Each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation...
1 Corinthians 14:18-40 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Instruction for the Church
20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 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. 37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
Today’s text is headed “Instruction for the Church.” Paul says: When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. The early church was not set up to be a spectator event. Paul’s letter to the church has been encouraging them in unity and in the use of spiritual gifts. Now he is encouraging them that within the gifts each one could or should have something to share when they meet. In much of the church today a very small number of people speak or share while the majority sit back and listen. It is not that it is a bad thing to hear good preaching and teaching, but this type of structure creates an entertainment type of mentality, where the quality of the church service is gauged by the quality of the sermon or the music. The real purpose of gathering together is to corporately meet with God. Each person should be coming expecting an encounter with God, not to merely hear a good message about Him.
Paul ends the text today saying: But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. Therein lies the difficulty of not having a structure or format that has a few people sharing while the rest listen. If there is no program or plan, there will be confusion and chaos. Paul says: God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
One of the things we need to understand about the early church and really in many ways the even the church in our western culture as little as 100 years ago before the pace of life and the advances of transportation changed many of the dynamics. The gathering together to worship the Lord was not simply a one hour scheduled event that people came to and left when it was over. The day of gathering together was just that, a day of gathering. People took the day away from the normal activities and distractions of life. They came together, worshipped together, ate together and perhaps enjoyed recreation, games and activities together. For anyone who is my age or older, you probably remember the time when very few businesses were open on a Sunday. It was viewed as the Lord’s day. The other dynamic that has in many ways changed the church meeting is, as mentioned before, the advances in transportation. It used to be that people gathered together with and worshipped with the people who lived in their community, the people who they interacted with throughout the week. Most everyone already knew what was going on in each other’s lives. The times of fellowship were not about catching up on the latest gossip or where you had been on vacation, or the latest movie you had seen. The church is called to be a community of believers, sharing the common unity that they each have in Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christian fellowship then should be about sharing what the Lord is doing, what He is saying.
Whether it is good or unfortunate, we are not going back to those simpler times. The busyness of our lives and schedules makes it continually more difficult to set aside large blocks of time to fellowship with other believers. There are two things I would like to encourage us all to do. First when we do gather together with other believers, during the times of fellowship, before, after or during the service, rather than talk about the weather, talk about the one who controls the weather. Rather than telling someone about all the things you did this week tell them what God did. Just because you may not be scheduled to speak in front of the group does not mean that you should not have a new testimony of what God has done each week.
The other thing we as believers should realize is that although we may not worship and fellowship with the people we interact with throughout the week. Our neighbors and our coworkers may not be believers. Still they are all God’s children. We do have community with them. It may not be the common unity we share in Christ, but we do share time, space and other things with them. Many of us are with coworkers more than we are with our own families. We need to recognize that we are all called to be lights in the world, that we are called to impact our communities, where we live, where we work, where we go to school, where we shop. Of course just as in church, what we share in these places must be done “properly and in an orderly manner.” When we are working we need to do our jobs. We should not be overbearing with friends, neighbors and coworkers. Galatians 5:25 says: If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. In Luke 12:8-12 Jesus was talking about testifying of Him, He says: “ I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God… When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” If we are to be able to trust the Holy Spirit with what to say when we are “on trial” surely we can trust the Holy Spirit to give us the right words to say to our friends, neighbors and coworkers. Prophesy, words of wisdom, discernment and words of knowledge are all gifts of the Spirit that God can use to reach people around us if we will yield to and walk in the Spirit.
Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) So today as you head out to the community where God has placed you, bring a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, bring a word from the God of creation to those you encounter. Make sure to “let all things be done for edification, properly and in an orderly manner.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, I yield to You. I ask that indeed You would give me the words to say and the opportunity to speak. I pray that today, You indeed would be glorified in and through my life, in the community where You have placed me. Amen