I Corinthians 14:5-50

Dr. Steve Viars August 8, 1992 1 Corinthians 14:5-50

- God wants us to have minds that are properly prepared
      to minister to the minds of others.

- tonight, we're going to attempt to study the rest of the
   chapter and center our thoughts around four main questions

    1) Why Don't We Speak In Tongues Today?
        - I Cor. 14 is probably the best place in God's Word
            to answer that question.
        - Paul gives us several strong answers to this
           question in these verses.

    2) How Do These Reasons Apply To Us Today?
        - Like I said this morning, I don't believe the
          average person here at Faith Baptist Church is
          contemplating going out and speaking in tongues
        - but the reasons Paul gives for not speaking in
            tongues can provide great help in identifying
            additional areas of life that we may need to work

    3) What Restrictions Did Paul Give For The Right Use Of
        Tongues In That Day?
        - those who have studied these verses know that Paul
           gives a whole list of principles to govern the way
           the Corinthians exercised the gift of tongues and
        - we're going to look at those.
           - but then we want to ask:

    4) How Do These Restrictions Apply To Us Today?

- I wanted to go ahead and "tip my hand" so to speak is
    because one of the many benefits of these verses is it
    gives us practice at thinking through what the Bible
      - but then also how the passage applies today

- That’s something that all of us wrestle with
   - a lot of times folks say to me - its hard at times as I
     read God's Word to make the transition to what those
     verses mean to me today.
- we're going to practice that tonight/ and as we go through
    the verses/ we're going to look at questions we can ask
    and things we can do to help us practically apply the
let's start with:

I. Why Don't We Speak In Tongues Today?

    - now we're not here to talk down people who see this
       issue differently.
    - I realize some of you here tonight have friends in
       relatives from charismatic circles and I'm not talking
       them down personally.
         - your friend or family member may have been saved
           in a charismatic ministry and maybe they're making
           some changes.
             - and you might think - "they're better off than
                they were"

    - so we're not criticizing anybody personally

    - but we are talking about doctrine
      - we're talking about what a church service should be
      - we're talking about what spiritual living is
      - we're talking about how to have individual lives and
          church services that glorify our Savior
      - those are matters of doctrine and we need to discuss

- now, I mentioned in your notes that we've already given a
   number of answers to this question that we're not going to
   develop again.

    A. Reasons already given

        1. New revelation ceased with the completion of
            Scripture - Rev. 22:18-19

           - that means all the sign gifts that involved
             additional revelation have ceased as well.

        2. Paul taught that the gift of tongues would die
            out.  - I Cor. 13:8 - "tongues will cease" (and
            they did cease in early church history)

               - that’s why tongues aren't even mentioned in
                 the epistles that were written later by the
                 apostle Paul.

               - in some of the most comprehensive passages on
                 spiritual living in the NT, Gal. 5, Eph. 4,
                 Col.  3
                   - there's no mention of tongues because
                     they died out.

- now let's start studying the remaining verses in I Cor. 14
   for the additional reasons Paul gives:
    (B. Additional reasons from I Cor. 14)

        - READ 3-5

        1. Tongues don't edify anyone because they can't be

            - I said this morning that we'd deal with this
              phrase "except he interpret."
            - INPUT - is verse 5 talking about gibberish (the
                wrong use of tongues) or the right use of the
                spiritual gifts of tongues?  (RIGHT USE - its
                in the plural)

        - in the early church, even when someone spoke in the
          right use of tongues - someone else had to
          interpret it.
            - Remember on the chart we filled out two weeks
              ago - one of the gifts we saw in several
              passages was the gift of interpretation.

- so Paul is arguing that tongues in and of themselves don't
   edify anyone
- now I recognize that I mentioned that this morning--but I
   wanted to bring it up again to make this point:
     - spiritual gifts, all through this passage, are given
        for the edification of the body of Christ

     - there's never an example all through these verses, and
       nowhere else in the Bible for that matter, of a person
       using their gifts privately to edify themselves.

     - may want to jot down here I Cor. 12:7 - NASB - "But to
       each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for
       the common good."

- now, some of you probably know where I'm going with this

    - many charismatics today talk about the secret prayer
        - where they go off in some closet somewhere and
          mystically speak to God in some heavenly language.

        - we need to say strongly - that was never the
           purpose of the spiritual gifts.
             - spiritual gifts were given for you and I to
                minister to one another.

- see, we don't speak in tongues today because they don't
   edify anybody because they can't be understood.
- here's another reason:

    2. tongues don't give direction - verses 7-12

        READ 7-8

        - Paul is saying - the same thing is true of musical
             - they're worthless unless they make sounds that
                are understandable--in the sense that they
                 make you think of some truth

- let me try to illustrate that (piano)

    - if I just play some noise (do it)
        - does that minister to your heart?
        - does that edify you?   - Does it benefit you
- of course not - WHY? - because it's not conjuring up any
     thoughts---any truth.

- But, if I play a beautiful song (TAPE)
    - that ministers to you

    - WHY? - because it brings up thoughts of a beautiful
        hymn --- of important truth

- see, we don't speak in tongues because they don't give any

- closely related to that is the argument in verse 14-15

    3. every facet of the ministry is only valuable if it
        impacts the mind.

        - If I pray in the spirit, I have to pray in the mind
        - If I sing in the spirit, I have to sing in the mind

         - every facet of the ministry, every facet of growth
             involves the mind

         - but tongues don't -- some folks are all carried
             away with the sign gifts, and speaking in
             tongues and all the rest
               - but their lives are in a mess
                  - they're not solving problems in the home
                  - they're not raising their kids in the
                     nurture and admonition of the Lord
                  - they are not bring honor to Christ with a
                     life that is changing and growing.

- that kind of a ministry is cruel

- Tracey Pitchiniti (develop)

    - instead of teaching that young family the TRUTH THEY SO
           - how to handle difficulties
           - how to live as an adolescent
           - how to function as a single mom
           - how to appreciate and trust in the sovereignty
               of God
           - and all of the other areas of truth they needed

        - they were too busy talking about all the sign gifts
           - and the extraordinary faith
           - and the miraculous healing
- ministry that doesn't impact the mind is not only
    ineffective--its downright wrong

- every facet of ministry if only valuable if it impacts the

- another point Paul makes is in verse 16 and verse 23:

    4.  Tongues are a special hindrance to young believers

        - there's some disagreement on the meaning of the
          phrase "the place of the unlearned" or "the place
          of the ungifted."
        - based especially on what Paul says in the following
            verses, I think its best to understand this verse
            to be talking about young believers.

    - when a person is saved - one of the things that person
      needs the most is TRUTH
        - Jesus said it this way in his High Priestly prayer
           - sanctify them by thy truth--thy word is truth.
              (Jn. 17:17)

- all of us need truth, but that’s so important to a new
     - you can pretty much name the area of life--that person
       needs BIBLICAL TRUTH for it
         - marriage - needs biblical truth
         - child-raising - needs biblical truth
         - work...
         - finances...and on and on

- Paul is picturing a poor new believer in the Corinthian
   assembly who can't even say AMEN at the end of a prayer
   because he doesn't know what the person said.

- its like a person coming to your house who desperately
    needs a drink of water
      - he hasn't had a drink for days
          - his throat is parched and he's going to pass out
             and he makes it to your porch and with his last
             breaths he says, "Water, please water"

           - and you come back with a glassful of sand and

- see, we ought not to do anything that takes the emphasis
   off of truth
      - for all of our sakes, and especially for the sake of
        new believers

- another reason is found in verses 21-22 (READ) (mention
     that this is a quote from Isaiah)

    5. Tongues were primarily given as a sign to the Jews

       - so we don't speak in tongues because the purpose of
         the sign is no longer needed.
       - a Jewish person can be saved just like anyone else,
          but the nation as a whole has been set aside.

       - so why would we speak in tongues today?
           - we have no right to take something designed for
             one purpose and use it for another

           - besides, you know that's ineffective anyway

- for example, let's say you're outside fixing something on
    the house, and you're using your hammer to hammer a nail
     - now that’s what a hammer's for - its very useful to
       hammer nails

         - but let's say you're finished so you come inside
           and your wife is trimming her fingernails
             - are you going to say - here honey, let me help
                you? This is a very useful tool - BAM!

- of course not - you get into trouble if you take something
   designed for one purpose and use it for something else.

- that’s true of tongues as well--according to these verses
   they were designed for one purpose and we have no right to
   use them for something else.

- one last reason is found in verse 23?  (READ)

- INPUT - what is the answer Paul expects to the question he
    asks?  (YES)

    6. tongues have a negative impact on evangelism

        - INPUT - Why is it true that tongues will have a
            negative effect on evangelism?  (maybe ones that
            aren't in this text)

            - don't emphasize and glorify our Lord

- repeat reasons

- now its been good and its been right for us to go over
   those reasons
     - but isn't this also true
        - its also been pretty easy
        - it's confirmed some ideas that most (if not all) of
            us already believe

   - its not hard to talk about something that the Corinthian
      church was doing wrong that we're doing right

- but let's make it harder -- let's talk about:

II. How Do These Reasons Apply To Us Today?

    - this is where I think many of struggle with our study
       of the Scripture
    - I can understand what these verses mean?
        - that’s good in and of itself
        - but how do they apply to me?

    - now let's brainstorm two questions together that should
       help us here:

    1) What was the primary sin (negative characteristic)
        of the Corinthians that Paul is condemning in this
        passage?  (What was more important to them than

      - They were emphasizing experience/feelings over truth.

    2) How did that affect their ministry to others?

        - they were less effective in evangelizing.
        - they were less effective in discipling.
- the answers to those questions show us additional ways we
    can apply these verses to our lives.

- In a couple of minutes, I'm going to ask you some areas
   where a believer in 1992 might be tempted to emphasize
   experience over truth...but let me just mention a couple
   that come to mind.

   (please remember as we talk about these - I need to be
    asking - Lord, is there any way that this is true of me?)
- (question - what should these principles say to us?)

    A. Take a "truth oriented approach" to "paranormal

        - illus - Becky Jones Letter

        - another example is all of these strong urges

            - I've known Christians down through the years
              and you probably have to who are all the time
              talking about God telling them so and so is
              sick, and all the rest.

         - I have the people who know me like that and
           occasionally they'll call and say- "Steve, is
           everything OK?"
              - evidently they've had some sort of supposed
                 prompting that I'm sick or in great danger

- Is everything OK?
    - they almost seem disappointed when I say "Yes" -
         everything's fine - my nose is a little runny, but I
         think I'll be OK!

- now somebody might say - well, how do you explain the times
   I called and was right?
     - I would say to that - how do you explain the times you
       were wrong?
         - In the OT, they had a very effective way of
           dealing with prophets who were wrong--they stoned
           them -- that discouraged false prophets

- and even if a person said - I'm always right
   - does that mean its from God?
      - let me answer that question - NO!

    - some folks are dabbling in the areas of the mystical
      and the supernatural that they not to be dabbling in.

- see, believers have to decide, am I going to emphasize
    experience, or truth?

    B. Take a "truth oriented approach" to decision making

        - a lot of folks are very experience-oriented when it
            comes to making decisions.

        - they say things like this: "God told me to do this"
           or "I have real peace about this"

    - its amazing how God supposedly told them things or gave
      them peace about things that are a violation of His

     - there's a lot more that could be said about that and
       there's some good things you could read about this
       subject if you have questions, but the bottom line is:
         - we have to decide as believers - are we going to
           be experience oriented or truth oriented when it
           comes to decision making.

    C. Be truth oriented in relationships

        - some folks let their feelings determine how they're
           going to treat others on that particular day.

        - those kind of folks are always up and down and up
           and down.
             - you never know how they're going to be today.

        - in fact, you often want to have some sort of test
          to see how they're doing before you risk it.
            - so you take the family cat and throw it in the
               room and see if he survives

        - I may be talking to somebody like that here tonight

           - you may not be tempted to speak in tongues
               - but you're guilty of the same kinds of
                 things the Corinthians were guilty of.

- we're going to have to rush through the rest of these, but
   some other areas are:

    D. Be truth oriented when finding answers to the problems
         of life.

        - one of the fastest growing movements today are
           self-help groups
        - (those words never seemed to go together too well)

        - anyway, self-help groups are where people who are
           going through similar circumstances get together
           and share their experiences.

        - some folks, formally or informally, use truth
          derived from those kinds of sources to determine
          how to live.

        - experience is a terrible detriment of truth.
            (cf.  Kris' dad hitting my headlight)

INPUT - what are some other areas of life where you would say
   a believer might fall into the same sin the Corinthians
   were in?  (emphasizing experience over truth)

- I think we need to ask ourselves at this point - what areas
   of life am I most prone to be experience oriented in?
     - How would the Lord want me to change so I could be
       more truth oriented?
- now, in these final verses in the chapter, Paul gives some
  restrictions for the right use of the gift of tongues in
  that day.

- now, of course, we've already argued that tongues have died
    - but it's good for us to study these things because even
       if you're talking to a person who wouldn't agree with
       what we've already said about this subject
         - charismatic groups regularly violate these

- of course these verses also have some additional
   applications for us - we'll study them in a minute.

III. What Restrictions Did Paul Give For The Right Use Of The
      Spiritual Gift of Tongues In That Day?

   - we're not talking about the gibberish Paul alluded to

    A. Must be limited to two or three

        read vs. 27 and vs. 29

        - Paul talks about tongues, then he speaks about
             - prophets here probably speaking of a person
               giving prophecy through tongues
                - so we'll consider these together

    B. Must be done one at a time

        read 27 and 31

        - now, if you've had any experience with
          charismatics, you know they don't obey what these
          verses are teaching.

        - Charismatic meetings are often pure bedlam with
           everybody speaking at once and people running up
           the aisles and all kinds of things.

        - that kind of thing is clearly a violation of God's
           revealed truth
        - we're back to the decision of emphasizing
            experience or truth

        - some folks will say--OK, what they're doing
          violates this passage
            - but how do you explain what they're doing?

             - I think we would want to go back to the
               answers we previously gave.

             1) just because a person experiences something,
                that doesn't mean it's of God

             2) Also, I'm convinced a lot of this is
                 counterfeited in the flesh.

                 - see Mac's illus - teaching kids - p. 220
    C. Tongues must be interpreted

        v. 27

        - now some charismatics are trying to abide by these
          restrictions, but the effects can border on funny

         - cf. George Gardiner and a friend were attending a
                charismatic Bible college

             - began wondering if what they were learning
               about the sign gifts was really true
                 - had no way of testing it

             - his fried was Jewish, and had learned Yiddish

             - in one of the chapels, his friend got up and
               recited the Lord's prayer in yiddish
             - TOTAL SILENCE

             - then the president's daughter got up and
               interpreted (violation of another restriction
               that comes up later)
               - her interpretation was - boys need to stop
                 playing so much basketball and dating so
                 many different girls and need to get busy

    D. If no interpreter is present, no tongues.

        verse 28

    E. Prophets must be judged by other prophets

        verse 32

        - no loose canonism

    F. Women must not prophesy

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

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