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?