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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Regulative Principle in Worship

September 4, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 14

Quote – Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship

Regarding Leviticus 10:1-3 and Nadab and Abihu: What was their sin?

Their sin it was offering of strange fire, so the text saith that they offered strange fire, which God commanded them not, in the beginning of the chapter. But had God ever forbidden it?

when we come to matters of religion and the worship of God, we must either have a command, or something out of God’s Word drawn from some command, wherein God manifests His will, either by a direct command, or by comparing one thing with another, or drawing consequences plainly from the words.

We must have a warrant of the worship of God. One would have thought that these priests offering incense to the true God, what hurt was there in taking other fire? But there was no command for it, and therefore it was not accepted.




We have completed our discussion on the Doctrine of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience last week. Hopefully, it was as encouraging and profitable to you and it was to me.

We learned of the many common errors with which the church has been plagued with respect to ourselves thinking that we get to decide what is acceptable before God based upon what we feel about our own conscience.

We learned that we are to seek the approval of man or follow the doctrines and commandments of men to set the standards of how we are to worship or live but rather that God alone is Lord of the conscience.

Finally, we learned that liberty in Christ does not mean what we commonly think it means. If has nothing to do with freedom from the law but everything to do with being freed from the bondage of sin so that we might have liberty to obey Christ and follow the law.

Introduction – 1 Corinthians 14

There are many disagreements among commentators on this passage, it is a difficult passage

  • These disagreements are founded upon particular presuppositions leading to misunderstandings

There are things going on in the book that we need to understand to see what is happening in chapter 14.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 11, 12, 13, and 14:

  • we end up with some solid direction from the Apostle with regard to our own worship services
  • we hear about the preaching of the Word we hear about the singing of psalms
  • we hear about the reading of the word
  • we hear about that elsewhere in Paul's comments to Timothy we hear about public prayer together
  • we hear how all of that is to be ordered in such a way that it that it is to be understandable in the in the tongue of the people of God as they come we hear that they should not look for things that are unintelligible to them in a different language or anything like that.

As we continue, we are going to look at those worship ordinances that have been commanded by the apostle for the New Testament church.

Purpose of 1 Corinthians

Paul is now continuing on addressing some questions and situations that that the Corinthian church has written the apostle about.

  • The apostle is answering some of those questions, but we do not have the
  • We have the answers, and so we can maybe reason in reverse.
    • From the answers to the questions

Let me show you what I mean, turn to chapter 7.1

  • Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me, it is good for a man not to touch a Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and so on.
  • We can surmise out of chapter 7 that they asked him a question about whether marriage was still appropriate or not.
  • Should we live as ascetics without marriage?
    • Because here we are in the new age, and Christ is coming again very soon. Should we avoid marriage?
    • Because marriage really is for the perpetuation of the race, especially for the
  • Without that necessity, should we refrain from marriage and dedicate ourselves to God?
  • I think that would be a reasonable inference from the answer that Paul gives

In chapter 12, he is talking about the leadership in the church He says concerning spiritual gifts

  • I want you to notice in that that the word gift is in italics → literally spiritual
    • he may not be talking about spiritual gifts.
  • There is a small cottage industry in Christianity today that speaks about spiritual gifts and that everyone should ascertain their spiritual gift and, and then you need to exercise that spiritual gift.
  • I am not sure that is what the apostle is saying here at
  • Because the context of chapters 11 and 12 (there is a parenthesis in 13) and then 14 is what?
    • What should go on in the public worship
  • The Apostle begins about halfway down in chapter
  • Now, when you come together, brethren, and then he goes on to talk about things that take place when we come together, like what?
    • like the Lord's Supper
    • like whether women should cover their heads or not
    • like whether they are praying or prophesying and what that means

The Apostle begins with “Now concerning spiritual matters, spiritual things, spiritual men, officers”

  • perhaps we note that as we go through this that we are talking about public utterance in the worship service.
  • Is public utterance in the worship service regulated by God?
    • Most certainly.
  • How is it regulated?
    • This is what 12 and 14 are about.
  • So, when it says spiritual
    • our King James translators add the word gifts there to be helpful
  • but I think it may have contributed to that cottage mentality that
  • Some commentators set forth the notion
    • that everybody has a spiritual gift
    • that everybody exercise that gift
    • that the church needs to get out of the way
  • Some folks take 1 Corinthians 14 to mean
    • that there are no officers at all
    • that people can stand up in the midst of the worship service at any time

Part of the difficulty here is what Paul is doing is answering particular questions from Corinth

  • There is a lot of context between the apostle and the Corinthian church which we are aware
  • This makes it is a difficult passage of

In 1 Corinthians 14, I think there is a way of understanding that is in keeping with the context of chapters 11, 12, and 14.

  • And with the historical circumstances at Corinth and with how they got the orderingoftheirworshipserviceinthefirstplace
    • from the synagogue logic pattern
  • I think we can understand something else entirely out of this

Therefore, let us, let us dive in and move forward

7 Divisions of 1 Corinthians 14

Verses 1-5

  • the necessity of edification

Verses 1-6

  • the necessity of understanding

Verses 15-20

  • Conclusion: in understanding be men, and not children

Verses 21-25

  • OT support for understanding leading to edification

Verses 26-33

  • Conclusion: the necessity of order

Verses 34-35

  • gender and leading in worship.

Verses 36-40

  • the authority of the apostle being the command of the

But, in order to understand this passage rightly, we have to go back and start in chapter 12.

Review of 1 Corinthians 12

The terms that the apostle uses in chapter 14 are used previously in chapter 12.

We are going to be called upon by a proper understanding of this passage to reprogram what historically we have heard about it and perhaps even thought about it.

Many of us may have to think

  • in a new way
  • in a different way

The passage sounds like that the apostle Paul is giving leave for an open and chaotic worship service.

A cursory reading through this passage

  • without the background
  • without the history without the deep diving

sounds like a Brethren worship service

The first thing I want you to understand here

  • the inspired apostle does not contradict the spirit. the Spirit does not contradict the inspired apostle

At the end of the passage, the apostle says, These things I am writing you are the commands of the Lord

  • that He wants us to understand that if we are thinking that by the Spirit, we should be doing something else
  • we are working contrary to the Word of the Lord

1 Corinthians 12.1-4

If we are to understand this passage, literally.

  • Then we are to understand the words “Jesus is Lord” as some kind of magical incantation
  • that if someone in a worship service pops out of their mouth that they must be speaking by the Spirit of God.

I submit to you that the apostle is not saying that.

  • The context of the passage is speaking in a worship service.

The contrast is between dumb idols and the living God.

  • the dumb idols that cannot speak but were leading you
  • and the living God that does speak and is now leading you

Here we are still talking about a worship service from chapter 11

  • we have been talking about the Lord's Supper
  • we have been talking about coming together.

Now we are talking about these spiritual matters which pertain to the worship service

  • And really, spiritual matters to my understanding here, mean those spiritually gifted leaders in the congregation.
  • That the spiritual gifts that we are pointing to here in chapter 12 are spiritual gifts that pertain
    • to church office
    • to edification in the church
    • especially as manifested in the worship service.




If you have an authorized version

  • You will see the word gifts is in italics. Right?
  • It should be because the word is not in the manuscripts

This might be translated in a more literal fashion by saying → Now concerning spiritual things

  • literally, it would read *now concerning spirituals

The King James translators have supplied the word gift because as we get down to verse 4. it is actually in the text.

  • There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit and so on.

The King James translators have rightly filled in that understanding there with the word gift.

  • However, this italicized word has often been abused
  • because sometimes we consider the beginning of the chapter without the end

And in the end of the chapter, the apostle Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions. (v 29)

  • These are the gifts that he was talking about earlier in the chapter.
  • So those who say that the spiritual gifts that Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 12 are available to all the people of God
    • have made a mistake
    • they do not belong to all of the people of God
  • Paul is speaking about the officers
    • especially those who would lead forth in the worship service with these kinds of gifts that the Spirit of God had given them for the leading of the worship in the worship service.
    • These are officer gifts.
  • This may cause some controversy
  • but I do not think it is possible to interpret it any other way than in the context of the passage.
  • These are not spiritual gifts that are private gifts for every Christian

Take note of what those gifts are and how they compare to chapter 14

  • The apostle has 3 different lists in chapter 12
    • 3 different lists of service
    • 3 different lists of giftedness
    • 3 different lists of office
  • These lists do not have an absolute alignment
    • but there is a general lining up so that we can rightly understand that the gifts that he is talking about are those gifts of leading forth in the worship of God.

Now if we set that as a presupposition to the giftedness that he is talking about

  • It flattens out much of the difficulty we might encounter in chapters 12 and 14.

1 Corinthians 12.2b-6

Perhaps the Corinthian church has written to Paul, and they are asking him about their worship service

  • about how it should be led by the gifted men in their midst.
  • about how some guys stand up saying one thing and another contradicts over there
  • about how things are disorderly

Now these may all be gifted men

  • however, when one contradicts the other
    • this works against what the Apostle Paul says
  • There are diversities of gifts - but the same Spirit
  • There are diversities of administrations - but the same Lord
  • There are diversities of operations - but the same God

We would not expect God to contradict Spirit

  • Or the Spirit to contradict God.

So, when Paul says:

  • Now concerning spiritual gifts

Perhaps, the question has come to Paul

  • What about these spiritual men that are leading our congregation, and the gifts that they possess?

I do not think you can divorce the gift from the man

I think the go together. → turn back to chapter 14.37

1 Corinthians 14.37

Prophet and the spiritual are brought together here

  • the spirituals or the spiritual matters
  • the spiritual things or the spiritual gifts
  • the spiritual officers that are mentioned here in chapter 12 and 14
    • pertain to the public worship service

There is something going on here with regard to speaking

  • The contrast in chapter 2-3 is between dumb idols
    • and the speaking of the Spirit of God

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