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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Regulative Principle in Worship IV

September 25, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 14

Review– 1 Corinthians 14.1-25

We are going to continue from last week in our discussion of 1 Corinthians 14.

Remember, we made it through an introduction and the first 3 verses and left off needing to further investigate and flush out what Paul means when he uses the terms “mystery” and “spirit” in this section.

Mysteries and Spirit

In spirit he speaketh mysteries

What does Paul mean in by these words

  • spirit
  • mysteries

We know that words mean what they mean

  • not lexically
  • but in the context of which they are used.



Usage of the word Spirit

We need to understand what is meant by in the spirit

  • Does it mean that he is speaking by the Spirit of God?
  • Does it mean that he is speaking from his human spirit which would mean from his mind from his immaterial self?

The word spirit could be either

  • Often it is used to refer to the Spirit of God
  • Other times it is used to represent the animation of the body, the breath from the nostrils, the essence of knowing, deciding, acting

The ESV and NIV have already made the decision for you.

  • They both capitalize the word “Spirit”

How you understand this particular instance will govern your understanding of the rest of the chapter.

It is particularly important that we get this right.

Notice verse 14, if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

What does the word spirit mean there?

Verse 15, what is it then?

  • I will pray with the spirit. And I will pray with the understanding also

What does the word spirit mean there?

Look down to verse 19

  • Do you see the phrase my understanding there?

Turn back to verse 14

Let us try to understand what the word spirit means in this context.

  • If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth but my understanding is unfruitful.

What does that verse mean?

  • The error that is generally put on that verse is
    • that there is some immaterial portion of myself that is praying but my understanding, my knowing, my reasoning, my faculty, is unfruitful.
  • So, some portion of my inner man is praying,
    • but another portion of my inner man does not understand a thing that I am saying

May I say this, this is entirely wrong.

Compare this statement of Paul with this statement of Paul in verse 19 à comparing Paul with Paul

  • I had rather speak five words with my understanding that by my voice I might teach others

The apostle Paul says my understanding

  • in Greek, we might translate this literally as the understanding of me. (this word ties the section together)

Let us read this verse, once again, with that translation

When he says, the understanding of me...

  • Does he mean that he does not understand?
  • Does he mean they do not understand?

He is saying that they do not understand him

  • You are not understanding what I am saying.
  • If I pray in the Spirit, in my spirit, that is my mental faculty (verse 14)

When we turn back to verse 19

  • he says, I would rather speak five words that people can understand

What does the word spirit mean in these contexts?

  • It is not talking about the spirit of God
  • It is talking about the human spirit, the inner man, the speaking that he is doing

Now roll back up to verse 2 and insert that understanding of spirit into the text.

  • It makes really good sense for he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God, for no man understand
  • If howbeit in the Spirit → It is his mind → he speak with mysteries that others do not understand

Now we understand what the word spirit says.

So, what is the word mystery mean?

  • In Pauline language normally it refers to the preaching of the Gospel
  • which was in a sense hidden before Christ came but now is revealed, especially with regard to Gentiles.

Usage of the word Mystery

Turn to Matthew 13.1-12

First, we want to see Jesus' use of this word.

We have what is known as the kingdom parables.

The first is the parable of the sower.

  • Remember the sower went out to sow?
    • some fell by the wayside
    • some fell on stony ground
    • some fell among the thorns
    • some fell on good ground and bore fruit.
  • At the end of the preaching of these kingdom parables, the disciples came unto him, and said,
    • Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
  • He answered and said unto them, because it has been given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
    • but to them, it is not given.

Our Lord Jesus Christ used parables, not because he was a quaint teacher and liked to tell stories.

  • But the reason Jesus used parables was to hide the truth, not to preach it.
    • This is really important.
  • Jesus purposely spoke in parables to hide the truth.
    • It is not given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom.
    • It is given to you.

Brothers and sisters, listen to me.

  • Mysteries do not belong in the church unless they are revealed.
  • Mysteries do not belong in the church because it is given to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom.

We have the same thing in Mark 4.11 and Luke 8.10

Second, see how Paul uses this word
Romans 11.25

I do not want you to be ignorant. Paul says to the Romans, of this mystery

  • Ignorant of the mystery of salvation

Remember, in Genesis 18, Abraham is called the friend of God

  • He meets with the three angels
  • One of those angels is none other than the angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ
  • The other two angels go on to Sodom
  • Jesus stays behind and talks with Abraham face to face.
    • And he says, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?
    • Of course, the answer that question is no.
  • Why not?
    • Because he is His friend.
    • Because the Lord does not hide the truth from his friends.

Remember what Jesus told his disciples?

  • I called you my disciples, but really, you are my friends, because a friend tells his friends what he is doing.

Remember the Psalms

  • the secret of the Lord is with those that fear Him, and He shall show them His covenant

You see the Lord is not in the business of hiding his word from His people.

This is another reason the popular, Charismatic teaching of tongues has no place in the church

  • because in the spirit, that is with the human mind, with human understanding
    • The person speaking in tongues is speaking mysteries to anyone that cannot understand
    • The person speaking in tongues is keeping the gospel message hidden
      • and it is never to be hidden in the church

The church is the place where we come to have mysteries revealed.

The church is the place where we come to have our understanding enlightened and opened

  • This should never be the place where we come to have it shut down and obscured.
  • This is not what the church is about.

The Apostle says, If a man speaks mysteries in the spirit and it cannot be understood, he is keeping things hidden, even that great gospel message.

Remember 1 Corinthians 4.1ff → let a man so account of us as ministers of the gospel, as stewards of the mysteries of God.

  • Moreover, it is required as stewards that they be found faithful

How is a faithful and wise steward supposed to act?

  • Luke 12.42: a faithful and wise steward is to open up the cupboard and to set out the the good things of God for His people
  • the good steward also keeps them hidden, not accessible, from those that should not receive them

When we have someone who is speaking mysteries in the church and not revealing those mysteries,

  • The apostle Paul says, Get that out of here.
  • It does not belong here.
  • Of all places upon the face of the earth.
    • This is where we want clarity.
    • This is where we want openness.
    • This is where we want understanding.
    • This is where we come to be edified.

We are beginning to see the burden of chapter 14

  • That all things be done decently, properly, and in order in the church that God’s people might be edified.
1 Corinthians 2.4-14

Very important usage, because here we are in the same book

How is the apostle consistently using the term mystery?

  • Notice verse 12
  • Then in verse 16 → we have the mind of Christ.
    • This does not mean we literally have the mind of Christ
    • But it does mean that when we are speaking, these mysteries, which rise up from the Spirit of God through the Scriptures to us
      • we are speaking Christ's thoughts
    • The church is not the place to hide them
    • The church is the place to open them up.

Look back at 1 Corinthians 4.1-2

  • as of the ministers of Christ, as stewards of the mysteries of God
  • it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful and who is that faithful and wise steward.

Are you seeing the contrast between keeping it hidden and getting it out in the open.

  • So, when we use languages that cannot be understood in the church
    • what we are doing is hiding God’s message from His people

Think about this, If the first thing I did when I called you to worship was to do so in Greek or Hebrew…

  • What good would that do you?
    • Absolutely no good at all.
  • You cannot be edified if you cannot understand.

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edify the church.

So, you see, this contributes to our understanding that the man who is speaking in an unknown tongue

  • is not some babbling language or some other language that is unknown to himself
    • Why, because he is being edified so he must be able to understand
  • but that prophecy – when it is understood by everyone - edifies the church
    • Why are they edified?
    • Because he is speaking in a language that can be understood.
  • Understanding leads to edification.


So now we can see clearly what Paul is talking about.

It is not about the speaking in tongues as the Pentecostals or Charismatics or some Evangelicals will have you believe.

It is entirely about propriety in the worship service.

It is entirely about speaking in a language that the church can understand so that they may be edified.

Let us talk about some uses before we close.

Use #1 – Compare Scripture with Scripture

We did an awful lot of work looking to compare Scripture with Scripture in an effort to understand the meaning of just these few verses.

Let us take this as our first use as reminder to not take single verses out of context and build entire theologies around them.

Take the time, with your spiritual leaders, to study each passage in its context and in the context of the Bible at large.

Use #2 – Ditch the Spiritual Chip

Set aside the silly notion that if you speak in a sort of gibberish, or a “spiritual babble language” that you are more spiritual, more saved, closer to God, or anything of that sort.

We sometimes walk around with this spiritual chip on our shoulder acting/ thinking like we are better than anyone else and if you do not think how I think, then you are wrong, and I do not need to be around you even though the Bible calls everyone in the church brothers and sisters.

“Speaking in tongues,” in modern-day parlance, is like having this spiritual chip on your shoulder.

All it does is prove your ignorance of the Word of God. You are rather speaking judgment upon yourself and other around -as well as usurping the office of your Pastor, pretending to be speaking spiritual things yet nothing that can be understood.

Use #3 – Seek and Pray for Teachers

Seek for, support, and pray for the spiritual leaders God has gifted in the Church for your edification.

Do not treat lightly the gifts Christ has given the church. Do not think you can avoid church – the physical assembling to worship together – and still think you are honoring God. Rejecting the gifts He has given you is not in keeping with honor.

Instead, desire that your church be blessed with a manifold of good, solid, Bible-loving teachers. Pray that they would grow to love His church and the people in it – that they would love the church as Christ loves the church.

Love them, care for them, encourage them.

Seek for, support, and pray for the spiritual leaders God has gifted in the Church for your edification.

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