Order in Worship

When you imagine a worship service in Corinth, please put out of your mind the kind of worship we know in America.

There were no church buildings in Corinth. People met in homes that could hold 20 or fewer people.

There were no preachers, no order of service, and no worship leaders. Instead, there was a free-flowing exchange of communication that was prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Paul corrected the practices of the church in Corinth with these words.

1 Corinthians 14.26-29What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret.

But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

In a few short verses, we learn about worship and the ways it was intended to be observed in Corinth.

(1) The house church dynamic involved spontaneous communication that was led by the Holy Spirit.

The different elements of the service were designed to build up the members of the church.

Hymns may have been Psalms that were chanted by the gathering. Possibly, a spontaneous song of praise may have been the meeting.

Jesus commanded his followers to teach disciples how to live a life like his. The lesson portion of the service would recall an illustration from Jesus’ ministry and an application of it to life.

Like today’s small group gatherings, someone would share what God had revealed to them during their time of personal prayer.

Tongues and the interpretation of what was spoken in tongues were a regular feature of the church’s worship.

(2) The guidance and power of the Holy Spirit were a determining feature of the worship service.

Even though the Spirit prompted what took place, the worshipers were fully in control of their speech.

There were guidelines for tongues and prophecy. People were expected to control the use of the Spirit’s gifts.

(3) Individual expressions in the worship service were aimed at the building up or spiritual advancement of the church’s members.

The most important principle of chapter 14 is what is referenced seven times in the chapter. The most important action is the upbuilding of the spiritual lives of the participants.

The central purpose of worship is to build up the body of Christ through the various expressions of the faith.

Applications for Today

Both leaders of worship services and participants should seek to be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is the central message of 1 Corinthians 12-14.

If we are fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit, he can do anything he wants through us.

If you’ve ever been used by the Holy Spirit to benefit someone’s life, you know how profound is the experience.

The Spirit works through us to advance the spiritual lives of participants. No matter what spiritual gifts are evident during the service, this is God’s plan for worship.

The spontaneous communication of the Holy Spirit through the members is best suited for small groups or smaller gatherings of God’s people.

Spontaneous expressions of the Spirit’s activity work like medicine. The right amount of medicine can heal and strengthen. The wrong dosage of medicine can be lethal.

Orders of worship, preachers, and worship leaders are useful for orderly worship in today’s environment.

Prayer for Leaders

Our world is at a crisis point that has not been seen for a generation or more.

— There are nearly 5 million refugees from Ukraine at this moment. That involves 5 million people who need homes, food, clothing, jobs, education, health care, and more.

It is estimated that 20,000 Russian soldiers have died in the conflict. We can only imagine the number of deaths among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

— The cold war is back, and the global economy is in the process of changing to this new reality.

Financial distress is bound to result. As always, the most vulnerable societies will be most affected.

— The leaders of our nation appear to be more divided than at any time in my memory.

At a time when a united effort is most needed, our leaders seemingly can’t agree on anything.

I’m sure you could add to my list of problems, but these are the ones that dominate my prayers.

How can we pray for leaders?

— Let’s pray for humility and a willingness to hear the “still small voice” of God.

— Let’s pray for leaders to put aside party lines and to put the nation and world first.

— Let’s pray for wisdom. Leaders are making decisions that affect the lives of billions of people. May they lead from God’s wisdom.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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