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Text: I Corinthians 14:1-40
Theme: The gathering of the local church is to be conducted in an orderly manner so that all will be edified and God will be glorified.
Date: 02/20/2022 File name: 1_Corinthinas_24.wpd
ID Number:
Worship in the church at Corinth must have been an unforgettable experience.
Their worship had become chaotic ... drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper ... cliques gathering in different corners of the auditorium ... because each of them had miraculously given gifts, they were competing for worship time to use them ... one preacher would interrupt another preacher mid-sermon because be believed he’d received a “new revelation” from God ... Those who could speak with tongues thought their gifts were so great that they were all speaking at the same time ... everyone is singing their own favorite hymn at the same time.
Discord was their order of worship.
Their corporate worship had devolved into individualized worship.
One can almost hear the confusion which may have been emanating from the worship gatherings in Corinth.
This is a characteristic of spiritual immaturity according to the Apostle, and it has to stop.
Paul has to rebuke it all.
Worship in Corinth was not being practiced decently and in order.
Here we are, 21-hundred years later, and all over the world, congregations are worshiping indecently and in disorder.
Too many churches do not practice the principles of orderly worship.
The whole of chapter fourteen of 1st Corinthians is primarily devoted to a comparison of two spiritual gifts — tongues and prophesying.
Both of these Holy Spirit given spiritual endowments were highly esteemed by the members of the congregation, and both were being misused and abused.
Chapter 14 is a corrective to that misuse and abuse.
This morning and next Sunday we’re going to look at what the Apostle has to say about orderly worship.
“Pursue love ... “ (1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV)
1. in the first verse of chapter 14, the Apostle delineates between the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit
2. the Body of Christ — exemplified by local congregations of believers — is to earnestly desire spiritual gifts
a. every congregation needs believers who know, and exercise the spiritual endowments God has graced them with though the Holy Spirit
1) we need believers with the gift of wisdom — those individuals who can take a set of facts or a body of knowledge and help a church know how and when to make good decisions
2) we need believers with the gift of of administration — those who can help run the day-to-day activities of the church ... those who can organize ministries, and outreach, and finances
3) we need believers with the gift of generosity — those who will support the work of the church through extreme philanthropy
4) we need believers willing to use the almost two-dozen gifts listed in the New Testament
b. but there is something even more important than the earnest desire for spiritual gifts
3. the Body of Christ — exemplified by local congregations of believers — are to pursue love — the first virtue of God’s spiritual fruit
a. the word pursue is an imperative verb — that is it’s a command for Christians to pursue Christ-like love as our highest priority
1) the word means to chase after with intensity ... believers are to chase after a Christ-like love in our lives with an intensity that we don’t chase after other things
2) imagine what our society might look like if all those who name the name of Jesus chased after Christ’s all-consuming love like we chase after worldly things
3) in the Church at Corinth lovelessness was by far their greatest problem, to which all of their other problems were related in one way or another
according to our Lord’s own words his people will be known, not by their doctrinal orthodoxy, not by their passion for missions, not by their moral lives (as important as those things are), but by their fervent sacrificial love for the brethren
c. in 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul warns of the peril of using spiritual gifts when they are not ministered in love
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
(1 Corinthians 13:1–3, ESV)
4. the pursuit of Christ-like love has precedence over our desire of spiritual gifts
“ ... and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”
(1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV)
1. this is actually next Sunday’s message
I initially thought that I could deal with this chapter with one sermon
1) I was wrong
b. the more concise I tried to make it, the longer it got
2. so come back next Sunday to learn about the gift of preaching and Paul’s guidelines for it
3. we need to Pursue the Best Gift — Love ... we need to Practice the Better Gifts — Preaching ... and we need to ...
1. after presenting love as the “more excellent way” above all ministries and gifts, Paul directly and forcefully confronts the Corinthians in regard to their sin against love in misunderstanding and misusing the gift of tongues
a. while the Apostle does not forbid the practice of tongues in public worship, taking the entirety of what Paul writes on the gift it seems fairly obvious that he is attempting to pour a bucket of cold water on the practice
b. for the next little bit let me talk to you about the ...
Trouble with tongues
Testimony about tongues
Truth about tongues
1. tongues do not edify the congregation
“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.
3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”
(1 Corinthians 14:2–3, ESV)
a. the caveat to Paul’s prohibition of “tongue speaking” in public worship is if there is someone to interpret the language being spoken
b. the Apostle writes in vs. 5, The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up
c. the building up of the Church is Paul’s preeminent concern
2. tongues result only in confusion if there is no interpretation
“If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played?
8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?”
(1 Corinthians 14:7–8, ESV)
a. in vs. 7 Paul illustrates the problem with tongues by comparing the use of the gift — especially if there is no interpretation — to random notes played on a musical instrument
1) if the musician produces a cacophony of unrelated sounds no one is blessed — indeed they are confused
b. in vs. 8 Paul illustrates the problem with tongues by comparing it to signal bugler in the army who plays confusing commands
During the days when the United States had Horse Calvary units, a bugler had to know a dozen different signals for various commands.
But if the bugler forgets the appropriate tune or plays just part of it, or plays the right tune at the wrong time an entire Calvary unit will be throne into confusion.
They may find themselves attacking when they ought to be retreating.
c. in a similar way, the use of tongues in a worship service, unless there is an interpretation, is more harmful than beneficial
“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.”
(1 Corinthians 14:9, ESV)
3. the Apostle says in vs. 19 that in a public worship setting I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue
a. that gives you a pretty clear picture of what the Apostle really thinks about the use of tongues in a public worship service
1. let me share a statement about the gift of tongues and then I’ll close with the restrictions the Apostle lays out for their use in public worship
I am not what theologian call a cessationist; someone who believes that the Holy Spirit no longer gives what are called the “sign gifts.”
I don’t find any evidence from the Scriptures that “tongues have ceased.”
You’ll find lots of Baptist pastors and theologians who will tell you that “the sign gifts” – tongues being one of them — have ceased.
That the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is a spiritual endowment that the Holy Spirit no longer gives.
I cannot theologically ascribe to that view.
I don’t find any place in the New Testament that says “these spiritual gifts are no longer available, so don’t ask for them.”
Some will say “Oh, so you believe in the gift of tongues?” Well... yes and no.
On a theological level I believe that the gift of tongues — which I am persuaded are known human languages — is still a valid gift.
On an experiential level I have never seen the gift used biblically in my almost 50 years of ministry.
And I only know of one person — a pastor friend — who claims to have experienced a biblical manifestation of it back in the late 1980s.
When I look at what the Bible teaches about tongues, and then look at what is happening around the world among charismatic believers in their practice of tongues I see something completely different, and dare I say unbiblical?
C. THE TRUTH ABOUT TONGUES (four statements)
1. 1st, “Tongues” in the New Testament Were Real Languages, Not the Unintelligible Ecstatic Utterance That Is Prevalent among Modern Charismatics
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