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Remembering the Importance of Mutual Edification

Posted by on Jan 1, 2013 in edification, gathering | 5 comments

Remembering the Importance of Mutual Edification

Typically, when the church gathers together today, the focus is on something called a “worship service.” We all know what this means: a few people have prepared songs, prayers, and/or a teaching (sermon) that are presented to others. Other are invited to take part in the songs (some of the songs), in a prayer or two occasionally, and in giving money to the church organization (some of which may be used for missions or for those in need).

A few years ago, when I began studying the church in the New Testament (especially when believers gathered together in the New Testament), I noticed something important. The “worship service” of today does not resemble what they did or how they gathered together.

Now, the thing is, this is not a problem as long as the way we gather together is unnecessary to our life in Christ and our growth in him. But, as I continued to study, I found that the things we do (and don’t do) when we get together with other brothers and sisters in Christ is not only important, but is necessary to our growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this:

However, just because the authors of Scripture were not concerned with the specific things that happened when the church met together does not mean that they were not concerned with the church gathering together. In fact, I think they were very concerned.

It is correct for us to say that Scripture does not tell us how the church should meet together. It is completely incorrect to say that Scripture does not tell us why the church should meet together. Scripture is very clear on the purpose of the brothers and sisters in Christ gathering together, whenever they gather together. (See “Mutual Edification and the Church: Introduction.”)

There’s a phrase used to describe what believers in the New Testament did when they gathered together: “mutual edification.” There are two important parts to this term. 1) “Mutual” indicates that the entire church – all the people – took part. 2) “Edification” indicates that the goal was growth, maturity, encouragement in Jesus Christ.

In fact, as I studied the New Testament, I found that “mutual edification” when the church gathers was presented by the authors in “examples,” in “principles,” and even in “commands.”

In other words, if the authors of the New Testament were correct (and I think they were), and if we should consider what they wrote to be important (and I think we should), then we should also recognize the importance and necessity of mutual edification whenever we get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When? Like Paul wrote, “Whenever you come together…” (1 Corinthians 14:26)

I’ll end with this:

We demonstrate our worship to God when we obey him and give ourselves to him. According to Scripture, when the church meets together (that is, whenever two or more disciples of Jesus are together), we worship (that is, we obey God) when we mutually edify one another. (See “Mutual Edification and the Church: Conclusion.”)


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-1-2013

    Oh yes, Alan. A very loud AMEN to what you have written here.

    Thank you for writing, and thank you for doing so in gentleness and humility. That is essential if we’re to get this message across effectively.

  2. 1-1-2013

    I wanted to write more, too much for a comment. So I post to my blog instead…

  3. 1-1-2013

    I agree: growth and maturity are the goals of edification, and it is the responsibility of each member of the body to work toward the building up of the others. When we gather, we have open discussion during our Bible studies. Anyone and everyone contributes, and it’s a wonderful time when we all benefit.

    However, it occurred to me that for edification to be effective, there must be more than just sharing of information (whether it be examples, principles or commands), and there must be more than just open minds. There must be receptive hearts so that what is learned changes the individuals. There must be humility in all, both the speakers and the listeners. Without this heart condition, we end up with mere ‘mutual education’ – knowledge without a life change. I find that, without humility, I enjoy telling others what I know, and I receive less benefit from listening to what others have to say… which is not edifying.

  4. 1-1-2013


    “when we mutually edify one another”. Absolutely.

    Andrew’s comment is spot on, as well! He mentions “heart condition” , and “knowledge without a life change”.

    From my limited understanding, his words touch on a matter far more important than the when, where, how often we meet issues.

    This “heart condition” influences and motivates everything else!

  5. 1-1-2013

    Spot on as usual. While it sounds simple and perhaps innocently obvious this could be one of those realizations of scripture that dawns on a generation of the faithful and drives long lasting change in the body of Christ. I pray it is so.


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