Sunday, January 04, 2009

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 6) - The Church Meeting Described In The Bible

Read the entire series here.

The apostle Paul describes the church meeting in a large chunk of Scripture, from 1 Corinthians chapters 11 through 14. In a direct context of the entire church meeting together, I'm going to use the following section of Scripture. It's a fairly large chunk to read to get the context for a blog post, but reading it through will help you to understand where I'm coming from and where I'm going. The text is 1 Corinthians 11:17 through chapter 14. Click through to the Bible Gateway passage.

Here, I'm going to point out all of the locations in this text where Paul specifically talks about the church meeting, where all of us gather together. He does so in the following verses:

  • But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 1 Cor. 11:17
  • For in the first place, when you come together as a church... 1 Cor. 11:18
  • Therefore when you meet together... 1 Cor. 11:20
  • So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 1 Cor. 11:33
  • If anybody is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. 1 Cor. 11:34
  • And God has appointed in the church, first apostles,... 1 Cor. 12:28
  • ...however, in the church, I desire to speak... 1 Cor. 14:19
  • Therefore if the whole church assembles together... 1 Cor. 14:23
  • When you assemble, each one has... 1 Cor. 14:26
  • ...but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church... 1 Cor. 14:28
The above Scripture references are merely those verses that deal specifically with the church meeting. It is abundantly clear from reading the whole passage that all the rest of the passage in between all these verses is talking about the same context. This context is the meeting together of the church. Paul speaks much in this passage about the body of Christ, which is the church, and all of its members, how those members relate to each other, what types of gifts each member has, how those gifts are to be used, how all the members are necessary, and how each respective gift of all those members are necessary, what effects the exercise of those gifts have on one another, and not only that, but what effect the exercise of gifts has on unbelievers who happen to be there, different offices that God appoints that have certain gifts, the Lord's Table and how we should relate to one another during it, how many people should speak in church and what the result should be, and that it should all be done orderly. Whew! That's a lot of stuff, and all this is in the context of meeting together as the church.
(I'm not going to address the end of this passage with respect to whether women should be allowed to speak, etc., as this has other issues tied to it, and doesn't affect what I'm trying to point out in this series. I included it just to show that it is still in the context of the meeting of the church.)
It is simply amazing how many members are involved in the church meeting that Paul describes. This passage is quite different from the standard American tradition of church where a very select few (or even one!) actually do anything that affects all the others. For Paul, the goal is edification. With the American model of church, it's amazing to me to that our system hasn't fallen completely apart with so few involved in edifying one another every week. In many cases it has fallen apart, as the number of church closures and people who leave their churches testifies.

Part 5 . . . . . . . . Part 7

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