This last Sunday we looked at the final text in a series that addressed a number of issues related to the church gatherings in Corinth. Paul has made the case that one of the highest priorities of our worship should be to encourage and build one another up in the Lord. In 1 Cor. 14.20-40 we saw three more priorities that we should pursue in our worship together as a church.
- The Priority of an Intelligible Gospel. In vv. 20-25 Paul continues to correct the Corinthians in their misuse of tongues. In these verses he makes the case that tongues are obscuring the Gospel message when unbelievers come to their gatherings. Unbelievers cannot understand the tongues which means they miss the message. Paul wants the Gospel message to be clear to unbelievers so that they might hear the message, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ. We too may struggle with obscuring the Gospel message, but in different ways. We are tempted to try to avoid the hard truths of the Gospel in order not to offend people. Paul, however, wants the full Gospel message to be clear.
- The Priority of Good Order. In vv. 26-35 Paul addresses the problem of chaos in the worship of Corinth. People are not taking turns speaking and Paul wants all things in the church to be done decently and in good order because God is the God of peace. While Paul encourages various people to speak in the service, he also commands restraint in only having several speak. Paul wants variety and restraint for the good of the church. We too should pursue good order in our worship together. We must also guard against being legalistic with our order of worship. Paul commands order in worship, but he does not command a particular order of worship.
- The Priority of an Awareness that we are Members of the Universal Church. In vv. 36-40 Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Word of God did not begin or end with them. They are not the first or the last to hear the message of Jesus. They are members with all those who call upon the name of the Lord. Remembering this helps to instill humility in our hearts. We too should strive in our worship to be reminded of the fact that we are members with all those who call on the name of the Lord so that we may be humble in our worship.
I pray that these several chapters in 1 Corinthians help to encourage us as a church as we worship together on a regular basis. May we build one another up in the Lord as we pursue the priorities Paul commands. Here are the discussion questions and order of worship: 1 Cor. 14.20-40 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan