This last Sunday we continued our discussion of spiritual gifts as we looked at 1 Cor. 14.1-19. In this text Paul begins to explicitly address the errors the Corinthian church was struggling with in the use of spiritual gifts in their gatherings. The Corinthians appear to have been struggling with the use of the gift of tongues. Paul essentially encourages them to pursue prophecy instead of tongues, because prophecies build up the church, and tongues are not understood by everyone unless they are translated. Because there are a lot of questions in this text we took more time than usual to teach and explain about tongues and prophecy before we applied the text to our lives.
What is Paul talking about when he speaks of the gifts of prophecy and tongues? Regarding prophecy, Paul seems to give us some helpful details about what he means by prophecy in this text. In v. 3 Paul describes prophecy as speech in the church gatherings that builds up the, encourages, and consoles fellow-believers in the church. Later in chapter 14 Paul seems to include things like giving thanks publicly, singing, and prayer. In short, Paul seems to describe prophecy as speaking, singing, or praying the truths of God’s Word in our gatherings as a church in a way that builds up the Body of Christ. This is why Paul encourages the church in Corinth to pursue prophecy when they are gathered together.
What are tongues in 1 Cor. 14? There are basically three options that Christians hold: 1) An ecstatic utterance. This view sees tongues as an ecstatic utterance that does not conform to any real language on earth. This language is unknown to both the speaker and the hearers unless God gives someone the gift to translate this unknown language. 2) A real language not known by the speaker. This view sees tongues as someone being gifted to speak a real language they do not know. They are miraculously enabled to speak a foreign language. 3) A real language known by the speaker, but not necessarily by the church. In the city of Corinth (and the church) people spoke a vast array of languages as the city was a key trading center. You had people in the church who were gifted in speaking several languages. However, they would sometimes speak selfishly in their own language without any interpreter, and the church would have no idea what they were saying, and, therefore, could not be edified. Personally, I am most convinced by the third view, but godly Christians hold to all three. Regardless of our view, the application Paul makes in this text is the same.
2. The Application.
Paul’s main application in this text can be seen in v. 12. Paul says that if we want to see the manifestation of the Spirit in our worship, then we should build one another up in the Lord. We too come to worship for reasons that often begin and end with ourselves. We prize our personal self-expression and preferences above all else. Paul reminds us that when we worship with God’s people, hear God’s Word, sing God’s Word, pray together, and build one another up in our worship, then we have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst! What a wonderful truth! Paul calls us to come together with God’s people with humility as we build one another up in the Lord. As we do this we can be confident that the Holy Spirit is working amongst us.
Here are some discussion questions and the order of service from Sunday: 1 Cor. 14.1-19 Notes. We will take a week off from our series in 1 Corinthians next Sunday as we celebrate Easter together.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
The Apostle Paul began speaking about spiritual gifts in chapter 12. This last Sunday we looked at 1 Cor. 12.12-31 together to learn about some dangers to guard against when it comes to using our spiritual gifts. In order to get his point across Paul compares the local church to a human body with many different parts. This vivid picture serves to illustrate some powerful truths of how God intends the local church to function.
Here are the two dangers to guard against in using our spiritual gifts:
1. Guard Against Envy. In vv. 14-20 Paul speaks to those who are tempted to think their spiritual gifts have no place in the church. We can easily fall into envying the gifts of others. Paul points us to God’s sovereignty in designing the body in v. 18. To envy the gifts of others is a denial of God’s wisdom and sovereignty in setting up the body of Christ the way he sees fit.
2. Guard Against Pride. In vv. 21-36 Paul warns us against being prideful about our spiritual gifts. We are to never think that our gifts exhaust the definition of godliness. We need, and depend on, the other parts of the body of Christ. Once again Paul points us to God’s sovereignty in v. 24. Not only has God appointed different gifts, but he has purposefully not given individuals all the gifts so that we must depend on one another. This is part of God’s sovereign purpose for the church.
As we use our gifts in the church may the Lord guard our hearts from both pride and envy as we trust in God’s wisdom and sovereignty in gifting the members of the church. Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 1 Cor. 12.12-31 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians Paul begins his discussion of spiritual gifts. This topic brings up a lot of questions about certain spiritual gifts (tongues and prophecies), and Paul will answer some of those questions. For now, however, Paul wants us to know 3 key things about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.1-11.
- Know You (as a Christian) are gifted. In v. 7 Paul says that “each” is given a gift. In vv. 1-3 Paul explains who “each” is: all Christians who have called on Jesus as their Lord and Savior. All Christians are gifted by the Holy Spirit, because all Christians have been brought to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We could never have turned to Jesus without his sovereign work in our hearts. There is no “gifted” class in Christianity; all Christians are given certain spiritual gifts by the Lord.
- Know the source of your gifts. In vv. 4-11 Paul tells us that our gifts are given by the Holy Spirit. Our gifts reflect the unity and diversity in our Triune God. Paul lists some of these spiritual gifts in our text without much explanation. His point, however, is that because our gifts come from God, they are varied. We don’t pick our gifts; God distributes them. They are an act of grace on God’s part.
- Know the purpose of your gifts. In v. 7 Paul lays out two purposes of our spiritual gifts: 1) to manifest the Holy Spirit; 2) for the common good of the church. We experience the power of the Holy Spirit as we mutually benefit from the varied gifts in the Body of Christ. These gifts are not given to us for our own self-fulfillment, but for the good of others in the church.
Paul will go on to say a lot more about spiritual gifts in the rest of chapters 12-14, but for now we can start with these 3 basic truths that will inform our study of these chapters. May these truths also influence how we work with and serve one another in the church for God’s glory!
Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 1 Cor. 12.1-11 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan