Scriptural challenge

Many people think I am off my rocker for insisting that the local church is not functioning as it should.  Another way to say it is the local church is not biblical.  My concern is more that a perception.  I write this to challenge people to actually compare what they practice with the instructions of scripture concerning our gatherings.

Who is it that Paul taught should speak in church?  Did he teach the one who gives the announcements?  Well of course the pastor, right?

I asked people before, and even a pastor who is like a father to me, who put the pastor in charge?  We have Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Teachers and Pastors, so who says the pastor is in charge of the local church?  Why is the pastor the one who tells the prophets, evangelist, teachers and apostles when to speak and if their word is applicable?

Where in scripture do we see the instructions from the Holy Spirit that the pastor is over the other offices and has authority to release or hinder those offices in the local service?  Where in scripture do we have the instructions from the Holy Spirit the pastor is the one who teaches the congregation, does the “vision casting” is the main one who sets all agendas?  I can find no such scripture. 

So who is it that the Holy Spirit has instructed us in scripture to speak at the local assembly?  We know from Paul’s writings that one who has the gift of tongues is eligible to speak in church.  And this can be done by two or three individuals at one local gathering.  Then scripture teaches that someone must interpret, either the one who spoke or a different interpreter.

So now we have two kinds of people who can speak in the local assembly.  The first is one who speaks in tongues, provided there is an interpreter.  The second kind is the interpreter if the one who speaks in tongues is not the one to interpret, depending on the Spirits leading.  So far so good.  We can see how all the local bodies are in line with scripture here, because we allow this in our meetings, but let’s keep going. 

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 God.[1]

Paul has given us further instructions that prophets should speak, and again only two or three per local assembly.  Oh and if someone has a special revelation, maybe a word of knowledge, then they too are someone who can speak to the congregation.

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.[2]

Let’s see, we have several people that Paul instructs us to have speak at the Sunday service.  We have those who speak in tongues, those who interpret tongues, those who prophecy and those who have a special revelation.  That is four different types of people giving different types of instruction, exhortation, correction or possibly rebuking.  Imagine all of this without the use of the word “Pastor”.  Oh my goodness, the office of the Pastor is not even mentioned in the local assembly.  In fact no office is mentioned at all.  Could it be because Christ is our head and not the office of a man in the church?

This doesn’t mean the man who wants to be a shepherd doesn’t get to speak during the Sunday service.  No indeed, for he too can speak if he speaks in tongues, interprets, prophecies or has a special revelation.

For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.[3]

We are instructed by the Holy Spirit to seek the greater gift if we really want to make an impact on peoples lives on Sunday morning meetings.  It is further revealed that Paul desired everyone to speak in tongues or prophecy making every individual eligible to give a word at the local assembly.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.  I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.[4]

The instruction we have from the Holy Spirit to edify the church by strengthening it, encouraging it and comforting it is by allowing those who speak in tongues, interpret, prophesy or have a word of revelation, to be those who instruct on Sunday mornings.

In fact the best way to win the world is to do just exactly that.

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”[5]

How about that for a Sunday church service!

So my challenge to those who swear by what we have at the local church, please find me the scripture to support what you do.  You know and I know there is none.  The reality is we have forsaken what scripture says for our own way.  We do this while we worship Him.  How ironic, isn’t it.  We have decided to follow the teachings of men on this matter.  How the Lord must be pleased.

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”[6]

[1] 1 Corinthians 14:27-28

[2] 1 Corinthians 14:29-30

[3] 1 Corinthians 14:31

[4] 1 Corinthians 14:1,3,5

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:24-25

[6] Matthew 15:8-9