This morning we are going to continue our study in 1 Corinthians and we are going to finish our study on spiritual gifts. Hasn’t this little mini-series on spiritual gifts been so good?
Up to this point we’ve talked about spiritual gifts in general; chapter 12. We’ve talked about the purpose of spiritual gifts; chapter 13. Last Sunday we talked about spiritual gifts in the worship service and this morning is a part of Scripture that most people skip on a Sunday morning.
We’ve spent three Sundays on spiritual gifts, surely that’s enough, therefore, can’t we just skip to the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15?
But we don’t pick and choose what we talk about on Sunday morning. If you are new this morning, we teach God’s Word. We go verse by verse because we want to know God, even if those passages are a little difficult. How’s that for an introduction? Let’s look at verse 26:
1 Corinthians 14:26, “26 What is the outcome then, brothers and sisters? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. All things are to be done for edification.”
1 Corinthians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a bustling church in Corinth. People were moving to Corinth from all over the world, so that Corinth is a city that is similar to Austin.
In our city we have people who are rich and poor, Asian, Hispanic, white, black, short, tall, educated and uneducated, so that when all these different people come to faith in Jesus we see our primary focus is to encourage one another in Christ. Do you see that at the end of verse 26, “all things are to be done for edification?”
(Not what we get – But what we give)
Last Sunday we used the acronym “NWWG-BWWG. When we gather on Sunday morning it’s not about what we get but what we give.
Through faith in Jesus we are given spiritual gifts like teaching, wisdom, serving, discernment and as we come together we are to utilize those gifts, not for ourselves, but for the serving one another in Christ.
That’s why we invite our church family in Austin to come early, stay late, because we want to seize those opportunities for building up the body of Christ.
I wish I could tell you that I just spontaneously “edify the body of Christ.” Just spills out of me. I wish I could tell you that I just naturally encourage one another but I don’t.
I spontaneously think about myself, what I want. But if I take a few minutes on Sunday morning to consider who I am going to talk to, what’s going on in their life, who I can pray for, how I can serve someone, then I am 1000% more likely to be able to see the Spirit of God move in me and through for the building up of the body. Does that make sense? Preparation! Let’s look at verse 27-28:
1 Corinthians 14:27-28, “27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two or at the most three, and each one in turn, and one is to interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he is to keep silent in church; and have him speak to himself and to God.”
We walked through tongues and prophecy last Sunday, so we won’t do that this morning, so that the overarching theme of our passage this morning is; order and clarity. Do you see that? Write that in your devotional.
Remember, we’re talking about the worship service in 1 Corinthians 14. If 8 different people are speaking in tongues left and right in a worship service, it is going to be confusing, therefore, God’s Word says, “two, three at most” because in a worship service we want order and clarity, so that we learn about God’s glory and respond to God’s glory.
Illustration: I think it’s possible that some of us might be a little resistant to order and clarity. Maybe there is a part of us that feels like order and clarity is restrictive?
After all, isn’t the God of Scripture powerful? Shouldn’t our relationship with the God of Scripture be organic? Do we really need order and clarity in the worship service? Let the Lord move!
Illustration: But, just consider other areas of life. Remember when our politicians used to have a little more order and clarity? Wasn’t that nice!
Imagine if you walked into a hospital and there was an absence of order and clarity? We don’t want doctors and nurses winging it with our health, therefore, in the same way, when followers of Jesus come together, the glory of God is so important, we want order and clarity.
Did you know we plan out the sermons over a year in advance, because we want to make it easy as possible for our church family in north Austin to learn about God’s glory and respond to God’s glory.
Did you know Jasmin plans out the worship songs months in advance? The worship team knows who is serving when months in advance. The musicians can start working on the lyric’s months in advance, so that it makes it easier to respond to the glory of God.
Did you know I write out what I am going to say on Sunday morning? Sometimes people think I just get up and start talking but I have prayed over these words, wrestled with this passage, cut out things, added things Monday-Friday, so that we have the best chance this morning to hear from God and not from Michael.
It doesn’t mean we don’t want spontaneity in our worship service. We actually believe the planning, order and clarity enhances the spontaneity. Let’s look at verses 29-33:
1 Corinthians 14:29-33, “29 Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, then the first one is to keep silent. 31 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,”
I want you to see the repetition this morning. It isn’t just in the area of speaking in tongues but order and clarity is also important in the gift of prophecy and all spiritual gifts in general.
In addition, this is the second “keep silent” we will see it three times over all in our passage this morning and the word “silent” in the original language is literally “stop talking” so that at first glance, that might sound a little harsh but we have to remember a few things.
First, the charge to “keep silent” isn’t to abuse or oppress spiritual gifts. The overall tone of the last 4-weeks is for spiritual gifts to be unleashed in the body of Christ but we want to unleash those gifts with order and clarity, so that when we gather we might hear of God’s glory and respond to God’s glory.
Second, the charge to “keep silent” isn’t for one person to exert their power. The charge to “keep silent” is for a process of discern to take place. Do you see that in verse 29, “have others pass judgment?”
It’s possible that sounds funny because our natural thought is “we’re not supposed to pass judgment on one another” but that word “judgment” means to examine rather than condemn. Does that make sense?
Again, in verse 32, “The spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” so that a prophet can hi-jack a worship service with a word from the Lord. It’s a process of discernment taking place in the worship service but with the overarching focus on order and clarity.
We don’t follow that same description at North Village Church but we still follow the principle of God’s people examining God’s Word.
It’s why we have God’s Word on a screen. It’s why we go verse by verse. It’s why we create the devotional. We don’t want you to just listen but examine and wrestle with questions like, “Is that true? Is that what God’s Word teaches? Is that consistent with God’s character?”
When we gather in groups we don’t want one person talking all the time but we want the body of Christ wrestling with God’s Word.
If you have questions about what we are teaching as a non-denominational church in Austin we invite you to talk with the elders because we want to wrestle with God’s Word. When we share meals with one another, when we watch movies, listen to the news, talk to our spouse, raise our children we absolutely want the body of Christ passing judgment so as to say, “Is that true? Is this consistent with God’s Word?”
Now, take a breath and let’s practice what we are learning and let’s look at verses 34-36:
1 Corinthians 14:34-36, “34 the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or was it from you that the word of God first went out? Or has it come to you only?”
So, let’s just sit in that passage for a minute. We have new visitors this morning so you need to know we don’t talk about gender identity every Sunday. This is just the passage that God’s Word has for us as we go verse by verse in God’s Word.
I am guessing as a new visitor you don’t know me and it’s possible just seeing those words on a television screen can be jarring.
I am guessing that there are some of us in here this morning that didn’t know this passage was in God’s Word, so this could be confusing.
I am guessing there are some of us who have seen this passage as a “gotchya” passage on Tik-Tok as to why the bible is misogynistic and shouldn’t be trusted.
So, I am going to walk through this passage. I am going to give some common objections to this passage. I am going to respond to those objections and then I am going to try to bring to the surface the intent of our passage.
But you need to know at the beginning that you don’t have to agree with me to believe in Jesus. I am comfortable and confident with what our passage this morning but Jesus is most important. Write these down.
First, let’s talk about the objections to our passage. It’s possible that some people will read this passage and say, “The follower of Jesus doesn’t have to listen to the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul is outdated. Paul is human. Paul is fallible; therefore, we can’t trust what Paul writes 100%.”
I can understand why a person my land here because Paul is human but if you are going to reject Paul then you need to reject Jesus because Paul is simply drawing out Jesus’ life and words in more detail.
The Apostles are the ones who saw the resurrected Jesus and were sent out by the resurrected Jesus, so that what aligns us to Jesus throughout history is the teaching of the Apostles.
Second objection is the phrase “keep silent” only applies to the women in the Corinthian church. Again, it makes sense how someone could land there because the Corinthian church has known some struggles.
But all of Scripture is written in the context of a culture. Does that make sense? If we avoid God’s Word because of cultural context then every time we read about (Sex, money, marriage, parenting, judgment, heaven, hell) we are going to struggle to know when and how to apply God’s Word.
In addition, the end of verse 33 addresses this passage to “all the churches” and not just the Corinthian church, so that it would be difficult to say, “This passage is just for the Corinthian church.”
Again, I am inviting you to weigh these words, so write these things down, so you can wrestle with God’s Word with me.
Third objection is that these words could have been added later. God’s Word isn’t reliable. God’s Word has been changed throughout the years.
Again, makes sense how someone could land there but you need to know we have over 20,000 copies of the New Testament and our passage this morning is included in every copy. Does that make sense?
The copies we have discovered have been at different times, different places, and they all include the passage we are looking at this morning, so the idea that these words were added later isn’t possible, because we would have seen inconsistencies.
Those are the objections and responses to our passage. Maybe you have more? Maybe you have objections to those responses? I am not asking you to “just agree.” I am asking you to wrestle with the passage.
Can we ignore those words? If not, are women supposed to keep silent in a worship service? If so, when? Is it when women walk through the doors for a worship service? Is it only when we start to sing? Is it only when we start to teach God’s Word?
I am not trying to make light of the passage. I am genuinely asking. I am guessing there are some of us who have been in a context where those types of things were suggested and lived out, so that this passage comes come with feelings and memories that make it more difficult for us to digest but I want to keep driving us back to the question, “What does God’s Word have for us here?”
First, if you look at the flow of the passage, context is king, we see elevation of order and clarity is clear. DONE. The gift of tongues come with order and clarity. The gift of prophecy comes order and clarity.
In addition, some cultural context does apply. The Corinthian worship service was wild! Multiple people are talking. Chaos is the norm. The Apostle Paul introduces a weighing process we talked about earlier, but it is still all in context of order and clarity.
Lastly, the charge for women to “keep silent” sounds oppressive toward women but really this is a charge toward men. Stay with me. Write that down!
Genesis 1 all of creation is spoken into existence. Genesis 2 we see Adam is set apart from the rest of creation and given clear responsibility to LEAD and Eve is given responsibility as HELPER, so that order and clarity is established in the home.
We whence at that description of HELPER but the Holy Spirit is described as helper. We whence at submission but we see submission in the trinity between Father, Son and Spirit, so don’t reject the passage just yet.
When we see the phrase “let them asks their husbands at home” it rubs us the wrong way but let’s draw out what this might look like practically.
Imagine we gathering for worship on a Sunday morning and something is taught that makes a woman uncomfortable. Imagine!
Imagine you have some follow up questions. Imagine, as a woman, you are involved in a church in Austin that teaches something that stirs up some doubts.
In that moment you could leave. Never return. Conclude those people are crazy. I don’t want that but you could do that.
You could also come and ask me questions afterwards, which is great, please don’t think women can’t talk to me or ask questions.
Our church in north Austin has women greeting you as you walk in the door, we have women praying over our bible believing church in Austin, we have women leading us in worship, we have women sharing announcements, we have women leading groups, we have women sharing testimonies, we’re not anti-women, so just stay with me.
But imagine if the wife brings those questions to her husband or to her father if she’s not married? It doesn’t mean she is incapable but imagine if she brings those questions to her husband or father and imagine the challenge this puts on our husbands and fathers when the woman turns to the husband or father and says, “I have some questions about our passage this morning.”
All the men just got a little nervous. Did you feel that? Right now the men are trying to find ways to dodge this question but just imagine what can take place in this process.
In that moment, the man must wrestle with God’s Word. Now the man has homework! In that moment, we are tapping into Genesis 2 spiritual leadership.
Now the man is going to have to read. The man is going to have to humble himself and ask for help. The husband is going to have to pray for wisdom. The end of applying our passage, not rejecting our passage, is that the family grows stronger and the church in Austin grows stronger, because the men are growing stronger. Does that make sense?
The Apostle Paul isn’t trying to trample over women. The Apostle Paul involves women in his ministry. The Apostle Paul equips and empowers women in ministry, therefore, our passage this morning can’t be about the abuse of women.
Surely there must be something we don’t understand. Surely there must be something that is consistent with God’s Word that still applies to our lives today in 2023. The passage is ultimately a challenge to our men!
Listen to me church in north Austin, I think this passage is so helpful for us today in our culture. For most of humanity, the woman would have loved her husband or father because her husband or father kept her alive, provided food. Just physical protection and provision alone would have made her thankful for a good, godly husband or father.
But now we have police, now we have social services and now a woman can feel like she doesn’t NEED the husband or father. Gloria Steinem, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bike?” Therefore, what are the ways a man can provide and protect his wife?
Spiritual leadership! Spiritual leadership is a covering the husband offers to his home. It doesn’t mean the wife is incapable but that the husband’s role of prayer, service, character, and biblical understanding are so important in the home that the Apostle Peter writes, “Listen to your wife, care for your wife, honor your wife as a fellow heir to the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
Listen to me, weigh God’s Word this morning, so that we might get the best from God’s Word to bring Him the glory He deserves. Let’s close with verses 37-40:
1 Corinthians 14:37-40, “37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly way.”
Do you see the authority of the Apostle’s in verses 37-38? We can’t throw out the words of the Apostles. Be careful if you gather with people who don’t align themselves with the teaching of the Apostles.
Be careful when someone talks about a new way to follow Jesus. Be careful when someone wows the crowds with emotions. Be careful when someone talks down about God’s Word. Be careful when others try to lead you astray, because the reality is that we are all easily led astray.
Especially in our day today, it is easy to get confused, easy to get distracted but the good news is that Jesus has come for those who are easily confused and distracted.
I want to invite the worship team and just remind us of Jesus. It’s possible are women might know what to think about our passage this morning. It’s possible that our men might feel overwhelmed.
Our ultimate hope is Jesus. Jesus has come for those who are confused. Jesus has come for those who are overwhelmed. Jesus has come for those who have missed the opportunity of spiritual leadership.
Jesus has come for those who are hard hearted toward God’s Word. Jesus has come for those who are stubborn. Jesus has come for those who make things more complicated. Jesus has come to bring order and clarity, not only into a worship service, but into our lives.
In our lives we think about a thousand things and Jesus says, “Think about me.” In our lives we turn to a thousand things and Jesus says, “Turn to me.” In our lives we trust in a thousand things and Jesus says, “Trust in Me.” Jesus comes to make life so simple.
We have people at the back to pray for you and pray with you but let’s not just sit and listen to God’s Word this morning. Let’s respond.