UTAWALA BAPTIST CHURCH
To Build HIS Church
Scripture reading Ephesians 4:11-14
When considering Spiritual gifts we must consider the Great Commission
Two purposes for the church
Evangelism reaching the lost!
Edification maturing or teaching the brethren.
Introduction: remember that 1 Cor. 12 through 1 Cor. 14 is dealing with the spiritual gifts which God gives to His followers for the work of the ministry.
Believers are gifted to minister and to help people in their desperate need for life, both life abundant and life eternal.
However, when men focus upon their gifts and abilities, the problems of pride, arrogance, superiority, and super-spirituality always arise.
There are always some people who feel that their gifts and abilities make them better and more favored and privileged than others.
This is exactly what happened to the Corinthian church, and it is what has happened to multitudes of believers since that day.
The gift of tongues is especially subject to pride and super-spirituality because it involves an utterance as opposed to ordinary human language.
The point is this: all gifts are given by the Lord as HE will!.
Each gift had its place in fulfilling the mission of the Lord
The present passage is a contrast of the gift of tongues with prophecy.
proph•e•cy also proph•e•sy \ˈprä-fə-sē\ noun
plural proph•e•cies also proph•e•sies
[Middle English prophecie, from Old French, from Late Latin prophetia, from Greek prophēteia, from prophētēs prophet]
1 : an inspired utterance of a prophet
2 : the function or vocation of a prophet; specifically : the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose
3 : a prediction of something to come
1. GIFTS are to be coveted—especially prophecy (v.1).
2. The difference between tongues and prophecy (v.2-5).
3. The problem with tongues (v.6-14).
4. The gift of tongues and Paul’s personal worship (v.15-20).
5. The purpose of tongues and prophecy (v.21-25).
1. (14:1) Gifts, Spiritual— Prophecy: gifts are to be coveted, especially prophecy.
Note two points.
1. Love is to be pursued above all else in life.
Gifts, abilities, and service are important; but they pale into insignificance in comparison with love
Pursue, to persist, to continue on and on, never giving up until love is possessed.
2. Spiritual gifts are to be desired. We are to pursue love first!
3. We are to use and develop the spiritual gifts of God.
The more we love God and men, the more we covet the gifts of God so that we can minister and help the world of men more effectively.
4. The word “desire” means to covet earnestly; to be zealous and ambitious for.
2. (14:2-5) Tongues, Gift of— Prophecy: the difference between tongues and
The differences between tongues and prophecy are threefold.
1. Tongues are addressed to God, whereas prophecy is addressed to men (1 Cor.
Very simply stated, Scripture declares that tongues do not edify or benefit men as much as prophecy. There are reasons for this.
a. Tongues are directed toward God; they are for God, for communion with Him, for sharing the mysteries (secret things) of God with God.
b. Tongues are not understood by men. Scripture is clear: “no man understands,” that is, hears, gets the sense, grasps the meaning of what is being said.
c. The believer who prophesies edifies, exhorts, and comforts men 1 Cor. 14:3.
Note the importance being laid upon proclaiming the message of the gospel in understandable terms.
Men can be reached and helped only as they can understand the message of believers.
The point is clear: the primary message upon our lips must be the gospel, and it must be understandable to all men.
2. Tongues edify self, whereas prophecy edifies the church (1 Cor. 14:4). The point
is clear: tongues are useful; they edify self. But prophecy is of much more benefit. The believer who prophesies edifies the whole church; he builds up far more people.
Note something else as well: the gift of tongues is focused upon self-edification, but the gift of prophecy is focused upon the ministry, upon the edification of others. Self-edification is, of course, important; but the ministry of edifying others is far more important.
3. Tongues were commendable, but prophecy is more commendable. This is a verse
that needs to be given close attention both by those who emphasize and by those who
minimize and deny tongues.
Paul would have liked for all to speak with tongues.
But it is far more important for all to prophecy and proclaim the gospel.
The prophet is far more important than the man who speaks in tongues.
Again, note that the stress is edification.
3. (14:6-14) Tongues, Gift of: the problem with tongues. There are two specific
problems with tongues that are discussed in these nine verses.
1. The first problem: tongues do not communicate in the church, not apart from some other gift (interpretation, 1 Cor. 14:13).
a. Paul himself, if he were to visiting Utawala Baptist Church, would not speak with tongues.
Why? Because his speaking in a tongue would not profit us. We would not be
able to understand what he was saying. His visit and proclamation would do us
no good. The only way his visit and words would help us would be if he
b. Musical instruments also illustrate the fact. Pipes (Greek, wind instruments) and harps (Greek, string instruments) must have a distinctive sound or else their sound is meaningless, confused, and nonsense—just not understood.
Musical instruments must communicate or else the music is unknown and fails to inspire the listeners.
c. A military trumpet illustrates the point. When the soldier blows the trumpet, he
must communicate or else the army is unprepared for the battle.
d. A person’s own speech is a fourth illustration. A person must speak words that
are understood or else the listeners do not know what he is saying.
e. Different foreign languages are a fifth illustration. Very simply, there are many
different voices (languages) in the world, and each language has its own
distinct speech. If a foreigner speaks to men and I do not understand what he is
I am as a barbarian, that is, as a dumb and senseless man to him.
He is as a barbarian, that is, as a dumb and senseless man to me.
He is of no use to me, not in sharing and communicating the gospel. What he has to say is meaningless, unintelligible, unprofitable, and of no value.
f. The point is striking: the believer who is zealous of spiritual gifts is to seek for
the gifts that edify the church.
A believer’s zeal is not to be dampened even if he has been misinformed and emphasizes the wrong gift.
He is to straighten out his emphasis, keep his zeal, and direct his energy to edifying the church.
The important gifts are those that build up people for Christ.
“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek
that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).
2. The second problem: tongues do not communicate even in prayer, not apart from
some other gift (interpretation).
The speaking in tongues in Acts seems to be the speaking of foreign languages.
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself” (1 Cor. 14:4).
Paul says, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in
the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding” (1 Cor.
The point is an eye-opener: even if a believer prays in an unknown tongue, it is
unfruitful unless he has the gift of interpretation. He has no idea what he is praying unless there is the gift of interpretation. His prayer is unfruitful and meaningless.
4. (14:15-20) Tongues, Gift of— Paul: Paul’s own personal worship and use of
tongues is covered in these six verses. He says three distinct things.
1. Paul worshiped by praying and singing both with the spirit and with the
understanding (1 Cor. 14:15-17).
Note a crucial point throughout this passage: Paul was not denying or forbidding the exercise of the gift of tongues.
He is insisting on the proper use of the gifts. He says that he himself will do it “with the understanding also.”
The stress is that he does not pray or sing without understanding.
He gives two reasons for this.
a. He wishes others to understand and to confirm what he prays and sings (1 Cor.
Agreeing and sharing in your prayer and praise is impossible, for no one understands what you are saying.
b. He wishes others to be edified (1 Cor. 14:17). The giving of thanks and prayer are not wrong; in fact, they are good. But if they are done in a tongue, others are not edified.
2. Paul speaks in tongues often, but in the church he always uses another gift (1 Cor.
14:18-19). Nothing could be any clearer about Paul’s practice of tongues than this verse:
Paul had the gift of tongues and used the gift more than “ye all.”
However, in church, he would rather speak five clearly understood words than
ten thousand words in a tongue.
To the honest and open reader, Paul’s point is clear: in the church, he used other gifts to worship and proclaim the gospel.
He used his gift of tongues in private worship only.
3. Paul STRONGLY urges one thing: understanding and edification.
This is a strong imperative, a forceful statement:
“Be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”
It seems as though “tongues” had so divided the Corinthian church that bitterness and malice had become quite a problem between some.
One thing was certain: there was to be no place for divisiveness over the gifts.
There was to be only love and mature understanding.
Believers are to be as mature men and women, not as children.
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye
children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20).
5. (14:21-25) Tongues, Gift of— Prophecy: the purpose of tongues and prophecy.
Three points are discussed.
1. Tongues were a sign to warn unbelievers; prophecy is a gift to edify believers.
The Old Testament passage quoted is Isaiah 28:11-12. The meaning seems to be a promise that God will bear witness to unbelieving Israel through many tongues (languages), yet they will still not hear Him.
Paul seems to be saying several things here.
a.Tongues are foreign languages, although they are often experienced in an
ecstatic moment and may not be understood by the speaker himself.
c. Tongues are a sign to warn unbelievers.
Unbelievers clearly saw the hand of God when a foreign believer is
suddenly and miraculously given the ability to witness to them in their
own native language.
Such was definitely the case at Pentecost (cp. Acts 2:6-13).
The believer who develops and uses his spiritual gifts experiences an exciting and exhilarating experience in his Christian walk.
This enables him to become the kind of witness he ought to be for the Lord Jesus Christ.
One thing is certain: God knows what every child of His needs to make that child the witness he ought to be.
He knows what experience and what gifts are needed—and He always provides these experiences and gifts.
Prophecy is primarily for believers, for their edification, strengthening, and comfort.
2. Tongues within the church confuse and harden unbelievers.
The point is clearly seen: tongues without interpretation cause a person to appear insane.
The tongue speaker seems to be babbling just like an insane person does. Tongues
are not to be used to reach people within the church.
2. Prophecy within the church convicts unbelievers. This is a great passage on the
effect of preaching upon unbelievers.
Note that although prophecy is primarily for believers and their edification, it is used by God to reach the lost as well.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said
unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we
do?” (Acts 2:37).
“For all those things hath mine handmade, and all those things have
been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor
and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
I Corinthians 14:24-25
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.