Normal Christian Meetings

Sunday, 04 August 2013
Sermon Notes:

                                Normal Christian meetings
                     What kind of meetings does God want us to have?
                               How can we see growth in the church?

For the Christian nothing takes higher priority than meeting together to praise and worship God and to love one another. The principal characteristic of all meetings should be that God’s presence is there. He comes by grace and as He wishes, but we can encourage His presence by offering ourselves to Him and one another in love, and by following the New Testament guidelines for church meetings.

In the New Testament there is one chapter that is dedicated to teaching us what should take place in meetings: 1 Corinthians 14. After an explanation of the use of the spiritual gifts, especially tongues and prophecy, it concludes in verse 26: “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a psalm, teaching, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”

The foundation of our meetings:
While the goal here is clearly stated: “Everything must be done to build up the church”, we must remember that the foundation of our meetings is built on the Old Testament model of sacrifice, thanksgiving, praise and worship offered to God. Also whenever anything wondrous happened in the New Testament the spontaneous reaction was always to glorify God. For instance in Acts 3 when the lame beggar was healed we find him “walking and leaping and praising God”. In Matthew 28 when the disciples saw the risen Jesus “they worshipped Him”. 1 Peter 2 says: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” and “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” So as God’s spiritual house we are being built into a temple fit for His own dwelling place. But for this temple, His Church, to be fit for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, every stone must be neatly joined to every other stone. Total love and unity in heart, mind and soul must always be our goal. Love and unity must be 100% genuine. Then our praise and worship will be genuine too. So the meetings consist of praise and worship, with the goal of glorifying God and building one another up.

Early church lifestyle
In Acts 2 it states: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship [in the] breaking of bread and to prayer.” This clearly shows us that teaching, fellowship in the breaking of bread and prayer are key ingredients when we come together. It goes on to say “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” So there was a church life style which grew up spontaneously and naturally as a result of the Holy Spirit being outpoured. The expression “Breaking of bread” can mean both the Lord’s Supper and eating together.

Fellowship in the breaking of bread.
In the original Greek text it clearly links fellowship and the breaking of bread; the “Lord’s supper” where we take the bread and wine as symbols of Jesus body broken for us and His blood shed for us. This is its main purpose which He tells us to do to remember Him until He returns. The Lord’s Supper is a symbol of our unity brought about by His death on the cross. So the celebration of the Lord’s Supper should be a time of fellowship, as when it was first instituted.

The meeting in 1 Corinthians 14:26 shows the content as containing psalms, teaching, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation”. The common style today of prayer, worship, praise, prophecy etc followed by someone teaching, while a good working model, should not take over from the one that God gave us in the New Testament where teaching is integrated and may take place at any time during the meeting. Both styles of meeting are useful for building up the church.

Gifts of the Spirit.
Speaking in tongues is the first and most prevalent gift in the New Testament church and should never be discouraged. While 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to speak in tongues while someone is sharing, it also encourages us to speak and sing in tongues. Speaking in tongues naturally leads on to prophecy and a mark of a meeting full of the Spirit is that it normally contains prophecy. “we can all prophesy in turn” to build the church.

Hands raised, kneeling, prostrate, etc
There are many scriptures encouraging bodily expressions of our love for God. “I want everyone to pray lifting holy hands”, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow”, “I lay prostrate before the Lord”, etc. These are outward expressions of our heart. Sometimes it may be the whole church and sometimes individuals moved by the spirit.

There are about 55 mentions of dancing in the Bible. Dancing before God should be a part of our church life. It is a God-given expression of Joy. Psalm 149 says: “Let them praise His name with dancing” We should consider joining in when the church dances. King David danced before the Lord with all His might; his wife despised him in her heart, which incurred God’s anger. Dancing is a natural expression of the joy that the church collectively feels when there is unity and love and when the Holy Spirit is present. Let’s enjoy dancing in the church.

Practical points
We are told to “Honour one another in love”. The first way we show that we honour others above ourselves is to turn up on time! This may seem obvious but some will always turn up to the meal table on time but not necessarily to the meeting. To safeguard against the possibility of turning up late, plan to arrive at least ten minutes early, or arrive even earlier to pray and prepare your heart to contribute in the meeting. That way we can increase our blessing to the Lord and one another.

Children should be encouraged to join in as much as possible. They can be taught at home and in the meetings the significance of what we do. We can instruct them how to join in the singing, praying or other activity. Children will respond to this encouragement and learn quickly.

The New Testament teaches us that meetings are for building up the church. The foundational content taken from the Old Testament is thanksgiving, praise and worship to God. The Church is the dwelling place of God, and to have His presence manifest in the meeting is always the main goal. This is achieved mainly by a spirit of love and unity. A meeting filled with God will contain some of the following – singing with the mind and with the Spirit (tongues), speaking in tongues and prophecy, lifting up hands and dancing together. Growth in the church comes as God is in the centre and moving by His Spirit. May the Lord take us on to ever more glorious manifestations of His presence!

Songs: We are being built into a temple; We will worship the Lamb of Glory

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