Earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
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 nevertheless, in church I prefer to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20 Brothers and sisters, 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 not for unbelievers, but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church gathers together and all the people speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are insane? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an outsider 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, brothers and sisters? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. All things are to be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two or at the most three, and each one in turn, and one is to interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he is to keep silent in church; and have him speak to himself and to God. 29 Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, then the first one is to 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, 34 the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or was it from you that the word of God first went out? Or has it come to you only?
37 If anyone thinks that 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 brothers and sisters, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly way.
In today’s text Paul says: As in all the churches of the saints, the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God first went out? Or has it come to you only? I don’t want to focus on this. I believe there is more than enough evidence, both scripturally and historically, to support that women do have a place in worship and ministry. I think that it is okay for individual churches to determine what those roles are in that body. I will though, make one observation. Many of those who would hold most closely to what Paul says here about women, are also those who would say that prophecy and tongues are no longer part of the church today. It can be a slippery slope when we begin to pick and choose which scriptures we will hold to and which ones we will disregard or discard.
Today’s text ends saying: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly way. Let’s begin with tongues. I think it is important that Paul makes a distinction between a word given in a tongue for the edification of others and praying or singing in the Spirit. A word given in a tongue could be given in an earthly language or a heavenly language, but in order for it to edify others, there must be an interpretation into a common language of the people. The possible exception to that was seen and heard at Pentecost. Acts 2:5-11 says: Now there were Jews residing in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together and they were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty deeds of God.” In that case it was the Holy Spirit who interpreted, or perhaps more accurately translated the words.
Today’s text began with Paul saying: I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I prefer to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. A few verses prior to that Paul said: If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the mind also. There is a benefit to praying and singing in the Spirit, even if our minds are not benefitted. We need to elevate the place of the Spirit in our lives. We need to yield to the Spirit rather than to our own minds. In 1 Corinthian 2:11 it says: For who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God. If we want to know the mind of God, it is the Holy Spirit who will reveal it to us. Romans 8:26-27 says: The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. It is one thing for us to pray as Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come. Your will be done, but the Spirit knows God’s will for us and for the situation and intercedes according to God’s will.
I want to touch briefly on prophecy. It is perhaps one of the most controversial gifts in the church. One of the reasons for that is because there are many false prophets and so, the response of many is to simply eliminate all prophets so that false prophets will not be given a voice. There are also many false teachers and preachers. We don’t eliminate all teaching and preaching so that the false teachers will not be given a voice. That would be like getting rid of all of our money because there is counterfeit money. Instead, we need to learn to discern what is true and what is false. When people are trained to recognize counterfeits, they don’t do it by studying what is false, but rather by becoming intimately familiar with what is true. We need to become intimately familiar with what God says in scripture so that we can discern if He is speaking through a prophet. On a personal note, for anyone who has ever experienced a prophetic word spoken to or over them, it is one of the most edifying experiences a person can have. To be in a room full of strangers and have someone speak about your hurts and your hopes; your discouragement and your dreams, confirms that God truly sees, knows and cares. “Daily Nuggets” and “Veins of Truth”, are the partial fulfillment of a prophetic word spoken to me over 20 years ago. We may never know what the result or outcome will be of a word of encouragement or exhortation that we give to another person. It may cause just a small ripple like a stone thrown in a pond, or it may extend across oceans.
In Isaiah 55:8-11 God says: My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it produce and sprout, And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it. Amen. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. Amen.