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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Regulative Principle in Worship VI

October 9, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 14

Review– 1 Corinthians 14

Last week we mentioned we were going to save the conclusion and the discussion of the uses of what we have learned until this week when we finish off our discussion of this chapter.

This week, we will finish out 1 Corinthians 14.

If you recall from last week, we looked at the word “interpret” and examined its usage in Scripture so that we understand it doesn’t mean “translate” but rather to explain, to expound, to give the meaning.

This helps arrive at a more biblical understanding of what speaking in tongues is all about – it is simply the speaking in another language.


Remember how we introduced this book?

It was most likely Paul writing to the Corinthians answering their questions on how to deal with some issues in the church.

One of those issues, was how to properly structure, organize, and operate within the worship service.

Some of these questions, we can surmise, were

  • How do we deal with conducting the service in Hebrew with having so many Gentiles in the church?
  • How do we decide who should speak and when?
  • How do we determine who has the better gift and therefore has greater prominence?

We can see the likelihood of these questions from just reading Paul’s answer.

  • To one he answers using the analogy of the body of Christ
    • that everybody has an important function
    • we should not elevate the importance of one member higher than another
    • we should not say “we don’t need another”
  • To the other two Paul introduces the answer by using a phrase common to Rabbinical reasoning but new to us.

What is it then?

So, then we have this phrase “Tee oon estin”

  • This is rabbinic dialogue.

This is what they did when they had a dispute.

  • Suppose there is a woman with a husband and the husband died
    • and she marries another man.
    • What does that mean?
    • What does that mean for that woman?
    • What does it mean if she had children from the marriage? What happens in that case?
    • How is that supposed to be handled?
    • Tee oon estin?
  • Suppose you find some loose money on the street with no evidence of whom it belongs to.
    • You rightly keep it,
    • But then someone comes up and claims the money as their own.
    • Tee oon estin?
    • What is it?
    • What should we do in this case?
  • So, then there is a condition, and another condition, and another condition
    • Tee oon estin?
    • What is it?
    • How do we manage this difficulty?
    • How do we manage this strange condition?

The apostle has laid out in verses 1-14

The Conditions

Do you recognize the conditions?

  • There are people in the church
    • speaking in a foreign language
    • they are prophesying
    • they are singing in tongues
    • they are praying in tongues
  • Tee on estin?
    • What is it?
    • What are we going to do here?
    • What shall we do in this case?
    • In other words, how shall we manage this?

The Questions

  • What should we do when we have certain people speaking in tongues?
  • What should we do when we have people praying in tongues?
  • What should we do when we have one faction in the church that wants to read liturgical Hebrew, or one that wants to speak Armenian?
  • What should we do when not everybody speaks that language?

And so, Paul tells them, tells us what to do.

  • These are the directives of the apostle Paul to the Corinthian church.

How are we going to manage this?

  • I will pray with the spirit, that is
    • I will pray in my mind
    • I will pray knowing what I am saying.
    • I will pray with the understanding
    • I will pray so that everyone can understand.
  • I will sing in the Spirit, that is
    • I will sing so that I can be understood
  • I will pray in the Spirit, that is
    • I will pray so that I can be understood

Understanding is crucial.

All things must be done towards edification.

So, if you must speak in another language

  • Make sure someone can expound upon what is said so that there is understanding
  • …so that there is edification

Verse 20

Brethren, be not children in understanding howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men.

How does that make sense?

  • We have talked about the necessity of understanding

In a worship service

  • We should be attentive and spend our every effort to understand what is going on.
  • Preachers should speak in a way that can be understood

We should pay attention and do our best to be a people of understanding

  • We should be grownups in the way we approach understanding

But why would he say in malice be children?

  • What is going on here that is malicious?
  • Maybe there are some in the church, probably Jewish, that wanted to bring the Hebrew back into the service
  • Maybe they did not like the Gentiles coming into their worship service.
  • Maybe they felt like they were closer to God than the Gentiles and the Gentiles just needed to catch up.

So, what is that?

  • It is malicious behavior.
  • It is not gracious behavior.
  • It is not loving behavior.
  • It is not Christian behavior.

It is a refusal

  • to understand the nationwide purview of the Gospel.
  • to understand what the Lord said He would do for Abraham.
    • To make him the heir of the whole world
    • That all of the nations would be blessed in Abraham

It is malicious.

  • Maybe some in the Corinthian church wanted to keep things in Hebrew and if others could not keep up, then too bad.
  • Maybe that is what Paul is referring to.

Verse 21

Here he quotes from Isaiah 28.9

  • Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine?

Does that sound familiar?

Does that that the context that the apostle is speaking in?

  • Isaiah and Paul are on the same page.

Again, Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine?

Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little there a little, For with stammering lips, and with another tongue will he speak to this people to whom he said, This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest. And this is the refreshing, yet they would not here, but the word of the Lord was under them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line here a little there a little, that they might go and fall backward and be broken, and snared, and taken.

What is he saying?

The Lord is saying here and Isaiah 28

  • I spoke to you like this precept upon precept, line upon line, a little bit here, a little bit there.
    • I did not just dump it all on you all at once
  • I dished it out to you little bit, little bit by little bit, I raised you up by little I brought you along.
    • And you would not hear me.

I said, this is the way of rest.

I said this is the way that the weary may have rest.

  • And you would not hear me

So, I will teach you using men of strange language

  • He is talking about the Assyrians.
  • Remember, this is Isaiah, before the fall of Samaria, speaking to the northern kingdom.

Since you would not hear me in your own language, as I spoke to you, kindly, as a teacher

  • I am going to speak to you in another way
  • I am going to speak to you in a language that you will not understand.
  • I will speak to you in that way in such a way
    • that you will stumble
    • that you will fall backward
    • that you will be taken into captivity

Notice what the Apostle says

Notice what Isaiah says

We begin with understanding

  • which leads to obedience.
  • this is one of the goals of the worship service

So, when we hear the Lord speaking in a language, we do not understand it is time to run to the hills

  • It means that we have not heard His message
  • It means that we are not obeying His message
  • It means that we would not listen in our own language.

And so, the Lord is going to speak to us in another language

And so, when we hear this other language, we are recognize

  • it is a sign of judgment
  • It is not a sign of blessing.

I know that there are 1000s of churches out there that point to speaking in tongues as a sign of the Spirit of God among them

  • But this is not what the Bible says

It is not a sign of the Spirit of God among them

It is a sign that God is hiding His word in judgment.

Remember Matthew 13? Jesus said to His disciples

  • I speak to them in parables, because it is not given to them, to know the mysteries of the kingdom.

When the Lord begins to hide his word from us

When the Lord turns his face away from us

When the Lord closes the churches down

When the Lord obscures the Word of God to us

  • It is a sign of judgment.
  • It is not a sign of blessing.

So, brothers and sisters, the last thing that we want in a worships service is for someone to stand up in our midst and to speak in another language unless we can interpret that language

  • Especially if that person is not an officer in the church
  • Especially if that person wants to interrupt and shout and run around the church in circles

The worship service is to be done decently and in order – per the Word of God.

Verse 26

Tee oon estin?

Here is that phrase again.

Do you remember that?

  • What is it?
  • What is the conclusion of the matter?
  • What shall we do in this case?

How is it then?

Interestingly, verse 26 is often interpreted as a complaint.

  • “Why” is it then why are you doing this, that when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, a prophecy, so on?
  • As if the Apostle is asking a question as to why things are happening as they are.

But that is not what the apostle is saying here.

The reason it is misunderstood if because of an ignorance of the meaning of the phrase.

So, Paul is asking:

  • What is the conclusion of this matter?
  • What should we do?
  • What is it?

Let us translate it like this.

Let us interpret it like this.

What is the conclusion of this matter, then?

Brethren, here is the conclusion of the matter.

  • When you come together
    • Notice, this is a directive from the Apostle
    • He is directing the brethren to come together
      • This is not optional as is popular today
      • We are commanded to attend church
    • When you come together
      • every one of you prophets, teachers, officers…
      • every one of you spiritual ones
      • every one of you gifted in the church
      • every one of you
    • when you come together
      • bring a psalm bring a teaching
      • bring a revelation that needs unfolding
      • bring an interpretation
      • bring a sermon

Let all things be done unto edification

This is not to be an extemporaneous service

They are to come prepared for their ministry.


I hope you got the flow of 1 Corinthians 14

And how much more sense it makes when we understand it as we have just discussed

  • rather than seeing this as it is so often seen today
    • as an uncontrolled, ecstatic utterance that takes over people
    • that causes them to interrupt one another
    • that causes them to cry out and yell
    • that causes them to combust into gibberish

Now this type of behavior may have been going on in Corinth

  • but the apostle is saying that this is not proper
  • but that there is a proper way to order a worship service
  • but that a service should be done with decency and in order



The primary aim of the apostle here is to edify the church by way of office

  • Those of us who are not officers – pray for your pastors and your teachers.
  • The Apostle often asked churches to pray for him regarding his preaching, that he would make known the mystery of the gospel of Christ.


We all have a place in the church

  • It may not be the same place as others.

But we all have a place in our families

But we all have a place in training our children

We are not to tear down the church

  • by gossiping
  • by being uncharitable and unloving
  • by discouraging others from their duty
  • by not doing our duty in the church


Everyone can edify the church.

  • You do not just need to be up front
  • You do not need to lead bible study to feel important
  • You do not need to feel like you have the only handle on the truth to feel important

Remember Ephesians 4

  • the apostle began by showing the primary route of edification comes from the teaching office of the church
    • but then it graduates into a mutual edification of the body of itself.

It is not just teaching that goes on for edification

  • but that God's people take up that edification.


And as this understanding takes place

  • as we hear the word of God
  • as we learn to apply it
  • as we live the godly life that we are supposed to live
    • we are to be edifying each other

Part of that edification is the speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

We see Paul commanding the Corinthian elders to come to the service with a Psalm.

When we sing the Psalms

  • we are, in fact, being obedient to Scripture
  • we are, in fact, singing the words of Christ to Him as our mediator
  • we are, in fact, singing of Christ, the Psalms point to Christ (Luke 24, on the road to Emmaus)
  • we are, in fact, hiding His words in our heart as we know music is an effective way to memorizing words and meditating on them
  • we are, in fact, following the example of Christ is singing the Psalms as He did on the night of the first Lord’s Supper in Mark 14 (typically Psalms 113 – 118)


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