Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Gifts Of The Spirit VII
The gift of tongues has been a source of conflict since Paul’s day, as demonstrated by his writngs on the subject here in I Corinthians 12-14. As I Corinthians 14:20 tells us, we need to develop a mature attitude about the gifts in general and especially about tongues. “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” As we saw in the previous post, tongues were never intended for use among believers. Misusing them poses a serious problem.
“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.” (I Corinthians 14:23-25)
If a person who is unsaved or not familiar with the custom comes into a church where everyone is speaking in different languages he doesn’t understand he will undoubtedly be confused and lose respect for the people, thinking they are crazy to keep talking in all those different languages. Over the years, I have talked to number of people who visited such churches, and many felt exactly as Paul described, often refusing to go back. On the other hand, if everyone gives a clear statement about what God has commanded, even the unbeliever will realize they are serious about God and be forced to think about his own relationship, even possibly accepting Christ.
A mature attitude will be more concerned with helping others to grow than with making themselves appear spiritual. I Corinthians 14:26 asks, “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.” Why is it that everyone thinks they have to sing a song or give a testimony or share a scripture every time? These things can become such a big part of a service the that God’s word is neglected. As we have already seen telling people what God has said is the most important activity gift in the church. When music, testimonies or other activities take precedence over the teaching of God’s word, the church has lost its focus. It is with that in mind that Paul gives some specific guidelines as to how the gifts should be handled in the church.
“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.” (I Corinthians 14:27-28)
There should never be more than two or three speaking in different languages in single service, and arrangements to have each message interpreted into a language should be made before the speaker starts. If there is no one to interpret the language, the person should not speak publicly, but only in his own heart 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.” (I Corinthians 14:29-33)
As many prophets or teachers can speak as are desired, because the focus is on everyone learning. There should be freedom for others besides the pastor or elders to speak. When someone is speaking the other people are to be checking out what he teaching to be sure it is right. We are not to blindly accept what a preacher or teacher tells us, so that we do not wind up following false doctrine. In Acts 17:11, the Berean Christians were considered greater Christians because they followed this advice. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Part of the fruit of the Spirit is temperance or self-control. God is not the author of confusion, so if someone is unable to control themselves, or wait their turn, it is a clear indication they are not led of the Holy Spirit, because II Corinthians 3:17 tells us, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The popular ideas of being slain in the spirit and falling to the floor when the spirit touches you or of being unable to stop dancing around or speaking in tongues indicates they are under the power of a different spirit. When Jesus cast out evil spirits, the evil spirits sometimes threw the people to floor and the Lord lifted them back up as we see in Mark 9:26. “And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.”