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1 Corinthians 14


As you know from previous messages in 1 Corinthians, every believer has been given a spiritual gift. The Spirit of God chooses what gift to give each believer and the strength to use that gift. These gifts are the means by which the Holy Spirit ministers to the body of Christ.

There were believers in the early church with the gift of an apostle, prophet, teacher, miracles, helps, mercy, and hospitality, and etc. These gifts were for the purpose of the Holy Spirit ministering and building up the body of Christ.

But, these gifts must be used with an attitude of love less the gifts become ineffective.; therefore, the church is ineffective.

Now, there were some in the church at Corinth that were using their gifts in such a way that it was not for building up the church. One particular gift that was being misused was the gift of tongues! Without an interpreter, the gift had no benefit when believers assembled together. Paul uses another gift called ‘prophecy’ to get the point across about the misuse of the gift of tongues while Christians are assembled.

The point being when assembled together, if spiritual gifts are not used for the edifying of the body of Christ they are being misused.  This morning we learn if the gift of tongues should be used in the church assembled and the importance of the gift of prophecy.

Prayer:  “Holy Spirit you have gifted…”    Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 14.


The Significance of Prophecy: Declaring God’s Truth

1 (intently) Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy (when assembled together).


The Definition of Prophecy: It is a believer who is gifted and enabled by God to declare divine revelation. In the Old Testament the prophets recorded it and declared it. In the New Testament, the apostles wrote it and declared it. The gift of prophecy was the Spirit’s means of declaring God’s inspired, written Word to the body of Christ not to record it unless one had also the gift of an apostle. This enablement to declared God’s unwritten revelation ceased when the Bible was completed at the close of the first century. The gift of prophecy today declares God’s written revelation, but does not record it nor declare God’s unwritten revelation until the Tribulation period spoken of in the Book of Revelation.

In chapter 14, Paul speaks to the value of this gift to the body of Christ.


The Purpose of Prophecy  - edification, exhortation, consolation


2 For one who speaks in a tongue (language not known to those in the church body) does not speak to men (people) but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries (things not understandable to the body). 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men (people) for edification and exhortation (encouragement) and consolation (comfort).


The gift of prophecy is the Spirit declaring God’s revealed truth through a believer for the purpose of edifying, encouraging, and comforting the body of believers.


The Goal of Prophecy - Church Built Up


4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets (makes known what he is saying in the language of the people), so that the church may receive edifying.


The Essentials of Prophecy – clarity and understanding


6 But now, brethren, if I (Paul, an apostle) come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 16 Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted (doesn’t understand that language) say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people (Israel through Assyrians , Babylonians, Acts 2,  Romans in AD 70) , and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers (sign to Israel of judgment has fallen); but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe (to understand spiritual truths). 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. 26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn (be instructed) and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. ….34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? 37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I (Paul) write to you are the Lord’s commandment (gift of an apostle-recorded truth and authority). 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.

Summary: The major gift by which Christ speaks to the church today is through the gift of prophecy for it is the gift that declares the written Word of God to the body of believers. It does not record it because it is already recorded and it has no authority for the Word of God is our authority. In the Tribulation this gift will again have authority as it did in Old Testament.

Today, when exercised with love, it builds up the body of Christ!

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