Series: He Gave Gifts
Message – Gifts, Motives & How-to’s Pt. 2
Gifts, Motives & How-to’s
Last week we learned that…
Chapter 12 revealed WHAT the Spirit speaks WHEN He speaks through us in the Gifts.
- His testimony is always about Jesus.
Chapter 13 revealed that the power and motivation behind those Spirit graces is
- Agape love… FIRST for God, then our spiritual siblings in Christ and thirdly for the world.
Finally in Chapter 14 where we spent most of our time we began to learn
- the “How’s” of the spiritual gifts in the church..
- That Paul explained that the rules of conduct and order he gives us in this chapter are the commands of Jesus and that it is a sign of spiritual immaturity to deny them and of spiritual maturity to agree and conduct yourself within them.
- In addition to paying attention to the “HOWS” in this chapter, we realized that the “WHO” is also VERY important.
“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.”
“prophecy speaks edification, exhortation and comfort” – to man!
And there are only three audiences in chapter 14…God, the church and the lost.
- We also learned that the three words edification, exhortation & comfort all pointed to our spiritual profit or advancement.
- We ended with verses 6-20 where Paul illustrates the difference between praying in the spirit and the gift of tongues.
- Give me a few…
- Praying in tongues is to God
- Praying in tongues edifies YOU
- Praying in tongues is to pray from your spirit (by the aid of the Holy Spirit) which is helpful why? We do not know what or how to pray or how to offer it in a worthy manner as we MUST.
- Praying in tongues is unfruitful to your mind – not interpretation given.
- Speaking in tongues ALWAYS comes with interpretation
- NEVER speak in tongues TO an assembly unless there is an interpretation
- Always pray for one IF you are used in this gift.
- Give me a few…
THIS week we are starting in verses 21-25
But before we do, another false teaching associated with this chapter is that these commands are intended for the Corinthians specifically due to unique situations in their church and city.
In fact, we used to teach that as well… but there are SEVERAL reasons why that cannot be so.
1st – If it has NO application to believers today…it would not be IN the scriptures – 2Tim. 3:16-18
2nd – Paul clearly tells us that these commands are for order in the church and that such is God’s desire in ALL the churches of God in verse 33…
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
NOTE: We may not get much further today in learning specifically about our given topic of equipping the saints for ministry work by studying the gifts and their proper use in the church… but I’ve learned that the greatest majority of God church teaching is not always doggedly towing the love in terms of staying on topic as much as practically using the moment to instruct towards godliness and clear biblical knowledge wherever we find ourselves in the scriptures.
“10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
I Cor. 11:5,6,
“5 Now I consider myself in no way inferior to the “super-apostles.” 6 Though untrained in public speaking, I am certainly not untrained in knowledge. Indeed, we have always made that clear to you in everything.”
A difference between FOR and a Sign for… (wake up, focus, pinch yourself)
1Cor. 14:21-25, “(21) In the law it is written: “WITH MEN OF OTHER TONGUES AND OTHER LIPS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE; AND YET, FOR ALL THAT, THEY WILL NOT HEAR ME,” says the Lord. (22) Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. (23) Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? (24) But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. (25) And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.”
Now this passage can seem quite confusing at first.
I mean earlier we read in verse 5 that if a tongue is interpreted, it edifies the church. Here it says tongues are a sign to unbelievers but not to the church. But then he says that if we speak in tongues before unbelievers, they will only think we are crazy.
Also earlier in verses 3-5 we learn that prophecy is for the edification of the church and here too Paul FIRST says prophecy is for the church and NOT for unbelievers…yet then he goes on to say, if an unbeliever hears us prophecy – they may become converted. Sounds like prophecy is good for the list to me…
So she does he say these things?
These verses have confused many people before and it is no wonder why… but I think that if we dissect what Paul says here…thought by thought it will not seem as complicated as it does at first glance.
This is BY THE WAY exactly what you should do every time you get confused or led astray in understanding scripture…go back over it and review what you know FOR SURE…then in the light of what you know for sure… re-examine what you do not understand.
So let’s do that…regarding gifts and who they are for, we have learned that…
- NO gift is FOR the lost, the rebellious or those who callously continue in their unbelief [“Let those who ingnore this command – be ignored”] (I mentioned this last week, but we are going to see it specifically now).
- The Gifts ARE for the edification of the church.
So, when Paul says that Prophecy is NOT for the unbeliever but for the believer but that tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers what is he saying?
Part of interpretation is not just seeing what Is being said, but being careful to note what is NOT being said. Don’t read into a passage.
With that in mind…
1st off, Paul is NOT saying that Tongues are NOT for believers.
All he said is that it is not intended as a “SIGN” for believers.
We already know that the Gift of Tongues belong to the church and IS for believers IF coupled with interpretation – he told us so in verse 13 and later in verse 39 he commands us to not forbid tongues in the church.
2ndly Paul IS saying that tongues serve as a sign to unbelievers.
Now…Two things will help us understand How and Why this is true.
- First off, the word unbeliever is NOT talking about someone who has simply never heard the gospel or has never truly considered it’s message, it is talking about one who is an infidel – one who will not be convinced, who has chosen NOT to believe. The word is apistos literally – without belief.
Added to this is the intention of this word “sign”. Paul is here QUOTING from Isaiah 28. So how were “tongues” used in Isaiah 28? Turn there.
Well, the tongues mentioned in Isaiah 28 were prophesied as a future sign of judgment against Israel. You see, like so many prophecies this one in Isaiah 28 had a dual-purpose. One was serving as an immediate warning from God concerning Israel’s drunkenness and pride – it was SO BAD that even their priests had defiled the temple with vomit from too much drinking. The second was concerning their teacher rejection of the Messiah when he came.
So again… in Isaiah 28:7-13 God addresses Israel’s current sin, and prophecies concerning their future rejection of the Messiah by saying,
Isa 28:7-13, “(7) But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. (8) For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean. (9) “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? (10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” (11) For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, (12) To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear. (13) But the word of the LORD was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little,” That they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught.”
So God is saying that though they had been taught line upon line and precept upon precept – little by little as it must be – they still did not – WOULD not hear (just like the Unbelievers in these verses in 1 Cor. 14). So he would come to them with a sign of “stammering lips and another tongue” – yet they would STILL not hear Him.
Now, this was largely fulfilled on the day of Peracost and in a VERY powerful way as well.
You see, the day of Pentecost was the day of Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks. If you remember from our studies on Wednesday nights this was one of three festivals where ALL the men had to go and present themselves to God. SO ALL Jewish men were in Jerusalem that day. Also, Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks was the first-fruits of the ALL-important wheat harvest & the date which commemorated God’s giving of the Law. Do you see the significance?
- Most of Israel had become blind and hardened to the line-upon line truth revealing the person and signs of the Messiah so that when He came the majority did not acknowledge Him.
- They largely did not hear Jesus’ clear line-upon-line teaching when He was among them.
- So God sent a “sign” to these unwilling to believe Jews, on the say that commemorated the first harvest and the initial giving of the “lines-upon-lines” of the Law…and out of ALL of the Jews who were present that day only a SMALL percentage heard and believed.
So, Paul is hear saying that if someone who is hard or heart comes in among the church and hears tongues – it will be a sign to them and result in the same scorn as it did on the day of Pentecost – they will say your are drunk or mad…but will not turn and believe.
***Do you see how possessing some knowledge of your Bible***
proves helpful in properly interpreting scripture?
So now looking back at our passage in verse 21 it says, “yet … will they not hear Me” and this flows right into the word “Sign” in verse 22. So taking all this together it says, to one who will not believe the gospel tongues are a sign of judgment AGAINST them.
So that addresses the “tongues are a sign to unbelievers” bit…now for prophecy NOT being for unbelievers – yet it may result in their repentance…
Paul says that if one who will not believe or is simply unlearned were to be in the church when prophecy is coming forth the Spirit may choose to use Prophecy to reveal their heart, and in so doing it will result in their being convicted (shamed or disgraced) by the way the Spirit causes all the church to discern this unbeliever’s heart …notice the words in verse 25 “and thus the secrets of his heart will be revealed” and upon hearing this they will be moved from unbelief to belief.
Notice though what Paul is NOT saying here, he is NOT saying that prophecy is FOR the unbeliever or his edification – it is for revealing the secrets of his heart towards conviction and shame leading to faith and salvation. On the contrary, prophecy for a believer is for edification, exhortation and comfort.
Now..Paul gets a little snarky…but we will deal with that next week.
This service had content that is NOT written out here, so I would encourage you to listen to it WHILE you read…Blessings!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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