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First Corinthians: Build Up the Church

January 27, 2008

Having established that love is the greatest spiritual gift, Paul continued in chapter 14 with instructions about how to use the other spiritual gifts. In every instance, he applied this rule: Everything done in the assembly should be done to build up the church.

1Co 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

Paul urged them to seek prophecy ahead of the other gifts, because prophecy builds up the church.

1Co 14:3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.

Prophecy was greater than tongues, unless the tongues were interpreted, in order to edify the church.

1Co 14:5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Paul then laid down the general rule for what should be done in the church:

1Co 14:12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

1Co 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

Speaking in tongues, without an interpreter, did not help others in the church. Therefore tongues were prohibited in the assembly unless there was an interpreter.

1Co 14:28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

Everything we do in the congregational assembly is for the purpose of building up the church. The communion, singing, preaching, praying, giving, announcements, fellowship, videos, dramatic productions, and whatever else is done must build up the church. An activity which does not build up the church is not appropriate in the congregational assembly. Anything which encourages, strengthens, and urges the congregation toward love and good deeds is an excellent use of time in the assembly.

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