Church worship services have two goals: worshipping God (obviously) and...
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1 Corinthians 14 (ESV)
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,
especially that you may prophesy.
2 For one who speaks in a tongue
speaks not to men but to God;
for no one understands him,
but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies
speaks to people
for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
4 The one who speaks in a tongue
builds up himself,
but the one who prophesies
builds up the church.
5 Now I want
you all to speak in tongues,
but even more to prophesy.
The one who prophesies
is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,
unless someone interprets,
so that the church may be built up.
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues,
how will I benefit you
unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp,
do not give distinct notes,
how will anyone know what is played?
8 And if the bugle
gives an indistinct sound,
who will get ready for battle?
9 So with yourselves,
if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible,
how will anyone know what is said?
For you will be speaking into the air.
10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world,
and none is without meaning,
11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language,
I will be a foreigner to the speaker
and the speaker a foreigner to me.
12 So with yourselves,
since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit,
strive to excel in building up the church.
one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in a tongue,
my spirit prays
but my mind is unfruitful.
15 What am I to do?
pray with my spirit,
but I will pray with my mind also;
sing praise with my spirit,
but I will sing with my mind also.
if you give thanks with your spirit,
how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
you may be giving thanks well enough,
but the other person is not being built up.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
in church I would rather speak five words
with my mind
in order to instruct others,
than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking.
infants in evil,
but in your thinking be mature.
21 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.”
22 Thus tongues
are a sign not for believers
but for unbelievers,
is a sign not for unbelievers
but for believers.
23 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?
24 But if
and an unbeliever or outsider enters,
he is convicted by all,
he is called to account by all,
25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed,
and so, falling on his face,
and declare that God is really among you.
26 What then, brothers?
When you come together, each one has
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.
As in all the churches of the saints,
34 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.
35 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.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came?
Or are you the only ones it has reached?
37 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.
38 If anyone
does not recognize this,
he is not recognized.
39 So, my brothers,
earnestly desire to prophesy,
and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
40 But all things should be done
and in order.
1 Corinthians 14 Summary
The first century church was a much different environment than the typical Midwestern protestant church is today. Their services were probably included very little music, but yet it was also a very charismatic event with multiple church members standing up and sharing new revelations God had just given them, often in languages nobody could understand.
The big difference between then and now is in the way God speaks to His people. Today, we have the full and complete Word of God written down, and so our services are oriented around understanding what it says and applying those living words to our lives.
These early Corinthian Christians didn't have that. They had the Old Testament for sure, and perhaps Mark's gospel by this point, so God gave them revelation in more direct ways, through 'tongues' and miraculous healings. As the New Testament neared completion, these extraordinary communications from the Spirit slowed down and came to an end.
Although the situation in which the church operates is significantly different now than it was in first century Corinth, and these early instructions contain particulars that are no longer as relevant, there are some deeply abiding principles taught here.
First of all, v33:
God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
This means the way we do things (especially in the church) ought to reflect God's character, as Paul writes in v40:
All things should be done decently and in order.
This instruction pertains both to the Church's polity (governance), but also to the manner in which our worship services are conducted. Certainly there's room in life for unbridled and extemporaneous praise, but note that worship, as important and critical as what it is, is only one reason the church gathers.
While it's true that all elements in our worship services must bring honor, glory and praise to God, v26 adds that second goal:
Let all things be done for building up.
And that's the reason you need to participate each week.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father is not a God of confusion but of peace (v33)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for how the church builds you up each week, and pray that you'll be even more committed to it.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: