Summary: In today's lesson, we learn that there must be proper order in the church meeting.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of spiritual gifts. Let’s learn more about that in a message I am calling, “Proper Order in the Church Meeting.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 14:26-33a:
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33a)
The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians is a very important letter in the Bible. As you know, the Apostle Paul planted the church in Corinth. He had moved away, but he was still very concerned about the welfare of the church.
He had received communication from the Corinthian Church in which they had asked him to address a number of challenges that were facing the Christians in the church. So, The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians is a letter intended to address various challenges that the Christians in Corinth were facing.
One of the challenges facing the Christians was the issue of spiritual gifts. Beginning in chapter 12 (“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers,” v. 1) and continuing all the way to the end of chapter 14, the Apostle Paul addressed the issue of spiritual gifts.
In chapter 14 Paul wrote about the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. The church in Corinth was very confused about the proper use of the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy, not unlike some churches in our own day.
Now, prophecy is the proclamation of God’s truth. While it could have an element of “fore-telling” the future, it usually dealt primarily with the “forth-telling” of God’s truth to people.
Tongues was used in 1 Corinthians in two senses. In one sense it was used of unintelligible gibberish, and in the other sense it was used of understandable language.
In the first five verses the apostle compared prophecy and tongues, and concluded that prophecy was superior to tongues.
As we have already learned in our study of chapter 14 so far, Paul used the word “tongue” in both the singular form and the plural form throughout chapter 14.
Paul used the singular form for “tongue” in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, and 19 to indicate unintelligible gibberish, the kind of tongues similar to pagan and ecstatic utterances. These were false tongues.
Paul used the plural form for “tongue” in verses 5, 6, 18, 22, 23, and 39 to indicate an understandable language. These were true tongues.
The only exception is found in verses 26 and 27, our text for today. In today’s text, the singular form of “tongue” is used to refer to a person speaking a genuine, understandable language.
In today’s lesson, we learn that there must be proper order in the church meeting.
Let’s learn about this as follows:
1. The Exhortation Regarding Proper Order in the Church Meeting (14:26)
2. The Regulations for Tongues (14:27-28)
3. The Regulations for Prophecy (14:29-31)
4. The Admonition Regarding Proper Order in the Church Meeting (14:32-33a)
I. The Exhortation Regarding Proper Order in the Church Meeting (14:26)
First, notice the exhortation regarding proper order in the church meeting.
It is helpful to keep in mind that everything we do in our lives is undergirded by what we believe. There are a number of ways in which this is often expressed.
We talk about doctrine and duty, belief and behavior, faith and practice, or “faith and life,” as our Westminster Confession of Faith puts it in chapter 1, section 2.
The Bible always gives a doctrinal basis for our Christian behavior. There is always a theological reason to do what we are called to do.
For example, in his letters, Paul always first set down doctrine before he turned to the duty that arose from that doctrine. So, in his letter to the Romans Paul used the first eleven chapters to set down doctrine before he listed the duties that arose from that doctrine in chapters 12-16.