December 2, 2007
I Corinthians 12-14
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Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
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Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
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 churches of the saints.
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Let all things be done decently and in order.
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Thought for the day:
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The theme of all three chapters in today's reading is the use of spiritual gifts. There is much confusion on this topic today, and the modern Charismatic/Pentecostal movement has fueled much of the problem. In order to counteract their error, we can not simply state that Baptists don't speak in tongues. We need to have a clear understanding of what the Bible Itself says.
God gives spiritual gifts to men when they receive Christ as Savior. All believers receive at least one, and they are given for the benefit and edification of the church (12:7, 14:12). Not everyone receives the same gift (12:4-6), but they are all necessary for the body of Christ (the local church - 12:27) to function as the Lord wants it to (12:14-24). Some of these gifts were given on a temporary basis (13:8-10), and others continue down until today. One thing that should be noted is that having a spiritual gift is not the same thing as being spiritual. We know that the church at Corinth was a very carnal church (3:1,3), yet they were not lacking in any spiritual gifts (1:7). When the charismatics point to their tongue-speaking as a sign of the their spirituality, they should remember that the church in the New Testament that is most closely associated with tongues was also the most carnal and worldly church listed there.
The tongues movement can be analyzed from two perspectives in this section. The first question is: Is the New Testament gift of tongues still active today? The answer from I Corinthians 13 is clearly "No". Verses 8-10 state,
"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
Prophecies, tongues and knowledge all refer to revelatory gifts. These were means by which God imparted information to His people by direct revelation. When a man prophesied, God gave him new revelation that others did not have. When a man spoke in tongues, he was giving new revelation from God. This was necessary because the Scriptures had not been completed. Without the written revelation of the Bible, how was the church supposed to know what to do if it did not receive verbal revelation directly from God? Paul says in verse 9 that they "knew in part" (the Word of God that they already possessed) and they "prophesied in part" (because they did not have all of the Scriptures). However, when that which was "perfect" came, the "in part" gifts would no longer be required, and they would cease. There are only two Perfections, God and His Word. Because the "Perfection" of of verse 10 is referred to by the neuter pronoun "that', this Perfection can not be a Man (Jesus Christ), but must be an Object (the Bible). Thus, when the Bible was completed, the need for tongues, prophecies, and other revelatory gifts ceased.
The second perspective on the Charismatic movement is this: If the gift of tongues is still around today (which it is not), how is it to be used? Chapter 14 answers this question. First of all, its purpose is to edify the church. Paul states that the church is not edified when someone stands up and says something in a language that the hearers do not understand (14:7-19). Yet this is predominantly what takes place in the modern Pentecostal movement. Paul then states that if there is no interpreter, then no one should speak in tongues at all (14:27-28). He limits the amount of people that can speak in tongues in any service to two or three (14:27), and makes it clear that they are to speak one at a time, never two or more talking at once (14:27). Furthermore, women were not allowed to speak in tongues in church at all (14:34) for this would amount to usurping authority over the men in the congregation, which God does not permit (I Tim. 2:12). Paul's final statement concerning spiritual gifts is that all things are to be done "decently and in order" (14:40). God is not the Author of confusion (14:33), yet the Pentecostal movement is filled with confusion. If you have ever been in one of their services, you know that the babbling that goes on does not edify the church or glorify God. It attempts to glorify self, which is never the purpose of a gift ( 12:21, 13:1, 14:4), and it makes observers question the sanity of those involved (14:23).
All of these things which Paul has forbidden are normal occurrences in churches that practices "speaking in tongues". If this gift is truly from God, then why is it being done in a way that violates His Word? The answer is that it is not from God. Don't be swayed by what people say or by what you think you may observe. The gift of tongues no longer exists today. We have everything that we need in the Word of God, and at salvation we received all of the Holy Spirit that we will ever get. There is nothing else to obtain, and there is nothing else that we need.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery