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Saturday, September 10, 2016

P3 - Be a Blessing with your spiritual gifts - Concentrate on worship

1 Corinthians 14:26  "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."

Introduction
Over the last two days we have considered the importance of being a blessing with the spiritual gifts. God the Holy Spirit has gifted the body of Christ with gifts to answer the call He gives to be a blessing. We have noted that in order to be a blessing with the spiritual gifts, one must...

1. Avoid self-centered Christianity when it comes to the gifts. 1 Corinthians 14:1-19

2. Build-up others through the gifts. 1 Corinthians 14:12-25

As we have been unfolding the above thoughts, we have also attempted to expound on Paul's discussion of the gift of tongues. Such a discussion provides a major backdrop for these themes, and thus must be explored. We have attempted to handle all the pertinent Biblical passages on tongues (Acts 2,8,10,14 and 1 Corinthians 12-14) in such a way as to show their unity in the scripture. We have noted that tongues is referring to the Spirit-given ability to deliver the Gospel in a previously unlearned language. We've also commented that as the church of the living God is established, the gift of tongues will virtually cease, if not cease all-together. As a general pattern, this writer believes based upon our prior studies of 1 Corinthians 12-14 that one ought not to expect to see a genuine gift of tongues with its partner gift "interpretation of tongues" in areas firmly established with the preaching of the Word. In addition, we also noted that what is often claimed to be tongues today is in fact a different phenomena all-together, and thus is not the same as Biblical tongues. 

Today we conclude out blog series on how the gifts are to be used to bless others by noting how we ought to use them to concentrate on worship to God.

The gifts of the Spirit are to be used to concentrate on worship to God
As we focus once more on Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 14, we find him switching gears in 1 Corinthians 14:26 from describing what the Corinthians have been doing to prescribing what they ought to be doing. 1 Corinthians 14:26 reads -  "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." As we labored to show yesterday, using our gifts to be a blessing to others entails edifying or building each other up in the faith. 

Dr. John MacArthur has wisely noted that whenever God prescribes behaviors in the Bible, He always prefaces His prescriptions with sound doctrine. Now whenever we think of Paul's foregoing discussion in 1 Corinthians 14:1-25, he has been describing the misapplication of tongues by the Corinthians, and how such as led to low-levels of edification in the church and high-levels of self-centered Christianity. Paul wants to lay out the importance of concentrating on worship by way of appropriate use of the gifts in these verses. Below we can note the following points as to how we can do this today...

1. Humility - 1 Corinthians 14:26-33
Notice what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:31-33  "For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." Paul of course uses tongues and prophecy as examples, but the wider principle is clear: that whenever we exercise our gifts in the church or for that matter, outside the church and in the world, we ought to do so with Christian humility. Such humility before God positions us to be empowered by His grace to be more effective in His service (1 Peter 5:6-8). Moreover, humility brings us closest to the heart of Jesus, whom we are to imitate and follow (see Philippians 2:4-11; 1 Peter 2:21-22; 1 John 3:6).

2. Atmosphere. 1 Corinthians 14:34-40
This last section of 1 Corinthians 14 is perhaps the most widely discussed and at times, controversial section in Paul's letter. The concern of Paul in this final section has to do with orderliness or atmosphere in the church body. What is the meaning behind Paul's prohibition on women "speaking" in the church? The immediate context suggests that there might had been instances where women were practicing tongues freely or somehow contradicting their husbands who had exercised a gift of prophecy or exhortation. Certainly such practices by the particular women at Corinth would had led Paul to censure their actions. But then Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that per the Law of God (Genesis 3:16) and the pattern of worship in all the churches, such an injunction by Paul is laid forth pertaining to women. 

Perhaps the most balanced commentary that I have read that gives multiple scriptural support is the Bible Knowledge Commentary: 

"Whether the admonition for silence was directed to all women (cf. 11:2–16) or only to those who were married may be debated. The word translated women (gynaikes) was used to refer to women generally (as in all 11 occurrences in 11:3–15), or to unmarried women (e.g., 7:34), or to married women (e.g., 5:1; 9:5; and all 14 occurrences in chap. 7 except once in 7:34). The context alone aided the readers in distinguishing between the alternative meanings." 

The commentary continues on:

"Two indications strongly suggest that married women were in view in this passage. The first is the word submission (hypotassesthōsan, v. 34). When it occurs elsewhere in the New Testament with specific reference to a woman, it always refers to a married woman who was to be subject to her husband (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5)."

If we consider what Paul says elsewhere in his letters on the boundaries drawn on how men and women are to function in the church, he is drawing such lines along marital lines in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. With respect to the distinctions we find in passages like 1 Timothy 2:8 or 1 Timothy 3:1, the boundary lines there would be drawn more so along ecclessiastical lines, allowing women much liberty in the ministries they can do with one exception: the pastorate. It is vital when discussing issues of gender in the church, that we don't draw the lines too tightly nor cast them asunder. 

To perhaps dig further in seeing the positive direction Paul is trying to aim these comments, we must consider what is brought into the church from godly marriages. Paul's remarks on women and their husbands in 1 Corinthians 14 is for the sake of keeping a proper atmosphere of worship. If the husband loves his wife like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), then the wife will want to follow his lead and be the fragrance of grace that causes others to admire the marriage. To bring such a loving atmosphere from the home into the church is the ultimate intent of Paul in these instructions. 

Thus as Paul closes out this major chapter of 1 Corinthians 14, he notes in verse 40 the reinforcement of maintaining decency and order in the church, which is the responsibility of all concerned. Hence, concern for worship will ensure that the those who are exercising their spiritual gifts are a blessing indeed to both God and people. 

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