Summary: A discussion on the meaning and intent of worship.
Text: 1 Cor 14:1, 26, Title: God Truly Among Us, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/12/12, AM
Background to passage: this chapter covers a number of specific things about prophesy and tongues, but we have dealt with them as spiritual gifts in previous messages, so if you are interested in them specifically, check out the website. This also passage deals with the use of these and other principles of corporate worship. And uses these gifts and the rest of the gifts to talk about them. We also get a glimpse into the early church in Corinth, and how they gathered.
Main thought: So this morning I want us to think about a couple of these principles that we take for granted or that we never think about much...or that many of us think about each time we enter the worship service.
Worship Should Be Intelligible (v. 23-25)
Read verses 3-5, 12, 17, speak about the main purpose of spiritual gifts, and one of the main goals in corporate worship – edification. The service must be understood by saints and aints in order for it to profit them. This shows us that the gatherings of the early church were times of the people of God getting feed, exhorted, strengthened, and taught. All through the first 25 verses of this chapter, he argues that if we are to be built up, we must understand. He culminates with the result of intelligibility is that when unbelievers come they testify that “God is truly among us.” We come to worship to both give and get. There is no shame in coming to “get something” out of the service, as long as the main thing that you are striving to get is God!
Illustration: one of the recommendations from Everett was a sign in the parking lot telling where the nursery was for visiting young families,
There are some simple, practical, almost common sense kinds of things that flow from this. Bulletins: sometimes the target of those that want a less “contained” service, but helpful for people to know what is going on. Words to songs in the book or on the wall. Sound systems and microphones for people to hear clearly. Bibles in the pews. Language that communicates (both the right dialect and level).
But let’s think a little deeper. What do you come here to do? Ease conscience? Please a family member? See friends? Hear a sermon? Sing your favorite songs? What happens in your heart when those ends are not achieved? What things do you come here to get?
I want you to take this home. There are two things in this message that if you forget everything else, remember these: 1) the essence of worship is not about external forms or styles or buildings or places or clothing choices or outward expressions. See quote below. At the core of NT worship, the essence of what we are to do here, the foundation goal, the non-negotiable heart of the NT is inward gladness and satisfaction in God; in seeing and savoring Him; in rejoicing in all that He is and is to you. I made a statement the other night in our worship service about singing all the songs (which I still stand by as an expression of love and worship in that sense), but I want to clarify that although singing is normative in NT and OT worship, guilting you into singing all the songs, and you doing it without an inner gladness and rejoicing is not helpful, nor does it achieve the ultimate goal of worship. MAIN TRUTH: worship is inner, (and even though it might not happen every time) and to do “worship” without this piece is to fail at a personal level.
So, handles: and this is to help you now, and short-circuit you later (because this kills the essence of worship, because you focus on self instead of on God). I must give you handles. Use them, then fling them aside only to be used on occasion. While you are singing, giving, listening to the sermon (because the sermon is worship as much as the songs), ask yourself: am I truly thinking about God? Am I happy in Him when I do? As I said, once you begin to analyze worship, it ceases to be worship. Are you experiencing Him in your heart and emotion and mind? Is there emotion welling up of joy and gladness in you as you sing or hear the word or give? Don’t think that if this never happens you are lost, just know that this is the essence of worship, and most of us haven’t been taught that. And in order to attain it, don’t seek it, but seek God!
Worship Should Be Orderly (v. 33, 40)
Paul says that God is a God of order, and not of confusion. He gives this as a reason for people to make sure that whatever is done in the worship service is done so that people see God, and are not distracted. Our services as a whole are supposed to cause people to see and look to God. All the tongue-speakers and prophets should wait their turn and ensure they have an interpreter. This doesn’t mean that our services have to be completely scripted, or that we always follow the bulletin to the “t.” And it doesn’t mean that we don’t allow the Spirit to lead us, but there is nothing that says the Spirit can’t lead us in preparation. But we should think through our services with a goal in mind.