Convicting Clarity

According to the Bible some practices are more profitable than others during the assembled worship of a church. Paul emphasized the value of prophetic utterance over tongue-talking in 1 Corinthians 14. He esteemed speaking “to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (verse 3). Such profit requires intelligibility, using language with discernible meaning communicated to minds outside of the speaker’s. Such manifestations build up the church (verse 12).

What is edifying clarity for the church is also a convicting clarity to unbelieving visitors.

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. (1 Corinthians 14:24–25)

Truth, like light, reveals hearts, and the clarity brings conviction, possibly consolation in Christ, but not comfortability. The outsider–one outside of Christ, not a part of the church–is convicted, accountable, exposed, and humbled as God’s Spirit works. This reaction enables him to confirm that God is present.

An unbelieving guest may or may not hear more than one voice, but he should be able to watch the response of the church to truth understood. The believers’ hearts are exposed and they humbly fall on their faces to worship God. The outsider is convicted by seeing the insiders convicted.

Our weekly confession of sin is part of our corporate witness. When God is really among us, we are not running from conviction and accountability but rather responding to it. A whole church falling on their faces will be a potent proof of God’s presence.