Signs - Prophesy and Tongues
Instruction for the Church
Last week we spoke about the 3 spiritual gift categories given to the church - motivational, manifestational, and ministerial gifts. Each of these describes each one of us and what God has infused in us to do the work of the ministry. It was the thing that happened when God came by his Holy Spirit after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As with all things human, things can get out of hand and go dreadfully wrong. And as we look at the Pentecostal church in Corinth, the gifts were being used in full operation and there came issues and problems that Paul had to sort out, not that we would know about issues and problems because at Georgian Shores we’re perfect!
So in chapter 14 of Corinthians, Paul addresses an issue. Its about the gift of Tongues and the prophetic gifting. Here's the big qualification - In verse 14:1 1 Paul exhorts the church to pursue love – pointing back to what he just said in chapter 13, but earnestly desire spiritual gifts. So read chapter 13 of Corinthians because that is what drives what he is about to say in chapter 14
This morning I would like to speak into the reason behind earnestly desiring two specific gifts that Paul speaks into in 1 Cor 14. And this message I call - Signs
Lee Emerson, lead song writer and vocalist for a Canadian band called the 5 man electrical band, wrote a song. The song was called signs. Chorus goes “Signs, signs, every where’s a sign, blockin out the scenery, breaking my mind, do this, don’t do that can’t you read the sign…
We understand through our upbringing to watch for signs. We watch the sky for hints toward whether changes. We look to the side of the road as we are driving… we have been conditioned to watch for the signs… We say things like - it’s “a sign of the times”.
“Signs” have always been in use by God to show His mighty power. It started all the way in the Old Testament. When the Holy Spirit was ever present, scripture notes that he usually showed up in the presence of wind and fire – these were signs of his presence, God’s Presence. We read scripture like
Ex 3:2 Fire - The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
Ex 13:21 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud (wind and water) by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
God gave Israel a sign pointing to the Lords return through prophetic word. Malachi 4:4. Behold I will send one like the prophet Elijah before the coming and great and terrible day of the Lord.
Then when Jesus came… a sign followed…The word given to the shepherds watching their flocks by night. Lu 2:12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And signs have always been a part of a people who followed God… Listen to the scriptures
Mt 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." Much like a crowd demanding from a magician…
Jesus used this understanding to teach the disciples Luke12:54-56 ¶ And He was also saying to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out.55 "And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way.56 He said to the Pharisees"You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze the “sign of the times?
Signs, signs everywhere a sign…
This morning I want for us to finish off the whole understanding of Holy Spirit’s ministry giving gifts to us and concentrating on spiritual gifting of prophesy and tongues and the correct use in the church … but want to come at it for its original intent and context. I would like to concentrate why God them in the first place…
Read scripture: find 1Cor 14:20 – 26
We have already heard 1 cor 14. The word of the Lord for the church, Paul exhorts us to Earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy Paul says.
Paul is in a situation here. The Corinthian church, Pentecostal in its essence was much like a ship without a rudder. It had the ship, the masts and its sails billowed with the wind of the fullness of the Holy Spirit in operation, had its captain, the pastor the church and the moving of the spirit much like there is here… however the people hadn’t learned yet how to use their new found giftings correctly. So there was problems. There was no rudder. Controversy rose up in the church which is indicative to people operating in the spirit but operating in their flesh… nothing new under sun here.
And controversy rose up by the use of spiritual gifts. It’s much like the corporate church world today. There is still controversy and still division rising up about spiritual gifts especially, speaking in tongues… I kinda think I know why… whenever there is controversy, behind it all is a devil that wants nothing more to rob steal and destroy and diminish the effectiveness of the church. Once you understand and bring to the forefront that there is an enemy of the church whose sole purpose is to destroy the impact the church is to have in the world… you will see why tongues and prophesy are always in controversy… Recognize the game…
1)Sign for the unbeliever…
The enemy always uses deception as a key to his operation. And the church starts zeroing in two gifts, prophesy and tongues. In fact one group that I know of say they are not in operation today! Well that’s just utterly, Satanic and AntiChrist. Why do I say that? For one, God is giver of all gifts, and two prophetic anointing and tongues speaking still occurs today and God is pouring out His spirit on all flesh still. It didn’t stop at Pentecost…it continued right up into the writing of the book of Corinthians in AD 55 and for that matter right up to today even in this church.
Here’s the thing… The enemy hates spiritual gifting – there’s good reason. Satan does not want God to get any glory, Satan does not want people, unbelievers, to see that God is at work in the lives of others, Satan does not want you to understand or conceive the idea God is active in the lives of the people on the earth today or any time for that matter, so what does he do? the first thing he does… he attacks Gods gifting. He attacks with one of the weapons of his arsenal- controversy, he uses doubt. He even gets the church to attack one another and taking opposing sides of the ministry of the manifestation of the spirit of God, gets people sacred and whispers in their ears – oh this isn’t right…. And where there is the lack of faith to believe that the gifts are in operation, he can cripple the effects of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. That’s what doubt does! If you don’t believe that something can happen… it won’t. If someone gets scared they run… and then Satan can get them right where he wants them… alone and then… destroys that person’s spiritual life… Sad really
Paul puts that whole thing into perspective. He imbeds in scripture for all to know vs 20… he pleads with the church do not be children in your thinking but be mature, he says… then in verse 21 he quotes an Old Testament scripture… why… because … so to remove controversy that was rising up in the church… he points everyone back to scripture.. and when he does so he is pointing people back to what God had already spoken to the people of God… and Paul actually takes valuable space in parchment to tell the church this is what IS 28:11 is all about. "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.
People of God, whenever we get controversy we must always point toward the word of God. If we fail to come back to scripture, we then only have the wisdom of man. All the gifts flow out of the Word of God. And if someone says they have a word from the Lord… it will never contradict scripture… why because the Holy Spirit inspired scripture and Jesus the living word of God. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word became flesh and dwelt among… Jesus is the word… no contradiction.
Then Paul reveals the reason for tongues speaking in the first place. You see the gift of tongues is a sign for who… the unbeliever! So if Satan can get the believers to believe there is no such things as the gift of tongues any more, if Satan can cause controversy, if Satan can cause any doubt whatsoever…then insidiously, he doesn’t get to us, we believe already, no he insidiously gets to unbelievers. See the game? And he plays his ole sleight of hand game. Like the Jedi mind trick… (hand gesture) there is no such thing as tongues
So Satan attacks the thing that shows people that there is Godly spiritual activity occurring around them. Tongues is a sign of spiritual life. A sign of life in a new context of people separating them from the old. Paul makes this distinction clear in verse 23.
2)A sign for the believer
Secondly, Prophesy… LESTER SUMRALL: “Prophecy is a supernatural utterance that comes from a person who is anointed to speak the treasures of God to the Body of Christ.” DENNIS BENNETT says“The gift of prophecy is manifested when believers speak the mind of God, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and not from their own thoughts.”
The Hebrew word for “to prophesy” means “to flow forth.” It also carries the thought “to bubble forth like a fountain, to let drop, to lift up, to tumble forth, to spring forth.” The greek word prophesy is actually two greek words pro which means “before” and phemi which means to speak forth. The sense of the word comes from Romans 4:17 God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
And in same verse, verse 22 Paul says Prophesy is not a sign for the unbelievers but a sign for the believers.
Remember the manifestational gifts from last week? Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gift of faith, gift of healing, the working of miracles, distinguishing of spirits, but then Paul talks about prophesy. This is an important one for the church – why?
Working in the prophetic anointing is much like that of the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament prophets were ones that heard from God like many others but with them came an office of authority that rose above even the priests of the day. Let me explain. Every one of us hears from God when we take time and seek Him out, our private time, our devotional time. but then there are those who take time with the Lord, hear from God, and God gives them a Word and that word if for an individual or the church as a whole, that when they speak, they speak forth in an anointing that is unmistakeable … they speak something forth and there is something with what they say that allows for someone or the church to take heed. The word they speak holds a supra natural power, a power that rises above a regular voice and is powerful in the spirit and which has a God impacted voice to it. And we listen…
A prophet’s basic motivational drive is to apply the Word of God to a situation so that sin is exposed, relationships are restored. But I do know this, if a prophet operates in a demeaning, condescending, superior, haughty, self-important, ignorant, mean, nasty, rotten and miserable, way more than likely they are operating as a false prophet, in their own flesh. They should keep to themselves and probably get some healing… Yes, scripture shows us they can come across painfully truthful, as they expose sin but a NT prophet, always operates in love according to 1Cor 13. The love of Jesus will never expose the sinner publicly… more than likely privately… do you know what I mean. Prophets often have little sympathy and patience with people who do not respond objectively. I think of the story of Nathan and David here. And prophets are there to bring restoration in the body.
Prophets might be considered the “trumpets” of the Body of Christ who sound the alarm in the face of sin and compromise. A prophet has a God-given ability to sense when compromises are being made personally and corporately in a church, and his or her nature demands that action be taken—something must be done. This action may take the form of an overt protest or confrontation, or it may take the form of a conversation or correspondence. But it’s a drive the Lord gives them.
I say all that to say this… the prophetic anointing is in the church because vss 23 to 25 says… 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? In other words, If you come together as a congregation and some unbelieving outsiders walk in on us as we’re all praying in tongues, unintelligible to each other and to them, won’t they assume you’ve taken leave of your senses and get out of there as fast as they can? Vss 24 and 25 paraphrased says this…
24 But if some unbelieving outsiders walk in on a service where people are speaking out God’s truth in a matter of fact way, the plain words will bring them up against the truth and probe their hearts. Before you know it, they’re going to be on their faces before God, recognizing that God is among us.
This is why Paul says in 14:1 - at the beginning of the chapter that he would like all to prophesy.
You see in 1cor 14:4 it says if one speaks in tongues he edifies himself… nothing wrong with that after all are we trying to have a one on one with the Lord? But Paul says if one prophesies, that one edifies the church… nothing wrong with that either… when both are in operation correctly, both bring edification.
3)Gifting in use correctly…
)Vs 26… 26 ¶ What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, someone has a song, someone has a teaching, someone has a revelation, someone has a tongue, and someone has an interpretation. Ultimately Let all things be done for edification. And as Paul laid it out in 1 Cor 13, let all things be done in a spirit of love and caring for one another.
And ultimately, 1 cor 14: 38-40 sums up all things when Paul said this to the Corinthian church, 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.
In other words…. 38 If you won’t play by these rules, God can’t use you. Sorry.
39 Three things, then, to sum this up: When you speak forth God’s truth, speak your heart out. Don’t tell people how they should or shouldn’t pray when they’re praying in tongues that you don’t understand.
40 Be courteous and considerate in everything.