x366......We obey the Lords supper in 1 cor--but what about the rest?
The church at Corinth was a good Christian church--but they had fallen into some disobedience in the time since the apostle Paul had last seen them. So, in his letters to these people he wrote to remind them of how to conduct themselves in their church meetings.......
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. (1Cor 11:2)
These instructions have been put in the Bible by God to clearly show us how to conduct a new covenant meeting. Now, what is so interesting is how careful we are about certain aspects of this advise, and how careless we have become about other parts. Let me give you a clear example.
In every Christian church I have ever been in that celebrates the Lords supper, nearly every time I have seen this important blessing enacted within a church--regardless of the denomination--almost every time someone opens up the Bible and looks to 1 Corinthians chapter 11--which is Pauls clear instructions on how to conduct the Lords Supper--
23 ¶ For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1Cor 11:23-29)
Don't we always do the Lords supper exactly in this way? Why? Because it is in clear obedience to the word of God. Paul writes instructions on how to conduct the meal and we Christians to this day understand that it is disobedience to conduct the Lords supper in any other way.
But, here is the question. Why are we so careful about the instructions to the Lords supper in 1 Corinthians chapter 11--yet are we disobedient to the clear instructions on how to conduct a church service that Paul clearly writes of in 1 Corinthians chapter 12-14? As part of this same correction of the Corinthian church, Paul continues to explain exactly how the church ought to conduct themselves within their meeting. Chapter 12 deals clearly with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, how they ought to made manifest in every believer and during the meeting of every church. It clearly shows that the gifts of ministry as well, are for all the body and for service to all, for all, in every meeting of Christians. Chapter 13 clearly shows that love is to be our central aim and we as Christians who want to mature further must first actively seek to love God and our neighbor.
Now, let's remember something. This later was originally written without chapter headings. The authors of the Bible put in the chapter and verse numbers for our reference and of course this is a great help. However we must always read the Bible straight through the chapter headings. Chapter 13 is one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible and should be singled out from the surrounding chapters--however, if we read straight through all these chapters we understand that they are all related to the original issue of how to conduct a church service. (there are not too many examples of new covenant church services in he Bible--perhaps because God wants us to simply use the few examples He has set for our reference, and not depart form His basic plan too far)
so when we read right through we see the beginning of chapter 14 saying this--
1 ¶ Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. (1 Cor 14:10)
This verse shows us that we first ought to seek after love (charity)--but seeking after spiritual gifts is actually just as important! And, the spiritual gift we ought to seek after diligently is to prophecy. What is prophecy? Simply to speak the word or the will of God with our understanding--to preach--recite--or even to sing the message that God is wanting you to speak, and the rest of the church to hear.
Oops! Now we have a big problem--don't we? Have we not been taught that preaching is only for "some"? Is it not the firm tradition of most of our churches that only the leader may preach the word?
My question is this--Why are we so careful to read and obey the instructions in 1Cor chapter 11 on the Lords supper--yet we are totally lax in using the instructions on conducting a church service found in 1 Cor 12-14?
(It is so interesting to note---1Corinthians 11, where it is speaking about the Lords supper--is in fact speaking about minsitry and priesthood for all Christians--just as much as chapters 12-14! The real understanding of the Lords supper is an invitation to a priesthood. Jesus told us all to partake of Him--as meat and as bread (read John chapter 6 for example). The only people who were allowed to eat the meat and bread of the sacrifice were the Levites--the priests of the OT. The Lords supper is an invitation to minsitry for ALL Christians!)
Read chapter 14 of 1Corinthians---does your church conduct a service in this fashion? Most often in church we hear bits and pieces of this chapter--for example--
For God is not the author of confusion, (1Cor 14:33A)
How often has a church leader pulled this scripture out of a hat when he thought things were "getting out of control"? Oops! Read the rest of the chapter--it tells us plainly that we all ought to prophecy--of course not all at once--we should all take turns at it--and not more than 2 or 3 at any one meeting (but it was speaking of the daily meetings of Christians, NOT our idea of "once-a-week-sabbath") The same goes for praying in tongues--one at a time--and we should have another who can interpret ready--Do we in our churches today know who has these gifts and are we ready to use them? Are we encouraging all to prophecy? To seek after the greater gifts?
24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth
not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:24-26, KJV).
It amazes me how we can be so careful about one area of scripture and so sloppy about another. Read 1 Cor 14--and ask yourself if your church meets the "ordinances" that the apostle Paul taught to obey in church. Can anyone explain the reason for not obeying these new testament ordinances? Wouldn't it be fun and great if we conducted church the way it is described in this chapter? Everyone participating in some way--with everyone being able to speak out what the Lord is showing them? "Well, we have 2,000 people in our church---how can we possibly do this?" Answer: the church directly after the day of pentecost had 3,000 members---but they did not all meet together once a week as we think we MUST! They met daily (not everyone--every day---they simply had meetings going on every day--in their homes--in small groups. This was the apostolic method that Jesus had operated by---and they simply continued it. Imagine a large church, broken up into small groups. How easy to have 7-day-a-week (perhaps 24-hour-a-day!) church operation. It's easy to understadn how they were "adding to the church daily"---they did this by "being the church" daily--as often as possible--always someone available to help the needs and get people saved. And they received their individual, daily instuctions direct from God the Holy Spirit, by following the rules that are set down here. 2 or 3 may prophecy, speak and understand the word from God, and in thier small groups they were ready to act upon the word received---apostleship was the key.
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may
(1 Corinthians 14:31, KJV).
all prophecy that all may be comforted
This scripture explains why all are not healed, comforted, edified in our meetings. It is clearly because all are not prophesying, speaking exhorting, singing, and so all are not healed. We need to be in obedience to all the word, all the time, to gain all the benefits and all that God wants to do. He is more than willing to do His part, but we are not doing ours if we do not allow all to speak and minister in the church today. Half obedience will bring half results. The two go hand in hand. Does one person have the microphone and the big word? Then only a handful will get healed.
"all prophecy"--what a concept!----what a goal!!---what a high calling in God!!!