Series: 1 Corinthians
Orderly Worship Edifies (1 Corinthians Sermon 57)
August 02, 2020 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 14:29-40
Life in the Spirit, Worship, Man as Male and Female
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a verse-by-verse expository sermon on 1 Corinthians 14:29-40. The main subject of the sermon is how we are to partake in orderly worship because that is the only worship that edifies.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
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I'd like to ask that you turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians Chapter 14. We're finishing up this morning, chapter 14, and a three-chapter journey through the doctrine of spiritual gifts, and as we do, we're looking at local church and local church's corporate worship. One of the most remarkable of all the many, many remarkable things that Jesus said in his ministry, I find it stunning what he said in John 5:16, where he said to his enemies who were incensed with him for healing on the Sabbath (and it seems that Jesus did so many of his healings on the Sabbath) and he said to them in John 5:16, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” So you should not imagine that God ever takes a day off on planet Earth. That God is active, energetically active. Back then, under the Old Covenant, on Sabbath day, he was vigorously active. And we know that he is active, theologically, we have learned that he is active in sustaining the physical universe at every moment by the word of his power. Were he to cease from that work, the universe itself would cease to exist.
But more than that, for us as Christians is we have moved over in our focus, and corporate worship is on the first day of the week, what we call the Lord's Day. We are well aware that God is always at his work on the Lord's day, he's at work the other six days, but I think we can well imagine that some of his greatest works are done when the local church assembles and gathers and the Word is preached and spiritual gifts are flowing, and the people gather together and they assemble and they do, what one friend of mine early in my Christian life and it stuck with me, called dress rehearsals for Heaven. And we gather together and we worship and it's a dress rehearsal for the real worship we're all going to experience when we're around the throne and we at last see Christ face-to-face. Now we know that because of this pandemic, that our ability to gather physically, to assemble together, has been greatly hindered. We know that this is not what any of us would want. But we should not imagine that the Father is not at his work to this very day, and Jesus also is working. He is, he is at work today all around the world, and we can give thanks to God for that, and God's purposes are not our purposes. We know he could move his little finger and heal every disease in the world if he wanted to, but specifically COVID 19 he could heal it, immediately, he has that kind of power. But he has his purposes, and his ways are not our ways. And we can praise him and know that he's at work, he's at work in First Baptist church, even this very day. And Christ too is working.
Now, from the very beginning of my Christian life, I was brought to faith in Christ through a para-church group at MIT. I was raised in the Catholic Church, and I never missed church growing up and I enjoyed going to church, but I wasn't born again, I didn't know the Lord. And I finally, just before my 20th birthday, came to faith in Christ. And Campus Crusade for Christ is not a church, they don't assemble on Sunday mornings, but the mentor, the disciple that worked with me knew the importance of local church involvement and immediately got me involved, and I think maybe the only mega church- an evangelical mega church in New England back then, Grace Chapel in Lexington. I still think, I don't know if it's still true, but back then they were drawing regularly members from six states, now I don't think there's any other local church in the United States that does that. States get a lot bigger across the Mississippi, so I don't think any state out there or any church in Arizona or California is drawing from six states every week. But I couldn't believe what it was like to just come in there and see just the difficulty parking and then people with walkie-talkies and they're bringing us into this huge building, that's not what I experienced growing up in the Catholic Church, and then I'm up in a balcony, a balcony, and I'm way in the back because that's the only seating there was, and we are singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” never heard that song in my life, but the sound of the people of God assembled, singing just literally moved me to tears. That was my first worship service as a born again- as a believer, and since that time, the Lord has poured grace into my heart week after week by a local church ministry. And as we come to the end of 1 Corinthians 14, we're coming to the end of three chapters in which the Apostle Paul is addressing the use of spiritual gifts in local church ministry. He's reaching the end of this section, and then we'll go on God willing to the next chapter in which he talks about the resurrection and he brings in a new topic. So we're talking about spiritual gifts, and specifically the focus here is corporate worship in the local church setting, when the local church gathers and assembles on the Lord's Day for worship, and he's talking about the use of those spiritual gifts in the context of that assembly, in the context of the local church assembling to worship.
I. God’s Will for Worship
Now, God's overall purpose, both for the assembling together of the church on Sundays and for the giving of spiritual gifts, is the edification or the up building of the church. If you look at verse 12, in this chapter, 1 Corinthians 14:12, Paul says, “So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up or edify the church.” Edification means the building up of the church. So as we've seen many, many times before in Ephesians 2:21-22, there is this image of the church of Jesus Christ as a spiritual structure, a spiritual temple that's rising to become a spiritual edifice in which God dwells by his Spirit. That's the work of the worldwide church of Jesus Christ, and it is rising. It's a work in progress. It's not finished yet. And spiritual gifts are given for the up building of this edifice, this spiritual structure, the Church of Jesus Christ.
What are spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts are special abilities that are divided up and ministered out to every individual Christian, spiritual gift package, that are given by the triune God (Father, Son and Spirit) to each individual Christian, special abilities for the purpose of finishing this building up of the body of Christ. And this happens when individual sinners are rescued from the dominion of darkness, rescued from Satan's dark kingdom, and are pulled out and they are made to stay with the edification image or the building image, what Peter calls living stones, 1 Peter 2. They are rescued by believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, and so we are all, as believers in Christ, what Peter calls us living stones. And so we have been quarried out in the midst of spiritual warfare, in the midst of Satan's opposition, demonic opposition, we've been quarried out and placed into the walls of this rising spiritual temple. And the quarrying we could say is done, we've been rescued, but then there's a polishing and finishing work that continues in sanctification. Spiritual gifts are given for all of that, for all of that.
Now, another image of the church is of a living body, and we are all members of it. We get this in Ephesians 4:15-16, it says, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.” So we all have, through spiritual gifts, a role to play in the building up of the body of Christ, or the rising of this spiritual structure. So, the church is developing to full maturity, it's not finished yet, the work is on schedule and on time and it's not gonna cost anymore. There's no cost over runs, we're not missing any deadlines. Isn't that marvelous? I mean, any of you that know anything about big building project- you know how rare that is? I'm telling you, it's right on schedule, it may not seem like it is, but God knows what he's doing and he's building this building and all of the ministries of the church are given to this final perfection of the body of Christ, or the Church of Christ, we are a work in progress.
So all the spiritual gifts exist for edification, the development of the church to full maturity, different images to final perfection. So each of us and we've said this before, we need to realize our salvation is not yet complete, and the work of the church of Jesus Christ is not yet complete. We ourselves are not totally perfectly conformed to Christ in every respect, as we will be in heaven when we are in resurrection bodies and we are finally conformed to Christ in all respects. This is the very thing that God predestined before the foundation of the world should happen. As he said in Romans 8:29-30, “Those God foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, and those he called, he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified.” So for me, in that scripture, glorification equals total conformity to the likeness of Christ, and that's going to happen for the elect from every tribe, language, people, and nation all over the world. That's what's going on. That's what spiritual gifts are for.
Now, as we're in chapter 14, Paul has zeroed in or is zeroing in on two spiritual gifts in particular: tongues and prophecy. And he's making the point here, the overall point of Chapter 14 is not so much about tongues and prophecy, but the absolute requirement for clarity in the ministry of the Word, a simple delivery system of the word of God, clarity in the Word and orderliness. These two attributes of local church worship are essential and he's arguing for both of them. Now he's zeroing in on tongues and prophecy, because it seems they were the two showiest most upfront gifts back then, they were of great- in great demand, everyone desired that upfront kind of leader-like gift, and they were seeing it also, it seems, through pagan eyes. Because they were zeroing in on these gifts, they tended to denigrate the other gifts, which Paul goes through and describes in 1 Corinthians 12, and in other passages. And so it's like, if you had those gifts, you were a second class citizen, what you really wanted was tongues and prophecy, he's gotta level that and say, “No, no, no, the gifts that you have are given by the will of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they are essential.” Every one of the gift packages is essential to the church. Beyond that, he's got to say that these gifts, the specific gifts of tongues and prophecy, were not meant to be operated on or used in the pagan way that priests and priestesses used to operate in the temple where a kind of divine, so to speak, supernatural frenzy would come on these people. They would lose their minds and they would be almost like crazy people having been touched by the supernatural, by the gods or goddesses. That's how the pagan priests and priestesses used to do it; that is not what's happening with godly Christian worship.
And so he's going to say there's no mindless frenzy here, there's no disorder, there's no chaos, but there has to be clarity in the word and orderliness in the use of these gifts. That's what he's arguing for. He wants truth spoken clearly, the unfolding of the word of God is what builds up the church, and so he says in verse 19, in the church, “I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue,” and he means a tongue not having been translated. So again, this shows how absolutely vital the mind is in our salvation. God uses reasonable words, reasonable concepts, to transform our minds and to transform our hearts, so out of transformed minds and hearts flow transformed lives in the body. The Word then taught and preached clearly is understood by the minds of the hearers, the heart believes and loves that truth, and the body follows, the transformed mind and heart. This is salvation, this is justification, this is sanctification. So there must be clarity, we've already covered that in the earlier messages on tongues, but here he's also underscoring orderliness, orderliness in the use of the gift of tongues. We've already covered that. He does not want chaos or disorder, confusion, so by way of review with tongues, he gave three clear commands: two or at most three should speak in tongues one at a time, secondly, the tongues must always be interpreted if they're gonna be part of corporate worship. And third, if there is no interpreter, the tongue should not be part of public worship. Those are the rules that he gave when we talked about that several weeks ago.
"God uses reasonable words, reasonable concepts, to transform our minds and to transform our hearts, so out of transformed minds and hearts flow transformed lives in the body. "
II. God’s Will for Prophets
Now secondly, we're gonna see God's will for prophets, God's will for prophets. So let's talk about prophecy, and let me give you again some understanding of what this gift is, or what prophecy is. In the Old Testament prophecy was the direct communication of words from God to his people through a human being. So a key phrase would be, “Thus says the Lord,” we can always picture that colon and then quotation mark, and then off comes a set of words that have been put into the mind of the prophet for delivery to the people of God, that's prophecy, “Thus says the Lord.” So Moses said this, Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you,” this is God speaking to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” that's prophecy, “I will put my words in his mouth.” Again, Jeremiah 1:9, same thing, “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth.’” so that's the Old Testament prophecy.
Now, all of scripture is prophecy in written form. Prophecy in written form, Peter tells us that 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture ever came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” That's a perfect description of prophecy; it's human, men spoke, from God, the origin of the words were from God, and they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, therefore protected perfectly from error. That's what prophecy is. So Scripture is written prophecy. Now, Old Testament prophets were validated in their office, they were identified to the people of God by the ability to predict the future. Now understand, it's not true that all prophecy was a prediction of the future, that's not true, as a matter of fact, most of them weren't. However, the ability to predict the future is the crown jewel of prophecy, it's what sets the Judeo-Christian heritage apart from any other religion in the world, as I've said many times before: no Hindu prophecies, no Buddhist prophecies, any Islamic prophecies are only because the Injil of the New Testament is woven into Islam. There are no independent Islamic prophecies, certainly none that have come true along the time, as there have been in the Judeo-Christian tradition. But it is the ability to predict the future that identifies an individual as a prophet before the people of God. Deuteronomy 18:21-22, “You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken, that prophet has spoken presumptuously, do not be afraid of him.” So the clear message there is: if you want to be identified as a prophet before the people of God you have to predict the future, and again, you need to know since your identification is waiting for the prediction to come true, you can't predict something that's gonna happen in two or three centuries, because your case is gonna be put in the file folder until that comes true, so you'll just- your whole life will not be identified as a prophet. So clearly there would be something that would have happened immediately, and then long-term prophecies could be centuries down the line as Isaiah predicted the birth of Jesus centuries after him. So, therefore, a prophecy is different than teaching and preaching, which has more of a logical reasoning process, exegesis, historical theology, different aspects, things that seem reasonable, you present it has a lower level of certainty than prophecy, which is just a delivery system of, “Thus says the Lord,” and the words come.
Now, it is hotly debated whether prophecy, the gift of prophecy is still functioning in the body of Christ today, many Evangelicals disagree about this, they go back and forth over this, or they redefine New Testament prophecy and make it essentially different than- or not essentially, but significantly different than what I've been describing so far, Old Testament prophecy. So charismatic churches like Pentecostal churches, Assembly of God Churches, Sovereign Grace, many others, believe that the gift of prophecy and the office of prophet is still open and being used today. Wayne Grudem, who wrote a great Systematic Theology, would be part of that movement, John Piper as well. Wayne Grudem has a novel view of New Testament prophecy saying it's more like speaking out of a sense of what the Holy Spirit has been saying in the mind of the prophet, not “Thus says the Lord.” And not necessarily perfect, but a more humble, “I feel the lord has shown me X,” but still calling it prophecy. I think, “I feel the lord has shown me X,” should be an important part of the Christian life. It's an important part of my life. I think if you lack wisdom and you go to God and you ask for wisdom and he gives it to you, you should not act like he didn't give you the wisdom, 'cause then you would be faithless James says, you have to believe God has the ability to communicate wisdom right into your life, but then you should say, “I felt the Lord leading me to do X,” because we don't always hear God right. But I understand that. Should it be called Prophecy? Debatable. If when we get to heaven, the Lord says, “By the way, Andy, that was prophecy,” I'll say, along with all the other repenting I'll be doing on judgment day, I'll repent from that as well.
In the meantime, though, I think it's actually reasonable, it's reasonable to ask for the validation of the office in the New Testament as it was validated in the Old Testament, namely the fulfillment of predictions. Now, some of the churches that believe the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy is still functioning, what they'll do on a Sunday morning is they'll have an open mic and they will invite people with a prophecy from the Lord to come, they will have a leader of the church, there at the microphone to filter the individuals that come forward, they'll listen to what's said and they will then permit it or not, so that goes on. Now, I've personally never seen this done, but I've heard about it from friends who believe in this, and they have it functioning in the healthiest of all churches, frankly, in my opinion, it just sounds like biblical exhortation, 90% of it. So people come up and individuals will come and just say, “The Lord is saying to First Baptist Church that we need to love one another, forgive whatever grievances we may have against one another, and we need to be faithful in evangelism.” Well, look all of those things are in the New Testament. I do this kind of biblical exhortation every time I preach. I'm not gonna call it prophecy, but I may be wrong in that, I don't know. All I'm saying is that is an important part of the church life; I'm just not calling it the prophecy. I believe there is no good reason to excuse modern day prophets from the requirement to predict the future in order to get the office or the gift, title a sign, the role I don't mind, biblical exhortation, do it friends, brothers and sisters, do it with one another. Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. Let the word of God roll in the life of the church. Let's do it. But to call it prophecy or that person a prophet, I don't think that there's any reason that we should excuse that from predicting the future, especially since it happened in the New Testament. There was a man named Agabus, who in Acts 11:28-29, it says, “One of them named Agabus stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world (this happened during the reign of Claudius),” fulfillment, prediction fulfillment, you're a prophet. Agabus, I think had already done other such predictions, so they knew he was a prophet. So we should not think, “Oh, that wasn't happening anymore.” It is, it was, at least in the book of Acts, if the gift is still going on. Now what happened was the disciples each according to his ability, set aside food like in the days of Joseph, so wouldn't that be good? There's gonna be a market downturn, you want to get out of this or that commodity or whatever, you'd be like, “Oh wow, but I don't think the Lord's gonna do that.” Maybe, he will, I don't know, but imagine a famine or something like that, or even an illness, say you don't wanna go to that part of the world, etcetera. I could imagine something like that happening and then people are making practical provisions based on that prediction, etcetera.
Now, with the giving of the prophetic word back then in Corinth, there needed to be the weighing of the prophetic word. It had to be evaluated. This is very important. Okay? Paul commands that the prophet should weigh the prophecies that were being given out, look at verse 29, “Two or three prophets should speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” The Greek word for the careful weighing is “diakrino,” which means to evaluate or discern or judge or assess to make divisions or distinctions, this from that, that's what should happen with the prophecies. Keep in mind that at that time, the New Testament had not yet been completed. Think of this epistle to the Corinthians, it was just a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote. My feeling is he wrote lots of letters that didn't make it into the New Testament, so there is a growing body of New Testament theology, a growing body of New Testament epistles that eventually were identified by the church as the New Testament, but it's just a lot of development going on, and so the gift of prophecy was functioning clearly, and so the weighing of the prophecies would be after the words had been spoken, then according to this text, this chapter, the other prophets would weigh in on whether the words that had just been spoken were valid prophecy from the Lord or not, it's very important.
So first and foremost, they had to line up what had just been uttered with Old Testament theology about God, and then the developing New Testament theology about the incarnation, the Trinity, various things that we're developing, and the faith that was being built before them by the ministry of the apostles and prophets, so they had to weigh it theologically. You get this in Romans 12:6, about spiritual gifts, “According to the grace given us, we have different gifts. [Listen] If prophecy, then use it in proportion to the standard of faith.” that's one translation. If you have the gift of prophecy, make certain it lines up with the faith, so it's what's called the analogy of faith, that's just a transliteration of “analogia,” it needs to be proportional to the faith. Well, what does that mean, proportional to the faith? Well, the faith is orthodox Christianity. It's true, doctrinally accurate Christianity. It's not the sense you have that Jesus is Lord, it's not that by which you are justified. It's doctrine, the faith is doctrine, faith is something else, but the faith is doctrine. For example: Acts 6:7, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became [listen to this] obedient to the faith.” That means they're obedient to the words of the gospel. Or again, Galatians 1:23, Paul is giving his testimony there, “They only heard the report: ‘The man who formally persecuted us [listen] is now preaching the faith he once sought to destroy.’” He's preaching the gospel message. Or again, Jude 3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Probably the most famous use of this word, the faith, is, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have,” what? “Kept the faith.” What that means is, I've continued to believe right doctrine, right to the end of my life. That's what I think, “I've kept the faith” means. So the prophets weigh in on what just got said and they're saying, “Is it doctrinally true or not, or is it heresy?” False teaching. Now, the reason they have to do this is because there's all kinds of counterfeits and false teachers out among the people, and they have to be careful as this thing is free flowing, we don't have a New Testament yet, so we get in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22, it says, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt, test everything, hold on to the good. Avoid every form of evil.” So don't denigrate prophecies. We need them. But you gotta test everything. Or again, 1 John 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So there's gonna be a lot of false doctrine out there, a lot of false teaching. You can't believe every spirit. You gotta test the spirit. It's the same thing that Paul is telling the prophets to do here.
Now, I wanna say, though this is slightly beside the point, but it's related, the public ministry of the words should be submitted to this kind of evaluation every day, every week, every sermon. I hope it is. You're like, “Pastor, it is. Keep coming, and we'll tell you, we'll let you know if you step off the path,” but you remember how- we have this story in Acts 17:11 of the Bereans, it says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Friends, I invite you to do that. I want you to do that. I want you to take all of the sermons, the cross-references, everything. You're like, “Pastor there's so many cross-references, how can we...” But do it. It's online, just take the verses and look and see if what I say is true, I want you to do that, that should happen anyway, but this is something more serious than that, this is something that has been spoken for the first time in front of the Corinthian church, a prophecy has been given, now it needs to be stamped with approval or disapproval right away. This is the weighing of the prophecies.
Now, what is the purpose of prophecy? Well, Paul says, as always, it's edification, the building up of all who hear, look at verse 26, “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn or a word of instruction or revelation, tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening [or the edification] of the church.” that's the purpose, the building up of the church. Then he adds these words in verse 31, instruction and encouragement. Look down at verse 31, “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” so the purpose of prophecy back then was instruction, there'd be things you would learn, and then encouragement. The prophecies were a great source of comfort to a persecuted church, and so instruction and consolation or encouragement.
Now in the midst of all of this, we've got clarity already, we're speaking absolutely the vital nature of clarity, but he also wants orderliness, just like with tongues, he gives instruction about orderliness of how the prophets should use their gifts, as he does with tongues. Look at verse 29-32. “Two or three prophets should speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said, and if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop, for you can all prophesy in turn, so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets.” so there is a limit to the number of prophets that speak, two or three, just like there was with tongues, there is a weighing of the words of prophecy as we've said, and then there are clear instructions about orderliness even during the time of prophecy. If a revelation comes to another prophet, while the first prophet is speaking, the first prophet should stop and give up the floor. Like you can imagine, like the proceedings in the Senate where a senator is speaking and another senator says, “Will the senator yield?” And he says, “I yield the rest of my time to the distinguished senator from North Carolina,” that kind of thing. There's decorum, there's orderliness, so there's not chaos on the floor of the Senate, same thing in the local church: no one interrupting the other, no one is shouting the other down, and, key insight: “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets.” don't blame the Holy Spirit for your disorderliness. Can't say, “I couldn't help myself. The Spirit came on me and there was nothing I could do.” not at all. The Holy Spirit does not make the prophets whirling dervishes that are out of their minds like the pagan priests and priestess, not at all. The Holy Spirit, the triune God, has created every aspect of our being, of our personality. He doesn't overwhelm the mind and the heart, like a demon does, think about the demoniac at the gatherings where he's out of his mind and naked and howling at the moon, it's almost like a rape of the personality. Holy Spirit heals and empowers actual capability that God gave, including the reason and the intellect and the will, the mind and the heart, always we should see salvation as therapeutic, a healing of what God originally intended. And so the Holy Spirit works with our reasons, like it says in Isaiah 1:18, “‘Come, now let us reason together,’ says the Lord.” Or I like what Paul says on trial. Remember how he's on trial in Acts 26, and the king interrupts him and says, “You're out of your mind! Your learning has driven you insane.” And Paul says, “I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable.” That's the Christian faith. It's true and reasonable.
"Holy Spirit heals and empowers actual capability that God gave, including the reason and the intellect and the will, the mind and the heart, always we should see salvation as therapeutic, a healing of what God originally intended."
So Paul lays out a very clear pattern for orderliness in the exercise of the gift of prophecy, verse 33, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” He's gonna conclude this whole section in the same way, look at verse 40, “Everything should be done,” one translation says, “decently and in good order,” or “in a fitting and orderly way.” Decently in good order. Isn't that beautiful? There's a decency and an orderliness to Christian worship. We need to stand in awe brothers and sisters of the orderliness of God. We need to just stand in awe of how orderly his creation is. The six days of creation. How progressively, wisely, intelligently God works. There is evening and the morning, first day, evening and morning, the second day, third day, fourth day, there's a progression and a sequence that's so wise and beautiful. And we see that still if you know what to look for, like in the human genome, there's a sequence, an orderliness that if even one thing is misspelled, you can get cancer out of that, or birth defects or other things, there's just an incredible orderliness to God in the created order. We see it also in religion, how God established the animal sacrificial system in the Old Testament with an intense orderliness. The Levitical priesthood, different ones of the descendants of Levi, different sub-groups of the Levites had different jobs to do. And then think about even the accouterments, the things that were designed for the use in the tabernacle, like the breast piece over the heart of the high priest, Exodus 28:15-20, it says, “Fashion a breast piece for making decisions. The work of a skilled craftsman, make it like the ephod of gold and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and finely twisted linen. It is to be square, a span long and a span wide, folded double, then mount four rows of precious stones on it, in the first row, there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a barrel, in the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald. In the third row, a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst, in the fourth row a crystallite, an onyx and a Jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings.” Now, you know you're not supposed to run off and go make one of those this afternoon, that- all of that has been fulfilled, it's type and shadow, but the words are still there to show us just how orderly God is in worship, very orderly. Also the orderliness of the annual calendar of festivals, Deuteronomy 16:16-17, “Three times a year, all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, at Feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty handed, each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” a proportional gift three times a year, not wherever you want, but at the place I will choose, very orderly. We see it in the orderliness of the camp of Israel before they enter the Promised Land, whenever they would camp, the Tabernacle would be in the center, and three tribes would be to the north. Three tribes would be to the south. Three tribes to the East, three tribes to the West, and by the way, which tribes where, that's spelled out too, if you're in the tribe of Dan and you'd like to be in a different place, no, is the answer to you, there's an orderliness. And then when the camp sets out, they would go out, Numbers 2:17, “Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites were set out in the middle of the camps, they will set out in the same order, in which they encamp each in its own place, under his standard.” Got it, very orderly. And we see also in the New Testament, an ordering in the gospel, even in the gospel ministry. Romans 1:16, “I'm not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” So Paul says, to the Jews, “We had to speak the word of God to you first. We now turn to the Gentiles.” There's this ordering here. Jesus himself said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” There's this ordering, and God always had a saving intention to the ends of the earth, always, it's easy to prove from Scripture, but there's an ordering, even in the delivery of the Gospel. Verse 33, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace, as in all the congregation of the saints.” So there's this orderliness to New Testament worship as well.
III. God’s Will for Women
Thirdly, God's will for women. Part of the ordering of the church that Paul addresses here has to do with the role of women in corporate worship. Look at Verses 33-35, “As in all the congregation of the saints, Women should remain silent in the churches, they are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” I don't know why somebody asked me if I was gonna skip this part today, but I have no desire to skip any of God's word. I learned a long time ago, not to be ashamed of anything that God has said. Everything God says is true healthy food. So we want to eat the healthy food, try to understand it, and so he's talking about submissiveness. The women are not allowed to speak but must be in submission.
Now, biblically, submission has to do with recognizing God-ordained authority; that's- the word submission has to do with that. So there's God-ordained authority and then a yielding, a glad yielding to it, because you see it ultimately coming from God. That's what submissiveness is. So whether us to the governing authorities, or church to elders, children to their parents, etcetera, there's this ordering that God has set up. Now, the submissiveness of women to men is based on a timeless pattern, Paul already addressed this, and we went through it in the head covering passage as you well remember, 1 Corinthians 11 and verse 3, “I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” There's this orderliness to it. It's based on creation, it's not culturally based, it's not ancient patriarchy and all that, now we've evolved out- it was based on the ordering of creation. Also it's connected with, in some way, the most essential central human relationship there is, which is the husband-wife relationship. And we have in Ephesians 5, "Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is the savior. Now, as the church submits to Christ, also wives should submit to their husbands and everything.” Now, we're talking about local church here, so it's two different realms, but God is very clear about both, both within the marriage in the home, and also within the local church, this ordering.
Now, what is the nature of this silence? What is the silence we're talking about? Well, I don't have to tell you that there's a lot of controversy about that. What is the nature and the extent of the silence? Now, there is a basic quietness of heart that all women and indeed all men should have when hearing the word of God. A quietness and a yieldedness that comes to the word of God, as Paul says concerning women in 1 Timothy 2:11, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission." There's a sweet submissive-ness to the word of God and to God in the Word, but does this mean that a woman should never say a word on Sunday morning, should never speak in church or as part of a Sunday morning worship service? Many have pointed back to the very passage I just mentioned, the head covering passage, 1 Corinthians 11, saying, "A woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head," etcetera, but they say all of that implies that women were praying and prophesying in the corporate worship service, and that may well be. Even that's debated. There's no part of this, that's not debated, friends. But there seem to be indications that women were using that gift, praying and prophesying, in corporate worship, etcetera.
Now, in 1 Timothy 2, I think we can at least set the boundaries here. Paul spoke very clearly about gender and authority in the local church in 1 Timothy 2, in verse 12-13 he says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent, for Adam was formed first then Eve." So at least we know, in a timeless fashion, that there's a boundary line set in a healthy evangelical church concerning women that they should not teach men and that they should not have authority over men. That I think is clear. And, again, it's tied to creation; it's not tied to anything culturally in Ephesus or anything like that in 1 Timothy; that's not what's going on. "For Adam was formed first." There was an ordering in creation. And part of the reason for that was to establish Adam's leadership; over the whole world, really, all of us as descended from Adam, but even within the marriage. So Adam was formed first. So these two things I think are clearly forbidden in a healthy church: women teaching men and women having authority over men. Some people melt them together as though they're the same thing, but they're two different infinitives in the prohibition. To teach, I do not permit, neither to have authority. So they're two different things, they're separated from each other in the Greek sentence. So there are two different things forbidden, teaching men, women teaching men, and women having authority, it does not mean that women cannot teach other women or children. It doesn't mean that women cannot communicate insights that they've gained from the word in an informal way.
But teaching and… Now, there's been a lot of controversy of this recently. I just think 2020 is like the year of controversy within the evangelical church. And I won't say names, but if any of you follow events, you know that there have been women that have preached on Sunday mornings, and they do so within the structure of complementarianism, so they believe. Complementarianism: the belief in gender-based roles, different roles in the church being a beautiful thing. But they say that women can teach and preach even on a Sunday morning, as long as they're doing it under the auspices of the elders. So there's a lot of debate and discussion about this, but I think there's a clear timeless prohibition in reference to that function. So, whatever the speaking or not speaking, the silent in the church is, women should not teach or have authority over men in public worship. Beyond that there's a debate or discussion, but I think freedom.
So the command for the silent in the church is clearly should harmonize with 1 Timothy 2:12, but in this context, I don't even think that's what Paul is talking about. In this context, the silence, I think, has to do with the evaluation of the prophecies. Remember, I've talked about that at length. The prophecy happens, then the other prophets should weigh and evaluate, diakrino, they should judge the prophecy and decide whether it's orthodox, whether the church should submit to it and obey it, etcetera. That function, I think at least, Paul's saying should be men and not women. And if the women have some questions about it, they can ask their husbands at home, it's not time for debate or discussion, there needs to be this orderliness. I think at least that's the prohibition, namely, the evaluation of the prophecy in context. Now, Paul says they're not allowed to speak but must be in submission as the law says. What does that mean? I don't know. The law, I think refers to the Old Testament Scripture. So it could be the general pattern of male leadership as seen in the Old Testament. I don't think there's a specific command that Paul has in mind, although it may be.
Now, what does he mean by disgraceful? This is a very strong word, isn't it? A very strong word. But I think we should hear it as “breaking decorum.” A number of years ago, I've been involved in dozens and dozens of weddings, usually I'm involved as an officiant, I do the service, usually stand right down there, and then come up here and then we do the vows, and it's a beautiful part of my ministry. I love doing it. But one of the weddings, I was not the officiant, I was just known to the couple, and they asked if I would be willing to read Scripture at their wedding, and I said I'd be delighted. And so I went to the rehearsal, they had told me the Scripture ahead of time, I practiced it, got it ready, and then the couple and the wedding director told me where I was to sit, right over there, and then when I was to get up at the wedding and read the Scripture. So when my cue came during the wedding, guess what I did? I got up and read the Scripture. Guess what else I did? Nothing. I didn't say, "Y’all, I love this couple, this couple means so much to me, and by the way, I am the pastor of this... I'm usually... I usually do weddings, I'm not doing this one, but I just wanna share. There's just something I wanna say." Look, friends that would be... Can I use the word? Disgraceful. I can tell you at least the wedding coordinator would be shocked. I don't know if I'd get talked to at the reception afterwards, but that would be breaking decorum. There's a beautiful orderliness to the wedding. It's all been planned out. Don't break decorum, because it would be disgraceful to get up out of the role assigned to me and do something else. I think that's the way I understand that. I hope that helps. Now listen, there's nothing new under the sun. People had problems with women's roles back then, that's why Paul had to write these words, people have problems with women's roles now. When I did head coverings, I talked about the emergence of feminism in the 20th century and how it's affected the church. I don't wanna go back over that, except to say, I think the fundamental flaw is based or connected to the American meritocracy, which says you are what you do and what you can achieve. What you can put on a resume. That is a fundamental flaw. You are valuable because you're human, and you're valuable because you're redeemed by the blood of Christ, and you're valuable, below that, because you've been given spiritual gifts, men and women alike, given gifts. And you have a valuable important role to play. Men and women alike are indispensable to a healthy life of the church. So we need to fight all of that sense of being insulted or offended or whatever and say, “God loves men as men, and he loves women as women, and he delights in that orderliness that he's set up.” We should see it that way too.
"We need to fight all of that sense of being insulted or offended or whatever and say, “God loves men as men, and he loves women as women, and he delights in that orderliness that he's set up.” We should see it that way too."
IV. God’s Will for these Instructions
Now, what is God's will for these instructions? Well, Paul challenges them to obey, verses 36-38, "Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored." He is humbling the Corinthians here. “Did you originate the gospel? Did it not come to you? You need to get with the program that came to you, you're not in charge,” he's humbling them. And this word, this command, is not Paul's, ultimately, it's the Lord Jesus', the Lord usually is Jesus. So if you are actually spiritually minded, you need to acknowledge that what he's written in this chapter is coming from the Lord Jesus Christ, not from Paul. I remember, when we went through the gender and authority controversy early in my ministry here a long, long time ago, I remember hearing one person say very plainly. "I don't care what Paul said, I know what I believe." You also sometimes hear people pitting Paul against Jesus, like Jesus had this expansive, beautiful view of everything, Jesus is generally well thought of, but then along comes Paul, this misogynist, chauvinist, patriarchal guy and he... Don't do that. Paul is actually taking that off the table here. “If you're spiritually minded, you need to acknowledge that what I've written here comes from Jesus. I am the Lord's apostle communicating that.” “And if you ignore this,” he says, “you will be ignored.” That's an interesting statement, isn't it? Basically, you're gonna get bypassed. God's Spirit is going to work through others and he's gonna develop his church in a healthy way, other ways. You're going to be ignored, or even within the local church, people won't listen to you. “Therefore [final instructions], my brothers, be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues, but everything should be done decently and in good order.”
Alright, applications. Well, this morning I was coming in with Daphne and we were listening to a Spurgeon sermon. And Charles Spurgeon, one of the key things about him, the introductory section was saying, he would never get up and preach in front of God's people without clearly explaining the gospel. And I- we've been talking about spiritual gifts, they're important. We've been talking about tongues and prophecy, it's important. We've been talking about even local church corporate worship, that's important. But none of these things are as important as this. As the first importance, we're gonna talk about this next week, the gospel. The first importance for you is: are your sins forgiven through faith in Christ? Do you know for certain that you're going to go to Heaven when you die? You know you don't know when you're going to die, and the best thing I can do as a preacher, as was said of Richard Baxter, he preached as a dying man to dying men. So I speak as a dying human being to other human beings who are mortal, and you don't know how much longer you have. The question I'm asking is, do you know that when you die you're going to go to heaven and not hell? Do you know that your sins are forgiven through faith in Christ? You heard in Josh's testimony the simple gospel that God sent his Son to die on the cross for sinners like you and me, and if you repent and believe in Christ, all your sins will be forgiven. So trust in Christ.
Secondly, the purpose of our corporate worship is the edification of the body. So, Wes and I meet every week, we have time to pray, etcetera, and I just love this brother, and I love the team that gathers. We together, along with the elders, our primary purpose on Sunday morning is to edify the church, to build up the church to full maturity. It's everything we do, and it's a beautiful work. We should see our Sunday morning gatherings as having that central purpose. To that end, I wanna ask you, you have to assume there's some dysfunctionality in our church, like there is dysfunctionality in that Corinthian church. When it comes to spiritual gifts what's our dysfunctionality? I fear it may be the under-use of spiritual gifts. That people have gifts that they're not using. That they're willing to hire a ministry to run services on Sunday morning and not do much throughout the rest of the week. God has given each of you a stewardship of a gift, a spiritual gift package, ask the Lord to show you what you're doing with your gifts. Do you have a definable pattern of ministry to the body of Christ and to the lost world? We've used these words, discover, develop and deploy your gifts. Discover what they are. Develop them through the ministry of the word and then use them. Deploy them.
Embrace complementarianism. Let's not be confused, as our world seems to be about gender, let's not be weird, let's not be confused. Male matters, female matters. Human matters more, that's true. But it matters that God made you a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. These things matter. Let's have healthy parenting toward that, let's delight in gender. Let's not be an oppressive tyrannical church that flaunts authority structures. Let's delight as Jesus did in men and women as such. But let's embrace how God made us different and gave us different roles in the life of the church, and let's not push back against.
And finally, let's delight in the orderliness of God. When you get to heaven, you're gonna see so much order up there, beauty, but concentric circles all around the throne, and different ones honored higher than others, archangels and angels. And all of this order, and people sitting at Jesus' right and left, in places assigned to them by God, and none of us will be jealous about that or want to topple it or want a free-flowing kind of anarchy, that's not where we're going, we're going to a world of beautiful orderliness in heaven. Look forward to that. Close with me, if you would, in prayer.
Father, thank you for the study that we've had, three chapters on spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14. Thank you for what we've learned. And now, Lord, as we have closed this section and go on into the new section on the resurrection, help us to not forget the lessons we've learned, help us to be active with our spiritual gifts, using them for your glory. And we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.