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Spiritual Gifts & Conduct in the Church


1 Corinthians 14 1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

    • “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God…they edify themselves.” But we don’t need this, they say.

  • Tongues is not “a word from the Lord” – The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.


6Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

IN OTHER WORDS, EXERCISE SELF-CONTROL. There is an immaturity and arrogance in those who don’t.

  • Why we see immaturity – they may have the gift but not the character.

  • Experience oriented movements have little interest in the Cross, fruit, or character.


13For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.

  • Like minded believers who know their audience, 16Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?

  • An unbeliever or a Christian who is on the fence won’t say “Amen”; they’ll say “Goodbye”.

18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

  • Paul would rather not speak in tongues in the church. Why? It doesn’t edify others.

20Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.

This is one of the most difficult verses in Corinthians.

  • Paul is not say that speaking in tongues is childish, but that self-focus is comparable to childish behavior – “Look at me…look at me.” Its cute at 3 but embarrassing at 33.

  • Tongues was a sign to Israel that God was extending the gospel to all people – it was a fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11-12. “This is that, that Isaiah spoke of…”

“Believers should feel “at home” in their own corporate worship. Conversely, where prophetic speech operates with effect, this signals the presence and action of God in nurturing people of faith. Unbelievers do not produce prophetic speech which communicates gospel truth. Hence on one side prophetic speech characterizes the believing church…; tongues, on the other side, constitute negative signs (at least in public…) generating barriers and alienation inappropriate for believers.” Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 1123). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Origen’s Thoughts: “unintelligible tongues will be ineffective in causing ‘This people to listen to the Lord’.”

My Thoughts: we already have clear direction on tongues. Tongues can be a sign as on the Day of Pentecost and on the Mission Field, or in other God-ordained settings. But prophecy is for believers to partake in. The words they say are for unbelievers, but the ability to speak God’s Word (prophesy) is for believers.

23If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. 26What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

  • We must be sensitive to others who are present – this is God’s command

  • It seems to me that “If the whole church comes together” pertains to like minded believers who know each other.
  • There are different views on this: “If anyone speaks in a tongue” is not the same as saying “you must speak in tongues” Paul said, “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”   Westside Christian errors on this side as well.

Tongues is linked with madness if done incorrectly.

  • C. K. Barrett, “When they are not met with faith (cf. Heb 4:2) tongues serve to harden and thus condemn the unbeliever (cf. verses 23f.) [although] they will at least not offend a Christian assembly that understands what is going on… speaking in tongues within the assembled church community has more negative than positive consequences…” Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 1125). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

APPLICATION: Based on everything we just covered, [in our opinion] this should be done in groups that know each other.

  • COMMON SENSE: “Everything must be done so that the church is built up.”

29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

  • The principles we just learned should still be applied, but the distinction is the language will be recognizable, and thus, could benefit others.

  • There would be a time for this. Those speaking would be well known with established character. They would not be anxious but hesitant. They would submit the word to the leadership (like a filter – “the spirit of prophets are subject to control…”) Many loose cannons. Paul’s use of “prophetes” no doubt means a person of tested character; they are very mature; they fear the mic – because they believe that God has laid something extremely noteworthy on their heart they are cautious, not careless.
  • There is order and structure…it flows and doesn’t disrupt.
  • Early church vs. modern church – the truth doesn’t change, but the dynamics do. A few dozen people who knew themselves well at each home.
  • Saying “No” to a person tests the heart.
  • Caution: If we open this up, we also open up a can of worms.

PROPHECY APPLICATION: In my opinion, if a church goes this route, it should be done in groups that know each other like the early church, or after a service when explanation can take place. It must be explained and the setting must be conducive to it; it must build up and not be disrupt. Those speaking will be well known and meet the qualifications Christian character. They would let the leadership know what they believe that God placed on their heart. If they stray away, then the leadership would need to correct it. For example, if they say, “I believe that God just wants us to embrace His love and not worry about our sin.” This can be used as an opportunity as well.

  • A down side is people come looking for Prophetic words vs. Christ – spontaneous is the key to success.

34Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

  • With all Scripture, we shouldn’t be quick to apologize: “σιγάτωσαν (let them be silent; let them hold their peace; let them stop speaking; let them not interrupt).” Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 1147). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

  • What do we know? Addressing a disruptive nature…look at the context.

ROLES: This is not culture, it’s creation. But this isn’t ruling with an iron fist; it’s leading with a humble heart. “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you’.” (Gen. 3:16)

36Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. 39Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

  • So many do ignore these clear-cut commands.

  • Forbid: “to refuse to allow or to make impossible.” Having structure, order, framework and context is not forbidding. Based on most people interpretation, they would say that Paul is forbidding tongues.

CLOSING: The priority 15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

  • The priority – “Many will say to Me in that Day…” (Matt. 7).

  • Mixed crowd – genuine and players.
  • Are you seeking “gifts” or the “Gift-giver”?
  • Are you holding fast? Is God an after-thought; is he an anchor or an inconvenience; is it a joy to be in His presence or does He kill your joy for sin?

Hold Fast: It’s not my hold on Christ that saves me; it’s His hold on me. Is it the anchor that holds the vessel in place, or what it’s hooked to?

  • Where are you anchored?