Todays readings.. 2 Kings 5, Lamentations 1, 1 Corinthians 14
Today we read the completion, in chapter 14, of Paul’s earnest advice to the Corinthians to cease their misuse of the gift of speaking in tongues, that is, other languages, as had taken place in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). He sets the gift of tongues in contrast to the gift of prophecy – this gift did not give the ability to predict future events, but, as Paul expresses it, “the one who prophecies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”[14 v.3] and “the one who prophesies builds up the church.” [v.4]. Only one man, Agabus, (Acts 21 v.10) is mentioned in New Testament times, apart from the Apostles, as making predictions about the future.
It is worth noting that Paul says, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” [v.18,19]. It is evident that, because of Paul’s widespread travels, he had the need to be able to speak in many different languages.
Now we particularly note his ‘punch’ line in the next verse, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” [v.20]. The way to be mature today is to prayerfully read the word of God every day, and really think about what you read.. Paul goes on to tell them, “When you come together … let all things be done for building up” [v.26]. If someone did have the gift of tongues they were to keep silent unless there was someone who could give a translation. [v.28] The best procedure in their gatherings was to “let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what was said.” [v.29]
How excellent is such a procedure, that of weighing up what is said in Bible Classes and at other times – it is not a matter of having a ‘minister’ who does all the talking and all the rest, the listening: but sadly that is largely the way in churches today – there is rarely any weighing up of what is said as to whether it is soundly based on the word of God.
The last 2 verses in the chapter tell us, “ … my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” We have seen that phrase about not forbidding to speak in tongues repeatedly quoted by those who advocate Pentecostalism today! But Paul drew his thought to a conclusion [Ch. 13 v. 8] by stating “as for tongues, they will cease”.
The last verse of that chapter names the 3 things that were to abide, that is, continue. Do you possess those 3 things? We must be mature in our thinking – let us all feed ever more zealously and carefully on God’s word.