Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 179

The Gifts Part 84

Tongues continued...

It is an undisputed fact that we serve a God of order. Everything in the universe as we know it and beyond is in its rightful place. From earth’s positioning via the sun, to the four seasons of the year, to the microscopic and nucleic level, everything has an established order to it, designed and created by the Master Himself.

If there is order throughout the universe, what makes us think that there ought not to be, or that God would not expect order in His own house?

One of the primary reasons Paul took so much time discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of speaking in tongues in his first epistle to the Corinthians, is because their worship services had become chaotic and absent any semblance of order.

I’m all for freedom in the Spirit, I’m all for freedom in the Lord, but not when it comes at the expense of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are gathered together in fellowship there is a certain code of conduct that we must follow, the selfsame code of conduct that Paul laid out for the Corinthian church.

From Paul’s writings it would seem that the church at Corinth lacked discipline when it came to public worship. They would gather, and inevitably those with the gift of tongues would begin to speak in tongues even though no interpretation was forthcoming, and while two or three or four people spoke in tongues the rest of the congregation just stood by and stared at those who were manifesting the gift.

Essentially, even though the entire body of believers had gathered to be edified and exhorted, because a handful of individuals chose to manifest the gift of tongues within the congregation, only those few would end up being edified or exhorted.

Paul saw this as a real issue, something that in the long term would be detrimental to the fellowship, growth and cohesion of the body, and so he addressed it with his customary forthrightness.

1 Corinthians 14:27-33, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let him first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

I realize full well that some reject the notion of rules and regulations within the house of God, preferring instead to think that fellowship is nothing more than an amalgam of souls each doing whatever strikes their fancy when gathered together, but the word of God is the word of God, and as such we must adhere and submit to it.

Paul’s counsel is clear as well as powerful: anything that does not edify the church as a whole should not be practiced in the Church during times of public worship or fellowship. Paul never intimated that it’s wrong to speak in tongues, or that men ought not to speak in tongues, he focused exclusively on how the gift of tongues ought to be manifested within the context of fellowship or being among a body of believers.

The rules as they stand are simple, and they serve to bring order to what would otherwise be a chaotic humdrum or countless voices speaking in tongues, one louder than the last hoping to be heard.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, then they should each speak in turn if one with the gift of interpretation of tongues is present. If there is no interpreter then let the individuals who would have spoken in tongues before the congregation, speak to themselves and to God.

Once again we must return to the atmosphere within the church of Corinth during the time of this epistle’s writing. Because they believed in and of itself the gift of speaking in tongues made them special among the brethren, those with the gift had the tendency to stand within the congregation and simply start speaking in tongues. Not to be outdone, others who likewise possessed the gift would also begin to speak in tongues even when no interpreter was present, and this action brought with itself great confusion.

Once again, Paul reaffirms to those of the church of Corinth that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all the churches of the saints, and so if their actions brought about confusion among the brethren, logic would dictate that their actions were not of God.

God’s desire is that we are perpetually fruitful and of use to Him. Anything that creates confusion within the house of God, anything that brings about division, anything that attempts to highlight the virtues of an individual and not glorify Christ is therefore against the plan of God.

Speaking in tongues without the requisite interpretation is useless within a congregation. If anyone does desire to speak in tongues, and there is no interpreter present, then they can, as we have already mentioned, speak to themselves and to God, at any other time, in any other place, than when the believers are gathered together in fellowship.

There is wisdom in learning to be silent. There is wisdom in learning that God is a God of order. There is wisdom in knowing when you are edifying the Body of Christ, and when you are simply creating confusion within the church.

It is not nor has it ever been about our egos, it is not nor has it ever been about our pride as Paul was quick to point out to the church at Corinth, it has always been and will always be about Christ, and about building up and edifying His Body.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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