Saturday, 24 September 2016

1 Corinthians 14: Organised worship

I had said the following in the previous article:
"Lord Willing I may comment how tongues should function in the worship of God and in the context of the church. We'll have to see."

In this article I shall be commenting on 1 Corinthians 14. To get the background of what I believe tongues, read the previous paper:

With that out the way, let us get started.

"14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

Putting aside the charismatic/cessationist debate, Paul is exhorting the church to have spiritual gifts that edify and raise the church up in godliness. It is important to note that anyone who speaks or prays in tongues must have an interpreter so that individuals will know what is being said, thus the church will be built up. There is no casual usage of tongues here nor the Benny Hinn absurdity and other events like it where it's fake tongues and no interpretation is even given. Prophecy is also to be examined.

"6 Now, brothers,[a] if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church."

If no one is understanding what is being said, it is of no value to the person in question is it? It's like watching a foreign film and not having a clue what the characters are saying. You either need someone to dub over in your language or the film in question have subtitles to translate what is said. How could a person who is not familiar with the language take from the film the subtext and themes that it is trying to convey to the audience? It's as Paul said, "if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air."

"13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider[b] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue."

Exactly what Paul was saying, it would be more beneficial to the individual to have few words they can understand as opposed to having many words that they cannot understand, as well as praying in mind and in spirit together.

We come also to an interesting section on prophecy in this very chapter:

"26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."

This ties in with interpretation of the tongues again, either have someone to interpret or they do not speak and there is also a judgement on what the one prophesying is saying, judging them to be right in what they say rather than let them off the hook and shout "Touch not God's anointed", Read the following article on what that phrase actually means:

I'll quote from 33 again and elaborate on that verse again:

"33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order."

Verse 33 is to be read in light of what has been said previously as the verse is often abused by the unbelieving world to discredit Christianity. However the verse in question refers to the orderly worship and function of the church that God does not have disorderly, confused worship but worship that is organized and disciplined. It is also interesting what Paul says about women (And no to all the naysaying feminists, no this is not misogyny) that any queries they have about the word of God, they can ask their husbands after the worship service and it also puts a nail in the idea that women should be leading mixed congregations.

As for the phrase do not forbid speaking in tongues, it is not saying "Everything goes", it is referring to the biblical tongues, not the unbiblical tongues.

Putting aside the debate as to whether or not prophecy is applicable today, If it is, it is do be done in an orderly manner, the same goes for the tongues, both must be done respectfully. There is nothing similiar the spiritual orgies we have in churches today, such as laughing in hysteria, or these false prophecies and crazy contrived or demonically induced version of tongues.

Anything else to add may be given in an addendum Lord Willing.

Answering Judaism.

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