The Proper Order

by Mike McInnis

Let all things be done decently and in order. I Corinthians 14:40.

In this passage of scripture Paul exhorts the saints at Corinth to be mindful of how they conduct themselves when they assemble together. He had instructed them earlier (in this passage) as to the fact that GOD was not the “Author of confusion” (v,33). The point that he was making is that GOD is a GOD of order and not chaos. Therefore when they are assembled together under the SPIRIT’s leadership they will not go about it in a haphazard manner or without a certain “dignity.” In fact the Greek word which is translated here as “order” literally means “a fixed succession, regular arrangement, or official dignity.”

Unfortunately, as men are wont to do, many have construed this to mean the introduction of manmade liturgies, prescribed and prearranged orders of services, and other measures designed to suit their religious tastes. It is thought by many that this will insure order, when in reality all that it usually does is cause men to confuse religious traditions with true spiritual worship. Most men of religion are convinced that any gathering which does not comply with their “order” cannot truly be of the “proper order,” especially if not descended through their own “bloodlines.”

This has led to the factionalizing of GOD’s people into this sect or that, primarily based upon the notions and preferences of men with little scriptural foundation, yet each little sect (or heresy, see the Greek) is convinced that they are the only ones who are operating in true biblical order.

There is an “order” which is found in all gatherings of those who meet together in the power of HIS SPIRIT. It is the only “order” which is of importance and when it is found, one will find men truly “gathered in HIS NAME.” This is the only “order” which is directed by HIS SPIRIT. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-15).

There is room for only ONE NAME to be glorified in this “order” wrought by the SPIRIT of GOD. If all things are done decently and in order then CHRIST and CHRIST alone must be magnified in that assembly. This order is not concerned with how many songs are sung, or if any songs are sung, what the tempo is, what the tune is or how the music is produced. It is not concerned with who speaks or what credentials he might or might not have. It is not concerned with who does what or when they do it. This “order” is concerned that CHRIST be lifted up and men be humbled in the dust of adoring wonder at HIS MAJESTY and redemptive work.

There can be no hierarchy in such a gathering because there is only ONE HEAD and ONE worthy of honor of any type when the SPIRIT leads men. If HE will not speak of HIMSELF but defers to the glory of CHRIST, then who are men to exalt themselves in any fashion or demonstration of any gifts they may possess. This order does not provide a place of display wherein men might perform or demonstrate their skills and talents. There is no place to be found for any who seek to have “preeminence.” This order demands that “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:11). To seek or desire honor among the saints is to seek to rob HIM who alone is worthy of such honor. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3) (see III John 1:9).

When things are done decently and in order, then the TRUTH of CHRIST will be declared by that same SPIRIT which the LORD said would guide HIS people into it. The TRUTH of CHRIST is the preaching of CHRIST alone. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). Preaching CHRIST is not the product of a man’s education or position but rather a demonstration of the power of GOD which cannot be overturned. To this end Paul declared, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1Cor 2:1-5).

Men often confuse eloquence, long windedness, flights of fancy in interpretation, and certain styles of delivery as being of the “proper order” of this preaching. Yet the only “order” which the SPIRIT of GOD is the AUTHOR of is the declaration of JESUS CHRIST and HIM crucified. By the same token men often confuse a man’s calling or office among the saints as being important in the “proper order” of this preaching, defining who it is that might “preach.” Yet the LORD is pleased to use even the weakest of the saints for the edification of the body as it pleases HIM. “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Cor. 12:6-7).

Some sects believe that high levels of formal education are beneficial and needful for those who would “minister” to the saints of GOD. Others decry such “education” and even glory in having little of it. The SPIRIT of GOD does not need the “talents” and education of men any more than HE promotes their ignorance or gives them reason to glory in such. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Act 4:13). “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph. 4:14-16). This is proper order.

As the SPIRIT shows the saints “the things that be of CHRIST” then this introduces the “proper order” among the saints. Proper order recognizes the HEADSHIP of CHRIST which is demonstrated in HIS being both “the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith.” “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:16-20).

So to sum it all up, proper order is demonstrated when CHRIST alone is glorified, when the exploits, talents, and deeds of men are forgotten. It is manifested when CHRIST and HIM crucified is the sole message declared from the lips of those who would claim to preach the everlasting gospel. “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21).

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