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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Regulative Principle in Worship II

September 11, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 14

Review/ Introduction – 1 Cor. 12

Last week we began our review of the Doctrine of Religious Worship and how the Regulative Principle affects our practices in worship.

Our subject passage was 1 Corinthians 14.

Remember, we said we needed to go back and review Chapter 12 to gain an understanding of how some of the terms are used here for a proper understanding of the use of those same terms in 14.

We learned that the subject of these chapters deal with public worship

  • From 11 – 14, we see the apostle giving instruction surrounding worship

We learned that the understanding of the first few sentences of Chapter 12 deals with “spirituals” and not necessarily what the modern church has mis-interpreted as individual gifts of the spirit to be exercised by each and every believer.

The “spirituals”

  • Deals with things of the spirit
  • Deals with those spiritual matters
  • Deals with those ministers who have been gifted to teach
  • Deals with those apostles and pastors that have been given as gifts to the church

With that review, let us continue in our examination of Chapter, picking up verses 4-11.

1 Corinthians 12.4-11

Ways in which the Spirit of God comes in Speech

Paul speaks about the many ways in which the Spirit is given and comes forth through speech in those spiritual matters/ teaching/ preaching in the public worship service.

Then he goes on to give the analogy of a body.

Remember, these Corinthians came out of a religious situation where they were led by dumb idols

  • now, they are led by the Spirit of God
    • who is vocal
    • the Spirit of God

How does the Spirit of God speak?

How did the Spirit of God speak in the first century?

  • He spoke by His prophets and apostles
  • He spoke by evangelists
  • He spoke by pastors and teachers
  • He spoke in many different

And this is something that is hard for us to grasp as 21st century Christians

  • often there was not a hard and fast distinction between extraordinary work and ordinary work
    • The extraordinary work was that of the apostles, the prophets, and the evangelists
    • The ordinary work was of pastors/ teachers

It was not as distinct as it appears to us as we look from our vantage point being a 1000s of years removed

  • when prophets spoke
    • sometimes they were foretelling the
    • sometimes they were speaking as a preacher would today
  • Prophecy was not only extraordinary
    • but it was also ordinary as well

What we as pastors do today could rightly be called the exercise of the prophetic office.

  • When an apostle went to a church and preached it would look a lot like
  • Maybe some of the things that they said within that sermon were extraordinary,

But here the apostle presses his authority that he was writing the word of God

  • But he was probably carrying about in what would look like to us as a very ordinary fashion
  • so, when we see this going on and there is someone giving a word of
    • it may be something right out of the Scripture
    • it may not be an extraordinary gift at all
      • it may be the exercise of an ordinary gift.

When an inspired prophet or apostle is giving an extra ordinary word…how is that going to look?

  • I do not think his eyes rolled back in his head or he went into a trance
  • I think he simply set forth the word normally

Today, we can see that it was inspired

  • But then, it probably was not so clear

So, there is this delineation of these spiritual gifts within the context of a public worship service

  • We have this delineation especially that of speaking
    • as opposed to the dumb idols from whence they
So, the Spirit of God is speaking in the churches.

Does the Spirit of God speak today in the church?

  • He does

How does the Spirit of God speak today?

  • He speaks today in the same way that He spoke in those
  • And He had other ways that He spoke in those days, as well.

But today, He speaks as we listen for the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ in the preaching of His Word

And so, it is the same Spirit today that is sending out His word as it was then.

  • Certainly, it is a little bit different
    • in those days, the men were inspired.
    • they were indued by the Spirit of God
      • so that what they spoke was without error

1 Corinthians 12.3

Again, what we are talking about is the exercise of an office in the church.

  • Here in the church, Paul is helping the Corinthian church distinguish those spirituals that were speaking by the Spirit of God
    • he gives them a particular paradigm by which to do

Then we have another list in verse 28

  • And God has set some in the church first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly, teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing helps, governments, diversities of

Then again in verse 29

  • Are all apostles are all prophets are all teachers are all workers of miracles?
  • We have this certain order that the apostle Paul sets out in these three

If you take a look at how they flattened out together, you will see that there is a correspondence.

  • It is not an absolute correspondence, but there is some
  • This correspondence can help us understand

In the first list, Paul is referring to the same things in the second list and in the third list

  • these lists have a correspondence, and he is talking about formal offices in the church
    • (the spirituals)
  • there are those spiritually gifted men that have been recognized as officers in the Corinthian church.

Also, note verse 11

  • He says the Spirit divides as He will to every man
    • On first blush, one might understand this to mean every single man, or perhaps more conservatively, every single believer
    • However, the Greek word here is not “pas” which would mean “all”
    • The word here is “idios” which refers to individuals or types or classes of things
    • In this case, it is referring to those church leaders
      • Those apostle, prophets, teachers

See, this is also why, after this discourse in 14.34

  • Let your women keep silence in the churches
  • This makes sense only in the context of Paul talking about public worship in the church.

So, he is linking these offices with the gifts of healing

  • and the powers and the miracles, and so on

As these three lists line up and are flattened out

  • we begin to understand that all these different things were happening in the Corinthian church during their worship service.
    • so, there were times when one guy stood up to speak, preach the word of God
    • and someone else would stand up and say,
      • Hold on, I got a miracle to do
      • Hold on a second, I have a word over here.
      • or Hold on, I have a
    • And so, it appears to be a highly disordered worship service
      • one church officer is working against another

So, you see, these chapters begin to make a lot of sense as we understand the entirety of this discourse between 11 & 14 is about the public worship service

  • and the Apostle Paul is answering questions to the Corinthians as to as to how they ought to be ordering their own service.
  • Therefore, we must understand these chapters within that light of a worship service

Quick Review

1 Corinthians 11.1-16, we see

  • the distinction between women and men in the worshipping assembly 1 Cor 11.17-34
  • the setting in order the observance of the Lord's Supper and correcting the Corinthian abuses
  • the setting in order public speaking and its concomitant gifts 1 Cor 12.12-26
  • the understanding that all should not strive to be

Paul talks addresses this using an extended analogy about the body.

Members of One Body

Paul says we have all kinds of members in our body.

  • Some members in our body are more comely
    • What do we mean by comelier?
    • They are more pleasing to look at than others

What does the Apostle Paul say here?

  • Well, you have an appearance, right?
  • And the appearance varies from person to person
    • some are better looking than others.
  • There are those portions of the body that are out front, that are the most conspicuous
  • Then there are those that are less pleasing and also thankfully, less conspicuous.
    • Like your liver.
    • If you are walking around with your liver hanging out…that is a little gross.

This is the problem in Corinth

  • Everybody wants to be a face.
  • They are not recognizing that the more useful parts are behind the scenes
    • the liver, the kidney, the heart

The Apostle is saying

  • do not think that because you are a liver, that this is a bad thing.
  • do not think that because you are not one of the folks that are out front that you are not one of the folks in charge
  • do not think that because everyone is not coming to you for answers and for direction
    • that you are not important.
  • everybody has a part to play

Those parts that are less pleasing we naturally think to be more important

  • we may think that the most important things are on the outside
  • the apostle Paul reminds us that some of the most important things are on the inside.

While they all strive to have the outside kind of gifts

  • they ought to recognize that the insides are important as well.

And so, if we were to read verses 12-22

  • We see that God has tempered the body together
  • We see that God has given more abundant honor to that part which lacked
    • so that there should be no schism in the body
    • so that there should be the same care one for another
      • that when one member suffers all the members suffer
      • that when one member is honored all the members rejoice with it.

Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.

  • I think that it is right to understand this portion as talking about everyone.

Desire the more excellent gifts

But the spirituals that he is talking about in 12 & 14…

  • he has framed this passage with particular or specific members of the body in mind

Paul is trying to let everyone know that just because they are not out front does not mean they are not important

  • just because they are not
    • apostles, prophets, healers, miracle workers
    • does not mean they are not important

The apostle is discussing the public speaking gifts, those official duties out front in the worship service

  • and then he interludes to the analogy of the body to tell everyone that they are still needed
  • even though they do not have that particular kind of role in the body.

Then he goes back to 28 and 29.

  • Now we know ye are the body of Christ and members in particular
  • Now we know that God has set some in the church first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers after that miracles, and by miracles,
    • He does not mean miracles are just kind of falling out as a separate sort of gift in addition to an apostle, prophet, or teacher
    • He means, folks who exercise miracles, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? but covet earnestly the best gifts.

  • And yet I show unto you a more excellent way.

What an interesting thing, that he would tell them to covet earnestly the best gifts since he has already said earlier that the spirit divides those severally as He will.

  • If the Apostle Paul said, it is the Spirit that divides severally, to whom He wills according to His sovereign administration
    • then why would he tell them to covet the best gifts?
  • Once again, I think that gifts here are commensurate with the people.

So, then the whole church is being told here that they should desire a multiplicity of teachers in their church.

  • Not that they themselves should be teachers when they are not
  • but that for the church, they should desire those kinds of gifts, they should covet those gifts
    • they should have a passion for it
    • they should have an active interest in it
  • that God would furnish the church with a multiplicity of those gifted men
    • to teach God's word
    • to speak of the things of the Spirit of God


In Chapter 12.12-26
  • the understanding that all should not strive to be officers
  • but that they can be those honored as less visible members.
1 Corinthians 12.27-31
  • Concerning the offices that are given by God
    • He has set them in the church at His discretion
Then in Chapter 13
  • We see the necessity of love as the foundation of any usefulness and profitability.
  • If the men who hold those gifts
    • hold them in anything less than love, they are banging a symbol

So, you see, once again, that the apostle is talking about public speaking in the church

  • because he says
    • If I speak with the tongue of men and angels,
    • if I have prophecy and know all knowledge,
    • If I have not love with these things, it is not profitable.

So, in all of the giftedness of the Corinthian church, the apostle says

  • love ought to reign
  • If it is indeed a spiritual gift
  • If it is indeed a spiritual thing
  • If it is indeed a spiritual matter
  • If it is indeed a spiritual
    • then love will reign in that gift.

Now we have a foundation set to begin speaking next week in chapter 14 properly

  • and we have first the encouragement to desire those spiritual gifts
  • that is to desire that the church would be well furnished with those folks that possess those gifts

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