1 Corinthians 14, pt.1

This week we are reading through 1 Corinthians 14 in which Paul seeks to apply the teachings of chapters 12 and 13 to the worship of the congregation.  At first blush, this chapter appears to have little relevance to our congregations today because the central lesson is that the gift of speaking in tongues is subordinate to that of prophecy. But the principles that Paul sets forth in resolving this conflict of spiritual gifts are relevant for us. Within this chapter, Paul contrasts the essential nature of these two gifts. Tongues are a private devotion that may build up an individual’s spirituality but is unintelligible and unedifying for the community. (v.2). On the other hand, prophecy (which Wright defines as God-given wisdom, understanding, insight, and teaching) builds up and encourages the community. (v.3). As Paul writes in verse 19, it is better to speak five words with the mind than 10,000 words in an unintelligible language. The overall principle is that Paul desires a mature, edifying, decent, and orderly worship. (v.26, 39).

This weekend, as you read through this chapter, think about how Paul’s desire for orderly worship manifests itself today. In his book, N.T. Wright uses three examples of contemporary disorderly worship: 1) singing sophisticated hymn-tunes that the average person cannot sing, 2) speaking in a pompous, elevated tone that no one understands, or 3) having a rock-star personality lead the worship so that only his spirituality is displayed.  What other examples have you encountered of disorderly and unedifying worship? Is orderly worship relative to the culture such that the worship at St. Peter’s or St. Paul’s may be inappropriate on Azusa Street or at Saddleback, and vice versa.  Finally, how does Paul’s admonition in verse 20 to not be little children in your thinking, but to be mature influence orderly worship?

Dinner is at 6. Hope to see you here.

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods, *
    ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his Name; *
    worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2

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