Edifying and Orderly Worship

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. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 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.

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. 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. 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.

As in all the churches of the saints, 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.

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. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:20-40, ESV

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Keep your copy of scriptures there. Open the first Corinthians 14. We’ll be reading the remainder of the chapter this morning. The subject of the text for the sermon. But before we hear from the Lord in His Word, let’s go to Him in prayer and ask His blessing upon and Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we come again before you we bask in the knowledge, knowing the privilege of your presence as we worship you together now, as your people. We thank You that You are Holy, and powerful, and just that you purge out from us all that is unholy and unclean. And we thank you and we praise you that you are gracious, and they were able to deal with us in our sin and in our dirtiness. We thank you that you’re merciful and able to lift us up in our weakness, and in our frailty, and that you’re strong and good and true and gracious. We pray Dear Lord has returned to you again. And again turn it to your word. And as we listened to every word that comes forth from your mouth, that you would place that word in our hearts and minds and wills, then we begin to love you in new ways, and understand you in ways better. And then we may submit our wills gladly to your perfect wisdom and your sovereign will, that all her life may learn how to glorify you, and enjoy you forevermore. And so we come dear lord again, and we ask, speak to us, for your servants are listening. We pray this all in Jesus name, amen. First Corinthians 14, reading 30, verse 26, to the end of the chapter, First Corinthians 14 starting in verse 26, this is the word of God. What then brothers, when you come together, each one has a him Lesson or revelation, a tongue or interpretation, that all things be done before building up. If any speaking of tongue Let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there’s no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church, and speak to themselves and to God. Let two or three prophets speak and let others way what is said, if a revelation is made to another sitting there, getting another revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent, for you can all prophesied one by one, so that all may learn and I’ll be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is not a God of confusion, but a peace. All as in all the churches of the saints. The women should keep silent in the churches, for they’re not permitted to speak but should be in submission, as the law also says, There’s anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home for is shameful for a woman to speak in church? Or was it from you that the word of God came? Are you the only ones that it is 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. So my brothers earnestly desire the prophecy to prophesied and do not forbid the speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order. So for the reading of God’s word, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but this word of the LORD endures forever. One of the wonderful things about going to seminary that many people don’t realize or take into consideration is that it’s Not merely academic training, not merely a scholars task, but it’s the informal training and the experience that you receive in church life throughout that exercise. Some of my favorite memories of seminary are experiences that I had stories that I had gleaned from older pastors and from well seasoned saints. Remember story of a pastor, Professor, better reputation of being somewhat rather stiff and formal. And while this pastor and professor was on vacation, as was the habit of many pastors, he kept a set of sermon notes tucked into his Bible every time he went to church, and he kept the set of notes there in case of emergency, right and so even though relaxing and dressed a bit more informal, a bit casually, he still had on a tie, but with a blue shirt and a jacket. But he was ready just in case right. Be ready. In and out. And so it happened that this pastor was on the pastor that he was of the church that he was visiting while he was on vacation, had an accident on the way to church, he couldn’t get to church. And so the elders of the church inquired of the professor if he could fill and if he could fill the pulpit and preach. oppressor, agreed, but he was terribly distressed. He was distressed because he thought, though he had a sermon ready, he said, I really wish I had been wearing a white shirt. And that seems to be just a little silly to us. Right. But in this man’s mind, a particular style of clothes had to be worn to meet the need of the occasion, and the blue shirt wouldn’t do. For him, the preacher wore white shirt tie and a jacket. And again, this is perhaps an example of the stereotype of the uptight Presbyterian, taking to the extreme that admonition that all things be done decently in order and this goes along with the Similar critique against the Puritans. Right? It says Puritan Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone somewhere might be happy. Right? That was a critique and then, of course, hyperbolic extreme examples or portrayals of what Presbyterianism what Puritanism is, but our text this morning builds on the principle that whatever is done in the body of Christ must be done for the edification of the body for the spiritual body building we call the last week. The second half of chapter 14 continues that theme, and it emphasizes that order is necessary for edification and take place order is necessary. It’s a prerequisite. Paul been making his case, in answering this question the Corinthians had asked him, it was an issue that had divided the church and it’s sadly some confusion in the body of Christ. And this broke the heart of the apostle but as he attempts to respond to them, and even more so it breaks the heart of the Lord. things that were going on here. This morning will complete this long section in First Corinthians chapters 12 to 14. And here Paul had had a had been addressing that issue asked by the Corinthians and another letter, about the place in the practice of tongues speaking, the place and practice of tongues. And the manner in which the Corinthians exercise this gift was sowing confusion and chaos, dividing the church. This is something that’s ran through from chapter one all the way until now. They turn the Lord’s Day worship service into chaos and confusion. They should have earnestly desired the gifts of the Spirit Paul told them. The right use of the gifts leads to the common good of the church, the building up of the church, and this must be grounded in what in love, right that most excellent, permanent way the way of heaven itself. And so Paul goes on to say more about tongues and prophecy. A few things to remember as we look through the rest of this, the end of this chapter, chapter 14, is that tongues was indeed a true gift of the Spirit speaking in tongues, but Paul says he’s been emphasizing tongue was inferior to prophesy. Why is that the case? Well, as we saw, tongues is inferior because tongues can’t be understood by the church, unless there’s an interpreter is revelation indeed, but not if there’s an interpreter, there’s no interpreter there, no one can understand it. And so the second complimentary gift of interpretation must attend the gift of tongue, if it will be at all beneficial to the church. But those who prophesied right those who prophesied which again is spirit enabled speech, they speak in a man of the church comprehends the understand what is being said they understand it is revelation from God and understanding that they are built up their edified and that’s the goal again, right with this is the reference In through these last couple chapters, the purpose of these gifts The goal is the common good of the body of Christ and to glorify God. And Paul goes on to tell them to discuss the effects of uninterpreted tongues on unbelievers who may be coming by or visiting the church. When that happens, it’s not only that believers are not build up, but it causes confusion amongst unbelievers, non believers will be put off by everyone wants speaking at the same time, everyone speaking languages, and no one can understand. It would have been unhelpful, positively unhelpful for the church and chaos to the visiting non believer. Again, they would have seen this confusion and chaos and the disorder and worship. And that might cause them to think that Christians are out of their minds. Maybe they would even think the Christians were acting just like pagans. Until the apostle says in verse 20 brothers not meeting Children in your thinking, be infants and evil, but in your thinking, be mature. And notice again how Paul is tender with them. Right, Paul, this imposing finger, we shouldn’t think of him as being harsh or overly stern. Paul certainly was a thundering and strong when it came to opposition to the enemies and ideas that are contrary to the gospel, indeed, was strong. The Galatians to the Galatians, for instance, is one place where we see Paul very strong, making his point against the false gospel. Notice here that Paul is careful not to go too long in this letter of the Corinthians, without reminding them who they are, where he’s done this before and we’ll do it again. He reminds them of who they are by calling them brothers or their brothers. And that in of itself is a good reminder for us brothers and sisters. Right. We will certainly have problems amongst each other. We are falling people in a fallen world interacting with other volunteers. So centers doing life together with other centers. And that being the case, we should expect all sorts of conflict. And in that conflict, we need to remember who we are. And remember who we are, and who those with which we’re having conflict are and to whom we belong. We should act accordingly. It’s a reality, sometimes others won’t respond to your attempts to reconcile. And you’re seeking forgiveness. But other times and we pray most of the time, peace can be restored, peace can be restored, and what it is it is beautiful thing. And what else happens when peace is restored, and brothers or reconcile? Christ is honored. Right? Christ is honored, and he’s glorified. But notice the example given in Scripture. The Corinthians had some very real very bad problems and the whole Spirit. Has Paul write two letters addressing them. But notice Paul’s affection to these people is affection, Jen, call by calling them brothers, brothers, then it gives them an imperative and a command. Stop thinking like children. Don’t be children and you’re thinking Stop acting like children, rather be childlike regarding evil, but grow up, be mature, become mature in your thinking. And why is that so they can evaluate things rightly the things that they were doing. They could correct the heinous activities that they were engaged in this disruptive, disorderly behavior, placing an unnecessary barrier to people coming to faith in Christ. The gospel is its own offense, right? The gospel is its own offense. We don’t need to add our offense to it. Right let the gospel be what offends people. We read them in chapter Verse 21, in the law is written by people of strange tongues, and by lips of foreigners, like speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me says the Lord. This of course is describing a time when Israel when they didn’t listen to God’s Messenger, they didn’t listen to Isaiah as he came with a message. They didn’t listen to him, though he speaking in a language they can understand, and therefore Israel comes under judgment by men of strange speech, right? The Assyrians invaded from the north, speaking a language foreign to Israel. That’s people refused to refuse to listen to him, working through Isaiah speaking Hebrew, and as a result, they were oppressed by people of unintelligible speech, strange tongue to them. And Paul mentioned this to the Corinthians to emphasize that uninterpreted tongues results in people not understanding God’s word for them, just like when Israel and they couldn’t understand the Assyrians. This is ultimately kind of judgment that comes upon them. It comes as a result of not doing things properly decently and in order. For this reason Paul goes on a verse 22 and says photons are assigned not for believers but for unbelievers. While prophecy is assigned, not for unbelievers, but for believers. Right, we need to pay attention to what he’s saying. You’re to understand what it is that he’s saying true prophecy can be understood, right? It was revelation of God, it was understandable. It was an enormous benefit to those who trust that it was from God. On the other hand, that unknown unintelligible speech of Israel’s invaders, resulted from the fact that what the God’s people didn’t trust God. They didn’t listen to God didn’t heed his warning. They didn’t trust his promises. And so they came under judgment. That took the form of what unintelligible speech was a sign of judgment. Just like Israel of old When the Corinthians prophesied of they spoke in tongues with an interpreter, the whole church has edify. The whole church is edified. But when a tongue is not translated, and therefore not understood, what follows from that confusion, confusion. Nobody could benefit by the revelation from God because they couldn’t understand what was being said. So Paul goes, he moves moves from this illustration of the past, to their immediate situation. He says, if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders are unbelievers enter, well, they’re not saying that you were out of your minds. If there are people who don’t understand what is being said, and all they see is chaos and confusion, they will conclude that these people are out of their minds. It’s still worse yet they will think that the church is just like the culture religions and pagan worship, right? One of the things that characterized pagan worship was wild behavior and ecstatic utterances. I don’t know how prevalent chaos and while behavior is in the in some churches today, but I do know there was a time in the past where certain groups were doing very wild and very chaotic and inappropriate things under the guise of Christian worship. There were phenomena like being slain in the spirit. Have you heard of this? Which is interesting, because the only slang in the spirit you see in Scripture is analyzed inspira when they’re put to death by the Lord. see things like that are being drunk in the spirits acting, acting drunk during services. You’ve probably heard of the term Holy Roller, at least in some groups that were literally falling and rolling in the aisles. And some of these groups even mandated the speaking and what they believe Thomas, I believe they still do today. But there was no true interpretation. were no interpreters because they weren’t speaking in real languages. And that gift, the speaking in tongues belong to the accomplishment stage of the church, the foundation line stage of the church is no more reproducible than is the resurrection. And like Paul warned the Corinthians, so it is true in our day, what does the outside world looking in? What do they see? What do they conclude about people who call themselves Christians and act in this behavior? They look and they see all this wild, chaotic behavior. Paul says, they enter what will they sit, see what will they not say that you’re out of your minds? This is not edifying for the church. It’s not building up in the body of Christ. And it gives a terrible example about Jesus and those who call themselves Christians. But prophecy has a way different impact. And what is he saying? Verse 24 said but if all prophesied and an unbeliever or outside or enters, he is convicted by all he has 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. What a contrast as glorious brothers and sisters, think about what he’s saying in that one verse. See the beauty of God’s revelation at work via the Holy Spirit and the hearts of those whom that revelation falls. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t that by the way, warm your hearts brothers and sisters, does not warm your hearts and contemplation of the time. God’s revelation His word, preached, or read fell effectively upon your heart. It’s beautiful indeed. As a result, you were like you were plucked from the fire, plucked from the fire and placed eternally safe in the body of Christ. That’s why prophecy and preaching is superior because of the effect that it has on unbelievers and the Holy Spirit working through that word. That’s his promise. That’s what he works through. Some Corinthians had it all completely backwards. When done in God’s Way, the Truth is properly proclaimed. The law goes out to convict people of their sins. And the gospel goes out in those unbelievers who’ve come in, become aware of their sins before God. And they become aware that they are under God’s judgments. And what do they do? They don’t see chaos and confusion and strange calmness. They hear the proclamation of the truth in a way that they can understand in a way that the Spirit works through and they’re convicted that they’re sinners and need of a great Savior? And as God gives them faith, they respond. They respond. How will they believe him? And they’ve never heard, right Romans 10 tells us, they must hear Jesus. And the Spirit works faith in their heart in the hearts of the elect. And that most glorious, most spectacular event of all takes place. The dead come to life that come to life. Isn’t that awesome? is awesome indeed. And he still brings the dead to life. You know this. I know this because he brought me to life from spiritual deadness to life in Christ. And in verses 22 to 33, we have a peek into the manner of worship, that the Corinthians practice a little glimpse into what went on in the church. To be sure this is not a detailed list. All that went on. But in fact, there are more detailed services resulted from Paul’s instruction here. And he tells them how those gifts of the Spirit are to be used in the church of Corinth. And he says what them brothers, when you come together, each one has a hammer lesson or revelation, a tongra interpretation. And then it gives that all inclusive qualifier let all things be done for the building up of the church for building up for bodybuilding. Let all things be done. He says, For what? That all things be done for status. No, that’s not what he says. Let all things be done for elevating some over over others. No. Little things be done at the same time so no one knows what’s going on. No, that’s not what he says. He says that all things be done for bodybuilding for the edification church, the building off of the church and we get get details of that. Verses 27 to 28. He says, if any speaking of tongue Let there be only two are most of three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret there it is. But if there is no one to interpret and let each one of them keep silent in the church and speak to himself into God, these instructions they’re kind of self evident, right and therefore the order to be a for order to be most effective. Everyone cannot be talking at the same time have an interpreter don’t talk over one another. If there’s no interpreter, keep silent. And Paul moves on to the topic of prophecy. In verses 29 to 31, he says, in essence, listen, consider way these things wait. seems to go against the description that we have in our minds what the Corinthians were doing. And again, the point is order and care for others. Revelation to be to benefit the body at all. And in verse 31, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. Care and control is to be used with the gifts of the Spirit, even those that continue on today. And this would militate against wild outbursts seem to be a part of their worship services. And it also militates against that sort of thing today, as well. And then there’s the statement, glorious statement in verse 33. For God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace. God is not a God of confusion and chaos is a God of peace. Don’t act like hagins Paul tells them, it’s not who you are. When you come together. It’s not a free for all. God desires peace in order. So as people will be what instructed, lifted up edified, strengthened, encouraged Things are to be done decently and in order. And the same God who brought order out of chaos at creation, brings order out of the chaos of bad practices in his church. here’s the here’s the medicine for that. And then verse 33, and 35. Paul gives this principle for the Corinthians that all the churches are to follow. So women are not to speak in church during worship. We should remember that in that culture, women are not allowed to speak in public at all. Or if they did, it was only two other women. And at the time, we were in a Greek culture, Greek culture. We’re pushing back against social norms, and we’re becoming increasingly immodest and progressive. For the time they’re challenging the standards of decency and respect. And we saw something in this in chapter 11. When we we read a read about Paul’s instructions regarding head coverings and the covering. The connection he’s making there regarding women is a sign of commitment and submission. The throwing off of those beliefs and inviting confusion into worship and into those relationships into that witness to the world. And there’s something similar going on here is is provoked and pushed on by by pagan religion mystery religion pagan practices. Party pause point here is to avoid identifying with these pagan trends. You should not look like pagans and their worship that that’s not who you are anymore. Christian women are resorted to keep silent in church, and this is probably a reference to prophecy and tongue speaking. And like in chapter 11 signed submission to their husbands and fathers and it’s a display of public modesty, public modesty as they keep these things and then over 34 you see it and see the reference to the law. Verse 34 as The law also says right most believe that this is a reference to the fact that the husband is supposed to be exercising headship of his family, including his wife. He is the covenant head. He is the federal head of that relationship with that family. They supposed to exercise that, particularly regarding theological things, and in matters related to the church. And he goes all the way back to Genesis 316. Right, this this, this theme after the fall, the Lord says the woman to the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain and childbearing in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you. Right so things are turned upside down after the fall. Paul tells the women if they have a question to ask their husbands at home, because doing some public was considered disrespectful. It’s important that we understand what Paul is doing and what he’s not doing. Paul is not taking up the question of what exhaustively what is not allowable for women to do in church. I remember that the very he’s very concerned with the worship not look like paganism. And he’s addressing the importance of modesty. proper behavior when Paul is saying that women is to be silent in worship and that they should be submissive to their husbands, right? We’ve seen this in other places, fusions five, for instance. Paul’s not advocating the slavish submission of women at all. He’s not saying that women should never speak in public, or that they do not speak in worship. The chapters closes with Paul calling them out for being prideful. Right so verse 36. What’s he saying here? Or was it from you that the word of God came? Are you the only ones in is reached? God’s word didn’t derive from Corinth in Corinth wasn’t the only church. And it’s interesting here and worthy to study and flesh out more. We don’t have time this morning. But here in verse 33, it’s interesting. It says that the Corinthians are to consider their practices and make sure that they are the same as the other Christian churches. It’s very interesting. It’d be the same, there’s a commonality what they should be doing. And this says something about what’s called orthopraxy. Right, though, right, right practice, how we worship. And that says that it matters how we act in worship, it matters what we do. It’s not a free for all. And that speaks against the anything goes kind of spirit that are in some branches of the Christian family tree. It speaks against the ethic of every Disney movie ever made. This is a person must follow his heart. speaks against that. Many people have adopted this kind of worldview when it comes to worship. Others have adopted a radical skepticism that says, Well, we can’t know everything, therefore we can’t know anything for sure. Brother sisters, that is not a Christian way of thinking. That is not the Christian worldview. We don’t have time to unfold all this, as I said, but it is interesting that here in another place in the New Testament, we are taught that we are to adhere to the truth. And there’s a uniformity in the churches of Christ in doctrine, in truth and in worship. Paul was calling out the Corinthians For their pride. And he wants against reminds them of his authority. right he is sent by Christ is the apostle sent by Christ’s apostle means the sent on, he sent under the authority of Jesus, and he sent with the teaching of Jesus. Verse 37, he says, if any, if anyone thinks he profit or spiritual, you should acknowledge that the things that I’m writing to you, you are a command of the Lord. Right command of the Lord. And even those people who call themselves prophets and spiritual, they’re obligated to listen to Paul’s command. The potty building gifts must be used correctly and according to Paul’s instruction, because that is the word of Christ. And if not, verse 38, contains very strong consequences so that anyone does not recognize this. He is not recognized. Failure to listen to these instructions will result in judgment of some kind. We don’t know if he’s speaking of a discipline by Paul or divine judgment. Those people in in the spirit is working won’t have to act in ways that disrupt the church. Why is that? Is because people will have the Holy Spirit. In your ex’s exercising the spiritual gifts. They are the ones Who are concerned with the health of the body? They’re the ones who love the church and love her members. They are the same ones who happily follow Paul’s instructions, receiving as it is the authority of Christ. And so verse 39 says, tells the prophecy is prophecy is superior. But that tongues when it is interpreted should not be prohibited. Paul wraps up his answer the Corinthians, this question that has been unfolding about speaking in tongues in order in worship, a very significant comment that we’ve already quoted in even previous sermons, verse 40, but all things should be done decently and in order. That’s his conclusion. All things should be done decently and in order. That’s the key principle, according to which the public worship should be conducted. Right? We talked about all things being done to edify the church and now all things are to be decently in order in the church. It’s content of course is important. Important also is doing things in the proper way. So status, self centeredness in modesty, disruptive actions, confusion, chaos, and all the rest. These have no place in the worship of God’s people. Because they don’t result in building up with the body of Christ. They’re not orderly. Paul says everything should be done in a manner which is fitting with God’s own purposes for public worship. And that is a proclamation of Christ’s word. It’s the proper administration of the sacraments, because those are the things that he is ordained by which he feeds his people. And by which he convicts the world, and the goal was that everything the God’s people do serves that common good and honors and glorifies God. Scripture is not silent regarding these things. Things to be done and Christian work corporate worship. We can look at our passage or look at other passages, like acts 242. To get an idea of what we’re doing, it says, and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Right when they got together, that’s what they did. how these things are done particularly isn’t specified. And so we distinguish that and things technical terms, like the elements of worship, and the circumstances of worship, things that we’re supposed to do when we have freedom and how we do them. But for us here at Providence is one of the jobs of your session to assure that everything done in worship services intelligible to everyone, and that it serves the common good that is done in decency and in love and in good order. And pre eminently that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. So may we continue to resort rejoice that our Lord did not leave us in control. He did not leave us in chaos. Let us praise him that he’s given us a more sure word for life and godliness. What a marvelous thing. It is to have the word of God. What a wonderful thing and what a marvelous thing it is to have the Spirit of God, which indeed you do as you belong to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Let’s pray. Dear Lord, we ask that you would. Again, give us hearts that believe. In fact, Lord, increase our weak faith. Pray that you’d have your way with us that you would help us to rejoice and delight in the lives you’ve given us. Help us to hope and even to thrive, as your people as those united to Christ our Savior, person is for His glory that we pray. Amen.