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1 Corinthians 14 v 26 - 33

Paul emphasises that church services must be orderly and peaceful. He is determined that anyone who possesses a gift should receive every chance to exercise it. What an interesting challenge for the Corinthian church! The Holy Spirit was with them in power when they met, many of them had the gifts He gave, charismatic gifts, but all was to be orderly. One person was not to interrupt the other and the use of tongues was to be predicated on whether there was someone present who had the gift of interpretation. All this would demonstrate that the Christian believers were in control of their gifts and that the Holy Spirit worked with those He had gifted, not swept them away or possessed them.

From this passage two particular questions emerge:

1. The early Church clearly had no professional ministry. There were the apostles who were in charge over all the fellowships, but there was no local person. This raises the question of whether it was right to bring in professional church leaders. I think the important thing, the principle here, is that non-professionals should be given time and opportunities to speak.

2. The order of service in the early Church had a flexibility to it. It was informal enough to allow every worshipper to give a message if appropriate. Someone wouldn't have attended with the sole intention of being a passive observer, they would have been there to give as well as receive. The dangers in that are obvious in that those who were too fond of their own voices had the opportunity to dominate, but the Church must have been more the possession of the ordinary Christian. However, for this to be more widespread each mature believer must be aware of their obligation to use their gifts for the benefit of the fellowship and the glory of God.

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