Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 12:10
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This past week, I had the opportunity to be on the East Coast, in Washington, DC, at the Museum of the Bible and to speak at the Museum of the Bible. So the week before me, Anne Graham Lotz spoke. Then I spoke. And then, this next week, Dr. Tony Evans will speak on the power of the scriptures and the transforming nature of the Bible. And so it was a chance for me to be a part of what really is one of the national treasures in our country, this incredible, multistory museum of the Bible that is millions and millions of dollars to build. The Greens that own Hobby Lobby did that and has sponsored that. And it's an incredible gesture. Fodor calls it one of the best museums in Washington DC.
Now, that's saying something because there's some pretty great museums in DC if you've ever been to the Smithsonian institutes or museums in that area. So it really is a great thing, and it was a great honor for me. What was really wonderful is I got a chance to meet people and connect with people who either watch us on YouTube or listen to us on XM radio, Sirius XM, that are on the East Coast. Some drove in from different places, even as far as North Carolina, to be a part of this. So it was just great. And you see and hear of the impact that the scripture, the word of God, is making and this ministry in Albuquerque is making all over the country. I even heard of a group that is meeting up in Canada, in Nova Scotia, and they tune in. So welcome if you're tuning in as part of that from Nova Scotia.
And one guy, in his business conference room, will do the streaming of the services. And then, he's brought in a group of 50 people to be a part of that. So it was like a major little watch party, its own church up there in Nova Scotia, that's a part of it. So no matter where you are tuning in, we want to welcome you. I want to welcome you here to our little living room, we call it, I call it, on Wednesday nights, where I don't have to stand behind a pulpit. I can just have a Bible open on a stool, speak heart-to-heart from the scriptures to you. It is something that is the joy of my heart to do.
So we are in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12. And we have been in that chapter for some time. Typically, we are in a chapter a week or two chapters a week, but not so in this chapter. We have slowed down because of the nature of this material, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And if you've been with us the past few weeks, we have slowed down to do one verse, one week, another verse, the next week, dip into the next verse but not quite make it through. And we're slowing down because Paul begins the chapter saying, I'm going to tell you about spiritual things, spiritual gifts. And of these, I don't want you to be ignorant. And because he made a deal of saying that, I want to look at supplemental material in the scripture, examples of these gifts, so that none of us will have any doubt as to the meaning of the text, the meaning of these gifts, how they operate, and then how you and I should be, could be open to the Spirit in working in those ways should the Lord decide to do that in your own life and open up something wonderful and tremendous for you.
So we covered last time we met, we've covered already five of the gifts of the Spirit, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge in verse 8. We covered then last time the gift of faith, the gifts of healing, and the gift of miracles. We just mentioned the next gift in verse 10, which is prophecy, and I want to pick up on that tonight and move through. Now, I said last week that I'm going to finish the chapter next week. That's what I said. I need to say I'm going to finish the chapter, Lord willing, tonight. It may happen, may not happen. But I don't think you care if I finish a chapter as much as if I cover the material and that you understand how these things operate.
So that's where we are, and we are in verse 10 tonight. So I hope you have your Bibles open. If not, find a Bible or look at your friend's Bible or turn in your device to a Bible program and get to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Years ago, there was a missionary by the name of Norman Grubb, a missionary to Africa, a very powerful author. He was British. I read some of his books. I got introduced to him. I got to meet him one night and spend an evening with him. I don't expect you to know that term unless you're conversant in that kind of literature, mission stuff, and his books from the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and that general area. But he said something that I want to begin with. He said, "Man's greatest capacity is to be a vessel". Man's greatest capacity is to be a vessel. And then, he went on to explain that we, as human beings, have the capacity to have God living in us.
And I remember hearing that and reading that. And in part, I agree with him. Certainly I would agree that is a high calling and a high honor. 2 Corinthians chapter 4 says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels". That's tremendous to think about, that God comes inside us in humans and dwells within them by His Spirit. But I do believe that Grubb falls short a little bit. Though I think it's wonderful that we can contain God living in us, I think that our highest capacity is not to be a vessel as much as it is to be a channel, a channel of God. So Jesus said, again I remind you of what we said a few weeks ago, in John chapter 7, "'Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.' This He spoke concerning His Holy Spirit," John writes, "who was not yet given".
So I think our highest capacity isn't just to be a pool collecting the refreshing waters of salvation but to be a portal where those waters can flow into the lives of others. And I begin with that because a question that has been argued throughout church history is concerning the work of the Holy Spirit. Is there a deeper work of God in the life of a believer beyond salvation? Because some will argue once you get saved, you get the full meal deal. The Holy Spirit comes in. You are baptized by the Spirit in the body of Christ. That's really the package, and there's no second work or perfecting work or deeper work. So to answer that, I would say if you can look at your life and say that you are overflowing, overflowing, then you don't need any subsequent work. If you can't say that your life is overflowing, then I would say need a deeper work of the Lord. And I tend to think that we all could use a deeper work of the Lord, a deeper work of the Spirit, in our lives. And so that is promised the believer, I contend, in the scriptures.
Here's a simple rule that may help, one baptism, many fillings. You are baptize once by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. Now, I know that's just theological talk to some of you. But I hope you really grasp the reality of that. The baptism with the Holy Spirit, some people have problems saying the baptism of the Holy Spirit for a number of reasons, but let's put it this way. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is positional. The filling of the Holy Spirit is experiential. Brief explanation, you come to Christ. When you do, the Holy Spirit immerses you, places you, baptizes you, into the collective, His group, His own special people, a royal priesthood, a people set apart. That's a privilege. That's positional, however. The filling of the Holy Spirit is experiential. It concerns living out the Christian life, powerfully or not powerfully, depending on your relationship to Him.
So that filling, you need it more than you need it once. You put gas in your car. And these days, it costs you a paycheck to put gas in your car. But it would be nice if you could just put gas in your car and never have to put gas in it again. But I'm sorry. They don't make vehicles that do that. You have to add fuel. You have to replenish the fuel because you burn it up. I have been filled with the Spirit. I need to be filled with the Spirit because I leak. And I find that I need more and more and more. And I pray daily that the Lord will fill me with the Spirit. In Ephesians, chapter 5, Paul says, "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation," or excess, "but be filled with the Spirit". What you need to know about that is this put in the present tense. A better, literal translation is this. "Don't be drunk with wine, but be continually, constantly, over and over again, regularly filled with the Spirit", so one baptism, many fillings, positionally, but experientially as well, being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Well, let me take you back to the early days. Since we're celebrating our 40th year, this year, of this church, when we first started our first Sunday morning services in a theater, which no longer exists in town. It's been torn down, but it's in the Far North Shopping Center right over here. And we began our first Sunday morning. After the very first meeting that we had on a Sunday morning, and I was meeting people in the back by the concession stand. We weren't selling popcorn or Coke. But I was just standing there. And as people were coming by, I was greeting them and saying hello and introducing myself. And I'll never forget. Somebody came up and said, well, I'm visiting you today for the first time. Really, everybody who was there was visiting us for the first time. But he said, and I'll not come back. I said, great. Well, I didn't say, well, great. But I thought it. But I said, well, why is that? He goes, you're too charismatic. I go, what do you mean? He goes, well, I saw people with their hands raised up when you were singing, and I'm not into that stuff. I said, OK. See you.
The next week, or maybe two weeks later, after the service, same routine. Somebody else came up to me and said, I visited here for the first time today. I'm not going to come back. I thought, what is this? Do these people know each other? And I said, well, why is that? He said, you're not charismatic enough. I didn't hear tongues or prophecy or the interpretation of tongues. I didn't see that. So when I heard both of those sort of back-to-back that week, I knew we were in the sweet spot, right in the middle, right in the balance, not too crazy, not too dry. All word and no Spirit, you dry up. All Spirit and no word, you blow up. Enough of both, and you grow up. So you want to be right in the pocket, right in the middle, the balance between the two. And I think Paul gives that balance here in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, when he discusses spiritual gifts.
I can tell already that we probably won't finish the chapter. What are spiritual gifts exactly? Spiritual gifts are this, they are capacities. They are endowments. They are spiritual capacities given by God for a particular situation, usually, usually to accomplish a work that God wants to do, so a spiritual capacity or a spiritual endowment. And so the gifts are listed. "There are differences," verse 5, "of ministries, but the same Lord, diversities of activities, but the same God, who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all". Then the gifts are listed. I brought for you tonight that listing but in the Amplified Bible. Have you ever read that translation, the Amplified Bible? Let me read it to you. I think it just sort of fills out what we have discussed and what we are going to discuss tonight.
In verse 7 of the Amplified Bible, "To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit, that is, the spiritual illumination and enabling of the Holy Spirit, for the common good. To one is given through the Holy Spirit the power to speak the message of wisdom; and to another, to express the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit. To another, wonder-working faith is given by the same Holy Spirit; and to another, the extraordinary gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another, the working of miracles; and to another, prophecy, that is, foretelling the future or speaking a new message from God to the people, and to another, discernment of spirits, the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults; to another, various kinds of unknown tongues; and to another, the interpretation of tongues. And these things, the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering", that is, these gifts, "are brought about by one and the same Holy Spirit, distributing to each one individually as he chooses".
I just thought that was an excellent translation of this in particular and what we have noted about spiritual gifts. They are capacities or endowments. So we've covered five so far. Next on our list, and we just touched on it last week, is the gift of prophecy, verse 10. "To another, prophecy". Now, I did mention this last week. All three lists in the New Testament of the gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, Romans, chapter 12, Ephesians, chapter 4, all three lists of the gifts of the Spirit include this gift. Not all include the same, but all three include this one. So for instance, in Ephesians, God has placed in the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the edification of the body of Christ and for building us up. In Romans, chapter 12, it says, "And let each one prophesy according to the measure of faith that God has given him". And then, here, it is mentioned here, the gift of prophecy.
Now, most of us, when we think of prophets or prophecy, think of the Old Testament. Yeah, Isaiah, he was a prophet. Daniel was a prophet. Jeremiah was a prophet. Ezekiel, these men are prophets. But in the Old Testament, prophets did a couple of things. In the Old Testament prophets foretold the future. Sometimes, they predicted the future. Other times, they didn't predict the future. They just proclaimed God's truth. They exhorted kings or kingdoms. They corrected the nation. They were speaking for the Lord. That's what a prophet is. A prophet is somebody who represents God to the people. It's a different office than that of a priest. A priest represents the people to God. But a prophet speaks for God to the people. So the prophets, inspired by God, predicted the future. Sometimes, at other times, they just didn't foretell, but they forthtold. They would tell forth the word of God, the will of God, the dictates the mandates of God, to the people.
Now, in the Old Testament, there was very strict regulation for a prophet. See, if you came along and said, well, I see Isaiah out there on the streets of Jerusalem. I could do that. Well, be careful, because before you go out and follow Isaiah and decide to do what he did because you feel led to do it, you better read the qualifications for a prophet in Deuteronomy 13 and Deuteronomy 18. If you predict something and you're not 100% accurate, you get killed. You get stoned. That doesn't mean you personally get stoned. It means people stone you. You get killed. Also, if you predict something and it does happen, but you then teach the people to follow a different God or to follow God different than how He has said, you get killed, so very, very strict ramifications on how that gift was to be used in the Old Testament. What is it in the New Testament? What is it when Paul refers to the gift of prophecy? Is he thinking that you're going to be like Isaiah the prophet or Ezekiel the prophet or Daniel and predict things in the future? No, there's no more written revelation like the scripture ever. It's over. That's done. That's never going to happen. But there are some particulars for a New Testament prophet.
Now, in the book of Acts, there was a guy by the name of Agabus. Ever hear that name in chapter 21 of the Book of Acts? Agabus was in Caesarea. He was a prophet, and he did speak the future. He did foretell the future. He is called a prophet. So what he did, when Paul came to town to Caesarea, he took Paul's belt that was around his waist, took it off Paul in the presence of everybody, imagine just reaching over and saying, excuse me, Paul, foom, yanking his belt off, ties his own hands and feet with it, and then, he says, "Thus says the Holy Spirit. This is what's going to happen to this man. Just like I'm bound, the man who owns this belt will be bound in Jerusalem if he goes". Well, that was Paul's belt. So everybody looked at Paul, and Paul goes, yep, that's my belt. And that's a prophecy that I'm going to be bound. So they said, Paul, please, please don't go. You heard what the prophet said. The prophet said, if you go to Jerusalem, they're going to hurt you and bind you.
And I love what he said. He goes, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? I'm ready not only to be bound but to be killed for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". I don't care if I get bound in Jerusalem. I'm going. So bid me God bless because I'm out of here. You don't stop men like that. And he went to Jerusalem, and he did get bound. The prophecy did come to pass. But when we get to 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 and 14, and it speaks about the gift of prophecy, there are certain things you need to know. Number one, prophecy in the New Testament usually was a direct word from God. Don't confuse the gift of prophecy with preparing a sermon, as some commentators like to say. Oh, that's just the gift of preparing a sermon and giving a message. That's modern-day prophecy. No, it's not.
The gift of prophecy is a direct word for a particular time that is not associated with preparation or normal human intellectual acquisition. It's a direct word from the Lord for a particular situation. How do I know that? Because in Acts chapter 13, it differentiates between teachers, those who prepare sermons and teach them, and prophets. It says there was in Antioch at the time prophets and teachers. And it says as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Lord said, the Holy Spirit said, "Separate unto Me Paul and Barnabas for the work where I have called them". So that begs the question, how did the Holy Spirit speak that word? No doubt through one of the prophets, because they're listed. Prophets and teachers, somebody spoke a word. Thus says the Holy Spirit, separate unto Me these two, Paul and Barnabas, for the work I've called them to. So they laid hands on them, and they sent them off. That was a word of prophecy.
So number one, it's a direct word from God for a particular situation. Number two, New Testament prophecy is clear speech, clear speech that needs no interpretation whatsoever. That's why it's different from tongues. Now I'm saying this. I'm belaboring this for this reason. If you have an Assemblies of God background, you are taught in that church that tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy. That is incorrect. They say tongues is a message from God, and somebody will speak it. And then, when somebody can interpret that message from God, it becomes a prophecy. No, tongues and prophecy are completely different. Now, I know that we're jumping the gun a little bit, but turn to chapter 14 for a moment, and you'll see that. I want you to see that so by the time we go over it, you'll already know this stuff. You'll be experts in this stuff.
Verse 1, chapter 14, "Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy, for he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men". There's no message in tongues from God. That's wrong. That's inaccurate. "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 ratifies himself, but he who prophesies terrifies the church". That's the advantage of prophecy over tongues. It engages the mind. It engages the understanding. Somebody speaks a word that all of us or a message all of us can understand. Tongues does not do that. Tongues bypasses the intellect because if you speak in a tongue, unless you have the gift of interpretation, you don't know what is being said. So prophecy, then, is a direct word from God. It is clear speech. Because it's clear speech, it can build up the believer. It can convict the unbeliever because it's understood.
Number three, third aspect of New Testament prophecy, New Testament prophecy is controllable by the one who operates this gift. It is controllable. It's not that you get into some ecstatic state, some altered state of consciousness, and then, all of a sudden, you, oh, my children, in some weird voice. It's controllable. Turn over to chapter 14. You're already in chapter 14. Look at verse 29. Now, look at how he says this should be regulated in an assembly. "Let two or three prophets speak. Let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let him first keep silent". So it's controllable, one at a time, not all talking together. "For you can all prophesy one by one that you may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets".
There it is. You have control. You can speak. You can decide not to speak. It's not that you get into some weird altered state of reality. You get the impulse from the Lord. You're about to speak. You can do it one at a time. The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophets. OK, fourth characteristic of New Testament prophecy, it is not gender-specific. That is, it's not for men only. Men can speak words of prophecy. Men and women can speak words of prophecy. By the way, you should know this. In the Old Testament, there were prophets, but there were also prophetesses, not many of them, but there were some. Miriam, the sister of Moses, was a prophetess in the Book of Exodus. Deborah, one of the judges of Israel in Judges chapter 4 and 5, Deborah was called a prophetess. And she did prophesy. Huldah, in Kings chapter 22, is called a prophetess in the temple of the Lord.
The wife of Isaiah, Isaiah was a prophet. But in one section of Isaiah, Mrs. Isaiah is called a prophetess, very convenient for a prophet to be married to a prophetess, have similar gifts. I don't know how that worked, stereo prophesying of some kind. But I think that's cool. When you get to the New Testament, in Acts 21, again, I made reference to when Paul went to Caesarea. It says at Caesarea, Paul stayed with a guy by the name of Philip. We read about him in the book of Acts. Philip, it says, had four virgin daughters who prophesied, four virgin daughters. All of them had the gift of prophecy. So that's pretty cool. Isaiah had stereo prophecy. This is quadrophonic. Also, if you go back to chapter 11 for just a moment, notice this, verse 5 of chapter 11, verse 4. "Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies", so there it gives allowance, in the church of the New Testament, for prophecy to come through men or through women.
So it's not gender-specific. I think that's an important nuance to get. Also, to add to that, Acts, chapter 2, quoting the prophecy of Joel, Peter says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, who said, 'In the last days, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy.'" So there it is. It is not gender-specific. What is the gift of prophecy for? Three things. We'll get to it in chapter 14, but I just read it to you in the first few verses of chapter 14. "He who speaks a prophecy," Paul said in chapter 14, "speaks edification, exhortation, or comfort". So it's either to build up, to stir up, or to cheer up. It's a word from God that will build up, stir up, or cheer up an individual.
So if somebody comes and is very condemning, I have the gift of prophecy, thus saith the Lord, all my children, you're a bunch of idiots, I'm going to throw that person out or say button it up if it's in a meeting where that is practiced, because it's going to be edification, exhortation, or comfort. It's going to build up. It's going to stir up. It's going to cheer up. Perhaps the best book that I have read on this is from a systematic theology book by Guy Duffield and Dr. Nat Van Cleave. Listen to what they say. "Normally, in the operation of the gift of prophecy, the Spirit anoints the believer to speak forth to the body, not premeditated words, but the Spirit supplies spontaneously to uplift and encourage insight to faithful obedience and service and to bring comfort and consolation. The words need not be in archaic English, 'oh, thou my children, I speaketh unto thee', you can just speak normal talk, nor in a loud or altered voice, nor spoken in the first person".
In other words, it's normal. It's natural. But it's an impulse given by the Holy Spirit for edification, exhortation, and comfort. OK, we'll get more as we get into chapter 14. That's enough for the gift of prophecy. Next on the list, we've got to move this thing along now. I got to move this thing along now. So "to another prophecy," verse 10, "to another, discerning of spirits". I have always thought, I have long thought that one of the things lacking, one of the values, characteristics lacking in the modern church today in general, is discernment, that Christians can tend to be so gullible that anybody who slaps the name of Jesus on anything, any superstar who says "God" or "God bless you" at an awards ceremony, or mentions my main man, Jesus, that all of a sudden, we welcome them into the church. They're in our ranks. They're born again. And we're just dumb when it comes to that. We need discernment.
1 John chapter 4, "Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world". Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly, they're ravenous wolves". So we are warned over and over again to use discernment, to be wise when it comes to people giving us a message or giving us some idea that they're followers of the Lord. We need to learn to discern. OK, so that's generally discernment. On top of general discernment, which we should all have, every Christian in a mature state should have, beyond that, there is a gift of discernment. A gift of discernment is the ability to discern between good and evil, between spirits, good and evil spirits, in a particular situation that you might otherwise have no knowledge about but the Lord reveals it to you. And fortunately, we have examples of that in the book of Acts. So for example, here's an example. You don't have to turn to it because you know it so well.
Acts, chapter 5, Peter is given a word of knowledge and the discerning of spirits together. These gifts sometimes operate in pairs or in triads. They work together. He gets a word of knowledge, and he gets the discernment of spirits. When Ananias comes to the church, Peter turns to him and says, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? You haven't lied to men. You've lied to God". He had a word of knowledge that Ananias was not truthful. And he had the gift of discerning of spirits that the motivation was Satan filled his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit. That's the gift in operation. Let me show you something even plainer than that.
Turn to Acts, chapter 8, Acts, chapter 8. If you don't want to turn to Acts, chapter 8, because I don't hear a lot of Bibles fluttering, I'll just read it to you. But Acts, chapter 8, is a good example. In Acts, chapter 8, the church is persecuted in Jerusalem. And because they're persecuted, they scatter. They go everywhere else. And some of them go north to the city of Samaria.
So verse 5, "Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed. Many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man called Simon who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the great power of God.' And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed. And when he was baptized, he continued with Philip and was amazed, seeing the miracles and the signs which were done".
Philip had the gift of miracles, and he had the gift of evangelism. He was very successful. What he did not have was the gift of discernment of spirits. It says that this man Simon believed, but the belief was not saving faith. It was bandwagon faith. It's like, I'll join. I'm coming. I'll tag along with this. We find out that it's because the limelight was no longer on him, because everybody said, he's the great power of God. But now this guy does miracles, Philip, and the limelight is now on Philip, not on him. So he conveniently believes. But watch this.
"Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down prayed, for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet, He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power also, that anyone whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent, therefore, of your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.'"
Wow. He had the gift of discernment. Philip had the gift of miracles and evangelism, not discernment. Now the apostles come. They have discernment. They know there's a motivation underlying that. How would they know that? Holy Spirit impressed that upon them. And so they spoke that word out. A few chapters later, in the 13th chapter, Paul is on his first missionary journey. And they first go to the island of Cyprus. They go to one of the main towns in Cyprus, Salamis. And they encounter a guy by the name of Bar-Jesus. Great name, son of Jesus, but he really was the son of the devil. So Bar-Jesus, also called Elymas in that chapter, Paul the apostle, in seeing him, says, "O full of deceit and fraud, you son of the devil".
Wow. Paul, you're having, like, a bad hair day or something. What up, dude? No, he had the gift of the discerning of spirits. And he knew that this guy was out for a different motivation. I'll give you one more example. This one I want you to turn to, and that's Acts, chapter 16. In Acts, chapter 16, they come to the city of Philippi. It is Paul the apostle again at the city of Philippi, verse 16. Chapter 16, verse 16, "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and us and cried out, 'These men are the servants of the most high God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation!'"
Stop right there. That sounds pretty good. I mean, if you want a PR person, you want to hire her. These men are going to tell you the truth. Listen to what these guys have to say. They teach us salvation. What she is saying here is true, great PR. But keep going, verse 18. "And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And it came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that the hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities". Paul had the gift of the discernment of spirits.
Now, here's the hard part. If you ever have this gift, the hard part is that it's so obvious to you but not to everybody else. And that's where it's frustrating. You see it. You know it. You know that person's goofy, weird, false prophet, demonic, whatever. Everybody else is, here's a girl saying, these people speak the word of God, the true salvation of God. And Paul goes, you come out of her, and just rebukes the spirit. I'm sure that people standing by would have said, Paul is so judgmental. He's so harsh and critical. What gives him the right? God gave him the right. The gift of the discerning of spirits is so vital to the body of Christ. It's like your liver. Your liver filters out poisons. People with discernment filter out poison. There's enough people in the body of Christ that are gullible that will follow anybody and anything. It takes somebody with real discernment. But it's frustrating.
And so if you have it, buckle your spiritual seat belt because you'll see it. Others will not see it. Just be aware that you're going to get flak for it when you exercise this gift. And then, let me add a warning to that. If you have the gift of discerning of spirits, which makes you valuable to the body of Christ, be careful that you don't let the gift of discernment denigrate into pride and always being critical of everything because after all, you're so gifted with discernment. You're still a sinner. You're still flawed. You still need to be corrected from time to time. So don't let that degenerate into something that is self-righteous and critical in nature. So that is the gift of the discerning of spirits. So now we've covered a bunch of them already, haven't we? Taken a month, but we've done word of wisdom and word of knowledge and faith and healings and the working of miracles and prophecy and the discerning of spirits. Wow. Good.
Now let's get on to the next one, chapter 12, 1 Corinthians, verse 10, "to another, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, to another, different kinds of tongues, and another, the interpretation of tongues". Would you agree that the gift of tongues, the idea of tongues, talking about tongues, talking in tongues, is one of the most controversial things in Christianity? It is. It has divided many a church and many a friendship. It is very controversial, and sadly, it has become very divisive. And so you have on one end people who say those gifts are done with. Those are sign gifts that were for the early church before the scripture was given in its totality. We already covered that several studies ago and dismantled that belief. But there are some that hold to that. And I think they hold to it because it's very convenient to say the gifts passed away because then you don't have to deal with the messiness of their use and abuse in your group.
So just say, I dismiss that. Next? On the other end of the spectrum, it always has to be a healing, a miracle, a tongue, a prophecy, something, or God hasn't moved. So there's a joke about a charismatic and a Baptist. And they're arguing about this. And the charismatic, of course says, well, it's a gift, and it's for today. And the Baptist says, I don't believe in that stuff. That stuff's nuts. The charismatic turned to his friend and says, I bet you I can get you to speak in tongues today. Baptist said, no way. Charismatic says, way. No way. Way. So Baptist folds his arms and says, try it. Let's see it. So the charismatic kicks the Baptist as hard as he can with his right foot just below the knee, right in the shin. And the Baptist grabs him, goes, oh, my knee. Oh, my shin. Oh, my knee. Oh, my shin. Oh, my knee. Charismatic goes, you got it, brother. Just keep it going. Oh, my knee. Oh, my shin. Just keep it going. Keep going. And it's true.
I've heard some tongues that just, you go, oh, that guy's just making stuff up. "She rode a Honda". Really? Where did she ride the Honda to? "From the economy car show to the curio shop". Back to the text, different kinds of tongues. What is the gift of tongues? The gift of tongues is a form of communication. It's a form of communication, we discover in chapter 14, to God. He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but he speaks to God. It's a prayer. It's worship. It's directed heavenward. It's to God. That's why some people refer to the gift of tongues as a prayer language, a prayer language. You're directing a prayer to God. It's not a message from God to people. It's a prayer to God. It's worship to God. Language itself is a pact, right? It's a pact. It's an agreement. It's a pact that certain things, that certain words mean certain things to certain people. That's what language is. It's a pact that certain words mean certain things to certain people.
So you and I, we have a pact with each other. It's called the pact of English. That's our covenant with each other. So when I say certain words, they mean certain things to certain ears, your ears. That's our pact. But over in India, they don't have the same pact that we have. So if you hear somebody say..., and you think, that guy's being weird, speaking in one of them weird tongues, no, it's a pact he is speaking. But it's a different pact. It's a different agreement. He is speaking the language Malayalam, one of the dialects, one of the languages of Southern India. And he is saying in his language, "Praise the Lord". If somebody says "Maraming Salamat Po", you have to be Filipino to have that pact. That's a special language group all to its own. You and I in America wouldn't understand that unless somebody interprets it for us. If we have an interpreter, that bridges the gap where the pact breaks down, right?
So that's what language is. Language is an agreement. It's a pact. But let's say you and I decided to have our own secret pact, our secret language just you and I know. So the words in our secret pact will be, huzza wuzza jazza wazza, surfus murfus calarex flex. And we make an agreement in advance. If, after the service, I say to you, "huzza wuzza jazza wazza," what I mean by that is let's go to Starbucks and have coffee. So after the service, I turn to you. "Huzza wuzza jazza wazza". Everybody goes, that's weird. But you and I know what that means. We've made that pact. And then, if you say to me, "Surfus murfus calarex flex" means, OK, I'll meet you at Starbucks, but you're buying, again, we can employ that language, and you and I would be fine. But nobody else would understand. Tongues is a language directed to God that God understands.
It's a very effective and very edifying, it's one of the, it's unique among the gifts because the gifts of the Spirit, we are told by Paul, generally are for the edification of the church, for the profit of all, for the edification of the body of Christ, except the gift of tongues. We've already read it. We'll read it in chapter 14 when we get to it again that he who speaks in the tongue edifies himself, builds himself up. So whereas the gifts of the Spirit are for mutual edification, the gift of tongues is unique in that it is exercised for not mutual edification but self-edification. You build yourself up. You satisfy yourself except or unless there's an interpretation, there's an interpretation. God and I have the pact. But if somebody interprets that to the group so that you now understand what I have said to God, what I have prayed to God, what I am worshiping to God, then you will be edified. That will build you up. You go, oh, that's beautiful. Other than that, it's for self-edification. But it is a pact. It is a language. It is a code that God understands.
Number one, it's directed to God. Number two, when you speak in a tongue, you don't understand what you are saying. Nobody else understands what you are saying unless there is an interpretation. Now, I know some of you are thinking, what about the book of Acts, chapter 2? I'll get to that, not tonight, unfortunately. Here I was saying I'm going to finish the chapter. Ha ha. So when you speak in a tongue, you don't understand it. People around you don't understand it unless they have the gift of interpretation or you yourself are given the interpretation. Now, to show that, because I want to prove that to you. Turn to chapter 14, verse 14. Don't worry. We're not going to go through these chapters like this. I'm covering a gift at a time, and then, we're going to, I was going to say zoom through it. We'll go faster through it.
Chapter 14, verse 13, "Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret". The only reason you'd have to pray that is if you said something you didn't understand. "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays", there it is. It's a prayer language, "but my understanding is unfruitful". I don't understand what I'm saying. It bypasses my intellect. So it is directed to God. And what did I say second? Yeah, you don't understand it when you say it. Others don't understand unless there's the interpretation. Let me give you another factoid about the gift of tongues. It requires interpretation. And when it is interpreted, it brings edification to the whole church. Verse 17, I just want to touch on this point since we're at the end of our study. Verse 17, "for you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified". So you're praising God. You're worshiping. You're giving thanks. The others are not edified unless you have this gift of interpretation.
Now, what about the book of Acts? I'm going to try to tackle this in the three minutes I have left, because in the book of Acts, chapter 2, when the early church on the day of Pentecost spoke in tongues, remember that?, they spoke in languages that people did understand. They spoke in dialects and languages of people who were gathered together at Jerusalem. And they said, how is it, and by the way, that kind of tongues and this kind of tongues were the same essential thing, with one caveat, and I want you to know that caveat. They were the same essential thing. That is, it wasn't a message to the people. It wasn't evangelism to the people. Peter wasn't preaching the gospel in different languages. That's nonsense. It says they heard them speak in tongues. And the people, in all these different languages said, how is it that we hear them speaking in our own native tongues?
Listen, the wonderful works of God. They heard them worshiping the Lord, praying to God, speaking the wonderful works of God in their own language. The difference between the Corinthians 12 tongues, glossolalia, and the Acts, chapter 2, tongues, dialektos, different dialects in different regions, is that one required interpretation, Corinthians. The other did not require interpretation, Acts, chapter 2. What was all that about? It was a one-off. Acts, chapter 2, was the first day the church existed. It was the birth of the church. It was the day of Pentecost. It was a sign to the unbelievers that the message of the gospel, even though tongues wasn't preaching the gospel. How do I know that? Because Peter afterwards preached the gospel to them after the tongues incident. But in hearing the tongues in different languages, it was a sign to the rest of the world that what is going on in the church is for everyone in the world. It's for everyone in the world. But it was a one-off. It was never repeated again in history.
There is no second Pentecost or third or fourth. It was the birth of the church. It was a thing that happened so that they heard them worshiping the Lord but in their own different language and dialects, earthly languages, whereas here, tongues in 1 Corinthians 12, the word is different. Paul distinguishes between, in this chapter, in the Greek language he distinguishes between human languages, phone, and this kind of speaking in tongues, glossolalia, two different words. So I see tongues, as I put it all together, as precognitive speech to God that bypasses the intellect. So you don't know what it is. You don't have time for orderly arrangement of thought like in the pact of English or any other language.
So it's precognitive thought that is very powerful in communicating to God. Why would anybody do it? He says, "You give thanks well," for your own private devotions. Paul said, "I speak in tongues more than you all". He will say that to them, "I speak in tongues more than you all," which is interesting because we never read of Paul speaking in tongues. So if Paul said, "I speak in tongues more than you all," he afterwards said, "But in the church, I'd rather speak one word of understanding than 10,000 words in an unknown tongue," because you wouldn't know what I'm saying. So if Paul spoke in tongues more than anybody else, where did he speak in tongues? In his own personal, private, devotional life, his prayer life. That's where I see its place primarily. The only time it has a place publicly is if it's in a setting that's designed for believers getting together, and it must accompany interpretation, as we will see when we get to chapter 14.
So it's for devotion, number one. Number two, it's for intercession. It's for intercession because you're praying. You're praying. Sometimes, when we pray, we don't know what we should pray for, right? That's what Paul said in Romans. He said we don't always know how to pray. We don't pray like we should, as we ought. And so here's an example. I might pray when somebody is suffering, oh, Lord, deliver them. They're suffering. Deliver them. That may be the worst thing for them if God were to answer my prayer. I'm knowledgeable. I'm praying in English in my mind or out loud. And I say, Lord, deliver them. And that may be the worst thing, because that suffering may be the very tool God is using to develop and mature that person.
If God delivers them, that would circumvent the work God wants to do. They need to stay in it a while. When Jesus said to his disciples, I'm going to Jerusalem, and they're going to beat Me up and kill Me. I'm going to be crucified, but I'm going to rise again. Peter said, "Far be it from you, Lord". What if the Lord would have answered that prayer? OK, Peter you prayed it. You said, "Far be it from Me. So I'm not going to the cross". That'd be the worst answer to prayer in history. So we don't always know how to pray as we ought.
So when you bypass your intellect, and you trust that the Lord, in that speech of tongues, is discerning the will of God and praying accordingly. So I might say, Lord, give me a brand-new speedboat. I don't know why I'd pray that, living in New Mexico, where there's no place to really exercise it. But let's say I pray that. And then, I'm also praying in the Spirit, praying in tongues. I might very well, in that language, say, Lord, cancel out that prayer that he prayed cognitively. Don't give him the speedboat.
First of all, he does live in New Mexico. Number two, he doesn't need that. Number three, that'd be bad for his marriage. Number four, whatever it might be. It would correct that, and so for personal devotion and worship, for intercession, and as I said, and we'll get to it, private personal edification. So tongues and the interpretation of tongues, so we have covered that verse, and we're going to finish out the chapter next time. I really won't get into the interpretation of tongues, because there is not a single example in the New Testament of a tongue being interpreted. There's only instruction given to that in chapter 14. So when we get to it, we'll go through it. And now that you have the groundwork laid, and you know about prophecy and tongues and that stuff, you've already got that now under your belt, chapter 14 will be a breeze for you.
So, Father, we do thank You. Thank You, Lord, that Your church can gather together, and we can discuss and balance scripture with scripture, understanding a full-orbed consideration of how spiritual gifts work in the life of the body of Christ. They can be so powerful when someone is anointed with the gift of the word of wisdom or knowledge or even discernment of spirits or prophecy or tongues and interpretation. Lord, we pray that we would, as Paul said, not be drunk with wine, but be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit. We ask You to fill us afresh in Jesus's name. Amen.