SPIRITUAL GIFTS PT VI: tongues, prophecy, ordliness
- Pastor Mark Driscoll
- 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
- September 17, 2006
Father, we begin by acknowledging that you are a great, loving and good God and that you have devised a way to take away our sin and to adopt us into your family as your sons and daughters, the church, and we thank you for sending the Lord Jesus to live in our place, to die in our place, to rise in our place, to take away our sins, so that we might be connected to you as Christians and that we might be connected to one another as the church. And we thank you Holy Spirit, for giving us faith, for changing our heart and our mind; for revealing to us the Scriptures that you’ve inspired to be written. We invite you today to be with us, to change us, to make us more like Jesus, that our whole life would be a life of worship, responding to who Jesus is and what he has done in a way that is Biblical and is pleasing and is acceptable to God. And so God we ask that our time would be pleasing to you. We ask that it would be profitable to us and we ask that in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
Well, as we get going, we find ourselves in 1 Corinthians where the Apostle Paul has a series of directives for a cool, hip, urban, arty church, filled with chain-smokers and Vespa drivers and tattooed indie rockers and feminists and charismatic nutjobs. I know it seems that it has nothing to do with us but in fact, it does. They are just like us in every single way and so the things that Paul has to say to them are things that he has to say to us as well, 2,000 years later. To help, however, establish context for you, let me give you the overarching story of the Bible, so that you have some reference point for this particular section of Scripture. I’ll do it briefly.
The Bible tells us that before there was anything, there was God. That God is without beginning or end. He is eternal. He is the one who is not created. He is the one who causes all else to come into being and God is the beginning and end of all things, he himself being apart from all things; all things coming from him. So this God exists in a community of Father, Son and Spirit. We call it the Trinity. And in that community there’s love and respect. There is difference and there is deference, but there is also unity and oneness and like-mindedness and God made the heavens and the earth and then he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, in his image and likeness and he put them on the earth and he told them that they were to serve creation, steward it well and to build culture that would glorify him. And God said, before he made the woman, and the man was by himself, the first thing in human history that was said to be not good was that it was not good for the man to be alone. Because God lives in community as Father, Son and Spirit, being an image bearer of God means, in part, that we, too, are made to live in community. We need friends and family and you know, spouse and kids and whatever relationships God would give us, are good things because it’s not good for us to be alone. Ours is a relational God of community, who wants us to have relationships in community.
God finished his work; he had the man and the woman. Everything was perfect, glorious and good, in absolute harmony. God declared that everything was, in fact, very good. Then, in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve, our first parents, are given an opportunity by a serpent – this is Satan – to sin against God; to rebel against God. To in effect, become their own god, decide what they wanna do, determine right and wrong for themselves and then live a life independent of God. Tragically, our first parents sinned and the result of that was separation. One of the great effects of sin – the implications of sin – is separation. They were separated from God, so they hide from God and they’re scared of God and they are separated from one another. They hide from one another, blaming one another for sin, covering one another, so that they’re not exposed, and then God speaks to them and God says that he knows that they have done this terrible thing but he has mercy on them and so he promises that he will send the Lord Jesus into human history to die for their sin, to take away their sin, so that everything that they’ve ruined can be redeemed.
The story goes on throughout human history that the Lord Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, God the Son, does come into human history. The Bible says that Jesus is tempted in every way as we are, yet with the distinction of not sinning. So if you’ve struggled with something, you’ve been tempted, you’ve gone through hard times, Jesus relates to you, he has been there. He’s a God who humbly comes into human history and walks in our shoes, as it were, and goes through what we endure and he felt the sting of sin against him. He felt the struggle of temptation for him but he never did sin. Jesus is the only one who has ever lived that was continually obedient to God the father and never did sin.
What happens then is just the most amazing event in all of human history and that is that Jesus Christ is murdered on a cross. He’s put to death and something unbelievable happens on the cross and that is that Jesus dies in my place as a substitute for my sin. Right, that is incredible, profound love. Jesus knows that the problem is sin and my problem is sin and that if there was any hope of me being reconciled to God and other people, the sin needs to be taken away so that reconciliation can occur. And so Jesus went to the cross and there, he took my sin upon himself and he paid the penalty for my sin in my place. We call that substitutionary atonement. That’s the theological nomenclature.
The Bible says that this, in Corinthians 5:21, that God made him, that is Jesus, who knew no sin, was without sin, to become sin, that would be my sin, so that in him, we might become and I might become the righteousness of God. Martin Luther calls this the great exchange where Jesus trades his sinless life for my sinful life. He trades his righteousness for my unrighteousness. He trades his obedience for my disobedience. He trades his life for my deserved death and he gives himself to me and he takes away my sin.
Jesus then, three days later, rose from death, conquering Satan, sin and death, just like he promised because death only rules where there is sin and because Jesus had no sin, death could not rule over him. He then appeared over the course of 40 days to varying groups of people, proving “I’m God. I died. I rose, just like I said.” He then ascended into Heaven and he sent the third member of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit then was poured out and people became Christians, beginning with 3,000 on one day. They began worshiping on Sunday, instead of Saturday, because that was the day of Jesus; resurrection, whereas formerly, they had worshipped on Saturday. They began singing to Jesus, worshiping to Jesus, confessing their sins to Jesus, interpreting their Bible in light of the person and the work of Jesus. They began participating in communion to remember the body and blood of Jesus. They began practicing baptism, which is remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. They began gathering together in groups of 20, 30, 40, 50 – oftentimes in homes – reading the Old Testament, devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and those were the early Christian churches.
The question then arose, however, what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable worship of God’s people in the church. Some people were showing up and saying, “I want to be gay. Is that okay?” Others were saying, “I would like to sleep with my girlfriend. Is that okay?” Others were saying, “I would like to sleep with my adulterous, affair relationship on the side, in addition to my spouse. Is that okay?” Others were showing up and saying, “I like to get drunk a lot. Is that okay?” Others were showing up and saying, “I like to steal. I like to lie.” Others were showing up, saying, “I’m not sure I like the name Jesus. Can’t we pick a new name for God?” Others were saying, “Well, Jesus is fine, but can’t we have lots of religions and lots of gods and lots of goddesses and lots of perspectives and multiperspectival post-modern perspectivism? We all went to community college, we got these big words, can’t we use them?” And these were the debates that were being had in the church. And everyone was showing up, trying to figure out what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable worship of Jesus. And much like today, the common answer, the word on the street was, well, good worship is whatever works for you. That’s the word on the street today. That was the word on the streets of Corinth. Well how do you know whether it’s good or bad worship? The question is: does it work for you? Does it feel good to you? Does it agree with what you believe? Does it affirm who you are? If it works for you, then it’s good. “Ah, we don’t care what you call God. We don’t care how you live. We don’t care how you worship God. Does it work for you?”
Let me submit to you that that is a tragic error in thinking. Worship is about God and worship that is acceptable is not worship that is acceptable to me, the worshiper. Worship that acceptable is worship that is acceptable to God, the object of my worship. What that means is you can’t come into a church and say, “I want this. This works for me.” You must come in and say, “What does God say? What works for him?” Worship is about God, not about me. It’s about me holding God in higher honor and esteem than I. It is responding to God in word and deed and life, individually, as we live our lives; corporately, as we gather together on Sundays. It is responding to God in a way that God finds acceptable. In the same way, I’m a father and I don’t get worship from my children but let me use a – a flawed metaphor – that in my home, with my children. They don’t get to call me whatever they want. I tell them, “Call me dad. Don’t call me son of a this or mother that, call me dad, right? You don’t get to name me. I tell you who I am. You use that name.” I tell them, “These are things that you’re allowed to do. These are things you’re not allowed to do.” And I give them rules because I love them and I don’t want them to run off and hurt themselves and ruin their life.
In the same way, God is the father. The church is a family and when we gather, we’re here to not just name God whatever we want and do whatever we please. We’re here to do what is pleasing to God. We’re here to worship God. We’re here to do what he finds acceptable. What works for him? Assuming that he is a loving father and if he gives us rules and constraints, they’re good for us because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to end up in false teaching or in hell, or in rebellion, or in the effects of sin. He wants us to live the life that he intends for us.
That being said, the people in the Corinthian church – they didn’t necessarily agree as perhaps many of you will not. They thought, “This is too restrictive. This is too antiquated. This is not working for me.” And in particular, there were three groups of people in the church who didn’t like the fact that church wasn’t meeting their needs insofar as they had an agenda that was being forced upon the other people in the church and they Apostle Paul writes to sort out the controversy and to give acceptable guidelines by which these groups of people can actively participate in the church. Those three groups – they’re still here today, it’s amazing how we keep driving around the same cul-de-sac – those who speak in tongues; those who prophesy and feminist women. We will deal with the prophecy and tongues first.
So, that being said, we will begin in Verse 26 and we will continue until Verse 40 and then you will make up your mind as to where you are on these issues. In the meantime, I would ask you to listen. I would ask you to give me the respect of your ear and your time and to listen to Scripture and ask yourself what God would have you believe. What God would have you to do. Verse 26. “What then shall we say, brothers?” He’s writing to the church. “When you come together,” now here’s the deal – they’re all fired up for church, right? These are some fired up folk, “everyone has a hymn,” a song, “or a word of instruction,” I was reading the Bible this week, God taught me something. It’s awesome, I gotta tell everybody. “a revelation,” you know what? God showed me something this week. “a tongue,” I spoke in tongues. I interpreted it. I got special message from Jesus. I need to share it with everybody. “or an interpretation.”
Here’s what he’s saying. It’s good to have personal, devotional worship during the week. Read your Bible. Learn. Hear from God. Connect with God. Sing to God all week in your private, devotional worship but just because you have a great, personal devotional life doesn’t mean when you come to church – he’s going to tell us in a moment – that we can incorporate everything that was exciting for you that week. How many of you’ve been in that church. Where everybody who has a favorite song, shows up to sing it. Wow. That is excruciatingly painful. That’s like the auditions for American Idol. That’s what it’s like, right? During the week, people are like, “I sang to Jesus.” Great. Do that at your house. It sounds like you got captured by Al-Qaida. You cannot sing. We’re not giving you an amplifier. We’re not giving you a guitar. We’re not giving you a speaker. You do that at home. Jesus has divine ears that translate it into glorious music. We don’t have them. We cannot endure it, right?
All right, what he’s saying is this. If you sing to Jesus, great, but you’re not gonna sing in the church unless you’re good at it. If you have some things that God has taught you, great, but you’re not gonna teach unless you’re a gifted teacher. If God’s given you a prophecy or a word, we’ll give you some criteria by which to test whether or not that should be brought online in the church service. So, the big idea here, is in the end of Verse 26, “All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” So he doesn’t quench their enthusiasm. These are an excited bunch, but he channels it toward orderliness. And what he is saying is this: If you have a great personal, private devotional and worship life with Jesus during the week, praise God, but we can’t plug every – okay, you know, if we all get together, we can’t say, “All right, everybody should share what you’ve learned, all 1, 200 of you.” I mean, “Okay, now everybody who’s got a song, sing.” All right, “And now, anybody’s got a prophecy? Go for it. And now it’s Tonguesapaolooza. One, two, three, go! Everybody speak in tongues.” We would be here until Jesus got back, right? I mean, this would take forever, it would be chaotic. It would be disorganized. So, what he says is this. Your private, devotional worship life is different than your corporate, assembled and a service worship experience and the two are not identical, don’t they are analogical, and not everything that fires you up during the week is gonna make it to church, which means we may not sing your favorite song. Right, we may not be talking about the thing that you were really studying a lot that week, and that’s okay. That’s okay. When we get together, it’s not about one person walking in, saying, “But this is what I want. This is what I need. This is what I demand. This is what works for me.” It’s about, “Well, he does this strengthen the whole church?” “Does this benefit all the people and not just one or a few?” That’s a childish, immature way of thinking. It’s about me. No, actually, it’s about us and it’s about him. It’s not just about me. My personal devotional and worship life during the week is more about me connecting with Jesus, but getting together on Sunday is less about me, it’s more about us and it’s certainly, primarily, about him.
So then he gets into three groups. Tongues, prophecy, women. Deal with tongues first. Last week, we dealt with the spiritual gift of tongues. We summarized the gift of tongues as having three expressions. The first being a Heavenly language that God and the angels speak. God gives you the ability to have a private prayer language in the Heavenly language of God and the angels. Secondly, we looked at the fact that sometimes tongues is a missionary gift to speak to people that you don’t know their language, their language is foreign to you and your language is foreign to them but God wants them to know about Jesus, so he gives you the supernatural temporary enablement of speaking that language to tell them about Jesus. And thirdly, we looked at sometimes, it’s the revelatory gift whereby God says something in the Heavenly language – the person with the gift of interpretation, which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10, then interprets that into the known earthly language – in our case that would be English – and then that is spoken so that everyone can be benefitted.
You say, “Well, I’ve got the gift of tongues. How does that work on Sunday?” Well, he lays down a series of rules to guide the exercising of that gift. He, in fact, gives four, beginning in Verse 27. “If anyone speaks in a tongue,” and here he is saying, “if,” it is not that every service there will be a tongue, but if and when it does occur, here are the rules. First, “two or three at the most should speak,” how many of you have been to a church that believes in tongues but it’s not two or three at the most? Right, everybody’s yelling at the roof, right? And you’re like, “What are they talking about?” Those people may be like the Corinthians – fired up, excited, love Jesus, motivated, filled with Red Bull and the Holy Ghost, ready to rock – and we say good for them. That’s cool. But they may not be heeding this portion of Scripture where it says two or three at the most and sometimes they will say, “Well, we can’t limit the Holy Spirit!” It’s like, “Well, who wrote two or three at the most?” The Holy Spirit. You can’t tell me that the Holy Spirit told you to do something that the Holy Spirit told you not to do. I went to public school and I could still figure that out. If it says two or three, and the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible, which he did, then we’re not limiting the Holy Spirit by obeying the Holy Spirit. We’re just following the Holy Spirit, assuming that he will work within the constraints that he, himself, has put upon the speaking of tongues. So two or three at the most. “One at a time,” second criterion. What does that mean? Right, it’s not Tonguesapalooza. It’s not, “Go!” and then “[babbles]!” It’s not that, right? I don’t have the gift, so I can’t do it for you. I can do pig latin or something, that’s about all I got, but you know, if everybody is speaking at the same time, you can’t understand what is being said and everybody’s just bewildered and they say, “But it works for me! I’m fired up!” Well, it’s not about you. It’s about us. It’s about him. If it’s about you, then go home and do it at home and that’s cool. But here, it’s about us. It’s about him and if it’s not two or three at the most and one at a time, then it’s just totally confusing.
“And, third criteria, “someone must interpret.” Right? If it’s spoken in a language we don’t know, Heavenly language or foreign earthly language, then it has to be interpreted. Otherwise, the church can’t be benefitted. Nobody else knows what is being talked about. He then concludes with his fourth criteria, “If there is no interpreter,” what if there is no interpreter? Then what? Well, then, “the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.” Right? What he says is this. Two or three at a time– at the most, one at a time with an interpreter. If there’s no interpreter, just be quiet, maybe pray in tongues quietly. Pray in English quietly. Sing to the Lord. Connect with the Lord. Have a wonderful, intimate, experience with the Lord but don’t expect that to be broadcast to the whole church because if it’s not beneficial for the whole church, then it’s not necessary for the whole church. Okay, now some would say at this point, “But aren’t we restricting the passion, the enthusiasm, the emotion?” No, not at all. We’re just channeling it toward obedience to God’s decrees and commands. And see others would look at this and say, “See, that’s the problem when you get all emotional.” As if emotion were a bad thing. God is an emotional God. He loves. He hates. He weeps. He gets angry. He – he’s filled with joy. God is a God who has plenty of emotion. We don’t just love the Lord our God with all our mind, we also love God with all our heart. That’s an emotional relationship.
So, what Paul is not saying is that they shouldn’t be so excited and they shouldn’t be so emotional. What he’s saying is that their excitement and emotionalism should also include maturity and obedience so that their emotional excitement is channeled toward God’s acceptable forms of worship and not what just works for them. We’re not against emotion and passion, enthusiasm, excitement, you know, if the ‘Hawks go into the end zone, everybody raises their hands, screams, cheers, yells. I’ll tell you what, Jesus walked away from his tomb. We should get at least that excited, right? It’s okay to be passionate, to be excited, to be emotional, providing it doesn’t lead to immaturity and selfishness that ignores the other people that’ve gathered together for worship, thereby excluding them from being free to enjoy God as you do. Those are the limitations on tongues.
He then goes on and he gives six criteria by which those with the gift of prophecy are to be regulated in corporate worship settings like our Sunday service. Last week, as well, when we looked at the gift of prophecy, part of the same sermon is tongues, he gives three expressions of the gift of prophecy. One is forthtelling, whereby the Bible is preached, when I do my job right and that’s what I’m doing, and that’s just saying, “Here’s what the Bible says and here’s what it means and here’s how it applies to us as a people.” It’s not new revelation or anything of that nature. Secondly, there is also a foretelling capacity, whereby when your Bible was written, roughly 25 percent of its content was prophetic in nature in that it predicted a future event as I told you, many of them surrounding the person and the work of Jesus.
And so sometimes, God will have to inform his people, the church, about a upcoming, maybe even impending future event, so that they can be prepared and that is a prophetic word that comes through someone with the gift of prophecy. And we looked at this guy named Agabus in the Book of Acts who was declared to be a prophet and he was told by God that a famine was coming so he warned God’s people of this famine so that they could be prepared. And we looked at the third use of the gift is sometimes it is not a word for a large number of people or a gathered church, it’s just a private word from God for an individual through a representative that God appoints and again, we looked at Agabus, I think it was in Acts 21, where he goes to the Apostle Paul and he says, “God told me how you’re going to die, and this is how you’re going to die.” And it was a private word of prophecy predicting the future for the Apostle Paul. So those are the three expressions and uses of this gift of prophecy.
Well, what if you’ve got the gift of prophecy, as perhaps some of you do? How does that work on Sunday at our church service? He begins in Verse 29. “Two or three prophets should speak,” just like tongues, two or three. Okay? Again, we don’t line up all the prophets and just let them go for it. Two or three, at the most, “others should weigh carefully what is said.” Just because someone says they’re a prophet doesn’t mean that what they say is immediately to be believed and acted upon. I argued last week that the New Testament ministry of prophecy is lesser than, it is subservient to, it is secondary under, the Old Testament ministry of the prophets who wrote for us the books of the Bible. I gave you a series of lines of reasoning for that. Here is an addition to that list. What he says here is that you’re not supposed to automatically believe what they say. You’re supposed to carefully weigh what they say before you believe it. That is the New Testament expression of the gift of prophecy. And so here’s how it works. 1 Thessalonians 5 says, “do not treat prophecies with contempt, rather, if someone says they have a prophecy, you receive that which is good, you reject that which is evil.
So, prophecy is to be carefully guarded with a certain amount of reasonable skepticism and discernment and one of the examples that perhaps illustrates this, I think, most clearly is the end times nutjobs who keep predicting the end of the world. It seems like every couple months, there’s some other person that rises up that’s a Christian or a professing Christian that says, “The end of the world is coming! Get a generator! Get canned goods! Get a handgun! Get a tent!” You know, “Get some liquor and some Stephen King novels and run for your life!” And it’s like, you know, we keep predicting the end of the world and it doesn’t happen and it really doesn’t speak well of us. We look kinda silly, right? And there’s even some good, well-known pastors who are Bible teachers in America who have repeatedly failed to predict the second coming of Jesus and the end of the earth, but they keep trying. You know, and the point is, look man, I mean, if you prophesy and fail and prophesy and fail and prophesy and fail, maybe you’re not a prophet, you know, maybe like, laying tile or something is something you should look into as a backup. You know, something else God has for you to do that’s important, too.
And so what he says is, you know, if somebody comes in and says, “I got a word from God. I have a prophecy. I’m a prophet. The end of the world is coming, thus sayeth the Lord,” you’re like, “Eh, we’ll see. We’re gonna take a look at it. We’re gonna pray about it. We’re gonna check it by Scripture. We’ll see if it comes to pass. We’re gonna investigate your doctrine. We’re gonna look at your character and then we’ll see.” Okay, that’s one of the criteria. So if somebody comes up to you and says, “God told me to tell you,” like you ladies, right? This is the Christian guy shortcut to a wife. Just to let you in on a little secret. Guys always come up to a woman and say, “God told me you’re supposed to be my wife. Say, “Really? Next time you talk to him, tell him to give me a call, I’d love to know. But tell him not to send the yahoo to be his spokesman.” Right? So this is what happens, right? People always get a word from God. Usually, it’s to their own convenience. And that may not be a word from God.
He goes on his third qualification is this. Verse 30. “And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn, ” right? So what is it? Two or three at the most. Carefully weighing. Others are carefully weighing, including the leaders, what is being said and then what if there’s a bunch of people that wanna prophesy? Well they can’t all speak at the same time, it just gets too confusing. All right, can you imagine if we had seven preachers, all going at the same time? You’d be like, “Man, This is crazy.” That’d just be nuts, right? I mean, how many of you could listen to seven people at the same time, all preaching? All right, it’s just impossible. That’s what happens when seven people are trying to prophesy. You’re like, “I can’t understand anything. It’s just a muddled mess. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not helping anybody, right? This is going to a concert and there’s ten bands. One’s not an opener and one’s not a headliner, they’re all playing at the same time. Right, that is not enjoyable. That is not edifying. That is not clear. That’s just a mess. So what he’s saying is, there needs to be orderliness. Some people say, “But we can’t limit the spirit.” Again, these are limitations that the spirit has set down, meaning if someone is not willing to abide by the limitations, they’re not spiritual, they’re not spirit-filled, they’re not spirit-led because those who are spiritual and spirit-filled and spirit-led, follow the teachings of the Bible that are inspired by the spirit. That’s what it means to be spiritual, to be spirit-filled, to be spirit-led.
He says, as well, fourth point, “that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” Again, it’s not just about what works for me, what makes me feel good, my needs were met. My issues were addressed. My emotional desires were satisfied. It’s about us, not just about me. It’s about him, it’s about us. And if we do this well, then everybody is blessed and benefited. And he goes on in Verse 32, his fifth point on prophets is that “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” And again, this is another line of reasoning by which the New Testament ministry of prophecy is less superior to the Old Testament ministry of the prophets who gave us the Bible. In the Old Testament, the prophets say that they can’t help but proclaim the word of God. Here, he says that if a – if the requirements are not met, two or three have already spoken. If, you know, it’s not the right time, all these kinds of criteria are not met, then the prophet should speak to no one; that they instead should just remain silent. What that means is is that it is different than the Old Testament prophet because in the Old Testament, guys like Jeremiah would say, “God’s word is like a fire in my bones and I can’t contain it.” They can’t help but speak. Here, they are told there are not always occasions for you to speak, so you must learn to occasionally restrain yourself. Again, it’s a difference. It’s a difference between the Old Testament function.
And he goes on in Verse 33 and he essentially summarizes much of the book of Corinthians, particularly this passage and he says, “For God is not a God of disorder but rather a God of peace.” Some of your translations will say that our God is not a God of chaos, he is a God of order. Let me explain this to you. God is a God who creates order and peace and harmony and unity and what we see at the end of God’s work in Genesis 1 and 2 is that God comes and declares everything to be very good. There’s morning. There’s evening, there’s seasons. The man and the woman are one. They’re naked without shame. There’s no sin, no death, no division. There’s no funerals. There’s no wars. There’s no injustice. There’s no rape. There’s no molestation. There’s no murder, nothing. The world is perfect and idyllic as it was intended to be.
What happens, then, in Genesis 3 is the serpent comes. Satan comes. And I believe Satan really did come and I believe he really did come as a serpent but what’s curious is that in ancient Near Eastern and Babylonian literature, the serpent is the symbol of chaos and when the serpent comes, chaos comes. So in Genesis 3, when the serpent, Satan comes, he is creating chaos, through sin, and he invites Adam and Eve, our first parents, to dishonor and disobey and disrespect God and to join his rebellion and the result is chaos. Let me say this to you. If it were not for sin, there would be no disorder and chaos in the world. That is, sin that we have committed contributes to the chaos. Sin that has been committed against us contributes to the chaos. And the fact that now, according to Romans 8, even creation is under the curse and the affects of sin and the point is this that God is not a God of disorder and chaos. When you look at the world and you say, “God, why would you make war? Why would you make rape? Why would you make murder? Why would you make famine? Why would you make poverty? Why would you make starvation? Why would you make inequality? Why would you make injustice?” God’s answer would be, “I didn’t make that. I made everything very good. Everything that you see that’s very bad. That’s chaos that comes from sin and aligning yourself with the work of the serpent.” And see Jesus is the one who takes away sin and brings order out of the chaos. It’s Jesus who takes the sin out of our life and stops the chaos and disorder and brings order and peace into our life. It’s Jesus who does this in our family and our cities and our nation and our world.
The Bible says in Romans 8 that ultimately, Jesus will even redeem all of creation and everything will be cleansed of the stain of sin and the curse and the serpent and that God’s plan is the redemption of all people and all things and the cleansing of all of creation. The issue is whether or not we will respond to God, whether or not we will love God and obey God, whether or not we will respond to God in a way that is acceptable to him. Whether or not we will be Christians who are part of the redemption and the peace and the order or whether we will continue in the work of the serpent by sinning, creating disorder and chaos in the world. That’s really the question that hangs in the balance for every single one of us. And so when you look at the world and you see the horror of it, don’t point your finger at God. Point your finger at yourself. I’m a sinner. Point your finger at everybody else. They’re sinners. Point your finger at Satan and demons, they’re involved, too and Jesus is the one who is here to take away sin and bring order out of disorder to bring peace out of chaos. That is what he is all about. That’s why he’s called the Prince of what? Peace. He’s not the Prince of Chaos. That’s the other guy.
And so what Paul is saying is this. He’s saying that when we get together for worship as a church, if someone walks in and it’s just totally disorganized, chaotic, selfish, people talking nonsense, prophesying, yelling, screaming, nobody knows what’s going on. Speaking in tongues. Dishonoring one another, total chaos – they’ll walk in and say, “You know what, Jesus must be disorganized, crazy, nuts. He must be chaotic. He must be a God who makes a mess of things because look at this. When people gather to worship him, it’s insane.” What he says is we don’t want to give that impression of Jesus. We don’t want people to walk in and think, “Jesus is nuts. Jesus makes a mess of things. Jesus brings chaos. Jesus brings disorder. Jesus brings selfishness. Jesus brings immaturity. Jesus brings division.” That’s nothing that we believe about Jesus and that’s nothing that we want to portray of Jesus.
So he says, God is not a God of disorder or chaos, but he’s a God of peace. And when we gather together for worship, we must be mindful that we are sending that message with how we conduct ourselves. He dealt with the tongue speakers. He dealt with the prophecy folks and now he will deal with the feminist women. You ready? There will be strong resistance in the room and there will be very strong resistance in the room and those are the two options. Everything in you will want to disagree with this. Everything in you will want to fight. Everything will want to – everything within you will rise up and want to find an exception, find an escape route, find a way to diminish because we have a proclivity, Romans 1 says, to suppress the truth when we are unrighteous evildoers.
I think it was Mark Twain once said, he said, “It is not the parts of the Bible that I read and do not understand that trouble me. It’s the parts of the Bible that I do read and understand which trouble me.” This would be one example of that. This is why we go through books of the Bible. I can’t skip things. If I was doing a series, I could skip this, right? But it’s here for a reason. We believe that hard words produce soft people and that soft words produce hard people and Paul has for us, here, some very hard words. For you ladies, some very hard words. Some very hard words. My hope is that they make you tender toward the Lord.
Here’s what he says. “As in all the congregations of the saints,” which churches are we speaking of? All. “What about that denomination with women pastors?” All. “What about this other church. She was a nice gal. I think she’s doing ” All. “What about-” All. “What about-” All. “What about-” All. “What about All. All! All, all, all, all. That’s the answer. All. What does all mean? Means all. What does it mean in Greek? All. Is he talking to us? All. Yes. “Well, then forget it, man. I’m going to another church.” All. As in all of the congregations of the saints. All of the Christian churches. “Women should remain” what? I got you there. “Women should remain silent in the churches.” Though they could talk all they want at home. Is that what it means? Does this mean that when a woman comes to church, as soon as she walks in the building, she can’t say a word? Right, she walks in the door, she’s reduced to mime for Christ. Is that what it means? Does that mean if one woman walks up to another woman and says, “Hey how are you doing?” She says [silent]. And they walk around with, you know, white boards, just – is that how they communicate? Is that what it means? Is that what it means? That a woman can’t say a word in the church? The hard, extreme position on this issue is yeah. They should never say a word in the church. Hm. Okay, well let’s, let’s look at this.
He has already spoken to this issue on one occasion in 1 Corinthians. Do you remember the chapter? Same author, same book, same church. What chapter? Chapter 11. Right, both of you remember that. It was obviously a very penetrating sermon, it stuck so hard. Okay, 1 Corinthians 11. He says that in the church, on Sunday, during the services, a woman can what and what? Pray and prophesy. Providing she wears a head covering, which is symbolic – we dealt with this in great detail – of respecting authority. If it’s a godly woman, who has a godly agenda, who has something godly to say, then she can speak. If she’s an ungodly woman with a Godless agenda that she borrowed from the serpent like her mother Eve in Genesis 3, and she’s on some tirade mission to represent all women, which is what sometimes happens. Women nominate themselves to represent all women. I love it when the National Organization for Women, for example, comes out and says, “And representing women,” what women? Did they take a vote? Did all the Christian women vote? Did the mothers vote? Did the wives vote? No. You don’t represent all women. You represent a liberal, feminist constituency. Period. Not all women. Not all women.
But there are women who will rise up like that saying, “I speak for all women. I champion women’s right. I champion women’s causes.” And we say, that’s not a problem if it’s in agreement with the rights and liberties and dignities that are afforded to a woman in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have a low view of women, it just has a low view of some women. Some of you say, “That’s a bad thing to say.” If I said that the Bible had a low view of some men, you would have no problem because you’re reared in a feminists culture and one criticism of one woman is taken to be a criticism of all women. Don’t affiliate yourself with all women. There are good women. There are bad women. There are good men. There are bad men. The Bible doesn’t disdain all women. It doesn’t embrace all men. The Bible embraces those who are honoring of the Lord and it criticizes those who are not, that includes men and women. “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent,” it can’t mean 100 percent doesn’t say a word when he’s already told good, godly, respectful women – if they’re a young woman, they got a good dad who loves them – they respect their dad. If they’re married, they got a good husband, they respect their husband. If they’re in a church, they respect the elders. They respect the Bible. They respect Jesus. They’re respectful, God women, then they can pray and prophesy. What does that mean, practically? Pastor Mark, can a woman go to college? Sure. Can a woman go to Bible College? Sure. Can a woman go to seminary? Sure. Can a woman be in full-time ministry? Sure. Can a woman teach? Yeah, if she has the gift of teaching. Can a woman lead? Yeah, if she has the gift of leadership. Can a woman give testimony on Sunday? Yeah. Can a woman read Scripture? Yeah. Yeah. Can a woman lead worship? Yeah. Can a woman serve communion? Yeah. Can a woman be a elder? 1 Timothy 3 says that those who are to be elders are to be men worthy of respect, who are good husbands and good fathers. It’s an office reserved for the most qualified men. 1 Timothy 5 says that the elders who labor in preaching and teaching are worthy of double honor so the male elders are also the ones who do the preaching. Can a woman be an elder, No. Does that mean that women are lesser than men? No. They’re both made in the image and likeness of God, they’re just different with different roles to fill. Some of you will just resist this, violently. “That’s oppressive to all women. No. No. There’s thousands of women here and they love the Lord and their using their gifts.
So what that does mean is that everything is permissible for a woman except occupying the office of elder. And in the congregation, the women who are not allowed to speak are the Godless women, the women who don’t honor godly authority in the church, the godly authority of the Bible. The kinds of women who try to change what the Bible says and some of you say, “But Jesus is not like that. He would not be like that.” Yes, he was. The Old Testament was led by 12 men, the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus picked 12 men to be his male, senior leaders, disciples, Apostles. And in the New Testament, just like the Old Testament, just like the ministry of Jesus, qualified men are to take responsibility for the loving leadership and godly oversight of the church, absolutely, as the elders. And so everything is acceptable for a godly woman, except for one thing, that being the office of elder Some of you say, “I’m never coming back here.” When I teach these texts, I am forced into a very hard position. I love you and I love the Lord and when the Bible says something, I’m supposed to say it. I’m the mailman. But when I deliver the mail, if you don’t like the mail, because you feel offended, I’m left with one of two choices. I don’t deliver certain mail or I edit it before I hand it to you and then, whom do I offend? The Lord. Or I say what the Lord has said and then I offend you.
The question is not will someone be offended. The question is who will it be? Will we offend God? Saying, “God, you know what? This is an old book. You’re kind of an idiot. I have some other opinions. I went to community college. The question is who will be offended. God or us? And if we are offended, do we really believe that God doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that this really isn’t God speaking to us? Those are the issues on the table. “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.” He’s speaking here about Godless, women who are on an agenda, beating the drum, planting the flag in the ground, “We’re for women. We’re for women. We’re for women.” He says, you know what? The church is for Jesus. Wrong mission. Women are great, as long as they’re for Jesus. It’s when women are for women that it becomes a real problem. It’s when men are for men that it becomes a real problem. It needs to be about Jesus. These women are discouraged from speaking because they do not have wisdom. It is not time for them to speak, it is time for them to listen. It is not time for them to argue. It is time for them to repent.
“They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something,” they have a theological question, a disagreement, a debate, some of these doctrines come to them as warmly as water on a cat, “they should ask their,” what? “Husbands at home;” this is a word directed to married women who are out of control in that church, “for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” It is not that the women were leading worship and loving the Lord and reading the Bible and being godly and respecting the male elders and the teachings of Scripture. It is that this was a contingency that rose up around the issue of declaring war on men and pushing their weight and many of them were married women. As a man, I can tell you that these are some of the most difficult women to deal with because it is a lose-lose scenario when you engage them. They will say, “There is no difference between men and women. We were not made male and female, we’re the same.” Hm. We are different and it’s not good and bad, but it’s left hand, right hand, working together in a complementary, not a conflictive plan of God. And they will say, “You need to treat me like a man.” None of you women want that. No woman wants a man to treat her like another man. That’s the truth. Men are horrible to other men and they don’t cry and if they do, we mock them and tell everyone. That’s probably not what you want. True story, right men? Right?
My wife tells me all the time, “I’m not one of the guys.” Right, which means, I do not treat her like a man. Does that mean I treat her with – no, I treat her like a lady. See, this whole gender conflict is that men are – you know, we’re not about chauvinism, we’re not about feminism, we are about chivalry. Men loving women in their femininity and not treating them like men but treating them like ladies.
So what are we to do? Today, if you have a wife who’s out of control, I’m giving her back to you. It’s your job. The problem that happened in Genesis 3 is that Adam said and did nothing. He just sat idly by, like a coward, taking the path of least resistance because he didn’t want to get into it with his hot-headed, emotional wife, perhaps. And so she says, “Somebody’s gotta do something. Somebody’s gotta make a decision. Somebody’s gotta lead. I’ll do it.” So she rises up and does so and everything goes to hell, literally. Lotta women are, today, like Eve and the daughters of Eve, likewise deceived saying, “You know what? We don’t need men. They’re idiots.” And some men who are passive, silent cowards sit idly by, saying, “Whatever you want, baby. Whatever you want.”
Guys, that’s not love. Men take their cue for how to love their wife from whom? Jesus. Who is Jesus’ bride? The church. Oh, she’s a pretty one, isn’t she? What a keeper she is. How many of you would like to be married to Christianity? Anybody want that? “Oh, that sounds fun.” No it’s not. You sleep with one eye open and a cup on if you’re married to the church. That’s how bad she is. Right? Does the church respect Jesus, follow Jesus, honor Jesus, listen to Jesus, treat him with the dignity that he requires? No. So how does Jesus respond to his horrendous wife? He loves her. He’s patient with her. He’s compassionate with her. He’s merciful with her. Does Jesus ever raise his hand? Does Jesus ever raise his voice? Not in a sick, sinful way. No he doesn’t.
See men, the two sins are that we take our masculine strength to punish women and to subjugate them by force. 1 Peter 3 says that’s wicked. You do that, God won’t even hear your prayer. The other is to be a passive, silent coward who says, “You know what? She’s a piece of work. I just don’t – I don’t want the headache and the hassle.” Gentlemen, we are to be like Jesus. We are to initiate. We are to love. We are to bless. We are to encourage. We are to serve and sometimes the men come to me and they say, “But my wife is horrible. She’s killing me.” Then you are in a Christian marriage. Jesus’ wife killed him, and what did he do? He resurrected and kept pursuing her. You get up and you pursue her. So many men say, “You know what? My wife – we’re just independent people. We live independent lives. You know, we have two jobs. We have two cars. We have two beds. We have two bank accounts. We have two theologies. We have two churches. We have two sets of friends. We have two sets of priorities.” I’ll tell you what. You’re gonna end up with two divorce attorneys. The point of marriage is not to be roommates but to be one. The point of marriage, in Genesis, is that you would be one, like God the father, God the son, and God the Spirit are one. Where there’s separation, where there is division, where there is individualism, you can be sure that the serpent is nearby and has done a despicable thing.
I love my wife. I met her at 17. I mean, I married her at 21. I’m 35. I turn 36 on October 11th. I’ve been with her more than half my life. I love her. Not because I’m a great guy but because Jesus is making me to be like him to her. I would die for her. I love her. I serve her. I do not raise my hand. I do not raise my voice. My whole goal is to bless her and make her life better. I tell you what, if you take the long route of being a Christian husband, you will be scored by the critics. You’ll be mocked by many but your wife will be loved and your marriage will endure and you will have Bible studies together as a family and that’s the whole point of this text. Does it say, ladies, don’t have any questions? Does it say that? No. Does it say, ladies, don’t disagree? No. Does it say, ladies, don’t think for yourself? No. What does it say? When you disagree, when you’re super theological, when you’re all fired up? The first thing you don’t do is start yelling at the pastor and yelling at the church, firing nasty emails and declaring war and putting together a little group of you know, women with guns who are gonna make a difference.
If you’re married, you go talk to who? Your husband. You say, “Sweetheart, I was reading the Bible. I think it’s ridiculous.” And he would say, “We should probably talk.” “Honey, I was reading the Bible. I don’t understand.” He should say, “Let’s study that together. Let’s take some time and study together.” Now some of you will protest and say, “That is sexist.” As a married man, I will tell you it is sexy. That’s what it is. It’s awesome because now you’re connecting at the level of the heart and the soul and God is honoring of that.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Early on in the church, for example, I had a woman who was newly married and she came to me in a meeting with a list of questions, saying, “Pastor Mark, I don’t understand these parts of the Bible,” and I explained them to her, and then her husband called me shortly thereafter and chewed me out and here’s what he said. “Dude, you ripped me off!” I said, “What do you mean, I ripped you off?” “That’s my wife. I love her. I pray for her every night. I read the Bible with her. I adore her. I just – my whole goal has been to do a Bible study with her and she won’t read. She won’t study. She wasn’t very inclined and now she’s interested and she’s got a bunch of questions and she met with you. You ripped me off. That was my opportunity to get with her. You connected with her. I shoulda connected with her. She’s my wife. I wanna be close with her.” I said, “Dude, you know what? You’re right. It’s your wife. You love her. You’ve been praying that you’d get to do a Bible study with her. You’re right. I’m sorry.”
Does this mean it’s a sin for a woman to talk to a pastor? No. Does this mean it’s a sin for a woman to go meet with a Biblical counselor? No. Does this mean it’s a sin for a woman to take a class? No. Does this mean it’s a sin for a woman to go to a Bible study? No. What does it mean? It does mean that her husband, if she’s married, is the man who what? Knows his Bible. I want you guys to see the pressure this is on us. I mean, you know, it’s just interesting to me because the Bible says, “Wives, respect and submit to your husbands and husbands love your wives.” And people always say, “That’s, that’s cultural! Get rid of it!” The love your wife part? “No, we’ll keep that.” Oh. Just the other part. Right. I tell you what. Loving your wife, loving your wife can be as hard, if not harder, that respecting your husband because that means you must provide and protect and love and be patient and encourage and bless and be crucified and resurrect, in addition to being a theologian. If you are a husband, you are required to be a theologian. Some of you say, “I wish I could get married.” If you are a theologian, you would probably attract a high-caliber woman. A woman who loves the Lord and loves the Bible and wants someone that she can have theological discussions with.
What this means as well is if you are single, marry someone that is equal to you in theological stature. If you’re the smart gal who’s studying theology and Master or Ph.D. level courses, you like the Greek text. You read the footnotes. You never met a commentary that you didn’t like, don’t marry the guy who says “Book learnin’s hard and I like pictures.” Don’t marry that guy. Right, that is not gonna be good for you. Right? Marry a guy who’s where you are. If you’re a gal that loves the Lord and has a simple faith, marry a guy who loves the Lord and has a simple faith but make sure he’s a guy who likes to study. And I tell you what, too, this is beautiful, it’s good. Titus 2 says that older women should teach younger women. So there is a place for women’s ministries but so oftentimes, women’s ministries rise up because the women wanna know the Bible and their husbands are not studious, not Biblical, not able to answer any questions.
The men need to take responsibility. The men need to be pastors over their home, making sure my wife and my kids are well loved, well served, well protected, well encouraged, well blessed and if the children see that mom and dad study the Bible, they’ll bring their questions to mom and dad and if the children see that any time mom has a really hard question, dad has a really big book and he figures it out, they learn, well, I guess if you got a big question, you go talk to dad. Okay, I could tell you – I’m not just saying that I got it all figured out but this is my home and you know what? It’s a home of order and peace. It’s a wonderful place to be. I’m not saying it’s not without sin and it’s perfect and idyllic but I’m telling you it actually works.
I’ll give you an example. I came home last week. My beautiful wife is sitting in bed with commentaries and books and all kinds of reference material and her Bible and a notepad and they’re just all spread out in the bed and all the kids are asleep and I came home late and I walk in and I say, “Hey, baby, what’re you doing?” She says, “I’m studying and a lot of the issues relate to the sovereignty of God and all of these authors have a different perspective as to what it means that God is sovereign. Can we snuggle and talk about that?” Oh oh! Yes! We can! In fact, that’s why I got married, so I could snuggle and talk theology. That sounds great. So I snuggle up with my wife in bed and I get a sheet of paper and a pen and, and I lay out this whole diagram of the sovereignty of God and I give her all the verses and we look them all up and she’s got a million questions and we’re talking and really inquisitive and I keep kissing her on the forehead while we’re doing the Bible study.
Now, it’s just a sick world when people look at that and say, “That’s oppressive.” What? A husband who loves his wife like Jesus loves the church and a wife who is smart and astute and theological who, when she hits something curious, likes to talk to her husband because it builds the oneness and intimacy. What else you want? What else is there? It is a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful thing. Just go this route. Take your shots, let the critics say what they want. Let the people rise up and mock you. Whatever. Who cares. Love your wife. Read the Bible with her. Love your kids. Read the Bible with them. Stand before Jesus. It’s better to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” as opposed to, “Depart from me. We never know each other.” So many men take the path of least resistance. “Baby if you wanna study the Bible, I’m sure there’s somebody who would love to teach you.” “Sweetheart, you’re having a hard time? I’m sure somebody’ll talk to you. You need a friend.” The godly man says, “You know what? I’m gonna be like Jesus here. This is gonna take time, energy, money. This is gonna cost me everything. Emotionally, it’s gonna kill me. You know what? I’ll resurrect. He’ll bring me back and I’m gonna keep pursuing that woman and that woman alone and I’ll be a one-woman man and everybody could say whatever they want. At the end of the day, I’m gonna be connected to that woman and the serpent is not gonna win in this house. We’re not gonna have conflict, we’re gonna have order. We’re not gonna have disrespect, we’re gonna have intimacy. We’re not gonna have division, we’re gonna grow old together and that’s what we’re doing.”
The women in this church, they wanted none of that. They were just busy fighting and arguing and debating and being contentious and unteachable and self-righteous and so successful and so full of themselves. Even speaking on behalf of all the other women, “We speak for all the women!” No you don’t. No you don’t. Here’s his series of questions that I find most curious. “Did the word of God originate with you?” That’s a great question. Did you write the Bible? That’s a good question. Again, I told you, I’m the mailman. I didn’t write the Bible. Some of you say, “Oh, but I know this other interpretation.” I know a lot of them. It began with Satan who said, “Did God really say?” From that point, we’ve had all kinds of interpretations. The question is what is true. He asked, “Did the word of God originate with you?” Did you write the Bible? Some of you here today say, “I disagree.” Ducky, for you. Did you write the Bible? “No, but I should have.” Really? You got C’s in community college. You think you’re ready to found a religion? Really? “Well there’s some parts in there that are wrong.” What parts? “Well, you know.” “Tell me, genius. Which parts.” “Well the parts I don’t like.” “Ah. So you’ve bought into the serpent’s lie? You could be like God, knowing good and evil and doing whatever you want. How’s that going for you? You closer to Jesus? You further away from sin? You more humble? You being transformed? How’s that going for you?” “But it’s about me!” “No, it’s about us. It’s about him.” Hm. He’s really hemming us in from all sides, here, isn’t he? He’s pretty good. He should do this for a living.
You know what? We don’t get to write the Bible. We don’t get to take things out of it. We don’t get to add things to it and we don’t get to do neat little hermeneutical dances where we get to change what it says. “Or are you the only people it has reached?” Are you only the guys that get a copy? If you’re those guys, maybe instead of arguing, you should read. Instead of disagreeing, you should repent. And if you disagree with God, ask yourself, which one of us is right? I would bank that you’re wrong if you disagree with God. Just as a general rule. “It’s me and God.” I don’t know. One of us is definitely off somewhere. Probably me. “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.”
Some say, “You know what? The guys didn’t think they were right in the Bible, they just wrote and later on, people said it was the Bible and that was a tragic error. Paul just said what? What I write is what? The Lord’s – what? Command. Not suggestion, perspective, interpretation. Command. God doesn’t give suggestions. He gives orders. Say, “I don’t like that.” Do you believe he’s good? Then his orders are good. And if you disagree, you’re bad. That’s the problem. Paul speaks for the Lord Jesus, he says. He says you didn’t write the Bible. I did. That’s exactly what he’s saying. I’ve heard some people say, “That’s just Paul’s opinion.” No. Paul said that his opinion is his opinion – the Lord’s command. Some of you would argue with me. That’s okay. I would tell you, “Read this book. Read all of it. Read the parts that you hate the most. If you cuss and chuck it, pick it up and keep reading and read the part that made you cuss and chuck it again. And wrestle with God until you come to the place that you realize that he is good and that you are bad. That he is right and you are wrong. That he is wise and you are foolish. And that his intentions for you are the same as a loving father and that you may be a disobedient, foolish child, headed toward destruction.”
“If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.” What he’s saying is this. If you won’t listen to God, we won’t listen to you. You wanna give me all the authors; you wanna give me all of the perspectives; you wanna give me all of the interpretations and all of the agendas; we wanna see some verses. We want to reduce the debate to what Scripture says because if you won’t listen to Scripture, we won’t listen to you. Say, “That’s mean.” No, that’s wise. That is exceedingly wise. If God has said something, then we should talk about what God has said, as opposed to establishing ourselves as additional gods who have other things to say and if someone won’t listen to Scripture, we cannot give them an ear; we cannot listen to them.
“Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” Back to the issue of tongues and prophecy. Welcome them if they are done biblically. Welcome women as leaders if they act biblically. Some say tongues is such a problem, let’s just get rid of it. Paul says do not forbid speaking in tongues. I talked to one, actually conservative Bible-teaching pastor one time. He said, “Tongues are such a problem, we just tell people they can’t do it.” And I said, “Paul said, ‘Do not forbid the speaking in tongues.’” Here’s what he said. “We do.” “Okay. Oh – ah, whatever. All right. That’s wrong.” I mean you can’t forbid something that God doesn’t forbid.
“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” Here is the bottom line. I’ll summarize. God speaks. We listen through Scripture. God gives us principles to organize our lives individually and corporately as the church. God establishes leaders to determine the methods by which those principles are to be enacted in each culture, time and place that God’s people gather to worship.
Bottom line is this – we’re here to meet with Jesus. I don’t care what your agenda is. I love you but you know what? Every agenda is secondary to Jesus and the worship of Jesus; the respect of Jesus; the response to Jesus; the obedience to Jesus who is God who takes away sin and brings order out of chaos and is senior pastor in the church and Lord over all creation and is over all people’s times, cultures, places, genders, races, incomes, sovereign Jesus sitting on a throne; worthy of our affection; taking away our sin; waiting for our response that it would be worshipful and not rebellious. How will you respond to Jesus?
Let’s not talk tongues. Let’s not talk prophecy. Let’s not talk women. Let’s not talk men. Let’s talk you. What about you and Jesus? Where are you at? Do you love him? Do you worship him? Do you follow him? Do you think he’s stupid? Do you think he’s dumb? Do you think he’s still dead? What do you think? It all comes down to you and Jesus. How do you respond to Jesus? Do you respond with repentance of sin and faith? That’s a Christian response. You can become a Christian tonight that way. If you respond by participating in communion with us today, that is a Christian response because Jesus told us to take communion, remembering his body and blood. If you give of your tithes and offerings, that’s a response that God instructs and that’s a Christian response. And if you sing and raise your hands and celebrate and adore and passionately, enthusiastically declare the goodness of Jesus in worship – that’s a Christian response.
At this point, God initiated, how you respond determines whether or not you are worshiping Jesus rightly according to the teaching of Scripture. So now, I leave the burden with you. It’s between you and Jesus. We’d invite you to put your faith in Jesus. Give you sin to Jesus. If you’re a cowardly, timid, passive man, repent of that. If you’re a harsh, overbearing, mean man, repent of that. If you’re a feminist woman, driven by her hurts who doesn’t trust anyone, we’re not saying trust all men; we’re saying trust a godly husband. That’s all. Just one man and the man, the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re calling everyone to repentance and Jesus. When you’re ready, you can respond, worshiping him rightly through communion. Singing. Tithes. Offerings. Repentance. Faith. I leave it in your hands. I’ll pray that he brings order out of this chaos.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being a good God; for being our God; for being the living God; for being the God who was dead but is now alive. Jesus, we thank you for being the speaking God who speaks through your servants – men like Paul. God, we know that the problem is often that we have hard hearts. That the truth finds us as receptive as a rock is receptive of bullets. That sometimes the truth just ricochets off our hard hearts – hard as stone. Jesus, I thank you that there is one church. I thank you that there is one Bible. I thank you that there is one way for sin to be forgiven. I thank you that there is one destiny for those who know you. That there is one destiny for those who do not. I thank you that for each text of Scripture, there is one interpretation and I pray you would bring order out of the chaos that would incline us to believe other wise. We asked this in your good name. Amen.