the weblog of Alan Knox

What edification is not…

Posted by on Dec 18, 2006 in books, edification, gathering | Comments Off

In his book The Church of Christ, Everett Ferguson explains Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor. 14. In this passage, Paul distinguishes between speaking in tongues and prophecy. According to Paul, the difference lies in intelligibility. Since other people can understand prophecy, and since other people cannot understand uninterpreted tongues, prophecy is better for the gathering of the church than uninterpreted tongues. However, Paul suggests that the tongues-speaker can still speak silently to God. Ferguson comes to an interesting conclusion based on this passage:

From Paul’s corrections we learn negatively some things edification is not: it is not a feeling of uplift or what makes one feel good; it is not a matter of emotion, private experience, or sentiment; it is not what benefits, makes to feel good, or pleases the individual… In contrast, Paul’s emphasis on edification in the assembly gives priority to the good or benefit of the group (1 Cor. 14:2-5). Edification requires the mind, instruction, and understanding (1 Cor. 14:16-19). If no one understands, no edification takes place. The assembly of the church should be directed toward the benefit of others, and at its heart is intelligible speech that gives instruction, encouragement, and consolation.

When we gather with the church, we should not be concerned with what make us “feel” good. We should not even focus on activities of personal devotion to God. Instead, our focus should be on building up–maturing–other people.