|Vol. 16 No. 5 May 2014||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Why in churches of Christ [do] we pray one person [at a time] and the rest will be in silence? Some cry when praying but this rarely happen in the churches of Christ? Then last the issue of speaking [is] in tongues after [one has] been filled with Holy Spirit, [I] have not yet encountered it.
The churches of Christ try to be identical to the church that Jesus established (Matthew 16:18) and about which one can read in the New Testament. The noticeable differences between that church then and now pertain to the differences relative to the contrasts between the first century and the 21st century. Those dissimilarities include modern conveniences (e.g., electricity, air conditioning, modes of travel, church owned property, public address systems, audio-visual media, clothing styles, etc.) and the cessation of Bible miracles around the close of the first century and the beginning of the second century (1 Corinthians 13:8-12) when the New Testament epistles had been completed.
First, one male member (1 Corinthians 14:34) prays aloud for the congregation at a time because this procedure is part of the orderliness (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40) in a congregational assembly commanded by the inspired apostle Paul. “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:29-32 NKJV). The procedure for a prophet (i.e., teacher or preacher) – one at a time, applies equally to other public speakers in the assembly; prayer is also the subject of the same chapter (1 Corinthians 14:15).
The “crying” mentioned by the questioner is an emotional response or an artificially injected spectacle, depending upon the individual crying. Crying is not a part of the prescription of New Testament worship.
Secondly, “Speaking in tongues” or foreign languages in the first century, which the speaker had not learned, was possible through miraculous assistance. Speaking in tongues is listed alongside of other miraculous manifestations in Mark 16:17-18. The specific purpose of these miracles is identified in Mark 16:20, which reads, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (emphasis added).
It never was God’s plan that miracles would continue beyond the purpose for which they had been implemented (1 Corinthians 13:8-12) – to facilitate the reception and validation of the epistles of the New Testament (and the inspired, human penman who wrote them). Once the miracles were no longer needed, and once the miracle-workers died, there was neither a reason for nor a source of the miracles. Therefore, one today should not expect to be moved miraculously by the Holy Spirit to “speak in tongues.” For a more in-depth treatment of the topic, “Speaking in Tongues,” see my article at the following URL from the “Archive” of Gospel Gazette Online.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone asks, “What is considered an eldership?” This word is a noun and represents a plurality of “elders,” also a noun. The words “elders” and “eldership” refer to the same thing. The New Testament also refers to “elders” (plural) (Acts 11:30; 14:23; 20:7; James 5:14, etc.) rather than to an “elder” (singular) when referring to church leaders appointed according to biblical qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. No single “elder” constitutes an “eldership” or can biblically or scripturally direct a congregation.
Where Does It Tell about
Paul Persecuting the Church?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone inquires, “Where does the Bible tell about Paul persecuting the church?” The inspired historian Luke recorded the persecution by Paul (then known by his Jewish name “Saul”) of the early church (Acts 8:1ff). Immediately preceding Paul’s (Saul’s) conversion, Jesus Christ asked Paul (Saul) why he was persecuting Him (Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-15); the latter two citations in the previous sentence were related by the apostle Paul about his encounter with our Lord on the road to Damascus before his conversion. The apostle Paul clearly acknowledged that he had persecuted the church in his speech and writings recorded in Acts 26:11, 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13 and 1 Timothy 1:13.