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Gifted 2: Tongues and Prophecy, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 26, 2021 9:00 am

Gifted 2: Tongues and Prophecy, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 26, 2021 9:00 am

The “gift of tongues” is one of the most confusing and controversial topics in the Bible. What does that phrase even mean? Pastor J.D. brings some clarity on this subject as he continues our study titled, Rushing Wind.

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Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer talks about the gift of tongues. Now, I want you all to speak in tongues. Paul is for more intimacy with the Spirit. Paul is for more interaction with the Spirit. There is nothing he says about your interaction with the Spirit I wouldn't desire for you to have, but even more to prophesy. Because the one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. Welcome to another day of Bible teaching here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

I'm Molly Vidovitch. You know, it's not surprising that the gift of tongues is one of the most confusing and controversial topics in the Bible. But what does that phrase even mean? Does it mean that you can speak a bunch of languages or is it that you pray in a mysterious heavenly language?

And was it a gift for only the early church or does it still happen today? These are the types of questions that many believers have. And Pastor J.D. brings some clarity as he continues our study of the Holy Spirit titled Rushing Wind.

If you missed any of the previous messages, you can find them at But now let's get started. First Corinthians 14 verse 1. Pursue love, says Paul, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God, for nobody understands him but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. Last week I gave you a definition of tongues that was this, a form of prayer and praise that you express to God in a language you do not understand.

That's very important and we're going to come back to that, but for now let's just keep reading. Okay, verse 3. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and their encouragement and their consolation. All right, so let's talk about prophecy for a minute.

Last week I gave you the definition of prophecy, that prophecy is speaking God's word or speaking God's will into a situation. That takes primarily three forms in the Bible. The first form is just preaching.

It's what I do each week. It's when I take the Word of God and I explain it and then I apply it to you. But there are two other forms. The one we saw last week was called the Word of Wisdom and that's where God gives somebody insight into an issue where you don't have a chapter and verse. God sometimes gives different people in his church words of wisdom where they say this is how I think the Holy Spirit is leading you to resolve this issue or this decision to make. That's the Word of Wisdom. There's a third kind called the Word of Knowledge. The Word of Knowledge and that's where God gives somebody supernatural insight into somebody's life so that they know just what to say or just how to pray. All right, so preaching, Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge.

Now here's the thing about those last two. The Word of Wisdom, the Word of Knowledge never take on the weight of Scripture. When I stand up here and tell you this is what God's Word says, that takes on a whole different weight than somebody saying, you know, I think God might be leading you to do this. Paul's not like, hey, you know, nobody in here has the gift as I'm preaching a verse to be like, well, that verse is just wrong. The Spirit of God just told me that. Paul says this, 1 Thessalonians 5 20, look at this. Paul says, do not despise prophesying but test everything and hold fast to what is good.

In other words, weigh it out. The meaning of you feel ground rules for when you're giving a word of prophecy. Number one, you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, I think that's seven evers, which is the number of perfection. Claim the authority of God when you speak. It should sound something like this, you know, God, I think might be putting this on my heart.

I'm going to give it to you. I'm gonna let you test it out like Paul said in 1 Thessalonians, but you should never, ever say this is what God's Word says unless you've got a verse of Scripture behind it. Number two, it is always best when tied to Scripture. When you speak a word from yourself, I can't be sure it's coming from God, but when it resonates with the Scripture, then I have no doubts about it.

Number three, you should use it for the purposes that are given. Do you see verse three, Paul said there are three purposes for the words of prophecy, for upbuilding, for encouragement and consolation. Those are the three reasons that you give someone a word of prophecy. I remember a Christian leader a few years ago saying that a 900 foot Jesus appeared to him and told him that unless he raised 20 million dollars in six months, God was going to kill him. I mean, excuse me, I'm just not seeing that as upbuilding, encouragement and consolation.

I'm seeing that as a money-raising tool. All right, so that's ground rules for giving it. Here's a few ground rules for receiving it. Three questions you should ask.

Here's the first one. Does it contradict what God has clearly said elsewhere? God does not contradict his words, so it never contradicts Scripture.

You've got to ask that. Number two, does it accord with what God is doing in your life? In other words, does it make sense?

Does it further something that you see God doing? Several years ago I received a word of prophecy. I traveled with my best friend named Bruce Ashford, who was an elder at our church. He was speaking on a weekend to this little tiny church down in South Carolina.

We go down there, there's about 35 people in attendance. Bruce preaches and he gets to the end of his message and he looks and he says, because their pianist was sick that day, he said, my friend JD is in the audience and he's a very gifted musician. I'm going to ask him to come up here and lead the invitation hymn, since there's no other pianist.

Now I can play two songs on the piano. Well, after the service is over, the pastor's wife comes walking up and you could tell that she was, I mean, she was moving in the Spirit and she comes up and she's like, I got a word for you boys. I got a word from the Holy Spirit.

Do you want it? And Bruce and I are like, yeah. I mean, you know, okay. So she's like, so she grabs our hands and she starts swaying like this back and forth. And she's like, the Holy Spirit says, and then she looks up at Bruce and she says, you're going to be the next Billy Graham. You're going to preach and millions of people around the world are going to come to Jesus through your preaching.

And then she looks over at me and she says, she squeezes my hand, she says, and you're going to travel with him as his concert pianist. Now, see, that did not accord with what God was doing in my life, right? So does it accord with what God is doing in your life? That's one of the signs that you know that it's coming from God.

Here's a third thing. Does it glorify God or the prophet? To glorify God, the reason I say this is because I hear people all the time trying to use this stuff to bolster their own authority. God didn't give you this to bolster your authority. He gave it so that it could be used for upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation.

And so what I'm going to tell you is we need more of this. We need a congregation where you are not just praying to God, you're praying with God, as God gives you insight and wisdom, where I'm not just up here preaching about God, I'm preaching with God. By the way, if you're having trouble with this, and I know some of you are, just ask yourself this, do you believe that God is alive and that he supernaturally moves on the earth, that he works through his church, that he will put thoughts into your mind to pray for people, that he will put urges in you that you are supposed to obey? Do you believe that there is a God who not just wrote the Bible and left, but is alive and well and working in his church?

If the answer is yes, that's all we're talking about. You might not have just known exactly what to call it, but the New Testament calls it words of wisdom, words of knowledge, as God's Spirit works through his church and shows that he is a God who is alive, that he is a God who not just appeared in history, he's a God who works in your life in real time right now. All right, verse five, let's keep moving, because we are 35 verses from the end. But number five, now I want you all to speak in tongues. I want you all to speak in tongues. Paul is for more intimacy with the Spirit. Paul's for more interaction with the Spirit.

There is nothing he says about your interaction with the Spirit I wouldn't desire for you to have. In other words, I wish you had every spiritual gift known to man, but even more to prophesy, because the one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. Remember, what was the purpose of the gifts? What was the purpose of the gifts?

We looked at this last week. Were the purpose of the gifts to make you feel closer to God? Is that why God gave them? No, the purpose of the gifts is to build up the body. That's why 1 Corinthians 13 comes between chapters 12 and 14.

That's not just a numerical thing. 1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter. 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 are all about the spiritual gifts. Paul put 1 Corinthians 13 in the middle. I told you not so you would have something to read at your wedding.

Paul's not like, you know, they're going to need something to read at their wedding, so I'm just going to throw this in here just randomly. He put it there about love, because love is to be the basis of all the gifts. The gifts are used never to serve yourself, not to make you feel closer to God, not to bolster your authority.

They're used to build up and encourage the body. Verse 6, now brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how am I going to benefit you unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching that you understand? In other words, if nobody understands what I'm saying, how could I possibly be building you up? Then he uses three great examples of this. Verse 7, if even life is not a blessing, verse 7, if even lifeless instruments such as the flute or the harp do not give distinct notes, how's anybody going to know what's played?

Right? I mean, you know, so I had to dip into the recesses of my two and a half years in the fourth grade of piano. Now, I didn't spend two and a half years in the fourth grade, but two and a half years that I spent in piano lessons around the fourth grade. And I remember my music teacher telling me that music, good music, any music really, consists of at least three things.

Do you remember what these are? Remember rhythm, harmony, and melody. And without rhythm, harmony, and melody, you don't have music.

You just have a random collage of notes that isn't going to sound pretty to anybody. Do you remember this? So I told you. All right, you ready? So you've got like, you've got rhythm, what they call time stamps, so that you've got, you know.

Right? You following this? You want to sing? We're not going to sing.

All right. All right, so that's got rhythm. It's on the 4-4 time. I think that's what they call a syncopated beat because it's on the off, the notes are on the off. That's got a rhythm to it. It's got a melody. It's got a, you know, harmony if you could do that. I could play the same notes without any of those things and it would just, just sound like garbage.

Right? And you don't want to put that, you don't want to put that on your iPod because that's going to get annoying after a while. Music's got to have a rhythm. It's got to have a harmony.

It's got to have a melody. And Paul's like, if all you're doing is la la la la la la la la la la, that's not helping anybody at all. It's going to get, in fact, downright annoying after a while because it's not actually communicating anything.

Here's a second example. It's verse 8. If a bugle gives an indistinct sound, who's going to get ready for battle? So you're in battle and you hear the trumpet blowing out and you don't know what it means. You're like, does that mean go forward? Does that mean go backward?

What does that mean? That's kind of an important thing to know in battle, right? Should you retreat?

Should you advance? What's everybody else doing? Half the army's going forward, half is going backward. That's chaos. And Paul is like, why would God speak to his church in a way they couldn't understand?

Right? Why is he playing the bugle just to hear himself play? God's trying to communicate something to his army. Verse 9, so with yourselves, if your tongue, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how's anybody going to know what's said? You're going to be speaking into the air.

Here's this third example. There are doubtless many different languages in the world and none of them is without meaning. But if I don't know the meaning of the language, I'm going to be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker's going to be a foreigner to me. That word foreigner, by the way, is a great Greek word, barbaros. It's where we get the word barbarian. That's what Greek-speaking people called anybody who didn't speak Greek because it sounded like they were just going bar, bar, bar, bar all the time.

It would be kind of like us saying blah, blah, a blah, blah again. It's what it sounds like to me. I don't know the language. How am I supposed to be benefited?

It might be cute for a few minutes. You speak another language. But after a while, I can't understand what you're saying.

That's not benefiting me. If I stood up here in the sermon and I was like, hello, namasahe yakob, dimar kamar kachil, rumasahe sura di bakar, hallelujah. Now you might be like, wow, he speaks Indonesian.

But what I said was, hi, my name is JD. Where's your bathroom? My house is on fire. Hallelujah. If my house really is on fire, I'm not helping any of you by saying that.

It's useless. And Paul's like, if you're speaking a language nobody understands, you're not benefiting anybody. So with yourselves, verse 12, since you're eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

Very important. What were they to seek for? They were to seek for gifts that built up the body. Verse 13, therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. Paul's like, even with me, if I'm talking to God in a tongue, my spirit's praying, I don't even understand what I'm saying though, so it's not even really benefiting me.

Therefore, what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also. I'm gonna sing praise with my spirit, but I'm gonna sing with my mind also.

In other words, Paul's like, I don't wanna choose between the two. I don't wanna sing with my mind without the Spirit, and I don't wanna sing with the Spirit without my mind. So when I am going to praise God, whether publicly or privately, I am going to do so in a way that benefits both my spirit and my mind. Verse 16, otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say amen to your thanksgiving when he doesn't even know what you're saying?

You might be giving thanks well enough, but the other person's not being built up. So in the middle of worship, you holler out in a tongue, something like, you know, we don't know what you're saying. How am I supposed to go, amen?

I have no idea what he said, amen. But if you holler out glory to God in the highest, God has saved me, he's rescued me, God has more to me, he's better to me than my mother and father. I thank God for saving me.

I thank God for all his promises. I can be like, amen, because you are worshiping in a way that engages both your mind and my mind, and I've been edified. That's what Paul's saying.

Verse 18, I love this. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Remember, the Corinthians thought they were like really spiritual because they had these spiritual X-Men powers, made them superheroes. And Paul's like, just for the record, I got more gifts than all of you. Some of these Corinthians were even claiming, 1 Corinthians 13, 1, to speak in the tongues of angels. What's your spiritual gift? I speak angel.

And Paul's like, just for the record, I got you all beat. I speak in more tongues than all of you. And that's when I'm not writing Bible, or I'm not being swept up into the third heaven, or I'm not healing and raising people from the dead with my hanky. When I'm not doing those things, I'm speaking more tongues than all of you.

Boom, roasted, is how you would translate that, right? Verse 19, nevertheless, in church, I'd rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue. By the way, 10,000 was the highest number in Greek.

So when somebody says 10,000, that's like saying infinity. I'd rather speak five words with my mind, Jesus in my place, amen. I'd rather speak five words with my mind than speak an infinity of words in a tongue that nobody understands. In other words, Paul is saying, I'm the most gifted, and look how I'm using my gifts.

I'm using them to serve. Essentially, what he's saying is, I would never speak in tongues in church. That's why Paul will not permit unintelligibility in the church, because it doesn't do anybody any good. Verse 20, brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in regards to evil, but in your thinking be mature. The Corinthians are immature. By the way, what sound do infants make? Right, they're saying something.

You don't know what it is. He's kind of using a play on words there. He's like, you guys are like infants.

You're ga-ga and gooing all over the place there. The Corinthians thought their gift elevated them above others. They thought their gift made them feel close to God, and Paul said that is not mature. Maturity is when you find your identity in the gospel, and then you use your gift to serve others.

Maturity is when the finished work of Christ on the cross makes you feel close to God. I mean, the gospel is that Jesus has absorbed anything that separates you from God into himself and has given you his perfect righteousness. That means I could not be closer to God right now if I had all the spiritual gifts. I couldn't be closer to him if I lived a perfect life.

You want to know why? I can't get closer to God than Christ has made me in himself, and because I have the perfect righteousness of Christ, I don't need anything to bring me closer to God. I just rest in how close he has made me to God. It is the gift of God to me that makes me feel close to God, not the gifts that I have for him. Paul said that's maturity, and when you get that, when you get that it's the blood of Jesus that made you close, you're going to start to offer your gifts for others the way that Jesus used his for you. Jesus did not take what he had and use it to elevate his position before the father because he didn't need an elevated position. He poured out his gift to serve others, and if you get that, that's what we're going to see. Not you sitting around doing stuff to make yourself feel close to God, but pouring out yourself the way that Jesus poured out for you.

All right, does that make sense? Verse 21, this is very important. Paul is about to give you a teaching that will make you mature. Listen, verse 21, in the law it is written, by people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord. That's got quotes around it because it's a quote from Isaiah 28, 11, and 12.

Thus, tongues are a what? Sign. Signs have points to them, right? You don't just like have a random like orange sign out there on the road.

Hey, isn't that a pretty color? Awesome, let's keep driving. The sign is there to tell you something. Paul says tongues are a sign not for believers, they're a sign for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers. Prophecy is a sign for believers. So tongues are a sign. Who is the sign for? This is not hard.

It's not a trick question. Who's the sign for? Unbelievers.

All right, don't answer this one out loud. What kind of unbelievers is he talking about? Would you notice the quote from Isaiah 28, 11? By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people. He's referring to the Jewish nation of the first century. You see, tongues were a sign to unbelieving Jews that the gospel was not just for people of the Hebrew tongue, it was for people of all tongues everywhere.

You see, let me give you a little like, you know, quick lesson in redemptive history. Genesis chapter 11, all of mankind is gathered around what came to be known as the Tower of Babel, right? And at the Tower of Babel, everybody's in one language and they're erecting this tower basically to demonstrate their own awesomeness. And God looks down in his mercy and says, you cannot get unity around your awesomeness, that's going to lead to destruction. So in mercy, he divides them up and gives them different languages.

So they scatter across the face of the earth, now no longer understanding one another. Then God in Genesis chapter 12 chooses one man, Abram, who would become Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation and the father, if you will, of the Hebrew tongue, and basically says, I'm going to speak to the world through you and your children to the nation of Israel. And so he begins to build a nation of Israel and all the prophets are revealing in Hebrew, God is dwelling on the Jewish nation. But the whole time he is giving them a promise that one day I'm going to regather all people of different tongues and tribes back together.

But this time when they come together, they're not going to have a tower that demonstrates their own awesomeness. I'm going to regather them Revelation chapter 5 around my throne that demonstrates my awesomeness, where they're not going to be proclaiming how awesome they are. They're going to be together in unison saying salvation belongs to God. So what you see in Acts 2 is you see like a mile marker between Genesis 12 and Revelation 5, because you see the end breaking of this.

You see all these different tribes and tongues begin to come together and they understand one another. And that's supposed to be a foretaste of Revelation chapter 5. It is a sign of what God is doing in history. Now the sign actually, look, for the Jews is a sign of judgment. It's a sign for unbelievers. They're being judged because they had not received Christ.

So God is now, he's saying I'm going to take my people and I'm going to develop them from people of other tongues and tribes, not just yours anymore. Because signs are positive and negative, right? I mean like the ten plagues, those are signs. Are they positive or negative, the ten plagues? Depends on if you're Moses or Pharaoh.

I mean if you're Pharaoh, they're bad. If you're Moses, they're a sign of liberation. Tongues are a sign to unbelieving Jews that God, that God, because of their hardness of heart, is now speaking to people in other nations everywhere. They're a positive sign for the Gentiles because they're saying God is actually going to establish a people of your people group. That is the purpose of tongues. They were a sign of judgment and the new frontier of the gospel. Ultimately, what God wants is for you to interact with the Spirit, hear His voice, and offer yourself to be used for His mission.

That seems pretty straightforward, right? You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer and Summit Life.

If you happen to join us late, you can listen again free of charge at J.D., okay, so tomorrow's the last day of your teaching about the Holy Spirit. Can you tell us why you titled this teaching series Rushing Wind?

Yeah, good question. When the Holy Spirit came first to the church in Acts chapter two, an English translation says it came in like a mighty rushing wind. You know, scholars say it means like a tornado.

It was something that was somewhat terrifying. It wasn't like a calm breeze, but something that communicated power in the lives of believers that was going to change the story, change the conversation. That's a recurring picture of the Holy Spirit that you're going to see throughout the New Testament.

We're supposed to be in such a dependent posture on Him that we couldn't imagine getting up and going throughout the day without His energy and His wisdom making spiritual truth a reality, giving us Christ's mind and His heart. Our newest resource is going to pair so perfectly with our study. It's 20 devotionals. It's also called Rushing Wind, and it's got a scripture passage, some devotional thoughts, a couple of follow-up questions, a short prayer guide.

It'll help if these truths are resonating with you from the series, then this study will help layer it so that it begins to saturate your life so that these are not just concepts you're hearing, but truths that are transforming you. We would love to give you a copy. If you donate, just go to You becoming a gospel partner with us, just as our way of saying thank you, we'll put this resource into your hands.

Like JD said, we'd love for you to get in touch with us today. When you call us, you'll have the option of donating to support this ministry so that we can continue to equip people with gospel-centered teaching every day on your radio station. When you give at the suggested level of $25 or more, we'll say thanks by sending you Pastor JD's newest resource, a 20-day devotional that's all about the Holy Spirit. It includes teaching from Pastor JD, reflection questions, and a prayer guide for each day. You can ask for your copy of this book called Rushing Wind, Understanding the Holy Spirit, when you donate by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or go online to I'm Molly Bidovitch, and I'm so glad to have you with us. Be sure to listen Thursday when we wrap up our teaching series called Rushing Wind, right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 10:09:51 / 2023-08-17 10:21:10 / 11

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