophet should be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be encouraged. And the prophets’ spirits are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:26-32).
The content of the meetings came from the overflow of the spiritual lives of the congregants. – “Whenever you come together, each one has…” The saints didn’t drag in, starved and parched, for a preacher to give them enough sustenance to survive one more week. They came in full and overflowing from personal worship (“a hymn”) and from what the Lord had taught them and revealed to them since the last meeting. The meeting was not an oasis to drink from but a fountain to add to.
The composition of the meetings was as varied as the giftings of the members. – The list in verse 26 of five things brought to meetings was meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Chapter 12 lists many other “manifestations of the Spirit for the common good. “Everything is to be done for building up” – not just preaching and singing.
The prophetic gifts played the most prominent role in the meetings. – A variety of gifts may be utilized in any particular meeting, but most every meeting should include prophetic ministry: “Whenever you come together …Two or three prophets should speak.” At least two or three, but with the option of many more: “For you can all prophesy one by one.” As Paul said earlier, “If all are prophesying…” really good things can happen (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
The control of the meetings remained with the Holy Spirit. – It’s good to start with a plan, “but if something has been revealed to another person sitting there, the first prophet should be silent.”
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – Many dear saints from different churches join us in these devotionals. What if the worship services of your church aren’t like this? First, don’t cause a fuss. Second, focus on being the kind of New Testament Christian who attended these New Testament meetings: overflowing with the life of Christ, feeding yourself on the riches of God’s Word, using your spiritual gifts to bless other members, and reaching out to the lost. Third, trust God to lead you to a few others willing to do the same. There’s great power and satisfaction in obedience.