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True Spirituality

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:25
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A man, down on his luck, went into a church which catered to the "Spiritually Well-to-do families”. Spotting the man's dirty clothes a deacon, worried about the church’s image, went to the man and asked him if he needed help. The man said, "I was praying and the Lord told me to come to this church."
The deacon suggested that the man go pray some more and possibly he might get a different answer. The next Sunday the man returned. The deacon asked, "Did you get a different answer?"
The man replied, "Yes I did. I told the Lord that they don't want me in that church and the Lord said, 'Don't worry about it son; I've been trying to get into that church for years and haven't made it yet."

Historical/Cultural Context -

Paul preached the gospel in Corinth in the early 50s AD during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1–18). When opposition grew fierce there, the Lord Jesus spoke to him in a vision assuring him that he had ‘many people’ in the city (Acts 18:10). With this encouragement, Paul stayed on for eighteen months, ‘teaching them the word of God’ (Acts 18:11). God used Paul’s ministry to bring about the birth and establishment of the church in Corinth.

Biblical Text -

1 Corinthians 14:1–19 NKJV
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 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. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 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. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

-[Prayer]-

Life Principle - True Spirituality Seeks To Edify The Church, See Change In Others, And Share The Gospel

Life Point- True Spirituality Seeks to Edify The Church

Exegetical -

1 Corinthians 14:1–5 NLT
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

Homiletical -

The last two weeks we have seen Paul bring a close to his initial thoughts on Spiritual Gifts & he has shown us a more excellent way. The way of Love.
In the thought of loving each other and loving the church Paul has now started to set in order how these people should operate in the gifts in the church gathering.
As a church we have talked about false gifts that are so prevalent in today’s world and compared it to the true Gifts of the Spirit.
Paul reminds us what the purpose of these gifts are for in today’s scripture.
We are told to let love be our highest goal. The NKJV says Pursue Love. Pursue Agape. In what ways does Paul say to pursue love in this topic?
He says to this church, which had become so out of order, so out of whack in the arena of Spiritual Gifts, especially the gift of tongues, to pursue prophesy.
Prophesy here is not some super spiritual thing where someone in a cape comes in and tells the future.
The original Greek word says to prophecy is to speak under the influence of divine inspiration, with or without reference to spiritual events. That is to make inspired utterances.
This is not the same as how the authors of the Bible were inspired to write the scriptures. You know that, for example, there are times when you witness to someone and all of a sudden those scriptures you need are right there at the front of your mind. You may never have used a particular scripture in your witnessing efforts before and all of a sudden this scripture which you have read a hundred times, but never really put into use or purposefully committed to memory is right there not only when you need it, but you remember it all of a sudden.
This is speaking under the influence of divine inspiration. This is an example of the Gift of Prophecy. Not the guys who claim to tell the future and are never right, or are so vague you can interpret what they say in a thousand different ways and one of those ways may fit your circumstance.
1 Corinthians 14:2 NLT
For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.
You ever wonder why there was so much emphasis on the gift of tongues? Ever wonder why there is so much emphasis on it today?
I cannot be dogmatic about this, but this is my thought on the whole subject.
It comes down to accountability. If I am speaking in a tongue, whether real or fake, who am I accountable to?
Paul says that no one understands you. If it is real, then I am speaking mysteries unto God and no one in the church is edified because they have no understanding of what I am saying.
If it is False then who can stand up and say it is false, since again, no one understands you.
1 Corinthians 14:3–5 NLT
But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.
Remember what is the purpose of a believer to the church? To show love, Agape, to others.
A person who prophesies, speaks under divine inspiration, strengthens the church. What we do in Sunday Morning Bible Study strengthens the church, what I am doing right now strengthens the church.
Someone speaking in tongues, whether true or false, strengthens themselves.
I like how the NKJV renders this better:
1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
What is edify or edification. In its’ most simplest form it means to build up, to draw attention to.
One who speaks in a tongue draws attention to themselves but one who prophesies draws attention and builds up the church.
Can you see the connection? Why are so many “so-called Christians” obsessed with false tongues? Because it draws attention to the one doing it. It causes them to be seen as something special, it caters to the person’s ego. It’s all about them. It is fleshly.
We seek to walk in love and build the church in love, not in flesh fits. Not in showmanship, but through the power of Holy Spirit’s love. Let us seek love in the church and not draw attention away from the triune God by seeking self, but bring attention to the triune God by seeking only the Love of God in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:5 NKJV
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.
Paul says prophecy is greater than tongues, unless that tongue is truly interpreted.
Unfortunately true interpretation cannot happen when someone is speaking falsely. A flesh fit can’t be interpreted. It can be prayed for but it can’t be interpreted. A true tongue without interpretation profits no one spiritually except the person speaking.
You know why we don’t see a rash of prophesy like we do tongues? Accountability. If I turn to you and say that God has revealed a new teaching to me, or has shown me something about the future even. Then I am accountable to my words. I can be held accountable by the leadership of the church and other believers.
But even this is not always the case today. Today they say you can prophesy, and you can be wrong its’ alright.
No its’ not alright to say God says something He didn’t say. That’s called false prophesy. You know what they did to false prophets in the Old Testament? The stoned them to death. False prophets were to be killed for daring to speak for God, when they weren’t really speaking for God.
I know of a pastor who invited a so-called prophet into his church and the guy told a couple they should sell all their goods and join Joyce Meyer’s ministry. After the guy left, the pastor said to not do it and wished he would have never let the guy in the church doors. But they didn’t listen.
They sold it all and went out to Joyce Meyer’s Ministry and the ministry never paid them anything. They lost their house and everything they owned and ended up in divorce, bitter toward God and out of the church.
That is not the fruit of the Spirit of God! That is the fruit of the flesh and the Devil!
How many cults have started because some guy calling himself a prophet calls people to himself and then the next thing you know you are hearing about some compound on the news in the middle of nowhere being raided?
No, the strongest form of prophesy we have today is the Bible. We should know our Bible inside and out so that anyone who tries to twist the scripture to fit their own evil agendas can’t draw us away.

Life Point - True Spirituality Seeks To See Change In Others

Exegetical -

1 Corinthians 14:6–12 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space. There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

Homiletical -

Paul now teaches through a what if scenario.
Paul likens tongues to an instrument. If the instrument is played correctly then it inspires, it edifies. But if it is just noise, it does nothing other than draw attention to the person playing the noise.
Working at the school I can tell you that if a kid gets into the concert and cannot follow the conductor and ends up making noise it throws the whole thing off! It sounds terrible.
Same too with tongues, unless it be interpreted.
Since this church is so eager for Spiritual Gifts he says they should bring revelation
which is something that God reveals to them. How do we see this today?
Ever read a passage or verse a hundred times and all of a sudden it jumps out at you and you truly get it now, I mean truly get it? That is revelation by Holy Spirit.
He says they should bring some special knowledge or teaching or prophesy.
A good special knowledge example:
Ever have a time when you were going about your day and all of a sudden you feel this overwhelming urge to stop and pray? You do and then find out later that the person you were praying for narrowly missed some kind of tragedy at the exact same time you prayed?
A good example of Spirit inspired teaching or prophesy wold be those times when the Lord leads you teach, preach or share a particular scripture and someone if not more than one person says. You know what? That was meant for me. God really changed my thinking on this? Or if you hadn’t shared that I would have ended up doing something sinful, but now I know I shouldn’t.
A good example was when I was coming up in the youth group at my church one Sunday the pastor had a sermon planned and ended preaching another one. He said God lead him to it. It was on sexual purity. What he didn’t know at the time, and still doesn’t is that one of my friends in this group admitted to me she was going to go all the way with someone in the group and after that sermon it stopped her dead in her tracks.

Life Point - True Spirituality Teaches And Shares The Gospel

Exegetical -

1 Corinthians 14:13–19 NLT
So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

Homiletical -

So for all these tongues being spoken in the Corinthian church Paul says to cut it out unless you or someone else can interpret what is being said.
Paul says that if he prays in tongues, it is between his spirit and God but not even he understands what is being said.
Paul speaks for himself when he says what should I do? I will pray and sing in tongues and with words I understand.
Paul says that if you sing, pray and praise in tongues but no one understands, what good is it? no can join you because they don’t understand you. How can 2 or more agree if they can’t understand each other?
Matthew 18:19–20 NKJV
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Now Paul is going to say something I find particularly shocking.
1 Corinthians 14:18–19 NKJV
I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Paul states that he speaks with tongues more than all of them. That is shocking seeing how much tongues, false or real, was happening in the church at Corinth.
Some say he was using hyperbole, but it that were the case then the second part of the statement would be hyperbole also and so would the following passage where he sets in order the use of spiritual Gifts, which we will get into next week.
No, Paul was not being hyperbolic. He meant what he wrote, that he speaks with tongues more than them. But that shouldn’t be the focus. The focus is on what he says next:
“yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
The focus is on Agape. It is more loving to build the church up, to edify the church than it is to edify ones self. It is more desirable to teach others than it is to draw attention to yourself.
You would think that someone who spoke in another language that is not his own by the power of God would put a strong emphasis on it, but he doesn’t. He puts his emphasis on the believers in the church and the Gospel to be brought forth to the unbeliever.
Shouldn’t we do also? Shouldn’t we seek to live the life of Christ in our lives daily and build the church rather than ourselves? Shouldn’t we be spreading the Gospel of love?
True love is telling people that they are going to die and go to hell without Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Life Principle True Spirituality Seeks To Edify The Church, See Change In Others, And Share The Gospel

Call to Action – altar call….

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