#675. USE GIFTS IN LOVE (24/10/22)
This week, we continue with our 1 Corinthians series, looking at some aspects of the gift of tongues from 1 Corinthians 14.
Summary: Let’s again remember that loving people - building them up - is the motive and aim of our use of the gift of tongues and any other gift that the Holy Spirit gives.
‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’ (1 Corinthians 13:1)
‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (12:7-11)
Tongues is a gift that can polarise us. Some think of it as unnecessary or unhelpful; others see tongues as a primary sign that the Holy Spirit is working; still others believe in this gift theoretically but never really seek the gift in any serious way. Wayne Grudem has written:
‘Within the evangelical world today there are differing positions over the question, "Are all the gifts mentioned in the New Testament valid for use in the church today?" Some would say yes. Others would say no, and would argue that some of the more miraculous gifts (such as prophecy, tongues plus interpretation, and perhaps healing and casting out of demons) were given only during the time of the apostles, as "signs" to authenticate the apostles during the early preaching of the gospel. They state that these gifts are no longer needed as signs today, and that they ceased at the end of the apostolic age, probably at the end of the first century or beginning of the second century a.d. We should also realise that there is a large "middle" group with respect to this question, a group of "mainstream evangelicals" who are neither charismatics or Pentecostals on the one hand, nor "cessationists" on the other hand, but are simply undecided, and unsure if this question can be decided from Scripture.’ (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)
My position, As mentioned in previous devotions, is that I believe that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, that gifts, including prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues continue until ‘we see [God] face to face’ and ‘know as we are fully known’ at Jesus’ return. Many wish that Paul had not said:
‘I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.’ (1 Corinthians 14:18)
This week, we will be focussing on how we might approach this gift in a scriptural way. Sam Storms writes about this gift:
‘Contrary to some distortions, Paul nowhere denigrated the gift of tongues. He wished all Christians spoke in tongues (see 1 Cor. 14:5). He applauded the capacity of tongues to edify the believer (see v. 4). He thanked God for tongues in his own prayer life (see vv. 18-19) and explicitly warned against any temptation to forbid the exercise of this precious gift (see v. 39)!’ (Storms, Sam. The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts)
To begin with, let’s again remember the foundation of love. We are to be motivated by love. This is particularly important when we think about the gift of tongues.
The Corinthians, it seems, over-emphasised this gift and were operating in it in unhelpful ways. They were being selfish and not making the edification the aim of their use of this gift. Worship, let’s remember, is not for you and me - its aim is not our finding joy or some form of inner or bodily healing. Worship, firstly, is for God. It’s a time to express His worth and our devotion to Him. Secondly, worship is about building others up in their faith. We will benefit from this, but the focus is not inward and self-serving. Paul corrects the Corinthians’ selfish use of tongues in the worship setting:
‘When you are praising God in the Spirit [in tongues], how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.’ (1 Corinthians 14:16-17)
‘So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?’ (1 Corinthians 14:23)
For the church to speak in tongues together without interpretation is selfish; If we gather and all speak in tongues, neither unbelievers nor our brothers and sisters are edified; this is a main point made in this chapter. Paul makes the point that private prayer for personal edification is a wonderful gift, however, in the gathered church, self-edification is not the aim!
I believe that we should all seek to speak in tongues. I believe that 1 Corinthians 14, teaches us that we are to seek this gift and to use it in private and public. However, this gift, when used in a public church meeting is for the edification of others. Love is our motive for using this gift in our churches. For now, I encourage you to carefully read 1 Corinthians 14 paying particular attention to what he says about the gift of tongues.
Tomorrow, we’ll seek to give some clarity as to what this gift actually is.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued in our series from 1 Corinthians looking at the gift of tongues from chapter 14.
Please read Acts 2:11; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 13:1; 14:1-2, 14:18, 14:23, 14:39-40.
WHAT IS THE GIFT OF TONGUES?
The gift of tongues is praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God in a God-given language unlearned by the speaker.
i. Tongues is praise and prayer (See Acts 2:11, 1 Corinthians 14:14).
ii. Tongues is to God - Godward (See 1 Corinthians 14:2)
iii. Tongues is a language unknown to the speaker - (See Corinthians 14:14, 16)
WHAT IS THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES?
The interpretation of tongues is the God-given inspiration to speak in the language of the hearers, the dynamic equivalent of what was spoken in a ‘public tongue’. (See 14:26-28)
i. This, I believe, ranges from translation to the sense - a paraphrase - of the revelation given in the tongue.
ii. In a public meeting, tongues must always be interpreted. Without interpretation, tongues can create confusion and fails to edify the church.
I encourage you to watch this video together:
i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii) How would you define the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues?
iii. How are tongues to be used in a public worship gathering?
iv. What is the purpose of tongues in our private devotions?
v) Do you speak in tongues and how did you start operating in this gift?
vi) Would anyone like prayer to receive this gift?
SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?
SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?
SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.