Summary: In today's lesson, we learn that spiritual gifts build up the church.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of spiritual gifts. Let’s learn about more about that in a message I am calling, “Comparing Prophecy and Tongues.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 14:1-5:
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)
In his commentary on I & II Corinthians Richard Pratt tells the story about a time when a friend called him on the phone and said, “Richard, I’ve got some money. Do you want it?”
They talked for a while about the kinds of ministry opportunities for which the money could be used. In the end, Dr. Pratt’s friend gave him a large check and it was devoted to the work of the kingdom.
Several years later Dr. Pratt saw his friend and thanked him again for the blessing he was to him. “Thank you for your gift,” Dr. Pratt said. “We’re using it to serve a lot of people.”
Dr. Pratt’s friend responded in a way true to his Christian character. “That’s what money is for,” he replied.
He believed that. God had given him success and money, but he understood that God’s gifts are to be used in service of others.
God had given the Corinthians many spiritual gifts. These were to be used to build up the whole congregation, but they did not know how to use them properly. So Paul gave them some very practical instructions in chapters 12 – 14 to help them use their spiritual gifts properly and to maintain orderly worship services.
Today’s church, like the Corinthian church, is full of gifted people. Yet, like the Corinthians many of us do not know how to use our gifts properly to build others up. We need to learn from chapter 14 that we must our spiritual gifts not for personal fulfillment, but to build up the church and to present a godly witness to the world.
So, in today’s lesson, we learn that spiritual gifts build up the church.
Let’s learn about this as follows:
1. Pursue Love (14:1a)
2. Earnestly Desire the Spiritual Gifts (14:1b)
3. Tongues Does Not Build Up the Church (14:2, 4a)
4. Prophecy Does Build Up the Church (14:3, 4b)
5. Prophecy Is Greater Than Tongues (14:5)
I. Pursue Love (14:1a)
First, pursue love.
Paul summarized the entire previous chapter 13 with one command in verse 1a: “Pursue love.”