All Things for Upbuilding
All things for Upbuilding
1 Corinthians 14
Have you ever come into something that you were not quite ready for? It may be waking up in the morning and one of your kids runs up to you wanting to go play baseball, or you come home and your spouse starts going on about something that happened and that you need to do immediately but you are not even sure what they are talking about. Maybe it’s in the office and you were late to the team meeting and once you get there you realize they have figured everything out, gave you a new assignment, and you need a little time to get oriented to what is going on.
I think today’s passage may be a little like that. You may not be quite ready, and you may need a little help getting oriented to what is going on.
We are in a series in which we are going through the book of Corinthians. In chapter 12 a discussion began on spiritual gifts and how everyone is gifted to serve the Lord. Chapter 13 was about the place of love and being motivated by love to serve others. This week it continues and it drops down into a couple gifts, mainly tongues and prophecy. We are going to read this passage, get oriented to it, and then I think we will be able to apply it better at the end. It’s a hard passage, and I have found sometimes these hard passages help us grow the most.
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. 6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. 26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 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. 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 14:1-40 ESV)
Let’s look at this. We did not read the whole passage because we have enough to get through with just this portion.
I think the first thing to understand is what is tongues and prophecy?
- What are these gifts?
Some have said these gifts do not continue today. That argument was first made very early in church history, but I don’t think it’s an exegetically sound. In the preceding chapter 13:10 it was said tongues will cease when the perfect comes. I don’t know about you but it doesn’t seem like perfection has come.
According to a Pew Forum analysis of estimates from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians in the world. (For definitions, see Defining Christian Movements.) 584 million charismatic of 2 billion Christians.
Maybe a better way. They continue, but not everyone is gifted with them (1 Cor 12), and they also need to be pursued, and even more they need to be used according to Scripture.
Tongues is speaking in a different language, a language that God knows.
4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
Sometimes it is spirit led. In Acts 2 Peter was preaching and others heard him speaking in their own native language.
In this passage tongues seems to be more of ones own volition and even discipling to speak to God. It is done for their personal edification, unless there is one to interpret. If there is no one to interpret you keep it to yourself.
Prophecy. May think of prophecy as: tell me who is going to win the election, what numbers are coming up in the lotto. I turned the TV on this week and there were people prophesying God is going to bless you, take you to the next income bracket. Someone needs to speak this prophecy over you to activate the blessing of God. I think that’s nonsense.
Biblical prophecy is primarily concerned with helping others know and follow God. God is more concerned with you honoring him than knowing those things. He wants you to follow him. It draws you into a deeper relationship with him. Not saying those other things can’t happen, but the norm being held out to us is prophecy strengthens us to know and follow God according to the word of revelation.
24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
Some have defined prophecy as preaching, but if he meant preaching I think he would have said that. There is a supernatural element and or insight to it that goes beyond teaching.
I think these gifts continue, and while there is some mystery with them, they should be used according to God’s word. We can’t judge people’s hearts, but we can tell where the gifts are not being used according to his purpose, and where we see people using this in ways that go against God’s intention we do have a right to question motives and legitimacy.
- Gifts are for the Edification of the Church.
3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4 ESV)
Prophecy is to build people up. It is to be according to God’s word.
This is one of my favorite words in the new testament. Oikodomeo, it means to build up, strengthen. We need to build others up. Like building a sand castle at the beach and one of the sides starts to fall, so you put more sand on it. We need spiritual eyes to see how we can build one another up.
This is the primary concern of this passage. What happens in this passage revolves around the call to love others. Connection with chapter 13 and this chapter. It can be awkward talking about this subject. Some get uneasy.
V1 Pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
Paul wants to see the church built up and strengthened. The value of gifts find their place and purpose in this.
Most today, and perhaps even the Corinthians, were esteeming gifts based on the notoriety it brings to them. We value gifts not for what it does for me but for what it does for other people.
Every person’s calling.
V26 When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
Coming to the church pot luck without a dish. We need to come together ready to share what God is doing in our life.
Their service was not to come and hear a monologue. They came to use their gifts. To share what God had done. Share a teaching. Share a revelation. Has God shown you something this week? Then talk about it.
Coming to service everyone is coming to build one another up. Not coming with an attitude of I’m here and can just kick back. Going to the gym rather than a movie.
He prioritizes word based gifts. intelligible
Big Idea: Pursue love and use your gifts to build up others.
- Pursue Gifts with Zeal
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1Co 14:1 ESV)
Desire the greater gifts.
It starts with a desire for more. Do you desire to be used by God? We come to church to be served. This church is not meeting me in this place. Jesus didn’t call you to come to him to get everything you want. He called you to give away your life. How much are you leaning forward in your service to God. Are you looking to be used, to be stretched?
I think the church is languishing today because people simply want to critique it and not get their hands dirty. I love Jesus but not God’s people. How unchristlike is that! The problem isn’t the church. It’s that you are not willing to do very much for him. Are you eager to be hurt, to be critiqued. He died for his people. They rejected him. You sit there doing nothing while people are dying and going to hell. What’s it going to take for you to wake up.
Your zeal for God is marked by your pursuit of blessing his people. Who have you edified this week? Last week.
He encourages the verbal gifts. It makes sense seeing we have a message to take to others. A message to build people into. May have a gift of serving, or administration. That’s good. But desire to do things that communicate the message. Don’t have to preach on Sunday, but are you able to communicate what God has done in your life and how it affects the way you administrate?
- Humility before God and others.
It’s really amazing what he is saying.
Prophecy is also guided by and submitted Scripture.
-V37 If anyone is a prophet let him acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lords command.”
-Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. (1Co 14:29 ESV)
As Chrstians we believe 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In Scripture we have everything we need. NT prophecy encourages and builds people up, but we also are not in dire straits if we do not have.
It is also done in humility to others. V29 “Two or at the most three should speak.” This is amazing. A couple people share what they have, another comes up with a “word from the Lord,” and the pastor says, “Brother, Thank you but we have already had three please have a seat!” Can you imagine that today. People would flip out!”
This tells you something of the nature of the prophecy going on. We are built up by it, but also believe God’s word is sufficient.
-Order requires humility. Love for others allows this. Expression of love for God and others.
Is this a seeker church? Yes and no. I think every church is like that to a degree. We pay attention to who is and is not there. There are things we do for outsiders and things we don’t do. When we love God and love others it gives us freedom in what we do in service.
I believe speaking in tongues and prophecy are gifts for today. I also believe that if I brought some of my friends in and they see someone rattling off a tongue on stage they would be out of here. And some of you may be as well. We don’t want to forbid speaking in tongues (14:39). We want to be open to it, and at the same time have a sense that we want people to hear the gospel when they come in. We want them to hear why we are excited and singing and dancing and going through challenges with incredible hope.
**Are you seeking to encourage others with Scripturally informed words and messages that help others know and serve God more fully?**
Let’s do all things to edify and build others up. What can you do this week to verbally encourage others. Be eager for this. Don’t be concerned with prophetic or not. Be concerned with edification. God may give you a word an encouragement a hymn a revelation. Do you have eyes to see where others are hurting.
Encourage you to share things that might build up others in their faith.
- Is this biblical?
- Is this encouraging?
This is something we could grow in. This is our mission as a church.
Take a minute to pray and think about how you can grow and encourage