The Church's Proclamation and a Few Thoughts on 'Building Up' -

“ If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. 26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
- 1 Corinthians 14:23-26

“When there is a proper apprehension of the value of the truth and a sincere appropriation of the promises of God to ourselves, there will be the desire to acknowledge his goodness and proclaim the truth to others.”
- Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, p. 261

“What is mandatory is that everything aim at edification.”
- Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 691

I’ve been thinking…and that’s always a dangerous thing. I’ve been thinking about what sorts of things we engage in on Sunday morning. I’ve been thinking about the expressed purpose for everything we do in the context of Sunday morning worship. I think there is something significant here that I’ve not paid close attention to, especially as we consider the presence of both believers and unbelievers within the context of typical Sunday worship.

In the context of Corinthian worship there was a self-conscious effort given to the elements of worship that pointed to the believer’s relationship with Christ and his union with Him. In the context of ‘building up’ the church the unbeliever was made aware of his distance from God and what came was a stark awareness of that distance. The secrets of the unbeliever’s heart were disclosed by those around him, simply by calling attention to the grace of God in a hymn, revelation, tongue, or interpretation. This seems to be amazing…edification or building up the body results in encouragement to the church and conviction of sin for the unbeliever.

I think what this means is that our worship must be more self-consciously God-conscious. This is how we build up the church, and this through the Word of God drawing attention to the good news of the gospel, and the grace of God shown to each one of us. Too often worship has been self-focused and not God-focused. What this looks like is an intentional God-ward focus in everything we do. Worship, proclamation, giving, communion, fellowship, etc., all must be done with a self-conscious awareness of the grace of God that has been shown to us in the gospel. 

May God give us all a strong desire to ‘build up’ the church by drawing attention to the amazing grace of God in our own lives and in the lives of our fellow believers.


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