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#33 Fitting and Orderly

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(Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 2/14/99 a.m.            I Corinthians 14:26-40

PROPOSITION:  The worship of the New Testament church involves everyone, instructs and encourages everyone, is graceful, and is done in a fitting and orderly way.


-     AT the time that the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the believers in Corinth in the first century, there was only one church in existence for the 600,000 inhabitants of the city.

-     ONLY one church carrying the name of Jesus for that part of Greece.

-     ONLY one place for people to get saved and be discipled in the life of faith.

-     ONLY one place where people could gather for worship.

-     AND we know that God’s intention for that one church in Corinth was that they be...

      “....holy, cleansed by the washing with water through the word,(27) and presented to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:26-27)

-     BUT the apostle Paul had received word that instead of being radiant and to the praise of God’s glorious grace...there were serious problems in the church in Corinth.

-     THE people were selfish, proud, argumentative, unteachable, and divided.

-     WHEN they came together for worship...

*     They would argue about which of their pastors they liked and who they would follow.

*     They acted arrogantly about what they knew about the Scriptures.

*     They would fight over who got to eat first and eat the most at their fellowship dinners.

*     They would go bezerk with the gifts of the Spirit....all speaking in tongues at the same time and trying to out-prophesy each other.

*     Their objective in the worship service was to have a good time.

*     Their model for worship was the party-atmosphere of the celebrations they had had at the temple of Dionysis.

-     AS a result their worship services were chaotic. An embarrassing mess...and they were blaming the Holy Spirit for the mess, saying that they were under His control and couldn’t help themselves.

-     SO, in I Corinthians 14 Paul writes them instruction on worship services that would be pleasing to God and productive for their spiritual development.

-     AND from verses 26 to 40 we find four guidelines for public worship that can easily be summed up with two words actually found in verse 40...fitting and orderly.

*     Fitting...comes from a Greek word that means,

•     Pleasing in appearance.

•     Seemly in manner.

•     Suitable.

•     Appropriate.

•     Proper.

*     Orderly...comes from a Greek word that means,

•     In regular sequence, one at a time.

•     Arranged in a neat, tidy manner.

-     PAUL says that our worship must be fitting and orderly.

-     DONALD GEE, world famous Pentecostal theologian, says it is “not the order of a graveyard that Paul is talking about here, but the order of a corporate life performing all of its functions with ease and effectiveness to all concerned.”

-     SO let’s take a look at this “fitting and orderly” worship.


-     HERE is the first principle for fitting and orderly worship....everyone contributing.

-     I CORINTHIANS 14:26 (pg 1138).

      “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (I Corinthians 14:26)

-     YOU see, when we get into God’s manifest presence, His anointing is there for the gifts to be in operation.

-     IF we are all conscious of His presence, all entering in, seeking, yielding...we all could move in the anointing of God to sing, teach, speak in tongues or interpret.

-     THAT is why Paul says, “everyone has a hymn...etc.”

-     AND in Corinth everyone was...but at the same time.

-     THE problem was that the church was not being strengthened because the services were about having a chaotic party.

-     THE answer, however, that Paul is going to suggest in this passage is NOT that only one or two would participate and the rest sit like bumps on a log.

-     EVERYONE has something to contribute to the corporate worship of the church.

-     WHAT it is that God has given you to contribute?

-     ARE you using that gift?

-     THE gifts that Paul lists here are,

*     Song.

*     Teaching.

*     Revelation (prophesy).

*     Tongues.

*     Interpretation.


-     HERE is the second principle for fitting and orderly worship....everyone instructed and encouraged (vs. 31).

-     VERSE 27,

      “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-- or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.

-     THIS does not mean that if there are four messages in tongues, the fourth is from the flesh or the devil. Paul is giving some guidance in keeping it manageable so that the others can remember what was said and be instructed and encouraged.

-     VERSE 28,

      “If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.”

-     WITHOUT interpretation the tongue is for your own edification and should be kept to that volume that does not disrupt the service or those around you.

-     VERSE 29,

      “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (30) And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. (31) For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

-     NOW you can almost hear the objections to what Paul is teaching. “You don’t understand Paul, when the anointing comes on me I can’t help myself. I just have to jump up, roll on the floor, bark like a dog, froth at the mouth. I can’t help it!”

-     VERSE 32,

      “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.

-     THIS is not like the pagan worship at shrines or temples where demons would take over a person and they literally had not control over the demon-possessed boy in Matthew 17 that got thrown into the fire by the demon.

-     GOD’S anointing is not like that. He leaves you with full faculties when He is working on you because His objective is that you be instructed and encouraged by His presence.

-     VERSE 33 gives us the theological reason for fitting and orderly worship.

      “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints...” (I Corinthians 14:27-33)



-     HERE is the third principle for fitting and orderly worship....everyone graceful (vs35).

-     THAT is the principle that I have gleaned from the next two verses.

-     BUT the next two verses are quite controversial...and I am not going to spend a lot of time on the controversy because the context of the whole chapter is not the role of women in worship, but fitting and orderly.

-     THESE are the verses about women being silent in the church.

-     VERSE 34,

      “...women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. (35) If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

-     THESE verses present a problem because they cannot mean that women are not to utter a sound in public worship.

-     AM I trying to be politically correct?

*     I could care less about political correctness.

-     AM I trying to please my wife, who has a public role in our services?

*     It would not be worth it if pleasing her meant disobeying God’s Word.

-     THE problem is that there are other passages of Scripture where it is impossible for women to “be silent in the church.”

*     In I Corinthians 11:5 Paul gives instruction about how a women is to be dressed who prays or prophesies in he can’t mean totally silent in this verse.

*     In Acts 21:9 the evangelist, Philip, has four daughters in the church who have the office and title of prophetesses.

*     Bible scholars believe that the Phoebe of Romans 16:1, a servant of the church, was a pastor.

*     Others believe that Aquila’s wife, Priscilla, had a teaching ministry with her husband. In Acts 18:26 they teach Apollos, and in Romans 16:3 they are Paul’s fellow workers.

*     None of the gifts of the Spirit listed in the New Testament are restricted by gender.

-     HOW do we reconcile these differences?

-     THERE is good textual evidence for the possibility that the two verses were added by a copyist. It is omitted from some of the earliest manuscripts.

-     THERE are some who believe that Paul is referring to a false prophecy that was circulating Corinth about women being silent because they were so central to pagan worship.

-     WE may never know for sure what is meant by these two verses....we know it cannot mean absolute silence in the church, which is what it says.

-     THERE is a general hermeneutical principle which you can use here and in interpreting all Scripture.

*     If a passage of Scripture is written to address a local problem (corrective text) at a point in time....about which we do not have all the must be careful trying to apply it universally, especially when you find contradicting narrative passages.

-     BUT whatever verses 34-35 meant to the Corinthians.....the behavior in worship was disgraceful....and all of our conduct in public worship is to be grace-ful.



-     HERE is the fourth principle for fitting and orderly worship....everyone fitting and orderly(vs.40).

-     THE Corinthians were disorderly and unteachable....a terrible combination.

-     SO, in verse 36 Paul writes,

      “Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? (37)  If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. (38) If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. (39) Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (40) But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (I Corinthians 14:36-40)


-     FITTING and the people of God can be instructed and encouraged.

*     Fitting...comes from a Greek word that means,

•     Pleasing in appearance.

•     Seemly in manner.

•     Suitable.

•     Appropriate.

•     Proper.

*     Orderly...comes from a Greek word that means,

•     In regular sequence, one at a time.

•     Arranged in a neat, tidy manner.



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