THE CONTENTS OF THE BELIEVERS’ MEETINGS BEING PSALMS, TEACHINGS, AND REVELATIONS
First Corinthians 14:26 says, “What then, brothers? Whenever you come together….” The coming together here refers not to a small meeting, such as a group meeting, but to the big meetings of the church, because verse 23 says, “If therefore the whole church comes together in one place….” Therefore, the coming together mentioned in verse 26 should refer to the big meetings of the whole church gathered together. Whenever the saints come together and meet in this way, “each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” This is the only verse in the New Testament which tells us what to do when we meet. Whenever the whole church comes together, each one should have this or have that. Each one does not mean just one person but every person.
In verse 26 the word has is used five times. Paul tells us that in the meeting each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, or has an interpretation. The last two items, a tongue and an interpretation, are easy to understand. The first three items are a psalm, a teaching, and a revelation; among these three, a teaching and a revelation are matters of speaking. Concerning the word has, the Recovery Version of the New Testament has a note which says, “Has, occurring five times in this verse, is a widely used Greek word, a word with many meanings, of which the following three are the main ones: (1) to hold, to possess, to keep (a certain thing); (2) to have (a certain thing) for enjoyment; (3) to have the means or power to do a certain thing. The first two meanings should be applied to the first three of the five items listed in this verse, and the third to the last two—a tongue and an interpretation of a tongue” (note 1).
The first item mentioned is a psalm, which is for praising the Lord. If we read again Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, we will see that these two chapters tell us that psalms are not so much for singing as they are for speaking to one another (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Of course, psalms are for singing; however, according to the New Testament, psalms are even more for speaking to one another. Speaking to one another with psalms and hymns is more powerful and more inspiring. Therefore, not only do we need to sing the hymns, but even more we should speak the hymns. We need to cultivate this habit.
We should speak not only ordinary words but also poems and hymns. Poems and songs are the cream of the human language. If a language has not reached a stage of maturity, it cannot produce poems and songs, which are very powerful for the expression of feelings. Many of the hymns in our hymnal are worth speaking to one another. For example, Hymns, #864 is very suitable for singing and speaking to one another. Stanza 1 and the chorus say, “Whene’er we meet with Christ endued, / The surplus of His plenitude / We offer unto God as food, / And thus exhibit Christ. / Let us exhibit Christ, / Let us exhibit Christ; / We’ll bring His surplus to the church / And thus exhibit Christ.” We can compare whether the taste is richer by singing or by speaking the hymn. Both ways are very meaningful.
Not only can we practice singing and speaking to one another while we are in the meetings, but when we go back to our homes and even while we are still on the way, we can also practice this. We all know that in playing basketball, there is not just one way to pass the ball but many ways. For instance, one can pass the ball through the air, or he can pass the ball by bouncing it on the ground. In like manner, we should not be too rigid in our singing of hymns. Sometimes once a hymn has been selected, we may sing through the whole hymn stanza by stanza. Sometimes singing to one another is very meaningful also. Other times we can alternately sing and speak. After singing the first stanza, we speak the second stanza, then we sing the third stanza and speak the fourth stanza; we do this alternately until we get to the last stanza. Afterward, we may come back to the first stanza and sing it again. We can practice different ways until we become skillful, just as basketball players can pass the ball on the court in various ways.
After singing and speaking, speaking and singing a hymn, we still need more speaking. Whenever we meet, we mainly want to bring Christ with us and to minister Christ to others. However, if we want to bring Christ to the meeting, we must first have Christ. Therefore, we still need a good message; then the meeting can be rich. God has given us two gifts: the Spirit and the Word. Today the Spirit is within us while the Word is in our hands. Moreover, many portions of the Word have become hymns and songs. For example, Hymns, #864 is a product of the exposition of the truth to the fullest extent. In the chorus, “Let us exhibit Christ” is a picture of how the children of Israel in the Old Testament brought the riches from their field to Jerusalem for exhibition during their feasts. Therefore, in the New Testament when Christians meet together, they should bring the riches of Christ to exhibit them together.
This indicates that when we come to the church meeting, we should have something of the Lord to share with others, whether a psalm to praise the Lord, a teaching (of the teacher) to minister the riches of Christ to edify and nourish others, a revelation of the prophet (1 Cor. 14:30) to give visions of God’s eternal purpose concerning Christ as God’s mystery and the church as Christ’s mystery, a tongue for a sign to the unbelievers (v. 22) that they may know and accept Christ, or an interpretation to make a tongue concerning Christ and His Body understandable. The tongue-speaking here is not the so-called sound of the tongue and prophesying as practiced by the Pentecostal people. What Paul speaks about here, whether a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation, all ought to be the speaking of Christ. Some speak in the way of teaching, some speak in the way of revelation, some use the way of tongue-speaking, and some speak by the interpretation of tongues. No matter how one speaks, the content must be Christ. According to the whole book of 1 Corinthians, its general subject is Christ being the wisdom to us from God, as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He is our all in all.
Before coming to the meeting we should prepare ourselves for the meeting with such things from the Lord and of the Lord, either through our experiences of Him or through our enjoyment of His word and fellowship with Him in prayer. After coming into the meeting, we need not wait, and should not wait, for inspiration; we should exercise our spirit and use our trained mind to function in presenting what we have prepared to the Lord for His glory and satisfaction and to the attendants for their benefit—their enlightenment, nourishment, and building up.
This is like the Feast of Tabernacles in ancient times. The children of Israel brought the produce of the good land, which they had reaped from their labor on the land, to the feast and offered it to the Lord for His enjoyment and for their mutual participation in fellowship with the Lord and with one another. We must labor on Christ, our good land, that we may reap some produce of His riches to bring to the church meeting and offer. Thus, the meeting will be an exhibition of Christ in His riches and will be a mutual enjoyment of Christ shared by all the attendants before God and with God for the building up of the saints and the church.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)