Summary: Having reminded the Corinthian Christians about what it means to be the Body of Christ, empowered by the gifts of His Spirit in order to live out His divine love, Scripture now further delves into HOW Christ’s Church may best express this and the dangers
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
D.) ROLES & EQUIPMENT (Offices & Gifts)
“ORDER IN THE GYM I: EQUIPMENT
(1 Cor. 14:1-33a)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, July 12, 2009 AM
Pop Quiz: If the apostle Paul had been born in contemporary America, which state would you assume he was from? Personally, I am convinced it would have to be New Jersey! I say this not just because it’s my home state, but because two of Paul’s favorite forms of communication are striking rhetoric and dripping sarcasm. Keep this mind as we examine our Scripture this morning.
Further, let us review the context. The Corinthians Christians have proven themselves to be a church with tremendous passion and a great number of impressive abilities. Because of this, the culture they live in which still holds much sway in their lives, and their lack of accountability they have begun to think of themselves as super-spiritual Christians. They have come to believe that their own personal intuition and emotional leadings are superior than even those of the apostles. As a result, they have not only fallen into theological and practical error, but have become a community with constantly changing expressions and beliefs of what it means to worship and be a peculiar people set apart by and for Christ. This people, therefore, began to lose sight of Christ’s supreme Lordship and instead are ruled by their own wisdom, intuition and emotions. As a result, they have many divisions and quarrels and are completely unlike any other Christian Church of the First Century.
Having reminded these Christians about what it means to be the Body of Christ, empowered by the gifts of His Spirit in order to live out His divine love, Scripture now further delves into HOW Christ’s Church may best express this and the dangers that need to be avoided.
I.) LOVE IN SPEECH (vv. 1-5)
A.) Divine Love Is Most Expressed Through Prophecy (v. 1)
Speech, in general, is described as the superior gift because it is how – according to Scripture – followers of Christ most and best express and share divine love.
The embodiment of divine love, as we saw in the last Chapter, is Christ Himself – His example and His teachings. To share about Him and His Word is the most loving expression human beings can make!
However, not all speech or forms of communication are equal in this regard. Only speech which is prophecy – a forth-telling of God’s Word direct from Him, clearly understood.
Corinth, however, was a tremendous melting pot of peoples from countless places and language groups. Therefore, those who could not only speak eloquently but do so in a variety of languages were often held in highest esteem. The Corinthian Christians, in their pride-tainted zeal took this even a step further by combining this idea with the pagan concept of a unique and mysterious way to communicate with the supernatural and divine. So much so, that they apparently claimed to discover and speak a special heavenly language that is so mysterious and special that even they didn’t know what they were saying!
B.) The Problem With ’Tongues’ (vv. 2,4a)
Before proceeding any further, it is important to recognize that throughout this chapter Paul refers to two different understandings of “language” or “tongues.” Whenever he uses the term in the singular, he is referring to the peculiar non-human language the Corinthians have taken pride in. When he uses the term in the plural, he is referring to human languages.
Paul begins this discussion by comparing the Corinthian’s non-human ’tongue’ to prophesy, while making very clear that the two are not compatible. It is an either-or proposition. One may choose to speak in this ’tongue’ or prophecy, but can NOT prophecy in this tongue. Why?
The Corinthian “Tongue” is:
1.) Mysterious and Impersonal (v. 2)
Nobody (whether speaker or listener) understand any it’s sounds. In fact, no human is even capable of understanding these gibberish sounds.
Paul’s references to it being something that could only be “spoken to God” and expressing “mysteries in the spirit” are sarcastic jabs and NOT any kind of acknowledgment of a ’heavenly language.’ His point is that it is such unclear, inhuman nonsense that no human on earth could understand it and therefore the only person that even the speaker could possibly be attempting to talk to is an all-knowing God. Paul does not ever say, however, that these sounds ever actually do reach God or are ordained by Him.
It is also impersonal – random sounds randomly thrown out into the wind. A mystery whose very origins are known only to the speaker’s own spirit.
2.) Promotes the Self (v. 4a)