Summary: The impact of spiritual worship on outsiders is reviewed. It is the proclamation of the Word and not the frenzied attempts to awe and inspire outsiders that result in salvation of the lost.
“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, ‘By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.’ Thus, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”
All of mankind can be divided into two groups—saints and ain’ts. Either an individual is saved, or an individual is lost. When the Apostle Paul instructs Christians, “Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God” [1 CORINTHIANS 10:32], he established the divisions for all mankind before God. While the Jewish people are truly God’s chosen people, it remains that the nation rejected their Messiah when He was presented.
In his letter to Roman Christians, however, Paul makes it clear that God has not rejected His ancient people forever. Of Israel, he writes, “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” [ROMANS 9:1-5].
Then, soon after writing these words, Paul cautioned Gentile believers to watch out lest they should begin to feel superior to their Jewish forebears. “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
‘The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’;
‘and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.’
As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” [ROMANS 11:25-32]. Therefore, it should be obvious that the world is divided into categorised designating them as either saved or lost, saints or ain’ts.
It will be beneficial for us to compare our own meetings with those of the New Testament churches, focusing particularly on the purpose of our meetings. In the account of the meetings of the early churches, we find a passage that tells us something of their purpose in meeting. I am reading from the NET Bible, so it may differ somewhat from your own translation. Therefore, I ask you to listen, making any notes to assist your understanding in your own Bible. Later, review your notes, comparing them to what is written in your own translation.
Luke writes, “Those who [acknowledged the truth of] [Peter’s] message were baptised, and that day about three thousand people were [won over] ” [ACTS 2:41]. The first thing to note is that only those who acknowledged the truth of Peter’s message were baptised. Thus, we see that baptism is for those who are believers; it is not administered to make believers. Moreover, it is apparent that those who were baptised were counted as believers—they would henceforth be expected to live as examples of God’s grace. Perhaps others believed, but the divine enumerator did not count them because it would not be possible to make any statement concerning them.
Of those who received baptism, I continue reading in the NET Bible as Doctor Luke writes, “They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved” [ACTS 2:42-47].