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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 14:33-35


Headship – The Challenge of Obedience!

1 Corinthians 14:36-40.
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

In our last study, we once again touched upon a very vital doctrine, the doctrine of HEADSHIP. I want you to notice that HEADSHIP is a central doctrine as far as the church is concerned.

I say so, because:

• In the Bible, all of our worship is set within a context of headship! Remember that Paul begins chapter 11 with a reference to the doctrine of headship, and he finishes chapter 14 with another reference to the doctrine. Between these two references, and in the context of the doctrine of headship, Paul sets out his teaching on worship in the church. The Lord’s Supper is to be observed within the parameters of headship, the nature of Christian love in the church is to be understood within the context of headship, (Philippians 2:5-11), the Holy Spirit’s gifts are subject to the doctrine of headship.

• In Theology, all of the great subordinate standards uphold this vital doctrine. The Savoy Declaration states, There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof. The Westminster Confession, and the Baptist Confession of 1689 agree!

• In History, men and women have given their lives for this doctrine! The Covenanters of Scotland, in the 17th Century, sought to defend the true Headship of the Lord Jesus over His church, against the King’s demand that bishops be placed to lord it over the church of God, and that the king himself be recognized as the head of the church. When faced with denying the Headship of Christ, they chose to die rather than deny this great truth!

Why is this doctrine so important then?

• A proper understanding of it will affect our worship, for nothing will detract from Christ’s position in His church, and we will direct our worship to HIM, not to us, not to any man…
• A proper understanding of it will affect the way churches are run, it is the basis of historical Congregationalism, for the roots of the ‘church meeting’ lie in the fact that the will of God is best expressed when believers come together in unity, for God has promised that when we meet in such a manner, He is with us! Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. In that case, the Lord is with us, and He is truly Head in His Church. We have no need, said our early forefathers, to have any presbytery or any bishop or any king or any pope.
• A proper understanding of it will affect our home lives, as the Headship of Christ over His Church is reflected in our homes! Ephes. 5:22-25 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
• A proper understanding of this doctrine will further shape the way we think about the world around us, and will colour our opinions on contemporary issues!

Headship is scarcely mentioned, never mind preached upon! Certainly the doctrine is in direct contradiction to popular modern philosophy, with its politically correct values, its parity of esteem and so on! But why is it not preached on, or given suitable prominence in THE CHURCH?
Could it be that modern Christians form their ‘world-view’ their ‘outlook on life’ more on the basis of the thought patterns and philosophies of this world, than on the Word of God?

To the Corinthians, Paul says, What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? Are you people at Corinth making up the Word of God as you go along? Or have you got a different Scripture than everyone else? The great need for the church is that Christians would develop a mind that is thoroughly biblical. So often our ‘world view’ is informed by modern thought, (so often ‘politically correct’) or by popular philosophical thinking, or by what various radio or television programmes or media sources feed us.

Further, there are agencies that are determined to exercise a form of influence over our minds! Am I being paranoid? I think not! The very premise, upon which the whole modern advertising industry works, is the assertion that by subtle psychological manipulation, they can make you buy what they want you to buy! Government is dominated by what have come to known as ‘spin doctors’ whose task it is to get the populace to believe what the government wants them to believe. All of these influences are bombarding the mind of the Christian every day, but the demand of God upon Christians is that they would base their thought patterns upon GOD’S WORD, not upon external secular influences.

Paul says in Romans 12:2 Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So, Paul’s next great teaching for us is a defence of the Word of God! In a way it is an introduction to the teaching that we will encounter at the beginning of chapter 15, where Paul will show us that our attitude to God’s Word, amongst other things, will help us to draw the line when we need to decide whether we can have fellowship with other people who profess to be Christians. What can we learn about God’s Word from this passage?

The Authorship and Availability of the Word!
What? came the word of God out from you? Did the Bible come from the people at Corinth? We might actually start a little further back than that! Where did the Bible come from? The first doctrine that we must defend is the DIVINE AUTHORSHIP OF THE SCRIPTURES.

a) The Word of God is Divinely Given! The Bible is truly unique. There are sixty-six books in the Bible, forty different writers, written over a period of about 1600 years, but there is only one author! 1 Thes. 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. But there was of course a human element! God USED MEN TO WRITE THE BIBLE! Listen to how Peter describes that process, when in 2 Peter 1:21 he says, For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They wrote of the own experiences, they used their own words, they were human, but these men were MOVED by the Holy Spirit! The Greek root word means to be moved like the rush of a great wind, Acts 2:2. In Acts 27:15,17. Paul uses this word to speak of a ship in a storm. It has its own sails, its own rudder, its sailors have plotted their own course, but ultimately it is the wind that has overall control! Paul says that in those circumstances, the ship is caught, and the ship is driven! Peter uses that same word to describe how these human authors participated in the writing of the divine Word of God! So it is proper to say that the Word of God is divinely inspired! 2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. According to its own testimony, the Bible is God breathed!

b) The Word of God is Delivered unto men! came it unto you only. It was not only the Corinthians who have received the Word of God! Paul has on a number of occasions given teaching to the Corinthian Church, which was applicable to all the other churches! In respect of:-

a. Contentedness! 1 Cor. 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

b. Head coverings, 1 Cor. 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

c. The ministry of Women, 1 Cor. 14:33-34 as in all churches of the saints Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

d. Stewardship. 1 Cor. 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

The Word of God was not just for Corinth! It is delivered to every Christian of every age! It is for us, just as much today as in Paul’s day! It was delivered to us:-

e. For salvation! Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

f. For blessing!Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

g. For cleansing and guidance! Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

The Arena, Agency and Authority of the Word!
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

a) The Word of God is restricted to those enlightened by the Holy Spirit in regeneration! 1 Cor. 2:14-15 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
b) Paul’s writing were to be regarded as ‘commandments!’ Jameson, Fawcett & Brown, in their historical commentary said, “This is a direct assertion of inspiration. Paul’s words as an apostle are Christ’s words.”

Paul insists upon the inspiration of his written words here. He says, “The things that I write unto you are a direct command of the Lord!” The teaching that Paul has laid down in these passages are not an option, for what he is giving here is a command! This is an issue of CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE!

The Application and Action of the Word!
1 Cor. 14:38-39 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. (Amplified Bible reads, If anyone disregards or does not recoginse that it is a command of the Lord, he is disregarded and not recognized, he is the one whom God knows not.) Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. The Word of God is not abstract, and is not theoretical! It cannot be ignored or disregarded, it must be recognised for what it is, the commandment and precept of the Lord, and must be applied! If we do not recognise the supremacy and authority of the Word of God, then we are ‘ignorant’ we are not recognised by the Lord as being His! Such is the urgency and the necessity of obedience to the Word of God! There is a warning for us in the Scriptures. The application of the Word can be hindered in our lives!

• By ignorance of the Word, But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. It seems to me that in the modern church we are in this very situation. In the modern church, there is an appalling ignorance of God’s Word! The new minister was asked to teach a boys’ class in the absence of the regular teacher. He decided to see what they knew, so he asked who knocked down the walls of Jericho. All the boys denied having done it, and the preacher was appalled by their ignorance. At the next deacons’ meeting he told about the experience. “Not one of them knows who knocked down the walls of Jericho,” he lamented. The group was silent until finally one seasoned veteran of disputes spoke up. “Preacher, this appears to be bothering you a lot. But I’ve known all those boys since they were born and they’re good boys. If they said they didn’t know, I believe them. Let’s just take some money out of the repair and maintenance fund, fix the walls, and let it go at that.” We don’t read the Word as we ought, we don’t study the Word, we don’t meditate upon it enough, or hunger for it, we don’t recognise its priceless treasure. Because we do not know the Word, we make up the rules as we go along, just as the Corinthians were doing, and when we stray from the Word, we invariably get it wrong!

• By mishandling the Word! Not only is there a terrible temptation to ignore the Word, but there is the distinct possibility that we can mishandle the Word! 2 Cor. 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

• By allowing tradition to replace the Word! Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

We can be sure that, when it is obeyed and applied to our lives and in our churches, God’s Word works! Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

1. The proper application of the Word will divide us into obedient and disobedient! Rev. 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
2. The proper application of the Word will motivate the Christian to witness! Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues
3. The proper application of the Word will give us strength in days of trouble! 1 John 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
4. The proper application of the Word will give us a defence against the Devil! Ephes. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
5. The proper application of the Word of God will change our World View! 2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6. The proper application of Word will bring order to our Worship! Let all things be done decently and in order.

So, God has ordered His Church, and His world in His way. Our human sinfulness would tend to cause us to do what we think, rather than what God orders. We would demand our rights, as this world does, rather than yield in humility to the Lord. The Word of God did not start with the Corinthians, neither did it originate with us. We simply cannot make up our own rules, and then expect God to bless what we have done. We must obey the Word, and that means putting Christian doctrine, as laid out in the Word, into practice in our lives!

From → Sermon Notes

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