2020-12-13 – 1 Corinthians 14 – Zealous for Spiritual Gifts – 1
December 13, 2020

2020-12-13 – 1 Corinthians 14 – Zealous for Spiritual Gifts – 1

Passage: 1 Corinthians 14:1

2020-12-13 – 1 Corinthians 14 – Zealous for Spiritual Gifts – 1
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.

Today’s message has to do with the subject of spiritual gifts, more specifically the gifts of tongues and prophesy. Does anyone here speak another language?
I speak a little English, Spanish, German, Hindi (et), Chinese (E) Korean (hana) and Arabic (wa). (count to 5). I enjoy speaking different languages as it is a door to communicate God’s love to the people. But we must be wise about how and when we use our language skills. Just like there are many words in English that can easily be mis-spoken, the same applies to all the other languages as well. Using even a right word in the wrong tense or context can even be insulting. And I am speaking from experience unfortunately. So many times I have attempted to communicate in someone’s native tongue, only to be met with that confusing stare, lol. In our scripture verses today and next week, Paul is going to instruct us about languages, and more specifically about Spiritual Tongues. And he is going to show us, what are the constraints and instructions for communicating using both tongues and prophesy for the building up of the church family body.

Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 14:1, page 1019 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.   Prayer..

Last week we read from chapter 13 where Paul gave us essentially what is commonly referred to as a definition of Love. I will remind you though that this letter-book of Corinthians is really a letter of correction. Paul was correcting the Corinthian believers because although they were Zealous for Spiritual Gifts, they obviously were not showing much love for one another in the process. These first verses in the 14th chapter is sub-titled “Prophecy: A Superior Gift”. Verse 1 reads:

1 Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. 2 For the person who speaks in a tongue is not speaking to people but to God, since no one understands him; he speaks mysteries in the Spirit. 

Question: Have you ever walked into a gathering of people, and you quickly realize that everyone is speaking a different language? Kind of a odd situation isn’t it. Maybe makes one feel a little uncomfortable or even intimidated.

The word tongues used in these verses simply means languages, but more specifically speaking in a spiritual language to God. According to Paul here, spiritual tongues are not intended to be used for horizontal communication, but for vertical communication. Has anyone here heard somebody speaking in spiritual tongues? Many times we might see this demonstrated on TV or in a church but it doesn’t necessarily meet the instructions given to us by Paul here. Sometimes people do this to draw attention to themselves, but Paul said that anyone who speaks in tongues should be speaking to God not the people.

We talked briefly about Tongues a couple weeks ago. How many churches confuse Pentecost with Spiritual gifts, but that Pentecost event is written about in Acts 2, is where the disciples spoke in other human languages. Having said that, I also believe there is a spiritual language, as Paul mentions them himself. In the previous chapter 13 Paul starts out by saying, “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.
Does anyone here know what language the Angels speak? I sure don’t. So do I believe in the spiritual gift of Speaking in Angelic or Heavenly Tongues? Yes I do. Do I speak in Angelic or Heavenly Tongues? No I don’t. If God would have given me that gift, I would be happy to employ that ability for His purpose and His glory, but He did not. However, this gift, as well as the other gifts of the Holy Spirit are real, and who am I to question that.

Think about this, when we pray to God in silence, in our minds we may be praying in English, but what does God actually hear? The bible says that even our groaning are translated by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:26 Paul wrote, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”. So again, I will propose to you that speaking “in the spirit”, in angelic tongues or even our groaning, is intended to be primarily between you and God.  Paul continues his instructions at verse 3:

3 On the other hand, the person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. 4 The person who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
5 I wish all of you spoke in tongues, but even more that you prophesied.
The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be built up.

So what does prophesies mean? According to Google, “prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet to have been communicated to them by a deity. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of divine will about events yet to come”. And a profit is one of the five ordained positions in the New Testament. In Ephesians 4:11 it says, Jesus “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” A true prophet of God will be committed to speaking God’s truth. He or she will never contradict God’s revealed Word. And a prophet who goes against God’s word is called a false profit.

Last week we read from chapter 13, where Paul also wrote about Spiritual Gifts. Starting at verse 8, he wrote “But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.”

In that regard, many people today suggest that tongues and prophesies were only a tool to use by the early believers until the Bible was completed or finalized into an assembly or cannon. About our Bible, the Apostle John wrote the final book of Revelation sometime around AD 96. And the assembly of our Bible or cannon came first together around AD 150.

Other people though, including myself believe that “the complete” Paul refers to in these verses means when Jesus returns to Earth and Heaven and Earth are re-created. Although we can’t know exactly when that event will come to pass, many of the signs for that event have already been realized. So in that regard, I believe these Spiritual Gifts are still given, but we will have to see how this all plays out.

Again, according to Paul, the use of tongues is primarily between the individual and God. So in the context of church body, prophesy is more important because it has a broader application. Tongues are intended for personal prayer and personal praise. But prophesy is meant to be a benefit to all those who hear it. And that is what Paul again reiterates in the next verses. Verse 6 reads:

6 So now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you with a revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 Even lifeless instruments that produce sounds—whether flute or harp—if they don’t make a distinction in the notes, how will what is played on the flute or harp be recognized? 8 In fact, if the bugle makes an unclear sound, who will prepare for battle? 9 In the same way, unless you use your tongue for intelligible speech, how will what is spoken be known? For you will be speaking into the air. [SLIDE] 10 There are doubtless many different kinds of languages in the world, none is without meaning. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker will be a foreigner to me. 12 So also you—since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in building up the church.

Again, if you walk into a gathering of people that are speaking another language, that would probably cause you to be uncomfortable. The same goes for Spiritual Tongues. I have had the privilege of visiting some Pentecostal churches in the past when they were speaking in tongues. There was a spiritual interpreter at the service that explained what was said. But in the back of my mind, since I didn’t know the language, I always questioned the exercise. Did they really interpret right, or did they make it up? Was that a biblical application as Paul laid out here, or was it a deception? That is what Paul was concerned with in these verses as well as the ones that follow. Paul doesn’t want Spiritual Tongues to be a stumbling block for anyone. Instead Paul wrote here that Prophesy is much more valuable for the church body of believers in their general practice. Verse 13 continues.

13 Therefore the person who speaks in a tongue should pray that he can interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you praise with the spirit, how will the outsider say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may very well be giving thanks, but the other person is not being built up.  18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.   Paul continues: [SLIDE]

20 Brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in regard to evil, and adult in your thinking. 21 It is written in the law, I will speak to this people, by people of other tongues and by the lips of foreigners, and even then, they will not listen to me, says the Lord. 22 Speaking in tongues, then, is intended as a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers. While prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church assembles together and all are speaking in tongues and people who are outsiders or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 

[SLIDE] 24 But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or outsider comes in, he is convicted by all and is called to account by all. 25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.”

The Apostle Paul was really an amazing man. I believe he spoke fluently in at least Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. He was knowledgeable and proficient in both the Mosaic Law and also Roman Politics. He was the right man at the right appointed time. That is why Jesus chose Paul. It was no accident, it was ordained.

When Paul wrote “Speaking in tongues, then, is intended as a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers”. In that, you should know that God used many signs and wonders to start and spread the early church. Jesus used signs and wonders to get a lot of attention. In the 3 ½ years of Jesus’s ministry, He got plenty of attention by healing many people, and even rose some from the grave. And in doing so He effectively changed the world. Today God wants all believers to also call attention to Him, so that some might be saved. Demonstrating Spiritual gifts is one way that immediately gets attention of folks, especially to those outside of the church. But when that happens, God wants us to deflect that attention onto Him. Then we are to reflect God’s light and love back onto the world. Spiritual Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up the church, not ourselves. So when you see or experience Spiritual Gifts going forward, don’t be surprised, don’t be scared. Listen then evaluate where the attention is going to, and weigh that experience against Paul’s instruction here. That is why Paul wrote it for the Corinthians and for us today, and that is why we should learn to apply it to our Christian walk going forward.

These letters of instruction from Paul are so valuable to me, and I hope they are for you as well. This whole Bible is worthy of our attention. Let us endeavor to make it more a part of our everyday lives, Amen?

In closing let me say from the bottom of my heart: Feilen Danke, Muchas Gracias, Shukriya, Gam-sa-hamnida, Shay-Shay and Shukran. All of which means “Thank You”. Thank you for being part of this service today. Thank you for being part of our Church Family. Thank you for your encouragement and friendship.

One thing about languages is, once you endeavor to learn one, you have to consistently exercise that language otherwise you will loose hold of it. Fortunately, we don’t have that same problem with our faith walk. I believe in Eternal Security, which basically means, once you are truly saved, you are always saved. God has you in His grip brothers and sisters, and in that He will never let you go. If you believe that say “Amen”.

May God watch after us and keep us for His glory, purpose and pleasure. Forever and ever. Would you please rise and pray with me.

Next week we are going to talk more about Spiritual Gifts, but more specifically how that applies to our church worship services.


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