Reflections and Poetry

Church needs to Change: a look at 1Corinthians 14 – part 14

How can the church change? Through Exhortation, Edification, Comfort

The church needs to allow itself to be transformed by GOD.

1Corinthians 14:3 says, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” 

Where are the prophets today? Or if you disagree the prophetic exists for today, how then are we to edify one another, to exhort, and to comfort? This is not the job of one man: the minister or pastor, for if it were, we members and congregations would not be so weak. The system has existed for 1700 years and either GOD has failed to create an effective organisation or we’ve missed what He has ordained. Somehow, I don’t think it is GOD who is the weak or ineffectual One. 

He gave the means by which people can be uplifted and corrected and put at ease. Even if we don’t know prophets, there are those who, from time to time, act in the prophetic. If we allow these people to practice, encouraging them when they try, and supporting them when they fall short, we would all fair better.

I recently had an experience where I exhorted the congregation — no one single person — but I said “We’ve run out of time for polite worship!” I was so shaken by my words and felt embarrassed and said so. But the others listened and considered what I said. I was shaken for the next 12 hours, but the grace I’d received from GOD and from man helped me to relax and gradually to recognise that GOD had spoken through me. 

We need the voice of the prophetic to be given opportunity to speak.

“I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interpret, that the church may receive edification.” (1Corinthians 14:5)

May we allow tongues and give space to interpretation during a service, so we all might learn, grow and discover the heart of GOD for the moment? Yes there needs to be order, but most services are so ordered there is no room for the Holy Spirit to touch us at all. And the purpose of the Holy Spirit Comforter, for prophecy and meeting together, is at least in part, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” (1Corinthians 14:12)

And so, we must seek to grow: to excel, to be transformed into he likeness of our Lord and Saviour, Yeshua/Jesus.

How will the church change?

We the people who follow Jesus: the saints, the congregation, the fellowship of believers, are the church. As we change individually and relate corporately in love, joy and peace — in fact in all the fruits* and gifts** of the Spirit — and as we enable one another and surrender wholly and completely to GOD, the body of Christ: the Church, will be changed into the likeness of Jesus’ Church.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” LORD. As we swallow our agendas, our plans and best intentions; as we give up ourselves, not to death and not to another person, but to You and You only, then just as the Christians were fed to the lions in the first century Ad, so will we be fed to the world. 

And that’s okay because we do not love the world. (1John 2:15)

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with GOD?” (James 4:4a)

Where are the prophets?

We need real prophets of GOD, not only evangelists to touch the world. Atheism has a grip on the West, that needs to be displaced. But reason (intellectual debate) has not achieved this. Miracles are few and seem to be seen as trickery. But prophesy can touch even the hardest of hearts:

“And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship GOD and report that GOD is truly among you.” (1Corinthians 25)

The hard-hearted can be pierced with a prophetic word from the LORD: a word of knowledge, a show of understanding, an answer to a deep question, pain or heartache delivered supernaturally can cut and transform the heart of any person.

And so let the church behave differently

1Corinthians chapter 14 talks a great deal about  prophecy, about edification and exhortation. We in the church need to hear from GOD personally and corporately, for who in the body of Christ believes his congregation is ready for hardship, ministry, terror and violence put upon them? Are we even ready for a revival which will not only transform the church of believers but those in the world as well? Many may flock to our churches; but are we ready if they do?

The world is entering a tailspin. We have seen it coming. Yet, Is the church being transformed to be ready for it, and for the changes that are coming to our world as we know it?

Let us take Paul’s word literally and come together in our meetings as he describes:

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1Corinthians 14:26)

Shall we come to fellowship together, prepared to share? And as we wait expectantly for the opportunity, the ideal moment, surely it will come. If we listen attentively to one another, expectant that what one brings will line with someone else’s offering, and if we come with a heart to serve and to edify the body. then surely, the church will be transformed and prepared for what is next to come.

Hallelujah! Just as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds as individuals (Romans 12:2) so we can be transformed as a body.

That at least must be our expectation and our aim.Then comes, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) And His awesome power and presence will move and shake us in ways far more transformative and lasting than anything we can do ourselves.

  • fruits of the Spirit: ref Galations 5:22-23

* * gifts of the Spirit: ref 1Corinthians 12