How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue has a revelation has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22
What should be the purpose of gathering together as the Church? A good typical answer is usually something like “Church is the gathering of the saints for the purpose of fellowship, worshiping the Lord, prayer, partaking in the Lord Supper, and for the edification of the saints.” This often is accomplished as follows; a small percentage gather for prayer before everyone else arrives, conversations takes place before and after the service. Worship consists of sing songs about God, to God, or about ourselves, and we are edified by listening to a sermon, and possibly getting prayed for at the end.
Something can be missing in all this that is of the greatest importance and should be the primary goal of the Church. It’s possible to say some prayers, have a great conversation with friends, sing some wonderful songs, take communion, and hear a stirring message without the presence of God. How often do you leave a service and know you have truly met with the invisible God and His still small voice has been heard.
In Revelation 3:1-6 the message to the Church in Sardis was that they had a name that they were alive, but were dead. Their outward appearance look good, they may have had a good meeting, but the invisible flow of life, from the Spirit to our spirits had stopped. They are told to be watchful or awaken by remembering how they received and heard. It’s time to be like the prophet in Habakkuk 2:1
I will stand my watch and set myself…and watch to see what He will say to me.
Do our church meetings have at their heart a purposeful desire to hear what the Spirit is saying? Some old habits may have to be broken in order to posture ourselves as a congregation to hear and some new way will need to be learned to learn how to progress to the place of hearing.
And raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6.
This little verse examined in the Greek has a couple compound words that may help. “Raised us up together” is “sunegerio” or united reviving, while “sit together” is “sunkathizo” or united tarrying. Also when looking at Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance “in heavenly places” has the definition as the mountain of God superimposed upon this reality.
Worship that progresses through these three stages truly has an encounter with God. A group of individuals come into the same room and begin to sing songs that turn our attention off of ourselves and onto the goodness of God. Over the course of singing, praying, communion, and scripture reading our first goal is to become more awake, more alive as the church then when we came in. Often that is as far as we progress in our worship service, which is good.
The next step begins to take place when worship gets really good. Everyone comes to a place where it gets quiet. Too often the quiet is uncomfortable, or just a convenient stopping place as it’s time to move on to announcement, the offering and the sermon. But united tarrying is a much more important step then the first because as we become quiet, stopping our constant activity, and tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. At this point 1 Corinthians 14:26 can take place.
The third step is when God manifest in our midst, not in a visible or audible way but in our inner man the stirring up of our gifts take place. In Corinth a psalm, teaching, a tongue, or a revelation might take place. Instead a single individual preaching, a Holy Spirit directed flow of intercession, prophetic utterance, teaching, or other gifts come forth. When the mountain of God is superimposed upon this reality, this reality is being changed. The government of God is at work expanding His kingdom through us.
Oh how frustrating it is to get through the first stage and begin to enter the second stage only to have it cut off due to time limits, lack of understanding, or our own agenda. Far too often the Spirit gets quenched just as we are about ready and open for Him. The Spirit to spirit flow gets cut off and our meetings become dead religion. Just like in Sardis we need to awaken to the voice of God, be watchful, receive and hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.