Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 585 · 6 months ago

Speaking and Listening in Church

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

You may be seated. Please turn your attention to First Corinthians, chapter fourteen. I'll be preaching the end of this chapter this morning. This is versus twenty six through forty. As we continue, I'm working through this book, this letter. Remember the setting of this letter as you turn their First Corinthians Fourteen, Verse Twenty Six on the Apostle Paul had planted this church in Corinth but had received word that some of the things that he had said and emphasized and preached and taught we're being undone, some on purpose, some of course, by the schemes of the devil, perhaps some by accident, just that regular old fleshly nature in us that tends to tends to disorder and to sin. And he speaks to them, he spakes to the Corinthians and a whole host of matters and speech and gives them encouragement, helps them to see themselves again in light of Christ and who he is, to apply that word to their life together. And so we come to the another section of this morning. As Paul's been dealing with spiritual gifts, our unity in the body of Christ. He continues that and finishes this section, this portion of his word in chapter fourteen. We begin in Verse Twenty Six. First Corinthians Fourteen, verse Twenty Six. What then, brothers, 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 any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in Church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak and let others way what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent, for you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the Prophets for God. It's not a god of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church? Or was it from you will, or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones that is reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or spiritual he should acknowledge the things that I am writing to you are command, a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues, but all things should be done decently and in order. Amen, may God bless his word to us. Well, Paul begins this section with a question. Right, he says. What then, brothers? Why does he say this? Well, as I mentioned before, he says this after dealing for several chapters with various commands and instructions about how they are to act and in worship. And that question then, and all that he's been saying about how God has put us together into something that we could call a body, a body with different members, a body with different gifts. How is that body supposed to work? We comes now to some final applications and, based on what he said about God's spiritual gifts in his church...

...and the body of Christ and the love that holds us all together. He gives us some specific applications of how that is to play out and he reminds us something about the character of God and how that applies in our worship and in the life of our church. And before we look at some of those specific applications, we had to take a second just remember that details matter, that what we do in our lives as Christians, whether we consider them a small detail or a big thing, they matter to God. Our relationship to God is to a particular God. Our relationship to God is to one who is is not some abstract power, not some vague spiritual force. Our relationship to God is to the Triune God, who is a certain way. He is as he says. He are not a god of confusion, but a god of peace, and we could say, of course, many other things about him. And as we worship him, it is right for us to ask what does he want, what does he like? Not only is God a not only as God have a particular characteristics, in a particular will and these kind of things, but he also is sovereign over us. Right, we did not form this body he formed it. He we are not the head of the body. He is the head of the body. He is sovereign over us, are our catechism, as we were talking about in our Sunday school last week, teaches us that he also has a propriety in us, which means to say he has an ownership of us. Propriety there is used like the word proprietorship right, a sense of owning. God has purchased us, the Scriptures say, with the blood of Christ, the blood of his own son. And so, for all these reasons and or God gets to say what we do and what we don't do, how we worship, how we organize ourselves, how we relate to one another and to him. The gods, the false gods, the idols, it doesn't really matter. They're all made up anyway. There are unmet creatures of our own imaginations, our own idolatry, and, as you see, there are all kinds of things and activities that people do in relation to tell idols. But to God it's different. God calls us together in a certain way, God orders us in a certain way, gives us particular sacraments, he gives us particular books of the Bible, why? Because he reveals himself to us, he wants us to know him, to love him, and so, as God reveals himself to us, scripture teaches us how we ought to govern ourselves, and that includes in worship. Now, some of those things are expressly set down in scripture. Right, preach, pray, sing. Some of those things are mentioned here. Some of those things we've Sung about this morning. Other things are given to us, we understand by good and necessary consequence reasonable deductions from the commandments of God. There are also circumstances in our government and in our worship, circumstances that are common. Our Confession says to human actions and societies meant to our be are to be ordered according to certain things. Those include the light of nature and natural law, a Christian prudence and the general rules of the word. And we see the Apostle Paul doing that kind of practical application work here in our chapter, and it's very helpful to us not only to see the way he's thinking and working but of course to receive the specific applications he gives as well. All that to say, we ought to...

...begin with a passage like this, or anything any other similar passage, with a spirit of humility, spirit of submission, a spirit of listening to the Lord and what he desires for us, and one of the things that he desires. One of the principles that's mentioned here and has been mentioned in several of the chapters preceding this, is that everything ought to be done for building up. And what a great thing. How often we find ourselves in our society, in various places, whether that's at home or at work, particular relationships, where we find that people are often tearing down us and others, where it's a competition, in a race to the top, sharp elbows, all the time, people using their gifts and their talents not to build others up but to tear them down, to claw their way to first place. The church is different, Paul says it should be different. The order that God has made, the beautiful body that he's putting together, is one in which all the parts of the body are working together for the strength of the body and the health of the body. We're not just a bunch of marbles in a bowl, sort of resting next to one another. We are woven into a tapestry of grace. We are woven together into something that is greater than all the parts, a beautiful picture of God's work in us, and a stronger a stronger thing as well. Right, when you take two or three chords and you tie them together, that's a chord that is not easily broken, the scripture saying. We know that also from the light of nature. Right, it's stronger, it's more resilient, it doesn't give up as easy. And so this is what God has done. All right, we don't just gather ourselves together hoping to be strong, hoping that we will be able to put something together that will withstand the changing times or the the sin in our lives or the schemes of the devil got we are here because of what God has put together, and he's put it together to build each and every one of us up. And as he gives us these gifts, he says, this is verse Twenty Six. Let all things be done for building up. Take your word, take your gift, Take Your Song, take your prayer, take your confession and bring it into the church and let it be for the building up of your brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not a show, it's not a performance, it's a building up and it's the worship of God. It reminds us of why we're here. It reminds us of what God is doing. It reminds us of the Gospel, of the good news that the church does not exist because we have forced it or willed it into existence, but the church exists because of what God has done, what God has willed and what God has brought together. He did that by the work of his very own son, who died for the church, who gave him very life for his bride. Let us love him, thank him, hold fast to him and seek him in every way. That good news that God gives to us in Christ, this people, that he has made us, this bride, that he has clothed and purified and prepared. This is the Gospel Basis for why we are here today. It's the Gospel, it's the good news on the power by which we come and we think about every aspect of our life together as a family, as a church, as a body, as a bride well, but that principle in mind and the reason and the purposes and the particular nature of God in our hearts.

Paul gives us some specific applications which are very much tied to all of these things. The first one is this principle which we touched on last time, is that worship should understandable. Right. He says, as he has mentioned previously, if anyone speaks in a tongue there needs to be interpretation. We don't conduct our services in Latin. That's not because Latin is a bad language. It's a wonderful language and we'd all do well to learn it. But we reject, reject untranslated Latin services because we don't know Latin, because we know English and because God wants to be understood, because the scriptures say if there is a tongue that is spoken, let it be interpreted. We must be able to hear God's word. It needs to be understandable to us. Now the end and these and untranslated language does not build up it because, Paul said in the last chapter, it's like a noisy gong or a or, in the earlier in this chapter, a clanging symbol. It's not a help to us. Notice lesson revelation, teaching. These are all appropriate and commanded, but what language we speak is not. This is an example of the circumstances of worship. There's this principle, right, this prince. First you have the the element of worship, say teaching, for example, or prayer. You have the principle which says it needs to be done for building up, and then you have a circumstance which is well, what language do we say it in? There's no particular preference on no biblical preference for Latin or Spanish or English or any other language. But how do we choose which Huo's based on the principles of God's word, Christian prudence in the light of nature? We look around and we say, what do most of people here speak? Okay, we'll do that. And if you're struggling to speak that language, what can we do to make that understandable? What can we do to translate it and make the worship of God and the word of God accessible? These are the things that we think about and how we apply God's will for us in his desire to understand him and to know him. The understandability or the importance of us being able to know God's Word is emphasized when he talks about prophecy. He says in Verse Twenty Nine, let two or three prophets speak and let the others way. What is said when some Bundy speaks in church. When the word of God is expounded on and applied, we're not supposed to just let it go in in one ear and out the other, or bounce off of us like a rubber ball of a wall. We're supposed to weigh it, to think about it, to hold it in our heart. It's to compare it with the scriptures. It is to be not only understood but taken in wide thought about and, of course, lived. This reminds us that just because we don't have a speaking role in church doesn't mean we don't have a role. All of us come to worship. You do and I do. When we join together to worship God and we come around his word, we are all changed by it and we are all required to respond to it in our own ways, according to our own callings and gifts. A second application Paul gives to us, which we ought to think about and apply in our services as well and our worship and church life, is a pretty simple one, but important. He says people should not be speaking at the same time. Right, it seems like kind of a no brainer, and yet it happens sometimes. We should not speak at the same time and the number of people should be limited Paul when he says two or...

...three prophets is not a hard number. He's not saying only two prophets or only three prophets, but he's giving a range and he calls us to be thoughtful about this and maybe keep it on the smaller side. Presumably you could have more people if the words were shorter. Pastors and Ordination Services should maybe take note of this. That so it depends. We have to be thoughtful about this thing, but it's important that we need to pay attention to people's attention spans, how long we can sider in a chair for what we're used to and and these kinds of things. These considerations are not beyond what God cares about. Again, he wants us to understand him and to know him, and if we order our services in such a way that makes that extremely difficult or impossible, Paul says that is something that ought to be corrected. That leads to a third application Paul mentions, which is something like this. We could put it as no interrupting because it is meant to be heard. That applies to the languages that we use. It applies to the number of people and the amount of words that are said. And also applies to speaking over one another and that kind of thing. The service and the word of God must be heard. Now, in the early church, when the services were often held in private homes, you can imagine why this might have been difficult. If you've ever had a large group gathering in your home, you know that kids tend to play, there are people preparing food, other people maybe around the corner in another room, catching up in a hallway. This happens in our church plants sometimes. When we start at churches and small were we smart start our small groups and homes and you know there's a lot of things going on. It's a very practical thing to remind everyone that when it's time for teaching, when it's time for the word of God, when it's time for worship, that we ought to be careful and to make sure that one another can be heard. So this is something that we still is very practical today. Yes, of course we need to be patient with one another if a baby's upset or somebody's chatting in the echoing foyer. You know, we deal with these things as they come. We don't need to be overly stiff or overly formal. And occasional a men or Hollelujah. These are good things. We ought to praise the Lord, but it does mean that on our interactions we need to show the kind of love and honor and respect for the word. Why does Paul say this? So that we may all be encouraged. If you don't get the encouraging message, it's pretty hard to be encouraged. And so this is the reason why, if we have a particularly noisy child, we take them out. If we need to have a side conversation for some reason, we we exceit the worship service, not because we don't like each other or love each other, but because we love each other, because we honor and respect of the word and we desire that interruptions on not take precedence over the word of God and the things that we do here, while still being patient and knowing that we have to be patient with one another. God is not the author of confusion, but the author peace, he says, and so the things that we do in our worship ought to tend toward that end. He talks about this in relation to other people who come into the service. Remember this from last time when we have when we bring our family members and our friends and visitors come, do we want them to come and be confused? Do we want them to come and miss out on encouragement and blessing, or do we want them to hear the word of...

God and to see that not only from the hear that, not only in the words that are said, but in the way that we act and the way that we conduct ourselves? This brings us to the final application that Paul mentions. He a final application he Paul Mentions for public worship is directed in particular to the women of the church. Paul tells us that when the women, tells the women that when the church comes together, as in all the churches, women should remain quiet and submit themselves to what they hear. Now this, of course, applies to men as well. Paul has just been emphasizing that silence and not interrupting, being submissive in these sorts of things are important. We also know from the proverbs and many other places that being submissive and learning and quietness are virtues. They are how we learn, how we grow. They are to be a commended and sought after. This, of course, is not a mindless silence, as we've talked about before, as we sang earlier my soul, weights and silence for the Lord and expectation of hope and promises mentioned there. Our my our silence is that of trusting, of waiting, of faithfulness. Our silence and worship is wigh, thinking and receiving. So, along with the men in the church, the women also are to remain silent into way what is said. They are to listen and to be submissive to their teachers, taking their questions home, not interrupting and thereby bringing embarrassment and shame on themselves and the whole body. There is a remaining question, though, which is why does Paul make this special emphasis to the women? Right, if this applies both to men and women? Why? Why does he speak to women in particular? Why does he address them? Well, he doesn't say exactly here why that is, and so we have to think, based on context, based on other passages, why that might be. I'm some people supposed that it was because of these the busyness in these early homes when women might have been most likely to be disruptive as they worked in service and preparation of food and hospitality. I don't think this is right, or at least a primary explanation, because it doesn't account for all the churches, not all, which were meeting in this way, also in this situation, that the women would be ignoring the teaching or unable to receive it because of busyness and not not having questions about it, as he says. So it doesn't quite fit. I don't think quite fit what he's saying. They're a more likely possible reason is that at the time there was a feminist movement called the new women, and these new women were in some ways responding to a problem in their society in which women were not treated well, in which men were given all kinds of passes for deviant behavior and abusive things. But the way that they were responding was not in seeking good and godly freedom for themselves or their their natural rights as women and people made in the image of God, but they were seeking to be just like the men and having right to act in deviant and bad ways. These women at the time, in Corinth and in other places we're seeking to show themselves just as capable at good things, like learning and and growing in other ways, but also in bad things, in in sexual deviance, in in being rude and being clamorous and other things. It's, of course, wonderful to have women in the body of Christ who are students of scripture, pay attention to details, who can pray and seeing and prophesy, as Paul has commanded them to...

...do. We see this not only in his commands but in other places as well. What is not wonderful, however, is to have the the kind of rebelliousness that these new women were showing, to have a rebelliousness in particularly in relation to the offices of the church, which are for qualified men and not for women. May Have. Paul may have in mind, in particular, the pastor or the wives of pastors or elders or people who are working in ordained offices, and then their wives asserting authority over them, acting not as allies and helpers but seeking to embarrass those who are in there called offices. This like this. The conclusion for this comes from another pot passage, and first Timothy, where Paul says I'm he does not permit a woman to speak, but she used to remain silent, and he specifies that by saying not exercise authority over a man. This prefers to church offices in particular, and that brings us to some careful applications using this passage. In other words, to say that women must stay silent at all times is a and abuse of God's word. Why? Because it requires us, that view requires us to reject the clear commands that he has made when he requires men and women to speak in worship even, and another places as well. Where do we see that? We see that here in First Corinthians Eleven, for example, where he talks about women prophesying and praying. He talks about it in Colossians three hundred and sixteen, where he speaks to all the church, men and women, and he says to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, to teach one another, singing psalms hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord. We are to teach. Men and women are to teach. In other words, men and women are to encourage one another and speak the word of God. Men and women are to sing and to pray, and these things are sometimes done speaking out loud in worship even, as we have all done by the Lord's command here today. These commands to that I'm mentioning are not for men only, and we have examples in the scriptures of this happening, in people, both men and women, being obedient to these commands. Therefore, since we have the command to both men and women to fullheartedly do these things, we must fullheartedly reject the silencing of women in all ways and all places on the basis of this command, because to do Huso is to reject the other clear commands and examples of the Lord. So, to put it in a provocative way, does the Bible allow women to speak in worship? Know, the Bible commands it. So then, what is Paul saying here right if he says so clearly to not speak, what does he mean when he says in another place to speak, in another place not to speak? I think you're left only with one viable option, one option we have to throw out right away, is that the Bible contradicts himself itself. We've just read that God is not an author of confusion, but it got an author of peace. We've been reading how God desires himself to be known and understood so that we might come together, so that we might know Christ, so that we might worship him. God is not of speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Nor is Paul and so we can easily reject that. Happily, there is another, another and a...

...better, easier answer, and it is this that when Paul speaks about women not or when Paul writes about women not speaking in Church, he has, UN very in mind a very particular type of speaking. It's not a blanket statement which would exclude the other things in which he's commanded, but it's a particular kind and it's that of speaking as one who exercises authority in the church, in other words, it's acting like a pastor or an elder or Deacon. This is what he commands women not to do. Now, this order in which the offices of the church are for qualified men is something that he doesn't explain here and describe and give arguments for. I'm not in depth anyway, but he assumes it and it is explicit in other places, particularly in the pastoral pistles, where Paul speaks to Titus and Timothy and tells them here's how the churches are to be ordered, and he gives qualifications for the offices which do not are not all our let me put it this way, because qualifications for the offices, which include the the the officers be men there. He says that these officers, ordained officers, must meet various qualifications and one of them is being male. In addition to these qualification lists, he says explicitly in this context of Church order, that he doesn't permit, as I mentioned before, women to exercise authority over men. So, like the requirement not to remain or to remain silent, this is not a blanket statement. Women can, of course, exercise authority and all kinds of positions and do, but not in church offices. Now, the scripture is so clear and so plain on this. We could stop there and just say, well, this is how the Lord has ordered things, and I think this is I will give a reason why in a moment, but I just want to remind us of something. I didn't know what Oler has was going to say about the moon earlier, but it's a it's a good example. Right. They're all kinds of ways in which God orders both creation and the church, some of which we understand very well and some which we don't understand at all, and it's okay. It's okay not to understand everything that the Lord commands and to understand his reasons for it. Do you know why the Moon rises exactly when it does. Can you explain why and how can you personally predict exactly when it's coming to come again and not look it up? Maybe one of us in here, but probably not most of us. And yet we can stand there at the base of the ring cons and we can look up and marvel at the goodness of God. We can rest in the peace of his order and then the lack of confusion that in the way that he has placed thing in this in this world. It's a good thing, even when we don't understand it all, and that applies in the church as well. Kids, you know this all the time right you're constantly getting rules and things that you don't understand. Why does it have to be why does the dishwasher have to be loaded this way and not that way? Why do I have to do this tour in the morning and not at night? Why do I have to go at school at this time and not at this time? All of these things, and yet what do you do? You submit to your parents and you listen to them because you know that they are they're doing what is best for you, as best they can anyway, and the same is truth. Is God, only better unlike me, a father who fails in many ways. God is our perfect and heavenly father who never fails and who orders everything perfectly in every way. It's okay for us, as Christian simply to say yes, Dad. It's really okay now. Doesn't mean that we don't...

...strive to understand the deeper things. As children who are trying to grow up into maturity, that's a good thing to do, to understand the reasons why, to get behind the logic and the theology. God wants us to understand those things. But when we don't remember that, it's okay to say yes dad, yes, father, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. With that being said, we can now ask why does God command it this way? Why does God command that it is men who hold ordained offices? This is a deep question and a hard one to answer, but I think one reason the Lord commands it is that it's consistent with God's almost universal representation of himself as a male and in particular in the form of his son Jesus. This aspect of God's representation is carried on through the apostles, who in turn required of those who follow them in the offices of Pastor and elder and Deacon. This, of course, does not make women in the church any less important or useful. Indeed, the women were not called to be apostles or elders. We see them in the scriptures using their gifts in so many were important ways, and they are listed and identified in the scriptures. They are called cold laborers by Paul, along with Paul, what an honor and a privilege that would be. The first instances of human evangelism, the prophetic, the speaking of the word of God, was done by women, those wonderful women who spoke, who saw the resurrection of the Lord and went and told the disciples at the command of God, women who are instrumental in training future pastors like Apollos and Timothy. For this reason, are hymnal rightfully include Psalms and and him tunes written by women. When I prepare for teaching, I'm not afraid to listen or read books and commentaries written by women, and here at Covenant we allow women to participate in anything that is not restricted to an ordained person. I emphasize this because, in our zeal to keep the Lord's commands regarding his offices, like Pharisees. Sometimes we can go beyond the limit that the Lord has said, and this, according both to scripture and our confession, is something that we ought not to do. We should never add to or take away from what the Lord has said. In other words, if Jesus doesn't make gender a qualification for using a certain type of spiritual gift, neither should we. Prophesying, praying, singing, teaching, hospitality, evangelism, encouragement, serving administration, all of these and more, in the exercise of these gifts are open to both men and women. It's fine if men and women gravitate towards this or that thing, but we must be careful not to purposefully or accidentally put boundaries around people where the Lord has given freedom. That is important in our obedience to him. This is a core principle, I might add, of presbyterianism and the reformation in general, and it preserves the the offices and the worship and the sacraments and all these other things that we believe are so important. We must not put boundaries where the Lord has robbed freedom. We must not add to what the Lord has said. In the flip side of this is equally true, just as important. We must not give freedom, allow ourselves freedom where the Lord puts boundaries God, because God has clearly made gender one of the qualifications for...

...holding office, and so we must respect that. Now I know and you know that the world will and does deride us for this. They will throw up all kinds of things and arguments about this or that and and say why we're so horrible for believing this, for saying yes father on this issue, and they may whine and say it doesn't make sense and it's not fair, but it really we have to remember that our decisions about what we do and what we don't do aren't based on a popularity mead and we don't have a temperature over here. We're sort of gage how our culture is thinking and then align ourselves with that. Right. The way we make our decisions about what we do and worship and church, government and all of our body life and our personal lives is on what the Lord says. Come what May. We simply respect the order God has made and, of course, try to understand it better and better. When we don't, we end up in all kinds of trouble, just like in the natural world. If you decide to go against God's order and you see the moon rising, you say, well, it's daytime. To me, you're going to have trouble, and in the church as well, if we go against God's order and we reject the things he has done, if we if we creed is unholy or profane the things he is called Holy, we're going to end up in trouble, like we talked about with the Lord Supper, like we talked about with a spiritual gifts, like we talked about with preaching and speaking and the ministry in the Church and all these other issues Paul has been up Britain bringing up into our attention. And so, likewise, here we have clear instructions to in scripture and we must submit ourselves to them, remembering that we do so because the Lord is building up, because the Lord is good, because the Lord has is a god of peace and not confusion, and it's on the basis of that order, that that good order, that Paul gives instructions here. He wants women to respect the offices of the Church and, of course men as well, and not to try and undo those rules by speaking as those with authority. Of course, men also are to respect this order, whether they are ordained or not, they must respect the officers of the Church and give honor where it is due. All, of course, under an in the Lord. We are all to be good learners, we are all to be silent at times, submissive and ordering ourselves in the church life so that it may be built up according to the word of God. To bring things to a close, then, one of the things is that this passage emphasizes in all these different applications is that the speaking and the listening as it happens, both informal services like this and around the edges, during fellowship times and Sunday schools and things like that, all the speaking and all the listening that goes on, we are we and our will is not at the center of that. We are not a toastmasters group coming together to just improve our speaking ability. We're also not a bunch of friends around a fire pit or a game table just gaping for fun these both these things are fine to do, but they aren't the center of what church life is. The center of what church life is all about is God speaking into the world. Even as he spoke at creation when he said let there be light, and there was light, he again speaks into the world a saving word, the word of Christ, and...

...creates something new, a new body that is ordered according to his good pleasure. That's what we come to, that's what we are here for and why we are here, and so we come to open our minds, our hearts and sometimes our mouths, and prayer and singing and teaching and these kinds of things based on that. The good news that just as at the beginning, when the Lord spoke and didn't spoke and took what was disordered and confusing and created order and peace, so also he has done so in the church. I think it's fair to say that if we were to identify two or three core values of a church, of a good church, one of them ought to be good order, living and striving for things. As he says here at the end, all things should be done decently and in good order. You remember, back in First Corinthian seven, Paul speaks about a marriage and singleness and these kinds of issues, and he says, I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint on you, but to promote good order and get this secure your undivided devotion to God. Isn't that amazing that he pairs good order and this fantastic piety right. The definition of a pious and a godly life, undivided devotion to the Lord. The one supports the other, the one leads to the other. Paul similarly says in Colossians too. Five he says to the Colossians, I though I'm absent in body, I'm with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and your firmness and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Paul looks at the Colossians and he's he's really happy. He rejoices when he sees their firmness of faith and their good order. Why would that be so important to him? Why would it make his heart sing when he sees not only their firmness of faith but their good order? Because God is not an author of confusion. And when we are dwelling in God and when we are being changed by God and when we are being sanctified by him according to the Work of Christ in the Gospel, he is ordering us, our affections, our lives, our worship, our offices, our minds, our doctrine, all of it. He is ordering it, not just for the sake of being a neat wreaker of being obsessive about putting things in their proper place, but putting things in their proper place so that they can reach their proper ends. And what is our proper end? What is our highest and undivided devotion to God? That's why good order matters, that's why thinking about these things in the details of our worship and our government matters. That's why God emphasizes these things. And so if we see failings in ourselves in these matters, if we see hard hearts and unsubmissive hearts, if we find in ourselves difficulties and to order our church life here at covenant in these ways, it's okay in this sense that, because God is who he is and because he's promised to do what he's promised to do in Christ, and because his Holy Spirit is in us, the Lord and Giver of Life, as we confessed earlier, bringing about this body, creating this church, we can go to him, we can listen to him, we can submit to him, we can wait on him and know...

...that the God who is not an author of confusion but of peace, he will work in us, he will grow in us and he will bring these things about us. So beloved. Let's learn to put our faith in him and the things that he has done, the things that he is doing, in the things that he has promised to do. Let's pray.

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