Summary: A sermon covering the confusing bit about whether tongues & prophecy are signs for believers or unbelievers (v20-23) and then the power of prophecy bringing people to faith.

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Gifts of the Spirit 11: the Power of prophecy. 1 Cor 14:20-33

WBC 7.11.04 pm


Want to speak of the power of prophecy, tonight

- that¡¦s what Paul is wanting to do in this bit of 1 Cor

- starts by contrasting it with ¡¥uninterpreted tongues¡¦ (v20-23)

o but in a way that can be confusing to us at first read!

At a glance seems to say: v22 tongues are a sign for unbelievers, prophecy for believers¡K but if an unbeliever comes in (v23) and people prophesy they¡¦ll be knocked for 6

- ¡§hang on! I thought you just it was tongues that were the sign for unbelievers. I don¡¦t understand!¡¨

So- let me explain

- Paul says tongues are good. But uninterpreted tongues are not cool because of how they make people feel.

o (Tongues + interpretation is great! = prophecy)

- but uninterpreted tongues makes people feel ¡¥out of it¡¦, isolated, as though they don¡¦t understand

- ¡K. As though they are foreigners to the one who is speaking (v11)

o foreigners in a strange land¡K

¡K and that¡¦s something you Jews should be able to relate to! Being surrounded by people talking an unintelligible language¡Kfeeling foreigners in a strange land

- it¡¦s what happened to you when you were carted off to Babylon!

o Not a +ve experience, eh?! A negative one

o And it was a sign. Not a positive one, but a negative one

„X A sign of your unbelief!

„X ( quotes Is 28, and their Babylon experience)

So- for you: other hearing unintelligible languages, feeling isolated, was a sign of:

- you being unbelievers. Judgement

And you don¡¦t want to put others through that, eh?! You don¡¦t want to give them that kind of sign!

- you want to give them life changing prophecy, edification, the positive sign that makes them become¡K feel ¡K believers!

He then goes on to explain how prophecy can do this! The power of prophecy

- to make believers of people

- to edify believers

- to be a positive sign that God is amongst His believing people

Does that make sense? So the v22 bit is about how tongues were a ¡Vve sign of judgement and them being unbelievers in Babylon.V23 talks about the power of prophecy, and how it is a sign of¡K means to belief

- a +ve sign


Note the first thing, here. We so often miss this

- Paul simply expects unbelievers to come in¡K come in and be convicted and converted!

That¡¦s just normal to him

- it¡¦s a word and a challenge to US!

I¡¦m horrified to say the church has done a pretty good job of keeping them out.. driving them away

- it has even, often, had a theology to support this

- eg: Baptist churches have looked for a ¡¥pure church¡¦, filled only with believers. A gathered group.

- Some other denominations have gone even further: no coming in unless you¡¦ve been in our denomination for 100 years and both grandparents and all pastors can still write you a letter of commendation! (that¡¦s not come to communion, that¡¦s come to church!)

But this passage says that there should be ¡¥people in process¡¦ amongst us

- (and we should do all we can not to drive them away)

- And in Mt 13 Jesus speaks of the wheat and weeds growing together

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