CALLED TO SERVE, Week 3, Strengthening the Church, Pastor Steve

Called to Serve, Week 3

Strengthening the Church:  1 Cor 14

I. Strengthening the Church: Love and Encouragement

  A. Love is the Highest Goal

14 Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. 

  1. We discussed Love last week in ch.13, yet here it is again so that we are reminded that love is at the heart of our Gifts.
  2. ‘Especially the ability to prophesy’ …boldly and fearlessly proclaiming God’s truth.

28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles…1 Corinthians 12:28

 B. Prophecy Strengthens the Church

For if you have the ability to speak in tongues,  you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

  1. ‘Strengthens others…by building up the Truth
  2. ‘Encourages them’…toward obedience in their Faith
  3. ‘Comforts them’…in times of Trouble

C. Prophecy is Better than Speaking Other Languages

I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler (Bugler definition, a brass wind instrument resembling a cornet)  doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?

  1. Paul is arguing that Speaking Other Languages is important, but Prophecy is greater, more helpful and more Clear .

[As you read through this chapter, you discover that there is a true gift of tongues. It is mentioned in Chapter 12, and it was very much in evidence in the church at Corinth. If we ask what was the nature of this gift, we discover that it was a gift of languages.]

2. Prophecy is Understandable.

It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

II. Strengthening the Church: Clarity and Understanding

10 There are many different languages in the  world, and every language has meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. 12 And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

 A. Pray with Understanding…13 So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. 14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.

  1. How can People Participate in the Church Service is they don’t Understand ?

15 Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? 

[Many present Acts 2, as a place tongs were spoken, but what was spoken was the languages of those who were present. They heard these men speaking in tongues, that is, speaking in languages as the Spirit gave them utterance; and they said to each other,

“they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.” {cf, Acts 2:6-8}.]

2. If People don’t Understand, they are not Being Strengthened!

17 You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

3. 5 Understandable Words > 10,000 Unknown Words

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. 19 But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

III. Strengthening the Church: Growth and Unity

20 Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. 21 It is written in the Scriptures: “I will speak to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they will not listen to me,” says the Lord. (Isa 28:11

A. Paul is Challenging the Church to Grow Up

  1. We must strive to be Innocent of Evil and Convicted of Faith

    a. The Corinthians are acting like Children in the Church

    b. However, We Should Grow Up and  Listen to God

2. How can we Grow Up if People Think We’re Crazy?

23 Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. 

  • “Tongues is a sign…for unbelievers” If Unbelievers don’t understand…They won’t get it and Think your Crazy! 
  1. Paul is arguing…Therefore there Shouldn’t be Confusing Tongues in Church

C. However, if We use Real Words through Prophecy, People will Understand and Worship God!

24 But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. 25 As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”

Side Note: No where in the Bible except for this Passage is the  Greek or Hebrew word for ‘tongues’ used as anything different than as a tongue to talk, to eat, to say bad things, etc.IV.

IV. Strengthening the Church: Proper and Orderly Worship

26 Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

A. Do things in Order and Listen to Each Other! (vv28,30,34,40)

  • First, Silence those who Speak in Tongues without an Interpreter

[No Interpreter, No Word…If Someone wants to Speak in a Tongues, or Another Language, Someone needs to Interpret or Everyone must be Silent.]

27 No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, & someone must interpret what they say. 28 But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.

  • Second, Prophecy is great, but it must Stop for a Revelation from the Lord

29 Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.   30 But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop… 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.

  • Third, Women must be Silent so People can hear the Message 

34 Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. 35 If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.

  • Note: Paul does not  forbid women to speak in church…  “But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head.”   1 Corinthians 11:5
  • Note 2: No where in the discussions of Spiritual Gifts does it mention they are for Only Men, nor does it say Women Can’t Use their Gifts in the Church.
  • Everyone to be Silent when Someone is Speaking:   3 Groups are pointed out…Those Speaking in Tongues, those Prophesying, and Women who are Disturbing the Church.
  • Remember, Paul is discussing primarily the Disruption of Worship

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.” 1 Peter 4:10-11

  1. Be Sure….“Everything is done Properly and in Order.” (vv.36-40)

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”  Romans 12:6-7

God has given us, all of us, Gifts to serve His Church and grow His Church up in Health and Unity.  As we said at the Beginning, Let love be our highest goal!