Orderly Worship

1 Corinthians #25: an exposition of 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 24, 2011.

Don’t you hate it when you get nailed by your own words?  What parent hasn’t found themselves in the position of wanting to say to a child, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say?”  I’ve long been an advocate of preaching through biblical books.  From my first days as a pastor I’ve preach through books of the Bible.  My reasoning was simple, if I preach through the books it forces me to deal with subjects I would never choose to deal with.  If I pick and choose I’m likely to ride my hobby horse and avoid subjects that make me uncomfortable or subjects I’m less sure about.  Enter tonight’s text.  I’ve dealt with the “big issue” in chapter 14 so I could just move on to chapter 15.  After all the end of 14 is just some “housekeeping” kinds of things about order in worship services.  Nothing too significant there.  But because I have had a habit of preaching through books and marching through section by section someone would ask why I skip the last 3rd of the chapter.  So I have to deal with it and in doing so I have to address the issue of women keeping silent in church.  Our text this evening is found in the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians.

Text: 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
Paul’s basic message to the Corinthian believers is “grow up!”
You are saints, set apart by the working of God’s grace, now act like it.
It is an admonition to live up to their calling.
In chapters 11-14 he deals with issues of public worship.
In chapter 11 the subjects are head coverings and the Lord’s Table.
Chapter 12 introduces the subject of spiritual gifts.
All are gifted and they are gifted for the good of the body.
He also deals with the nature of the church – a body with members in mutual dependence.
Chapter 13 makes it clear love is to be their guide.
Love is to animate, motivate and permeate all they say and do.

It is obvious that the Corinthians were enamored with the gift of tongues and thus blew the gift out of proportion.  Paul makes it clear that prophecy is superior to tongues in that it builds up the whole congregation because it can be understood by all and leads to conviction, confess and worship.  He did not say that tongues are of no value or not to be sought after but that it is better to speak 5 words that can be understood than an infinite number of words in an unknown tongue.

That brings us to our text.
Here we are going to find that…

Our worship is to be decent, orderly and according to scriptural principles.
We are not free to conduct worship anyway we please.
We cannot decide simply on the basis of what we like or dislike.
There are those who strictly follow the “regulative principle.”

The regulative principle says that you are only to include that which the Scripture commands or prescribes for worship.

Others follow Luther’s model which says, if it is not forbidden by Scripture it is acceptable.

In both cases we must apply reason.
It is not simply a matter if something is spoken of specifically but also in principle.

I personally don’t ascribe to either of these 100%.
I’m somewhere in between.
I do believe there are those things that a just not appropriate for worship.
Not that they are wrong or Christians shouldn’t participate but they are not appropriate for worship.

At the same time I don’t think it has to be specifically commanded or prescribed in Scripture.

Our text naturally divides into three parts.

  • Worship is to proceed in an orderly manner with the intent of building up the body of Christ.  (14:26-33a)
  • Worship must proceed according to scriptural principles.  (14:33b-35)
  • All things must be done in submission the the authority of Scripture.  (14:36-40)
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