If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two, at the most three, so not everybody at once, ecstatically speaking, let it be one or two, at the most three, in turn, take your turns, and let one interpret. Some spiritual gifts are more perplexing than others. Well, today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Skip gives you insight on the purpose and parameters of the spiritual gift of tongues. But first, did you know that Skip shares important updates and biblical encouragement on social media? Just follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest from him and this ministry.
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800-922-1888. Thank you for changing lives with the gospel. Now, we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, as we dive into today's teaching with Skip Heitig. You know, some languages it's exciting to listen to. When I listen to Italian speak, because when I listen to Italian speak, I'm not just listening to an Italian speak, I'm watching the Italian speak, right? I mean, the hands are moving with the words. And I try to pick it out and some of the things I can understand because I've had a few years of Spanish, or when I hear French, it's just so beautiful.
And, and the way everything is slowed together, so song along with song, wow. I mean, come on, it's just so romantic and beautiful. I have no clue what they just said, they could have said, hey, that big America who's listening is sure ugly. It might not be a flattering statement. So it doesn't do me any good unless somebody is there to tell me what the meaning of that language is. But notice something in verse 11. If I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the one who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. Now that word translated in English foreigner is an onomatopoetic word.
Remember that word in your English class onomatopoeia, where the word sounds like what it means. So the word he uses for foreigner is the word barbaros, where we get the word barbarian. And that's a significant Greek word because the Greeks believe that their language was the best language on planet earth. No other language came close. No other language was beautiful. No other language captured the full meaning.
I have to say they're right when it comes to that, the accuracy part. No other language comes close to the Greek language in my humble, but I think slightly educated opinion. But they believe that Greek was it and that anybody who didn't speak Greek but spoke some other language, it sounded to them like this, bar bar bar bar bar bar bar.
And so it was nicknamed bar bar or bar baros. It's an onomatopoetic term that captures the idea of they love their language so much that every other language sounded like garbage to them, like barbarians. Even so you, since you are zealous, verse 12, for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification, the building up of the church that you seek to excel. Therefore, let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.
Now again, I'm praying. I'm not giving a message to men. It's not a thus sayeth the Lord. It's not tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy. If I pray in a tongue, so I'm directing it to God, my spirit prays, my understanding is unfruitful. Or I'm saying words, but I don't understand what I'm saying. This is why many people have trouble with the gift of tongues.
Even though it is controllable to speak it or not speak it, when one speaks in the tongue because they don't understand it, it's an affront to your intelligence, to your intellect. You go, oh, that's just babble. That's bar, bar, bar, bar. You just made that up. That's gibberish. That's child speak. That's nonsense.
And so because it's an affront to your intellect, your intellect wants to be completely knowledgeable and in control of that, in control of that, you pull back from it. But Paul says, your spirit is praying, but your understanding is unfruitful. So I told you, and again, we come up with this idea, language is a pact, right? We have this understanding. We could, like I said a few weeks ago, come up with our own secret language.
Nobody else would know. We could come up with the words. When I say a sentence, you say another sentence. Nobody knows what it is, but you and I know what it is.
It's our secret language. So with tongues, it's a pact I have made with God that He knows what it is. And have you found in your prayer life that when you pray, you sometimes have difficulty expressing what it is you want to express. In fact, you don't even know exactly what you ought to be praying for when you pray. Well, that's exactly what Paul said in Romans. We do not know how to pray as we ought.
So the Lord has provided a way to communicate with Him, to bypass your intellect, but directly contact the Father in the name of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, through this beautiful gift, in a way that is powerful and potent, edifying of self, but also very, very efficacious. What is the conclusion? Verse 15.
What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the Spirit. I will also pray with the understanding. That could mean I'm going to pray in tongues and pray with an interpretation, or it could mean sometimes I will pray in the Spirit in tongues.
Sometimes I will pray in English or in my language that I understand. I will sing with the Spirit, singing in that tongue language. I will also sing with understanding. Now you'll notice four times the phrase, I will, I will, I will, I will. This shows me that all of this is under our control. He will say the Spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet in just a few verses. This is the controllable aspect. It's not like I'm afraid to open up to the Spirit.
I might stand in line at the bank or at the grocery store and just start jabbering. That's not going to happen unless you just need medication for some reason. That's not going to happen. And if it does, please don't blame the Holy Spirit.
He gets blamed for enough stuff that's weird. I will pray with the Spirit. I will pray with understanding. It means I can pray it at any time. I can pray in English. I can also pray in the Spirit. Otherwise, verse 16, if you bless with the Spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say amen at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?
That makes perfect sense, right? Somebody jabbers, chatters in a tongue, in an ecstatic utterance, and you can't go, right on! What did you say anyway? I mean, you know, you only agree with something you get and understand that you actually agree with.
By the way, you know what this shows me? That in the early church congregations, people said, amen. Amen. And I loved it. During worship tonight, as we were singing and there was beautiful words of exhortation, prophecy, there were people, some of you, I heard behind me, amen, amen, amen. So be it. I agree with it.
That works because you understood what was being said. And that is Paul's point. How would you say amen at your giving of thanks? Notice again, giving of thanks. It's directed upward. It's not a message from God to people. It's directed toward God. It's a giving of thanks.
And he does not understand what you say. For indeed, verse 17, here it is again, for you indeed give thanks well. It's one of the best ways God has provided for you to praise him, thank him, worship him, communicate to him.
But the other is not edified. Verse 18, I thank my God I speak with tongues more than y'all, or more than you all. Yet in the church, I would rather speak five words with my understanding that I may teach others also than 10,000 words in a tongue. Now, if Paul says, I wish you all spoke in tongues. If Paul says, I speak in tongues more than you all. Yet evidently, Paul did not speak tongues when he was in a group of people. Then if he spoke in tongues that much, where did he do it? Yeah, you have to conclude it was in his private devotional life. And that is where tongues finds its highest place.
So it's not like, good, there's an unscripted meeting, there's an afterglow, I'm gonna go unleash my tongue gift. That's permissible, as long as there's interpretation. That is permissible.
We're not to deny that. But its highest place is in your personal, private devotional life. There's no other conclusion putting all these verses together than this. I found something by an author, I wanted to read to you. John Harper said, tongues is a heart language. As a baby lies in his mother's arms and babbles to his mother, they both understand what he means. So we lie in God's arms and babble to him and we both understand.
It's beautiful, it's just a beautiful description. As a child of God, speaking to him, directing that prayer to him, you give thanks well. Yet in the church, I'd rather speak five words with my understanding that I may teach others than 10,000 words in a tongue. Brethren, verse 20, do not be or do not be children in understanding. I want you to understand these things, I want you to get these things. However, in malice or in evil, in sin, be babes.
But in understanding, be mature. Now, I did say that it's pretty straightforward, except for a couple of verses. I want to introduce you to those couple of verses. In the law, it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips, I will speak to this people, yet for all that they will not hear me, says the Lord. Therefore, tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers. But prophesying is not for unbelievers, but for those who believe. Therefore, if the whole church comes together in one place and all speak with tongues, and there comes in one, comes in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, they will say, you're out of your mind.
But if I'll prophesy and an unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all and he is convicted by all. Now, this is a difficult couple of verses because you read one of the verses, makes sense, then you keep reading, and those verses seem to contradict the previous verse. God says, I'm going to speak to these people with a tongue, but then he says, tongues are a sign for unbelievers, not for believers. So, it's such a difficult verse to translate that one scholar by the name of J.B. Phillips, don't know if you've heard of him, but he wrote a great New Testament translation to which I have referred many times, believes this is the one and only place in the New Testament that it is mistranslated in English. He believes we are facing a copyist error. And, just want to share with you what he said, the Phillips translation of verse 22 is this, that means that tongues are a sign that means that tongues are a sign of God's power, not for those who are unbelievers, but for those who already believe.
Now, it's just the opposite of what we read. So, he believes it's a copyist error in this verse and only this verse in the New Testament. His little note in that translation says thus, this is the sole instance of the translator departing from the accepted text. And, it's because of the next three verses we have here either a slip of the pen on the part of Paul, which I disagree, I don't think that ever happened because of the inspiration of the scripture, or, says Phillips, more probably a copyist error. So, what Phillips says this verse means is that tongues serve as a sign to believers of God's power. But, not so fast.
That's a possibility. He's quoting from the Old Testament book of Isaiah chapter 28. What's interesting about that is he doesn't say it's written in the prophets, he says it's written in the law.
Now, he had rabbinical training. He knew that the law, the Torah, was the first five books of Moses, not Isaiah. It could be that he's simply referring to the law as all of the Old Testament, the Tanakh, the Hebrews call it. Or, he's quoting Isaiah, knowing it's Isaiah, but in his mind he's thinking back to Deuteronomy 28. Deuteronomy 28 is the list of blessings and cursings, and one of the cursings in Deuteronomy 28 God says to his people, his people, children of Israel, you just obey me. If you don't keep my word, I'm going to allow people to invade you from other nations whose language you will not understand. Then, in Isaiah chapter 28, this text is given by the prophet Isaiah quoted by Paul, with men of other tongues and other lips, I will speak to this people and yet for all that they will not hear me.
Let me give you quickly the context of that. Isaiah the prophet is speaking to the children of Israel that God was going to send them judgment, that the Assyrians were coming down from the north. They had already taken the northern kingdom captive in 722 BC. They were threatening the southern kingdom of Judah. We know that Judah did not fall to the Assyrians.
They would eventually fall to the Babylonians in 586, actually 605, 597, then 586 BC. But, they were not listening to the words of the prophet Isaiah, who was speaking in plain Hebrew to them in their native tongue. They were not listening to it. In fact, they were mocking Isaiah, saying, oh, he's giving us milk instead of real meat. He's just giving us precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. In other words, he's just giving us straight Bible messages. Where's the flash, man?
Where's the excitement? Isaiah says, okay, since you will not listen to God in your native tongue, God's going to give you a sign and speak to you by having people come in who will invade your land, whose language you will not speak to. And that's what Paul is saying, who will invade your land, whose language you will not understand, the Assyrian tongue, or in that case, the Babylonian tongue.
And when you hear them talking in their language, that's going to be a sign to you. That's what Paul is lifting up and saying here, tongues are a sign. So, it could mean that just like Isaiah, who said the tongues of the foreigners are going to be a judgment to you, that he is saying tongues are a sign for unbelievers in that it's a sign of the judgment of God. They don't even understand the plain words of the gospel, the plain words of scripture, let alone these mysterious words spoken in a tongue and provided with an interpretation. That's one meaning of it. Or, when he says tongues are a sign to unbelievers, he could not be referring to the unsaved people, but to saved people who are unbelieving of the things of the spirit. Make sense? You get that?
Now, here's why I say that. He's quoting Isaiah 28. Isaiah 28, the prophet is speaking to God's people, not Gentiles, not unsaved people, part of the covenant relationship in the Old Testament. And he's saying, this is what you're going to hear, foreign tongues, it's going to be a sign of judgment to you.
So, like they were assigned to God's people back then, tongues are a sign to God's people who do not believe in the movement being conversant in the things of the spirit, as he has outlined in chapter 12. And so, it could be that he's referring to believers who are unbelieving in the legitimacy and the perpetuity of the gifts of the spirit. Therefore, if the whole church comes together in one place and all speaks with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed, those who are uneducated, and then, or unbelievers. Now, this one probably referring to the unsaved. The uninformed would be a reference to the unbelievers in the previous verse, unbelieving of spiritual gifts.
This is all a possibility. That's why I say this is not an easy text to unravel. But if I'll prophesy, and an unbeliever, uninformed person comes in, so you're speaking now in intelligible language, he's going to hear it, he's convicted of all. And thus, the secrets of his heart are revealed.
And so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report God is truly among you. You know, I can't tell you how many times I've had people over the years come up to me after a sermon, angry, saying, who told you? Who told me what? You know.
Who told you? Did my wife call you this week? Or did my friend call you?
Or did my husband? I heard what you said. You couldn't have said those things unless you knew my situation, because you just described what I'm going through. I said, I'm not, I didn't even know your name, first of all. I'm not snooping on you or following me around town.
I have much too little time on my hands to do that. But what you're experiencing is a prophecy, a direct word of God through the teaching, because gifts are often paralleled and coupled together and combined together. That's what you're experiencing. How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation.
That's going on in Corinth. Everybody has some little thing to say or to add to a service, a free-for-all. Let all things be done for ratification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, here's the script now, here's the parameters. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two, at the most three, so not everybody at once, so I blah, blah, blah, blah, just ecstatically speaking. Let it be one or two, at the most three, in turn, take your turns, and let one interpret. So one will give an utterance, there will be an interpretation.
Somebody else can do it later on in that meeting, has to have an interpretation. Third one can do it, interpretation. After three, no more. You don't have four or five, you cut it off at three. Why? Because it says so. That's all.
I can't tell you why. I don't know why there can't be four or five, but it says in a meeting, at the most three, then you're done. Same with prophecy, by the way. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
Private devotional life, you can direct it toward God, but you do it to yourself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, let the others judge. Creno is the Greek word, discriminate, weigh it out, see if it fits into the Bible, if it fits into the Bible, see if it, first of all, somebody gives a prophecy, somebody, an elder, somebody should be there, a mature believer, any group of believers should be able to say, wait a minute, that didn't sound scriptural to me, or ooh, that lines up with scripture, that's a direct quote out of scripture, that's awesome.
So we're judging, first of all, its validity. Let two or three prophets speak, let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the 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. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series Expound First Corinthians. Now, we want to share about a resource that shares how you can grab hold of a critical opportunity to represent Jesus even better to the world.
The United States fought the devastating civil war to overcome a deeply dividing issue. As followers of Jesus and people who represent his love, we can help one another deal with this topic today. Here's Skip Heitzig and Tony Clark. So now it's our job to begin to guide them and to have a biblical mindset, and also having sympathy and empathy for those who are trying to live out this Christianity, and their skin may be a little bit darker than yours. Cultivate the empathy that comes from gaining a biblical perspective on racism. Get your copy of this conversation between pastors Skip and Tony when you give $20 or more today. We'll also send you Pastor Skip's booklet, The Church and Racism.
Call 800-922-1888, or give online securely at connectwiscip.com slash offer. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Hyten explores fascinating truths, not just about Christ's resurrection, but yours too. The resurrection is not just Jesus' resurrection, but because of Jesus' resurrection, that guarantees our resurrection. Part and parcel of the gospel is the redemption of our physical bodies, and thus he writes about the resurrection. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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