Archive for the ‘46-1 Corinthians’ Category

1 Corinthians 15:12-34 — In a world where the Die Hard movies made so much money they made four films. Everyone loves it when the good guy whens in the end. Everybody loves it the old western movie where the hero gets the girl and rides of into the sunset at the end of the movie. The Die Hard movies, the westerns, and many, many other action movies of our time that extremely popular in our culture, all have a theme of the good guy defeating the bad guys and winning in the end. Why then if this theme is so popular do people have such a hard time with the resurrected Jesus. Some seem just not to be able to believe in the resurrection even though it is good’s victory over evil. He wins in the end! The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope for the present and for the future.

Everything seems pretty messed up right now just as the Bible says it would be. The world seems like its in a downward spiral of violence and ever-reducing morality. What was once considered immoral is commonplace now. It is a world that seems to glory in shaking its fist at God. That is, if they even believe He exists. So, then, why does the resurrection give us hope for the present and for the future?

It is gives us hope for the present day, as we discussed yesterday, because we know that it confirms that Jesus conquered death. It gives us confirmation that He is God. It is confirmation that if we believe in Him as the Son of God that we can share in that same victory over death. It is confirmation that death is just a step into our eternal home. No matter what the world throws at us, we know that there is something better. The resurrection is confirmation of the power of God. It is a reminder to us that if God can raise Jesus from the dead then there is nothing that I deal with that cannot be overcome with God’s help. He is bigger than any problem that I have. The resurrection increases my reliance on God. I cannot raise a person from the dead but God can. Thus, I must place my trust in Him to work all things together for my good. Even when things don’t happen at the pace that I think they should, I must remind myself that God has got this. If He can raise His Son from the dead, He can and will handle my issues.

The resurrection also gives us hope for the future as well. It is a promise kept and a reminder of the promise to come. Jesus said He would be raised from the dead. He also said that He would return. World events may seems out of control and justice may seem a distant value but He will return. Jesus will return to judge the world. One day, and only the Father knows when, Jesus will return. The world is getting progressively worse. Persecution of Christians will increase to dreadful proportions throughout the world. Man is worshiping himself. Tolerance of any and all behaviors. Death, poverty, sickness seem to abound. The Scriptures are being perverted or discarded. It is all out of control and it is all so very depressing. And it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. But, Jesus promised that He would return. He will judge the world. He will separate the sheep from the goats. He will make things right and perfect again. He will caste those who did not call on His name into the fiery pit. All of this is working its way toward an end. Jesus will return. The resurrection was a promise fulfilled which also then gives confirmation to the fact that He will return. Either way, I am covered because I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. If I die today, his resurrection assures me that I have an eternal future in heaven with Him. If Jesus returns in the eastern sky before I die my human death, then, I am one of His chosen ones who will enjoy the fruits of His New Jerusalem. I will reign with Him.

Some may say that this is all just an opiate of the mind and soul to believe such things. The resurrected Lord is a fact. He was seen by hundreds after His resurrections. The disciples died believing this fact. They would not have become the bold preachers and teachers that they were if it were not for the resurrection. You may say I am foolish to believe the Bible, but that’s a risk I am willing to take. I am willing for you to ridicule me for believing in ancient myths because I have faith that in the end I will be proven right. Are you willing to risk you eternity on this point? Jesus has kept every promise He ever made. He will return to judge. He promised it. He will deliver it. The resurrection is a promise kept. He will return to make things right. It may be today. It may be tomorrow. It may be 10 centuries from now. But, be assured He will return. I have seen the end of this movie (Revelation) and the good guy wins. Jesus will have the ultimate victory.

Jesus keeps His promises. Jesus gives us hope for the present and for the future because He does. No matter what may come, the resurrected Jesus gives me hope in times of trouble and makes me thankful when I am on the mountaintop. We have victory either in heaven or when Jesus returns, whichever comes first. Either way, His people win. Either way, we have victory. All because of the resurrection? Yes. It is a promise kept. It is evidence of promises remaining to be kept.

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1 Corinthians 15:12-34 —Today’s passage reminds me of my and Elena’s Saturday morning tradition. We sleep later. We drink coffee and sit on the back porch. But the piece de resistance (for those out there that are rednecks at heart like me…that “franch” for “the most important thing”) to our Saturday mornings is brunch. Elena will make eggs of some variety and in good quantity too. She will also make home fried potatoes which are…wait for it…awesome! That is the highlight of Saturday morning. That meal. It makes Saturday stand out over the hustle and bustle of the regular work week. That meal. Without it, Saturday mornings would seems something less. Without it, Saturday morning would be incomplete. Why do I bring up this illustration. It reminds us that this passage is about something that without it becomes incomplete. Without the resurrection, Christianity is incomplete. The resurrection is the piece de resistance of our faith. Let’s dive in now to this passage…

There are three nuggets in this passage and we will look at each one over this and the next two blog posts. First, today, we will look at what Paul says about the essential nature of Christ’s resurrection. Next, we will look at the relationship of the resurrection of Christ and His return to judge the world. Finally, we will consider Paul’s point about there being no point to life if there is no resurrection of Christ.

Many people can accept Jesus Christ as having existed. Many people can accept Him as a great rabbi. Many can accept Him as a political revolutionary. Many can accept him as a great philosopher. However, many see the resurrection of Jesus as their jumping off point. Some simply cannot accept it.

There is a fundamental difference maker in the resurrection. In fact, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. Because Christ rose from the dead, which He promised He would do, we know what He said was true and that He is God in the flesh. The resurrection affirms the truthfulness of Jesus’ life and His words. The resurrection confirms that Jesus had the power and the authority to say that He is “the resurrection and the life” as He did in John 11:25. It is the resurrection that demonstrates that Jesus was not a lunatic and a liar. He said that He and the Father were one. Dress that the way you will to debunk it but understanding the context in which that statement was made, Jesus was claiming to be God. It was not an unison of heart and thought, as some suggest, but rather that He was of the same essence as God. Thus, the resurrection is a testament that Jesus was telling the truth about Himself. The resurrection then gives us assurance that everything else that Jesus said about Himself and the things that He taught were of God and from God. Without the resurrection, Jesus is a phony and just another dead prophet. With the resurrection, it establishes Jesus as of the same essence as God and establishes His authority over all creation. It is this authority that allowed Him to conquer death. It is His resurrection that separates Him from all of creation. There is hope that comes from the resurrection because it means that we believe in the authority of God over every natural law, over every human order of things, and that God can deliver us from our worst nightmares of life.

The resurrection also is essential to us as believers because it means that our sins are forgiven and left behind in the grave. Jesus went to the cross and took on the whole wrath of God for sin and took all sin with Him to the grave. Without the resurrection, the cross would have to be repeated often just like in the Old Testament sacrificial system. However, the resurrection erases the need for continual sacrifices. With the resurrection, Jesus defeated sin. Jesus’ body was beaten down and battered to the point of death, but He arose with a clean and perfect body. Death where is your victory. Where is your sting? Jesus emerged from the grave in His perfect body. He conquered the ravages of sin on His body because He is God in the flesh. His victory over the grave means that through Him, we arise from the graves of sin filled lives with a new start, a clean slate. Jesus paid the price for our sins at the cross but it is the resurrection that confirms that new life is ahead when we believe in Him, the Son of God, the one with authority over sin and death. Without the resurrection, we have no victory. Sin would have won. You have to have the cross for the punishment of sin but you also have to have the resurrection for victory over sin.

The resurrection is also essential to us as believers because it reminds us that we know that we have an eternal reward awaiting us. Jesus has gone before us to prepared a place for us. The resurrection gives us purpose to it all. In most times through the centuries and even today in other parts of the world, there is absolutely no advantage to being a Christian. It often leads to persecution, excommunication from family and friends, poverty and even death. The day is coming and we are beginning to experience it here in this country where it will no longer be to our advantage to claim to be a Christian. The day is slowly coming upon us that claiming to be a Christian will be a detriment to our social climbing and our career advancement. In other parts of the world, it is real already and has been for centuries. It is the resurrection of Christ that gives us hope. It is the resurrection of Christ that helps us fight against injustice without fear of death. It is the resurrection that gives us the power to not conform to the ever changing moral landscape of our world. It is the resurrection that gives us the strength to stand against the tide of popular opinion. It is the resurrection that gives us the endurance to rely on God’s Word as the eternal truth and never waver in our commitment to it. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we would not change the world. We would just accept it the way it is. Without the resurrection, death is to be feared. With the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, we know that death is a doorway to the eternal life with Christ in heaven. With the resurrection, it should empower us to live our lives for Christ in ways that the world would consider reckless and foolish. With the resurrection, we will lay our lives on the line to change the world. Because what we have waiting for us is so far much better than this world. The resurrection gives frees us from being married to preserving what we have here on earth. When we are married to preserving our way of life, we have no freedom. We become slaves to manning the walls that we have built around what we have. It is a never ending struggle to preserve. It is the resurrection that frees us from all that. We know through the resurrection of Christ that if we believe in Him we too will conquer death. We know that through Christ we have eternity awaiting us in His arms. Isn’t that freeing? Isn’t that just the kick in the pants that we need to begin living our life as if we truly believed that heaven is far better.

Oh God, you are mighty. You are the Creator of all things. You made the heavens and the earth and you have full authority over them. You demonstrated your power over all creation by bodily raising Jesus Christ from the dead. You proved that He was of the same essence as you and that all the things He did, said, and taught were eternally true because they came from You. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins that was accomplished Easter weekend 2,000 years ago that is sufficient for the forgiveness of my sins. We thank you for Jesus dying to take the punishment that we deserve. But, especially my Lord, my God, I thank you for the resurrection because of the hope of new life that the forgiveness of the cross brings. I thank you for the resurrection because it demonstrates to all believers that there is nothing on this earth that is greater than you. There is nothing on this earth that is worth selling our soul to. There is nothing on this earth that is better than the eternity that we have promise of through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and who arose from the dead to demonstrate His authority over all things including me and my sins. Thank you for the hope that the resurrection brings. Amen and Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 — Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. All I ever hear is Marsha. That was the cry of Jan Brady on the Brady Bunch. She was jealous of her big sister and it boiled over at times.

Now, could you imagine being James, Jesus’ half-brother. I could hear him now growing up, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! All I ever hear is Jesus.” Jesus you think you’re so perfect. I am so tired of hearing of all the good things Jesus does. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It would have been really hard to be Jesus’ little brother don’t you think? I bet there was a jealousy there just like Jan for Marsha on the Brady Bunch.

Sometimes, we are so close to the trees that we cannot see something special right in front of us. Although living in the same household as Jesus and knowing Jesus as an adult, James never grasped who Jesus was until the resurrected Christ appeared to him. It was not until then that James became a believer. James was set on fire by the resurrection to the point that he became a leader of the Christians in Jerusalem. Now, he was saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” for a different reason all because of the resurrection. He became a humble servant of Christ because the resurrection proved Jesus to be what He claimed to be. Everything James previously believed about his big brother proved to be false by the resurrection. How humbling is that?

Paul knew of Jesus but never met Him while Jesus was carrying out His earthly ministry. However, it was after Jesus’ death on the cross and the rumors of resurrection spread and Christianity began to gather converts that Paul began trying to stamp out this new sect. He persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed them to try to rid Judaism of what He considered a heresy. He did not believe Jesus could be the Messiah. It was not until He encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus that his whole life was rearranged and changed. He became an humble servant of Jesus Christ because resurrection proved Jesus to be what He claimed to be. Everything Paul previously believed about what he considered to be a false prophet was proved false by the resurrection. How humbling is that?

What is it about the resurrected Christ that changed James from probably a jealous little brother and Paul from a murderer of Christians into two of early church’s powerful advocates for Jesus Christ? The resurrection changes everything. The resurrection makes what we think we believe to be pure rubbish in its light. In Greg Tabor’s sermon at sermoncentral.com entitled “The Reality and Relevance of the Resurrection,” he says, The reality is that a transformation in Jesus’ followers took place. This is evidence of the reality of the resurrection. This little band of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time. They were willing to go through horrible torture and death. Lee Strobel writes, “Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false.”(Case for Easter, p.88). But they knew it to be true. They knew Jesus had died, they knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.” Paul and James made it their life’s work to tell people of the resurrected Christ. It proved that Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was not just another dead prophet. He was God in the flesh. Whatever they thought about Him before was transformed by the resurrection. They were willing to die for spreading the hope that they knew in the resurrected Christ.

Without the resurrection, the entire Christian belief system is meaningless. Without the resurrection, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is meaningless. It would be unfinished business. The resurrection is necessary for our beliefs to be complete. Without the resurrection there is no victory. When we believe Jesus Christ died for our sins, it is one thing but it is incomplete without the resurrection. The resurrection gives us victory over our sins. The resurrection gives us new life in our newfound forgiveness of sins. We emerge from accepting Christ as our Savior as new beings through the resurrection. The resurrection proves that our belief in Jesus Christ is not in vain. We believe and we have proof that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh because of the resurrection. The resurrection proves that God controls the universe and controls even the processes of life that we consider irreversible. It proves that God is a miracle worker. It proves that God is above His creation. It proves that God can do the impossible. Lives are transformed by the resurrection. It is pivotal!

It transformed James from a clueless, probably jealous, little brother into an amazingly wise leader of the early church and the author of one of the books of the New Testament. It would have never happened without the resurrection transforming him. It made everything James previously about his big brother seem like wasted time. He was humbled by his own ignorance. Paul was transformed from a persecutor of Christians into the most influential man in Christianity outside of Jesus himself. Without Paul, Christianity might still be a quiet little sect of Judaism in Palestine right now. Transformed lives in the wake of encountering the risen Christ.

You may be one who is sitting here right now thinking that Jesus was not real. So did Paul and so did James. So did millions of people through the centuries. People have died horrible deaths in the past and continued to do so today because they believe in a real Jesus who really existed and really resurrected Christ. Why would people do this? They have at their salvation encountered the resurrected Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It transformed their lives. It made them willing to die rather than renounce Jesus Christ as the Son of God, God in the flesh. Would you die for a lie? Would you die for something that was just a made up fiction? Would you willingly go to your grave rather than renounce what you believe in? There is something to the transformative power of the resurrected Jesus Christ. When you consider Jesus. Learn about Jesus. Get to know Him. You are changed. You will find that everything that you previously believed in about Jesus to be simple and complete ignorance. You will be humbled by that. You will be humbled by what Jesus did for you without you even knowing Him. You will be humbled by your own sin and the grace that Christ offers you. You will be just like James and Paul. Humbled to your knees. Humbled into serving your Lord even unto your death. All because of the resurrection!

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 — Have you ever been a meeting and things got off track? Have you ever listened to a speech or a sermon that you can’t remember what the point of it was? Have you ever had a conversation with your wife and she has to give you all the background information in addition to the facts and you forget what she was really trying to tell you? This is kind of where Paul is when he gets to this point in his letter to the Corinthians that we know now as 1 Corinthians.

After spending the last couple of chapters instructing the Corinthian church what was important in worship, he now reminds them of why we are all here together in what Jesus called his church. All of the churchy stuff is meaningless if it is not all about the gospel message. Proper order in church is meaningless if the point of it all is not the worship of God and spreading the message of His love for us through the message of Jesus Christ. There are two things that shout off the page in this passage that we must consider. First, it is this point that we are all here because of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Second, it is through His grace that we are here and we must remember that it He that is working through us for we are just His humble servants. That’s why we are here. Today, let’s take a look at the central reason we are here, the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

The central theme of the gospel is expressed in vv. 3-4 of this passage. First, Christ died for our sins just as foretold in Scripture. Without this truth, Christ’s death was meaningless and those of us who believe in Him would still be awash in the penalty of our sins. We would have no hope. However, Christ, as the sinless Son of God, took on the punishment for the sins of all mankind, including you and me, so that those who believe in Him can have their sins and the penalty for them removed. Jesus’ death on the cross was no accident. It was foretold in Psalms 16 and Isaiah 53. It was no afterthought or some coincidence that God worked into His plan. It was THE plan all along. Jesus was to come at the fullness of time (which was afforded by the expansiveness of the Roman Empire) and live a perfect and sinless life and then complete the Old Testament sacrificial system by being that perfect, completely perfect sacrifice (as He was perfect as His Father and the Holy Spirit are perfect and eternally so) for sin. It was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Jesus had to die only once because of His perfection for it to be complete for all who believe and will believe in Him.

Second, Christ was buried. He died a physical death. Many, over the centuries have tried to discount his death. Some say Jesus was only unconscious and later was revived. This is ludicrous. We are talking the Roman army here. If anything, the Roman occupiers were ruthless and efficient in killing those who opposed the empire. Once sentenced to death, it would have been done completely and to the end. They even drove a spear into his side to make sure that He was dead. So the Roman Empire, with the most efficient army in the world, with men assigned a specific task by which their service to the empire was measured, just missed this one. They just gave Jesus a pass. Don’t think for a minute that a soldier in the Roman Army assigned the duty of crucifixion and this would have been his job as a soldier that He would not have been good at it and would not have known whether Jesus was dead or not. From a theological perspective, the death is necessary. Without Jesus’ death, His physical death, the penalty would not have been paid. Almost dying does not pay the penalty of sin in God’s sacrificial system. The animals in the OT system had to give their life up and Jesus as the completion of that system had to give his life up. He had to die for their to be payment for the penalty caused by sin. Without it there is an unpaid debt and we are still under the penalty of the law. Thus, thank God, Jesus actually died a physical death. The debt, my debt, your debt, is paid when He died.

Others doubt the resurrection as real. But my friends it is real and it is necessary just as much as Jesus death was necessary. Some say Mary Magdalene and the other ladies mistook the grave. First, the gospels say that they followed and saw where the grave was the day before. Second, Peter and John were taken by them to the same tomb by these same ladies. Therefore, we have several verifications of the empty grave. Remember too that in first century Jewish society, women were second class citizens when it came to legal rights to the point that they could not even testify in court because their testimony was discounted as unreliable. Why then were the first people to witness the resurrection were women? Why not skip that part. If the gospel writers were fabricating all this why then did they have the first people to see the empty tomb be women? It must be because they were not trying to hide the truth. They were just telling the truth. No one has ever disputed these facts, even Jesus’ contemporaries who were responsible, from a human perspective, for nailing him to the cross.

Some say the body was stolen by thieves. Why? Why would anyone really do this? They might steal stuff from a tomb but even Jewish thieves would not have stole a body – not exactly easy to hide as you are walking along the road. Besides, the tomb was sealed and was guarded by Roman soldiers who could have easily subdued thieves. Some say the disciples stole the body. The disciples went to their graves believing in the resurrected Jesus. They were all martyred in one way or another for this belief. Stealing Jesus body would have made this all a lie. Would you die for a lie if you didn’t have to? Some say the Jewish leaders stole the body. Why? Why would they do this? Why did they never produce the body to quiet the rumors of resurrection if they had the body?

Then there were many, many people that saw the resurrected Jesus during the days after his resurrection. If this is all just a figment of gospel writer imagination, then why did no one dispute the facts of the gospels and the Pauline letters? All of the New Testament books can be proven to have been written between 15 and 60 years after Jesus death. Most of the New Testament books then were written while eyewitnesses were still alive – even enemies of Jesus and his subsequent church. None of this story was disputed then. And a lie would not have lasted centuries.

The resurrection is real. It happened. From a theological perspective, it is as necessary as it is real. Without the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is important for several reasons. According to gotquestions.com, First, it witnesses to the immense power of God Himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not a God worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting that is death and the victory that is the grave’s (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.

Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings, which is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. Unlike all other religions, Christianity alone possesses a founder who transcends death and who promises that His followers will do the same. All other religions were founded by men and prophets whose end was the grave. As Christians, we take comfort in the fact that our God became man, died for our sins, and was resurrected the third day. The grave could not hold Him. He lives, and He sits today at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. In that lies our hope. In that lies our victory over what happens to us. In that we have hope no matter the situation. We know that we will be resurrected from the cruelty of death and join Jesus in heaven. Man that is good stuff!

When taken in the context of the previous passages, where Paul tries to end the divisiveness of the church by settling numerous issues. He then proceeds to remind us of this story. The real truth of Jesus Christ. God who became man in the flesh. God who died on the cross for our sins. God who rose from the dead and has victory over sin and death. Paul says “Hey, Church, now that we have all these petty issues settled, can we now get back to the real reason we are here? Jesus Christ, baby! That’s why we are here! Never forget that!” Isn’t that why we are here today! To personally worship Jesus Christ, to grow in our relationship with HIm, and to tell others about Him. That is it. That’s the story. That’s the mission! That’s why we are here!

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 — Today, let’s talk about women! Woohoo! Oh yeah! Ok, Mark get a hold of yourself. Let’s talk about what Paul says in vv. 34-35 of this passage. On the surface, it seems pretty controversial by today’s standards. Paul says that women should be silent during church meetings. He says they should be submissive just as the law says. He goes on to say that if they have any questions they should ask their husbands at home since it is improper for them to speak at church meetings. Wow! That’s pretty harsh. Some have taken this to mean that women are to have no role in church. So, let’s get at what Paul means here.

Does this mean that women should not speak in church services? Does this mean that women should not hold positions of responsibility in church? That would seem to controvert what Paul allowed in the church’s he planted. Paul seems to have had a high view of women when you consider Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia, Junia in Romans and Acts. There are Lois and Eunice in 1 Timothy. I do not think that Paul is saying that women should not hold positions of responsibility in church. If Paul meant that, he would have said that directly. As always, we must consider the context in which these words were written. This whole chapter is about orderliness of worship. Paul states that must be order in worship so that we all can get something out of it as I wrote in my last blog. Therefore, we must dig deeper hear and figure out why Paul said this to the Corinthians. In their culture, women were not allowed to confront men in public. In the freedom of their Christianity, many women in the church at Corinth were interrupting worship services to ask questions of men directly. This was stalling worship and causing division. In addition, in Corinthian culture, and most cultures of that day, women did not have the opportunity for formal religious education as the men did. These women at the Corinthian church must have been asking basic theological questions that could have easily been answered at home instead of disrupting the worship of the corporate gatherings. So, Paul was simply asking these women not to abuse their newfound freedom in Christ to completely disrupt the worship services. After all, we must all do what is beneficial to the entire body of Christ first rather than getting our own needs met at the expense of others. Paul was saying, ladies, ladies, ladies, yes you are important to the church. Yes, you are important to this new thing called Christianity. Yes, you have greater value here than in any other part of 1st century Christianity, but please do not use your freedom selfishly to disrupt group worship. Remember that we are all here TOGETHER to worship God. Let’s keep the whole body of Christ in mind when we worship. Always, always, let us remember context when we read the Bible and not make it say what we want it to say. Let us understand what is going on in and around a passage and understand the historical/cultural context of the passage before you make judgements or rip verses out of context and use them to say what you want to say.

What about where Paul says women should be submissive to their husbands. How does this square with what I just said above? It is true in marriage relationships that women, according to God’s Word, should be submissive to their husbands. Men were made by God to lead their wives and children. However, they must be willing to be the priest of their household. They must be willing to lead their wives in godly ways. Men must be willing to lay their lives on the line for the good of their wives. Men must always have their wife’s best interest at heart and ahead of their own. We must be willing to create environments for them to flourish into the beautiful flowers that women are. It is only then that a woman should submit to her husband – when He is a man chasing after God’s own heart. When he does that, it is simply natural that a woman would be willing to submit to such a man because she knows that he treats her like a queen and makes sure that she is safe, secure and allowed to flourish. So, in this context of this passage, Paul is saying that have some of these discussions at home with your husbands. You love him, you trust him, you submit to him. Ask him these questions at home and stop disrupting services to the point that no one is learning anything. To the point that people are leaving services angry and bitter and having not been edified in the Spirit. They came away not feeling that they had glorified God.

Thus, the real takeaway here is that these women were being selfish in their freedom in Christ. Paul is saying, ladies, let’s think about what you are doing here. Are you really wanting questions answered or are you just trying to be in the spotlight? We must always remember in church that we are not here to make a name for ourselves. We are not here to have our selfish needs met. We are here to glorify God. We are here to make Jesus’ name famous. We are here to unify the body of Christ. We are here to serve each other and the world around us. We are here to be the body of Christ. Selfishness has no part in that — whether I am a man or a woman. Let’s remember what we are here for, ladies…and gentlemen! Amen and Amen.

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 — There are two issues that are addressed in this passage. One seems to make perfect sense in any age. The other seems extremely sexist to the modern reader. This morning, we will talk about the first thing, the one that makes perfect sense in any age. Tomorrow, we will talk about the more controversial subject of the two presented in this passage. In the end, though, after all is said, done, and analyzed, Paul’s words are about seeking unity in the church by seeking to glorify God, a concept we should all be able to agree upon.

When I was growing up, I was a Methodist preacher’s kid. Growing up as a Methodist preacher’s kid, we moved a good bit. There was a stretch there when I was growing up that we moved every two years. However, in all that moving to different churches, one thing was familiar. There was an order of worship listed out in the bulletin each Sunday at each church no matter where my dad was serving. Even though my life was frequently changing, the order of worship was virtually the same in every United Methodist Church my dad served. And it was not just because I went to church where my dad served. It was the same when we visited other churches. There were responsive readings. There was standard prayers. After awhile, I could recite the Apostle’s Creed without thinking. There was a high level of familiarity to it. It was very structured. Even after I became an adult and married my high school girlfriend and stayed behind in Travelers Rest, SC when my father moved, I lived the Methodist worship life, the traditional church worship life, where everything was very predictable each Sunday. The only thing that was different each Sunday was the choice of which traditional hymns would be sung. This was my life until my first wife and I divorced. It was while dating the woman who would become my second wife that I was exposed to something different than the traditional church that I had known from birth to 31 years old.

When I started going to church at Trena’s home church in the Berea area of Greenville, SC, it was a modern worship style with modern worship songs. And God forbid! There was no order of worship. I was lost. The music was not the traditional hymns I was used to. There was no bulletin to tell me what was next. It freaked me out! The service seemed to ramble around without order. People would run up and down the aisles freely worshiping. Worship songs would linger on and on at times as the Spirit moved the musicians. Sometimes, a lady would speak in tongues and either she would interpret it herself or someone would interpret it for her. It was all very much a flow of consciousness to it that was so different from what I was used to. Eventually, I began to take to this style of worship. There was an energy to it that I did not find in the traditional style that I grew up in. I returned to traditional style churches over the years but it was the modern style that appealed to me. Although Trena and I are no longer together, it was this break from the traditional that lead me to the cross and it was this break from the traditional that made me really begin to seek to worship God wholeheartedly and not just go through the motions when I come to church. What had become a robotic exercise to me was now something that I was very much engaged in.

What I have learned over the years, through being part of the technical team at LifeSong Church where I now attend with my wife, Elena, that even in the modern style of worship that seems to have no order does really have an order. It may not be as rigid as traditional church where every word and every note and every activity is planned down to the nth degree, but there is a plan. There is a path where the pastor wants everything to point. Everything is pointing toward the message of the sermon. There may be more flexibility to follow the Spirit’s leading in modern worship but there is a direction to it all. Everything is done in orderly fashion even though it may appear to be freewheeling. The congregation may not have an order of worship in their hands. There may not be a group of responsive readings. There may not be hymnals. But, rest assured, our worship team and our senior pastor has a plan for the worship service. They don’t just get up there on stage on Sundays and wing it!

What Paul sees in his discussion is that whatever we do we must be seeking to lead people to worship God. There needs to be consideration of others. We must build each other up and seek God in unity. When we do not have some orderliness to our worship, the chaos becomes what we see and not God. He says God is a God of order and not of chaos. Thus, we should seek unity in our worship services. We should seek to be orderly so that we can really worship God together.

As for the modern day, what I am saying here is that there is no one way of worship that is greater or superior to another. Traditional church has its way that is very repetitive and because of it repetitive nature, some who enjoy that style say they can concentrate on God and worshiping Him when they are not worried about what’s coming next. There is a comfort to them in the repetitive nature of traditional worship. Modern worship appeals to me and to many others because it seems less rigid and less ritualistic. There seems to be a freedom there that is not present in traditional services to me. However, even though we have electric guitars, no published order of worship, and modern songs displayed on a video screen, and we probably don’t sing any of the same songs on a regular basis now that we sang a short 2-3 years ago, there is order. There is a plan. There is a considerable amount of effort expended to lead the congregation to the point of the service for that week. There is a considerable amount of effort expended to make the service seem freewheeling while the plan for the worship is be played out in front of us. None of this is to say that there are not times in traditional services or modern worship that the plan is laid aside to address something that needs to be addressed that was not planned for. But even then, those spur of the moment issues should be handled in an orderly fashion and should be at the discretion of the pastor only.

What is the point of all this orderliness? What is the point of having a plan? What is the point of not letting worship services ramble out of control? The point is that so that we can learn about God. The point is that unorganized anything is not conducive to you and me learning something that we can take away and apply to our lives. Just as when we have meetings at work that seem to have no point and you walk away frustrated and feeling as though you wasted your time, the same is true about worship. There should be an orderliness to it so that when we leave the worship service, we can say, yes, this was the point of the whole service and this is what I am going to take away about God today and then apply it to my life this week. That’s the point. All worship should be presented in such a way that we are all unified in Christ by it. All worship should be glorifying to God. When we walk out the door at the end of it, we can say yes those criteria were met and I learned something today. Check. Check. and Check.

1 Corinthians 14:1-25 — Today, we will conclude our look at this passage by talking about the spiritual gift of prophecy. This gift, in today’s world, may actually be more misunderstood than the gift of speaking in tongues. So, today, let’s consider what this gift is and what it is not.

The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” means to “speak forth” or declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. Many people misunderstand the gift of prophecy to be the ability to predict the future. While knowing something about the future may sometimes have been an aspect of the gift of prophecy, it was primarily a gift of proclamation. Can we prophesy today? Yes, I believe we can. We can interpret God’s Word in a way that is prophetic for our time. Preachers and teachers of the Word can receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit to take God’s Word and make people understand current events in a biblical view. Many authors out there, for example, try to prophesy the alignment of current events with the apocalyptic books of the Bible such as Revelation, Daniel, and others. As long as such prophesying is in line with God’s Word then it may be worth considering. However, one thing must be clear that we cannot make the Bible say things about the current day that were not even known to the writers of these apocalyptic books. F-16 fighter jets and other modern day things that were not known to apocalyptic biblical others are us stretching to make the current world fit into the biblical era. Therefore, we must understand the historical context, the cultural context, the author’s background, and the audience to whom the book was originally written. Once we understand that message and what it would have meant to the original audience/receivers of the book, then and only then can we interpret what it means to us. All prophecy must be consistent with this rule.

There are those preachers and teachers that do have this gift today. Have you ever been in a church service where you knew that the preacher was not just inspired by the Holy Spirit but appears to be totally consumed by Him. Their words are piercing and interpretive. Their words are passionate about what the Bible tells us and, given their understanding of the context of the book from which they are preaching, the words are forthtelling about what lies ahead for our people. Have you ever been in a small group session where the teacher/leader seemed to have prophetic words for you individually. A teacher’s words can have as much impact for individuals as a pastor’s words for the corporate body of the local church. In each case, for it to be true prophesying, it must be consistent with Scripture. We cannot prophesy something based on a book of the Bible that is not consistent with the message of that book and the prophesy must be consistent with the overall message of the Bible. Since the Bible does not contradict itself, prophesying must be consistent with God’s Word and not in opposition to it. Therefore, as you have heard as Christ followers about everything in life, we must compare it to Scripture. If something is inconsistent with or in opposition to Scripture, we must not participate in it or glorify it or take actions in that direction. The same is true with anyone who prophesies. We must compare what they say to Scripture. If what they say is consistent with and not in opposition to the Word of God, we must accept it and consider it. If it is not, we must reject it as the attempted influence of Satan upon our lives.

One of the issues today is what is prophecy and what is not. Above, I think we have established what it is. What it is not is now what we must consider. If someone tells you that they have been given a new revelation from God, this is not prophecy. Although we can teach truth from God’s Word as prophecy in today’s world, we cannot create new words from God. God’s truth has already been fully revealed in His Word. The Holy Spirit through the centuries has guided us that the canon of the Bible is complete. God’s truth for life is completely encapsulated in the 66 books of the Bible. We cannot add to it or take away from it. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. Therefore, those that say that they have a new revelation from God and we must obey it are heretics. They are the minions of Satan. The Bible is complete. God whole truth is there. There is nothing more that God wants or desires to add to it. Therefore, all prophecy now must be based in, consistent with, and interpretive of what already exists in the Bible. Anything different from that is Satan’s attempt to lead us astray. This is important to remember in this day of great social upheaval and change in our Western culture and in a world that seemingly has gone mad with thumbing its nose up at God. God’s Word is complete. The truth is truth and it has been completely revealed by God in His Word. Therefore, in fear of great social change, there are those who may say they have a new revelation from God to gather followers unto themselves. But rest assured, the Bible is complete and whatever they say is false as being new revelation from God. The truth is complete. It cannot be added to.

Father help us to be discerning about prophesy in these uncertain and vastly changing times in which we live. Let us use your completed Word to measure everything we hear, say, and do. Your truth is completely revealed in the Bible and we must compare everything to that. Amen.