I was so greatly encouraged while I read this portion of Scripture today. The greatest encouragement came from the power of the Holy Spirit as He led me into a wonderful time of praise and worship of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. God our Father is so good to us, and He has been so gracious as to equip us with everything that is essential to faithful and fruitful life in Jesus Christ.
I started with that wonderful love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. Of course, as I read the attributes of love, I was convicted of how short I fall from that perfection. But as I continued to read 1 Corinthians 14 the very first verse gave my heart great encouragement, and my ardor to the Lord Jesus Christ greatly increased as I believed His Word.
1 Pursue love, and desire the spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching….12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, buy my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God that I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature…39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 12-20; 39-40
By divine inspiration we are encouraged by our beloved brother Paul to pursue love, to keep endeavoring to aspire to that perfection, and to desire spiritual gifts. He calls us, by God’s Spirit, to especially desire the spiritual gift of prophesy. It seems the dear Corinthian believers were focusing on the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues so that the church was missing out on God’s gracious provision of edification through the spiritual gift of prophesying. Speaking in tongues led to disorderly and confusing meetings. Paul wanted his beloved brethren to exercise both spiritual gifts but in the context of order, decency, and peace. The Holy Spirit directed the believers to follow certain practices for the purpose of edifying and peaceful gatherings.
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusions but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 1 Corinthians 14:26-38
There must be orderliness to the operation of the gifts of the Spirit within the assembly of believers. Today we are witnessing two extremes that overthrow this portion of God’s Word. The first involves manifestations of demonic spirits that gives anti-biblical experiences to those who are overcome by these deceiving spirits. Much that passes for spiritual experiences falls into this category. No one is edified, there is great confusion, indecency and wickedness abound, as one would expect when demons are involved.
The other extreme are those who say the spiritual gifts are not for today. The Holy Spirit is not giving the gift of tongues nor the gift of prophesy. This not only contradicts what God said through Paul in his letter to the Corinthians but it also gainsays what Peter said on the day of Pentecost when he quoted the prophet Joel.
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh: Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. Acts 2:16-18
The last days end when Christ returns. This epoch, as determined by God, is the timeframe we are living in while we await Christ’s return. Many who want to deny that spiritual gifts are extant today have no problem with saying we are living in the last days when it comes to the sinfulness of man by quoting 2 Timothy 3:1-5. That portion of Scripture begins with these words and ends with this warning:
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:…5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1&5
But they want to deny the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days and say He only gave spiritual gifts until the Scriptures were complete. When was that? Was it when the New Testament was canonized by religious councils? Or was it complete right after the books were written, obviously right after the books were written. The spiritual gifts were still being bestowed upon believers by the Holy Spirit even after the gospels, epistles, and Acts were all written and being shared throughout God’s church. The leaders within the visible church who deny the bestowing of spiritual gifts upon Jesus Christ’s children forget the end of the passage they like to quote about the wretched state of the church in the last days. They forget the part that says false teachers and false brethren have a form of godliness but deny its power. Where do we get power for godliness? We get that power from the Holy Spirit. They need to be careful and examine this portion of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 14, under the power of the Holy Spirit so they can rightly divide the Word of truth!
Anyway, while reading and meditating upon this portion of Scripture I was encouraged that speaking in tongues is for personal edification. By the power of the Holy Spirit I said a very short phrase in a tongue, it wasn’t gobbledygook, and immediately I had this wonderful release of ardent praise and adoration of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. What glorious refreshment! Speaking in tongues is for personal edification.
I was further edified by the truth that prophesy is for exhortation, edification and comfort. I love this aspect of the gift of prophesy. I am encouraged in this gift by the example of Philip’s four virgin daughters who all prophesied, and by the promise of God that He would pour out His Spirit upon His menservants and maidservants and they would prophesy. Prophesying is for the edification of others.
When we realize these gifts are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit for the strengthening of our faith and practice, as taught in the Bible, by the Holy Spirit, then we can pursue these spiritual gifts for edification of our brethren and the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ may we pursue love and spiritual gifts for Your glory and the edification of our brethren.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of sprits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11