TEXT: 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 (verses 1-4 here):
1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 249 messages in this series.
This is message #251 titled, Church Guidelines for Prophesying, Praying, and Speaking in Tongues, Part 2.
In our last message, we talked about the importance of prophecy in the early church. Prophecy was direct revelation from God through the Holy Spirit for the believers. This was necessary because the early church did not have access to Scripture like we do today. Prophecy was a valuable gift because it was beneficial to all believers. Out of all of the virtues, Paul desired that the Corinthian church seek charity or love one for another. And out of all of the spiritual gifts, Paul desired that they seek prophecy.
However, it appears as though many were seeking another gift — that of speaking in tongues. Paul was not opposed to this gift, but he was opposed to the way in which people desired it and misused it because it did not edify all members of the body. He says in verse two, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”
Before we get deeper into this verse, we turn to Dr. John Walvoord for some background on speaking in tongues. He writes: “Probably the most controversial of the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of tongues. On the day of Pentecost Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the feast were amazed to hear the apostles speak in their languages, and they asked the question, ‘How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?’ Two other instances of speaking in tongues occurred in Acts. It would seem reasonable to conclude that in these three instances in Acts there was a supernatural manifestation of the Spirit in the form of empowering men to speak in languages that were not known to them. It should also be observed, however, that these are the only three instances mentioned in the Book of Acts, and that apart from the discussion in 1 Corinthians 12-14 there is no other reference to speaking in tongues in the New Testament. The purpose of speaking in tongues is clearly defined in the Scriptures. It was to be a sign to attest to the gospel, a proof to the unsaved of the genuineness of the Holy Spirit’s work. Though words were expressed and the glory of God was revealed, there is no instance in Scripture where a doctrine was revealed through speaking in tongues, and it does not seem to have been a major vehicle for the revelation of new truth.”
Like the gift of prophecy, as we have previously defined it, the gift of speaking in tongues was important to the early church for a specific reason — for testifying to the truth of the Gospel and the reality of the Holy Spirit’s work in the world. It was not to be used for showing off or as a symbol of a person’s status or level of spirituality. Some in the Pentecostal tradition have elevated this gift above others, even to the point of claiming that it is proof that someone is saved and/or filled with the Holy Spirit. However, in the New Testament, speaking in tongues was never seen as more important than any other gift. In 1 Corinthians 12, it is listed as one of many gifts, and it is listed as the eighth in Paul’s ranking of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28.
In verse two of our passage, we see the reason why Paul de-emphasizes the use of speaking in tongues in the church. It is because, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God.” Commentators have pointed out that the word “unknown” is an unfortunate addition in the King James Version. That word is not in the original Greek, and it has caused confusion down through the years. The “tongues” that Paul speaks of are simply other languages, although the case can be made that one of these tongues is the language of angels or the language of heaven. Whatever you believe these tongues are, Paul’s point is that they should not be used in public worship (without interpretation) because it is not beneficial for those who cannot understand those languages. The one who speaks in tongues speaks “mysteries” to God alone. The church is a place where mysteries are revealed through the plain teaching of God’s word. Believers ought to leave a church service with clarity and understanding, not with more confusion than when they arrived.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.