1 Corinthians 14 – 16

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U. ORDERING OF MINISTRY IN MEETINGS

14:1-40

1. Pursue the gifts:

a. Do not just sit back and expect God to unexpectedly bestow a gift on you.
b. Pray and exercise faith (just like you did when accepting Jesus as your Saviour).
c. When engaged in Christian ministry, trust the Holy Spirit to flow through you in whatever way He deems best; very soon your spiritual gifts will begin to operate.

2. Speaking in tongues:

a. Is a lesser gift.
b. Is mostly used in private prayer.
c. When speaking in a tongue, the speaker speaks to God (prays).
d. When in operation, the spirit of the speaker is active but his mind is inactive.
e. Speaking in a tongue, builds and strengthens the speaker.
f. (Is a very useful gift in private prayer when we are burdened to pray, but uncertain as to what to pray (see also Rom 8:26,27.))
g. When used in public:

i. Is intended as a sign to unbelievers of God’s supernatural presence.
ii. Has to be interpreted into the language of those present so that they can understand God’s message to them.

3. In public meetings, the gift of prophecy is of much greater value than the speaking in tongues.

4. Ministry in public meetings:

a. There must be order (which implies that someone must order the proceedings)
b. Ministry is not to come from one person only: allow different members to contribute as the Spirit leads them.
c. Such ministry may be the leading in a song, giving of a teaching, speaking in a tongue together with interpretation, a special revelation (like in a word of knowledge), a prophecy, etc.
d. Let there not be more than 2 or 3 tongues, prophecies (or whatever).
e. A person that ministers (in, let’s say, a prophecy), is responsible for what he says and how he presents it:

i. (A demonic spirit, on the contrary, takes complete control over the person he possesses, causing him not to know what he does or says.)
ii. A member operating in the gifts, however, cannot say things that are clearly not from God or present his contribution in way that dishonours the Lord, with the excuse that he is swept along by the Holy Spirit.
iii. The spirit of the one that prophecies, is subject to his mind and reason.

f. Those hearing the words of prophecy, are to look unto the Holy Spirit for confirmation that what they hear or perceive, emanates from God. They (and especially the leader that orders the meeting) must not:

i. Grieve or quench the Spirit by allowing only ministry that can be clearly defined by the mind.
ii. Allowing ministry full of emotion but not of the Spirit and therefore not building the listeners in faith and love.

g. The bottom line of it all is: let the Holy Spirit control all ministry; then peace and order will prevail.

5. Ministry by women:

a. Scripture puts restrictions on women ministering within a group of believers that meet together as a church, the basic reason being that God appointed man to have authority over woman and that man therefore is to play the leading role in God’s Kingdom.
b. The rules that apply are basically the following :

i. Woman are not allowed to govern or serve in a position of authority over men (1 Tim 2:12).
ii. They are restricted in speaking in meetings of the congregation (13:34 and 1 Tim 2:12) and are instructed to keep quiet, listen to the ministry of men and enquire from their husbands at home if there are matters they do not understand.
iii. They are however not forbidden to speak at all, since there seems to be an amount of openness to their exercising the gift of prophecy and praying in meetings (see 11:5 and Acts 21:9).
iv. They are more restricted when it comes to teaching (14:34 and 1 Tim 2:12) for which Scripture gives two reasons:

a) Teaching is akin to taking authority over the one you teach (in this case the men in the audience) for the teacher lays down the rules of Christian conduct prescribing “This you must do and this not.”
b) They are more prone to deception than men as is seen in the fact that it was not Adam, but Eve that was deceived by the serpent to believe false teaching and in so doing brought the whole of mankind to a fall (1 Tim 2:14). (Adam was not deceived but sinned willfully, knowing that he was doing wrong.)
c) These rules would not apply to gatherings that are not in essence church meetings (meetings of believers organized into a church) for instance:

i. An evangelistic meeting aimed at the conversion of unbelievers.
ii. Teaching of the Word to a mixed group (believers and unbelievers) which is open for anyone to attend (both men and women) and where no authority is exercised over the attendants. (Church meetings are not optional for men to attend or not attend for Paul cautions all believers “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is..” (Heb 10:25). This means that by being compelled to attend, man is compelled to place himself under the authority of the one that ministers the Word and if such be a woman, he would be subjecting himself in a way contrary to the teaching of Scripture.)
iii. A radio or television ministry to which anyone is free to choose whether to tune in or not.

d. This topic requires a study of its own and cannot be dealt with comprehensibly within the framework of the Scripture text we are now dealing with. Let it here suffice to state that women are created to be different from, but not inferior to men and have a very important role to fulfill in God’s Kingdom.

V. THE RESURRECTION

15:1-58

1. Having taught on Christian conduct through many chapters, Paul now switches to the “Gospel of Salvation …. by which you are saved.”
2. What he is saying at the outset of his teaching is that the resurrection of Christ is part and parcel of the Gospel of salvation and that a person could not be saved if he rejected the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection.
3. The reason for him proffering this teaching, is that he was told that some members of the congregation did not believe in the resurrection of the body.

a. The reason for their not believing could have been:

i. The conception of that Greek community that the body was an impeding shell in which a person lived on earth but from which he escaped at death to live a freer life in the spirit world.
ii. A more dangerous conception could have been to disbelieve that God had the power to resurrect the dead. They ridiculed the idea of the resurrection of the body by asking difficult questions as to what the resurrected body would be like. Such a wrong conception would have lowered God to a being limited in power just like human beings, would therefore have undermined their faith in God, and could have cost them their salvation.

b. For these reasons and to increase the congregations knowledge in general and consequently build up their faith, Paul gives a detailed teaching on Christ’s and the believers’ physical resurrection.
c. What he is saying in the first few verses is that the whole Gospel is to be believed and not just a part of it.

4. He begins his discourse by reminding them of the facts of the Gospel namely:

a. Christ died for our sins.
b. His death was foretold in the OT Scriptures (Ps 22, Isa 53, etc.).
c. He was buried and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures (Ps 16:9,10).
d. There were many witnesses of his resurrection such as: Céfas, the twelve apostles, the more than 500 brothers simultaneously, James (the brother of Jesus), all the apostles together and last of all, Paul himself (on the Damascus road).

5. These facts cannot but (must) be believed wholeheartedly:

a. Because they were relayed by reliable witnesses, that is by Paul and all the other apostles that saw Christ after his resurrection and they were in mutual agreement (V11&12).
b. They must take care not to be led astray by getting involved in discussions with people that have no knowledge of God (V33, 34).

6. The importance of the resurrection of Christ and of the dead is that:

a. If the resurrection of the dead was impossible, the resurrection of Christ also was impossible.
b. If Christ was not resurrected, it would mean that the Father had not accepted his Son’s offering of himself for the sin of man and man would still be lost in his sin. Illustration: By releasing a prisoner from jail, the authorities say to all the world that he has paid in full for his crime. Likewise, by resurrecting Christ from the dead, God testified to all the world that the full punishment for man’s sin had been born, the total price had been paid and just as He was released from death and the grave, so all of mankind could now, by faith in his death and resurrection, be released from the prison of sin and death. (“For He was delivered up to death for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Rom 4:25).
c. Since death came by a man (Adam, representing the whole human race), life also had to come by a man (Christ representing all of the redeemed), (V21, 22). The first man pulled mankind down into death and the grave; the second Man, when he walked from the grave, led the redeemed out of death and the grave.
d. Christ is the first-born man in God’s new creation (V20).
e. By not believing in his resurrection, they failed to believe in all of these important aspects of his redemptive work; in fact, if they did not believe in his resurrection they did not believe in Him. Their Gospel and faith was therefore incomplete.

7. Further reasons for believing in the resurrection of Christ, is to consider what the situation would be if He had not been resurrected:

a. We would be liars and accountable to God in proclaiming that Christ was resurrected.
b. Since it would mean that Christ’s offering had not been accepted, it would follow on that:

i. Our faith will be in vain (worth nothing) – no forgiveness of sin, no new birth, now eternal life.
ii. Christians would be the most miserable and to be pitied of all men for they are often persecuted for their faith, harassed by the devil, some sacrifice a lot to preach the Gospel and it will be all for nothing. Paul himself was “dying day by day” and “fought wild animals” in Ephesus.
iii. If this present life was all their was for mankind, then one could just as well make the most of it by eating, drinking and enjoying oneself because you would in any event be punished eternally for your sin.
iv. Those that had passed away would now be lost.

AN OUTLINE OF THE NECESSITY OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (NOT FOUND IN THIS DISCOURSE)

  • a. The wages of sin is death.
  • b. That is why all people die and remain in the grave.
  • c. Christ claimed to be the spotless (sinless) lamb of God.
  • d. He also claimed that if He was put to death, He would rise on the third day (“Break down this temple and I will raise it up on the third day”.)
  • e. So people did put him to death and He died like everybody else.
  • f. If he was not resurrected, the conclusion would be that He had lied and that He had been a sinner like everybody else.
  • g. However He did arise on the third day as He had said He would, proving His claims to be correct.
  • h. The fact that He died though He had not sinned himself, means that his Father allowed him to die for the sins of others.
  • i. His resurrection is proof that God the Father had accepted Christ’s sacrificial death for the sin of man.
  • j. By believing that Christ rose from the grave, we believe that the Father accepted Christ’s offering for our sins and that we are forgiven.
  • k. This is why it is so important for every individual that wants to be saved to believe that Christ was resurrected from death.

8. Having established Christ’s and man’s resurrection, Paul now turns to the order of events in the redemption of creation as a whole:

a. The first step was the resurrection of Christ.
b. Then follows the resurrection, at his return, of those that belong to Him.
c. Thirdly His subjection of all things, including death, to himself.
d. Fourthly his surrender of himself and all He has conquered to his Father so that God will have supreme authority everywhere and over one and all.

9. To counter and resolve their earthbound thoughts on God’s new order, he brings fresh revelation regarding coming events, the resurrected bodies and the future worlds:

a. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of heaven.
b. The new life will be born from the death of the old (present).
c. The present human body is a seed of the new one, but just as the image of a tree cannot be seen in its seed, the glory of the resurrected body cannot be visualised by looking at the present body.
d. As there is a great diversity in humans and the many kinds of animals, there will be an enormous diversity in the resurrected mankind.
e. The difference between the present and the new man can be seen in the difference between the first and second Adam: the first man received life and became a living soul; the second Man is a life giving Spirit.
f. Now we bear the image of this world; then we will bear the image of heaven.
g. At the sound of God’s last trumpet, those that had died in Christ will be resurrected and those that are in life, will be changed in the twinkling of an eye; both will be clothed with immortality.
h. Death and Hades that are now ruling, will no longer be victorious for they will be swallowed up in victory.
i. This victory will be effected by (the resurrected) Christ.

10. Conclusion: since all this glory awaits us, let us stand firm (not listen to the talk of unbelievers) and let us always abound in the work of the Lord, for we know for sure that not a stitch of what we do, will be wasted.
11. By this detailed teaching on the resurrection, Paul opens a vast new window into the glorious future of the Christian, putting a desire into their hearts for these marvellous things God has in store for them, thereby enticing them to let go of their foolish ideas that this life is all that is to be hoped for.

W. PAUL’S PRACTICAL MINISTRY ARRANGEMENTS

16:1-24

1. Having dealt with theological matters, Paul now turns to practical arrangements.
2. Practical matters are very important; the regular changing between day and night, the changing of the seasons; these are not spiritual issues, yet very important for the orderly flow of life on earth.
3. Poor administration can cause tremendous frustration amongst members that are involved in a ministry and may cause members to leave and join other congregations.
4. Therefore, for any ministry to be effective, it is not sufficient for the pastor to give a strong message on a Sunday morning, he also has to be a good administrator. He might do well to spend a couple of days with the manager of a Christian business that is making a lot of money and learn from him how to organize effectively, then come back and lift his congregation’s administration to a higher level. Many unbelievers that attend his church just now and then, or drop in during the week, may not appreciate the level of his preaching, but will be impressed by his administration and in this way they will be attracted to the Lord.
5. First of all, the finances are to run well.

a. The congregation must be taught their responsibility to provide sufficiently, not only for the needs of their own congregation, but also for the needs elsewhere in the Kingdom of God (V1,2).
b. The finances are to be supervised by the most trustworthy members of that congregation, recommended by the elders and appointed by the senior pastor (V3,4).

6. . The pastor must share his vision for the future with his leaders and members so that everyone will know where they are heading, what is going to happen and when it is expected to come to pass – this must be written down as Paul is doing here (V7-9).
7. For this purpose the board needs to sit down at times, be quiet and get direction from God.
8. If this is not done, and members just come to church on Sunday, listen to the sermon, then go back home, they will not see their congregation as an important instrument to promote God’s Kingdom. A side-benefit when the church sets a good example in planning, is that members will begin to plan their own lives likewise.
9. A pastor of a congregation or leader of a network must also use his influence to promote harmony amongst staff, especially pastors and also pastors of other congregations (V10, 11,15& 16). He must encourage members to pay respect and appreciate the ministry and teaching of other pastors (including the young ones) and not feel threatened. By doing this, he will raise up leaders to take his place once he is no longer capable of continuing in the ministry.
10. Pastors must show appreciation for what their leaders and members do for their and for the Kingdom’s sake (V17,18).
11. When certain issues are still uncertain, then say so; it is better to adapt plans than not to plan at all. They must teach their members that although they do receive some input by divine inspiration, they are limited human beings that use their faculties same as all others and may not always know exactly what to do.
12. Pastors must involve every member as much as possible. When given responsibilities they will feel needed and accept responsibility for their congregation (12:7-31; and see how many co-workers are mentioned in this chapter).
13. Paul has dealt very sternly with the Corinthian congregation, but in this closing chapter, he shows that though they are naughty children, they are still his children, they are still part of the congregations for which he is taking care. He therefore shares his plans with them and entrusts them with responsibilities. He shows that he has confidence in them.
14. Pastors must plan to spend as much time as possible with their flock. They must visit them at their homes, get to know their children and extended family, listen to their problems, sympathize, encourage and pray for them. A pastor must not see himself a chief sitting on a high chair with all the women crawling around him and serving him (V6,7).
15. While busy with administrative work, a pastor will do well to speak some spiritual words in between (V13, v22).
16. Pastors must greet their flock in love and sincerity, not only on a Sunday at church, but also during the week wherever he meets them, and encourage them to do likewise to one-another. They must cultivate a deep caring love between members for it is when the world sees this love for one-another that they will be drawn to the Lord (V19,20, 21).

X. CLOSING REMARKS

Paul said “Follow me as I follow Christ” and what an excellent example he is to every-one that is involved in the Lord’s ministry; always in contact with heaven but with his feet firmly planted in the realities of life and church management.

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