Edify one another!

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

To edify is to build up spiritually through teaching that is designed to improve the hearer’s relationship with God and to help him become more like Christ.

The word of God is the source of edification.

“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

Edification must be based on the word of God: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

We must build each other up and not tear down.

To edify, our speech must be uplifting and not destructive. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Backbiting is destructive. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren” (James 4:11). We are to “speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2).

False teaching tears down: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17, 18).

Edification must be motivated by love.

“Knowledge puffs up but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Edification involves the transfer of knowledge, but knowledge without love is destructive rather than uplifting. Love “is not puffed up” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

I observed an example of edification motivated by love at Aylesbury, England in 1965. Sister Becky Tallotta was teaching the sisters how to conduct children’s Bible classes. She showed me visual aids she had prepared so the ladies could learn how to make lessons more interesting for children.

She said, “Notice that this handwork I made is very simple and actually not very good.” She said, “I do that on purpose so the ladies will think, ‘Why I could do better than that!’ If I made it too nice, they might think, ‘I could never do that!’”

Sister Tallotta wanted to edify her sisters, not to show off her ability. Her edification was motivated by love.

Love often requires us to give up our own preferences so others are built up. “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Romans 15:1, 2).

We may never please men rather than God (1 Thessalonians 2:4) but we often must please others rather than ourselves so they will be built up.

In Romans chapter 14 Paul discussed how Christians should treat each other when they disagree on optional matters such as whether one eats meat or is a vegetarian. He said, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Romans 14:19-21).

Paul says the same thing with regard to eating meat sacrificed to idols: “Eat whatever is sold in the market place, asking no questions for conscience’ sake” (1 Corinthians 10:25). Meat is meat, whether it has been offered to an idol or not. Yet, if eating meat sacrificed to idols would cause someone to sin, such should be avoided. Paul says: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

We may never compromise the doctrine of Christ. But especially when dealing with people from different cultures and backgrounds, we often must refrain from doing certain things that actually are not wrong in themselves, if doing those things would cause someone to violate his conscience or would prevent hem from being edified.

We edify one another in song.

Singing is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to edify each other. I have been in congregations of two and three thousand people in the United States. But the most heartfelt singing I ever heard was when I worshipped with the Nsawam congregation of 400 people in Accra, Ghana in 1988. My soul was uplifted as they powerfully sang praises to God.

Because I was speaking, I was sitting on the second row from the front. On the row in front of me was a very petite woman who sang all of the words of every song without a book. She closed her eyes as she sang from her whole heart.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

We teach and admonish one another in song. Christian singing is for edification. Paul said, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Some people at Corinth were speaking in languages no one understood! Paul said that words spoken in the assembly should be “easy to understand” (1 Corinthians 14:9). The assembly should be “for the edification of the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12); “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

This explains why God omitted instrumental music from New Testament worship. All things in the assembly are to be done for edification. We edify one another in song. Instruments and clapping do not edify.

What provision has Christ made for the edification of the church?

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

The apostles and prophets of the first century, together with Christ as the cornerstone, are the foundation on which the edification of the church is based today (Ephesians 2:20). The doctrine of Christ revealed through them has been preserved for us in the prophetic scriptures (Romans 16:25, 26).

Evangelists, elders and teachers edify the church today on the basis of the New Testament.

Evangelists, in addition to preaching the gospel publically, edify the church. They teach disciples to observe all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:20). Both publicly and privately they declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27). As Paul said: "Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). To the Thessalonians he wrote: "We sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in the gospel of Christ, to establish you in your faith and to exhort you" (1 Thessalonians 3:2). To Timothy Paul wrote: "If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed" (1 Timothy 4:6).

Christ has also given elders to edify the church. The word “pastors” in some translations is more accurately translated “shepherds” and refers, not to preachers, but to elders in the church.

An elder must be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). He must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Christ has also given teachers to edify the church. There were teachers in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Although in a sense, all Christians teach each other (Hebrews 5:12) not everyone is a teacher (1 Corinthians 12:29). Only those who are qualified may be teachers (James 3:1). Women may be teachers of other women (Titus 2:3, 4) but they may not be teachers of men in the church (1 Timothy 2:12).

Edification encourages Christians to be like Christ.

The foundation of the apostles and prophets has been laid, and evangelists, shepherds and teachers have been given “for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:12-16).

Let us edify one another.

The word of God is the source of edification. We must build each other up and not tear down. Edification must be motivated by love. We edify one another in song. Christ has given evangelists, elders and teachers for the edification of the church. The goal of edification is to encourage one another to be like Christ. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive