For The Sake Of Others - 14:1-19

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:00
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Blow Trumpet
Anyone blessed by that one note?
Anyone benefitted? Encouraged? Strengthened?
Let me try again.
Let me play Amazing Grace.
How was that?
It wasn’t Amazing Grace, was it?
The purpose of playing an instrument is for a recognizable and pleasing tune or melody to be produced.
When that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t benefit anyone.
It is at best an irritant, and at worst, a harmful noise.
My ability to play the trumpet was given to me to bless others.
It is for the enjoyment and pleasure of those who hear.
Playing it incorrectly violates the purpose for which the instrument was created.
Here is the spiritual application of this truth.
All who have trusted in Jesus have a spiritual gift.
That gift was given for the benefit of others.
When we use it incorrectly, we violate the very purpose of the gift.
In this section o 1 Corinthians, Paul is answering questions from the Corinthian church regarding spiritual things.
In Chapter 12 Paul begins to explain the purpose and use of Spiritual gifts.
He addressed the purpose in ch. 12, the priority in ch. 13, and now here in ch. 14 he addresses the practice of spiritual gifts.
The purpose of Spiritual gifts is to build and bond the body.
The priority of Spiritual gifts is love, not personal advancement.
Now, we come to the practice of spiritual gifts.
How are they to be used?
What is the goal?
Our Spiritual gifts exist for the growth of the body of Christ.
As we seek to develop growth in the body we pursue three goals.
When the body of Christ matures Christ is glorified, lives are transformed, and sinners become saints.
As we seek to develop growth in the body of Christ we pursue three goals.
Goal #1…

1. Your Gift Is To Build Up Others vv. 1-5

Raise your hand if you know what a stair stringer is.
The first time I heard that term, I was working on a friends deck and he asked me if I knew how to cut a stringer.
I think the blank look on my face said it all.
A stringer looks like this.
You use it in building to put your stairs on.
The whole point of a stringer is to provide support so you can get to the next level.
That is how our Spiritual gifts are to work.
We provide support to one another so that together we can reach the next level.
We build one another up.
When it comes to building one another up there are two negative realities.
We can only build up others as we understand these.
Negative reality #1…

a. Not everything builds vv. 1-3

The first time I tried to cut a stair stringer on my own I somehow miscounted and left off a whole step.
That won’t get anyone to the next level.
We need to recognize that not everything builds other people up.
Look at v. 1.
1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
“Pursue” is an active imperative.
We are to actively pursue love.
We don’t wait for it to happen, or wait for it to be formed in us, we pursue it!
We seek after it and hunt it down.
Spiritual gifts are to be desired.
This word speaks of having a passion, enthusiasm, and zeal for them!
Spiritual gifts are not a boring hum-drum thing.
They are exciting!
They are to be exercised with passion!
However, above both of those things, pursue and desire prophecy.
Especially – μᾶλλον (mallon) instead; more; rather. More (extent) – to a greater degree or extent. Comparative adverb.
Especially – μᾶλλον (mallon)
This word is a comparative adverb which means that our pursuit of, and desire for prophecy is to exceed our pursuit of love or desire for gifts.
Prophecy is not primarily foretelling the future.
It is the proclamation of God’s truth.
Prophesy – προφητεύω (prophēteuō) prophesy. To prophesy (inspired) – to make a representative declaration of the mind, will, or knowledge of a god, as in his agency, under his influence, or indwelt by him. Finite verb, present, active, subjunctive, second person, plural.
Prophesy – προφητεύω (prophēteuō)
This is what we do in preaching.
The ability proclaim God’s truth should be sought.
Not tongues, but prophecy, or preaching, is the most important gift for the church today.
These are the tools we build with.
Love, spiritual gifts, and prophesy.
When it comes to building, prophecy is primary.
Love is a part of it, but we cannot build people up if we are not teaching them truth.
What does this mean?
It means this.
Preaching the truth of God’s Word is vital for the health and growth of the church.
It is the most important spiritual gift.
Look at verse 2.
1 Corinthians 14:2 NKJV
2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
Why is this a big deal?
Because it violates the purpose of the church.
The church exists to build up, mature, and grow the body of Christ.
If no one can understand you, that cannot happen.
The task is understanding.
Tongues are all well and good, but they do not build others because they are not understood.
Tongues are always languages that exist in the world.
Here, the problem is that no one in the congregation speaks it!
This is cast in a negative light.
If you are speaking in a language that no one understands, you are benefiting no one.
They don’t understand, they can’t make sense of what he is saying.
Though his spirit may be speaking mysteries, it isn’t profitable.
“Spirit” here is translated with a small “s”.
It is understood as referring to the human spirit.
The spirit of the one doing the speaking.
He is speaking mysteries, but they do not benefit others because they cannot understand.
1 Corinthians 14:3 NKJV
3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
In contrast to the exclusively personal benefit of speaking in tongues when no one understands the language seen in v. 2; prophecy is beneficial all the time.
Prophecy or preaching has three positive effects here in v. 3.
Edification, exhortation, comfort.
Edification – οἰκοδομή (oikodomē) building; edification. Building up – the act of bringing something closer to fullness or completion; understood as if assisting in the construction of an incomplete building. Direct object, noun, accusative, singular, feminine.
Edification – οἰκοδομή (oikodomē)
This is what preaching does for the body of Christ, the church!
It brings us closer to completion, to maturity.
Exhortation – παράκλησις (paraklēsis) comfort; encouragement. Exhortation – the act of earnestly supporting or encouraging (a response or action). Direct object, noun, accusative, singular, feminine.
Exhortation – παράκλησις (paraklēsis)
This is the effect that preaching has on the believer.
It encourages us to continue in the faith being steadfast and immovable!
Comfort – παραμυθία (paramythia) consolation. Consolation (act) – the act of giving relief in affliction. Direct object, noun, accusative, singular, feminine.
Comfort – παραμυθία (paramythia)
God’s Word is what gives relief in affliction!
If someone is going through a trial, walking up to them and speaking in a language they don’t understand is not going to provide comfort!
What they need is to be fed by the food of the Word!
Here is the summary.
Pursue love, desire spiritual gifts but remember that preaching is primary.
Preaching is primary because it can be understood and it builds people up!
When we preach we do three things.
Teach them, encourage them, care for them.
Tongues do not build up, preaching does.
Repeat - read aloud
Therefore, preaching is primary.
Prophecy, the proclamation of God’s truth, is more important than tongues.
Two negative realities we must understand to build others up.
Negative reality #1: Not everything builds.
Negative reality #2…

b. Not everything is equal vv. 4-5

1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV
4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
Stated here is the reality that speaking in tongues edifies yourself.
The speaker is blessed by having the Holy Spirit speak through them.
They are praising or praying in the spirit.
The problem is this.
It does no good for anyone else.
The word “but” is contrastive here.
In contrast to self-edification, a preacher edifies the church.
The whole point of prophecy is that it builds up the church.
Church – ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) assembly; church. Church – an orderly congregation specifically of those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah (or those who compose it). Direct object, noun, accusative, singular, feminine.
Church – ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia)
So here is the contrast.
The one who speaks in tongues edifies himself.
The one who speaks prophecy edifies the church.
This is a really really important point because of the stated purpose of Spiritual gifts.
Go with me to Ephesians 4:11-16.
Ephesians 4:11-16
Ephesians 4:11–16 NKJV
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
To speak in church and only build yourself up is to violate and abuse the gift you have been given!
It was given for the purpose of building up the church!
Not yourself.
Therefore, if no one can understand the language being spoken, it is meaningless, keep silent.
Paul is very clear.
The purpose of Spiritual gifts according to ch. 12 and Eph. 4 is the edification of the body of Christ.
Someone who speaks in tongues without an interpreter only edifies themselves.
To speak in tongues without an interpreter is an exercise of sinful pride, it has no desire to edify the church.
The focus is self-promotion.
Look at verse 5.
1 Corinthians 14:5 NKJV
5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
The result of prophecy is the edification of the church.
Someone speaking in tongues edifies himself and not the church.
Our gifts were given for the benefit of all!
Paul has an earnest desire in v. 5 that the Corinthians be able to speak in tongues.
He wants them to speak in languages.
For evangelistic purposes!
He wants people to hear the gospel and be saved!
However, in the church, Paul has a different desire.
“Even more” is the same word used in v. 1, translated “especially”.
Paul wants them to speak in tongues, but more than that, he wants them to prophesy.
Preaching edifies the church.
Therefore, it is greater than speaking in languages.
Especially if there is no interpreter!
The goal of a church assembly is for the people to be edified.
Prophecy is greater.
This is a comparative statement.
There is also an exception given.
Unless there is one who interprets.
The “he” who speaks in languages is different than the “he” who interprets.
Again, we see a clear statement.
The goal is the edification of the church.
If there is no interpreter, no one is edified and therefore tongues should not be used.