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1 Corinthians 14:1-19

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:38
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1 Corinthians 14:1-19
The Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues.
Good morning Church. Open your Bible’s with me to 1 Corinthians 14 and we will begin this chapter today, I’m not planning on finishing it, so you clock watchers can just relax. While your finding your place, without a ton of introduction, I want to remind you of some of what has gotten us to where we are in this letter. Back in chapter 8, Paul wrote...
1 Corinthians 8:1 NKJV
1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
Knowledge puffs up, and leads to pride, but love edifies. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Edifies is actually a construction term. In chapter 9, Paul writes...
1 Corinthians 9:19 NKJV
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
The Apostle Paul, put himself in the role of a servant for the sake of the Gospel that other’s might come to know Jesus. He put others above himself.
Chapter 10
1 Corinthians 10:23–24 NKJV
23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
A little further down in the same chapter...
1 Corinthians 10:31–33 NKJV
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
In the 11th chapter...
1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Down a little further, the head of women is man…wait, how’d that get in there!?! Chapter 12, verse 7
1 Corinthians 12:7 NKJV
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
And finally the bookends to chapter 13, verses 1&2
1 Corinthians 13:1–2 NKJV
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
and the last verse...
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Chapter 14 begins....
1 Corinthians 14:1–4 NKJV
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 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. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
Lets pray....
Paul doesn’t just get a running start into this chapter, in all of his writings, he emphasizes our role as individuals in the building up of the church, strengthening and servings others. In his letter to the church in Rome...
Romans 14:19 NKJV
19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
The church in Corinth was lacking in no gift, they were into the the gifts, which is not a bad thing, Paul starts our chapter this morning with an encouragement to desire spiritual gifts, but the church in Corinth had it all wrong, they were pursuing gifts in an obsessive and selfish kind of way. There was status in certain gifts, some where considered more spiritual than others. When they would gather together, it would become a spiritual gifts talent show, and Paul is correcting that thinking in this chapter. So we are going to go through it, while at the same time, teaching about the gifts of the Holy Spirit for those that may not be familiar with them. So again...
1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Right after the love chapter he begins with the instruction to pursue love, go after that. As Christians our main pursuit should be love. As a manifestation of that love, we should seek to strengthen, encourage, and build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the ways we can do that is through the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives as He wills. Again He decides, not us, what gift or gifts we will receive. But it’s OK to want spiritual gifts, I want, all that the Lord is willing to give me…Paul tells us here to desire that, but especially prophesy…why prophesy Paul, tell us more....verse 2...
1 Corinthians 14:2 NKJV
2 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.
I’m going to stall out here a little bit so that hopefully we can understand a little more about these gifts. Paul talks about tongue and prophecy back in chapter 12, but just along with the list of several other gifts that he rattled off miracles, helps, administrations, teaching, right, a bunch of them, but here he singles these two out.
I’ve mentioned this before, that many churches teach the gift of the Spirit, are no longer for today, I addressed that in some detail last week, so I won’t do so again, other than to state that after extensive Bible study and personal experience, I personally am convinced that all of the gifts are still relevant and for use today, and intended to bless the church in 2022. But, Paul lays out some order and context for how they are to be used that is extremely important of us to get, so that we don’t misrepresent God, nor make ourselves look like the lunatic fringe.
So Paul starts with Prophesy, and says, man if you’re going to desire a gift, or ask God to give you a gift, prophecy is an awesome one to ask for. Now I grew up in a church that taught the gift had ceased at the time of the Apostles, so prophecy was taught to be speaking forth the Word of God, or inspired preaching. There can be a sense of that, but that is not all there is too it, and Paul will tell us more about prophecy as we read on here, but it is not just preaching. Past of the reason we can know that is because Paul calls it prophecy, not preaching. If Paul just wanted to say inspired preaching, he could have, there’s a Greek word of preaching…you Berean scholars can look it up in Strong’s its number 2784 Kerusso
Strong's Concordance
kérussó: to be a herald, proclaim
Original Word: κηρύσσω Part of Speech: Verb Transliteration: kérussó Phonetic Spelling: (kay-roos'-so) Definition: to be a herald, proclaim Usage: I proclaim, herald, preach.
So it’s not just preaching, although preaching can be a wonderful gift that can build up the body. It’s sometimes a combination of gifts teaching and exhortation. Exhortation being strong or intense encouragement. Sometimes preaching can combine, teaching and correction. Exhortation by the way is sort of like Caleb and Joshua who we’ve been reading about in the book of Numbers. It’s going to be tough gang, and there’s lots of challenges in the promised land, but it is following with milk and honey, and God is on our side, lets do this!
Those of you that have played sports and made it into the finals. That speech your coach gave you in the locker room. You’ve done the work, you ran the plays, you’ve sweat, you’ve sacrificed, you’re ready for this, not lets go out there and do this! That’s exhortation. With the gift of preaching, sometimes the same exact message can bring one thing to one person and something completely different to another....but that’s not what Paul’s talking about here, or he would have used Kerusso! He’s talking about prophecy. It certainly is speaking forth for God, it can be predictive, it can be revelatory. It is directional, meaning it is God speaking to man. Often through man to man, from God. Different from the gift of tongues, look at verse 2...
1 Corinthians 14:2 NKJV
2 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.
I don’t like to base an entire doctrine on a single verse, there are cults out there that do that. But, I do think that this is a foundational verse to having a proper understanding of the gift of tongues. Again, for he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to who?, so if you’re given the gift of tongues and you’re speaking in tongues, who aren’t you speaking to? Men…right, me, …keep reading, does not speak to men but to who? God. So if you receive the gift of tongues and you’re speaking, you’re praying, you’re singing in a tongue, who are you speaking to? God....he goes on…for no one understands him, no one being men, even if that tongue is interpreted, it’s not the tongue you would understand, it is the interpretation of the tongue....however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries....
It is important to remember this verse as a foundational verse in order to make sense of the rest of what we are told about tongues. Lot’s of churches teach that tongues is simply the supernatural ability to speak in a language that you don’t know. Wicked helpful to missionaries sent to foreign lands…just like what happened in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost....except that’s not what happened, or this verse wouldn’t be true. Those examples would be examples of men speaking to men, not men speaking to God.
whoa, whoa, whoa, what happened on the day of Pentecost then? I thought there was people there from all over, that spoke different languages, the people understood them, and got saved. Lets look at part of it....Acts chapter 2, starting in verse 5
Acts 2:5–8 NKJV
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
It lists out some of the nations and then look at verse 11
Acts 2:11 NKJV
11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
They understood what they were saying and they heard them speaking the wonderful works of God....there’s another passage in in Acts chapter 10 that talks about them hearing others speaking in tongues.
Acts 10:46 NKJV
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
So they heard them speaking the wonderful works of God, they heard them magnifying God…they heard them praising God...if you read through the story on the day of Pentecost, when it was time to preach, Peter preached and he spoke in the common language that the people shared - Greek, he preaches an incredible message in the rest of Acts chapter 2 and that is when over 3, 000 people get saved. So prophecy is God speaking to men and tongues is men speaking to God. So a proper interpretation of tongues shouldn’t be something little children, you’re doing a terrible job at being a Christian, turn from you’re wickedness, you filthy people, …a proper interpretation of tongues should be something like a praise to God, a prayer to God, a song to God, some type of communication to God…speaking of the wonderful works of God, or praying in intersession for someone or something where the Holy Spirit is interceding for shouldn’t be God sending a message to men…We will see from Paul’s description that prophecy shouldn’t sound like the example I gave of tongues either…little children, you’re doing terrible....check out chapter 14, verse 3...
1 Corinthians 14:3 NKJV
3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
He who prophesies speaks edification, things that are going to build up, not break down....edification and exhortation, remember our championship coach, someone giving a rally cry…an encourager, not a discourager, exhortation is intense encouragement and, and it brings comfort to men! What an awesome gift! I want that one. Paul says, that’s the one to go for. To supernaturally, often pretty naturally, build up people in the church, encouraging them and bringing them comfort from God, that’s cool. What else Paul? Let’s keep going…verse 4
1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV
4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
Well that’s a no brainier right? Tongue talkers are obviously selfish, and all about themselves, but those that prophecy build up the church. No. that’s not what he’s saying. But he is discussing the nature of the two gifts. And many in this church prided themselves in having the gift of tongues. Later in the chapter, and we won’t get there today, you’ll see that the context of this in in relation to public worship, when we gather like this together, are these gifts supposed to be used, and if so, how should they be used, why or why not, and what good are they?
So in that context, Paul is saying well, concerning tongues, when a man prays in an unknown tongue, he’s not talking to other men and women in the church, he or she is talking to God, they’re praying, they’re talking to God, not me, so that’s not going to bless me, or build me up, unless in those cases where the tongue is interpreted, and I then understand not the tongue, but the interpretation of the tongue, and that blesses me. Now you might be thinking, well how is someone else’s prayer, or someone else’s praise going to bless me!?! Let me ask you this....have you ever spent very much time in the psalms? Have you ever read David’s praise to God, or one of his prayers and thought, oh man, that’s exactly how I’m feeling Lord, or those are the words that I’ve been lacking, amen to that!
So Paul isn’t saying tongues are bad, or edifying yourself is bad, but when we gather together, we should be using our gifts that are going to edify others. When were alone with God at home doing our devotions, one of the primary reasons we have a quite time with God is to build ourselves up, edify ourselves in a world that is constantly taring us down. That’s an awesome time to exercise that gift. If you run, or walk, or hike. When I’m alone in the woods I love talking to God, pouring my heart out to God, praising God, singing, clapping, whatever, who cares, I’m not trying to impress anyone, I’m praising God. If during our service here this morning, either while the teaching was going on, or even during the singing, if I were to start hiking around the sanctuary and praying and praising God, in a either a known or an unknown tongue what happens?
You’re singing, your praising God in unity with your brothers and sisters, all the attention is on Jesus, and the person sitting next to you gets you with an elbow, totally disturbes you’re worship and says, hey, what’s with the freak-show over there? And suddenly you’re uncomfortable and everyone takes their eyes and their hearts off of Jesus and does what, they start trying to figure out what’s up with the freak-show hiking around the sanctuary, with the microphone on his head drawing all the attention to him.....But Paul’s not down on tongues…look at verse 5…he says...
1 Corinthians 14:5 NKJV
5 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.
Remember Paul is focusing on what happens when we gather together like this corporately. Christians and non-Christians, Saints and sinners, mature and immature. People who have seen it all, know it all, and lot’s of people that are just trying to figure this whole Jesus thing out. Now if Paul was sitting here and we could pick his brain, and we could ask him questions....Paul, what about in my Grown group. We’ve had the same people in it for 6 years, I know they’re all saved, what about during our worship time there? What about a night of worship Paul where it’s just a small group of Christians? Paul, what about when it’s just me and Jesus, wouldn’t tongues be better than prophecy there? And he’d say, ya man it would, but that’s not what I’m talking about here, and I’m talking about it here, because you’ve been doing it all wrong, and you’ve been selfish, and acting crazy when you gather, everyone only concerned about themselves, remember that was the problem when they shared communion together…verse 6
1 Corinthians 14:6 NKJV
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?
Again, Paul is not anti tongues, later in the chapter he thanks God that he speaks in tongues, more than any of these people that were out of control, but he says if I come to you....remember verse 2...For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God,.....if I come to you speaking with tongues, speaking to a man or a woman, or even speaking to God, not to you, in front of you…what shall I profit you, when we come together if I do that?....Unless, and you can read that as UNLESS instead, when we come together, how shall I profit you when we come together unless I do one of these other speak to you by revelation, or by knowledge, a word of knowledge for you from God, or by prophesying, or wouldn’t profit you more if I spoke to you by teaching....instead of you watching me edify myself....verse 7
1 Corinthians 14:7–9 NKJV
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? 8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 9 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.
He’s saying what good is it in this context? Maybe to satisfy someone’s fleshly curiosity. Hey, I’ve never heard someone speak in tongues do it. Beyond that, you’re just speaking into the air as far as I’m concerned, your little trick isn’t building me up.
1 Corinthians 14:10–12 NKJV
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11 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. 12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Paul is again saying when we gather, let’s seek the gifts and blessings that is going to build each other up, that’s a major purpose of our gathering and it brings glory to God. Verse 13...
1 Corinthians 14:13–14 NKJV
13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
SO as an alternative in a public gathering, Paul is saying, rather that you speak out a tongue publically that no one understands, and that might cause distraction or confusion among the congregation, pray that you might interpret the tongue, because when you’re praying in a tongue, you’re without understanding, it is beyond your intellect, so rather than pray in a tongue in a corporate setting, maybe pray for the interpretation of that tongue and then simply share that with the congregation and speak forth, to God, the wonderful works of God, so it can be fruitful for all.
1 Corinthians 14:15–17 NKJV
15 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. 16 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? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
When we end a prayer with amen, what does that mean…so be it! Paul is saying how can we say amen if I don’t understand what you said
If you’re good simply with praying with understanding and you never feel limited in that, praise the Lord, why would you seek the gift of tongues? But if you ever feel like you’re coming up short, that is when it could be beneficial to you and you can ask God for it, but remember, the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as He will. So, you may receive the gift and you may not.
1 Corinthians 14:18–19 NKJV
18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 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.
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