Tongues and Prophecy

Tongues and Prophecy

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Monday, March 18, 2019
For a warm up and review, let’s answer our 8 questions from Ephesians on the Holy Spirit again:

1. Are you sealed with the Holy Spirit?  Ephesians 1:13-14

2. Is the Holy Spirit dwelling in you? Eph. 2:21-22

3. Are you strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit? Eph. 3:16 & 20

4. Are you striving to keep the unity of the Spirit?  Eph. 4:2f

5. Does you life and language avoid grieving the Holy Spirit? Eph. 4:29-31

6. Are you regularly being filled with the Holy Spirit? Eph. 5:18-21

7. Are you using the sword of the Spirit, the word of God? Eph. 6:17

8. Are you praying at all times in the Spirit?  Eph. 6:18

Last week we began going through the most extensive biblical teaching we have on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  This is found in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14.

In chapter 12 Paul begins teaching us about what he calls, “the spiritual.”  Now your English Bibles probably have the word “gifts” there too, right?  Well, the truth is, God didn’t inspire Paul to write that word, and it isn’t in the original language.  Sadly, because our translators put it there, the attention gets focused on the gifts instead of the spiritual matters of relationships as a body of Christians.  Of course, this chapter DOES talk about spiritual gifts or powers too.  But these were actually only a part of the spiritual matters God’s word addresses in this chapter.  The larger focus of chapter 12 is that we are a body with various parts and gifts, and all these come from one and the same Holy Spirit!  Those with powerful gifts must not think or act like they are better than those without them.  Those without powerful gifts must not think or act like they are of lessor importance because they didn’t get them.  Look at verses 25-27.  Here’s the main message of the chapter!  Through one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body and were all given one Spirit to drink. Vs. 13. We are all one body in Christ!  We all belong to one another and are connected by one Spirit to one another in Christ.

We noticed this important point: Spiritual powers didn’t make these Corinthian Christians more mature.  In fact, God says that they were weak and carnal. They were comparing themselves with one another by who had the greatest gift!  So Paul tells them what really is the greatest, most excellent spiritual matter of all!  And what is that?  Chapter 13.  It is love.  The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit. The greatest thing of all!   Paul starts the chapter like this: Got tongues?  So what!  Got prophecy and miraculous knowledge? Big deal!  Got faith that can move mountains? Zero!  Are you giving everything away and even you body to the flames? That’s nothing!  All these impressive things, without love… they’re just empty things.

Without love, it’s all noise and nothingness!  God’s love is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate work in the Christian life!  Everything else is details.  Nothing else lasts. Everything else ceases and is stilled.  But love, God’s Holy Spirit originated and empowered love… Now, that’s the spiritual matter that matters above all!  Got it?  Good!

And so we turn to chapter 14.

In this chapter Paul instructs on two major manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Corinthian church:

Tongues and Prophecy.  (Read chapter without comment)

Here’s what he says about Tongues:

1. Speaks to God, not men.  Vs. 2

2. Edifies himself. Vs. 4

3. I wish you all spoke in tongues. Vs. 5

4. Without interpretation, they have no use in the church. Vs 6-11, 13-14, 16-17.

5. Five words understood are better than 10,000 words of a tongue. Vs. 18-19

6. If everyone speaks in tongues, visitors will say your all insane. Vs. 23

7. Either use it to edify or keep silent. Vs. 26-28

8. Do not forbid speaking in tongues. Vs. 39

You know what?  I speak in tongues.  So do you!  When I go to El Salvador I have to have an interpreter or everything I say is pretty much talking to the air, right Hector?  But with an interpreter, I can speak in the English tongue and still edify the church.

Here’s what he says about Prophecy:

1. I desire especially that you prophecy. Vs. 1

2. Prophecy edifies, exhorts, and consoles. Vs. 3

3. Prophecy edifies the whole church. Vs. 4

4. The one who prophecies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues. Vs. 5

5. If all of you prophecy, visitors will say, “God is surely among you!” fall down and worship. Vs. 24-25

6. Prophets must take turns, two our three at most, and one at a time. Vs. 29-33

7. Prophets should recognize that Paul’s words are God’s instructions. Vs. 37

So… What’s the lesson from this for us?  What’s the take home?  Whatever gifts God has bestowed on us as a church today, we need to remember that God’s love in us, working through us as we follow the Holy Spirit’s instructions in His word, must remain our focus. Use your gifts to the good of the church!  Perhaps God is withholding miraculous gifts from us today because of how dangerous they are to our unity in the Spirit. Some might think that we could do greater works for God if we had miracles and tongues today, but 1 Corinthians shows us that a church full of miracle workers and tongues speakers didn’t make them a mature spiritual church.  In fact, it was used to divide them. God can’t bless that!  Miracles that mar the message of love, are more harmful than helpful.  But loving works that edify the body of Christ are the greatest gifts of all.