My church experience
– Bayside, a church plant from age 7 through 18
– GBC for ym and church from 17-22
– In TN bounced between 6 church experiences; struggled to find a “home church”
– In NC, over 10 church experiences before landing in 1 @Summit and then led to another @CBC
– In MD associate pastor for 4.5 years at SC and now another 4.5 years at SP.
For 30 years I have been involved with the local church, with over half that time being involved in some form of established ministry or itinerant teaching/preaching. My vocation and my heart are for the church. But if I am honest, here is what I have observed in the last fifteen years.
1) Christendom is dying. Most people today want a churchless Christianity. The culture is in radical contrast to the Christian faith where vocalized belief in the Bible only leads to being viewed as irrelevant or persecution. Missiologists tell us that over 80% of churches today are plateau or in decline. People today debate if Christianity has any future or if there should just go ahead and have a funeral.
2) Jesus Christ is alive. The thing about funerals is that when Jesus shows up he ruins them. Jesus has the power to revive dead things and dead people. Jesus’ tomb is empty and He has given His church a mission to proclaim His truth with our lips and our lives.
So what is the church all about? Why gather… and what is the role of Christians when they are scattered?
One of Jesus’ followers, the Apostle Paul wrote to describe the role of the church in 1Corinthians 11-14. We must remember that Corinth was a city and culture not unlike 21st century – corrupt in character and hostile to faith.
EXAMINE 1Corinthians chapter 11, 14 Cross Centered Worship (pt. 2)
The church gathers to celebrate the gospel (1Cor 11:17-33).
– Seen in the Lord’s Supper
– Seen also in baptism
The church gathers & scatters to demonstrate the gospel (1Cor 12)
à Spiritual gifts are Jesus equipping you to love God and love others (inreach & outreach).
à Every believer has a gift which is for the common good and unity of body (12:7, 25).
à Every believer serves because they have been saved from sin and too good works; if they are not utilizing their gift they are either disobedient or denying Christ.
- The church should view their request of service not as seeking something from people but seeking something for people. Serving brings joy to God, others and more often to the individual serving.
à Every gift is not present among every believer or every body (12:29-30), therefore, not every need has your or your church’s name on it. The church’s role is to equip the saints for the work of ministry that God has called them.
All of this is to say – Christianity is not a spectator sport on Sundays but faith in day to day.
So what’s the problem? 1 Corinthians 14:1-13 Corinth Craze Paul redirects the Corinthian use of some spiritual gifts. Apparently their worship services were a bit chaotic and abrupt with the use of certain sign gifts. Paul gives specific directions on the proper use of prophesy and tongues. It is helpful to have a definition and alternate viewpoints of each:
– View Points*
Pentecostal: view all gifts in full operation and characteristic for every believer; if a believer does not experience or use these gifts then they lack faith and perhaps salvation.
Cessationist: view sign gifts (miracles, prophecy, healing, tongues, interpretation) were only given to the Apostles but ceased when they died and NT was concluded (c. A.D. 100).
Continuationist (Charismatic): view sign gifts were given to all believers and continues until Christ returns but must be utilized in a biblical manner.
*Note: These viewpoints do not determine your salvation. Whether you believe in or have certain spiritual gifts is a matter of discussion but not a definer for your acceptance before God.
In this chapter we can see principles for worship.
Worship is a passionate pursuit of God (14:1)
Paul commanded the Corinthians to pursue [διώκω: follow after, chase with intensity] love and spiritual gifts. The pursuit is one of eager desire [ζηλόω: zeal, covet], and the specific aim was to prophesy.
12:1 “I do not want you uninformed concerning spiritual gifts”
12:31 “earnestly desire the higher gifts”
14:1 “Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts”
14:12 “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church”
14:39 “earnestly desire to prophesy”
At this point we need some definitions:
PROPHECY: (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11) – to speak forth the message of God to His people
TONGUES: (1Cor 12:10; 14:27-28)- to speak in a language not previously learned so unbelievers can hear God’s message in their own language or the body be edified; a form of prayer and praise expressed to God in a language you do not understand (Grudem).
3 Uses of Tongues 12:10 & 12:28 “various kinds of tongues”
1) Speaking a prayer language to God. Paul says, “speaks to God not man” (1Cor 14:2), “I pray in a tongue” (1Cor 14:14).
2) Speaking a known language or dialect to others when speaker does not know it. Peter does this in Acts 2:1-13 and many people heard the mighty acts of God in their own languages and were saved. The gift of speaking in tongues “clearly marked reception of the Spirit’s prophetic empowerment (ability to speak for God) in Acts 2:4; 10:44-47; and 19:6.”
3) Speaking an unknown language, “divine mysteries in the Spirit” (14:2) that must be interpreted (14:5-13) so that others can understand the message of God and respond (14:16, 22-25).
1Cor 13:8-10 prophecies & tongues will cease when the perfect comes. The perfect is the return of Christ, not the close of canon. Reasons for this interpretation are  1) Doubtful Paul was instructing Corinthians on the close of a NT Canon; 2) Paul describes the perfect season as a time where human knowledge is comparable to divine knowledge (13:12);
1Cor 14:39 “do not forbid speaking in tongues”
ð This week the NFL schedule came out. Many get excited at just looking at calendar dates and team names. Every fan anticipates the league with training camp, preseason games and the start of the season in September. No fan has to be forced to talk about their team, their passion comes from within. à Likewise, our passion for God comes from genuinely knowing Jesus by grace through faith. those who know the gospel with their head & heart will have it inform their face & feet
Worship is an unselfish pursuit of God (14:2-6)
Since the gift of tongues speaks to God and not people it was not edifying to the body. It was a personal benefit. In contrast, the gift of prophesy spoke to people for their v)3 upbuilding, encouragement and consolation; it built up the entire church. Both were gifts to express love but with different audiences; prophesy to people and tongues toward God. Each are useful in the body but neither are to be used selfishly.
µ No spiritual gift or ministry action is more important than another. As Baptists, we believe in the priesthood of every believer with no division between “clergy & laity”. Now, some gifts & roles are more prominently on display but each member of the body is interdependent.
à Many can name the starting players for the Baltimore O’s but it would be extremely rare to find a person who could name the Camden Yards grounds keeper, head usher, custodian, ticket market salespersons, and so on.
à SPBC has many roles who have faithful servants and need more increased: nursery; hospitality greeters for Sundays & for life on life (open homes for gospel advance); Bible Group Inreach/Outreach Coordinators; Prayer Warriors!, and more.
1Cor 13 comes between 1Cor 12 on discussing the spiritual gifts and 1Cor 14 displaying the gifts for the reminder that love for one another is central to how the gifts are to be used.
Jesus said “whoever would be great must serve” (Matthew 20:26)
Worship is an intelligent pursuit of God (14:7-25)
Paul gives 3 illustration 14:6-12 to describe the importance of intelligence & clarity in worship.
1) instrument (flute or harp) does not give distinct note
2) bugle played indistinctly will not alarm soldiers for battle
3) language must be intelligible or people will be confused
If tongues are used without an interpreter then there is confusion and not clarity. Paul says, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (14:19).
“Earlier in this century, someone claimed that we work at our play and play at our work. Today the confusion has deepened: we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” – Leland Ryken
*** 1Cor 14:21-22 Tongues are sign not for believers but unbelievers – but what kind of unbelievers? In verse 21 Paul is quoting Isaiah 28:11-12 “For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people, to whom he has said, ‘This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose’; yet they would not hear”. In other words, foreign/strange tongues would be a message to God’s people, the Jews whom were unbelieving. Note, this is the case and point in the book of Acts as the gospel extended to Gentiles through the ends of the earth. The means of acceptance for the salvation of Gentiles was speaking in tongues. In other words, God is saying that salvation is for “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
– Intelligent worship speaks with clarity & conviction (power) to both believers and unbelievers.
– We should pray & work so that unbelievers would not say you are “out of your minds” but that they would encounter God with clarity and conviction, having “the secrets of his heart disclosed… falling on his face to worship God”
Worship is an orderly pursuit of God (14:26-40)
Summarizing guidelines and principles for worship, Paul encourages churches toward orderly participation. When you gather… celebrate the gospel and demonstrate it through your words and your deeds. There should be shared hymns, lessons, revelations, tongues, interpretations (14:26). Yet, none of this is out of control or ecstatic foolishness. There is participatory order not unmanageable anarchy.
One other point of order for the body is having appropriate leadership as outlined by God for qualified men. Paul says that women should keep silent in the churches… and before you men start elbowing the women, or women start body slamming men, allow an explanation:
In Galatians 3:28, Paul says women are of equal worth in the image of God and in salvation with Jesus Christ.
In Titus 2:3-5, Paul says women are called to teach other women.
In 2Timothy 1:5; 3:15, Paul shows that women are gifted to train and teach children and youth.
In Acts 18:26, Paul serves with married couples in ministry together.
In Romans 16; Philippians 4; Colossians 4 and other letters Paul commends multiple women who are co-laborers with him in gospel ministry, church planting and strengthening of the body of Christ.
In 1Cor 11:4-5, Paul says that women should prophesy and pray in worship.
But it’s in this latter passage (and also in 1Timothy 2:11 – 3:7) that Paul explains that men are accountable to steward and provide leadership in God’s church. To be clear, God has called men to be elders (pastors) in the church and not women.
In 1Corinthians 11 Paul speaks about wives praying with head coverings. These coverings symbolized that a wife was willingly under the leadership of her husband. If her head was uncovered then she was either not married or she was rejecting the leadership and authority of her husband.
– For 21st Century, head coverings have a different cultural understanding. So it needs new application.
In 1Corinthians 14:33-35 Paul is speaking in the context of judging/interpreting tongues and prophesy. The focus of these would have been doctrine related and inquired of the church elders whom were expected to be male and not female. Therefore, these wives were not permitted to speak and should learn in silence.
Likewise, Paul addresses this in 1Timothy 2:11 – 3:7 for women not permitted to teach or exercise authority over a man, along with providing the qualifications for elders, with one assumed/expected to be male.
How is this applied @SPBC?
– Pastors are male
– Leadership roles & titles for women on staff reflect biblical teaching
– Deacons are male, Adult Bible Group’s are led or co-taught with men
– – BUT, women serve in every other ministry area in the church, including our leadership council. – – – One role at SPBC is called “President” which is chairman of Trustees. No reason not to be a woman if she was qualified and church elected.
µ Don’t miss the forest because of the trees.
o Jesus is alive; His church must be alive to His Scriptures and His Spirit.
o Do you sense a coldness and missing fire for God through worship & service?
 Craig S. Keener, Gift Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, 97.
 Donald A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1Corinthians 12-14, 70.