The God of Order & Peace

Biblical Theology is critical for those of us who live in the World but are not of The World! It is the foundation of our identity: disciples of Christ who actively seek spiritual maturity. The scriptures are there to show us we need to mature and to tell us how that happens.

This letter Paul wrote, as dictated by God, points out our ways and reveals God’s ways. This Scripture tells us how to be (Identity) based on who God is: God of Order & Peace

Spiritual Maturity is about living from a place where the basis of your life honors God. Who you are, what sets your priorities, what motivates choices… God’s ways or yours?

In this passage, Paul ends his instructions on Spiritual Gifts, Love & Others Focus with a call to Spiritual Maturity!

Spiritual maturity is when we live from a place of putting God and others 1st in Love. When we do this we will see order & peace: SHALOM!

This passage begins with, repeats in the middle, and ends with ‘Dear Brothers and Sisters’

1st Corinthians 14:20-40

Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind.

  • What are these things? Spiritual Maturity measured by wisdom, unity and love
  • Maturity in understanding takes time, humility, teachability, activity and passion
  • Matters of this kind are the areas God addresses in this letter:
  • Wisdom / Servanthood / Relationships / Idolatry / Body Life / Love / Spiritual Gifts

It is written in the Scriptures: “I will speak to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.

  • This is a warning against missing God’s Voice by being proud & unteachable
  • The call to maturity in Christian Discipleship is not about shows of ‘Spirituality’

So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy.

  • In The Gospels & Acts: The speaking of ‘Unknown Languages’ is to unbelievers
  • Believers can trust and apply true prophecy (it always matches up with Scripture)
  • Paul had been given reports about the Corinthians church services
  • A lake of order is resulting for a lack of love and an abundance of ‘Spiritual Pride’

But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”

  • The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy: People speaking as directed by God’s Spirit
  • It has supernatural ‘Spiritual Power’, and God uses it for HIS glory
  • As they listen…Only God brings conviction of sin, only God can expose thoughts

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

  • The summary: everyone playing a role in an orderly way results in SHALOM
  • We give ourselves over to Christ for the good of HIS Body, we’re all strengthened
  • Order & Peace are sources of strength to the Body of Christ

No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.

  • The need for balance in worship, the Corinthians were overemphasizing tongues
  • If God wants a ‘Tongue’ to be understood, HE will provide translation
  • If not, it is not meant for the church body (God makes that choice)
  • This is a reference to the Spiritual Gift of Unknown Languages in private prayer

Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.

  • The others who evaluate it are Elders (Men) responsible for Theology & Doctrine
  • Mature Christians defer to others & don’t seek’Their’ word, but God’s Word
  • Again the goal is that ‘Everyone’ is blessed: Community Worship = Body Edified
  • If these messages are coming supernaturally from God they will happen in order
  • If of God it will be done in and result in peace: SHALOM

Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.

  • Paul is describing those who are being guided by God and so they act like Him
  • They are part of God’s order…disorder and striving are not of The Lord
  • A true Prophet of God is never wrong (O.T. Standard, wrong once: put to death)
  • Counterfeiting Spiritual Gifts is ‘Dangerous Business’…

Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.

  • These two verses must be understood & applied in context of the previous text
  • The silence of women is regarding the evaluation of Prophetic Offerings
  • Twice previously in this letter God has declared ‘Spirit Gifts’ are for men & women
  • This is referencing mature, married women, submitted to husbands headship
  • This encourages couples to engage & learn about theology & doctrine together
  • In that place: Men & Women sat separate, so asking in church caused disruption
  • The order of the meeting honors God: The God of Order & Peace

Or do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given? If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized.

  • The Corinthians were doing things ‘Their’ way instead of the ‘Apostolic’ way
  • The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is consistent with O.T. Revelation (same God)
  • God has always been about Order & Peace
  • The Word of God was O.T. Scriptures, the Teaching of Christ and His Disciples
  • There must have been false claims of Prophecy born of ‘Trying to be Spiritual’
  • Paul knew that He was Writing with God’s direct authority! Whoa!
  • If they were unable to see God was guiding Paul, God was not guiding them.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.

  • These are complex issues, so to approach them ‘Biblically’ we must BE ‘Family’
  • In order to BE mature we have to think, act and love as God does: order & peace
  • The use of spiritual gifts like Prophesy can be messy; work it out, don’t ban them
  • Gift use MUST line up with an accurate reading and application of Scripture
  • BE SURE: We cannot honor God & represent Christ if we don’t do things HIS way

Application Questions:

In what areas of Your Discipleship do you see a need for more mature understanding?

How can we make Midtown a place where unbelievers can clearly understand Christ?

How does 1st Cor. 13 influence your understanding and application of 1st Cor. 14?

What is your experience with gifts of Prophecy & Tongues? Was their practice Biblical?

Others Focused Spirituality

Remember the phrase: It is better to give than to receive? Don’t hear that as much as you used to.

The dominant culture today is: ‘It’s about me and what I can get’ We are socialized, taught to be self serving in many ways, it becomes 2nd nature

This letter to the Corinthians constantly has a different message: Live for others The constant theme of focus on others, is a hallmark of the New Testament Scriptures.

Last week the passage defined love by God’s standards and how we are to love others. This passage is a straight forward addressing of a problem, that GOD ‘Inscripturated’. He wanted this to be something we heard about directly from Him (thru Paul)

We do not have a culture of this sort of thing @ Midtown, but we should be on the look out for it

Today we hear from God’s word the importance of staying in that mode of love for others as we develop and use spiritual gifts in the community and for the good of the body

1st Corinthians14:1-19

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you.

  • We heard last week that in God’s Kingdom, Love is # 1!
  • Once you have the love part, Spiritual Gifts will be a blessing to OTHERS
  • Prophesy being ranked above speaking in unknown languages

You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

  • There is a place for Spiritual Self Strengthening, but it is secondary to others
  • Speaking from God’s viewpoint, by His Spirit, blesses others.
  • As a disciple of Christ, which is more valuable?

I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

  • God pairs ‘True Tongues’ with the gift of interpretation
  • Then it has the effect God desires: strengthening the whole church!
  • It is always about the good of the body BECAUSE THAT gives God the most glory!

Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful.

  • At this point Paul recognizing his role is all about helping others know Christ

Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

  • If we are using gifts God gives us ‘With Love’ we will hit the right note
  • It’s about working together as a Body / Band / Army

There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

  • Importance of understanding ‘Tongues’ are ‘Languages’ not ‘Ecstatic Speech’…
  • Don’t create divisions with ANY use of Spiritual Gifts…
  • ‘Tongues’ get you a lot of attention…creates comparison…
  • Unhealthy Culture of ‘Spiritual Attention & Accolades’ (not our bag @ Midtown)

So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.

  • There is such a thing as speaking in unknown languages: ‘Prayer in The Spirit’
  • Cultivating depth of prayer with God by His Spirit is desirable
  • There is a place and purpose for such things

For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

  • This implies that the best is when we praise God together
  • God is driving home the importance of ‘Unity’ in HIS Body
  • That ‘Unity’ must be intentionally strengthened by each of us serving in LOVE

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

  • When we gather it is all about OTHERS!
  • Being Christ’s Body is aways meant to be about others
  • Easier said than done…and that is the point of active, continual Discipleship
  • This is setting a pattern for what church services do: they help people!

Application Questions:

What is your WHY for Love being your highest Goal?

How can you avoid ‘showing off’ your spirituality and instead strengthening the ‘Body’?

What would regularly developing your Spiritual Gifts in a love centered way look like?

What things can you do consistently when we gather as a Body to help others?

Love: The Goal of Our Discipleship

If you have been to more than one wedding and paid attention you have heard this passage read as part of the ceremony…

This passage isn’t about marriage…it’s about church community, The Body of Christ!

We are to love all kinds of people in the ways that are described in this part of Paul’s letter to the Church of Corinth. NOT JUST SPOUSES!

Loving others is our lives work as followers of Jesus Christ

If we are Jesus’ disciples, we prove it by how we love people.

This is the goal of our discipleship: To love others more like Jesus Christ loves us

John 13:34&35

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

So let’s learn about love, from the creator of love: The Triune God!

1st Corinthians 13

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

  • This feat would be a pinnacle: intellectually & spiritually, but without love…
  • When I don’t live from love, all anyone hears is the noise of my lack of love
  • I can accomplish SO much in this world, but without truly loving others: NOISE

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.

  • To be given insight into all that God is and wills…heady stuff
  • To believe in the fullness of who God is so fully that you have boundless faith…
  • Without love you would not have total Godly insight or the fullness of faith…
  • We cannot know & relate to God well without actively practicing loving others

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

  • Giving away your stuff, putting yourself in harms way… makes you look good
  • But true gain is only found in relationships that grow in God’s way of love
  • All the sacrifice in the world without the right heart = Zilch!

Obviously love is pretty important in God’s economy…

To be a Disciple of Christ is literally to learn to grow in love by His power.

So what is ‘God’s Way of Love’? What are the actions and attitudes of real love?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

  • Series of descriptions of actions & motives that are both positive & negative
  • Opposites help us understand because we see our current condition
  • We can see how we should be and how we shouldn’t be

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

  • This is about how much we value ‘God Defined Justice’
  • How do we know the Truth? What defines truth? The Media or The Scriptures?
  • Because love is all about others & is motivated by unselfish concerns it
  • NEVER Gives Up or Loses faith!
  • ALWAYS Is Hopeful & Endures!

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

  • This is another expression of the primacy of love to God’s eternal plan
  • Other gifts are helpful now

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

  • The time of perfection: Eternity with God (AKA Heaven)
  • We will have no use for earthly spiritual gifts while living in the heavenly realm

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

  • Back to the idea of ‘Spiritual Maturity’ being the natural course of Christian life
  • You are meant to be immature at some point, but from there you should grow

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

  • What we understand by God’s grace, is not very clear (God has His reasons)
  • In Eternity we will understand everything God wants us to know perfectly
  • God knows what we understand, and that is what we are accountable for
  • We do well to keep growing in things we know God values…back to LOVE

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

  • Let us ‘Store up Treasures in Heaven’ that will last forever!
  • By storing them I mean let’s purpose to grow in them: Faith & Hope
  • But even more than Faith & Hope, might we purpose to grow in LOVE?

How shall we do this? Let us begin @ The Cross

Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate expression of God’s Love !

It does not demand it’s own way…

Mark 14: 35&36

He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” He cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Application Questions:

In what ways do you have potential to be ‘unloving’ while trying to serve the Lord?

How self aware are you of how you treat people?

Based on this criteria, how well do you love?

How might you intentionally plan to love people based on God’s standards?

What is your motivation, your WHY for growing in love?

God’s kind of Love is Found in:








All of these lead to: Spiritual Maturity…The Goal of our discipleship

Growing Spiritually means growing in love!

Harmony & Care For Each Other As Christ’s Body

This message is so key for us, especially crucial as we build a Biblical culture here

God has placed each of us into a Body / Church

We are together to optimize the declaration of God’s Glory

The church is God’s plan A to bring about the redemption of all creation

So we learn to need how to be good stewards of that

1st Cor. 12:12-31

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

  • Different part may be from very different backgrounds
  • The ‘Whole’ is more than just the sum of the parts, they make a new thing
  • What makes us an ‘Attached’ and ‘Connected’ part of Christ’s Body is The Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit indwells all believers the same, we have been ‘immersed’!

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?

  • You don’t have to be any part but the one God has made you to be
  • All parts count, every member of the body is important and useful
  • Being confused about the role you play is ok, as long as you don’t stay that way!

If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.

  • Some roles get more attention, but every role is needed at some point and time
  • Learning to trust God is part of maturing, letting God have His way with you
  • We are created to operate in harmony, God has put us together in His wisdom

How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

  • As Jesus’ church we embrace our differences, but lay them down to be united
  • We must realize our need for each other; and give as well as receive blessings
  • The reality is that we need each other to grow to bless as much as possible

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care.

  • God’s economy is opposite the rest of the world (first is last, last is first)
  • When we look at each other through God’s eyes we see everyone’s value
  • We are to live in consideration of those who need more care
  • Everyone needs encouragement, some more than others

So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

  • God’s formula for community is extra honor & care for those that need it
  • It is harder to care for some people than others, but we do it for Christ’s sake!
  • Harmony comes from everyone being interrelated and intertwined
  • Real Deal ‘Doing Life’ together is hard and wonderful

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles,second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

  • This goes for Midtown just like it does for the church at Corinth
  • List of roles God gives to people (He has appointed them FOR the church)
  • Apostles: Entrepreneurs for the Gospel / Moving the church forward
  • Prophets: Speaking from a God given perspective into the church
  • Teachers: Instruction in the Scriptures, the Gospel and Discipleship

Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

  • Obviously not everyone can play every role
  • We should all ask: What does the church need and how can I serve?
  • Spiritual Gifts are important but they are not the end all be all of following Christ
  • A way of life is what drives you and is entwined throughout everything you do

Application Questions:

What does it mean to you to be ‘Baptized into One Body by One Spirit’?

What part of the body are you? Are you trying to be a part you are not?

How can you show that you are good with the way God has arraigned OUR body?

What does it look like for you to live a life of interdependence with this church body?

What can you do to promote harmony and care for others in this church body?

Spiritual Gifts Helpful Hint: Discover YOUR gifts by doing stuff & see how God blesses!

Spiritual Gifts For Each Other

Understanding the term ‘Spiritual Gifts’… ‘Grace-Gifts’…Gifts of Grace

They are given to us & we are to be ‘Stewards’ of these gifts, using them for others

They are to be understood and used in a ‘body’ mentality (the greater good)


Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this.You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols.

  • The language has a big picture connotation ‘Spiritual Matters’ in general
  • Gifts are part of the ‘Spiritual Matters’ but not the most important…Ch.13
  • The Spiritual aspects of our faith are important & should be based on Scripture
  • Remember we have been wrong in the past; so let’s stay humble & teachable

So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

  • Whatever or whoever speaks in opposition to the Biblical Christ is not of God
  • God’s Spirit is the source of anyone declaring Christ as Lord
  • There is no ‘Spiritual Neutrality’…
  • Declaring ‘Jesus Lord’

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.

  • ‘Source’ is term Paul used to describe ‘Authority’ or ‘Headship’
  • The Holy Spirit always Glorifies Jesus Christ & God The Father
  • Language implies they are ‘Grace-Gifts’ and as such serve the purposes of Christ

God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

  • These Grace Gifts from God are part of the ‘Sanctification Process’
  • God gives us these ‘abilities’ for the good of others
  • Help each other what? Help each other grow in closeness to Christ


  • We understand the Grace Gifts based on Scripture, not feelings
  • They are to be focused on other people’s benefit & God’s Glory

To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.

  • Advise, guidance and decision making ability corresponding to God’s will
  • In depth understanding of spiritual issues and situations
  • These two gifts work together, often among Elders

The same Spirit gives ‘great faith’ to another, and to someone else the ONE Spirit gives the gift of healing.

  • Ability to trust God and help others trust God no matter the circumstances
  • The ability to be a vehicle of God’s healing power in supernatural ways

He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit.

  • Ability to display God’s power through signs and wonders
  • Ability to determine the spiritual source & influence of messages, events and acts
  • These two are crucial to have in tandem because evil can counterfeit signs

Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.

  • ‘Tongues’ is translation of greek ‘glossia’ which means known language
  • There is a different word for ‘utterances’ (non language verbal sounds)
  • Staying ‘biblical’ speaking in tongues is using an actual language you don’t know
  • It is spoken to someone who knows that language and imparts revelation of God
  • Revelation by hearing a language you don’t know but supernaturally understand

It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

  • Further clarification of the singular nature of God’s Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit has absolute authority in the assignment of Grace Gifts
  • Repetition in Scripture is always to gives weight to something.

The idea of personal, action oriented application of God’s Word…

  • It is unproductive to think and speak in ‘We Should’…
  • Approach it from an ‘I can choose to…’ ‘I want to focus on’ basis
  • Let questions yield other more specific & deeper questions that you ask & answer
  • Small changes that build more obedience

Application Questions:

Why should YOU discover and develop YOUR Spiritual Gifts?

How do YOUR Spiritual gifts clearly declare ‘Jesus is Lord’?

Spiritual Gifts are given to help each other, how well are YOU doing that with YOURS?

How content are YOU with YOUR Spiritual Gifts & how do YOU celebrate other’s gifts?