1 Corinthians 14:1-25 — How Do Silence A Room Full of 21st Century Christians? Mention Speaking in Tongues!

Posted: August 1, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 14:1-25 — Are you old enough to remember those EF Hutton commercials from back in 70s. Back then, EF Hutton was a brokerage house without a worldwide brand name. They were at the top of their game. There commercials had a unique flare about them. Their commercials would show crowds or rooms of people all having conversations and then the mention of the name EF Hutton would silence the crowd or the room and every one would turn and look at the person who had uttered the name. The tag line was “When EF Hutton speaks, people listen.” The room silencer in Christian circles is the topic of today’s passage. Today, we will focus on speaking in tongues. Oh my! He said that thing that we don’t talk about in church. The room goes quiet when people bring it up. It is controversial within the church. Often, we ignore it or say it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about it today.

I think that the way that Paul opens this chapter is interesting because it ties us back to the previous chapter, the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. He tells us that love should be our aim in everything we do, especially in using our spiritual gifts. We each have spiritual gifts that God has granted us when He made us. Because of the limited nature of us as human beings, God cannot grant us each every spiritual gift. So, God grants us each one or more gifts. Each one or each set of gifts that He gives us is meant to be uplifting and encouraging to the body of Christ. Therefore, each one of us have been given a gift that is meant to be used for the glory of God. All gifts are necessary for the proper functioning of the body of Christ just each part of our human bodies in necessary for the whole body to work properly. We should then appreciate each one’s gifts. We should not be jealous because one gift puts you on stage in front of all members of the body of Christ while another’s gift is unseen while working in the nursery. Both gifts are necessary. Without the nursery worker we will have a bunch of crying babies in worship to the point no one is comfortable and no one pays attention to the worship. Let us not be jealous of one another’s gifts. Let us love one another for the respective talents that God has given us to make our church work the ways it does and gives each church its unique character for this place at this time in this town.

Then Paul moves specifically to the gifts of prophesy and the gift of speaking in unknown languages.

Today, let us discuss speaking in tongues. Tomorrow, we will talk about the gift of prophesy. Speaking in tongues is one of those subjects in the Christian faith that we rarely talk about but when we do it raises great controversy. It is like my wife being a Carolina Gamecock fan while I am a Clemson fan. In order for our household to operate properly, we rarely if ever speak of the rivalry, but when we do….oh my! Speaking in tongues is that type of subject in Christian circles. We rarely talk about it but when we do…oh my!

There are those who think speaking in tongues is no longer a spiritual gift and that it was simply reserved for the apostolic generation (those who disciples of Jesus or were taught directly by one of His disciples). There are those who think speaking in tongues is simply an attention grabbing act of people who wish to raise their level of importance within a specific body of Christ and is not a real spiritual gift. And there are those who believe speaking in tongues is a real, and valid and still existing spiritual gift. I am among the last third of people. I believe speaking in tongues still exists today and it is a gift reserved only for those who are deeply in tune with the Holy Spirit living within them. I believe it is a gift reserved only for those who are extremely mature spiritually. In the absence of spiritual maturity, we are not deeply in tune with the Holy Spirit and it takes us many years of going deeper with Christ as we develop our spiritual sensitivity. As we mature, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. As we mature, we become more sensitive to that which grieves the Spirit living in us. As we mature, we become more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, those who truly speak in tongues are those who have develop a level of maturity in Christ that makes them hyper-sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their soul. Speaking in tongues is then when the Holy Spirit simply takes over our bodies and minds and gives speech to Spirit’s movement. Speaking in tongues is then a time sensitive and very specific thing for a specific body or specific person. It is not an attention grabbing thing. It is meant to be an edifying thing not something that interrupts and has nothing to do with the message of the day at church. Speaking in tongues for it to be real, though, must be accompanied with interpretation. Either someone else has the gift of interpretation that concurrently translates that unknown tongue of the speaker or the speaker of the unknown tongues when they come out of their Spirit-induced state will be able to interpret exactly what was revealed to them by the Spirit.

I have only seen and heard speaking in tongues from one person in one church during my lifetime. In that situation, there were those rare times when a lady at this non-denominational church would be overcome by the Spirit and begin speaking in tongues and when she was done she would be able to discern into English what the Spirit was saying. It was always appropriate and point on with the message of the day. This was not some attention grabbing thing. In fact, this lady wished mightily that she did not have the gift. She was the kind of person who was an humble Christian and a great servant of the Lord. She did not want the attention. But because her life outside of speaking in tongues bore so much fruit of the spirit, the fact that she had this gift was not one where you did not believe it. She was the only person I have ever seen with the gift. I am the first one to be skeptical of the gift of speaking in tongues. It is rare for it to be real. It is rare because it is reserved for those who have matured, whose lives are sensitive to the Spirit, whose lives are filled with the fruits of the Spirit and a willingness to be totally submitted to Jesus Christ.

Paul’s point here is that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit. Thus, to say this gift has gone away is to discredit Scripture. Just because we live in a modern age does not mean that some spiritual gifts are no longer given. Paul’s other point though is equally valid. Our spiritual gifts should not cause division within the church. Speaking in tongues most definitely causes division within the body. That’s why I think God gives this gift only to a select few. Those who have this gift are ones in our body who most likely we respect a great deal. This gift is reserved for those whose lives outside of speaking in tongues is a a testament to a submitted life pursuing after the heart of God. This gift to be valid is always accompanied by interpretation either during or after the episode. Humility is a mark of the validity of this gift. Most who have it wish they didn’t. They don’t want all the attention that it can bring. Most of all, this gift is always a message needed by one or more of the local body of Christ. The gift of speaking in tongues is meant to unify the church as it is a display of the raw power of God not tear it apart.

Thus, it is with any spiritual gift. We all have been given a spiritual gift or multiple gifts from God. It is what makes us unique. We are all unique creatures created by God Himself. My gifts are not your gifts and your gifts are not my gifts. Our gifts together are meant to give glory to God through the local body of Christ. Our gifts together are placed together here at this place at this time with these people to do the unique work that God has for this body in this place at this time with these people. Our gifts together are meant to spread the gospel far and wide. Our gifts together are meant to praise Jesus. We are the body of Christ. Let us be thankful for the gifts and talents that He has brought together at our church at this moment in time at this place. Amen and Amen.


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