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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 14:1-35

Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 14:1-35

Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 14:1-35
TOPICS: Expound, 1 Corinthians, Bible Study

Well, good evening God's people, God's called out one's, royal priesthood. Well, we are in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 12 so turn in your Bibles to that. I do have an announcement to make regarding an event following this at 8:30. It is a time to wait on the Lord, wait on the Holy Spirit. We used to call them after glow's where I'm from. We used to call them believer's meetings, originally. And now they're calling it unscripted. I know what they mean by the title, that there's no order of service per se. Hence unscripted. But we do have a script and the script for, especially the use of the gifts of the Spirit, tongues and prophecy, in public are carefully scripted in the chapter, did I say 1 Corinthians 12? I meant 14. Excuse me, are carefully scripted in that chapter. It's pretty straightforward. This is a pretty easy to understand chapter. It's almost as if we could read it without commentary. It's just that easy to grasp and understand. With one exception. But I'll show you that when we get to it, Lord willing. But let's turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14.

Father, we've been worshiping you but we turn our hearts toward you with the word open. Our hearts are open but our Bibles are open as well because you have given us a script. You have told us how things are to work, all things, decently, and in order. We pray, Lord, that we would not fall short on either one of those things. That we wouldn't be about letting all things get done but forgetting the decency and in order. But we wouldn't be so bound with decency and order that we wouldn't let all things be done. So, Father, we pray that you would show us as your people, as a church body, and even those Lord who are visiting us from the many great churches in this community, or those who are tuning online, show us the balance of what it is to be your body. And I pray, Lord, that there would be a comfort level even in the exercise, or the usage, or the trying out of these gifts that are mentioned here by Paul. In Jesus's name we pray. Amen.

I mentioned chapter 12. I was wrong of course. We're in chapter 14. But chapter 12 does begin this section that Paul is writing about concerning these things. He begins chapter 12 in the Greek language by writing, which is literally, concerning or about the spirituals, about those spirituals. I want to tell you about the spirituals, Gifts is not in the original language. It's in italics even in your English Bible in chapter 12, verse 1. It's implied because the material following is he talks about the variety that's in the church, the body of Christ, and he illustrates it by saying there's different kinds of gifts. He mentions those gifts. Then he makes a plea for unity. We exercise those gifts for the purpose as God called us together to bring unity to the body of Christ.

Goes on in that chapter to talk about how every single part of the body, the human body and the body of Christ, is vital, is important. Not one is more important than another. Not one should be put on a pedestal more than another. Then, Paul takes a break from spiritual gifts, it seems, though it's all part of the same context. Right in the middle between chapter 14 and chapter 12 is chapter 13, which is all about love. And he talks about a more excellent way, the fruit of the Spirit. Especially the fruit of love and preferring one another. And though you speak with tongues of men and of angels but you have not love your zip, you're zero, you're zilch, you're nada, you're nothing. And he talks about the manifestation of love. Chapter 14, verse 1, he swings right back with more depth, back into the spiritual gifts and their use within the assembly.

In particular, Paul is addressing, not all of the gifts that he mentioned in chapter 12, but only two of them. By and large he is focusing in on the gift of tongues and its interpretation, and the gift of prophecy. Why a whole chapter, and a rather long chapter, on those two gifts when he just goes through a list of other gifts in chapter 12? I can only surmise that that was one of the problems with Corinth. They were struggling with this. They were probably indulging in some of these gifts, to the abuse of them. And so Paul, in order to bring a polemic, a corrective, he adds supplemental material, and he talks or hashes through how tongues, with its interpretation in the public arena, and the gift of prophecy, how they are related, how they are different, why one is more preferable than the other.

I remember reading years ago something by AW Tozer who said, the idea of the Holy Spirit to the average church member is so vague as to be non-existent. And I suppose, in some sense, he is correct. People talk about the Lord. We talk about Jesus. We even talk about the Holy Spirit. But when it comes to how he operates in our lives, in the present circumstance, a lot of believers are vague. We've already talked about how there are two extremes when it comes to the use of the gifts of the Spirit in chapter 12. We said, on one end of the spectrum, you have the cessationists who believe that the gifts have ceased. They were miraculous manifestations used only by the early church until the scripture was completed, the New Testament, was completed. Now that it is, we don't need those things. And they often cite that little verse in chapter 13 we've now uncovered about two or three weeks in a row. We know in part, we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part will be done away with.

And we told you that probably is a reference to the second coming of Christ, not the full revelation of scripture. When Jesus comes back, the perfect one comes back, then there is no need because you're in glory or in his presence, you won't need any of these helps, any of these gifts. You won't need the gift of discernment. There won't be false prophecy. You won't need the gift of tongues to speak to God, you'll see him face to face. You won't need a special word of encouragement or exhortation. I mean, come on, you're in heaven. So it's not like you're going to get the blues and you'll need edification. So that's one end of the spectrum, it's ceased. I don't believe they've ceased. I believe Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And I believe the Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever. On the other end of the spectrum, as we've already noted, there are these sensationalists. Not the cessationists but the sensationalists. They feel they've been robbed if they go to church and it doesn't get weird. If people don't jump, and dance, and have a tongue, and an interpretation, and something, that's out of the ordinary. And it just has to be off the charts, off base just a little bit, Oh and, oh, I love it. They revel in it. And many times it's an imbalance. So I am neither a cessationist and I certainly don't want to be a sensationalist. This I know, about 90 times in the Old Testament the Spirit, or God's Spirit, is mentioned or inferred. In the New Testament, 260 times. He, the Holy Spirit, is unavoidable in holy scripture. He certainly should be unavoidable to us. We should be open, should we not, to anything God wants to give us. We should never be afraid.

Some people are afraid if they yield to the Spirit they're going to get goofy. Some people actually are goofy and it's not the Holy Spirit's fault. They could use a good dose of the Holy Spirit just to correct that weirdness. So I would say don't be afraid of anything God wants to give you. But the fear for some is that they're going to lose control and I do not believe that when you are filled with the Spirit and exercising any gift that you are out of control. I don't believe the Holy Spirit grabs your jaw and you just start babbling uncontrollably, or you're going to say, I never wanted to say this, but here goes. It's not like that at all. It's very, very discriminate. It is to be judged. It is to be monitored. And it is in the control of the speaker, as we have noted and Paul underscores in this section. I don't ever think you have to be afraid of anything God wants to do for you, in you, through you to the body of Christ, so being open is a good thing.

Just to sum up a couple of thoughts, because we're going to close, chapter 14, that closes this section, that to sum up the work of the Spirit of God in your life, the Holy Spirit comes after us to save us. Then the Holy Spirit comes inside of us to sanctify us. Then the Holy Spirit comes upon us to supercharge us. So he comes after us to save us. The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment of sin, because they do not believe in me. It is the Spirit's job to convince you you're a sinner, you need help, you're not all that you could be, you need to turn your life over to Christ. He is the one, the Spirit of God drives you to the solution for, your human solution, your fallenness, and that is Christ. Christ alone. Faith in him alone. The cross, the Holy Spirit does that. He comes after us to save us.

Once you stop fighting the Spirit and you ask Jesus to be your Savior, then, second, the Holy Spirit comes in you. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will be in, the Greek preposition en, he is with you, he is in you. And then, when he comes in you, he fills you, he baptizes you, as we saw this last weekend, into the body of Christ. By one Spirit you are baptized into one body, chapter 12. But then, the Holy Spirit comes upon you, E-P-I, to supercharge you. Jesus said that whoever believes in him that out of his innermost being, out of his heart, will flow rivers of living water. This he spoke of the Holy Spirit which was not yet given. I love when the Holy Spirit comes on a person so much that, not only is he or she satisfied and sanctified, but they overflow so that others get the blessing. They get the splash back of the overflow. They get wet. You bump into them you get wet with the Spirit because the Spirit of God, like rivers of living water, is flowing from you.

So how do we get that? Well, ask. It's that simple. Well, do I have to work myself into a certain state and go back and forth like I see the Jews do at the Wailing Wall, kind of back and forth like this, and you're going to get in the zone, get in the mood? Or with the worship's music in the background? No, you just say, Lord, fill me with your Spirit afresh. Jesus said, if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask. It's that simple. You ask. Ask in faith. Nothing wavering, James says. And you'll receive it. Now we did see at the end of chapter 12, I know I keep going back to chapter 12 and I should be in chapter 14. I plan to get there. End of chapter 12, Paul says, earnestly desire the best gifts.

Now he's going to only focus on two tonight, as I mentioned. But he said earnestly desire the best gifts. And we left off, I think, with that last time. What is the best gift? Well, that's like saying, what's the best pair of shoes? My answer? Depends what you want to do. If you want to really look stylish, there's lots of stylish shoes you can wear. But you don't want to take that stylish pair of shoes you're wearing, gentlemen, or those high heels, women, and do the La Luz Trail. That would not be the best shoe for that work. So the best gift of the Spirit, like the best pair of shoes, it depends on what is needed. If somebody needs God's comfort, the gift of prophecy. If somebody needs God's wisdom, the word of wisdom. If you need to communicate with God uninterruptedly in a way that supersedes your command of language, you're feeling something deeply in your worship and prayer experience to the Lord, the gift of tongues would be the best gift.

So earnestly desire the best gift. So the best gift, number one, is the gift God has for you. And number two, depends on what the situation is. That's why living life under the movement and the supervision of the Holy Spirit is so fun, because you encounter situations every day that demand different things at different times for different people. And isn't it great to just say, Lord, make me a vessel so that I can be a blessing to others. I can overflow into others live with a variety of different gifts. So we ask. That takes us to chapter 14, verse 1. "Pursue love", speaking to what he just finished in chapter 13. Pursue love. Run after it. Chase it down. Go for it. Be a loving person, "and desire spiritual gifts". It's not either or, it's both and. It's not like, well, is it going to be the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, or is it going to be the gifts of the Spirit, which is all that power stuff? How about both? How about go after love and desire spiritual gifts? "But especially that you might prophesy".

Now you remember how Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost, when what happened in the upper room spilled out into the temple courts. And as the detractors were saying, what is this? Peter, being logical, said this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel who said, in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. In the early church there were even designated prophets. We've told you about Agabus. He was called a prophet. In chapter 11 the church was in Antioch. Agabus, a prophet, was in that meeting in that church. And Agabus, it says, through the Holy Spirit prophesied that there would be a famine in the world, which happened. And the times are given of when that famine happened. And because he prophesied there's going to be a famine that was enough for Paul the apostle to say, I better take up a collection from the Gentile congregations for the poor people in Jerusalem who have lost their temple-related jobs because of the persecution of the Sadducees against the church.

That's the work of prophecy. He was foretelling the future. Another time he was foretelling the future was in Acts chapter 21, when Paul the apostle is coming back from his journey on the way to Jerusalem, stops in Caesarea, a few of us will be there in a few days, in Caesarea by the sea, and Agabus was in Caesarea. The guy gets around. And Agabus took Paul's belt and wrapped himself in it and says, whoever owns this belt is going to be bound like this in Jerusalem. Well, it was Paul's belt. Everybody knew it. Paul knew it. They saw Agabus make this prophetic declaration. And so they begged him. They said, Paul, please don't go to Jerusalem. The prophet has spoken. He just prophesied. He said don't go. You're going to be arrested and bound. And Paul said, what do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? I'm ready not only to be bound but to die for Jesus. You're not going to stop me. I'm going for it. I love that kind of tenacity. Like, oh, there's a report of trouble in Jerusalem? I won't go.

When I first told my mother in 1978 that I was going to move to Israel she begged me that I wouldn't go. That's so foolish. There's violence over there. And I started thinking about it. Now that's '78. There's always been something going on over in the Middle East, right? But then I got to thinking beyond 1978, way back, there's always been something going on over there, all the way back to, like, the very beginning. So I said, yeah, there probably is, but just pray for me and I'm good, and I want to see what the Lord has for me. So Paul, a prophet told him you're going to get into trouble if you go and he goes, I'm going. And if it means death, I'm going for it. But that was the act of a prophet in the church. However, we told you, and Paul will explain now, prophecy in the New Testament is far more than just foretelling the future.

Oftentimes, like the prophets of the Old Testament, it is just forth-telling truth. You're just speaking forth something from the Lord. Like the prophets would speak to Judah the word of the Lord. That wasn't necessarily about their future all the time, it was just, this is the will of God. This is what God wants for you. It was a special declaration for a special time. So "pursue love, desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy". Now he's going to tell you why prophecy is more preferable than tongues. "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".

In the second chapter of the Book of Acts, on the day of Pentecost, when they were speaking in that initial manifestation of tongues in Jerusalem, which is a bit different than the manifestation of the Corinthian tongue, still the essence of it was the same. They in Jerusalem said how is it that we hear each in our own native language them declaring the wonderful works of God? They were worshipping God. They were praising God. In the 10th chapter of the book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles in Antioch, it says that the Holy Spirit came upon them and they magnified the Lord. Again, its worship. So what Paul is going to do in this chapter is show us the difference between the gift of prophecy, which is preferable, and the gift of tongues, which is acceptable and desirable, but in the church not preferable. In the church intelligent language is preferable. Non-intelligent language or a language you don't understand is not preferable. So he's going to show us the difference.

First of all the difference in direction. Tongues is directed upward to God. Prophecy is not. Prophecy is directed downward to the church, to man, from God. Prophecy is God speaking to man. Tongues is man speaking to God. So there's a difference in direction. Also there's a difference in intelligibility. When you speak in a tongue you don't know what you're saying, unless you have a correspondent gift of interpretation or somebody else has that gift and tells you what you just said. When you speak in a word of prophecy in your language you understand it. You get it. Also there's a difference in edification. When you speak in a tongue you don't edify anybody else around you. It doesn't help anybody around you. You only edify yourself. When you speak prophecy you edify everybody else who's listening to it. They understand it. They get it. It's beautiful.

So "he who speaks in a tongue", he is the direction, "does not speak to men but to God", so in a meeting, and I do want to say this because I have mentioned in this series, this short little kind of series within a series on the gifts of the Spirit, I love the Pentecostal movement. I love my brothers in the Assemblies of God churches, in the Foursquare churches. I love the body of Christ. I love the variety. They're beautiful people. They're beautiful men and women of God. And I love their openness to the Lord. However, in many meetings that they hold you will hear an utterance in tongue followed by something like this, thus sayeth the Lord, oh my children, a supposed interpretation of God speaking to people. Well, good enough. Maybe the tongue triggered a prophecy but we're still now waiting for an interpretation of that tongue, which is a prayer or worship to the Lord. It's directed to God.

So the reason that exists in the Pentecostal movement, and I've had endless conversations with scholars on this subject and ministers in those different veins, they have a little formula that they have worked out in the Assemblies of God, in the Foursquare Church, the Pentecostal churches, that tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy. That is not a scriptural formula. It's a clever formula. I applaud the idea that you are making a nice little understandable formula. The only problem is it's totally unbiblical. That's the only problem with that formula. It's not biblical. And because it's not biblical I have to reject it. It's not that tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy. Tongues plus interpretation equals an interpreted tongue, which is magnifying the Lord, worshipping God, praying to God, thanking the Lord. You're speaking to God. It's a form of worship and prayer.

Would probably sound much like a psalm of David or a psalm of Asaph in the book of Psalms. "But," verse 3, boy, I better get going. "But he who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation, and comfort to men". The prophet is speaking on behalf of the Lord and it falls into one of these three categories, edification, to build up, exhortation, to stir up, and comfort, to cheer up. So if somebody speaks a prophecy it's going to build you up, it's going to stir you up or motivate you to do something, or it's going to calm you down, or it's going to comfort you. It'll bring consolation to you. I've been in meetings where somebody says, oh my children, a supposed prophecy, you know you're all a bunch of idiots, maybe they didn't say the word idiot but, you know you failed and you're this and you're that, and it's really demeaning and condemning. That doesn't sound like this description. Whoever prophesies is going to say something, a word from the Lord, a message from the Lord, that will build up, stir up, or cheer up. And it's from God to men.

"He who speaks in a tongue", here it is, "edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church". It's self-explanatory. It's axiomatic. When you speak in a prayer language or a tongue, tongue of men, or of angels, or an ecstatic utterance, and you're speaking in it, it is a very edifying experience. It's a wonderful experience. It builds you up. It strengthens you. It's fortifying to the individual. But that's as far as it goes. It doesn't do a thing for anybody around you unless there is a correspondent gift of interpretation. Now this is all leading somewhere. I'm building this up because Paul is leading somewhere. "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish that 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."

So a person who speaks an intelligible word in the language of the listeners, in our case English. For the most part we know English. So when I speak like I'm doing now, or if you're in a meeting and somebody gives a word and you understand it, that's much greater than somebody who speaks in a tongue in the public assembly because the whole goal of being together is mutual edification. You can't have mutual edification if there's a babbling, an utterance of a prayer language that nobody else around you understands, including yourself. Unless you have that gift. By the way, if you do utter a tongue out loud and nobody gives an interpretation, Paul will say you are responsible to provide that interpretation since you gave the utterance. That's why I say it is scripted. God does give us the script and how these things are to be operated. "I wish that you all spoke in tongues," do you remember that in 1 Peter, I think it's chapter 2, Peter says, whom having not, might be chapter 1, whom having not seen we love and we rejoice with joy unspeakable, or inexpressible, full of glory.

Remember that text? Have you ever been in a place where there's something in your heart and it's at a point where it's like, oh, the joy and oh, what I feel I can't express it. Human language would defile the feeling. It's so deep. It's so good. What I feel like and what I want to say to God is inexpressible. That's where tongue's comes in. God provides through the gift of tongues the ability for your Spirit to directly speak to God's Spirit. God is Spirit. You're praying in the Spirit. Ephesians 6, praying in the Spirit. Jude, I think around verse 20, 21, he talks about building yourself up in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. You are edifying yourself but you are also communicating directly to God. I told you before about how language is a pact. It's an agreement. It's a covenant. Our pact, our agreement, is English. But if I say to you, most of you, unless you speak Hebrew, would have no clue what I just said because the pact we have is not that pact. Unless you're bilingual or trilingual it makes no sense. You need somebody to interpret it. So in the assembly, "greater is he who prophesies than he who speaks in tongues".

Again, Paul is honing in on only two gifts and I can only surmise this, what was going on in the church of Corinth was an expression of the carnality that he addresses in the first few chapters. They were carnal. Paul calls them on it. And part of the carnality was a lack of love. That's why love is between chapter 12 and chapter 14. They were coming together in their meetings and it was all about their wanting to express something on their heart. It could be a prophecy, it could be a tongue, it could be this, could be that, and it was just confusing. So, because of that, Paul labors in this chapter to set it right, to correct that abuse. "But now, brethren," verse 6, "if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge," revelation may be a reference to the word of wisdom, or "by knowledge," the word of wisdom, or "by prophesying, or by teaching"? All of those legitimate gifts. "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"?

Paul is making the argument for intelligibility within the public worship service. When you get together things done, things said, things, sung things spoken, should be all things the people understand. And he uses two examples, one from the music world, one from the military world. Music world, instruments. If somebody comes up to the piano or the guitar and is skillful and talented, and can put notes together, and they can play a song that we reckon, oh, I know that song, and we start singing that song, they're leading us in it, we get that. an beautiful. But if someone just takes it and just plays and open tuning pattern that's on the guitar, it's not a great sound. Or if a kid just grabs it and bangs on it, it's not a great sound. Same with the military. If somebody blows a trumpet, now in the ancient days, still in some outfits, it is the trumpet that makes certain sounds that makes the military move certain actions or do certain things. And they're unmistakable. Charge. Charge. That's what it means.

But if the trumpeter goes, that means turn out the lights and go to sleep or you're going to die. One of the two, you know? But if you just grab the trumpet, you're just blowing your own horn when you come to church, you make an uncertain sound. Nobody knows what you're supposed to do. Do you retreat? Do you charge? Do you lights out, go to sleep? What do you do? "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". And I feel some people do just that. They're just speaking into the air. The practice of some assemblies is to gather together, you play the song, you kind of move back and forth, and then you're just going off on your own, and then pretty soon one person starts speaking out in a tongue, and then another person, and then another. Pretty soon the whole congregation is shandala, shandala, and it's all a cacophony of sound. Everybody's just kind of speaking into the air. Everybody can hear.

I can hear everybody around me, what they're saying. That does not seem to be what Paul says is a good thing to do. So again, we have the script. He's going to tell us how it is to operate within the assembly. "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 are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel". Some languages it's exciting to listen to. When I listen to Italians speak, because when I listen to Italians speak, I'm not just listening to an Italian speak, I'm watching the Italians speak, right? I mean the hands are moving with the words. And I try to pick it out and some of the things I can understand, because I've had a few years of Spanish, so it's like, oh, that's cool. Or when I hear French, it's just so beautiful.

And the way everything is slurred together, Wow. I mean, come on, that's just so romantic and beautiful. I have no clue what they just said. They could have said, hey that big American who's listening is sure ugly. It might not be a flattering statement. So it doesn't do me any good unless somebody is there to tell me what the meaning of that language is. But notice something, in verse 11, "if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the one who speaks, and he who speaks would be a foreigner to me". Now that word translated in English, foreigner, is an onomatopoeic word. Remember that word in your English class? Onomatopoeia, where the word sounds like what it means?

So the word he uses for foreigner is the word barbarous, where we get the word Barbarian. Barbarian. And that's a significant Greek word because the Greeks believe that their language was the best language on planet Earth. No other language came close. No other language was beautiful. No other language captured the full meaning. I have to say they're right when it comes to that, the accuracy part. No other language comes close to the Greek language in my humble, but I think slightly educated, opinion. But they believed the Greek was it and that anybody who didn't speak Greek, but spoke some other language, it sounded to them like this, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, and so it was nicknamed barbar, or barbarous. It's an onomanopoeic poetic term that captures the idea of, they love their language so much that every other language sounded like garbage to them. Like barbarians.

"Even so you, since you are zealous," verse 12, "for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification", the building up, "of the church that you seek to excel. Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. If I pray in a tongue, my Spirit prays", now again, I'm praying. I'm not giving a message to men. It's not a, thus sayeth the Lord. It's not tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy. "If I pray in a tongue", so I'm directing it to God, "my Spirit prays, my understanding is unfruitful". Or I sing words but I don't understand what I'm saying. This is why many people have trouble with the gift of tongues. Even though it is controllable to speak it or not speak it, when one speaks in the tongue, because they don't understand it, it's an affront to your intelligence, to your intellect. You go, oh, that's just babble. That's bar, bar, bar, bar. You just made that up. That's gibberish. That's child speak. That's nonsense.

And so, because it's an affront to your intellect, your intellect wants to be completely knowledgeable and in control of that, you pull back from it. But Paul says your Spirit is praying, but your understanding is unfruitful. So I told you, and again, we come up with this idea language is a pact, right? We have this understanding. We could, like I said a few weeks ago, come up with our own secret language. Nobody else would know. We could come up with words. When I say a sentence you say another sentence. Nobody knows what it is but you and I know what it is. It's our secret language. So with tongues it's a pact I have made with God that he knows what it is and, have you found in your prayer life that when you pray you sometimes have difficulty expressing what it is you want to express? In fact, you don't even know exactly what you ought to be praying for when you pray.

Well that's exactly what Paul said in Romans. We do not know how to pray as we ought so the Lord has provided a way to communicate with him, to bypass your intellect but directly contact the Father in the name of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, through this beautiful gift, in a way that is powerful and potent. Edifying of self but also very, very efficacious. What is the conclusion in verse 15? What is the conclusion then? "I will pray with the Spirit". I will also pray with the understanding. That could mean I'm going to pray in tongues and pray with an interpretation, or it could mean sometimes I will pray in the Spirit and tongues, sometimes I will pray in English, or in my language that I understand. "I will sing with the Spirit", singing in that tongue language. "I will also sing with understanding".

Now you'll notice 4 times the phrase, "I will," "I will," "I will," "I will". This shows me that all of this is under our control. He will say the Spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet in just a few verses. This is the controllable aspect of it. It's not like, I'm afraid to open up to the Spirit. I might stand in line at the bank or at the grocery store and just start jabbering. That's not going to happen. Unless you just need medication for some reason that's not going to happen. And if it does, please don't blame the Holy Spirit. He gets blamed for enough stuff that's weird. "I will pray with the Spirit, I will pray with understanding", means I can pray it at any time. I can pray in English. I can also pray in the Spirit. "Otherwise", verse 16, "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"? That makes perfect sense, right? Somebody jabbers, chatters in a tongue, in an ecstatic utterance, and you can't go, right on! What did you say anyway? I mean, you only agree with something you get and understand that you actually agree with.

By the way, you know what this shows me? That in the early church congregations people said, Amen. Amen! Amen. And I loved it during worship tonight as we were singing, and there was beautiful words of exhortation, prophecy, there were people, some of you I heard behind me, Amen. Amen. Amen. So be it. I agree with it. That works because you understood what was being said. And that is Paul's point. "How would you say 'Amen' at your giving of thanks", notice again, giving of thanks. It's directed upward. It's not a message from God to people. It's directed toward God. It's a giving of thanks. "And he does not understand what you say? For indeed," verse 17, here it is again, "For you indeed give thanks well", it's one of the best ways God has provided for you to praise him, thank him, worship him, communicate to him, "but the other is not edified".

Verse 18, "I thank my God I speak with tongues" more than y'all, or "more than you all, yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than 10,000 words in a tongue". Now if Paul says, "I wish you all spoke in tongues, " if Paul says, "I speak in tongues more than you all, " yet evidently Paul did not speak tongues when he was in a group of people, then if he spoke in tongues that much where did he do it? Yeah, you have to conclude it was in his private devotional life. And that is where tongue's finds its highest place. So it's not like, good, there's an unscripted meeting, there's an afterglow, I'm going to go unleash my tongue gift. That's permissible as long as there is interpretation. That is permissible. We're not to deny that. But its highest place is in your personal, private devotional life. There's no other conclusion putting all these verses together than this.

I found something by an author I wanted to read to you. John Harper said, "Tongues is a heart language. As a baby lies in his mother's arms and babbles to his mother they both understand what he means. So we lie in God's arms and babble to him and we both understand". Aw. It's beautiful. It's just a beautiful description. As a child of God speaking to him, directing that prayer to him. "You give thanks well, yet in the church I'd rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others, than 10,000 words in a tongue. Brethren," verse 20, "do not be children in understanding, " I want you to understand these things. I want you to get these things, "however, in malice," or in evil, in sin, "be babes, but in understanding be mature".

Now I did say that it's pretty straightforward except for a couple of verses. I want to introduce you to those couple of verses. "In the law it is written, 'With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,' says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers, but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there comes in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, they will say you're out of your mind. But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, and he is convicted by all".

Now this is a difficult couple of verses because you read one of the verses, makes sense, and then you keep reading and those verses seem to contradict the previous verse. God says I'm going to speak to these people with a tongue but then he says tongues are a sign for unbelievers not for believers. It's such a difficult verse to translate that one scholar by the name of JB Phillips, don't know if you've heard of him but he wrote a great New Testament translation, to which I have referred many times, believes this is the one and only place in the New Testament that it is mistranslated in English. He believes we are facing a copyist error. And I just want to share with you what he said. The Phillips translation of verse 22 is this, "that means that tongues are a sign of God's power not for those who are unbelievers but for those who already believe".

Now that's just the opposite of what we read so he believes it's a copyist error in this verse and only this verse in the New Testament. His little note in that translation says thus, "This is the sole instance of the translator departing from the accepted text and it's because of the next three verses. We have here either a slip of the pen on the part of Paul", which I disagree. I don't think that ever happened because of the inspiration of the scripture. Or, says Phillips, "more probably a copyist error". So what Phillips says this verse means is that tongues serve as a sign to believers of God's power. But not so fast. That's a possibility. He's quoting from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 28. What's interesting about that is he doesn't say it's written in the prophets. He says it's written in the law.

Now he had rabbinical training. He knew that the law, the Torah, was the first five books of Moses, not Isaiah. It could be that he's simply referring to the laws, all of the Old Testament, the Tanakh, the Hebrews call it, or he's quoting Isaiah, knowing it's Isaiah, but in his mind he's thinking back to Deuteronomy 28. Deuteronomy 28 is a list of blessings and cursings, and one of the cursings in Deuteronomy 28, God says to his people, his people, the children of Israel, you disobey me, if you don't keep my word, I'm going to allow people to invade you from other nations whose language you will not understand. Then in Isaiah, chapter 28, this text is given by the prophet Isaiah, quoted by Paul, "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me".

Let me give you quickly the context of that. Isaiah the prophet is speaking to the children of Israel that God was going to send them judgment. That the Assyrians were coming down from the north. They had already taken the northern kingdom captive in 722 BC. They were threatening the southern kingdom of Judah. We know that Judah did not fall to the Assyrians. They would eventually fall to the Babylonians in 586, actually 605, 597, then 586 BC. But they were not listening to the words of the prophet Isaiah who was speaking in plain Hebrew to them, in their native tongue. They were not listening to it. In fact, they were mocking Isaiah saying, oh, he's giving us milk instead of real meat. He's just giving us precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little there a little. In other words, he's just giving us straight Bible messages.

Where's the flash, man? Where's the excitement? Isaiah says OK, since you will not listen to God in your native tongue, God's going to give you a sign and speak to you by having people come in who will invade your land, whose language you will not understand, the Assyrian tongue or, in that case, the Babylonian tongue. And when you hear them talking in their language that's going to be a sign to you. That's what Paul is lifting up and saying here. Tongues are a sign. So it could mean that, just like Isaiah who said the tongues of the foreigners are going to be a sign of God's judgment to you, that he is saying tongues are a sign for unbelievers in that it's a sign of the judgment of God. They don't even understand the plain words of the gospel, the plain words of scripture, let alone these mysterious words spoken in a tongue and provided with an interpretation. That's one meaning of it. Or when he says tongues are a sign to unbelievers he could not be referring to the unsaved people but to saved people who are unbelieving of the things of the Spirit. Makes sense? You get that?

Now here's why I say that. He's quoting Isaiah 28. Isaiah 28 the prophet is speaking to God's people not Gentiles, not unsaved people, part of the covenant relationship in the Old Testament. And he's saying this is what you're going to hear, foreign tongues, this is going to be a sign of judgment to you. So like they were a sign to God's people back then, tongues are a sign to God's people who do not believe in the movement, being conversant in the things of the Spirit as he has outlined in chapter 12. And so it could be that he's referring to believers who are unbelieving in the legitimacy and the perpetuity of the gifts of the Spirit. "Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed", those who are uneducated, "or unbelievers", now this one probably referring to the unsaved. The uninformed would be a reference to the unbelievers in the previous verse, unbelieving of spiritual gifts, this is all a possibility.

That's why I say this is not an easy text to unravel. "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in," so you're speaking now an intelligible language. "He's going to hear it", he convicted of all, "and thus the secrets of his heart are revealed, and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report God is truly among you". I can't tell you how many times I've had people over the years come up to me after a sermon angry, saying, who told you? Who told me what? You know. Who told you? Did my wife call you this week? Or did my friend call you? Or my husband? I heard what you said. You couldn't have said those things unless you knew my situation, because you just described what I'm going through. I said, I don't even know your name, first of all. I'm not snooping on you or following you around town.

I have much too little time on my hands to do that. But what you're experiencing is a prophecy, a direct word of God through the teaching, because gifts are often paralleled, and coupled together and combined together, that's what your experiencing. "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation". That's going on in Corinth. Everybody has some little thing to say or to add to a service, a free for all. "Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue," here's the script now. Here's the parameters. "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two at the most three," so not everybody at once, ecstatically speaking, "let it be two at the most three, in turn," take your turns, "and let one interpret". So one will give an utterance. There will be an interpretation. Somebody else can do it later on in that meeting, has to have an interpretation.

Third one can do it. Interpretation. After three no more. You don't have four or five. You cut it off at three. Why? Cause it say so. That's all. I can't tell you why. I don't know why there can't be four or five but it says in a meeting at the most three. Then you're done. Same with prophecy by the way. "But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God". Private devotional life. You can direct it toward God but you do it to yourself and to God. "Let two or three prophets speak, let the others judge". The Greek word, discriminate, weigh it out. First of all, if somebody gives a prophecy, somebody, an elder, somebody should be there, a mature believer, any group of believers should be able to say, wait a minute, that didn't sound scriptural to me. Or, ooh, that lines up with scripture. That's a direct quote out of scripture. That's awesome.

So we're judging, first of all, its validity. "Let two or three profit speak, let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints". I'm glad you're out here. We have a few minutes left but you can hang tight. "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak," unfortunately I'm out of time. I can't explain what that means. They're telling me I gotta quit so, "but they are not to be submissive as, but they are to be submissive as the law also says". I'm sorry, I'm losing track because I'm hearing other sounds. "And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church".

Wouldn't you like if I could tell you exactly what that mean and what it doesn't mean? Because it's not referring to prophecies. It's not saying a woman can never speak in a church because, in chapter 11, verse 5, he talks about and extols men and women exercising the gift of prophecy. "Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it to you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet", you know what? I've got the band behind me. I'm going to close now. I'm going to finish the rest up next time and we'll get into chapter 15.

Father, thank you for the opportunity to be together to worship. We pray, Father, now that, as we dismiss, and as some go over to another meeting, a believers meeting, that you would have your way, show your will, speak, edify, encourage, bless during that time. Thank you, Father, that we could gather together as your body and be instructed from your word by your Spirit through the lasting testimony of the apostle Paul. In Jesus's name. Amen.

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