How the Church is to Edify

How can a congregation work to edify its members? Romans 15:1-7 shows that edification is something that is done by each member, working together in one church. This is very connected with what we talked about under unity — we don’t do what we want, we do what our brethren want when we see that it will edify them. The end result of that edification is unity and glorifying God. 1 Corinthians 8:1 tells us that it takes love to edify. We have to focus on other people, not ourselves.

Especially in the context of the local church, speaking the words of God edifies the whole church (1 Corinthians 14:3-4). In verse 12, Paul encourages the Corinthians to seek to abound in spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. What did spiritual gifts do? They revealed and confirmed the word of God. Today, that word has been revealed and confirmed, but not all of it to everyone — some Christians know a lot more about the Bible than others. We need to continue “revealing” the word and building each other’s faith in that word. That means that you should study with people about the evidence for the Bible being the word of God in addition to studying the word itself (although much of the evidence is in the word itself).

Teaching is not the only way to edify in the context of the local church. 1 Corinthians 14:17 shows us that even our public prayers should be edifying. Verse 26 goes on to say that all of our worship should be edifying. That doesn’t mean that every song we sing or every prayer we say should be done directly to teach something, but truly glorifying God together does edify us.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29) (ESV)

Ephesians 4:29 shows us that to edify each other, we should be just as careful about what we do not say as what we do say. If you say something to tear your brother down, that is the exact opposite of what is commanded — it is sin. We are supposed be always building each other up.

Corrupting speech can mean many things — profanity, lies, insults, etc., but I believe that even when we are not careful about the words we use, we can be corrupting others’ minds. For example, when we use the term “church of Christ” all the time to refer to the Lord’s church, many people get the idea of a denomination that is called “Church of Christ.” Even Christians who will tell you very clearly that the church of Christ is not a denomination still believe it is in their hearts — you can tell by the way they speak about it as if it were made up of congregations that call themselves “church of Christ” and how they get upset if a church doesn’t put “Church of Christ” on the sign outside their building. “Church of Christ” is a valid description of the Lord’s church, but let us not turn it into a title and thus corrupt our own thinking and the thinking of those who hear us.