In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I discuss the practical aspect of speaking in tongues today. Today’s blog article will be a combination of a history lesson and modern-day application.
The central message of 1 Corinthians 12-14 is that the purpose of spiritual gifts is for the building up of the church.
Paul approaches the subject of spiritual gifts from several angles, but the theme of the building up of the church is always present.
— 1 Corinthians 14.5 – Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
Prophecy is a spontaneous message from God through a person. It was a way that God revealed his presence in the church, giving guidance to the members.
— Verse 6 – Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
“Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves” (verse 4). However corporate worship is intended to build up the whole church, not merely the individual.
Four key methods of communication are needed in the church.
Revelation uncovers and discloses God’s truth. It enlightens people who hear it.
Knowledge provides the wisdom of God to a particular situation.
Prophecy interprets the will of God under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Teaching instructs people in the ways of God.
— Verses 7-9 – It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played?
And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?
So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air.
Few of my readers will be able to read and understand the next sentence, even though it is nothing more than the Greek text of verse 7.
ὅμως τὰ ἄψυχα φωνὴν διδόντα, εἴτε αὐλὸς εἴτε κιθάρα, ἐὰν διαστολὴν τοῖς φθόγγοις μὴ ⸀δῷ, πῶς γνωσθήσεται τὸ αὐλούμενον ἢ τὸ κιθαριζόμενον;
Speaking in tongues in a congregational setting has the same effect as speaking in Greek where no one understands the language. Paul makes this clear in the next two verses.
— Verses 10-11 – There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound.
If then I do not know the meaning of a sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.
When we listen to Ukrainians in the news, it is clear that they are foreigners to us. That is why the newscasters provide a translation.
The translation allows us to understand their words and relate to their plight.
The same principle holds true for a worship service. If tongues are used beyond a prayer language, the tongues speaker produces a sound that is not able to build up the church.
Tongues are valuable for private prayer and worship. However, in a public setting, they should be reserved for times when an interpreter is present.
— Verse 12 – So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.
We are counseled to “strive to excel in spiritual gifts.” How can someone strive to excel in something that is a gift?
The Spirit is the one who gives each person their gifts.
Speaking of spiritual gifts, Paul writes, “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Corinthians 12.11).
The Spirit divides gifts according to the will of God, so how can we strive to excel in them?
As we deepen our relationship with the Holy Spirit through worship, prayer, and obedience, he will have more freedom to work through us.
Ultimately, our spiritual gift is the work of the Holy Spirit through our lives. Therefore, rather than focusing on one or two spiritual gifts, we are better served by being sensitive and obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
If the Holy Spirit is free to work through us, we can be certain that he will build up the church and other people around us.
Rudy Ross and I discuss our experiences with speaking in tongues in today’s YouTube video. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.
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