The Nature of the Gift of Tongues pt II

Steve Viars November 9, 2002 1 Corinthians 0:

- today we're continuing on in our study of I Corinthians chapter 14.
- we said last week that this chapter breaks down into two very discernable parts:
- 1-19 - addressing the superiority of prophecy
- 20-40 - regulating the "correct use of tongues" until they died out.

- now, a legitimate question to ask would be, PV, if you believe that the gift of tongues has already ceased [as I Cor. 13:8 said they would], and that the gift of prophecy has probably also been done away when the Scriptures were completed, why should we even study this chapter?
- there are several ways we could answer that, but four of the more important answers are:
1.  God may give you an opportunity to speak with someone who believes differently, and it is important that you can explain your beliefs [not for the purpose of winning an argument, but for the purpose of understanding why you believe the way you do…]
2.  There may be some folks in our church someday who decide they believe tongues are for today and want our church to go that direction.  It is important for you to know why we've taken the position we've taken over the years.
3.  God may move you somewhere else some day, and you'll be in the "church-hunting" mode.  You'll have to decide what the non-negotiables are, but that starts by understanding what God's Word says on this subject.
4.  Most importantly, there are principles given here that apply to many aspects of ministry today that don't have anything to do with sign gifts, but do have to do with the way God wants all ministry in the church to be carried out.

- last week we majored on the issue of:

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

- we're using this phrase "prophetic like" because while I've said multiple times that I don't believe the gift of prophecy is for today [and certainly not the revelatory aspects of prophecy, foretelling], we all have the responsibility to know and teach God's Word in different settings…so these ideas have broad application to all of us…
- we also asked the very important question, if edification is such an important principle in Christ's church, how are you using your gifts to build up others in the church?

- today we want to add to these principles…READ 6-19

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]

- develop music that is "all spirit"…or music that is "all mind"….what are the characteristics of each, what are the dangers of each?
- cf. also John 4:24 - …must worship Him in spirit and in truth…


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
INPUT - Implications to the way we minister corporately and individually?  Questions we should be asking?
READ I Corinthians 14:20-39

IV.  Seek Ministry That Fulfills Its God-Given Purpose


- in verse 20, Paul develops his argument by saying to the church--it is time to grow up.
- tongues was given for a sign, but it not nearly as valuable as prophecy…in other words, intelligible speech from God will always be better than even the "right use of tongues", and certainly better than "the wrong use of tongues".

[Teachers - please see John MacArthur's discussion of this in his commentary on I Corinthians, pp. 380 ff.  This is a very important aspect of the study]

A.  Tongues were a sign of judgment.
- verse 21 is very important piece of understanding all we've been saying about the temporary nature of tongues…
- it also explains what we believe about the relationship between the church and Israel now, and in the future.
- this verse is actually a quote from Isaiah chapter 28, where Isaiah was prophesying that judgment would come upon the southern tribes [the nation of Judah], just as it had on the northern tribes [the nation of Israel] about 15 years prior to Isaiah 28 being written…and Isaiah said that one of the signs of God's judgment upon you is that people will come speaking languages you don't understand…
- if that sounds unusual to you, it might help you to know that God had dealt with his people in this way before….

- Deuteronomy 28:49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,

- the principle is, If God's people will not respond to His clear and understandable Word, He will sometimes judge them through words they cannot understand.
- that is even more evident if you look at the context of this verse that is quoted in I Cor. 14:21

- Isaiah 28:9-10 - To whom would He teach knowledge, and to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast?  For He says,Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.

- the point here is, God had taught the nation of Israel in simple, understandable ways, but they refused to follow and act on what He had said.  Now a sign of His judgment was going to be with people who spoke words they did not understand.
- that had already happened with the northern tribes and the nation of Assyria.
- it was going to happen with the southern tribes and the nation of Babylon…which is why Jeremiah said about 100 years after Isaiah [but still before the fall of Judah to Babylon]…

- Jeremiah 5:15 “Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord. “It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say.

- Paul picks up on that same principle and applies it to the matter of Gentiles being able to speak in tongues.  Regrettably, it was a sign of judgment on unbelieving Israel.
B. Tongues were a sign of blessing.
- Many times  the way an event affects a person depends entirely on his spiritual condition.
- so something can be judgment for one person and blessing to someone else.
[cf. II Cor 2 - Roman triumph - the incense was a sign of death to those who had been conquered, and a sign of life to those who were victorious]

- this was a clear sign that God was setting Israel aside and grafting into His plan and program the Gentile nations.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 11:11-12 - I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.  Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 

[could develop how these verses demonstrate the difference between us and covenant theologians.  We believe the church and Israel is distinct, and that God has a future plan for Israel]

C.  Tongues were a sign of authority.

2 Corinthians 12:12 - The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
Romans 15:19 - in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
  - Paul had said earlier that he had spoken in tongues more than all of them. 
- When it was necessary to do so, Paul spoke in tongues to authenticate his message, and people with this gift in the early church were able to do so to authenticate this twin message of the judgment on Israel because of her unbelief and the universal offer of the gospel to all nations.

- now, a very important historical point in all of this was the destruction of Israel in AD 70…not long after the book of I Corinthians was written.
- even secular historians believe that Israel was effectively wiped of the map when that occurred, and there is no such thing as history of Israel for at least 60 years afterwards.
- the point of all of this is…tongues were a sign…and once the destination to which the sign pointed was reached, there was no longer any need for the sign.
[cf. driving from Indy to Lafayette - mileage signs along the way, until when, you reach Lafayette---there aren't any afterward saying, you're 5 miles out of Lafayette, etc…because the sign is no longer necessary].
- Develop the issue of a purpose driven ministry --- it is critical to seek to understand God's purpose for doing the things He has commanded us to do in the church, and to ask whether we are functioning in a purpose driven manner].

V.  Seek Ministry that is done in an Orderly Way.

- the remaining verses seek to regulate the use of tongues from the time the book was written until the gift ceased.

A.  Must be limited to two or three - vv 27-28


B.  Must be done one at a time - vv. 27, 31


C.  Must be interpreted - vv. 27


D.  If no interpreter present, gift must not be exercised - v. 28


E.  Prophets must be judged by other prophets - . v. 32


F.  Women must not exercise these gifts - v. 34

 



Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
The Nature of the Gift of Tongues #2

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

****************************************************************************************************
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
INPUT - Implications to the way we minister corporately and individually?  Questions we should be asking?
IV.  Seek Ministry That Fulfills Its _______-______________ Purpose
A.  Tongues were a sign of ___________________.
 Deuteronomy 28:49 – “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,
 Isaiah 28:9-10 – To whom would He teach knowledge, and to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast?  For He says, Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.
 Jeremiah 5:15 – “Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord. “It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say.


B.  Tongues were a sign of ________________.
 Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 Romans 11:11-12 – I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.  Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
 Romans 11:25 – For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 
C.  Tongues were a sign of ________________.
 2 Corinthians 12:12 – The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
 Romans 15:19 – in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
V.  Seek Ministry that is Done in an ________________ Way.
A.  Must be limited to ________ or _____________ - vv 27-28
B.  Must be done ________ at a time - vv. 27, 31
C.  Must be ___________________ - vv. 27
D.  If no interpreter present, gift must ________ be exercised - v. 28
E.  Prophets must be _______________ by other prophets - . v. 32
F.  _______________ must not exercise these gifts - v. 34



Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
The Nature of the Gift of Tongues #2
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
***********************************************************
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 Spirit 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
INPUT - Implications to the way we minister corporately and individually?  Questions we should be asking?
IV.  Seek Ministry That Fulfills Its God-Given Purpose
A.  Tongues were a sign of judgment.
 Deuteronomy 28:49
 Isaiah 28:9-10
 Jeremiah 5:15
B.  Tongues were a sign of blessing.
 Galatians 3:28
 Romans 11:11-12
 Romans 11:25
C.  Tongues were a sign of authority.
 2 Corinthians 12:12
 Romans 15:19


V.  Seek Ministry that is done in an Orderly Way.
A.  Must be limited to two or three - vv 27-28
B.  Must be done one at a time - vv. 27, 31
C.  Must be interpreted - vv. 27
D.  If no interpreter present, gift must not be exercised - v. 28
E.  Prophets must be judged by other prophets - . v. 32
F.  Women must not exercise these gifts
- v. 34

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.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video