Exodus 20:16 commands us not to bear false witness against our neighbor. Yet, if we are to be true witnesses with respect to our neighbors, how much more are we required to be true witnesses of the Lord? In all that we do as individuals and as the corporate body of Christ, we must seek to provide a true witness to God. In so doing, we imitate Jesus Himself, whom Revelation 1:5 identifies as “the faithful witness.”
Public worship is one of the arenas where we must be most concerned to be true witnesses to the Lord. We learn as much from today’s passage where, having commended orderly worship in 1 Corinthians 14:26–32, Paul says that we follow an order in worship because “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (v. 33). The way that we conduct our public gatherings to praise the Lord and hear from His Word says something about God, and it will say either something true or something false. Worship services that do not follow a particular structure, where everyone speaks at once, where almost everything goes, fail to bear witness to our God as One who brings peace where He is present with His people.
In Scripture, peace involves not only the end of hostilities but the setting of things in their right order. It is the antithesis of confusion, where things are not related properly to each other and where there is a jumbled mess of words and actions. When the Lord acts for His people, He brings not confusion and disorder but peace and order. We see this at the very beginning, when God acted to bring order to the disordered primordial chaos of darkness and water (see Gen. 1:1–2:3). He will consummate this work in the new heaven and earth when all creation will be set into its proper order forever (Rev. 21:1–22:4). As the Lord brings people to faith, He pours out His love, which brings harmony (Rom. 5:1–5; Col. 3:14), not dissonance. Properly ordered worship and church life proclaim this truth and present God to the world as He is, a God of peace and order.
Throughout church history, many people have thought that uncontrolled spontaneity in worship and in other aspects of the church’s life and ministry are the best testimony to the Holy Spirit and the work of God. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 14 demonstrates the falseness of this view. Our worship must testify to the peace and order that characterize our Creator Himself.