The Place of the Spiritual Gift of Tongues in Church
You can understand the circumstances by reading the words. Examples include Leviticus 18.1-30, about what the peoples of The Promised Land were doing that God said not to do; Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, where He said what God meant and not what the Pharisees were teaching and doing; and Paul’s contrast of prophecy and tongues in 1 Corinthians 14.1-40. God, Jesus, and Paul warned the hearers and readers not to do what seemed to be acceptable. God must be the absolute comparison. The Corinthian believers had come from a community worshipping Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex, that included the frenzied participants saying unintelligible words, supposedly to a spirit, during their intercourse. The place in worship of the supernatural must have been their question to Paul. Read the chapter and think about the points made below. Numbered ‘verses’ are from 1 Corinthians 14.1-40 (AD 55-56).
Twice Paul reminded Corinthians about the nature of God.
- Having just discoursed about the nature of God’s love, Paul begins verse 1 with a command to pursue agape love from the will and not the lesser commitments of love, philo or eros, from emotions. That is, see one another as made in God’s image and, therefore, encourage their pursuit of God, as illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13.4-7.
- In verse 20, Paul repeats his emphasis in 1 Corinthians 13.11 about giving up childish ways to become mature, adult in their thinking leading to doing. Oh, that you, too, would be naive about evil! Remember Proverbs 4.23 because of Proverbs 8.13 and Hosea 14.9.
- God has said you should strive to be like Him; Leviticus 11.44-45. Therefore, verse 1 encourages you to ‘earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy’.
Prophecy is of greater importance than glossolalia (Greek for speaking in an unknown language).
- Paul defines ‘prophecy’ in verse 24-25 as speaking about God for the purposes he lists in verse 3. This combination is the idea God expressed in Jeremiah 1.9-10 and was Paul’s remembrance of Jesus’ instructions to him (Acts 26.16-18).
- Verse 5 tells why prophecy is better than tongues; it builds up the church! See Ephesians 4.13 for Paul’s goal of building persons and 2 Timothy 3.16-17 for his procedure and 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 for his methodology; see Hebrews 4.12-13. Verse 12 redirected the intent of Corinthian believers from unintelligible to intelligible communications, to build up their fellow Christians.
- Verses 6-11 and 13-19 state Paul’s rationale with illustrations. He continues this in verses 22-25. [One curious note is Paul’s apparent distinction of glossolalia from foreign languages, that were, apparently, spoken in Acts 2.5-11. Could this illustrate Matthew 10.19-20?] His foundations for speaking intelligibly in the church are verses 33 and 40.
- So, what is the place of glossolalia? In verse 2-5a and, Paul acknowledges the value of speaking a language to the Holy Spirit. However, verse 27-28 state his only allowance for this in the congregation: someone must interpret. Why? To build up the body by interpreting what the Holy Spirit is instructing. Your spirit communing with God, in glossolalia, is like your child conversing with you; see Job 32.8 and Zechariah 12.1.
- Another interesting note is Paul’s encouragement of ‘two or three prophets speak[ing]’, in verses 29-32, while ‘others weigh what is said’. This may reflect what Paul experienced with approval while among Berean Jews; see Acts 17.11.
Paul used the protocol of Jeremiah 1.9-10 to disarm glossolalia among the Corinthians and to arm them with increasing strength. You, who speak language you cannot understand, do so in your personal worship, but speak clearly among believers to grow their understanding of the things of God.
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com
The Place of Love in Spiritual Gifts
Why would the Apostle Paul intersperse one of his greatest writings in the middle of his discussion of the Holy Spirit’s gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14? How should you understand the wording of Chapter 13, the ‘Love Chapter’? What ‘love’ is Paul meaning? James 2.26 and John 21.1-19 illustrate Paul’s important truth and give you understanding.
Can ‘good works’ save you?
But, what is ‘love’?
- What the world needs now. A many-splendor thing. The lyrics are true, but Paul meant something more.
- Jesus was searching for this ‘more’ in His dialogue with Peter, in John 21.15-17. Jesus’ first two uses of ‘love’ are the Greek agape (the kind of love that God has for you; more of judgment and deliberate choice; a determination of the will; Thomas Aquinas ‘divinely infused into the soul’), while Peter’s answers are ‘love’ that means the Greek philo (the kind of love you have for your friend; attachment and peculiar personal affection; a stirring of emotion; Thomas Aquinas). Jesus’ third use of ‘love’ drops to Peter’s level of relationship. God meets you on your terms but takes you to His! (Eros is a third kind of love, as between a wife and husband.)
- ‘Love can have other meanings in English, but as used in the New Testament it almost always refers to the virtue of caritas. Charity is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God.’ ‘Doing good to others will do none to us, if it be not done from love to God, and goodwill to men. If we give away all we have, while we withhold the heart from God, it will not profit.’ (Matthew Henry’s Commentary; Easton’s Dictionary of the Bible)
- 1 John 4.8 contains the statement: ‘God is love’ which is caritas (Latin); God’s nature. 1 John 4.7-12 discuss God’s (agape) love for you, expressed through His Son Jesus. It is God’s ‘nature’ that caused Him to send His only Son to become your substitute offering for sin!
- 2 John 6 makes Paul’s point: God’s commandments ARE His nature. Remember Jesus Great Commandment: Matthew 22.36-40. Consider Jesus’ words in John 14.15, 21, 23, 24.
God’s love known by contrasts.
- In 1 Corinthians 13.4-8, Paul contrasted, perhaps, their perspectives and actions with the nature of God; that is, agape love; the love required for receiving and using Spiritual gifts. Again, God met the Corinthian believers in their culture and brought them to His way of thinking and acting, like He does you.
- In 1 Corinthians 13.9-12, Paul gives three pictures of what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4.18: partial becoming complete; child growing into adulthood; mirrored reflection replaced by being face-to-face. Pictures describing the process of Jesus’ words to Saul, as he recounts them in Acts 26.18.
- Philo because of agape!
Regarding Spiritual gifts, do Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8.5 describe you?
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com
Gifts From Jesus
Psalmist David painted for you a word picture of Father God welcoming home His triumphant Son Jesus in Psalm 110.1. Dr. Luke records this picture in Acts 2.34 as being used by Apostle Peter in his sermon at Pentecost. He said the Holy Spirit spoke through the disciples on the day of Pentecost a witness for Jesus to the Jews and more than 15 different foreigner nationalities represented among those doing business in Jerusalem. In verse 33, Peter stated that Jesus ‘poured out this [Holy Spirit] that you yourselves are seeing and hearing’ (Acts 2.3-4). In Ephesians 4.8, Apostle Paul quoted Psalm 68.18 about Jesus triumphant entry: ‘When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’ Jesus had said He would send the Holy Spirit when He ascended to be with our Father (John 14.15-18). In John 16.14-15, Jesus described the work of the Holy Spirit as God’s gift-Giver, Who distributes what was given to Jesus…for you.
- Why did and does the Holy Spirit continue to distribute gifts from God and Jesus to you? The answer is understood in the person of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity. 1 Corinthians 12.7 says about the Holy Spirit what John 15.24 says about Jesus and both tied back to what Exodus 34.10 says about God. Each Person of the Trinity identified in the same way: miraculous signs and wonders!
- Notice the progression: God said that His presence would be realized through miracles. Jesus evidenced God’s presence through miracles, but He was only one person. Now, the Holy Spirit does these miracles through every believer in John 14.6 to evidence His presence! With this understanding, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 2.8: satan’s rulers would not have killed Jesus, had they understood this reality! The Holy Spirit’s gifts cannot be contained because God cannot be contained! See John 14.12. Thus, the assurance of Mark 16.20 fulfilling verses 15-18!
- The Holy Spirit continues distributing Jesus’ gifts so that believers will continue to experience God and minister to one another (1 Corinthians 12.7: ‘for the common good’).
- The gifts are expressions of Jesus during His ministry on earth. Read the lists in 1 Corinthians 12.8-10 and Romans 12.4-8 and identify illustrations from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when Jesus demonstrated each unique gift.
- Jesus made clear in His Lord’s Prayer in John 17.18 that He intended for you to continue doing what He did on earth, which you can only do with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- What did Jesus do? In Matthew 10.7-8, Jesus instructed His apostles and disciples to proclaim God’s truth (John 17.17) and to demonstrate it by relieving the victims of satan’s oppressions and abuses. They could do this because of the authority Jesus gave them, as in Luke 10.19, which He has given you, too! God continues to want the fulfillment of Isaiah 58.6-14. He has chosen and empowered you to do the same! Consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5…his protocol throughout his life.
Do you know which gift you have been given?
How can Jesus live out His gift through you?
Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com
Pagan Challenges to Growing in Christ
Old habits can be hard to change. Even though you became a ‘new creation’ when Christ saved you (2 Corinthians 5.17), you are still challenged by Jesus’ words in John 5.44 and Paul’s juxtaposition of flesh and spirit in Romans 8.1-9. Becoming a Christian brings more challenges from satan, as in Jesus’ explanation of His Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-23. Then, there’s the challenges to Scripture from postmodern relativism, to which the lead singer of Jars of Clay succumbed this week with his comments about the Bible not being life’s moral guide and not speaking clearly about homosexuality. His may not, but yours does (Leviticus 18.1-30, especially verse 22; John 8.31-32; 2 Peter 1.2-4). It was no different in Paul’s day, evidenced in his first letter responding to questions from Corinthian converts; see 1 Corinthians 6.9-11. It was in the culture of Corinth that Paul differentiated the passing of old things and giving life to new things, things of the Holy Spirit, not the demonic spirits that were challenging them.
In 1 Corinthians 12.1-3, Paul reminded church members about their former lives.
- They had been pagan, that is, lost and without hope in this world (Ephesians 2.12; 1 Corinthians 6.9-11). satan was using the same schemes that caused The Promised Land to ‘vomit’ the people out, as you read in Leviticus 18.24-30. Even today, satan uses the same schemes…that bring death…eternally…to the vulnerable. How are these repetitions the fulfillment of Jeremiah 13.10?
- Corinthians had been ‘led astray by mute idols’. Picture the different idols entering the Mediterranean seaport Corinth with the trading ships and caravans and interacting with the cosmopolitan population of Romans, Greeks, and Jews who had migrated there. Add to that the periodic Isthmian games (like the Olympic games) that brought additional philosophies to the city. Moral complexity brought on by ethnic diversity! Sound familiar?
- Corinth, like most Greek cities, had an acropolis or ‘high city’ that rose 2,000 feet and offered defensive protection and had a temple for worshiping the ‘mute idol’ Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Some 1,000 ‘religious’ prostitutes lived and worked there and came down into the city at night to offer their ‘services’ to sailors, traders, athletes, and every other male in town. Corinth became synonymous with debauchery and moral depravity.
Redeeming God brought Paul to Corinth to save the lost and mature the saved.
- Acts 18 tells the interesting story of God Who does not want any to perish and will send His leaders into satan’s nest to overcome his ‘weakening’ schemes (Isaiah 14.12-15; Jeremiah 15.16-21; Revelation 12.11). Paul stayed in Corinth for about 18 months, from AD 50 to 52.
- The body of believers at Corinth was unable to break from the past culture which is evidenced by the inferred questions of their letter to which Paul responds; 1 Corinthians 7.1, 25; 8.1; 12.1, 16.1 – ‘now concerning’ or ‘now about’. They were still ‘led astray’.
- John MacArthur comments: ‘Incredibly, some church members were mimicking certain dramatic and bizarre practices of the mystery religions in which they had been formerly involved. The practice of ecstasy, considered to be the highest expression of religious experience, involved supposed supernatural interaction with a deity, induced through frenzied hypnotic chants and ceremonies. The practice frequently included drunkenness (cf. Ephesians 5:18) and sexual orgies, to which the devotees willfully yielded themselves to be led into gross sin’.
- But God! But God saw people He created in His image being abused by satan and needing deliverance from these prisons (Matthew 9.35-38). Hear God’s heart as you read Isaiah 58.6-14.
- Into this environment, God sent Paul to differentiate satanic spirits from His Holy Spirit. Paul had made this distinction in AD 48 in Galatians 5.16-24. Now, he summarized the contrast by characterizing the Holy Spirit’s words.
- He will never lead anyone to say ‘Jesus is accursed!’ Apparently, pagans were saying this about Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross, because pagan offerings were typically hung upon the walls or columns of the temple or in some conspicuous place. This explains why the dead bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung on the city walls; 1 Samuel 31.8-13.
- Jesus described the words of the Holy Spirit in John 16.12-15. Thus, Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit can only lead someone to say ‘Jesus is Lord!’ Paul wrote the same thought in Romans 10.8-10 in AD 55. MacArthur notes: ‘The validity of any speaking exercise is determined by the truthfulness of it. If the speaker affirms the lordship of Jesus, it is the truth from the Holy Spirit. What a person believes and says about Jesus Christ is the test of whether he speaks from the Holy Spirit. He always leads people to Christ’s lordship (cf. 1 Cor. 2:8–14; John 15:26; 1 John 5:6–8).’
- Apostle John wrote that what a spirit says about Jesus is the test of whether the spirit is from satan or God; 1 John 4.1-6. Thus, Paul’s instruction in Romans 8.14 to be led by the Holy Spirit is, really, the better way for you to discern the spirit leading the people you meet and speak with (Isaiah 55.5). Follow Him!
Old habits ARE hard to break…because they are schemed by satan to steal God’s word from you so he can destroy your faith in Jesus for salvation so satan can kill you (John 10.10; 1 John 2.15-17). Only God can redeem your thoughts, words, and deeds; John 16.8-11. Replace old habits with new ones of reading and studying your Bible, of telling family and friends about what you are learning, and of praying to God and meditating upon what He says in return.
Jesus is Lord! (John 14.6!)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014. www.sozoclass.com