Let All Things Be Done For Edification|
Why does the church assemble together? Certainly, we enjoy one anotherís company, but if our own pleasure and enjoyment were the only purposes of coming together, then our assemblies would be nothing but parties and self-indulgent celebrations. Worship is a true purpose of the assembly, but the worship of God can also be offered alone by the individual. Why is it that God requires us to assemble together for certain periods and activities of worship such as when we partake of the Lordís Supper (1Cor. 11:17-34)? Why canít a Christian observe the Supper by himself at home?
The answer to all of this is that there are blessings in the assembly that God wants us to have. Each Christian benefits by being a part of the body of Christ in which the body as a whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts (1Cor. 12:12-31). Each member of the body supplies something that the other members cannot supply, and thus each member benefits from the efforts of the other members. This "strength in numbersĒ effect is described in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
So then, we can rightly say that the necessity of the assemblies of the church is the edification of the members in the truth of the word of God. Edification is the work of building up the church in faith, knowledge, truth, and love. The church as a whole is edified as each member is built up in Godís word. Notice Ephesians 4:11-16:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
This edification is truly a part of our worship of God. Biblical worship has two meanings: attitudes and actions of reverence (Gr. proskyneō and eusebeō) and service (Gr. latreia). Reverent edification of Godís church in Godís word as described in Ephesians 4:11-16 fulfills both of meanings of worship.
The most detailed passage concerning the assemblies of the church in the Bible is found in 1Corinthians 14, and the message focuses on the necessity of edification. The problem with the Corinthiansí assemblies was the misuse of spiritual gifts, which we do not have today. However, the principles governing the assembly still apply now. Verse 12 says, "Seek to abound for the edification of the church,Ē and verse 26 says, "Let all things be done for edification.Ē In those times, prophecy was done exclusively for edification, exhortation, and consolation (v. 3). Likewise, the gift of tongues (languages) was useful only if there was an interpreter so that all would be edified (vv. 6-19, 27-28). Each one had a particular gift, but all gifts were to be used to edify (v. 26). Although these spiritual gifts have ceased, this unmistakable rule of edification should still direct our assemblies today.
In compliance with this passage of Scripture, every word, every prayer, and every song in the assembly should be for the edification of the church in the truth of Godís word. Anything that cannot correctly edify the church does not belong in the assembly. Likewise, all unscriptural messages and songs that cannot edify in truth must be eliminated. Edification is building up, but sometimes tearing down has to come first just as Jeremiah was commanded by God "to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plantĒ (Jer. 1:10). If there is anything in the assemblies of Godís people that does not belong, then let it be torn down and replaced with the practices ordained in Scripture.
While many things can be accomplished by individual Christians alone, edification of the church cannot. Edification of the church can only be done in the assemblies of the church. From this fact, we can draw at least three conclusions. For one, all things in the assembly must be done for edification in the faith without exception. Secondly, members of the church must be present in the assemblies to be edified as God intends. Thirdly, every member needs to do his or her part in the work of edification. Therefore, let us heed the words of Hebrews 10:23-25:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Stacey E. Durham
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