ISSUE: 2011, Volume 8, Issue 4
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In 1 Corinthians chapter 14 the apostle Paul gives some very useful guidelines, which help us to understand how we should participate when the local church gathers. Although not specifically concerned with the Lord’s Supper, they can be helpfully applied.
Firstly, every believer is expected to be ready to participate, 1 Cor. 14. 26. Every brother and every sister should come to the meeting with a precious meditation of the Lord Jesus which they are prepared to offer. The brothers will do this audibly and the sisters inaudibly, but both contribute equally. What a wonderful privilege it is to unwrap and present the treasures concerning the Lord Jesus that have been our meditation throughout the week, Matt. 2. 11. We must take time to meditate upon ‘the Son of God’ before the meeting to ensure that the Father takes delight in your contributions during the meeting.
Secondly, any contribution should be ‘unto edifying’, 1 Cor. 14. 26, that is, it has the effect of ‘building up’ the people of God. Although our worship is primarily for God, it is also a real blessing for the gathered Christians to enjoy the meditations of a spiritual believer. As indicated in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 29, we should use ‘good’ words, words which are suitable for the occasion. We are present to remember the Lord Jesus, and not, on this occasion, to pray for the salvation of lost souls. Similarly, any reading from the word of God (and it doesn’t need to be accompanied by any comment) should attract the attention and stimulate the affections of the believers towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Any ‘reproof’, ‘correction’ or ‘instruction’, 2 Tim. 3. 16, is better saved for another, more appropriate occasion. We could also add that any contribution should not be so obscure as to require the use of an ‘interpreter’, 1 Cor. 14. 27-28, but that would be taking the verse a little out of context!
Thirdly, believers should take the opportunity to speak ‘one by one’, 1 Cor. 14. 31. No one brother should take all the time! Contrary to the impression some meetings may give, there is no allotted time when brother ‘x’ stands to pray. Our worship is guided by the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper may contain five hymns or no hymns; three prayers or six prayers; the breaking of the bread half-way through or at the end. It is amazing how many times the Holy Spirit will blend the meditations of another with yours, giving a clear indication when your contribution should be.
Above all, let everything ‘be done decently and in order’, 1 Cor. 14. 40. This is no time or place for amusement or entertainment. We should act in a way that is fitting for the presence of our Lord and Saviour at whose feet we reverently come to fall, Matt. 2. 11.