Summary: The Cointhians were selfishly focusing on their own expressions of certain gifts for their own benefit and ignoring God’s call to edify the "other guy"
PLAYING ON GOD’S TEAM
4 There’s No “I” In Team.
(Opening SLIDE) When was the first time you saw the gift of tongues or prophecy in operation? Some of you without much church background don’t have a clue what I’m talking about! You’ll know more in 30 minutes.
- Others of you have never personally seen the gifts of tongues or prophecy in operation but you’ve heard of them. You’ve maybe seen people on Christian TV shows who are praying or maybe even preaching and then suddenly they start to speak unintelligible words.
- Still others of you maybe grew up in a church environment where no one ever talked much about the gifts of tongues or prophecy but all you knew is that they were bad somehow. Like a dirty little family secret that everyone’s just supposed to know you don’t talk about.
- Others of you maybe grew up in an opposite church environment where tongues were common place. Each Sunday morning, at least one person, would get up and speak in some strange language. If you didn’t have this ability, the code word for you was, “not Spirit Filled.”
I grew up in a church that didn’t talk about spiritual gifts at all, and was especially hush hush about the gift of tongues. Then I went to Bible college, and one day during chapel, someone came up to the mike during a sharing time, closed her eyes, and at full volume started belting out something that was… not in English.
I was not really shocked so much as extremely curious. And, this one experience set our campus abuzz and I was immediately plunged into what I found out was a long standing controversy in the church about the exercise of the gift of tongues and who should have it.
Well we’ll need to scratch the surface of that controversy today because our passage, 1 Cor 14 is all about these two gifts: tongues and prophecy. HOWEVER, be forewarned, the take home application of this chapter is much broader than these two gifts and maybe… even more controversial!
So to begin, let me give you some background on
(SLIDE) 1. WHAT TONGUES AND PROPHECY ARE
Let’s start with the gift of tongues. Simply put, it’s a supernatural ability the Holy Spirit gives to speak in a language you didn’t learn. We see it first show up on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:6-8
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia [etc.] - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
However, when the gift is discussed in Corinthians, it seems to be somewhat differently used. (SLIDE) Listen to how it’s described in 1 Cor 14:2&4
- For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
- He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…
So check out the contrast in the two gifts (SLIDE):
(BULLETS) ACTS 2
- known languages
- spoken to men
- people understand
- for purpose of evangelism
I COR 14
- unknown languages
- spoken to God
- no one understands
- for the purpose of personal edification
So the gift seems to have different expressions which in fact, Paul mentioned back in (SLIDE) 12:28:
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers… and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
Remember he also made some reference to this being a wide-ranging gift in 13:1
- if I speak in the tongues of men and angels.
Now, historically and in my own personal observations, the most common expression of the gift seems to be of the 1 Cor 14 variety. Therefore, it’s primary value is for personal edification in private moments of prayer and worship, it provides a sense of God’s presence, a freedom when verbal prayer is inadequate.
(SLIDE) 2. TONGUES & PROPHECY – WHO SHOULD HAVE THEM?
Now, let’s dive into chapter 14:
(BULLET) 1 Cor 14:1 (BULLET) Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy…. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Is there a gift that every Christian should have? Many people think all Christians should have the gift of tongues and yet you could make a much stronger case from these verses that EVERY Christian should really have the gift of prophecy.