The True Church
A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 14:23-25
23Therefore if the whole church gathers together and all the people speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are insane? 24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account …
23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one …
What creates many problems in church? In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 14:23–24 titled “The True Church,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that what causes so many problems in church is that Christians do not know what the church is. Because they do not know what the church is supposed to be, they have conflict and divisions. Throughout this letter, the Apostle Paul addresses many of the issues by pointing them to what God has made the church to be. He tells them that the church is about the preaching of the word of God and the mutual building up of believers. When Paul comes to the issue of spiritual gifts, he tells them that as members of Christ’s body, they are to love one another and put each other first. This radical ethic of love ought to inform all Christians of how they live with one another, and how they are to love one another. Spiritual gifts are not for oneself; they are so that each person can help others and build up the body of Christ. This is a great message that is vital to all believers.
- The apostle Paul is dealing with the issue of speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14.
- Paul does not focus solely on the issue itself but examines how it relates to the church as a whole.
- Most problems in the church and in our lives arise from not knowing how to properly approach issues.
- Paul puts the issue of speaking in tongues in the context of the life of the whole church.
- Our view of the church is inadequate which leads to many troubles.
- 1 Corinthians deals with many issues in the church and how to solve them.
- The church was dividing over favorite preachers like Paul, Apollos and Peter.
- Paul says they have a wrong view of the church if they think it can be divided. The church is united in Christ.
- There was a man in the church living in sin with his father's wife. The church tolerated this.
- Paul says they must remove this man as sin spreads like leaven in the church. They must understand the nature of the church.
- There were issues over eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some thought it was fine, others were offended.
- Paul says not to cause a brother to stumble. The church is a family and must care for weaker members.
- There were issues over the Lord's Supper where some had too much food and drink and others had little.
- Paul says the church is like a body and they were violating this. They must understand the church.
- The church was divided over spiritual gifts with some exalting showy gifts and despising others.
- Paul says the church is a body with many parts. All gifts are needed. They must use gifts for the good of the whole church.
- Paul examines speaking in tongues in the context of the whole church.
- If unbelievers come in and all are speaking in tongues, they will think the church is mad.
- But if all prophesy and an unbeliever comes in, they are convicted and the secrets of their heart are revealed.
- The church gathers for the purpose of evangelism, not just for themselves.
- The church is tested based on the response of unbelievers who come in.
- There are two possibilities: they think the church is mad or they say God is truly among them.
- The presence of God is shown through life, power, energy and vigor. God is the source of all life.
- The kingdom of God is not in word but in power. The church should have power and life, not be dead.
- Compare excited people at a football match to dull church members. The world wants life and reality.
- A former spiritualist came to church and felt a clean power, unlike the unclean power she knew before. She became a Christian.
- Where God is, there is life and power. This is what makes a church a church.
- The church needs discipline and order. Power without order leads to confusion.
- God is a God of order, not confusion. He powerfully created the universe but with order and laws.
- A church needs life but also discipline. Power without discipline causes problems.
- A church needs knowledge and teaching. The world needs understanding which only comes from God and his word.
- The church is meant to spread light and truth, not just entertain. Preaching and teaching are essential.
- The response of unbelievers shows if God is truly present. They will be convicted of sin and judgment.
- Unbelievers will see their need for God, fall down and worship him, and report that God is among the church.
- A church is not just a gathering of good people but a place where God dwells.
- Without God's presence, a church is just a club or institution. God's presence brings conviction, repentance, salvation, and new life.
- We must pray for and seek after God's presence in our gatherings. Nothing else will do.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.