1 Corinthians 14:6-25
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Understanding, The Key To Communication
It seems that some years ago the people of Texas were being plagued by a Mexican bandit who continuously slipped across the border and robbed their banks.
His name was Jorge Rodriguez.
He had become bolder and more successful, and yet they could never capture him before he hightailed it back across the border to his hideout in the mountains of Mexico.
Finally, they had had enough of this so they hired a well-known detective and sent him down into Mexico to get back their money.
He set off for the small town reputed to be the hideout of Rodriquez.
The detective found the small Mexican town, walked into the saloon, and, lo and behold, there in the corner was the man he was after, Jorge Rodriquez.
"Aha!" he said, "I've found you!" and he pulled out his gun.
"Where have you hidden the millions you have stolen from our banks in Texas?
Tell me, or I'll blow you away!"
At this point another man, Juan Garcia, who was also in the saloon, stepped up to the detective and said, "Sir, you are wasting your time talking to Jorge like this.
He doesn't understand a word of English.
He has no idea what you just said.
Would you like me to translate for you.?" The detective said, "Yes, of course.
Tell him to confess to me where the money is or I'll kill him."
So Juan Garcia turned to Jorge and jabbered away at him for a few moments in Spanish.
There was much gesturing and chattering, and Jorge told Juan in Spanish that if he would take the man to the well that was just a mile out of town, climb down into the well, and remove the third brick, there he would find more than $3 million in gold.
When Jorge was finished speaking, Juan, the helpful translator, turned around to the detective and said, "Senor, he says that he has absolutely no idea where the gold is.
*/Understanding is the first priority of communication./*
Four weeks ago we saw that edification was the purpose of spiritual gifts.
Because of this the gift of prophecy was superior to the gift of tongues.
Paul encouraged the Corinthians to edify one another by using their spiritual gifts in a loving manner.
He emphasized that prophecy was able to do this in a greater way because it was readily understood.
However, Paul also explained that tongues could edify the Church if they were interpreted.
Tonight I want to continue the theme on spiritual gifts and understand the gift of tongues.
There are three points in tonight's passage.
Three Pictures of Tongues II.The Practice of Tongues III.The Purpose of Tongues
/Firstly/ Three Pictures Of Tongues
*1 Cor 14:6* /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?/
Eight times in this section, Paul uses the word /understanding./
It is not enough for the minister to impart information to people; the people must /receive/ it if it is to do them any good.
The seed that is received in the good ground is the seed that bears fruit, but this means that there must be an /understanding/ of the Word of God.
If a believer wants to be edified, he must prepare his heart to receive the Word.
Not everybody who /listens/ really /hears./
But the hearer has no chance of /understanding/ the message unless the speaker presents it clearly.
Paul used three simple illustrations to prove his point that there must be */understanding/* if there is to be an edifying spiritual ministry: musical instruments, a bugle call in battle, and daily conversation.
*1 Corinthians 14:7* /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?/
If a musical instrument does not give a clear and distinct sound, nobody will recognize the music being played.
Everyone knows how uncomfortable one feels when a performer /almost/ plays the right note because the instrument is defective or out of tune.
Large pipe organs must be constantly serviced lest their reeds fail to perform properly.
Imagine how well you would sing if Tony or Wayne played the piano and organ instead of our regular musicians.
Their sounds wouldn't be understood and you could not sing to their tunes.
*1 Corinthians 14:8* /For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?/
If the bugler is not sure whether he is calling /Retreat!/ or /Charge!/ you can be sure none of the soldiers will know what to do either.
Half of them will rush forward, while the other half will run back!
The call must be a clear one if it is to be understood.
Again the sounds must be played distinctly if the message is to be understood.
*1 Corinthians 14:9-11* /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./
But this fact is also true in everyday conversation.
I recall when I went to the Philippines with the Police Youth Club.
I was confronted with a variety of local dialects there.
I asked directions from some of the people and could not understand their answer.
They couldn't understand me either.
The result was frustration for all concerned.
Unless the language is understood there can be no communication.
1 Corinthians 14:10 gives us good reason to believe that, when Paul wrote about tongues, he was referring to known languages and not some /heavenly/ language.
There are many languages in the world and each one is significant.
Each language is different and yet each language has its own meaning.
No matter how sincere a speaker may be, if I do not understand his language, he cannot communicate with me.
Analeisa and Mrs Becker both speak German fluently.
They can talk to each other all day in German if they want to.
But if you or I tried to share with them when they do we would have no chance.
Paul concluded that if you don't understand the language being spoken then the speaker sounds like a barbarian or unlearned person to you.
Understanding - Babblejargon
The following notice was sent home with some high school students: "Our school's cross-graded, multi-ethnic, individualized learning program is designed to enhance the concept of an open-ended learning program on the continuum of multi-ethnic, academically enriched learning, using the identified intellectually-gifted child as the agent of his own learning."
One parent sent back a note which read, "I have a college degree, speak two foreign languages and four Indian dialects--but I haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about."
Christian, how about your communication of the gospel?
Is it so loaded with babblespeak that no one understands what you are saying?
Clear communication requires understanding the language being spoken.
/The musician, the bugler, and the everyday conversationalist cannot be* understood* unless their messages are communicated in a manner that is meaningful to the listener.
/Secondly/ The Practice Of Tongues
*1 Corinthians 14:12-15* /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.
/Having illustrated the principle of */understanding/*, Paul then applied it to 3 different persons.
Paul first applied the principle of understanding to the speaker himself.
Again, he reminded the Corinthians that it is better to be a blessing to the church than to experience some kind of personal excitement.
If the believer speaks in a tongue, his spirit may share in the experience, but his mind is not a part of the experience.
It is not wrong to pray or sing in the spirit, as long as you include the mind and understand what you are praying or singing.
Note that the word /spirit/ in verse 14–15 doesn't refer to the Holy Spirit, but to the inner person.
If the speaker is to be edified, he must understand what he is saying.