Building The Church

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The world is full of false worship

Today’s text is one of the hardest chapters in the Bible.
It’s a difficult chapter.
There’s certainly plenty of controversy and confusion regarding this chapter.
It’s a chapter written by Paul, and it’s hard.
In , Peter said of some of Paul’s writings, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
So if you find it confusing or difficult, you aren’t alone.
Peter, thought that at times Paul was hard to understand.
But others have found it hard to understand as well, and in that confusion, they twist it and take people captive to false ideas, and manipulate them.
What makes this chapter so hard is that it deals with false worship, and false worship that is common within the church.
And when it comes to worship, we are timid and afraid to critique others.
We say it doesn’t matter how people worship God.
But it does matter.
One of the first sins to enter into humanity was the idea that man can worship God however he wants.
Remember Cain and Abel?
The fight was God telling Cain he needed to change the way he worshipped.
Cain didn’t change.
Instead, he remained in his vain worship, then to top it off, killed his brother.
God forbid the Israelites from worshipping however they wanted, or like everyone else.
, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.”
That’s why there are such specific instructions on priests, sacrifices, incense and fire within Leviticus.
That’s because God was laying out, “This is how I want you to worship, not how you want to worship.”
Within the 10 Commandments, God explains He doesn’t want pictures of Him, or statues of Him.
He explains how we are to speak of Him.
And even when we are to worship Him.
All that to say, God cares how we approach Him.
Now we fast forward to the Corinthians Church.
The Corinthian Church was not the model church.
No one should ever say, “Let’s become more biblical, let’s be like the Corinthians.”
The Corinthian Church was more like the world around them then anything else.
The Greek Culture had their heroes that they worshipped.
Think of Zeus and Hercules.
They worshipped the Caesar, and the legends of old.
The Corinthians did the same thing.
They favored Paul or Apollos.
In II Corinthians we learn that there were so called, super-apostles, that were magnified.
The culture around them was extremely sexual.
The Corinthian church followed the sexual revolution of the culture as well.
Chapter 5 says that there was a man who was having an affair with his step mom, and they were so proud of him.
The culture was violent, and in conflict.
The Corinthian church, was active in suing each other.
It was ripe with conflicts and disagreements.
Family life was a disaster in culture.
And the Corinthian church went right along with them.
Divorce was present in the church.
People used their conversion experience or their spouses lack of conversion, to make an excuse for divorce.
They worshipped like the pagans.
The pagan religions would have idolatrous feasts of food.
The Corinthian church modeled those pagan feasts in their observance of communion.
The pagans who would work themselves up into ecstatic frenzies.
They would babble, mutter and stutter incoherent words.
They claimed to speak in mystical languages, that only the gods and the spirits could understand.
And guess what … the church followed right along with them, by babbling in strange tongues.
For our time in I Corinthians:
Paul has been explaining what gifts there are.
The diversity of the Gifts.
Then last week, we saw that they are to be used in love.
Then we come to .
A passage that is often used to support the gift of tongues.
And even used to support the abuse of tongues in the church today.
But as we go through this chapter, we will see that Paul is explaining that the their
Let’s go ahead and read Paul’s response to the Corinthians worship.
Open your Bibles to .
There are 4 indictments against the church and their worship.
Worship must be understandable.
Worship must communicate something.
Third what they thought was worship, was actually a display of God’s judgment.
And fourthly, worship must build up the church.

The first indictment and the first point of our sermon is that worship is to be understandable.

In verse 2, Paul says, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.”
Like today, there was this idea, that if you spoke in tongues, you were speaking in a mystical language, some language that was heavenly.
The people took the pagan worship that was around them, and imported it into the church.
They babbled unintelligibly, thinking that God was understanding what was being said.
Even they didn’t know what they were saying.
Today, this same idea is prevalent among those who practice tongues.
Some call it a prayer language.
They say it is between them and God.
Perhaps you know people who speak in tongues, maybe you’ve even gotten caught up in it in the past.
At times, I’ve come up here and said things, and made fun of these types of people.
At this point, I am not making fun.
I know that this is a hard topic.
And for some it’s a very personal topic.
So let’s address this it gently and biblically.
Paul explains that this type of speaking, the babbling in secret languages, is not real.
Verse 9 says, “So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.”
In fact, even the one speaking in the mystical language doesn’t know what is being said.
Verse 11 says, “but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.”
He says that if others don’t understand what you are saying, you are a foreigner to them.
So suppose, one of the folks from the Korean church came in and started talking to us in Korean, we’d get no benefit, and wouldn’t understand.
But suppose even the speaker doesn’t understand what he’s saying.
Paul says you become a foreigner to yourself.
Now that’s just crazy talk.
If you are a foreigner to yourself, something is wrong.
Please remember what tongues really were.
Tongues were actual languages.
They were understandable languages.
says, “And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
The true tongues was a gift of God, where the speaker spoke in an intelligible language, that was a real language.
Last chapter, , said that tongues would cease.
But when they were functioning, they were real languages that could really be understood by those who knew the languages.
The error that the Corinthian church made was that they adopted the pagan view of tongues, which was different from the version, and incorporated it into their worship service.
But what about tongues being a prayer language. Maybe you’ve heard someone say that.
Not only do tongues need to be understandable to the listeners, but they need to be understandable to the one praying.
When Jesus prayed … He spoke in a way that could be understood.
Think about the different times Jesus prayed.
If tongues were a holy language, an angelic language, the language of God, then think about Jesus.
If Jesus is God the Son.
Part of the Trinity.
You’d think that tongues would be the native language between the members of the Trinity.
But when Jesus prayed, how did He pray?
… He spoke plainly.
, Jesus takes the cup and the bread and gave thanks.
He thanked God, and the disciples understood.
records Jesus’ prayer to the father.
He never speaks in tongues.
He prayed plainly.
So tongues aren’t supposed to be a secret, unknown language.
And how are we to worship?
Remember when Jesus encountered the woman at the well.
At the end of their conversation Jesus said, “… You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
We aren’t to worship what we don’t know.
And we can’t worship, if we don’t know what we are doing.
Our worship to God should never be, “I don’t know what I’m saying.”
But how?
In spirit and truth.
Knowing Who we worship.
Knowing Why we worship.
And knowing what our worship is.
In , Solomon said, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”
If anything, we should carefully think through what we say to God.
Our religion isn’t a mystery religion.
It’s a knowledge of truth.
Of knowing something.
Of speaking plainly to God.
, “Come now, let us reason together ...”
Worship involves reason.
We pursue wisdom.
True worship involves thinking.
We pursue knowledge.
We pursue understanding.
Paul makes this conclusion in verses 14-15, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.”
That means worship should not be unintelligible, such as a secret language that even the worshiper doesn’t know.
We pursue wisdom.
We pursue knowledge.
We pursue understanding.
We are to know what we are saying when we worship.

The second indictment against the Corinthians Church was something should be communicated to each other during worship.

Look at verse 6, “Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?”
He speaks of the church being benefited.
Over and over again in this chapter, Paul says something about the church being built up.
When we come together, we need to communicate something to each other.
So in the first indictment, there needs to be communication between God and man.
The second indictment is that we are to be talking clearly to each other.
The Corinthians weren’t doing that.
They were coming together and showing off for one another.
They were talking over one another.
They were speaking in tongues, and no one knew what was going on.
Verses 7-9 say, “If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.”
I love the analogy of instruments.
In verse 8 he says the bugles gives distinct sounds for battle.
We understand this.
I’ve got a few bugle sounds for us, and each of these sounds communicate something.
If you hear this sound what does it mean?
Play Revelry - If you hear this, what does it mean?
It means wake up.
Play Charge - If you hear this what does it mean?
If you’ve been to a sports game you know. It’s the Calvary Charge.
The calvary’s here, charge.
Play Taps - If you hear this what does it mean?
It means the charge didn’t go well.
Play the Mess Call - Here’s a tough one. If you hear this what does it mean?
Supper time.
Those songs mean something.
And if you mix them up, you’ll be waking up to a funeral, or charging to the dinner line.
When the bugle plays those notes, it needs to be done succinctly and clearly.
We are talking about communicating each other.
When we come together, we need to communicate clearly to each other.
I think it was the first Rush Hour movie, starring Jackie Chan and Chris Rock.
There is this scene where Jackie Chan is trying to get Chris Rock’s attention.
Chris Rock says, “Who are you talking to?”
Jackie Chan says, “You.”
“Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?”
Chris Rock says, “Don’t nobody know the words coming out of your mouth.”
When we get together we need to speak clearly to each other.
Not just build each other up, but strive to excel at it.
But we aren’t talking about diction.
Talking about communicating a truth to each other.
Look at verse 1, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”
I don’t think Paul is saying:
Everyone should become preachers.
Remember, there are many gifts.
But in contrast to tongues, which doesn’t communicate, prophecy takes the word of God, and speaks it to our life.
Paul told Timothy in , “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
We frequently are in God’s Word.
We are being trained in God’s Word.
We know how to handle God’s Word.
And so, when we come together, we can speak godly to each other.
We can speak truth to each other.
We can speak the Word of God to each other.
I don’t know if you know what a huge blessing that is.
The world is a lonely place.
There are people who are looking for friendship.
There are people who are looking for people in the same situation in life.
Families want to hang out with kids in the same age bracket.
People who have the same hobbies get together.
People who are the same age get together.
But the church offers something that the rest of the world doesn’t have and that is fellowship based off of truth.
This means that I don’t have to be in the same life situation, same age, have the same interests, or the have same numbers of kids to be with you, or to speak truth to you.
I don’t have to have done drugs to help someone on drugs.
I don’t have to be an alcoholic to help someone who drinks.
I have the word of God, and can use His words to encourage you.
I don’t have to be a widow to encourage a widow.
Paul told Timothy in , “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
This means in the fellowship that we have, we are invited to encourage each other with the Word of God.
We aren’t to let our age get in the way.
I can go to an older person and encourage her to run the race.
An older person can come to me and tell me to grow up.
I can go to a person with no kids, and bring up and encourage him to train up his child.
Or encourage him to spank his kid, because it may save his soul … that’s what says.
And I don’t have to be ashamed of these things, because my foundation is God’s Word.
May I encourage you to speak more to each other.
Talk more.
More text messages.
More coffee dates.
More Wednesday nights when we have discussion groups.
More praying together.
The Corinthian church didn’t communicate to each other.
Let’s communicate.

The third indictment against the Corinthian church was that tongues were a sign of Judgment.

The thinking was that tongues were this supreme gift, not unlike many in the charismatic movement today.
There are some who think that if you don’t speak in tongues you aren’t a Christian.
Or that if you do speak in tongues, you have received a great blessing from God.
Look at verses 20-22, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.”
First, Paul says that their thinking about tongues is immature.
They are being childish in their thinking.
Paul admonishes them to pursue maturity, “in your thinking be mature.”
He then quotes , “By people of strange lips and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me.”
This may sound weird, but tongues were actually a sign of God’s judgment.
I bet you’ve never heard that.
Look at verse 22 again, “Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, ...”
They thought tongues were for the worship service.
And Paul says no, they are for the unbeliever.
That Isaiah passage was a judgment verse upon the hard hearted nature of Israel.
Historically, God sent the prophets to Israel.
Historically, God demonstrated great compassion to Israel.
And how did Israel respond?
They rejected God.
Then when Christ came, the Emmanuel, how did Israel respond?
For the most part, they rejected Jesus.
Crying out, “Crucify Him.” And, “We have no king but Caesar”.
50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, Pentecost arrived.
The Holy Spirit was unleashed upon the young church in Jerusalem.
The Jews that were there, who were from all over the world, heard the disciples speaking in their native languages.
Do you remember how they responded to hearing the Gospel in their own languages?
says they mocked them.
They said that the disciples were drunk.
“… By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me ...”
Tongues weren’t a compliment.
Nor were they a blessing.
They were a statement of God’s judgment, and proof that people would reject the Lord.
The Corinthian Church misunderstood the gift of tongues.
They had it completely wrong.
They didn’t understand it was a judgment against the unbelieving Jews.
They didn’t understand it was an actual language.
They didn’t understand that the version of tongues they were pursuing … was actually a satanic pagan version.
Which leads me to warn you … not all religious experiences are good.
There are supernatural experiences that happen.
I can’t explain all of them.
I don’t doubt that someone has experienced something, but it doesn’t mean it’s good or something we should pursue.
Here are a few examples of biblical characters that experienced something supernatural, but that supernatural experience was definitely not good.
Moses before Pharaoh.
Moses did some amazing things.
But many of those things could also be replicated by Pharaoh’s magicians.
They practiced some kind of dark art, some kind of sorcery.
So there is witchcraft … should we pursue it? No.
The end of I Samuel, Saul goes to the witch of Endor, wants to talk to Samuel … who’s dead.
The witch of Endor, some how brings Samuel back from the dead.
I get the feeling it’s not something that she actually did successfully most of the time.
She probably was more of a charlatan, like the modern day fortune teller.
But in this instance, it worked.
And Saul died the next day along with his son.
, Jehoshaphat is with Ahab.
They are allies in a battle, but Jehoshaphat wanted to talk to a prophet of God.
They find Micaiah, who tells the truth.
Unfortunately, there are about 400 false prophets, who are all believing the same lie.
What had happened is a lying spirit had been sent and deceived all of them.
400 false prophets had experienced something together … doesn’t mean it was good.
Paul says that there is only one gospel. He warns the church though that even if an angel from heaven came and preached another Gospel, that we are not to believe it.
Why do I say all this?
Because I don’t doubt that there are people who have had supernatural experiences that are abnormal.
I’ve tried to show you that the biblical version of tongues has ceased.
That’s what says.
But I don’t doubt that there are people who have experienced something that they call tongues, which is similar to the pagan version that the Corinthians were practicing in .
I don’t know how Benny Hinn can get a crowd wound up like he does.
I know that you know people who have experienced something like this.
They have stories to tell.
But experience doesn’t mean it’s good.
The Corinthians were definitely experiencing something, and Paul says, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

And instead of a final indictment, let’s be encouraging, worship is to be upbuilding.

Look at verse 12, “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.”
That phrase, building up the church is throughout this chapter.
It’s everywhere.
The Corinthians had missed the whole point of the gifts.
They saw them as an opportunity to be individualistic.
They showed off.
They boasted in their gifts.
And then even in the use of their gifts, it was for themselves.
Let’s start putting this all together.
You come to church.
You exercise your gift.
And who is supposed to benefit from the use of your gift?
Verse 5 says, “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”
The Corinthians were using a self-centered gift, that no one benefitted from.
The church is supposed to be built up.
Sunday morning is about the gathering of the saints.
It’s about the saints remembering the victorious resurrection of Christ from the grave.
And it’s about us using our gifts to serve one another.
Sadly, at least within the American church, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Christian religion is becoming more and more private.
Our culture is embracing internet church, where you go online and watch a service.
People leave churches because they don’t get anything out of it.
The Christian religion is becoming more and more private.
But when Christians get together it’s not about us, or you. It’s about all of us.
Do you ever think about that?
The songs we sing … they aren’t for you the individual.
They are for everybody.
Collectively, we all sing.
It shouldn’t be the Cajudo’s singing to us.
It should be us singing with the Cajudos.
How we dress is for each other.
The words I use is for you.
The smile on my face … is for you.
How do we do this? … we must have a love for one another.
The reason why so many feel disconnected from the Christian Church isn’t because the church doesn’t do enough for them … but because they don’t love the church.
And there will be times those here … don’t respond the way you want them too.
Some are harder to love then others.
I call them EGR - Extra Grace Required.
There are some who never reciprocate your affection.
They don’t seem to notice.
In those moments, may you turn to Christ for strength.
You see, His love for us wasn’t in reaction to us.
He didn’t say, “Boy those Christians sure are nice fellows, I’ll die for them.”
Actually, it was while we were dead in our trespasses, servants of Satan and slaves to sin … that means bad fellows, that Christ died for us.
Therefore, don’t wait for others to come to you … jump in and love others.
I’d like to embarrass the Cajudo’s for a moment.
It feels like we’ve known them forever doesn’t it.
They’ve only been here for almost 2 years. They only became members in November of 2016.
But they came, and jumped in.
Started serving.
They had a love for the church.
If you feel disconnected, find your gift and put it to use.
God has given it to you so that you can serve the church.
You’re like that puzzle piece that was missing.
We need you to be complete.
Here’s a question to ask yourself before leaving church today.
Instead of saying, “How was church?”
Maybe ask yourself, “Did I edify others, or was the morning about me?”
Hopefully, you can say you edified others during the service.
Going back to verse 12, “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.”
So you are getting the point, the gifts are for building each other up.
But not just are we to build each other up, but we are strive to excel at it.
You know what separates someone who runs a marathon for the first time, and an olympic marathon runner?
The casual runner says, “I just want to finish.”
The professional athlete, the olympic runner, is trying to beat the record.
He’s trying to get on the podium.
He’s shooting for gold.
He wants to excel.
When I was in high school, I needed 40 hours of community service to graduate.
I believe this same requirement continues today.
Usually, by February or March, there are a couple high schoolers who will come to me or Donna and say they need to do community service to graduate.
That’s the bare minimum.
There are many Christians who shoot for the bare minimum.
They see the church as something that they work at, serve at, because it’s nice and helpful.
My friends that’s the bare minimum.
That’s a casual runner attitude.
That’s the high schooler who’s waited till February of his senior year kind of attitude.
Paul says strive to excel.
That’s a command, it’s an imperative.
Are you excelling at building up the church?
Once you discover your gift.
Once it’s made clear.
Put it to use.
And excel at it.
May your worship to God:
Be intelligible.
Be something that communicates something.
And would it be a building worship.
A worship that builds the Lord’s Church.
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