The Corinthian Correspondence, Part 26: 1 Corinthians 14:26-40; "Open Worship, Ordered Worship"

The Corinthian Correspondence  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:49
0 ratings

What kind of worship does God accept? Or perhaps, a more basic question is, does God accept the worship of every Christian in every church gathering? We know that there were times when he rejected the worship offered from his people in the Old Testament. Does he ever reject the worship of Christians? And what about the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecy? Paul writes good, solid instruction in these matters and so many more in this passage. Come with the Grace United crew as we discover what it means to offer to the Lord "open worship" and "ordered worship"

The Corinthians Correspondence, Part 26; 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 "Open Worship, Ordered Worship" I remember it well. We were meeting at the American Legion building several years ago. Wendy Aschenbach--remember her and her husband Steve and their boys? suggested that we take some time during the worship service and open things up and share with one another about what the Lord was doing in our lives. That we would share victory stories. Times when the Lord shows up, even in our difficult moments. Even when the going is extremely hard, even if our times are very unpleasant, to know that the Lord is with us is victory! And we have been doing this ever since. And we have shared some incredible stories over the years, haven't we? And this goes to the heart of what the writer to the Hebrews says is one of the main reasons why we come together in corporate worship in Hebrews 10:24-25--And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. See, when we meet, we are to be authentic followers of Jesus. Sometimes sharing our hurt and pain in the presence of our God. Sometimes reminding one another that God is with the Christian--that he will never leave or forsake us. And always to give him worship and praise that he will accept. As we will see today in our passage, 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, Paul reminds us both of our vertical relationship--giving worship to our God and king, and our horizontal relationship--stirring up one another to love and good works. In these verses, Paul continues to talk about the Corinthians' misunderstanding of what corporate worship is about in general, and the misuse of the Holy Spirit's work through the people speaking in tongues in particular. Remember how throughout chapter 14 the Corinthians thought this manifestation was an uber display of the Holy Spirit through them. A mystical, mainline to God! How they coveted that experience! They so desired to be God's channels. His vessels. Golden pipes through which flowed divine revelation. But Paul told it to them straight. He told them that the important thing was not the sound of tongues--of men, angels or otherwise. What was most important was that the gathered people of God understood what the tongues speaker said. It was understanding, not the display of tongues that built up the church. And this required an interpreter. Tongues built up the individual; prophecy and interpretation of tongues built up the church. Didn't Paul say something about 5 words in plain language than 10,000 words in vocal sounds no one could understand? Today, in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, we are going to finish up our mini-series on giving God worship that he will accept. In a word, it was the last word in this chapter: "Let all things be done decently and in order." But how can that be pleasing to the Lord? Sounds boring! Today, it's a given that worship must be exiting! How many churches actually advertise this as a hook to get people to attend Sunday services at their building? We must get "warmed up" by excitement and as a minimum raise our hands and shout loudly--accompanied by lights and pyrotechnics. Indeed, how many in the church today do not see praise and worship in any other way than the music that is performed and sung before the pastor gives a message? Now, I would be the first to say that I'm not exactly the most expressive human being on the planet. Even when I followed my favorite NFL team, the Broncos and even when they won back-to-back Super Bowls I was not jumping up and down. I was not shoutin' and raising the roof. I was happy, to be sure. Any team that wins back to back championships is to be admired. My emotions don't show a whole lot. But that does not mean I don't have emotions. Now in corporate worship especially, am I not saying that we cannot raise our hands and shout. When I was the pastor of the gospel service when we were stationed in S. Korea, I was amazed every Sunday. The OMASS choir led the singing. It was electric! So much energy! There was a lot of hand raising. A lot of shouting. Great! But what I'm driving at here is what is mistaken for worship that God accepts. See, it's not only about a deeply moving experience in a worship service, though if we have a relationship with Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior it is the most profound of all experiences. It is not only about powerful emotions in a worship service, though God himself tells us that we are to love him with our heart-the place from where our emotions pour forth. But worship that God accepts and I hope that you have caught it throughout our miniseries, is simply but profoundly loving him as he defines love. Honoring him as he defines honor. Worship that God accepts is not gauged by how we feel at the conclusion of our time together. Worship that God accepts does not even ask, "what did I get out of my time with the Lord today?" Rather, worship that God accepts asks, "did I give him all of me today?" And even more basic: "Did I live my life during the week in such a way that my appearing before him today does not reflect hypocrisy?" In other words, worship that the Lord accepts means that there is little difference in the way I appear here on Sunday mornings than the way I live on Tuesday night when I am doing something online. Or Friday at lunchtime meeting with friends and an off color joke is told. Or when an opportunity arises for me to give a testimony that I am a follower of Jesus. Remember what God said to his own people in Isaiah 1:14-18: Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Again, these were the people he was in covenant relationship with. He rejected their worship because the way they lived outside of their worship gatherings bore little to no correlation to their self-proclaimed religious life. So, what does God want from us as his people? Simply, an authentic life. A life that reflects a vigorous godliness. The beauty of holiness, 24/7, not merely 1-2 hours out of the 168 that the Lord loans us every week. God wants from us as Grace United on Sunday mornings open worship and ordered worship. Open worship where we will give the Lord our undivided attention where he is front and center. And ordered worship where we actually live under the authority and control of His Spirit and His word. Today, in this message, I want to walk us through these verses almost like a running commentary. This passage hangs together and we need to keep it intact lest we misunderstand and miss Paul's point. For in this passage we are going to talk about such things as limitations on how many people should speak and even whether or not women should speak in corporate worship. Before we jump in here, I will say that as I explained to Kitty what I had learned in this passage in preparing the message, she just looked at me and said, "you go where angels fear to tread!" Well, perhaps. But I must. Because this is the next passage in the letter! I cannot avoid it. My prayer throughout has been and continues to be that I will be accurate with the text and communicate it in such a way that it makes sense and it's applicable to us in the 21st century as followers of Jesus. So you pray for me. Pray for yourselves. Pray for those around you that the Lord will indeed do his good work as we walk through his word this morning. Let's begin with v.26: "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." Is this not a form of open worship? Each of us has something to contribute, Paul reminds the Corinthian believers, and us as well. Every person who has received salvation in Christ by repenting of their sin and believing his gospel has something to contribute to build up fellow Christians. Once again, what is the gospel? Our God reigns as the only king of the universe. It's a no brainer to say there is room in the universe for exactly 1 all powerful, all knowing, everywhere at once God. I'm reminded in Psalm 24:1 that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. All of what we see and don't see is his. And he has been, is, and will be glorified in all of his creation. God sent Christ to take care of our sin problem, for we really messed things up. God sent Christ to die for us because that is how heinous our sin is to God. Christ, the perfect man, the God-man hung on the cross to take away our sin. Remember how he said, "It is finished!" Paid in full! No one has to carry around the burden of guilt caused by their sin any longer. And like pilgrim of Pilgrim's Progress, the moment we turn from our sin and embrace Christ as our Lord and Savior, the burden of sin rolls off our back. We are now free to serve the King! Isn't that wonderful news! And with that, we can all share in building one another up to strengthen our faith, knowing that the Lord is alive and well here--and out there. Let's take advantage of our time together, whenever we do, to help one another before we leave this place. Now, vv.27-28: "If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God." Again, what is this all about when it comes to tongues? The Corinthians were seeking a mystical experience--probably so they could show off they were having a mystical experience! But Paul says in essence: "Hey tongues speakers! Y'all only get 2 or 3 passes at this! And by the way, let everybody in on your experience. Why doesn't the one with the ability given by the Spirit interpret, telling everybody what was said? And if an interpreter did not show up that day, then guess what? Be quiet! We will have no showing off of spiritual prowess if people can't be built up." We can crystalize Paul's words this way: "no interpreter, no tongues." Simple as that. Once again, the point is that everybody gets encouraged. Strengthened in our discipleship of the Lord. But tongues without an interpretation only builds up the speaker and no one else. And by way of application, whenever something is said in the corporate worship service, especially during open worship time, as we said, it is a time to give God glory. It is not a time for a tale of woe with no hope. Let us in on how you see the Lord working in your life as you share your story. Some of us may have heard about that little boy shot at point blank range in his yard this week. Can you imagine the grief of that family? What if members of that family were to walk in here? What kind of ministry would we give them? All the love and compassion we could muster. Tears. Arms. Words of prayer. But as horrendous as this is, ministry to this family is not the priority. We came to worship the King. We serve one another. But we have come primarily to worship the King. Lest we think that there are limits only on those who speak in tongues, let's look further in vv.29-33: "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." Let's keep in mind 2 things here. First, notice love in action as Paul just described it just 1 chapter back--13: Love is not rude. It waits for others, and especially in this case, notice how Paul puts it: "1 or 2 prophets speak, then let others weigh what was said. Prophets prophesy 1 by 1." Again, words prompted by God's Holy Spirit spoken through God's servants to God's people need to be heard. There is control here. Like the tongues speakers, there is order. Words matter, and how much more important when they are spoken by God's Spirit through God's people? Second, with these vocal gifts of tongues and interpretation, or prophecy or revelation, let's remember that all of Scripture had not been written at that time. This was a special time of transition. Some of these words were new revelation from God. They needed to be heard by God's people. Obviously not every word of revelation was written down. That's ok. Remember one of our ground rules for Scripture study: The bible was not written to us, but for us. Though we don't have every last revelatory utterance, we have what the Lord wants us to have, and for what reason? What was Scripture given to us for? Among other things, Paul tells us this in Romans 15:4: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." But hope in and of itself is not the endpoint. God's gift of hope is a means to an end. Hope is leading us somewhere. And what is that destination? Romans 15:5-6: "May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." What is our mutual hope for? In a word, unity. Once again, the Christian life does not consist of "just Jesus and me." How we need one another to encourage one another--that we help one another on the path of life that we all might make it to, as Paul says, "the resurrection from the dead". We would call that the resurrection of the righteous. But do you see this? Regardless of whether it is tongues with their interpretation, or prophecy or revelation, limitations are placed on the utterances. And even today, should things like this were to happen here, we at Grace United can weigh these things. How? With the completed word of God. The truth is we all have a responsibility to lovingly, humbly but strongly, correct things that are not in accordance with the plain teaching of Scripture. For example, if during an open worship time, someone says, "hey church! I had a vision last night. Jesus came to me and said, 'Islam is right. I am not the Son of God. I am only a prophet of Allah.' And I have come to believe that and want to pass this truth on to you." We have the responsibility to call that out. Again, it is the plain teaching we do that with. There are a lot of things we can disagree on and still remain spiritual siblings, like when the rapture is going to take place. Godly Christians are all over the map regarding this. We can disagree about these kinds of non-essential things--but we need to disagree without being disagreeable! Let's move on to vv.34-35: "the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." Uh oh. The word of God is plain. It says right there that women are not to speak in churches. It is shameful for a woman to speak in church. If a woman wants to learn anything, they are ask their husbands at home. What to do with this one? The short answer is: things are not as they appear! First of all, remember what Paul said at the beginning of this section in 1 Corinthians 11:5: "every wife, or woman who prays or prophesies . . ." Is Paul contradicting himself between 1 Corinthians 11 and 14? In the words of Vizzini when he and Wesley were having a battle of wits: "not remotely!" There is no contradiction here. Let me explain. But keep in mind: context is king. As we just saw in chapter 11, women can speak in church. They can pray. They can even prophesy. But here in chapter 14, where women are to be silent are in the areas of interpretations of tongues and the authoritative weighing in of prophecy or new revelation. Why is that? Why can't a woman do these things? Two reasons. First, Paul here makes an attempt to prevent strife in the home. Remember what we talked about regarding the honor and shame culture in which they lived. The wife would do anything to avoid dishonoring her husband. This is, in part of what Paul referred to in v.34 that she is to be in submission, as in submission to her husband. So, now, let's picture this: A woman's husband is speaking in tongues or prophesying or giving new revelation. For this man's wife to publically address her husband in an authoritative manner would be to dishonor her husband. It just was not done. So Paul's teaching here served to protect the honor of her husband. And so that the wife would bring dishonor on herself. Second, the Lord placed the man, not the woman, in charge of the local church as her shepherd. This is not because a woman incapable of leadership. But the Lord said this is the role the man is to play. Pronouncing an authoritative tongues interpretation or a weighing in of prophecy or a new revelation was not what a woman was to do because it indicated who was in authority. But as we just saw, a woman can pray in corporate worship. She can speak in tongues. She can prophesy. She can do everything but be viewed as the authority in the local assembly. There is more that we could say and probably need to say. But we need to go on. Verses 36-38: "Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." In short, Paul is simply saying that a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is moving in and among certain individuals, such as those who are interpreting tongues or weighing in on the prophecies or judging the genuineness of the uttered revelation is to recognize that what Paul wrote is from that same Spirit. Paul told them in no uncertain terms that what he gave them was the word of the Lord, the very command of God. In other words, could it be that Paul was aware that this letter, what we call 1 Corinthians was indeed, inspired Scripture? Once again, we need to remember this was a time of great transition. And the apostle Peter, for example recognized that Paul's writings were in fact, Scripture. In Peter's 2nd letter, he encouraged his readers to patiently wait for the Lord's return, reminding them that the longer the Lord delays his return means more time for the lost to give their heart to Jesus. Then Peter goes on and acknowledges something that we all know if we have been Christians for any length of time: that sometimes Paul's writings are difficult to understand. Let's pick up Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:16: "as he (Paul) 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." How did Peter refer to Paul's writings? Scripture. Equal with every other writing considered Scripture. The bottom line is that it was possible to recognize the ring of truth in the writings of a fellow apostle. And we can, too, as we avail ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We can pray before we encounter them, along with the Psalmist who wrote, "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things in your Torah--your law" Psalm 119:18. Back to 1 Corinthians 14. So, what was Paul doing? The red flag for the believers in Corinth was that if someone fancied himself to be speaking on behalf of the Lord in the role of a prophet or speaking in tongues and he did not recognize what Paul wrote was a word from the Lord, the congregation was to not pay any attention to him or her. In other words, the authority lies in holy Scripture, and in this case recognized as God's word as coming from the pen of the apostle Paul. Some tried to despise Paul's writings then, even in the church! But there are many more today who would dare to place their experience above the written word of God. The founder of a well-known religious cult wrote a book. He called it "another testament of Jesus Christ." In this book he issued a testimony and a challenge. Here was his testimony: "I told the brethren that this was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." Here was this man's challenge: "We invite all men everywhere to read this book, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah." Joseph Smith asserted that the Book of Mormon is more accurate than the Bible and people would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book, to include the Bible. There is much more than needs to be said, but let me implore you--believe God's book, not a false book that claims to be God's book. Finally, let's look at vv.39-40: So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order. So, we have come full circle in today's message. All things in the corporate worship are to be done properly and in order. "Earnestly desire to prophesy--because clear messages of divine truth build up the church. Do not forbid speaking in tongues"--it is a bone fide spiritual gift-and don't forget to interpret while you are at it! Open worship. Ordered worship. The worship we offer to the Lord in here, if offered right, will help us to offer the Lord an ordered life, of clean hands and pure hearts during the week. We will pursue love for one another, for agape love is what the Christian life is all about. We are saved by the Lamb of God, who is worthy to be praised. And I can't think of a better way to end our time of corporate worship together than to be reminded of what John saw when he heard a voice saying "come up here." As we see the words to "Revelation Song," on the screen, as we hear the music through the sound system, let's not allow this opportunity to participate in this song pass us by. This song is not designed to be passively listened to. May we join in. As we sing together, imagine in your mind's eye what it may be like you if you were John being summoned to the throne room of God. Let's allow our participation in this song to be our last song of the day. Let me pray for the offering, pass the basket, and when we are finished with our giving, we close our time of corporate worship singing together "Revelation Song."
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more