(1 Corinthians 14:36-40)
In these last few verses of this chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 we see Paul make a couple of fascinating statements. And these are statements we need to listen to carefully with respect to the contents of this chapter because Paul makes it clear that these words are not just his thoughts and ideas, but they are the commands from the Lord.
The essence of what is written in this chapter primarily deals with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically relating to speaking in tongues and prophesying. He also speaks about running the church in an orderly fashion and provides a template for how a general worship meeting should be conducted. I covered all of these matters in some detail in my previous posts on this chapter, and you can flip back to those using the “previous” tags and keys at the top or bottom of this post.
But in summary here we should look at what Paul is emphasising as being of importance, not just from his words but by the command of the Lord.
The Command of the Lord
First off let us look at the first two verses of this section which say,
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 14:36-37)
If any person at that time, and again if any person today believes they are a prophet or in the spirit in any way whatsoever, then they must acknowledge that what Paul was writing about in this chapter is a command from the Lord.
It should be enough to just accept the words of Paul for the wisdom that they are, knowing that he was blessed by the Lord to teach us all down to this day. However, if we were in any way sceptical, there is another way we could determine whether the words Paul is offering are indeed a command of the Lord or not.
The whole of the bible is consistent. There is no error in the doctrine of the bible or the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new covenant that He brought into effect through His blood.
Know that this is so, then the best way we can test whether these words are true is to consider them in the light of the rest of the bible. Do they hold together with what the rest of the bible tells us?
Yes they do. If we consider the two major issues Paul is speaking of here, prophecy and speaking in tongues, then we need to consider where else these things are mentioned that are consistent with these words of Paul.
We know that prophecy was used both in the Old Testament times as well as in the New Testament. Prophecy was given to the old and New Testament people for the purpose of warning them, teaching and building them up. The Lord saw fit through the use of prophecy to let His people know what was about to happen and to prepare accordingly.
And it his is exactly what Paul is saying in this chapter regarding prophecy. It is why he told the Corinthian church that if they were seeking the gifts of the spirit, to focus on prophecy for the purpose of building up the church. So on the prophecy matter it is evident that Paul’s words do concur with what is written elsewhere in the bible and so that part can be accepted readily and easily as being consistent with the commands of the Lord.
Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in tongues is an area that is much disputed today in the church at large, but it too must meet the test of consistency with the rest of the bible.
Now there was no evidence of people speaking in tongues in the Old Testament, so there is nothing there we can compare to. But there were references to receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues in the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. For instance,
11 For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people, 12 to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear. – (Isaiah 28:11-12)
He said through the prophet Isaiah that men of strange tongues would speak, but the people would not listen. So too today many do not listen and refuse to accept speaking in tongues as part of the promise of the Lord.
Everyone also is aware of the events of Pentecost Day when the disciples first received the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues, as described in Acts chapter 2. This was a momentous event and the beginning of the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ways of the new covenant which were promised through the prophet Joel who said,
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. – (Joel 2:28-29)
The apostle Peter quoted these verses on Pentecost Day to all who were there so that they would understand this was the fulfilment of the prophecy from God of His promise to give the Holy Spirit to all mankind who come to Him.
And one of the primary pieces of evidence of the receiving of the Holy Spirit then, as it was later and is still today, is that those who received the Holy Spirit spoke in new tongues.
Jesus Himself also said of those who receive the Holy Spirit and are born of the Holy Spirit that you would know them because you would hear the sound of the spirit. And what is the sound of the Holy Spirit? Speaking in tongues or prophesying.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – (John 3:5-8)
So we see that speaking in tongues is an important part of the new covenant. And in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul speaks many things about prophesying and speaking in tongues. But most I,porta fly the messages he tells us of these things is that they should not be taken lightly or ignored because they are a command of the Lord.
Finally Paul tells us that these things, prophecy and speaking in tongues are extremely important. We must recognise they are important and do something about them.
Unfortunately in the modern church there are many who do not recognise the importance of these two gifts of the spirt and who ignore them. Some even reject them completely and others relegate them to things that were needed in times past but not for today. Such thinking is wrong and is a trap of the devil to keep the people of the Lord in bondage when The Lord offers freedom.
Note Paul’s words in the last few verses here.
38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order. – (1 Corinthians 14:38-40)
First, he says it is important to recognise these things are a command of the Lord and thus they should not be ignored.
Second he says that we should earnestly desire to prophesy because this will help to build up the church. But note also that with respect to speaking in tongues Paul is quite adamant.
“Do not forbid speaking in tongues”
This applies even more today than then in my opinion.too many church people have rejected or relegated tongues for many reasons, all based on false teaching and false assumptions.
Tongues are given for a specific purpose to help us in our walk with Christ and to reject His gift is to severely hamper your walk. So do not forbid speaking in tongues but seek to receive the Holy Spirit and this gift from God. And also seek the gift of prophecy to build the church up as Paul strongly recommends.
And finally, ensure that in everything you do, do so in an orderly manner. God is not a God of confusion but of peace. We too need to be ordered and consistent in our worship of Him.
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