Summary: This sermon addresses the big picture of the issue of speaking in tongues. The author is not a Pentecostal.
Q1: What is the speaking in tongues that Paul is discussing here?
- In Acts, the gift of tongues was the gift of being able to speak in a foreign language. The disciples were miraculously given the ability to communicate in languages that they didn’t understand. This was a mighty sign for hearers of God’s presence.
- Here in Corinth, we seem to be dealing with a different type of speaking in tongues. This seems to be a private prayer language.
- v. 2, 13.
Q2: How important is it?
- The main point to be made here is that speaking in tongues is not as important as the clear teaching of God’s truth.
- vv. 7-12.
- This is a concern about some Pentecostal churches: that they have made speaking in tongues to be the definitive gift from God. It is the sign that the Spirit is moving powerfully within you. That conviction does not have biblical backing.
- Why is it less important?
A. Speaking in tongues edified only the speaker, not the church.
- vv. 1-6.
B. Speaking in tongues did not benefit the speaker’s understanding.
- vv. 13-15.
C. Speaking in tongues didn’t benefit the hearer.
- vv. 16-17.
D. Speaking in tongues could be a hindrance to unbelievers.
- v. 23-25.
- Note: I am not exactly sure how vv. 21-22 fit into this, so I am just going to leave it out.
Q3: Is it for today?
- This is a controversial subject. Obviously as a Baptist we have points of disagreement with those who today believe in speaking in tongues. This is not, however, a salvation issue. I do not believe that the choice to speak in tongues or not to is an issue that affects your salvation.
- One of the reasons that I believe that tongues are not a gift for today is the historical record. After the first century, the only record of people speaking in tongues are records that are associated with heretical groups. That is a powerful argument against speaking in tongues.
- Is it possible that this is a gift that God has renewed because we are in the last days and He has chosen to pour out His Spirit in that way? It certainly is possible, although I have not seen sufficient evidence to make me a believer in it.
Q4: In a Pentecostal church, what are the “rules of engagement”?
- For those who spoke in tongues in Corinth - and by extension those who speak in tongues today - Paul sets forth some “rules of engagement” to keep tongues from getting out of hand.
- How were tongues to be handled in worship?
A. Everything in worship has the goal of building up the body.
- v. 26.
B. Only 2 or 3 are allowed to speak in tongues during a worship service.
- v. 27.
C. They are to speak in turn.
- v. 27.
D. They are only to be spoken when interpretation is available.
- v. 27-28.
E. All things are to be in a decent and orderly way.
- v. 40.
- I went, while on vacation a few years ago, to a large Pentecostal church with a friend of mine. One of the more disturbing aspects of that worship was that, at one point in the service, the pastor encouraged everyone there to speak in tongues. There were several hundred people there. This, to me, even as someone who didn’t believe in tongues, was a clear violation of the rules of engagement of tongues within worship. It should have been just 2 or 3, one at a time, with interpretation. When I asked my friend about it, he had an excuse about it not really being speaking in tongues the way Paul writes, but just a moment of spontaneous praise to God.
- Also, note that if you take prophecy to be the predicting of the future (and not just another term for preaching), there are regulations here for that too. I, of course, would also argue that prophecy is no longer an operational gift.
- Also, with the mentioning of women keeping silent in the churches, that is a much easier teaching to argue is not for today when you take the rest of the chapter to also be non-operational gifts.
Q5: What can we (as non-Pentecostals) learn from Pentecostals?
A. Their joy.
B. Their racial diversity within individual congregations.