“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). What stands out to me here, perhaps more than anything else, is Paul’s warning to “be alert”, and alertness takes me to the Corinthians. There’s so much we can learn from the Corinthians, especially about worship and the edification of fellow believers. Besides Romans and the four Gospels, First and Second Corinthians were books that the Holy Spirit took me in the very beginning, and the impression these letters made on my heart remains with me to this day.
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace —as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people (1 Corinthians 14:26-33).
From Carnality in Worship:
Paul called Corinth a carnal church: “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). And that’s the key to understanding the entire book! The church in Corinth was a carnal, worldly church, and there are many churches like that today. In fact, there are churches, whether intentionally or unintentionally, which encourage believers to remain in infancy, including traditional mainstream churches as well as non-denominational, seeker/feeler, traditions. No church from Roman Catholic to Presbyterian to Pentecostal is immune. Carnality has infiltrated all of them one way or the other, and perhaps, that’s why so many of the lessons of the Corinthians are preached hit and miss. Many of the lessons can be difficult to receive at first, but speaking in terms of my own walk, God has used First and Second Corinthians to instruct, reprimand, and above all else, encourage me.
Worship given over to pandemonium prevents the building up of believers; I’ve seen this happen first hand, and it broke my heart then, and still does now. Are we really glorifying God, while willfully stumbling other brothers and sisters, because it’s more important to us to edify ourselves? Does it not glorify God more to conduct ourselves in a manner “so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged” when we assemble in His name? Paul was talking about more than food here: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” (Romans 14:19-21).
The Corinthians had all been baptized in the Spirit, yet Paul rebukes them for being carnal—not spiritual (3:1). It is not true that speaking in tongues is the invariable sign of being baptized by the Spirit. All the Corinthians had been baptized, but not all spoke in tongues (12:30). To be envious of someone else’s gift or calling or God-given purpose is rebellion against God’s perfect plan for our lives.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:39-40). Disorder is the embodiment of the evil one; this disorder we see happening, in many churches today, may be the work of a spirit, but sadly, not the Spirit of God. Even when the Holy Spirit filled the believers gathered on Pentecost, Peter addressed the confused onlookers about what they were witnessing. If we infer entire traditions and doctrines and styles of worship from some scripture, while disregarding, or twisting, other truths, put plainly, in others, what are we really doing? Shall we destroy the work of God, instead of doing “what leads to peace and mutual edification”? I am convinced that we must heed Paul’s warning to the Ephesians to “be alert”; otherwise, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we risk giving way to apostasy.
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