Edification: Build a different kind of wall

Edification: The purpose of Jesus' Assembly is to strengthen each other for battle

The purpose of Jesus' Assembly is to strengthen each other for battle.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church [assembly] and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church [assembly] in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless."   --Ephesians 5:25-27
Throughout the New Testament, the authors of the Bible refer to Jesus' Assembly as the bride of Christ. This analogy comes to a climax in Revelation where "The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready". Getting ready is a process, so we know that the Assembly is a work in progress.

Later in Revelation, the bride of the Lamb is revealed to be the city of New Jerusalem. Just as the old Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel under the Old Covenant, the New Jerusalem is the capital city of the Kingdom of Heaven under the New Covenant. Revelation describes this city with amazing splendor. It specifically talks about its wall which is built on twelve foundation stones, each of which is named after one of Jesus’ apostles.

Hmm, something built on a foundation of stone… does this remind you of anything? Remember that one of these twelve apostles is Peter. Peter roughly translates rock, and Jesus built his Assembly on him. 
"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven."
There is a clear connection between the Assembly Jesus is building on the rock of Peter and the wall of the Kingdom of Heaven built on the stones of Peter and other apostles. Thinking of the Assembly as a wall to the capital of the Kingdom of Heaven helps us understand why Jesus then starts talking about gates and keys. The way through a wall is a gate, and the way through a gate is with a key. The Assembly serves as the wall to the kingdom of heaven, and Peter, as its leader, is given the key to its gates. The Assembly is both the last line of defense against the Kingdom of Hades, as well as the only way in to the Kingdom of Heaven.

To bring people into the Kingdom of Heaven, we must fight the Kingdom of Hades. To fight the war, the wall of the Assembly must be made tall and strong. We make our wall strong by fighting together and encouraging each other. Building up one another is the very definition of edification. Look at what Paul wrote to the Assembly in Corinth about edification:
"When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."
Remember that the Assembly is a group of believers with a common purpose. And now we know the purpose: edify each other for battle.

There is a lot that goes on in churches and only some of it is for edification. But Paul says that “all things” should be done for edification. All things that are done in Assembly should be tested, and this is how we know if an Assembly is fulfilling its purpose. If a practice encourages, strengthens, and builds up disciples, it should be done in Jesus’ Assembly. If a practice does not, it should be ended.

Paul gives four examples of things that can be done in an Assembly for edification: singing psalms, teaching each other, sharing revelations, and interpreting tongues. Earlier in the same letter, Paul discusses a fifth activity: the Lord’s Supper.

It’s important to understand what Paul is talking about here. Psalms are spiritual songs, not pop music with godly lyrics substituted in. Teaching is not one person on stage talking to a microphone for 45 minutes with three points and a few life applications. Teaching is an interactive discussion, just as we observe from Jesus when he taught his disciples. Revelations are not regurgitated theology learned from books and classes, but ideas and visions from the Spirit of God. The Lord’s Supper was not Communion or Eucharist that we are used to. It was a ritual that was part of a larger meal just like the Passover feast that Jesus was eating when he instituted it. The early disciples called this an Agape Feast, and it was eaten by disciples together every day for the first few hundred years of the Assembly.

Food provides an organic reason for any family or friends to gather, and the Assembly today is no different. Once gathered for a meal, it is natural for believers to sing, teach, prophecy, and pray in tongues with interpretation. Notice that Paul didn’t say “let a pastor” bring these things. He said “each one”. There's no such thing as a church attendee or observer, because the Assembly is only made up of participants. This command is in the context of a larger discussion about doing this in an orderly way. Order requires leadership. But leaders aren’t there to do it all themselves; they are there to facilitate each person contributing to the Assembly in their own, unique ways. The Assembly is something that every disciple is a part of, and every disciple has something to contribute. This is not a passive church. This is an Assembly that is interactive and made up of us together so that we can be strengthened to make disciples as Jesus commanded.

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