An Early Directory for Public Worship (1 Cor 14:26-40)
Written by R. Fowler White |
Thursday, May 18, 2023
The sum of Paul’s regulations for public worship here in 1 Cor 14:26-40 is that during the ministry of God’s word, the churches were to prefer the greater gifts without prohibiting the lesser ones and to do so by following the regulations laid down by the Apostle to ensure that the ministry of God’s word was done in that fitting and orderly way that instructed and exhorted His people (14:39-40).
As we come to 1 Cor 14:26-40, we arrive at the close of our brief series on 1 Corinthians 12-14. Paul has covered certain fundamental truths regarding the Spirit and His gifts. It is the Spirit, he declares, who brings unity to the church’s confession of Christ, its gifts for ministry, and its members (12:1-31). Moreover, he maintains, it is not any one gift of the Spirit that is indispensable to seeing our ministries thrive; rather, it is the Spirit’s fruit of love (13:1-13). If we wonder how indispensable love is to ministry, the Apostle would have us compare the greater gift of prophetic speech to the lesser gift of untranslated tongue-speech. In light of that comparison, we’re to see that the former benefits others; the latter does not and cannot benefit others unless it is translated (14:1-25). With those fundamentals as background, Paul will now sum up the regulations that will result in the edification of others during the ministry of God’s word in congregational worship. In the content of his summary, we see what amounts to evidence of an early apostolic directory for congregational worship.
Paul begins his directives with a regulation in 14:26b that applies to all ministries of God’s word in public worship: let all things be done for edification—or as the preceding context puts it: edify others, not oneself alone (14:4-5, 12). No one who delivers God’s word should hinder the instruction and exhortation of God’s people through the public ministry of that word (cf. 14:31).
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3 Ways to Love Like God DoesBy Megan Hill — 5 months ago
Our loveliness blossoms out of the love of God for us and in us, and it is affirmed and magnified and publicly displayed in the love we have for one another. It stands before the watching world as an invitation: come and see God’s love displayed.
Loving the People God Loves
What God loves, we must love. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1–2). If we are beloved children, we must walk in Christlike love for his people. Repeatedly in the New Testament, God calls the members of his beloved church to love one another.1 Love for the church ought to be a fundamental characteristic of our lives. You have a people. They are your local church. And our love ought to mirror God’s love in three important ways.
1. Loving the Unlovely
Since the fall of Adam, sin has made everyone unlovely. Listen to some of the words that the Bible uses to describe fallen people: enemies (Rom. 5:10), strangers (Eph. 2:12), rebels (Ezek. 20:38), and haters (Rom. 1:30); impure (Eph. 5:5), disobedient (Eph. 2:2), hopeless (Eph. 2:12), and ignorant (Rom. 10:3). Our sin not only makes us repulsive; it rightly places us under God’s wrath and displeasure (Eph. 2:3). There is nothing attractive about any of this. But, thankfully, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). When we were unlovely, God loved us. We did nothing to deserve his love, but he loved us anyway. In what might seem like circular reasoning, God explains his love for his people this way: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you” (Deut. 7:7–8). God loves his people because of his own eternal, sovereign, good pleasure and nothing else. His love is “uncaused, un-purchased and unconditional.”2 His love is “uninfluenced.”3
He loves us because he loves us. So we love God’s people simply because God loves them. Hear the words of the apostle John: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). God’s people are not always lovely. Every one of us can be thoughtless, immature, unkind, foolish, and repeatedly snared by sin. And those are just our obvious failings. We probably don’t even know the worst about the people in our church. But God does, and he loves us anyway. When Christ hung on the cross, he died for each particular sin of each particular person the Father had given him. There is no sin of his people yet to be discovered by the Lord and nothing that can disqualify his true children from his love. As we walk in love for the local church, our love models the love of God himself. There was nothing lovely in us that caused God to love us, so we don’t wait for God’s people to seem attractive in order to love them. If God in his sovereign good pleasure has set his love on these people from eternity past, uniting them to his Son and gathering them into his church, then it is our privilege to love them too.
Stay Awake!By Jeffrey A Stivason — 5 months ago
We are to be ready to open the door, whether on the second or third watch of the night. We are to be ready to open to the Master no matter what time it is. So, again and put simply, we are to have our loins girded so that we might be ready to open the door for the Master! Now, what is being said? What is being taught? The lesson is about saving faith. In other words, Jesus is telling us that we must have faith. Faith alone saves (Romans 3:22, 25; 10:30-32; Phil. 3:9). Now, this behooves us to ask about the nature of faith. What is it?
When the Lord says in Luke 12:35, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning…” we immediately begin nosing around the text looking for what it means to “stay dressed” and keep the “lamps burning.” In other words, what is the action we are looking for that requires us to steer clear of bedclothes and keep the energy bills high? What are we being charged to do? What is required of us in this text? Such questions deserve our mental energy. So, take a minute to open your Bible to Luke 12:35-40 and ask yourself, “What is the action for which I am to be prepared?” What is the thing I must do?
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Did you find it? Yes, we are to “gird our loins” or tuck our robes into our belt so as to be ready to move and we are to keep the lights on so as to be ready, even in the night. But ready for what? Ready to do what? The fact of the matter is the text doesn’t say. So, Biblical scholars often go backward in their search for the action. Thus, girding up our loins means ready to tackle anxiety (v. 22ff), being ready to fend off greed (v. 13ff), or having the boldness to acknowledge the Lord before men (v. 8ff). All of these things come earlier in chapter 12, but the fact is they are not part of the 12:35-40. So, what does that text say about the action for which we are to be ready?
The answer is simple. We are to be ready to open the door, whether on the second or third watch of the night. We are to be ready to open to the Master no matter what time it is.
Thanksgiving in Embittered TimesBy Grover Gunn — 6 months ago
1) Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 2) let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and 3) whatever you do, do all in the name of Jesus. I believe that obedience to these commands is the soil in which the spirit of thanksgiving flourishes. Obedience to these commands is the lifestyle which is most conducive to the thankful spirit.
This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday on which we take off from work and school, eat turkey and dressing, and watch parades and bowl games on television. But we need to remember that Thanksgiving should be more than a day off and a special meal and seasonal TV programs. Thanksgiving was instituted as a day which our culture sets aside to count our blessings and to give God thanks. Yet we must acknowledge that Thanksgiving as originally instituted is becoming more and more foreign to much of our culture. A radical form of ingratitude has come to characterize the culture that today dominates in certain spheres of our society. The philosophy behind this radical ingratitude is neo-Marxism, a new embodiment of the failed economic theories of Karl Marx.
The original version of Marxism tried to promote revolution through conflict between factory workers and the capitalist owners of the means of production. In the twentieth century, economic versions of Marxism were tried in numerous places and without exception proved to be economically disastrous. At the same time, the economic status of workers continued to improve in societies with a free market. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, socialism and communism were abandoned in many nations as failed economic experiments.
Sadly the ghost of Marxism has risen from the grave in the twenty-first century. The newer version of Marxism tries to promote revolution through conflict not between economic classes but between social classes referred to as the victims of oppression and the oppressors. Instead of promoting gratitude for the real blessings that people experience, neo-Marxism encourages people to view themselves as oppressed victims even when they are not. Neo-Marxism tries to convince people to view truly good things about our culture as sinister means used by the powerful to maintain power and to oppress their victims. To give some examples, free speech is opposed as a form of hateful violence, police protection for high crime neighborhoods is opposed as racial profiling, private ownership of defensive weapons is opposed as the cause of criminal violence, constitutional limits on government are opposed as barriers to radical social change, the traditional family is opposed as a barrier to new sexual liberties, and so on. In today’s world, things for which we should be grateful are labeled as means of oppression.
Perhaps the most tragic consequence of neo-Marxism is the current trend for young people to be dissatisfied with the biological sexual identity that God has encoded into every gene in their physical bodies. It is a sign of our times that instead of saying with the psalmist David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” many young people resent the physical bodies which God has given them.
In contrast to much of our culture today, the biblically defined Christian is characterized not by an embittered ingratitude but by thanksgiving. To use the language of the hundredth Psalm, we enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Giving thanks to God is the Christian’s duty. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul exhorts us, “In everything, give thanks.” And consider Ephesians 5:3-4:
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Worldly people may be known for their dirty jokes and filthy language and coarse jesting, but the Christian should be known for giving thanks to God.
I chose Colossians 3:15-17 as our passage for today because it mentions the concept of thanksgiving three times, once in each verse. This is very obvious is verses 15 and 17. Verse 15 says, “be thankful,” and verse 17 says, “giving thanks to God the Father.” The reference to thanksgiving is not as obvious in verse 16, at least not in the New King James Version, which reads, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The reference to thanksgiving in verse 16 is obvious in some other translations. For example, the New American Standard and the English Standard Version both translate verse 16 as referring to singing “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
The Greek word here is usually translated “grace.” Yet like most words, this Greek word has more than one possible meaning. The meaning of this word which we are probably most familiar with is the goodwill which motivates a giver to give a gift as an undeserved and unearned favor. This is the meaning that this word has, for example, in Ephesians 2:8, which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” This is a reference to grace as the goodwill which motivated God to give us the unmerited and undeserved gift of salvation. Yet this Greek word also has other related meanings. It can refer to the gift itself. It can also refer to the gratitude of the person who received the gift, to the gratitude motivated by the reception of the gift.
In verse 16 of our text, the Apostle Paul is here using the Greek word often translated “grace” to refer to the gratitude of someone on the receiving end of God’s undeserved favor. This is the possible meaning that makes the best sense of verse 16 and is also the meaning that is most consistent with verses 15 and 17, both of which mention thanksgiving.
I believe our passage for today gives us some insight into how we as Christians can maintain the spirit of thanksgiving in spite of the ingratitude that dominates so much of our culture. Our passage today consists of three verses, and each verse contains a command. The three commands are 1) let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 2) let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and 3) whatever you do, do all in the name of Jesus. I believe that obedience to these commands is the soil in which the spirit of thanksgiving flourishes. Obedience to these commands is the lifestyle which is most conducive to the thankful spirit.
I want to look at these commands and through them exhort us to give thanks to the Lord our God.
Paul’s first command is, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Now notice at the onset that Paul is not talking about just any old inner peace. There are plenty of people who are at peace with themselves who should not be. Many people have hearts like the false prophets of old who cried out, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace. The Bible describes the unregenerate heart as calloused and stony, which is a metaphorical way of saying unfeeling. Their lives are burdened with sin and with guilt and yet they feel no inner grief. They have the peace of spiritual indifference, the peace of spiritual ignorance, the peace of spiritual death. Their hearts have the peace and quiet of the graveyard.
Paul is not referring to just any old inner peace. He is referring to the peace of God. This is the peace which Jesus promised as His legacy to His people in John 14:27, where He said,
27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”