Posted by: Heather | September 14, 2009

bridging the gap

A couple of weeks ago, I preached on 1 Cor 12:1-11. Since then, we have had sermons on the rest of 1 Cor 12 (where Paul goes through the metaphor of the physical body and ties it to the body of Christ) 1 Cor 13, (the most excellent way) and then yesterday we looked at 1 Cor 14: 1-25.

Next week’s sermon notes will be a bit disjointed if I don’t attempt to tie them together.

Incidentally, we will be out of town until Friday, and I may not have Internet access at all, so don’t take it personal if comments are not answered right away. I am sure those of you who regularly comment will behave in a godly manner, so I am not going to enable comment moderation. Pursue Christ together, that is all I ask.


The sermon preached about 1 Cor 12:12-31 was very edifying. It was preached by one of our more seasoned elders – a man in his 60’s who has followed Christ his whole life. The beauty of the simplicity with which he presented the essence of the text was uplifting. The text:

1 Corinthians 12:12-31
(12) For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.
(13) For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit.
(14) For the body is not one member, but many.
(15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
(16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
(17) If all the body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If all hearing, where would be the smelling?
(18) But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him.
(19) And if they were all one member, where would be the body?
(20) But now indeed many are the members, yet only one body.
(21) And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
(22) But much rather the members of the body seeming to be weaker are necessary.
(23) And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we put more abundant honor around them. And our unpresentable members have more abundant propriety.
(24) For our presentable members have no need, but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to the member having need;
(25) that there not be division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
(26) And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is glorified, all the members rejoice with it.
(27) And you are the body of Christ, and members in part.
(28) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.
(29) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of power?
(30) Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak languages? Do all interpret?
(31) But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.

He emphasized the theme that God is the author of diversity, and we are not all the same. The main thing is that we keep in mind that Christ is the head. We are not to exalt ourselves, or minimize a brother. He said that it has been a long time since his little toe had anything to do with his mouth, (indicating that some of the youngest members of our assembly can still bring the two together) but that both are important, and depend upon each other.

He spent some time on these verses:

(22) But much rather the members of the body seeming to be weaker are necessary.
(23) And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we put more abundant honor around them. And our unpresentable members have more abundant propriety.

physically there are two reasons we take special care of “unpresentable” members. Some are private, and some are injured. He talked about how we need to come around and cover the weak and wounded. That is what a body does.

Then he talked about how we are not to focus on our differences, but on how we are alike. We all have the same “DNA” as part of the body. This is the most excellent way. (I thought this was interesting, as I had not compared notes with him, but had concluded in my own mind that while there are diverse gifts, there are also ways which we are gifted similarly. These are faith, hope, and love – the mark of Christ in our lives – how the world knows we are different)

A week ago, our family was unable to attend because our vehicle was in the shop, but the sermon was on 1 Cor 13. Another elder presented this text, so I took him aside yesterday and asked for a summary. He spoke of how he was impressed anew with the righteousness of Christ. This description of love is absolutely true of Jesus life here on earth. Jesus never stepped out of these guidelines while on earth, and did it with ease. Again, I found this interesting as Heather has commented to me recently how she realized you could insert the word Christ everywhere love is mentioned in 1 Cor 13, and it still is correct.

The text:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
(1) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
(2) And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
(3) And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
(4) Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
(5) doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;
(6) rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;
(7) beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
(8) Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.
(9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
(10) but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
(11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.
(12) For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.
(13) But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I would add, that it is not an accident that this chapter is inserted between chapter 12 and 14. The essence of our gifting of the Holy Spirit is God’s love.

The same elder who presented the second part of chapter 12 preached on 1 Cor 14:1-25 yesterday.

1 Corinthians 14:1-25
(1) Follow after charity and desire spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy.
(2) For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. For no one hears, but in spirit he speaks mysteries.
(3) But he who prophesies speaks to men for building up, and exhortation, and comfort.
(4) The one speaking in a tongue builds himself up, but he prophesying builds up a church.
(5) I wish all of you to speak in languages, but rather that you may prophesy; for greater is he prophesying than he speaking in tongues, unless he interpret so that the church may receive building up.
(6) But now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you, except I speak to you either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in teaching?
(7) Yet lifeless things giving a sound, whether flute or harp, if they do not give a distinction in the sound, how will it be known what is being piped or harped?
(8) For also if a trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?
(9) So also you, if you do not give a clear word through the language, how will it be known what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air.
(10) So it may be many kinds of sounds are in the world, and not one is without a distinct sound.
(11) Therefore if I do not know the power of the sound, I will be a foreigner to him speaking, and he speaking will be a foreigner to me.
(12) Even so you, since you are zealots of spiritual things, seek to build up the church, in order that you may abound
(13) So then he speaking in a language, let him pray that he may interpret.
(14) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
(15) What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the mind; I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the mind.
(16) Else, if you bless in the spirit, he occupying the place of the unlearned, how will he say the amen at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you say?
(17) For you truly give thanks well, but the other is not built up.
(18) I thank my God that I speak more languages than all of you;
(19) yet in a church I desire to speak five words with my mind, so that I might also teach others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
(20) Brothers, do not be children in your minds, but in malice be like infants, and in your minds be mature.
(21) In the Law it is written, “By other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, and even so they will not hear Me, says the Lord.”
(22) So that tongues are not a sign to those who believe, but to those who do not believe. But prophesying is not to those who do not believe, but to those who believe.
(23) Therefore if the whole church has come together, and all speak in languages, and if uninstructed ones or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you rave?
(24) But if all prophesy, and some unbeliever or one not instructed comes, he is convicted by all, he is judged by all.
(25) And so the secrets of his heart become revealed. And so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

He began by focusing our attention on Solomon’s conclusion to Ecclediastes.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
(13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man.

He said that we may wonder what this has to do with 1 Cor 14. He answered that it has everything to do with it. He spoke of his life with Christ and his knowledge of recent American church history. He has observed a cycle where Christians will become dissatisfied with the norm, focus on Christ, and God moves in their midst. Then they focus on the things God did, rather than on Him. The result is that they fight about it, and the movement of God in their midst stops. He said people tend to fight about this passage and what it says or doesn’t say about the gift of tongues.

He said there are some hard things to understand in this chapter, but there is a clear and understandable theme that needs to be clear. He said that theme is this: The purpose of speech is communication. The purpose of the assembly is to build one another up in Christ. The purpose of speech in the assembly is to communicate things in a manner that builds one another up. So, the speech that happens in the assembly needs to be understood and uplifting to the saints. He gave a couple of examples. We have had a man from Switzerland in our assembly whose native language is Swiss German. If he stood up and spoke in Swiss German, how would that edify us? We would not understand what he was saying. The effect would be to focus on him. However, if God gave one of us a message for him and enabled us to speak to him in his mother tongue, this would be appropriate. He believes God still does this today. He said that the word prophecy in this text refers to more than telling the future. It refers to speaking forth God’s words. Preaching is included in this.

So what are your thoughts?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: