Edify: To Build Up and to Strengthen
In 1 Corinthians chapter 14, and verse 26, it says; “What then is it brethren? (in other words, What is the outcome) When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
The apostle Paul is giving instructions concerning how Christians should conduct themselves in the worship assembly. “When you assemble”, he said, “each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation..” Various members wanted to contribute to the worship service. But no matter what each one wanted to contribute, God’s instruction, through Paul, was this; “Let all things be done for edification.”
Now even though the context of this verse deals with the use of miraculous spiritual gifts within the worship service, there’s no reason to think that the principle is any different for us today; “Let all things be done for edification”.
The last verse in the chapter, verse 40, says; “But let all things be done decently, (or becomingly) and let them be done with order.” The scriptures don’t specify the exact order that things are to be done in, only that they be done in an orderly fashion. That’s why I felt it was OK to ask you to go along with a change in the usual order of our worship today.
Things will still be done in an “orderly manner”, because that’s how God has ordained it to be. In other words, we don’t want half the congregation to be singing, while the other half is praying. And we wouldn’t want some people listening to a scripture reading, or to a sermon, while others were taking the Lord’s supper, or contributing into the offering. That wouldn’t be orderly. That would probably be a bit confusing.
Each and every activity that we engage in, during the worship assembly, should be done in a fashion that leaves the impression of being proper, and “becoming”, in other words, “orderly”. And the reason that everything should be done in that fashion, is that all of our worship activities need be done for the purpose of bringing about, edification. “Let all things be done for edification!”
Verse 33 tells us; “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints.” Confusion gets in the way of edification, doesn’t it? You can’t be built up, when confusion and disorder is at the helm. On the other hand, peace lends itself to edification. The very word here, translated “peace” means.. “wholeness, and conformity, and harmony”. There is peace and wholeness, when we are all in harmony.
When we, as members of our congregation, participate in an act of worship, we do it in harmony, one with another, and we all conform to the same activity, at the same time. And the result, is a “wholeness”, of the entire body that has assembled. And that “wholeness” builds us up and strengthens us. That’s the whole idea of edification. To build up and to strengthen.
Now, on an individual basis, what builds you up the MOST, might not be the same thing that builds up the next person, the most. But every part of the worship service, should build you up to some degree. If it doesn’t, you might check and see where your heart is, when you worship. Jesus said, in John 4, verse 24; “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth.”
If your spirit isn’t present in your worship, then you might as well not even be here, because your worship is useless anyhow, it’s vain. If your spirit isn’t involved in your worship, then it’s impossible to be edified, because the very part of us that becomes edified, is our spirit. We’re not here to build up our bodies, or our pride. We’re here to build up our spirits.
Maybe you truly appreciate, and feel edified by, someone’s sincere prayer. A prayer can be quite edifying, if it comes from the heart, and if it isn’t just repeating a bunch of words you’ve heard before. In the book of Revelation, in chapter 5, a symbolic picture is given of heaven. And it says in verse 5; “And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders, fell down before the Lamb, having each one, a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Doesn’t it edify your spirit, to know that God views your prayers to Him, as if they were “golden bowls full of incense”? Would it edify you, in your spirit, to know that your prayer has power with God? God says it does. God says in James 5, verse 16; “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and PRAY for one another, so that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” In other words, it has power! I guess that’s why God wants us to pray when we worship. It can edify us. It can build us up.
Maybe when we worship, it’s the singing of a hymn that you especially feel edified by. Or maybe what builds you up is listening to a bible reading.. Listening to the words of God.
How about the Lord’s supper? It says in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 26; “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death, until He comes.” Don’t you find benefit in doing that? Don’t you find that edifying? You know what the death of Jesus means to you. There’s nothing that should mean more to you than Christ’s death.
When you take a piece of the unleavened bread, and you think about the body of Jesus Christ, that was sacrificed for us. Don’t you appreciate the fact that during the 33 or so years, that Jesus lived in His physical body, that he committed NO sin! None whatsoever.
It says in Hebrews 4, verse 15; “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things, in like manner as we are, yet without sin!” That’s enough to give you encouragement, isn’t it? We SHOULD be encouraged by that fact; That Jesus Christ overcame the world, and all it’s temptations. And since He overcame the world, without any sin at all, He gives us the opportunity to overcome, by being forgiven of our sins.
Jesus tells us, in Revelation 2, verse 7; “..To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
How about when you drink of the fruit of the vine? You pick up that little cup, and you see “the blood of Jesus”, and you drink it. Now I don’t know what goes through your mind when you drink from that cup, but I can’t help but imagine, being cleansed, as I swallow that fruit of the vine, symbolizing His blood.
You can think of 1 John 1, verse 7, that says; “..And the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us of all sin.”
We’re going to be led in a song now, and then we’re going to partake of the Lord’s supper. And remember, as we partake of those emblems, we’ll be “proclaiming the Lord’s death, until He comes”. 1 Corinthians 11, verse 26. And I hope we’re edified as we do so.
I have a question for you. Do you view the collection, or the offering, as something that edifies you? If you don’t see the collection like that, then, why don’t you? It’s a part of our worship isn’t it? It’s authorized in 1 Corinthians 16, verse 1 & 2, that Christians should “treasure up, as we’ve been prospered”, so that we can give upon the first day of the week, what we’ve “treasured up”.
In Philippians 4, verse 18, Paul describes the monetary gift that the Philippians had sent to him, as “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” Doesn’t that build you up in your spirit, knowing that the money you put in that collection plate, every first day of the week, is well-pleasing, and acceptable to God, and that it’s like a fragrant aroma to Him? Our giving is just like our prayers in that respect. They both rise up to God, as “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice”.
There’s three verses that I’d like to read, from 2 Corinthians 8, verse 3 thru 5. Paul was writing about the Christians in Macedonia, and he says; “For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty, for the favor of participation in the service to the saints. And not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and to us, by the will of God.”
Now, I’ve got another question for you. Considering our congregational singing. Would you rather hear 100 people, or 200 people, singing a hymn, or would it sound just as good to you, to hear 10 or 20 people singing the same hymn? Doesn’t it SOUND a lot better to us, to hear 200 people singing, than to hear just 10 or 20?
I was just talking to a friend who had been a member of a small congregation, but then moved to a place where there’s a large congregation.. somewhere between 150 to 200 people every Sunday. And he was telling me about how that congregation did things differently from what he was used to, and how he didn’t think some of the things were even scriptural. But he did say that the singing sounded great. And I think that we’d all feel that way.
But I’d like us all to consider something in regards to that. I believe, that when we find the singing to be so much “better”, and find it to be much more “uplifting”, when there’s so many more people singing, and when there’s possibly a lot more “good” singers, then I think we’re missing the point. And I actually think that we’re being led by the flesh and not by the Spirit.
If it’s the SOUND of the singing, that we are being edified by, then is it really our spirit that is being edified, or is it our sense of hearing that’s being entertained? Now I have nothing at all against listening to the beautiful sounds of an “a cappella” choir, performing spiritual songs and hymns, OUTSIDE of the worship assembly. But IN the worship assembly, is it the SOUND of our singing that is pleasing to God? And is it the SOUND that edifies our spirit?
Ask yourself this.. What “sounds” better to God; A congregation of 200 people singing a hymn, or a congregation of ten people singing the same hymn? Is it the congregation who has the most beautiful voices, that “sounds” the best to God? The truth is, the singing that “sounds” the best to God, is the singing that comes from the spirit within us, and the singing that acknowledges and appreciates the meaning of the words that we sing.
The apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 15; “What then is it? I will pray with the spirit, and I shall pray with the mind also.. (in other words, I’ll pray with my intellect, and my understanding) ..I shall SING with the spirit, and I shall sing with the mind also.”
If we are singing with our spirits, and understanding the words that we sing, with our minds, then the sound of it all, is at best, an afterthought. Please, let’s not miss the point of our worship. Whether we are singing, or giving, or praying, or taking the Lord’s supper, or listening to the scriptures; “Let all things be done for edification.”
If you want to be entertained, the world is full of entertainment. The world can satisfy and edify your physical senses all day long. But if you want to be built up spiritually, you’ve got to be worshipping with the church, “in spirit, and in truth”, and in an “orderly manner”, and for the purpose of edification. Edifying both yourself, and everyone else in attendance.
Romans 14, verse 19 says; “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace, and the building up of one another.” And remember the verse from 1 Corinthians 14:33; “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints.” And remember also, that the word “peace” means.. “wholeness, and harmony, and conformity”.
That’s how we need to worship, every first day of the week; Edifying one another, in wholeness, and in harmony, and in conformity to God’s word.