Thu, Jul 08, 2004

I CORINTHIANS 14

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
I CORINTHIANS
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this evening to I Corinthians chapter 14 as we continue our study through the Word of God. Tonight we will finish up a section on spiritual gifts that covered I Corinthians chapters 12-14. We have looked at the purpose of the gifts in I Corinthians 12:1-30. Then the best gift being love in I Corinthians 12:31-13:13. And here in I Corinthians chapter 14 Paul is going to speak on exercising these gifts in love.
            As we concluded our study last week, Paul said "And now abide faith, hope, love, these 
three; but the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13. Which now leads us to our study tonight beginning in verse 1 of I Corinthians chapter 14 and let's see what the Lord has for us this evening.


I CORINTHIANS 14

VERSE 1
            We have seen the preeminence of love that is needed in the Christian life and Paul says we should earnestly desire this AGAPE love! But what about spiritual gifts? Think of it like this, my friends are important to me but my wife is far more important to me. I truly believe if love is the motivating factor in our lives, then we will desire spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ! If love is not the motivating factor, then it is ugly, as we have seen here in the church in Corinth. You see, if AGAPE love is flowing, one of the most important spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ is that of prophesy.
Paul doesn't use the Greek word KERUSSO here, which speaks of "preaching" but PROPHETEUO (prof-ate-yoo'-o) which carries with it the idea of speaking under inspiration, and Paul is going to explain this gift more as we read on.


VERSES 2-3
            The Greek word translated "tongue" is GLOSSA (gloce-sah') and it means speaking in an unknown language, a language that you don't know. It could be a foreign language or an ancient dialect or even a heavenly language as I Corinthians 13:1 tells us. As Pastor Chuck Smith said, "Tongues express the overflowing worship of my spirit and the praise from my heart that I feel toward God." In many Pentecostal churches you will see this gift exercised often and yet the primary purpose of this gift is our worship of God, not speaking to man. And if it is exercised in the church, we are going to see that the gift of interpretation must also be exercised or this gift is not to be exercised. We will deal more with this gift as we move on.
Now in contrast to tongues, which we don't understand most of the time, the gift of prophecy is to build up, encourage, and comfort the people. You see, if love is the motivating force in your life, tongues will be used mostly in your private devotions and prophecy in the church, among the people! Again, Paul is going to show the difference of the two as we read on.


VERSES 4-5
            Some, like John MacArthur believe Paul is speaking sarcastically here, and he says, "Because even true tongues must be interpreted in order to be understood, they cannot possibly edify anyone, including the person speaking, without such interpretation. They cannot, therefore, be intended by God for private devotional use, as many Pentecostals and Charismatics claim . . . Why, many people wonder, did Paul say I wish that you all spoke in tongues? . . . Paul was wishing them the impossible for the sake of emphasis."
            It is interesting how far people will go to disregard the sign gifts. Then how does tongues edify the person speaking in tongues? Tongues reaches beyond the human intellect and helps us to pray, to praise, to intercede beyond our own ability, the Spirit does this for us and as it happens, we are strengthened in the faith.
Thus, the gift of tongues is the best gift for our private devotional time with the Lord and the gift of prophecy is the best gift for our time in the church. You see, desire the best gift for the situation you are in.
            Does everyone speak in tongues? It would seem that Paul is saying "No, not at all!" for he tells us "I wish you all spoke with tongues." If you do that is great, if you don't, that does not make you less spiritual, not at all. The Spirit gives to us as He wills, we can ask because it is a beautiful prayer and praise language unto God, but then it is up to the Holy Spirit to give the gift to us!


VERSE 6
            Do you see how important I Corinthians chapter 13 is, the love chapter in regards to the exercising of these gifts! There is no profit to the hearer unless he understands what is being said. Now Paul is going to give to us some illustrations to drive home his point.


VERSES 7-9
            Have you ever heard a child banging on the piano keys before? Yes, there is a sound that comes out but it is very unpleasant. But when someone knows how to play the piano, beautiful music comes forth. Thus, if someone speaks in tongues it may edify them but no one else, it will be like a child banging the piano keys!
            In the military there are certain sounds the trumpeter makes to call the men to battle, to call them to retreat, to wake them up and you better play the right one! Or, if the sound can't be understood, it is just as bad. The same is true with tongues, an uncertain sound that does nothing for those who are hearing it.
Paul's point is simple, speak words which people can hear and understand for it will edify them, exhort them, and comfort them.


VERSES 10-11
            Have you ever tried to speak to someone who didn't understand English and you didn't understand the language they were speaking? I have and it is very frustrating. What you end up getting is a big smile and their head shakes up and down but they have no clue what you just said. Language is amazing, evolution can't explain it and many feel there was one language that spread out and changed over the years. Now just because we don't understand the language doesn't make it bad, in fact those that understand it will benefit from hearing it. The same is true with tongues, if you can't understand it, then it won't benefit anyone except the one who is speaking it. And of course God understands it for it is primarily but not exclusively praise unto Him!


VERSES 12-14
            If there is the gift of tongues being exercised in a church setting there must also be the gift of interpretation of tongues. Several years ago, as we were preparing for one of our summer concerts there was a man who was a Christian who came up to me and another brother in the Lord and he told me that he had a word from the Lord for me. So we listened and all of a sudden he started speaking in tongues, he stopped and then he walked away. The gift of interpretation was not in operation and the word from the Lord I have no clue to what it was all about. You see, confusion, uncertainty, no edification, no exhortation, no comfort! Thus, speaking in a language I could understand would have been better!
            Please understand that in the exercising of this gift the Holy Spirit is not going to overpower you at the doctors office, or anywhere else for that matter, and you will all of a sudden begin to speak in tongues. This gift is usually in operation as we are praying, as we are mediating upon the Lord and He puts those words in our mouth and we speak them forth by faith and it is a beautiful praise language unto the Lord!

VERSES 15-19
Why don't we just pray in tongues all the time? Because we do need to know what we are praying for so that as God answers those prayers He will get the praise! Also, others can't agree with you when they don't understand what you are saying, they don't have a clue to what you are talking about! Did Paul speak in tongues? You bet he did and yet he would rather speak with words that people understood, love that brought edification, exhortation and comfort to others with the Word of God!


VERSE 20
            Because they were self-centered, used the gifts to bring glory to themselves instead of building up the body of Christ, Paul says they are children or they are selfishly immature! Thus, Paul tells them to grow-up, act their age, be mature, put on the mind of Christ. As you examine the life of Jesus He was others-centered instead of being self-centered! Great example to follow!

VERSES 21-25
            These are some of the most difficult verses to understand in the Bible because it seems that Paul is contradicting himself, that verse 22 contradicts what he says in verses 23-25! This has caused so much trouble for some, that J. B. Phillips, the famous Greek scholar, when he was translating the Greek Scriptures to English, he thought there was a copyist error because it didn't make sense to him. It seemed that Paul was contradicting himself. And so in verse 22 he said it was correctly translated this way, that tongues are for those who believe, to fit in with the rest of what Paul said in these verses. I don't believe there was a copyist error, I believe that Paul knew what he was saying and it was translated correctly and I will show you why!
            Paul is using an Old Testament illustration from Isaiah chapter 28 to make his point here. In Isaiah God is pronouncing judgment upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the hands of the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom of Judah by the hands of the Babylonians.
            In Isaiah we are told that God sent them prophet after prophet who spoke to them in a language they clearly understood and yet they refused to listen, they refused to repent and get right with God, they refused to listen of the coming judgment if they didn't repent! Thus, God said that He was going to send them another people who would speak a language that they didn't understand because they refused to listen to those whom they could understand. And so the Lord sent the Assyrians to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Babylonians to the Southern Kingdom of Judah and judgment came upon them for their refusal to listen and obey.
            Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 14:20, "Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding by mature." Paul told them not to be children, to grow-up, to be mature, to understand these things. You see, tongues is not a sign of spiritual maturity or even that God is among you, for God used unbelievers to speak to Israel and Judah as a sign of judgment to them.
            Thus, tongues is a sign to religious unbelievers in that it speaks to them God's judgment that is coming upon them. The prophets are speaking words that they can hear but they refuse to listen, and thus they are condemning themselves by rejecting Christ. Now keep in mind that as tongues are spoken in the hearing of unbelievers, most of the time it does not draw them to Christ, but pushes them out the door, they think you are crazy when they see this gift being exercised in front of them.
            Prophecy, on the other hand, speaks to believers that God is among them, the Word of God, as it is being taught, ministers to people.
            Now the illustration may be a little confusing, it may be a little cloudy, but Paul draws his conclusion of this illustration beginning in verse 23 of I Corinthians chapter 14 when he says, "Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you." I Corinthians 14:23-25.
            Tongues, in general, does not minister to new believers or unbelievers. As I have said, many times they will think you are nuts, that you lost your mind! Therefore, in a public gathering, when you have new believers and unbelievers together, prophecy, the teaching of God's Word, is the gift that needs to be exercised. You see, prophecy cuts right to the heart of the matter, as Paul said in Hebrews 4:12-13, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Thus, prophecy in a public setting and tongues in a personal setting is the general rule!


VERSE 26
            Keep in mind that this was an early letter and the Bible was not completed yet. Also, some feel that there were many home churches and this may relate to them. In either case, on a Sunday, someone would read a Psalm, another would teach, someone would speak in tongues and there would be an interpretation, someone may give a revelation and the problem was their selfishness, their lack of love, their desire to be heard and it caused a mess in the church. Thus, Paul says "Let all things be done for edification." If everyone is speaking at the same time there is no edification only a lot of noise! You see, the goal of coming together as a body of believers is not entertainment, but for the edification, being built up in the Spirit by the Spirit of God and the Word of God!


VERSES 27-28
            Paul is laying the ground rules for speaking in tongues, at the most 3 people during a service and then there must be the gift of interpretation also working. If not, the gift is not to be exercised. Why don't we see the gift of tongues in operation on Thursday evenings or Sunday mornings here at Calvary? First of all tongues is used in our private devotions, but as I said, not exclusively! Also, because during the worship time we are worshiping God so why would God interrupt the worship of Himself? During the teaching of God's Word God is speaking through me with the gift of wisdom, knowledge, teaching and-so-on. Thus, again, why would God interrupt Himself during the teaching? He wouldn't! During our praise, prayer and worship nights that we have on Thursday's as we are in-between books, that is when the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation is to be in operation besides being in our own personal devotional time as I have said.

VERSES 29-33
            Even the gift of prophecy is to be regulated in the church, two or three and then what they said is to be judged to see if it is of God or not, if it contradicts the Word of God or flows from the Word of God! A few years back Benny Hinn got this revelation from God and said that when your loved one dies, don't bring them to the funeral home but prop them up in front of the television and put on TBN and God will raise them from the dead! Yes, I do believe that on most of the programs that are on TBN you have to be brain dead to watch them, but that is not what he meant! Did anyone challenge this statement, judge to see if it is from God? No, they believe it is Gospel truth when it is far from it! 
            Folks, that is dangerous, you should be checking out what I am teaching to see if it is true, to see if it lines up with the Word of God! In I John 4:1 John tells us, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." The Living Bible puts this verse like this, "Dearly loved friends, don't always believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God: test it first to see if it really is. For there are many false teachers around." Paul tells us in Galatians 1:6-9, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." 
            Paul also says that "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." The Amplified Bible tells us, "For the spirits of the prophets (the speakers in tongues) are under the speaker's control [and subject to being silenced as may be necessary]." And The Living Bible, "Remember that a person who has a message from God has the power to stop himself or wait his turn." I Corinthians 14:32. That means you still have control even though some say "The Spirit made me do it!" that is not true, we have control over it! 
            Here is another important way to test to see if it is of God or not. Is there confusion, is there disorder in the church? If there is, then it is not of God!
How is the church to function today? Are we to have people getting up during the service to speak in tongues, several people read a Psalm, give a revelation and-so-on? No, not at all! To get an idea we need to look at the pastoral epistles, I & II Timothy and Titus to find out. In I Timothy 3:14-15 Paul tells Timothy, "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." What is the primary focus, what is to be done in the church of God? The teaching of the Word of God. In I Timothy 4:6 we are told, "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed." In I Timothy 4:11-13, "These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."
            In II Timothy 3:13-17 we are told, "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." In II Timothy 4:1-5 we are told, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 
            That is why we teach the Word of God, verse-by-verse through the whole Bible, from Genesis through Revelation here at Calvary Chapel. We believe that the Word of God is living and powerful and able to transform our lives. Do we believe in the gifts of the Spirit? You bet we do and they are exercised here at Calvary Chapel in a powerful way. The thing is, often these supernatural gifts are exercised in such a natural way that people miss them, they negate them, but they are being used for the edification of the body of Christ!

VERSES 34-35
            This verse has caused much confusion in the church and that is not of God! What is Paul talking about? It seems that the Corinthian church took up the practice of the Jewish Synagogues where men and women, husbands and wives would sit apart, on opposite sides. Thus, if they didn't understand something some might call out to their husbands and ask them during the service and cause confusion. Whatever the case, this was an issue that disrupted the church service. The other point that I believe is very important is that women are not to be pastors, that is not their role. I am sorry, that is not my view, that is what God has said.             The problem though is some have removed women from any kind of service in the church and Paul is not saying that. In fact Paul said they can pray, they can prophesy back in I Corinthians 11:1-16. But they are not to be pastors and Paul makes that very clear in I Timothy 2:11-12 as he says, "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." Also, in the section on the qualification for a pastor Paul says "husband of one wife." So I think that is clear, it is not to say that women are inferior to men, that is just the role that God has established and the blessing is found in being obedient to what God has said.
            One more point before we move on and that is in verse 35 where Paul says that the women should ask their husbands when they get home! Why is that? I believe Paul said that because of the confusion it would cause during the church service and the husband is to be the spiritual leader of the family and by going to others you are taking that role away from him, you may even discourage him, and in the days we are living in where few men take on the role of being the spiritual head of the family, we need to encourage them as much as possible!

VERSES 36-38
            If anyone had a problem with what Paul was saying, then Paul says they are just plain fools, they are ignorant! You see, what Paul said was the Words of God, not his opinion. Now some will try to negate what Paul said, ignore what Paul said, say that the Spirit gave them a new revelation, but that is wrong, God does not contradict Himself or change His mind! He knows the beginning from the end! It is as the Lord told Joshua, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:8-9. God says what He means and means what He says, the question is "Do we believe Him?" 

VERSES 39-40 
            Paul now sums things up for us, tongues are not bad but prophecy is better during a church service for the people will be edified, exhorted, comforted by the Word of God!
            God is a God of order, not disorder and chaos! We look at how some church services are, how some exercise the gifts of the Spirit today and it is embarrassing. In fact, I remember back at Calvary Chapel of Elk Grove there was a couple coming to our church from a Pentecostal church in which their services were so chaotic, so bizarre that they would never invite anyone to their church because of it, they were embarrassed! But at Calvary they were very comfortable inviting people because things were done decently and in order! I also have video of conferences where people are running up and down the aisles, they are laughing uncontrollably, they are slithering off their seats onto the floor, they are drunk in the Spirit, and there is no order, no one is being built up but there is truly much confusion. That is not of God!
            Of this Clarke tells us: "How often is a work of God marred and discredited by the folly of men! For nature will always, and Satan too, mingle themselves as far as they can in the genuine work of the Spirit, in order to discredit and destroy it." How many discredit the gifts of the Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit upon our lives because of the bizarre stuff they see that is not of God! May we enjoy what God is doing and use the gifts to build up the body of Christ! 

            As we close this section, let me leave you with just a few verses to think about. First of all Jesus said in Luke 11:9-13, "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" 
            And Paul tells us "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all . . . But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills . . . But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way . . . Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal . . . Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy . . . For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints . . . Let all things be done decently and in order." I Corinthians 12:7, 11, 31; 13:1; 14:1, 33, 40.
            God is a God of harmony, of beauty, of order and thus, we as His children should reflect those qualities in our lives as we walk in the Spirit, as we are empowered by the Spirit, as we exercise the gifts of the Spirit!

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