(1 Corinthians 14:20-25)
One of the great concerns Paul had with the Corinthian church was about speaking in tongues, and especially the use of the spiritual gifts in the church setting.
The church in Corinth had obviously asked Paul about the spiritual gifts for he was answering their various questions. Of most importance Paul was telling them that if they desired the spiritual gifts, they should seek those that would assist in the ministry and the building up of the church.
Now speaking in tongues is one of the most common of the spiritual gifts for it is the sign of the spirit given to those who have received the Holy Spirit, either through laying on of hands or where God has directly intervened to give them the Holy Spirit. Examples of both instances can be readily seen in Acts 19:1-6 and Acts chapter 2 respectively.
But what is most important about tongues, as well as all the other gifts, is knowing when to use them properly and in an orderly manner, and Paul speaks to this issue in this and subsequent sections of this chapter.
(1 Corinthians 14:13-19)
In my recent posts I have been looking at the gift of tongues and breaking down some of the false teachings and myths. The only truth we should listen to is the truth that is from God as written in the bible, and much of the truth about speaking in tongues is contained in the words of this chapter of the bible.
I have covered the fact that tongues was not just given to the early church for the purpose of spreading the gospel and that after the gospel age they were no longer necessary. This teaching, common in the modern church, is a lie perpetrated by those who have not received the gift of tongues and who do not understand the purpose and power of the gift of tongues.
Now this section of scripture further strengthens the fact that tongues are not for spreading the gospel. We see Paul discuss one of the purposes tongues are for and he also shows another proof why tongues were not for spreading the gospel.
(1 Corinthians 14:6-12)
As I mentioned in my last post, there is a commonly held myth in the modern church that tongues were given only to the early church so that they could spread the gospel. Likewise it is held by these same people today that there is now no need for tongues.
Both of these beliefs are false. Tongues are a gift from God and are as much available to believers today as they were in the early church. But they are not and never were given to teach or to proselytise or make disciples in the early church.
And in this section of scripture, Paul absolutely smashes that idea out of the park. It is a false teaching in the modern church and should be discarded and rejected if you seek the truth.
(1 Corinthians 14:2-5)
This chapter of Paul's letter to the Corinthians covers a great deal about speaking in tongues. In it we learn much about what speaking in tongues is, and what it is for.
Be built up by speaking in tongues
There are many myths in the modern church about the gift of tongues and if people would read and understand this chapter, many of those myths would be torn down.
Speaking in tongues is important for the development of our walk with Jesus Christ. The gift is given to us for a very definite purpose, and this chapter covers a number of the aspects of that purpose.
So let us do some myth busting and see what this is all about in these few verses, and we will continue the discussion of tongues and the ramifications of having or not having the gift as we continue in the next few posts.
(1 Corinthians 14:1)
In several of my recent posts I have looked at the gifts of the spirit and the love of God. The love of God is the only thing that is eternal for God is love and He is eternal.
The gifts of the spirit do not continue on forever but that does not mean they are not important. In fact they are critical to us now in this age if we want to find the path of God’s love.
I have made this point also in my most recent posts where I have discussed both the gifts of the spirit and the love of God. Just because love is the “more excellent way” as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 12:31, we cannot ignore the need for the gifts of the spirit. Just because “love never ends” as we saw in 1 Corinthians 13:8, it does not mean we should ONLY pursue love to the exclusion of th gifts of the spirit sent by God.
I have made both these points in previous posts and now we see Paul saying exactly that here in this verse also.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)
There are a few scriptures in the bible that are so well known that many people, even non-Christians know them or recognise them when they hear them. For example, John 3:16 or Psalm 23. And this verse too is another of those that are well known, especially among Christians.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Geometrically speaking, the strongest design that can be made is a triangle. And triangles are used to strengthen many building structures so they do not break or fall. Likewise when someone is trying to be located, authorities will triangulate their position to pinpoint exactly where they might be.
So too this triangle of faith, hope and love is powerful and strong, and in this triangle also the way to Christ and the way of God is located.
(1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
Like the circle of a wedding ring, love never ends
Everything pertaining to this world and this life are temporary. Even the earth, sun, stars and the universe are only temporary. Everything we can see, everything we know will not last.
Except for God's love.
Only love is eternal and only God's love never ends. His love goes on forever and ever because God is love and He is eternal.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Of all the questions mankind has asked, from poets to philosophers, academics to artists, this is perhaps the most profound and mysterious of all: what is love?
What is love?
Love is so fundamental to the human condition that it forms part of our DNA. It is part of our nature to seek, hope for and long to love and to be loved.
No man is an island, as some wise man once wrote, and it is true. To be an island is to be separated and held apart from all others, and the most severe of separations is the separation from love.
But the challenge for all mankind is to learn to understand love not as man sees it, but how God sees it. To be separated from ones fellow man is dire indeed, but to be separated from the love of God is catastrophic, for to be in His love is life, but to be separated from His love is death.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Over my last few posts I have discussed the ministry gifts and spiritual gifts that are given to both individuals and to the church. These gifts are given for the purpose of building up either the individual or the church body as a whole.
The spiritual gifts are very important. They are critical to the growth and maturity of the church when they are operating correctly.
However, spiritual gifts are not the MOST important thing. They are not the be-all and end-all of the walk we have in Jesus Christ. Paul shows this after discussing the gifts in the previous chapter, which he finishes by saying, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.” So let us now look at what could be better and what is “more excellent” even than the gifts of the holy spirit.
(1 Corinthians 12:26-31)
The modern church for the most part has watered down the ministries of the new covenant to the point where most of the gifts of ministry have ceased to exist. This is especially true of the miraculous and spiritual gifts of God that He gave to the church for the express purpose of building up the church so that it could stand in the face of opposition.
Now I am the first to point out that the gifts are not going to bring anyone to salvation. You do not need to be able to perform miracles, walk on water, speak in tongues, prophesy by the spirit, carry out miraculous hearings or cast out demons to be saved. None of these things are necessary for salvation.
However, the gifts have been provided to the church to help us as we walk with Christ. They are meant to provide insight, spiritual help and guidance as we walk in the faith that will bring us to salvation in Jesus Christ. Thus Paul says here in verse 31,
But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. – (1 Corinthians 12:31)