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1 Corinthians 14:1-19
The Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues.
Good morning Church.
Open your Bible’s with me to 1 Corinthians 14 and we will begin this chapter today, I’m not planning on finishing it, so you clock watchers can just relax.
While your finding your place, without a ton of introduction, I want to remind you of some of what has gotten us to where we are in this letter.
Back in chapter 8, Paul wrote...
Knowledge puffs up, and leads to pride, but love edifies.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
Edifies is actually a construction term.
In chapter 9, Paul writes...
The Apostle Paul, put himself in the role of a servant for the sake of the Gospel that other’s might come to know Jesus.
He put others above himself.
Chapter 10
A little further down in the same chapter...
In the 11th chapter...
Down a little further, the head of women is man…wait, how’d that get in there!?! Chapter 12, verse 7
And finally the bookends to chapter 13, verses 1&2
and the last verse...
Chapter 14 begins....
Lets pray....
Paul doesn’t just get a running start into this chapter, in all of his writings, he emphasizes our role as individuals in the building up of the church, strengthening and servings others.
In his letter to the church in Rome...
The church in Corinth was lacking in no gift, they were into the the gifts, which is not a bad thing, Paul starts our chapter this morning with an encouragement to desire spiritual gifts, but the church in Corinth had it all wrong, they were pursuing gifts in an obsessive and selfish kind of way.
There was status in certain gifts, some where considered more spiritual than others.
When they would gather together, it would become a spiritual gifts talent show, and Paul is correcting that thinking in this chapter.
So we are going to go through it, while at the same time, teaching about the gifts of the Holy Spirit for those that may not be familiar with them.
So again...
Right after the love chapter he begins with the instruction to pursue love, go after that.
As Christians our main pursuit should be love.
As a manifestation of that love, we should seek to strengthen, encourage, and build up our brothers and sisters in Christ.
One of the ways we can do that is through the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives as He wills.
Again He decides, not us, what gift or gifts we will receive.
But it’s OK to want spiritual gifts, I want, all that the Lord is willing to give me…Paul tells us here to desire that, but especially prophesy…why prophesy Paul, tell us more....verse 2...
I’m going to stall out here a little bit so that hopefully we can understand a little more about these gifts.
Paul talks about tongue and prophecy back in chapter 12, but just along with the list of several other gifts that he rattled off miracles, helps, administrations, teaching, right, a bunch of them, but here he singles these two out.
I’ve mentioned this before, that many churches teach the gift of the Spirit, are no longer for today, I addressed that in some detail last week, so I won’t do so again, other than to state that after extensive Bible study and personal experience, I personally am convinced that all of the gifts are still relevant and for use today, and intended to bless the church in 2022.
But, Paul lays out some order and context for how they are to be used that is extremely important of us to get, so that we don’t misrepresent God, nor make ourselves look like the lunatic fringe.
So Paul starts with Prophesy, and says, man if you’re going to desire a gift, or ask God to give you a gift, prophecy is an awesome one to ask for.
Now I grew up in a church that taught the gift had ceased at the time of the Apostles, so prophecy was taught to be speaking forth the Word of God, or inspired preaching.
There can be a sense of that, but that is not all there is too it, and Paul will tell us more about prophecy as we read on here, but it is not just preaching.
Past of the reason we can know that is because Paul calls it prophecy, not preaching.
If Paul just wanted to say inspired preaching, he could have, there’s a Greek word of preaching…you Berean scholars can look it up in Strong’s its number 2784 Kerusso
Strong's Concordance
kérussó: to be a herald, proclaim
Original Word: κηρύσσω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: kérussó
Phonetic Spelling: (kay-roos'-so)
Definition: to be a herald, proclaim
Usage: I proclaim, herald, preach.
So it’s not just preaching, although preaching can be a wonderful gift that can build up the body.
It’s sometimes a combination of gifts teaching and exhortation.
Exhortation being strong or intense encouragement.
Sometimes preaching can combine, teaching and correction.
Exhortation by the way is sort of like Caleb and Joshua who we’ve been reading about in the book of Numbers.
It’s going to be tough gang, and there’s lots of challenges in the promised land, but it is following with milk and honey, and God is on our side, lets do this!
Those of you that have played sports and made it into the finals.
That speech your coach gave you in the locker room.
You’ve done the work, you ran the plays, you’ve sweat, you’ve sacrificed, you’re ready for this, not lets go out there and do this!
That’s exhortation.
With the gift of preaching, sometimes the same exact message can bring one thing to one person and something completely different to another....but that’s not what Paul’s talking about here, or he would have used Kerusso!
He’s talking about prophecy.
It certainly is speaking forth for God, it can be predictive, it can be revelatory.
It is directional, meaning it is God speaking to man.
Often through man to man, from God. Different from the gift of tongues, look at verse 2...
I don’t like to base an entire doctrine on a single verse, there are cults out there that do that.
But, I do think that this is a foundational verse to having a proper understanding of the gift of tongues.
Again, for he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to who?, so if you’re given the gift of tongues and you’re speaking in tongues, who aren’t you speaking to?
Men…right, me, …keep reading, does not speak to men but to who? God.
So if you receive the gift of tongues and you’re speaking, you’re praying, you’re singing in a tongue, who are you speaking to?
God....he goes on…for no one understands him, no one being men, even if that tongue is interpreted, it’s not the tongue you would understand, it is the interpretation of the tongue....however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries....
It is important to remember this verse as a foundational verse in order to make sense of the rest of what we are told about tongues.
Lot’s of churches teach that tongues is simply the supernatural ability to speak in a language that you don’t know.
Wicked helpful to missionaries sent to foreign lands…just like what happened in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost....except that’s not what happened, or this verse wouldn’t be true.
Those examples would be examples of men speaking to men, not men speaking to God.
whoa, whoa, whoa, what happened on the day of Pentecost then?
I thought there was people there from all over, that spoke different languages, the people understood them, and got saved.
Lets look at part of it....Acts chapter 2, starting in verse 5
It lists out some of the nations and then look at verse 11
They understood what they were saying and they heard them speaking the wonderful works of God....there’s another passage in in Acts chapter 10 that talks about them hearing others speaking in tongues.
So they heard them speaking the wonderful works of God, they heard them magnifying God…they heard them praising God...if you read through the story on the day of Pentecost, when it was time to preach, Peter preached and he spoke in the common language that the people shared - Greek, he preaches an incredible message in the rest of Acts chapter 2 and that is when over 3, 000 people get saved.
So prophecy is God speaking to men and tongues is men speaking to God.
So a proper interpretation of tongues shouldn’t be something little children, you’re doing a terrible job at being a Christian, turn from you’re wickedness, you filthy people, …a proper interpretation of tongues should be something like a praise to God, a prayer to God, a song to God, some type of communication to God…speaking of the wonderful works of God, or praying in intersession for someone or something where the Holy Spirit is interceding for shouldn’t be God sending a message to men…We will see from Paul’s description that prophecy shouldn’t sound like the example I gave of tongues either…little children, you’re doing terrible....check out chapter 14, verse 3...
He who prophesies speaks edification, things that are going to build up, not break down....edification and exhortation, remember our championship coach, someone giving a rally cry…an encourager, not a discourager, exhortation is intense encouragement and, and it brings comfort to men! What an awesome gift!
I want that one.
Paul says, that’s the one to go for.
To supernaturally, often pretty naturally, build up people in the church, encouraging them and bringing them comfort from God, that’s cool.
What else Paul?
Let’s keep going…verse 4
Well that’s a no brainier right?
Tongue talkers are obviously selfish, and all about themselves, but those that prophecy build up the church.
No. that’s not what he’s saying.
But he is discussing the nature of the two gifts.
And many in this church prided themselves in having the gift of tongues.
Later in the chapter, and we won’t get there today, you’ll see that the context of this in in relation to public worship, when we gather like this together, are these gifts supposed to be used, and if so, how should they be used, why or why not, and what good are they?
So in that context, Paul is saying well, concerning tongues, when a man prays in an unknown tongue, he’s not talking to other men and women in the church, he or she is talking to God, they’re praying, they’re talking to God, not me, so that’s not going to bless me, or build me up, unless in those cases where the tongue is interpreted, and I then understand not the tongue, but the interpretation of the tongue, and that blesses me.
Now you might be thinking, well how is someone else’s prayer, or someone else’s praise going to bless me!?! Let me ask you this....have you ever spent very much time in the psalms?
Have you ever read David’s praise to God, or one of his prayers and thought, oh man, that’s exactly how I’m feeling Lord, or those are the words that I’ve been lacking, amen to that!
So Paul isn’t saying tongues are bad, or edifying yourself is bad, but when we gather together, we should be using our gifts that are going to edify others.
When were alone with God at home doing our devotions, one of the primary reasons we have a quite time with God is to build ourselves up, edify ourselves in a world that is constantly taring us down.
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