This series is an excerpt from a paper that I am writing. In the introduction, I argue that in order for the church to edify itself, at least three things are required: 1) the source and result of this edification must be found in the person of Jesus Christ, 2) the focus of edification should be placed on others and not on the self, and 3) the opportunity should be given to all believers to use their spiritual gifts to edify others.
In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I argued for the first and second requirements respectively. In this post – the final of the series – I present my argument for the third requirement: the opportunity should be given to all believers to use their spiritual gifts to edify others.
If the church desires to edify itself during the gathering, each believer should have the opportunity to use his or her spiritual gifts to edify others. Paul demonstrated in Eph. 4 and in 1 Cor. 12â€”14 that the gifts of each believer are necessary for the edification of the church. Specifically, 1 Cor. 14:26 indicates that Paul expected each believer to come to the gathering prepared to build up others in the community in some way. Paul also recognizes in 1 Cor. 14:30 that the Spirit could prompt to action during someone during the meeting even though that person had nothing prepared. These instructions by Paul do not negate his warnings about order and limitations during the gatheringâ€”all believers have should have the potential for serving during the gathering, but all believers might not serve during each gathering (1 Cor. 14:27â€”30).
Similarly, in Heb. 10:24â€”25, the author encourages believers not to forsake gathering together. Peterson argues that the biblical writers use the verb ÎµÎ³ÎºÎ±Ï„Î±Î»ÎµÎ¯Ï€Ï‰ in the sense of â€œabandonâ€ when he states, â€œThe concept is not that of self protection by staying in the fold but of a positive responsibility to minister to other Christians.â€ Therefore, the negative instruction in Heb. 10:25 could mean, â€œnot abandoning your responsibilities in the assembling of yourselves together.â€ In other words, there is more to this command than simply an instruction to continue â€œattendingâ€ a gathering, as if the attendance itself is a benefit to the believer. The author of Hebrews is reminding his readers that each one of them has a responsibility to the assembly of believers. During the gathering, every member of the church should have the opportunity to exercise spiritual gifts in a manner that will edify the church, and thus carry out their responsibilities toward God and toward one another.
 David Peterson, â€œFurther Reflections on Worship in the New Testament,â€ The Reformed Theological Review, 44 (May-August 1985), 39-40.