Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 19
I want you to just think with me of how many Bible translation is in a given Christian home. Let's think about this. At least most of us have one; many of us have many. Just think with me also when you realize that 80% of Christians in America do not read the Bible regularly, imagine that 60% of believer Christians or churchgoers, professing Christians, say that the Bible is not the infallible Word of God. And I wanna shake my head in despair and I want to say to these folks, "Do you realize that there were people who were killed, some lost their lives in order to give us the English Bible"?
Prior to the Reformation, people were not allowed to have a Bible. You could never own a Bible in your own language, for sure, absolutely not. Why am I telling you all of this? Because today, even though we have a plethora of different translations of the Bible, the problem we're having in many a church today is the same as that of the medieval time. We're having the same problem. It's manifested differently but it's the same problem. Back then in the medieval church, they tried to stop people from reading and knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ, but today, many a church leaders publicly doubt and deny the authority of the Bible and they're achieving the same results. Many others teach that you can pick and choose what you like and what you don't like from the Bible.
Here's a rule of thumb. Listen to me. Whenever the opinion of the preacher or the opinion of the teacher trumps the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the gospel is hindered. Look at what we have today. We've got a social gospel, prosperity gospel, modified gospel, self gospel, a smorgasbord gospel, and the list goes on and on and on. Question: What is the disease that all of these symptoms exhibit? It's the elevating of one's own opinion, one's own idea, above the inerrant Word of God. Don't you ever forget that. And if 1 Corinthians 14 teaches us anything, it teaches us that whenever the self dominates, the gospel is diminished.
Let me repeat this. Whenever the self dominate, the gospel is diminished. This could take hundreds of forms but the bottom line is the same. The Corinthians were abusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They really were. The reason? Self, always. It's like an onion. You keep peeling, you keep peeling, you keep peeling, you get down into the self. Let me give you very short historic background so you understand what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul and writing of this Epistle is all about. In Corinth, like all Greek cities at that time, most of the Greek cities at that time, they, of course, pagan worship and the gospel came into them where they worshiping, having pagan worship.
And pagan worship always accompanied with ecstasy. This type of ecstasy manifested itself in babbling and gibbering and speaking what they would call the languages of the gods and the goddesses in the pagan world. Remember I told you in chapter 12 that for every spiritual gift, for every gift that the Holy Spirit gives us, Satan comes up with a counterfeit gift. Every gift the Holy Spirit gives, Satan has a counterfeit. In the Corinthian church, much of the speaking in tongues was taking on the flavor of pagan ecstasy.
See, now you understand why he is so adamant about this. They neutralized the rational senses and opened themselves to exhibitionalism and that is why, verse 26, Paul is adamant that their worship must be edifying for the whole body, not just for the few, the selfish few. Hear me right, please. This is important. As you read very carefully 1 Corinthians 14, you will discover that their worship has been a bedlam. Well, we know that from the communion time for they were bringing the food and they were not even waiting for each other and the worship was a chaos. And the apostle has been exercised about that. They were giving very little thought as to the rest of how the body of the believers feel, let alone a visiting non-believer who would never come under conviction when he hear all the gibberish stuff going on.
He will not hear that he or she is a sinner and they're heading for hell, but Jesus has a way of escape out of that hell by coming to him who shed his blood for you and rose again for you. That is the only message that is gonna bring people to their knees and come to God, believing in him. You can beautify it, you can dress it up, and you can make it, take all the sharp edges out of it and make it soft and palatable to our culture but that will not get people to heaven. Let me give you five things, five principles that the Apostle Paul gives the Corinthians and he gives us about worshiping in truth and spirit. Five principles. Let me recite them for you.
First of all, he says, "Worship must be edifying for the whole body". How many? The whole body, verses 1 to 5. Then he said that worship must be "filled with clarity," verses 6 to 12. Thirdly, he said, "It must be rational, not just emotional," and I'm gonna come to that, verses 13 to 19. Fourthly, "It must not be counterfeit". Be careful of the counterfeit, verses 20 to 28. And finally, the fifth and the final principle, that "worship must solely and only based, founded, and springs out of the Word of God," verses 29 to 40.
Worship must be edifying to the whole body. You are not a face in a large group of people. For God, you are an individual. He sees you individually. He knows you individually. He loves you individually. He calls you by name individually. And therefore, everyone in the party is important, and therefore the edifying of every single person in the body is important. And while the Apostle Paul says that every believer must discover, we saw that in chapter 12. Every believer must discover their spiritual gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they use it in their life, and we saw that. The Corinthians, on the other hand, of all the other churches, they decided they were gonna clamor only for one gift. And even then, they were misusing it. Why? Because they wanted attention.
"Hey, look at me, guys. Look at me, boys. Not the glory of God, me". Beloved, if you are dissatisfied with the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you, I want you to ask yourself the following questions: Why? Why aren't... I want another gift. Is it to serve me or to serve the congregation, the body? Is it for personal use or for blessing of others. In 12:4, Paul said to all believers who are born of the Spirit of God, are baptized into that one Spirit and that's the Holy Spirit. No other Spirit. And that's why it says, "Test the spirits, test the spirits, because false spirits can sneak in, in any church".
In chapter 12, verse 10, he said, "Some were given gift of tongues, others were given the gift of interpretation of tongues". But the folks in Corinth, they view speaking in tongues to be glamorous and they want it. They want it. Because it draws attention, adulation, and even the envy on the part of the rest of the body. So here is what happened. Listen carefully. All the others in the church wanted in on this particular gift. Why? Pride, attention-getting, self-promotion, power, control. So they were trying to outdo each other. They were trying to outdo each other and trying to get that one gift. And in doing so, they opened themselves wide to Satan to come in and bring his what? His counterfeit gifts.
And that is why he's pleading with them and that is why, look at verse 4 with me please. "He who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who speaks in the Word of God," forthtelling, that is saying, "thus says the Lord", in his Word, "that person edifies the body". Beloved, through the years, I have learned that selfishness of any kind short-circuits prayer. Did you know that? It tarnishes everything it touches. It creates havoc everywhere it goes. Hear me right, please. The Corinthians did not understand that half of our problems is wanting our own way and the other half is getting our way. Look at verse 5. Paul is not despising, I wanna make that very clear. Paul is not despising the gift of tongues. He's not despising it.
In fact, he said, "If it's up to me, I'll give it to all of you. But I know it's not good for your ego. That can really be a destructive thing". But he goes on to say that gift is not for everyone. Again, go back to 12:10. It's only for some. Ah, but there's more. Nobody could ever accuse the Apostle Paul of sour grapes. He said, "Well, you know, Paul is saying that because he just doesn't know how to speak in tongues". He said, "I speak in tongues more than all of you". But it only was for self-edification, while reading and teaching and expounding the Word of God blesses everyone. How many?
Secondly, worship must be filled with clarity. Look at verses 6 to 12. Paul said that when there is biblical clarity, verse 7, everybody will be edified. But if there's no biblical clarity, it's like somebody playing a musical instrument who had never played that instrument before. It's a whole bunch of noise. It's just noise. Because it's only when the Word of God is clearly, and I might add this in, bluntly preached, it builds up, it corrects, it encourages, it comforts, it challenges. And when the Word of God is clearly communicated, we're gonna find beauty for ashes and it pours the oil of joy instead of mourning. It replaces the garment of heaven is for the garment of praise. Worship of God must never be guided by selfishness. And that is why Paul said, "Prophecy more accurately expounding the Word of God, is paramount. It's paramount".
Worship must be edifying to how many? Secondly, worship must be filled with clarity. Thirdly, worship must be rational, not just emotional, and there's nothing wrong with emotions, but if it's only emotional and not rational, then people are not gonna be edified. And you often hear me say this. It is not how high can you jump for Jesus. It's how straight you can walk when you land. Absolutely true. Verse 14: "If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays, but my mind not fruitful". If the mind is not engaged, it's not gonna help anyone, not even me. If your mind is not engaged in worship, you will not spiritually grow.
Also, if I pray in gibberish or self-focused, if my prayer was just about me, me, me, God, me, God, me, God, you're gonna find very few people are gonna say "Amen". In fact, nobody will say "Amen". To be sure, in the day of Pentecost, the disciples did not understand what they were saying. Focus with me. Because they were not speaking gibberish. They were speaking a known language. Languages are spoken. Now, the historians say there were 2 million people in the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. I find it very hard to imagine, how can you cram 2 million people in that little city, but that's what they say. Let's say hundreds of thousands. They came from all over the world as pilgrims to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Was a big celebration, big feast for Jews.
Here's a wonderful opportunity for people to hear the gospel in their own languages. So what does the gracious Holy Spirit do? He supernaturally gives the gift of language to the apostles so they were hearing the gospel in their own language. Now, remember, the disciples probably never been out of Israel. They did not speak language they have not learned, they didn't go to language school. They did not learn languages. So supernaturally, the Holy Spirit gave them other tongues or other languages to speak so that all these tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of foreign Jews can hear the gospel that Jesus Christ the Messiah who's expected throughout all the Old Testament, came, he died on a cross, was buried, rose again, and he's soon coming to judge the world. And they heard this message. They were struck in their hearts.
You have to understand God always, always has a purpose, always. God's gifts always have purpose. Worshiping God always has purpose. Serving God always has purpose. Ministering to others always have a purpose. Exercising your spiritual gifts always has a purpose. And that purpose is always, always, always edifying and blessing others. Fourthly, it must not be counterfeit, verses 20 to 28. Paul starts this section by appealing to the Corinthians to, "grow up, wise up. It breaks my heart in two when I'm talking to somebody who's been sitting under the gospel for 20 years and have no discernment. It breaks my heart". He said, "Be mature, not immature and undiscerning". Verse 20: "Brethren, do not be childish in understanding; in malice, yes, by all means be childish in that, but in understanding be mature".
We've been seeing throughout this series of messages, particular group of people, believers in Corinth, they were loveless, they were immature, they were not discerning, they were carnal Christians. And Paul is pleading with them because they were manifesting this immaturity and lack of discernment by not distinguishing between the true gifts of the Holy Spirit and the counterfeit gifts. It's breaking the apostle's heart. He said, "You should be able to discern this". But they were so stubborn about their own opinion, they do not want to be confused with the facts. You can tell the Corinthians but you couldn't tell them much. They were not interested in learning, they were not interested in biblical truth, they were not interested in growing. They were not interested in edifying others. They're only interested in impressing others. They were only interested in feeding their ego. They were only interested in pleasing themselves and that's why the Apostle John in 1 John 4:1 said, "Test the spirits to see whether they are of God or not".
Fifthly and finally, worship must be solidly based upon the Word of God, verses 29 to 40. Now, there's a key verse here. If you have your own Bible, underline it; if you're using your iPad or iPhone, highlight it: verse 33. It's really a wonderful verse: "For God is not the God of confusion but the God of order and peace". The reason we all should desire the gift of forthtelling the truth from the Word of God, because every time you speak biblical truth to a colleague or a friend or a neighbor, you are prophesying. What are you doing? Every time you bring the Word of God to bear upon a problem, you are what? Every time you instruct your children, Mom and Dad, every time you teach your children, instruct your children, in the Word of God, you are what? Every time you share relevant Scripture with someone, you are what?
And that is what prophecy means because it's not a new revelation because anything that's contrary or counter to the Scripture is not a revelation from God because, beloved, the Bible is complete. I wish I have time, I'll tell you from history, those who believe the canon's still open and God still speaks authoritatively, many of those churches in history were totally annihilated. The Bible is complete. Say that with me. You cannot add to it and most certainly you cannot subtract from it. Why is prophecy a superior gift? Because it convicts of sin. It brings us under conviction because it reveals to us the secrets of our hearts, because it brings us on our knees which is the rightful place for all of us to be before God. And the gift of prophecy can only be truly administered and fulfilled only if you are spending adequate time with that Word every day.