Sunday, January 16, 2011

REAL church growth happens when done God's way

1Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

It is important to note here that the love Paul is talking about pursuing is the characteristics of love he outlined in chapter 13.  I think too many times love in the church becomes a "touchy feely" live and let live kind of love, yet part of the characteristics of true love Paul outlined in the previous chapter has not rejoicing in iniquity, but rejoicing in the Truth. 

It is also important to note here that the prophesy Paul is referring to here is not the prophetic Word from the prophets of old that spoke of the future; such as what John wrote in Revelation, etc.  Paul is referring to encouraging and building others up:

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

Edification:  A building up, in a moral and religious sense; instruction; improvement and progress of the mind, in knowledge, in morals, or in faith and holiness.
Exhortation: The form of words intended to incite and encourage.

Incite: To move the mind to action by persuasion or motives presented; to stir up; to rouse; to spur on.
We are to seek and desire spiritual gifts, yet we are not to desire them for our own pride, but for the edification of the Body of Christ:

1Corinthians 14:12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.

Imagine a church building full of born-again believers that spoke in such a way to encourage and build others up in holiness and instruction.  What would it be like for an unbeliever that is visiting that church building.  Paul knew the answer to that question:

1Corinthians 14:24-25 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 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.

On the other hand, if an unbeliever comes in to a church building and observes confusion and hypocrisy; who is that of?  It is certainly not of God:

1Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

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