The Nature of the Gift of Tongues pt I

Steve Viars November 2, 2002 1 Corinthians 14:

- today we're moving into the next chapter of our study on Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts.
- the last couple of weeks we focused on I Corinthians 13, and talked about how some gifts are singled out and discussed with specific wording about their temporary nature.
- the ones all had a revelatory aspect to them…tongues, prophecy, and knowledge.
- we said that there are some things we can be surer of than others…
- we know that even within this category, tongues is described with a word that means "die out on its own"…
- tongues is not even mentioned in the next verse when Paul says that both prophecy and knowledge will be "done away"
- so what you say about tongues being for today can be different than what you say about whether prophecy and knowledge are for today.
- we also gave a significant list of reasons why we don't believe tongues are for today…
- the rest hinges on your interpretation of "when the perfect comes" in verse 10…
- we can't be dogmatic on this…but I lean toward the phrase referring to the Scriptures…
- I think its best to believe that prophecy and knowledge have died out as formal spiritual gifts, but that God wants many in His church to continue to exercise a "prophetic like" function in that we are looking for ways to share God's Word with others [parallel to the prophetic function of forthtelling]
Introduction
- I Corinthians 14 breaks down in two discernable parts:
- 1-19 - addressing the superiority of prophecy
- 20-40 - regulating the "correct use of tongues" until they died out.

- read 14:1
- it might be wise for us to deal with three issues before we read the rest of our text for today:

1.  What is prophecy?
- remember in the past several weeks we have pointed out that prophecy has always had two components, foretelling [predicting the future, new revelation] and forthtelling [proclaiming the already revealed Word of God, applying God's truth to contemporary situations]
- as we've already discussed, you have to make an interpretive decision about whether any aspect of prophecy is still in use today…
- I prefer to say no, because of the reasons we've already discussed
- others like to say that foretelling is over [no apostles], but that forthtelling is still part of God's program today
2.  Right use of tongues - in the next two weeks, we're going to see that Paul gives criteria for the appropriate use of tongues between the time I Corinthians was written and the time the gift died out…
- when the right use of tongues is discussed, it will be speaking of a known language that the speaker has not studied, that must also be interpreted by someone present, etc.
3.  Wrong use of tongues - since the Corinthians craved the showy gifts, and since many of them had been saved out of religions that emphasized ecstatic utterances as a heightened level of spirituality, some of the Corinthians were engaging in what could be called gibberish
- which category [#2 or #3] can be determined by the context
[some writers believe that when tongue is singular, it is speaking of gibberish, when it is plural, it is speaking of the right use of the gift --- I'm not convinced on that one]
- INPUT - what would you say is the main argument of verse 1?
- there are three ideas there…
1.  Pursue love
- press on - a route to be traveled - cf. Phil. 3:12 and 14
- Thomas - "strong intensity of a runner as he presses towards the finish line"
- there's no surprise here -- that’s what Paul has been emphasizing in the previous chapter

2.  Desire earnestly spiritual gifts
- INPUT - Is that surprising?  Why?
- this balances a lot of what we've been studying…
- the Corinthians were coveting the showy gifts so they draw attention to themselves…
- Paul condemns that---but what is the ditch on the other side?
- not caring about ministry to people in Christ's church…
- having an indifferent attitude toward all the gifts…

- there is such a thing as right spiritual ambition

3.  Especially that you may prophesy
- again, as we said above…for our purposes today, I believe it is best for us to think about  our having a "prophetic-like" ministry teaching God's Word in whatever setting He allows us to do so.

- with all of that in mind, let's read the rest of the passage
- READ 14:2-19

- we want to organize this in a way that helps us apply the material to where we live today:

I.  Seek Ministry that Edifies Everyone in the Church - vv. 2-5

- the point here is that tongues, at least in the way the Corinthians were using [misusing] them, didn't build anyone up.
- if our ministry isn't doing that, then what is it doing?

A.  No one understands gibberish - v. 2

- the key phrase in verse 2 is "no one understands"
- by the way, some people believe that the phrase "but to God" should be translated "but to a god"…
- because there is never an example in Scripture of a person speaking in tongues to God…
- even in Jesus' high priestly prayer, it is spoken in understandable language…
- if there was ever a time for the modeling of heavenly language, that is it…

B.  "Prophetic-like" ministry benefits others - v. 3

- I'll be using that terminology throughout this lesson because I'd like to think about the different opportunities you have to teach the Word of God.
1.  it edifies - builds others up
2.  It exhorts - challenges others to grow
3.  it consoles - comforts those who are hurting
- one pastor [Spurgeon?] used to like to say that he saw it as his task to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted…
- the point is, when God's Word is shared in an understanding able way, it has these important effects on people.

C.  "Prophetic-like" ministry builds up the church - vv. 4-5

- verse 4 is probably an example of Pauline sarcasm…
- the point is…no one is helped by gibberish…
- you might wonder about verse 5 -- I wish everyone spoke in tongues…
- Paul is exaggerating, just like he has in several places in this text…
- [cf. 13:1 - of angels, etc]
- his point is, if God wanted everyone to have the biblical gift of tongues, that would be fine with me, but prophecy is still superior because through prophecy people in the church are edified in a superior manner.

- there's a lot we could say about these first five verses, but the overall issue is the importance Paul places on developing ministries/lifestyles in the church where others are built up.
- one question you might want to ask yourself is, are you finding ways to build others in the church up with the Word of God…
- INPUT - possible ministries that would allow for that?

II.  Seek Ministry that Gives Others Direction - vv. 6-12

- this next section continues the same theme of the superiority of prophecy, but the emphasis now is on the matter of direction…you'll see that from the illustrations that are given…
A.  Even an apostle who can't be understood is profitless - v. 6

- Paul could have come to them and exercised the showy gifts…
- [it is possible that people were criticizing him for not doing so]
- but he says, even if I as an apostle [whose role it was to give direction to the early church] came and spoke in tongues, it wouldn't help you…
- and if that’s true for an apostle, where does that leave everyone else?

B.  Examples in music - v. 7

- Paul says that the same is true of lifeless things…
- if you play a harp, or a flute, but just play meaningless notes without music---no one will know what song you're playing [and therefore be able to be directed by the words that would have been called to their memory along with the music]

C.  Example in the battlefield - v. 8

- the picture is even clearer in verse 8
- if a guy on the battlefield hears a few disconnected notes [even ones that are really showy, like a guy playing a real high note, or a guy doing a fancy run], if it doesn't tell him what to do [i.e. "Charge" or "Retreat"], what good is it?

D.  The same is true for us - v. 9-12

- cf. v. 9 - "so also you"
- the idea here is that you and I ought to be looking for ministry opportunities that allow us to teach/share the Word of God in a way that is understandable, and in a way that gives clear direction to others in need.

- INPUT - How might the Word of God be taught in ways that violate these principles?


III.  Seek Ministry that Affects the Mind as Well as the Spirit - vv. 13-19

A.  Speaking in a tongue without the mind is unfruitful - vv. 13-14

- speaking in tongues might get everyone all whipped up emotionally, but what good is that long term?

B.  Be sure the mind is involved in all aspects of ministry - v. 15

- this also has implications to our music ministry
- INPUT - What implications come to your mind [excuse the pun] ?
[develop --- the need for balance in this issue]


C.  Church ministry without the mind won't build others up - vv. 16-17
- if the other person can't understand what's going on, he can't mentally participate.

D.  A few intelligible words are better than many unintelligible ones - vv. 18-19

 

Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
The Nature of the Gift of Tongues #1

Introduction
I Corinthians 14 breaks down in two discernable parts:
- 1-19 - addressing the ________________of prophecy
- 20-40 - regulating the "correct use of _______________" until they died out.
I.  Seek Ministry that ______________ Everyone in the Church - vv. 2-5
A.  No one understands _______________ - v. 2
B.  "Prophetic-like" ministry ________________ others - v. 3
C.  "Prophetic-like" ministry _____________ ______ the church - vv. 4-5
INPUT - possible ministries that would allow for that?
II.  Seek Ministry that Gives Others _________________ - vv. 6-12
A.  Even an apostle who can't be understood is ________________ - v. 6
B.  Examples in ____________ - v. 7
C.  Example in the ________________ - v. 8
D.  The same is true for ________ - v. 9-12
III.  Seek Ministry that Affects the ____________ as Well as the Spirit - vv. 13-19
A.  Speaking in a tongue without the mind is ________________ - vv. 13-14
B.  Be sure the ___________ is involved in all aspects of ministry - v. 15
C.  Church ministry without the mind won't ____________ others up - vv. 16-17
D.  A few intelligible words are better than ___________ unintelligible ones              - vv. 18-19


Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
The Nature of the Gift of Tongues #1
Introduction
I Corinthians 14 breaks down in two discernable parts:
- 1-19 - addressing the superiority of prophecy
- 20-40 - regulating the "correct use of tongues" until they died out.
I.  Seek Ministry that Edifies Everyone in the Church - vv. 2-5
A.  No one understands gibberish - v. 2
B.  "Prophetic-like" ministry benefits others    - v. 3
C.  "Prophetic-like" ministry builds up the church - vv. 4-5
INPUT - possible ministries that would allow for that?

 


II.  Seek Ministry that Gives Others Direction      - vv. 6-12
A.  Even an apostle who can't be understood is profitless - v. 6
B.  Examples in music - v. 7
C.  Example in the battlefield - v. 8
D.  The same is true for us - v. 9-12
III.  Seek Ministry that Affects the Mind as Well as the Spirit - vv. 13-19
A.  Speaking in a tongue without the mind is unfruitful - vv. 13-14
B.  Be sure the mind is involved in all aspects of ministry - v. 15
C.  Church ministry without the mind won't build others up - vv. 16-17
D.  A few intelligible words are better than many unintelligible ones - vv. 18-19

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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