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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Regulative Principle in Worship V

October 8, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Doctrine of Religious Worship Scripture: Genesis 1:1

Review– 1 Corinthians 14.1

Continuing our walk through 1 Corinthians 14 to make sure we understand the flow and import of this chapter as it relates to the worship service.

We are the third week in this passage and reading it once again we see how it is so easily misunderstood.

Let us remember that we have come to this passage to understand the commands related to singing and the use of instruments in a worship service

In order to understand the proper use of singing and instruments as it exists in this context, we've taken a broad look at 1 Corinthians 14

  • that we might understand the whole
  • that we might be able see what the Apostle is talking about here with regard to worship song.

To some it might look like we've gone off into an exegesis of 1 Corinthians and you're wondering what this has to do with instruments and music in worship

  • but trust me, we are still on track

But in order to understand what Paul says in chapter 14, with the passage so often misunderstood. we need to clarify exactly what is being commanded

So, lets remind ourselves of where we have been

  • we saw the spiritual gifts the Apostle was talking about were not necessarily spiritual gifts in the sense that is often taught by churches today
  • but the spiritual gifts are the gifted people, the men that God has given to the church in the teaching office.

And this is seen in that we're talking about the teaching office unto edification which is the same thing that the Apostle Paul has told us in Ephesians 4

Quick Review of Ephesians 4.11-13

There 5 teaching offices in the church there's Apostles

Apostle – an extra ordinary teaching office; no more

Prophets can be used in 3 different things

  • for the general teaching of the Word of God.
    • It is his duty simply to teach the Word of God
  • For an inspired prophet who tells the future
    • There are churches that claimed to have inspired prophets today.
      • if we were to treat those prophets like the Bible says
      • when they uttered a false prophecy, they would be put to death
      • we might have a fewer making this claim
    • for, as we see the several times in the Old Testament, the singing of psalms and praying
      • there were many prophets that uttered their prophecies by means of music
      • (1 Corinthians 11) we saw that that women in the church can prophesy.
      • In 11, Paul says if a woman is praying or prophesying without her head covered, and that is obviously in the context of a worship service, she's dishonoring her head.
      • In 14, he says, women ought to be silent.
    • How do you how do you reconcile those two verses?
      • If there's a lady standing up in the worship service with everyone else, while everyone else is praying, and she is praying, then she is prophesying
      • If that same lady is singing in a worship service, like the prophets of old did, well, then she's prophesying
    • In chapters 12 & 14, the Apostle Paul is talking about individual speech in the worship service
      • which is an authoritative office
      • which is the exercise of authority.
    • It makes sense that at the end of the chapter
      • the Apostle would say, Let your women keep silent in the churches.
        • In other words, they do not have an authoritative office in the church
        • This is what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2.6ff
      • Ladies, that does not mean you do not have any good ideas or good contributions
        • It just means that there are ways to express those ideas that are biblical.
        • It just means the Apostle has said that women should not be officers in the church.

Again, the context here is that of the teaching office

Evangelist is an extraordinary office; no more

  • they were the hit men of the Apostles
  • they're the guys that did the Apostles' work when they couldn't be there to do it themselves. (Timothy and Titus and Aristarchus)

Pastors - an ordinary office

  • The word pastor is simply a a word meaning shepherd. And God's people are called sheep.
  • And so, these are leaders within God's Church who will shepherd GOD's flock that
    • by teaching and disciplining, and so on.

Teacher is an ordinary office

  • These are men who are not involved in oversight
  • These men are educated and have that kind of ministry that they teach God's word.

The last two offices are the ordinary offices and the first three are extraordinary.

When we come to 1 Corinthians 12 & 14

  • The Apostle Paul is talking about someone standing up with a singular voice before the congregation.
  • We understand from the context that we're talking about a ministry that is unto edification
  • this is exactly what Paul says in Ephesians 4
  • we're talking about church office here
  • we're not talking about the individual exercise of spiritual gifts

Spiritual Gifts

Then we saw that the word gift is in italics, and it really means spirituals or spiritual things

  • The spiritual things that we're talking about here is not only the gift itself but the people to whom that gift is given.

In verse 14.37 -> the Apostle Paul says, If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I'm saying are from the Lord.

  • The Apostle kind of marries that terminology together.
  • Chapters 12 & 14 are talking about that authoritative office, that spiritual office.

Use of the word Spirit

The next thing that we looked at was the use of the word spirit throughout this chapter.

Many would say that it's the Spirit of God

  • we said, No, it's talking about the human spirit.
  • And we have several places that we went to look at that.

Paul said a little bit later on, When I pray In a tongue, my spirit prays.

  • He's not talking about the Holy Spirit there
  • He's talking about that inward capacity that he has.
  • He's means he is speaking and as far as he is concerned, he understands what he's saying.

What we learned from that is that when we talk about speaking in tongues in chapters 12 & 14

  • we're not talking about a language that the person speaking does not understand
  • we’re not talking about a language that the rest of the congregation doesn't understand.

This is going to be very important as we work out what kind of language that is.

Bishop Lightfoot, at the end of the chapter of his exposition. says this,

Do you think that the Apostle Paul would think it profitable and would approve of people speaking in various languages in a worship service?

If he's going to approve of another tongue, another language being spoken in the Corinthian worship service, what language do you think it would be?

What is the candidate that rises to the top of a language that other folks would not understand?

Of course, he answers that question by saying, the obvious language there is the liturgical Hebrew.

With the Gentiles coming into the church, in the New Testament age, perhaps

  • there might be a mindset in the Corinthian church for "ad Fontes"
  • Ad Fontes is the Latin term that was prevalent during the Reformation, to the source or to the fount
    • rather than reading commentaries on the Scripture the Reformers began to be students of the Scripture itself
    • rather than reading commentaries on the Church Fathers they went back to the Scriptures
    • rather than reading the traditions of the church they went back to the Scriptures

With this desire for "Ad Fontes" perhaps the Jews wanted to recite the prayers used in the synagogue

  • And they want to sing the Psalms in Hebrew.
  • And they want the some of the scripture reading to be in Hebrew.

When the Apostle says, Verily thou give us thanks well in verse 17

  • How can the Apostle Paul say that you're giving thanks "well"
  • if you don't understand what is being said
    • if you don’t understand, there is no edification

When he says my understanding is unfruitful.

  • What he means is my spirit prays but the understanding in the congregation is unfruitful.
    • Nobody understands what I'm saying but me
  • if I pray in a tongue, nobody understands what I'm singing, but me
  • if I sing in a tongue…
  • if I read in a tongue…
  • if I speak in a tongue…

Verse 5

Then the Apostle says → I would that ye all speak with tongues, but rather that you prophesied.

  • Okay, so which is it?
  • Is it that the Apostle prefers that they all spoke with tongues?
  • Is it that the Apostle prefers they all prophesied?

You might say that he has already made that clear.

  • I think he is trying to lead them in the right direction.

Numbers 11.24

  • This is an interesting passage.
  • There is a message that Moses has received from communing with the Lord in the tabernacle.
  • So, Moses comes out, and part of that word has gathered the 70 elders of Israel unto me at the tabernacle and put them in a like a semi-circular fashion around the tabernacle.
    • But only 68 leaders are there
  • 2 men did not get the message or something
    • they are still out in the midst of the camp
    • and Moses is asked to make them stop

But Moses’ desire was for the people

  • that they would be built up so much that they would look just like prophets.
  • Would that all of God's people were prophets

Would Paul desire the same?

  • Paul has the same kind of desire.
    • Would that you all spoke in tongues
    • Would that you all had the understanding of these mysteries?

Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing?

  • The Apostle says, if you were all qualified to be teachers?

But in keeping with the context

  • we are looking for edification
  • we are looking for understanding
  • we are looking for knowledge
  • we are looking for a grasping of the mysteries of the gospel.

And greater is he that prophesieth than He that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret

  • that the church may be edified

Use of the word Interpret

This word interpret is very interesting and can mean.

  • translate
  • but it also can mean to clarify, to make something understandable

It is the same word where we get hermeneutics

What is biblical hermeneutics?

Is it the science of translation?

  • No, it's not the science of translation.

It is the science of interpretation.

Let him interpret or let there be an interpreter or let him pray that he may interpret.

  • This word is used in Acts 9.36 where a woman named Tabitha, is by interpretation Dorcas.
  • The other place is Luke 24.27
    • It is the same word, though translated as “expounded” rather than “interpret”

On the road to Emmaus

  • Christ appears to some disciples, and they don't recognize that it's the Lord Jesus. Jesus asks them why they're so sad.
  • And they say, well, haven't you heard?
  • We thought Jesus was the Messiah, but he was crucified.
  • Christ responds to them and calls them fools and slow of heart
  • He expounded upon Moses and the prophets to them
    • The word "expounded" is the same word as “interpret” and as hermeneutics

Did Jesus translate? Or did he interpret?

I think it is obvious what he did there

  • He didn't translate, He interpreted.
  • He opened up the Bible that they knew
  • In their own language He drew it out for them

Paul uses that same word now.

How often have we read 1 Corinthians 14, and come away with the understanding of translate?

Pray to Interpret

Why would someone have to pray to interpret?

  • Why would the apostle tell them that if someone speaks in tongues, let him pray, that he may interpret?
  • If he knows what he's saying, can’t he just turn around and translate it?

But it is not a matter of translation, it's a matter of interpretation.

  • What we're talking about as related to speaking in tongues may not be teaching or the giving of a mysterious word at all.
    • It may be the reading of Scripture
      • perhaps in Hebrew
      • perhaps in another language

The prayer has to do with the interpretation

  • the seeking of understanding from the Spirit
  • the giving of the sense
  • the expounding of it
  • not just a bare translation.

There's something more going on here than just translating.

  • The Apostle says, Except he interpret
    • that the church may receive edifying.

Prophesying is greater than speaking in tongues because it edifies the church

  • but a session of speaking in another language
    • if it is interpreted also edifies.

So, it also becomes equal with prophecy with prophesying

  • as far as it edifies the church

The necessity of understanding

You see, what we want in the church is understanding

You can't have understanding in the church

  • if there is speaking in another language that can’t be understood by all
  • The Apostle says, tongues doesn't profit you.

If there is the speaking of revelation

  • There is the unfolding the truth.

If there is the speaking of knowledge

  • There are things that you can know.

If there is the speaking of prophesying

  • There is the setting out the word of God

If there is the speaking of doctrine, teaching, etc.

  • There is the giving of examples and illustrations and instructions and correction

Without understanding

  • There can be no edification
  • There can be no action.

Verse 10

  • there are so many kinds of voices in the world and none of them is without signification
  • Therefore, if I know not the meaning of the voice, the understanding of the sound, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian


We are going to save the conclusion and the uses of what we’ve learned until next week when we finish off our discussion of this chapter.

In the meantime, there is a lot to contemplate and reflect upon as to the purpose of the church, the purpose of the teaching office, the necessity of those offices in the church for the people of God, and the implications of those to how and why we conduct the worship service.

Communion Instructions

Let’s prepare for communion.

Communion is a sacrament where we receive from the Lord what He prepared for His own.

  • affirmation
  • encouragement
  • spiritual nourishment

To ensure this is done rightly we fence the table.

Fencing the table means that there are conditions that must be met before one is allowed to the table

We need to understand communion is not an individual activity, but it is a group activity

It is the sharing of a meal with other like-minded Christians before the Lord.

The first requirement is you must be a Christian.

Unlike what many hold as sufficient today, there is more that just a simple profession of faith.

If one is to declare oneself a Christian, there must have fruit/ evidence in the life that justifies that claim –

  • otherwise, it is an empty claim
  • much like claiming to be a fighter pilot but you don’t have a license or the training to fly
  • or declaring yourself to be a giraffe when clearly you are a human male or female

The evidence that we look for is membership is a church where you have placed yourself under the authority of Christ’s church and where you have a good reputation for living a Christian life.

In this case, the two requirements are:

  • you must be an active member, in good standing, in a true Christian church.
  • you must have been baptized in a Christian church

One might ask, is all of this really necessary?

Can’t I just answer a few questions and you take my word for it?

The answer is yes to the first; and no to the second.

As stewards of the things of God, we need to make sure that the Lord’s Table

  • is treated properly and with respect
  • that the body of the Lord is properly discerned

Another reason for fencing the table:

  • we are trying to protect ourselves and others from abusing the things of God.

Ways in which this occurs

  • is the treating of God as our “good buddy”
  • is the treating of God in a way that how we act toward Him, and His church is of no importance and of no consequence

Another reason is that we want to come to the table in a worthy manner

  • though we really be unworthy

Yet we remind ourselves that we are not islands unto ourselves.

We are in a community that needs mutual encouragement and edification.

We are never intended to worship alone or according to our own designs and desires.

All week and every Sunday, we separate ourselves from the world and unto God.

In doing so, we join and belong to a church and sit under the authority and teaching of those to whom He has given to the church.

  • We encourage one another.
  • We pray for one another.
  • We love one another.

If you are not able to satisfy these conditions:

  • then perhaps you are not ready for what it takes to be a Biblical Christian
  • or perhaps you do not fully understand yet what being a professed Christian means and what the Lord expects.
  • or perhaps you are more comfortable with your understanding than you are with what we are commanded to do in Scripture

Whatever the reason, we ask that you do not take communion today.

Rather we encourage you speak with the Elders

  • what it means to be a Christian

We encourage you speak with the Elders

  • that you might come to understand the inconsistency of claiming to be a Christian while rejecting the very Church Christ has given, over which He is the Head.

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