Spiritual Gifts, Part 2
We’ll continue with the subject of spiritual gifts. As I mentioned before there are two camps with this whole issue of spiritual gifts. There are those who do not believe that spiritual gifts are for today. Then, there are those that believe everybody should speak in tongues. In the latter cases there seems to be almost a worship of spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:31 – But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
One of the first things we need to realize is that spiritual gifts do not make us spiritual. God gives spiritual gifts more to build up the body, in other words, to make it holy. Think about the condition of the church. There were divisions taking place, they had been taken in by super-apostles, and had forgotten to resolve to know Jesus Christ and him crucified. They had thought Paul was a crafty fellow that was trying to take them captive. There were lawsuits happening among the congregation. There was even a prostitute problem. He addresses that in 1 Corinthians 6:16 by stating, “Don’t you know that someone is united with a prostitute, that he is one with her in flesh?” They were causing other people to stumble by how and when they ate. Some were full while others were going hungry. Others were getting drunk. They didn’t want to help Paul with his expenses in his ministry. They were very self-absorbed people. Women were, of course, out of place and worship was not orderly at all. They misused the spiritual gifts for their own pride and to lift themselves up. They sinned even beyond the way the world sinned. Look at 1 Corinthians 5:1. Again, spiritual gifts do not make us spiritual, and God does not give them to us because we’re spiritual. He gives spiritual gifts to us to build us up in righteousness and holiness with the hope that we’ll become pure. But just because somebody speaks in tongues, or has a gift of prophecy, or even, for that matter, the gift of speaking or preaching of the word, doesn’t mean that they are holy in that. Paul will state that he beats his body and makes it his slave so that he will not be disqualified for the prize. In 1 Corinthians 5:1 it shows the condition of the Corinthian church, even with all of the spiritual gifts that they could have.
1 Corinthians 5:1 – It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.
Not only do they have the sin taking place, but they were proud of it.
1 Corinthians 5:2 – And you are proud!
It is as if they talked about love, grace, and mercy, and somehow that all got mixed up. They were holding this up as an example of showing some grace and kindness to somebody in sin.
1 Corinthians 5:2 – And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?
As we look around the churches today that have many spiritual gifts in the congregation, what do you usually find? You find a tremendous toleration of sin. Where you find them focusing in on spiritual gifts you find sin running rampant within the church. It is like saying that a person who has a spiritual gift or speaks in tongues is somehow close to the Lord. Therefore, we can choose to look away from the sins. Somehow, it is considered holy to be accepting and tolerant.
1 Corinthians 5:2 – Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief?
They were not filled with grief. They were filled with joy and excitement. They thought they were doing something good in Jesus Christ. They thought they were showing love, toleration, kindness, mercy, and all those qualities that are in Jesus Christ. Indeed, they were proud of the fact that they tolerated this kind of sin, Paul said, “Shouldn’t you have put them out of your fellowship? Shouldn’t you have dealt with them?” In spite of the spiritual gifts that they had and all of the emphasis upon God working the miraculous things that he did within the body of Corinth, they were still a people not pure and not holy. So, let us not get our eyes off of the fact that the reason God gives us spiritual gifts is to build us up in his holiness and his righteousness. That is what is most important.
Now remember, Paul is going to show us the most excellent way. He talked about spiritual gifts for a little bit, but then takes this breather for a moment. He stops in the middle of his discussion and he begins to talk about what is the most important thing concerning spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
They had all of the spiritual gifts, but they didn’t have a love for righteousness or for each other. They had all of the spiritual gifts, but all they did was make them feel good about themselves personally and they went more and more into themselves and became more and more prideful and sinful in the use of the gifts. Love would have compelled them to deal with the sin within the church. Love would have compelled them to confront the man who was in sexual immorality. Love for God would have compelled them to become a holy people.
1 Corinthians 13:2 – If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
So you can all these gifts and you can have all of the manifestations of the Spirit. You can have God working prophecy. You can fathom mysteries. You can know knowledge. You can have faith that can move mountains, heal people, do miraculous things and still be devoid of the one thing that God wants those gifts to producethe love that comes from heaven. When a man has all of those gifts, but doesn’t have that true love that comes by Jesus Christ, he is nothing Scripture says.
1 Corinthians 13:3 – If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
There are many churches selling things that they have in order to serve and give to the poor, but they don’t have a love that comes from the cross of Jesus Christ. They don’t have a love experience because they don’t hate their own life and because self is not being crucified. They give like the world does in order to feel better, to be noticed, or to have a good feeling about what they’ve done. “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but I have not love, I gain nothing.” Let us not become sidetracked or blinded by the miraculous things that God might choose to work or the gifts that he might put in our lives. We can rejoice in the gifts that he gives us, but we need to take a look at our lives and our hearts and find out what righteousness lives in there, not what gifts are being manifested. In verse 4 Paul talks about what love is.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
These are the qualities of love. When we begin to use spiritual gifts it is easy to become puffed up in who we are and to boast about the gifts that we have. We looked last week at how there is usually one individual, usually a woman, who is known as “the spiritual woman” in the church. She gets lifted up. We boast in what they have and what they are able to do in Jesus Christ. This is the opposite of love.
1 Corinthians 13:5 – It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…
The Corinthian church was using gifts in order to puff themselves up, to point back to themselves and bring attention to themselves. That is the opposite of love. If they had love, they would have had gifts in their proper place. In the same way, if those who do not believe in spiritual gifts had love, they would come to believe in spiritual gifts. If God had said there was no longer a spiritual gift of healing, love would have compelled me to pray for that person to be made well. It is a cold man who can see someone sick or injured in the Lord, and say, “There are no spiritual gifts and you’re just going to have to remain ill.” Love would solve the problem. In the same way, those who worship gifts bring attention back to themselves. If they had love, they would understand how simple and selfish they are.
1 Corinthians 13:6 – Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love would have compelled us to go to someone who was in sexual immorality and we would have commanded them to repent. If they did not repent, they would have been put out of the church. It should be love. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Some churches that we visited many years ago talked about the gifts and how they’re supposed to be used. There is even a pamphlet that says that if you have a prophecy or a tongue from the Lord, it won’t come with condemnation. They say God doesn’t come with a critical analysis or conviction. They don’t use the gifts in a way that would point out sin within the body. They do not have the love that rejoices with truth, but want to know the truth. But, if God gave us a gift and spoke through somebody here, and if he said that we were sinful, lukewarm and we needed to repent, love would rejoice with the truth even when it hurts.
1 Corinthians 13:7 – It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Where spiritual gifts are worshiped, and idolized, you won’t find a persevering spirit. Instead, those gifts are being used to manipulate other people. The prophecies, interpretation of tongues, use of healings and all these things are used to move people in a certain direction. It is very self-seeking and self-promoting to use these tools to motivate people in a certain direction rather than to build them up in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:8 – Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Some people use this passage to say that all spiritual gifts have disappeared that they no longer exist. They say that God gave the apostles miraculous powers and the gifts of tongues, but after they died, the gifts disappeared. They say that in order to receive the spiritual gifts you would have to have the apostles lay hands on you. Since we have the perfection, the written word of God, there is no longer any need for spiritual gifts. Again, they quote:
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 – …But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
They are saying that the perfection to come is the Bible. In other words, in order to have Scripture, you had to have all of these spiritual gifts. Once everything was written down that we needed to know, then the spiritual gifts would disappear over a period of time. There are men who preach this. That is, they preach in such a way that to have unbelief is considered noble belief. If I preach and believe that spiritual gifts do not exist, if I am a man of unbelief, if I put down and condemn other people who have spiritual gifts, that is considered noble and spiritual. Unbelief is considered belief and it is very sinister.
1 Corinthians 13:8 – …But where there are prophecies, they will cease…
1 Corinthians 13:10 – but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
So I asked myself, “Well, what is the perfection?” The perfection is supposed to be the Bible. But, which one is it? I went through a catalog one time and I began to list all of the different versions of the Bible that were in that particular catalog. You tell me which one is the perfect that is to come.
You have the NIV, the King James Version, the NKJV, the NRSV, the MCV, the NAS, the NLT, and TEV. You have the NRSV, the TCLNTC, and NIRV. Then there’s the Odyssey Kids Bible, the Precise Parallel New Testament, the Amplified Bible, and the King James 1611. By the way, there were probably 1615, 1620, and 1625 as well. You have the King James Version of the American African Heritage Bible, the Message Bible, the RE Study Expanded Edition, the NKJV with Narthex Study Bible. Next, the Scoffield Study Bible, the Complete Word Study Bible, the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible 6th Edition, the Thomas Shane Reference Study Bible, and the NIV Theomatic Reference Study Bible. You have the International Inductive Study Bible, the NKJV Spiritual Life Bible, the Full Life Study Bible, the NLT Holy Spirit Encounter Bible, and the CEV Bible for Today’s Christian Women. You have the Voice of Faith Women of the Bible, the New Geneva Study Bible, and the NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible. Those are just English versions.
The perfection to come is not the Bible. We will see that later in the lesson.
1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Right now are we not mere children in Jesus Christ? But, once we stand in his glory, see his face, and behold who he is, it will become a joy. Spiritual gifts such as tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, and wisdom are mere playthings compared to what we will be in Jesus Christ. Right now we grab for it, we hold on to a little piece of wisdom or knowledge. We need tongues, but those are all childish things that we will soon put away.
We are mere children and we need every spiritual gift. We need every manifestation of the Spirit and every miraculous thing. We need every word of knowledge, instruction, and wisdom. We need everybody in this body having every spiritual gift that God will work to make us mature because we are children who do not know our way. John says this very clearly;
1 John 3:2 – Dear friends, now we are children of God…
We are still children and someday we will put away childish things. What we will be has not yet been made known. I don’t know what maturity will be like in Jesus Christ. It hasn’t been manifested to me. I am not dead yet. I have not seen his face. I have not stood before Him who is perfect. The Bible is not perfect. Each one of these Bibles has errors in spelling and grammar, in the way that they are interpreted and everything else.
1 John 3:2 – Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears…
“That when he appears”! Not when the NIV appeared on the scene or the King James Version.
1 John 3:2 – …But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
We shall achieve the maturity, the light, and the holiness. We will not need tongues when we stand in his presence, will we? We will not need gifts of knowledge and wisdom when we see him face to face. We will have all of the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness that we will need when we see him because we will see him as he is, John says. When he appears, we shall be like him “for we shall see him as he is.” One of the reasons that we’re not perfect in Jesus Christ is because each of us has a viewpoint of who Jesus Christ is, but it is incomplete and imperfect. I have a viewpoint of who Jesus Christ is, but it is not a perfect and complete viewpoint because I can’t see him for the fullness of who he is. Somebody else in the body, however, may not have it complete either, but if you put us together, we have a little bit more of Jesus Christ than we do individually. That is why we need each other in the body. That is why God will give a spiritual gift to one person in the body and different spiritual gifts to somebody else, and then when you combine them together you begin to get a full manifestation of God. No one person gets puffed up. No one has complete knowledge of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:12 reflects 1 John 3:2. Look at what it says.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.
Paul was called to the third level of heaven. He was called up to paradise and was shown things that man is not permitted to tell. Even Paul says, “now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.” We don’t see Jesus Christ himself. We see a reflection of Him, so at best the Bible is a mirror of God. But, it is not Him. It is very logical; say you were engaged to somebody and were writing letters back and forth because you were a great distance from one another. Would you say, “These letters are my husband or my wife?” You would say, “No, they are a reflection of who they are” and a very poor reflection indeed. So, in the same way, the Bible is a poor reflection of the Living God. We have to go beyond ink. We have to go beyond indexes, concordances, and all the other things that we look at in order to know the Living God.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
There will be a time when I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and I will be able to see him with the perfect eyes that he gives me. I will be able to see him for whom he is, and then I will not need tongues. They will fade away and quickly be forgotten. Right now I definitely need tongues and I need the interpretation of those tongues. I need prophecies and wisdom. I need every spiritual gift that is there because all I can barely see is a very, very poor reflection of God.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part.
Right now we know only a part of Jesus Christ. So, that is one reason why we fellowship together. This is one purpose for the gifts, so we can put the parts together and get a little more of His holiness.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Do you ever feel like there is a time when God is far off and he’s not really communicating with you? You don’t feel like you are fully known in God and that somehow he is hiding his face. It won’t be like that in heaven. We will be in his presence all of the time and we will see his face. We will see his glory. He will know us and we will know him. Right now we’re like children. When we misbehave, he begins to hide and backs up a little bit to see if we will come running into his arms. So, Paul says, “I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Right now I’m not fully known. God has to hide a little bit of his face and keep his distance in order to see if I will come after him, cry out to him and hunger and thirst for righteousness. Many people who have the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy will think they have the fullness of God and they’re so “overflowing” in him. They hear more from God in one day than I do in a whole year. They worship the gift and don’t realize that God is seeing who the children of God are and who will come after him. Look at John 17:24 to see what I mean. You just answer the question. Which is a poor reflection? Jesus says this:
John 17:24 – Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.
Is that not a poor reflection of actually being there? If I were to run around saying, “I have the fullness of the glory of God, I have perfection, I just read the passage that says “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory.’” Or “I have the fullness of the glory of God in my life,” you would think I was a fool, wouldn’t you? So the perfection to come is not John 17:24. When I meet Jesus Christ he is not going to have 17:24 written on him somewhere. He is going to be the glory and I’m going to experience that glory. I’m not going to need a concordance up there to find the word of God. He will be right there at the dinner table with me. This is but a poor reflection of the perfection to come. Whole denominations and groups of men teach that the gifts have disappeared. For them, their glory is the Bible that they hold in their hands. They can manipulate and control it. One day those Bibles are going to burn and with it will be their faith. Unbelief is not something that God looks on with much favor.
John 17:24 – …and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Has anyone in this room seen the glory that has been given to Jesus Christ before the world was created? What a poor reflection Scripture is indeed in comparison to the Living God. Let no man rob you of your faith to believe in spiritual gifts and tolerate no man who teaches that it is proper or holy to believe in unbelievable things.
It is amazing how men can take Scripture and teach unbelief from them, but they do this. 1 Corinthians 13:13 is one of their classic verses that they use;
1 Corinthians 13:13 – And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
They will say that when you get to heaven you’re not going to need faith because you’re going to see him and so faith will no longer be required. Your hope will be fulfilled. Therefore, hope will not be required in heaven either. What they are talking about here is that right now you need faith and hope, and that is why God has given you Scripture and that’s why you don’t need spiritual gifts. The question is: if faith and hope disappear when I go to heaven, then does love disappear also? “And now these three remain.” Whether they understand how they remain is not the question. God says that when I get to heaven, faith will be necessary. God says that when I go to heaven that hope will also be there and so will love. “But the greatest of these is love.” In Colossians 1:5 it tells us of the reward in heaven. It tells us that there is something stored up for us in heaven, something that will be with us for all eternity. Hope will not disappear, faith will not disappear, and certainly, love will not disappear when we enter glory.
Colossians 1:5 – …the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel.
When I get to heaven, there is a storehouse called faith and a storehouse called hope. Right now, how many of you need to have your faith built up? How many of you, as you begin to carry your cross and walk on the narrow road, feel the need for a little more hope now and then? When we enter glory there will be a vast never-ending storehouse, called faith and hope, and you will ever be filled with hope and faith. You will never have a doubting moment. You will never have a moment when you feel like maybe God isn’t going to work or deliver or he isn’t going to be God anymore. Every doubt will disappear and you will be filled with faith and hope all through eternity. Verse 5 says “the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven.” One of the things that I look forward to in dying is that all doubts will disappear, that I never will be melancholy again. I’ll never be depressed or down again. I will have an eternal kind of hope that is alive and has complete trust in the Living God. Look at Revelation 22:1 and we will see this in reality. You see, even in heaven you have to trust God. There is that moment-by-moment dependence upon him. There is that hope that he will always show love and grace and be the loving God that he is.
Revelation 22:1 – Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life…
It is a river ever flowing and never-ending.
Revelation 22:1 – … as clear as crystal…
Right now, when most of us drink from the River of Life and get a little taste, it has either been polluted by men or our own sin. In heaven, when we drink out of that River, it will be as clear as crystal and pure. We will see him as he is.
Revelation 22:1-2 – …flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life.
What does the tree of life do? It stands by the water of life, feeding off that water and it is going to bear fruit. What will be the purpose of this fruit and what will we need to do as a people?
Revelation 22:2 – …down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.
Every month you will come to that tree and hope that the fruit is there for your healing. Every month there will be that dependence and faith that says, “I know God will provide. He will work, cleanse, and heal.”
Revelation 22:2 – …bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Only God is holy and Scripture says that he charges even his holy ones with error. There will be no sin in glory, but there will be error because only he is perfect. There will be a continual flowing of forgiveness, love, and a relationship with God. We will call him Father and we will be his children, being fully mature in his house.
Revelation 22:3 – No longer will there be any curse.
The tree of life and the river that flows will bring us healing. You are going to have to trust that when you see this river, it will be there for all eternity. How do you know that sometime you might come to this river and God has cut it off and it no longer flows anymore? So, you live by faith. God is saying, “My righteous ones will live by trusting me in knowing that I will always provide and I will always be there.” Isn’t that what we are worrying about now? Isn’t that what we are growing into? Isn’t that what God is looking for? Who will trust him in spite of the fact that everything else says he should not be trusted? God is looking for people who are worthy to go to glory and to drink from this river. People say, “I will trust you no matter whateven in heaven.”
Revelation 22:3-4 – No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face.
Over and over again what does it say in Corinthians? We will see his face. We will see him as he is. We will have faith and love and all of these things in heaven. We will live by faith for all eternity.
Revelation 22:4 – They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
We will see him for who he is. We will be fully known and in a perfect relationship. Who will want to speak in tongues in heaven? If you have a question or need a revelation, you’re going to be able to go up to the Son of God and say, “Hey, what about this thing?” You will begin to talk and have a relationship. You’re not going to need tongues and an interpretation, having to step out by faith. You’re going to see him and be in a relationship with him. The throne will be there to rule. Life and all the fullness will be there. You’ll be fully mature and see him as he is and then you will be the way you are supposed to be. Until that time we need gifts. We need childish things.
1 Corinthians 14:1 – Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
I’ve often had to rebuke those individuals who preach unbelief as if it were belief by saying, “You teach disobedience.” Here Paul says to eagerly desire spiritual gifts. If I preached that in their churches I would be kicked out and run out for saying they needed to desire spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1 – …especially the gift of prophesy.
Love would compel us to desire spiritual gifts. That is to be the true motive. In the Assembly of God church, you can’t speak and be a preacher in their church unless you can speak in tongues. That’s not the way of love. The way of love is to see the needs within the body of Jesus Christ. I come in before God and ask for spiritual gifts, not because I want them or to be built up and seen as spiritual, but because the body needs those gifts. The body needs gifts of wisdom and knowledge. “Follow the way of love.” What is the way of love? What is the first thing that Paul says? “And eagerly desire spiritual gifts.” We need to be asking God for spiritual gifts in the body. We need to be longing for him to work those things, to know how they should be used. What will glorify his name? “Especially the gift of prophecy.”
1 Corinthians 14:2 – For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
He says we need to eagerly desire prophecy. Then he jumps into talking about the gift of tongues because of the nonsense we see going on, even today. On TV you find thousands of people speaking in tongues at one time. A preacher, preaching from the pulpit can’t control himself and tongues come oozing out of his mouth, and that is seen as something holy. The tongues are for building you up individually, not for the body unless there is a particular prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:3 – But everyone who prophecies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
Remember that prophecy is the revealing of things that are hidden in God declaring mysteries that edifies the whole body. Tongues are to edify yourself. If God gives you tongues and you speak in them, you should do so at home, to edify yourself. So, when you come to church you can serve and strengthen the body, not that you can come to church and speak in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:4 – He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.
He who can speak in the tongues of men and angels can build himself up in Jesus Christ. But the gifts of prophecy and healing are to build up the body and to bring it together as a whole. That is why, when you come together as a church, everyone shouldn’t be speaking in tongues because this is just being self-centered. You’re just blessing yourself! But, if we come together to prophesy, that is to build everybody up in Jesus Christ, it is to strengthen the whole church.
1 Corinthians 14:4 – He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
Now, the reason tongues are worshipped so much is because they are so obvious. “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:5 – I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.
So, right away we know that not everybody is going to speak in tongues. Paul says that if he had his choice he wished that everybody could speak in tongues, but it was not that way. It is not a doctrinal statement and he can’t force the situation. He can’t say, “Okay, everyone of you speak in tongues and do it now,” or “Let’s all just practice until we get it right.”
1 Corinthians 14:5 – I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophecy.
If he could give any gift out, if he had his choice, everybody would prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:5 – He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets.
Tongues are equal to prophesy when tongues are being spoken and somebody can interpret what is being said. If there is no interpreter present, Scripture says that person needs to shut up in church.
1 Corinthians 14:5 – …He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
If you want to speak in tongues and there is no interpreter, go home and do it, and build yourself up so that when we come together here as a body you can build other people up. It is time for you to lay down your life. Go back into your prayer closet, do your selfish little thing, and speak in tongues to build up yourself and get back here into the body and lay down your life for other people.
1 Corinthians 14:6 – Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
If you come in speaking in tongues and babble on and on and there is no interpretation, no declaration of what is being said, how is that going to benefit anybody but yourself? Very logical. Without the cross you find all kinds of disobedience.
1 Corinthians 14:7 – Even in the case of lifeless things…
Let’s look at a trumpet or something that is not even alive.
1 Corinthians 14:7 – Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?
If you can’t be convinced on the facts that we need to understand what the tongue is saying, and you still want to hold on to your opinion that you should be able to speak in tongues whenever and wherever you feel like, how does that profit anybody? Even with a lifeless thing like a trumpet or flute there has to be distinction. Paul is reduced to a very earthly level to try to explain something to these people because sin and self is rampant. He repeats it again.
1 Corinthians 14:8 – Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
Suppose somebody stands up and speaks in tongues and there is no interpretation at all. That’s fine and dandy. What exactly are we supposed to do with that now? And, your point? The person would say, “I don’t have a point. I was just speaking in tongues.” We would say, “So, what was that about?”
1 Corinthians 14:9-12 – So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
Don’t be a group of children who are so childish by just doing their own little individual thing, totally mindless of what the other people are doing and what their needs are. “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” Think what it’s like when you get infants together. I’ve been watching them over the past couple of weeks. We’ve been blessed with a lot of them at our house. They will see a toy, just grab it from the other child, and not have any idea of sharing it at all. They have to be taught to share. You find people acting like children in church. We will come together with spiritual gifts and say, “It’s mine! I’m going to use it the way I want and I’m going to be blessed. I don’t care what the person next to me is doing.” That is when the chaos sets inthe fighting, the quarreling, and all kinds of sin.
1 Corinthians 14:13 – For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.
You have to have an interpretation if there is to be a tongue in the church. If you have the gift of tongues and there is no interpretation for that tongue, then it is just for you by yourself, at home in your prayer closet. When we come together as a body, we want to know what the tongue is saying. We want a word of knowledge. We want an understanding and interpretation.
1 Corinthians 14:14 – For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
There are certain groups and denominations of churches where speaking in tongues is the high calling of a Christian life. In fact, it is the sign that you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Of course, nothing could be more separate from the truth than that misnomer. But, if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays and my mind is unfruitful. People get together and begin to practice speaking in tongues. In order to practice speaking in tongues you have to engage the mind. You have to begin to say, “I’m going to babble this way” or “I’m going to say the words a certain way.” I’ve heard some jokes around this body. Some people came out of churches like that. I don’t remember what the phrase was“I want a Suzuki” or something like that. They actually teach you to mock. You are engaging the mind in order to teach your mind to mock tongues. But, what does he say about tongues in verse 14? That if he prays in his tongue, his spirit prays, but his mind is unfruitful. To have the true gift of tongues means that you can pray with your mind while going over your grocery list. It is a gift separate from the mind. It is possible to pray and speak in tongues and your mind can be thinking all kinds of wicked and worldly thoughts, if it is a true gift. If you have to think about the gift, work or put the words there, then it is not a gift that comes from God.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15 – For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind.
The two should go hand in hand. I bring my mind in line with that gift and even when I am in my prayer closet speaking in tongues, I will ask and pray that I might interpret what the tongue is saying.
1 Corinthians 14:15 – So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
In the same way, we can begin to understand. How many of us can sing songs and be thinking about something else?
1 Corinthians 14:16 – If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying?
If someone comes in and we’re praising God and speaking in tongues, but no one is interpreting or understanding what is being said, how can somebody say, “Amen” to what is being said? I guarantee you, there are hundreds of people speaking in tongues at one time, and when everybody is finished, someone is saying “Amen.” How do you know what you said “Amen” to? How do you know where those tongues were coming from? Maybe it came from self. Maybe it came from a demon. Maybe it was from God. But, you don’t know what you are agreeing to, and it could have been judgment on the church. God could have been saying, “I’m going to destroy this church. It will never survive. You guys are wicked.” Everybody is shouting “Amen” and “Hallelujah!” They don’t know what is being said.
1 Corinthians 14:17 – You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
You see, we’re back to love again. You might be praising God. You might be glorifying yourself with the Lord. You might just be just a close as you can be in church, but what is that to the other guy? At church, you are to be there for other people, not for yourself. That is the whole point. You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you,” Paul says. This is not to undermine or belittle tongues. It is very holy, but it is for edifying and building up the body.
1 Corinthians 14:19 – But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
That is the sober attitude that we and many other groups need. It is better to come to church and to have five worthy things to say than to speak in ten thousand tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:20-21 – Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
In other words, “Wake up and understand what I’m telling you!” Just because somebody has tongues doesn’t mean they are really listening to God. Many people that are speaking in tongues are not really listening to what God has to say. They are just enjoying the tongues and the gift. They are just having a good time. They don’t care that it is misused. They are just glad that they look or feel spiritual.
1 Corinthians 14:21 – “…I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
Let us not become so enthralled with spiritual gifts that we lose sight of the living God himself.
1 Corinthians 14:22 – Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
Would you say that Paul was lying? You’d think that Paul made a huge mistake as you look around the church today. Tongues are almost worshiped. They are “God.” Tongues then are a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers. Yet, for believers, it is taught that tongues will show that you have the Holy Spirit, if you speak in tongues then somehow you’ve received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Tongues are not for believers. We are not to be impressed with miraculous things. We know our God is miraculous. We know he does powerful things. We know he is alive. It’s not a big deal that he does miracles! The world and the worldly don’t understand that God is alive and powerful. They are impressed with miraculous things.
1 Corinthians 14:22 – Prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
If a prophecy is declared if the mysteries of God are declared we will understand what is being said because we understand what it means to hate one’s life. We understand the meaning of the narrow road. When God gives a prophecy, or knowledge, we can understand what is said, because we have a basic understanding of God and what it means to walk by God. But, a believer who just walks in doesn’t have the slightest clue about hating your own life or what it means to carry your cross. They are more impressed with the miraculous things that are taking place. Why are so many churches still like children? They are still impressed with the miraculous things and not the hidden meanings, the words, and the things of God that show his glory.
1 Corinthians 14:23 – So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
Doesn’t the world look at the churches who use tongues in this fashion and say, “You guys are out of your minds!”? How can they look at the Scripture in verse 23 and say it doesn’t apply to them? They just don’t care. They are so self-centered and so self-focused on who they are that they don’t care that the entire world is right. They look like a bunch of loons running around talking like that. It makes no sense at all. If the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues – and people who do not understand or some unbelievers come in – will they not say that you are out of your mind? Indeed, they are out of their minds. They are not using their minds. They are not engaged in what is going on. They’re just lifting their hands up, praising God, having a good feeling and a good time, but their minds are totally somewhere else.
1 Corinthians 14:24 – But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all…
Tongues are so held up and exciting because everyone doesn’t want verse 24 to happen in their church. Let’s read that again.
1 Corinthians 14:24 – But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand…
That covers a lot of folks in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:24 – …comes in while everybody is prophesying…
What does prophesy produce? Prophecy will convince somebody that they are a sinner. Don’t most of us have to be convinced that we’re sinners? We have all of our justifications, reasons, and explanations. It usually takes Jesus dying on the cross, angels, three or four people coming toward you, and a bad dream, being in the hospital, and a few other things to convince us we really are sinners. Prophesy is meant to convince somebody that they are a sinner.
1 Corinthians 14:24 – …he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all…
Prophecy judges everyone. What do churches advertise? “We don’t judge! We’re not judgmental! We’re kind and loving. We’re not legalistic.” And yet, the very gift of prophecy will begin to judge sin within the church and they would be convinced! That is, they would go to somebody that prophesied about their life, who had a little bit of insight and wisdom as to who they are, and they would see a little bit of sin. Then, they would go to somebody else over here in the congregation. God gives a little bit of insight about who they are and how they need to repent. By the time they are done, they are convinced that they are a sinner and have been judged by everyone.
1 Corinthians 14:25 – …and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare.
So literally why should we not excel in the gift of prophecy? That is, when somebody comes in that door, we want to get the prophecy so we can walk over and say, “That’s in your heart.” We will be able to see the secret things they are hiding and running from things they don’t think anybody knows about. God will give us wisdom and understanding as to what is in their heart and we will be able to lay it out for them and everybody else to see. But, most churches don’t want to judge their own congregation that way, and most pastors wouldn’t want their congregation to have that gift.
1 Corinthians 14:25 – …and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
It is not because he is being slain in the Spirit, or he sees chaos, but he will worship God and fall down claiming God is really among you because the tongues and the gifts were used to glorify God. If somebody speaks in tongues and there is an interpretation and then everybody prophesies, it is done in an orderly fashion to reveal what is in the heart. Then they fall down and say, “God is alive in this place.” It purifies the body and keeps it clean. It causes men who need to fall down before the Living God to say, “God is alive.” Most of the world does not look at the churches today that believe in spiritual gifts and say, “God is alive.” They don’t look at the church that doesn’t believe in spiritual gifts and say, “God is alive.” They look at one camp that doesn’t believe in spiritual gifts and say, “That’s dry and dead. This is not relevant. There is no power to it.” Then they look at the other side that is worshiping spiritual gifts and say, “That’s foolishness and terrible.” “Where is the middle?” we have to ask. Where are the narrow road and the narrow gate? Not only do we need to pray for spiritual gifts in this body for our own benefit and to be built up in Jesus Christ, but the world also needs to see an example. They need to experience this kind of love.
I want to explain prophecy and judging to everyone. It is not the big mysterious thing everybody thinks. When someone walks in the door I don’t of a sudden shout, “You! You’ve got sin in your life.” Then, I could say something like “Lust “that covers just about everybody and look spiritual with it.
Revelation 19:10 – At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
We’re talking about the declaration and testimony of Jesus Christ. Our declaration of Jesus Christ need not to be the dry, dead legalism that we see in the churches that don’t believe in spiritual gifts. Nor is it to be the foolishness of tongues that doesn’t make any sense. It is to be a spirit of prophecy, a very serious searching and revealing of things. It can be in the quietest of conversations. It can be just in fellowship and interaction. It can be on the telephone.
Again, we are not talking about a big and mysterious thing that makes somebody look holy; where the light shines down, the waters part, and all of these miraculous things take place. We’re talking about sharing Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit.
When somebody comes into this room and as we all begin to fellowship, if God is in his word and he is alive, his word seeks, penetrates, divides, and does the work. The prophecy reveals what’s in their heart. It is the spirit of prophecy with which we are all supposed to walk in all the time. That is why he says to excel in the greater gifts. We are talking about excelling in the greater gift of prophecy; the lifting up of a word that is alive, active, and powerful. It is beyond any man’s ability to present the word.
Hebrews 4:12 – Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
We are presenting the very living word of God to people. That word convinces them that they are a sinner. They see something that is alive, clear, and of the Lord, and full of power. It is beyond the Pharisees and the Sadducees or the falling down with emotionalism on the floor. It penetrates and goes into the very heart to reveal sin.
Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
When we ask for the gift of prophecy we are asking for sin to be revealed. This is why unbelievers who do not understand come in and see something powerful. The secret parts of their hearts are being revealed. The sins are coming out in the open because the word of God is being prophesied through the members of the body. Things are being exposed and cleansed that couldn’t happen anywhere else. We cannot go into the camp of the Pharisees and Sadducees and read ink on paper and expect sin to be dealt with. We can’t go where there is emotionalism and people being slain, falling on the floor, looking at the ceiling, and all those things and expect sin to be dealt with. You need a spirit of prophecy. One aspect of prophecy is to cleanse, purify, and cause people’s hearts to be laid open.
In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul comes back to this whole business of being orderly.
Aaron, I want to pick up a songbook. Greg, I want you to go to Psalm 119. Nate, I want you to pick up a songbook. Lisa, you find a songbook, too. Dennis, I want you to go to Matthew 6:12. Everybody turn to what I told you. When I tell everybody to, I want you to do it all once. I want Aaron sing Song 4, and Lisa to sing Song 12. Greg, you start reading Psalm 119, and Dennis, you start reading Matthew 6:12. I want you to do it all at once. Now, you’re going to have to give it some gusto! I don’t want to hear anything lame. All right? I’ll read 1 Corinthians 14:26 and then I want you to set the example.
1 Corinthians 14:26 – What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
Now, go ahead and do them all at once. Okay, that’s probably good. OK, don’t get too wild on me now. This is very practical. These churches wouldn’t think to come together and everybody read a different Scripture at the same time or sing a different song at the same time, but when it comes to the issue of tongues, everybody speaks when they feel like it and all at once.
1 Corinthians 14:26 – What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.
We don’t come marching into the body and everybody starts sharing what they see, what they want done, or what song or hymn they want to sing all at the same time. All of these must be done in order for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:27 – If anyone speaks in a tongue, two or at the most three should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
Everything should be done in order so that the whole body is built up. At any meeting, at the most, three people should speak in tongues. If the fourth person begins to speak in tongues, then he should be told to be quiet and wait until the next time.
1 Corinthians 14:28 – If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
If there is no one who can interpret a tongue, then they must be silent. They must be quiet.
1 Corinthians 14:29 – Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
Do you see why? There isn’t time for fifteen prophets to come in and declare, “Oh, I heard from the Lord,” because you have to weigh very carefully what is being spoken. Everything has to be thoroughly tested. But, it is not done that way. Almost before the person finishes the prophecy everybody is saying, “Amen, it sounds good.” There is no weighing very carefully what was spoken.
1 Corinthians 14:29 – Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
If somebody wants to speak in tongues they need to ask somebody in leadership permission before they do so. Then, when somebody speaks in tongues, has a word of knowledge or prophesy, they can speak that with permission if the leadership has given permission. Then, everyone must weigh it very carefully. It must be brought into the light.
1 Corinthians 14:30 – And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.
You see, this is one of the amazing aspects of prophecy. People act like they’re preaching, and if they can’t contain themselves, they start speaking in tongues. But, God is a God of order. If it really comes from God, they are able to control the tongue or the prophecy. They can stop what they are saying and pick up twenty minutes later where they left off. It is not like the Spirit of God is going to be so overwhelming that they can’t control themselves.
1 Corinthians 14:30-32 – And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
You can receive a tongue or a prophecy. You can stop at any moment and pick it up later. God will not so overwhelm that you can’t control yourself. If you’re such a holy vessel that God is speaking through you, then nobody should tell you to be quiet.
1 Corinthians 14:33-34 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.
We’ve covered this topic before in other tapes. I’m not going to try to cover that tonight.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. Now if they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home for it is disgrace for a woman to speak in the church.
Paul sums up all of these discussions and says:
1 Corinthians 14:36 – Did the word of God originate with you?
In other words, “Are you so holy and so close to the living God that none of these rules apply to you? Are you so spirit-filled and so full of the things of the Lord that you come together and everybody speaks in tongues and God has an exception for you?”
1 Corinthians 14:36 – Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?
Are you the only people that God has come and said, “Oh, you can do it anyway that you want? Nobody else has heard this”?
1 Corinthians 14:37 – If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.
We are talking about commands that come directly from Jesus Christ. They are not open for debate. In the churches that do not believe in spiritual gifts it is not open to debate. I could care less about their judgments. Spiritual gifts are a reality. They are something that God wants to work and those churches have no business trying to put down anybody else’s faith. On the other hand, there is no toleration for the doctrine where churches think everybody should speak in tongues. Everything has to be done in a holy and orderly way just as the Lord has commanded.
1 Corinthians 14:38 – If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
It means, if someone will not pay attention to this, if he thinks he is so spiritually gifted and so holy that he ignores everything that is written here, then we are to ignore him. Some versions say that if he is ignorant, let him remain ignorant. How do you treat an ignorant person? You don’t pay them any mind at all. They are just ignorant. You just walk away and say to yourself, “Don’t even talk to them or debate with them because they are just ignorant about the whole issue.”
1 Corinthians 14:39 – Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy.
Let us be eager to have the spirit of prophecy, to have the word of God dwell in us richly as a body.
1 Corinthians 14:39 – …and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
Again, those churches that do not believe in spiritual gifts are commanded to not forbid speaking in tongues. It is a direct command that you can relay to them. You can use the spirit of prophecy that you have to tell them not to lay down a rule about not speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:39-40 – Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Whether it is spiritual gifts, eating together as a body, women’s and men’s roles, everything, no matter what it is, should be done in a fitting and orderly way. There is a proper procedure for everything under heaven, isn’t there? One of the proper ways is that everything should ring of being orderly, reasonable, and of the Living God.
Father, we do ask for spiritual gifts that you might build up this body and that you might shine your glory for men to see. We pray, Father, that you work divine power. Make it clear, Father, that men should not be worshiping spiritual gifts, but worshiping you and are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. And, we pray for many, Father, who do not believe in spiritual gifts, the work of your spirit or even the voice of the Holy Spirit, Father, that you might cause them to repent of the terrible sin of unbelief. Father, deal with the sins that surround this whole issue. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.