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Is God Among You?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2021 8:00 am

Is God Among You?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 5, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically every part of the Bible is relevant to and is helpful for Austin virtually any time of history or any period of our lives, but it is true that some parts speak to contemporary problems more than others. I suppose in some ways this 14th chapter of first Corinthians we come to now is one of those. Someone was asking me a question to which this chapter speaks directly. This person a new member of the church as a friend was in a charismatic fellowship and who in prayer meetings are meetings of the church always consistent. Speaking in tongues and this is so even when there's no one to interpret and when, in the opinion of the person was asking me the question is actually very very disruptive and he was asking me what should be done. I said well what should be done is in first Corinthians 14 first Corinthians 14 says very clearly that a lesser somebody there to interpret so that what is said under the supposed inspiration of the Holy Spirit is interpreted, and therefore beneficial to the church lesser somebody to do that. The person who claims his gift should keep silence. He said well we said that to the person, but they won't do it. I just insist on doing their thing and I said well that of courses exactly the situation. Paul faced with these Christians at Corinth and it's for that reason that this chapter was written really don't know anything bad except these are the guidelines of Scripture gets this thing of doing what you want to do or feel that is is your thing to do in this regard of other people, whether in the church or elsewhere is very modern phenomena probably been true of all ages because it's one of the essential manifestations of sin is particularly true in our time. Everybody wants to do their own thing and their sense in which this takes place in the church certainly takes place in a variety of ways and does at least in this instance and I think in some other instances as well take place in this matter, tongues speaking what Paul is saying here is what happens in the churches in the assemblies of Christian people should be beneficial. Therefore, if something is not beneficial to matter how good it may or may not be in itself. It should be avoided for the sake of the other people now. He's getting a number of guidelines here in these chapters, chapters 1213 and 14 first Corinthians which were studying deal with this matter of tongues speaking of the principles applied other things. And Paul is giving principles by which this phenomena should be handled and by which expressions of it should be evaluated. We are talking about this earlier. I pointed out what some of these principles are first thing Paul says at the beginning of chapter 12 is that this same phenomenon. This phenomena called glossolalia her speaking in unknown tongues was not something that was unique to the Christian churches but also took place in some of the pagan religions and therefore follows that in itself is not evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is quite possible good be a sign of the presence of another spirit a demonic spirit or example, or perhaps just the willful expression of the person who is practicing the alleged gifts of the first principle Paul lays down is that whatever it may be this matter. Speaking in tongues is not in itself proof the person speaking in tongues is filled with the Holy Spirit or necessarily even those Lord and Savior. Second principle he mentions in its worth reviewing these briefly is that there are many gifts from times when people are aware of gift they have.

They put an undue emphasis upon it and treated almost as if it were the only gift release the only gift worth having bosses.

That's not the case. He lists a number of the gifts in this passage is a gift of wisdom Ali rate, healing and ability to do miracles and prophecy distinguishing between spirits and tongs and then finally the interpretation of dog so he says whatever may be the case. Just remember that this gift is not an extraordinary gift of the sense of being more important than others and certainly not in the sense of being the only gift, but rather is one among many thanks principally lays down as all the gifts are given for the benefit of the church. Therefore, when the gift is exercised should be exercised to edification and what we discover as we begin to analyze these chapters that that this is the thing that is primarily in Paul's mind. Chapter 12.

It's that which takes up the largest portion of the chapter in chapter 14, which were going to study tonight. It's the essential message for principle. Paul lays down is if you're going to rank the gifts he doesn't do this in any rigid manner that suggested you're going to rank the gifts in tongues come somewhat low on the list in the closing paragraph of chapter 12 he does sort of number things he says God is appointed first the apostles. Second, the prophets, third the teachers that that is number four workers of miracles and also those of gifts of healing and then at the very end he mentions tongues. This leads in what he says later because the point is going to make is that it is quite proper to desire spiritual gifts, and ask God to give us gifts that will be useful in the Christian ministry. But if we desire that we should desire the best gifts and that means we should not seek to have this gift of tongues primarily there other things we should list higher than in the 14th chapter he speaks of the dangers of this particular gift the danger of disorder in the church danger of a lack of intellectual content, which is a danger and other things as well and then finally at the very end of the chapter gives this principle where he says behavior to prophesy but do not forbid teaching in tongues say when you speak about all these difficulties or dangers or problems in the practice of the gift it would be our tendency would meant to say, well, a gift like that which produces obvious disruption in the church in which is attended by so many dangers of misunderstanding like that probably shouldn't be practiced would probably is inviolate then to say something like that just definitely is not of God, because it operates in bad ways that use it significantly. Paul doesn't do that. Paul at this point is always in his letters is far more balance and judgment than we do and it's interesting that he doesn't say don't do it because this isn't of God. On the contrary, he reaffirms it he says it is of God, but he says make sure you exercise it in God's way. If you don't know you're really doing is indulging yourself says what you're doing is calling attention to yourself. You're saying that you're the one that everybody should focus on and as a result of that, you fail the benefit of the church. You certainly don't glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Now in the midst of these two chapters that lay down the principles I just mentioned, we find first Corinthians 13 is Corinthians 13 is a great chapter on love.

I must admit that in times past when I looked at these chapters was trying to analyze them and found that chapter 13 in the middle of chapter 12 and 14. It seemed in my mind to be somewhat of a depression. All I understood that Paul was saying that everything we do should be characterized by love and love is great and therefore love to be operative in this matter as well but I can understand how it fit into the sequence of what he's talking about. I think I do understand that a little better now because what Paul says in chapter 13 is most certainly the prelude to what he says in chapter 14 chapter 14 Paul is going to contrast prophecy by which he means speaking in an articulate and understandable way with Thomas which is using to refer to speaking a language that no one understands going to contrast the always going to say desire to prophesy rather than to speak in tongues and because he's going to say that the reason is what he is given in chapter 13. See what he saying is that everything you do should be characterized by love and that means love for others not love in the abstract love for God and love for the Christian community and he says you are really characterized by that love for other people, then you will not want to do anything in the Christian assembly which is not beneficial to them is on the basis of black that he lays down the principles we find in chapter 14 now as I say, when Paul contrasts prophecy as he does in verse one with speaking in tongues which he mentions in verse two. What is contrasting there is that which is understandable with that which is not were somewhat misled. At this point because in the English language. Prophecy has taken on connotations of foretelling almost exclusively profit is one looks into the future and who can tell you what's going to happen next year the year after that 10 years from now, or whatever it may be in the Bible.

The prophets were capable of doing that, and quite often their prophecies.

We do have statements concerning things that are going to come in the future, but in biblical terminology. Prophecy is a much broader word than that prophecy in part been concerned that which is going to come in the future because those who spoke as biblical prophets spoke by the inspiration of the spirit of God, and God sees the end from the beginning and it follows that part of the revelation of that nature might very well have been doing the future what prophecy itself. Concerns not so much foretelling, but as is often said in trying to explain this word foretelling is the closest parallel in contemporary experienced prophecy is preaching somewhat different than teaching. Teaching is to take a passage and explain what it means. I have sat in University under some magnificent teachers I have sat under Madden who were able to take works of theology and even biblical texts and teach them in a very clear and accurate way. And yet were not at all themselves Christians.

One of the best teachers at Harvard University was a man who had the ability to do this with the Puritans and with Puritan theology use to teach about Jonathan Edwards and after he would explain the essence of Jonathan Edwards. Teaching would actually read portions of Edward sermon so effectively and so clearly that the end of the class. Those who were there listening to him would stand up and applaud the professor and yet he didn't believe what Edwards was teaching.

He was simply teaching it accurately, that is what teaching is, but prophecy is more than that prophecy is based upon teaching, but it takes teaching and applies it to the hearers in such a way that it says lesson if you will listen to the voice of God, he will hear the Holy Spirit you will believe these things. Your life is going to be different and these are the areas in which is going to be different. So Paul says look if you are thinking about doing good and you should, if you're really a Christian. Then, when you compare the gift of being able to preach our prophesy. In this light with the gift in tongues you really have no choice and you must desire the gift to be able to communicate and apply board of God clearly. She talks about it.

Here he talks about it in three areas, says a prophecy is better than speaking in tongues for the church. Prophecy is better than speaking in tongues for the individual himself. And thirdly, prophecy is better than speaking in tongues for the sake of unbelievers, onlookers, buddy teachers about says in the first place that prophecy in the sense that is communicating word of God and clear and applicable way is better than Tom's because it helps the church to grow and speaking in tongues. A lesser somebody to interpret reports is the principal. He lays down does not do that. Someone who see somebody exercising this particular gift might be impressed they might save my goodness, look what so-and-so is doing isn't that spectacular. I've never seen anything like that person is edified by this is true in the same way of all the miraculous gifts. Paul speaks elsewhere. The gift of healing and the gift of healing is obviously beneficial directly beneficial to the one it was healed, but he says that is not true of speaking and talk speaking in times calls attention to the one doing it, but it doesn't edified the church in the churches, assemblies, what Paul wants is what he speaks about in verse three he says everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening their encouragement and their comfort this matter. Strengthening means the building up of the church is an interesting exercise to go through this chapter and see the number of times. Paul speaks of building up edifying or strengthening what he means is, at the time that is spent together in Christian worship should be beneficial and should be exercised in such a way that those who leave. Christian worship go out talk better of the things of God and having received a clear direction as to how those principles are to be applied in the daily lives. In other words, what Paul is saying here in first Corinthians is the same thing that he says in the book of Ephesians the fourth chapter when he talks about the giving of the gifts of apostles and teachers and prophets. There, this is key verse for the function of the church because there Paul explains precisely in detail what should happen.

He says God is given to the church.

Apostles, prophets and teachers for the building up of the body in order that the church might be able to function and do its work of ministry in the world. In other words, he says in this great task in which were involved. Time is of the essence when Christians come together. There time together must count those ends. Secondly he says that this ministry prophecy should involve encouragement. It's pretty isn't it the we often forget to do that, especially those of us who were so given to an intellectual approach to things teaching. We think that all the is necessary is to get the doctrine straight or sex very, very important. But Paul is not only a teacher in the sense, Paul was a pastor as well and he recognized that those whom he spoke were often discouraged in their Christian lives in Christian ministries even though we know what we should do try to do it.

We often come up against what seemed us to be stonewalls seems DOS.

Sometimes a day after day or week after week, sometimes year after year we bang our heads against the stone wall and nothing seems to happen were trying to do the right thing were trying to be obedient to Christ were trying to preach and share the word with all of the gifts at our disposal, but nothing seems to happen very easy to get discouraged in the circumstances.

Paul says you see one of the functions prophecy or preaching. This kind of teaching in the church is that it should encourage believers in the work of God is given them to do. And the third thing he mentions discomfort. He says when we spend time together and are assemblies there should be a measure of comfort. Also what is said in the last century there was a great preacher and one by the name of James Parker, James Parker often use to speak to young seminarians, young ministers and he always used to say something like this young man when you preaching your churches always preached of broken hearts because he said when you preached a broken heart. You will never lack for an audience only was recognizing as the people even Christian people come to church with hurts.

They come with a wound sometimes's wounds inflicted in the family.

Sometimes wounds inflicted in the marketplace.

Sometimes great griefs that come into their lives because of ruptures. The past with other people or sometimes sickness or death or many other things really have to look in our own lives to know what that is balls as you see if you're really thinking about other people to get really concerned about them and if you're being getting to exercise the kind of love, about which I spoke in the 13th chapter you will recognize that people are hurting so in your worship services, you won't be trying to call attention to yourself is so many people do, but rather you'll seek to do that which is helpful to them as an illustration of this point he talked about music talks about the flute harp and then later on he speaks about the trumpet and he says yes there has to be something intelligible in order for music to make sense if everybody just gets together with her instrument send box the springs or blows on their horn doesn't pay attention to in order to score it's not beneficial to anybody as cacophonous as a matter fact is horrible and if in battle. Somebody picks up a trumpet, and just blows on their trumpet it doesn't blow recognizable to the people could interpret.

The soldiers are going to know whether to go forward in charge or go backward and retreat as is it the same way in the worship service.

You know I suppose an illustration of that comes a little bit closer to home is the way many of us sing.

I love to sing, but I do not take the place about Smith on Sunday morning and saying because although I love to sing and I'm sure the Lord is pleased with my singing. I'm not sure if I sign up there in the back of the church. It would be edifying the church as a whole. My singing is the kind of singing that I go on in the shower where with the down pouring sounds of the music I'm able to lift my heart and praise to God but everybody else just kind of stays in the other part of the house until the shower is finished.

You see, Paul is saying if you like to sing like that. Well, go do it. But when you're in church try to do what is going to be helpful. What's going to be strengthening, encouraging and comforting to the Christians is one thing he is talking about prophecy being better than Tom's, where the church is concerned. Secondly is a little parenthesis beginning with verse 13, in which he talks, I believe about the beneficial effects of prophecy rather than speaking in tongues for the individual himself when he does serious contrast praying in the spirit and praying with his mind way many of us think that contrast would be waited on the side of the spirit, because spiritual things are good. So we would say would wait.

It's much better to pray in the spirit in the praying with our minds course, what we mean by that is probably right. We mean that there's no use just saying words, really. We have to be in tune with God and we have to pray in the same way we worship the Lord himself said he worships must worship in spirit and truth we mean by that is right, but where wrong. If we contrast that kind of praying with praying with our mind because in that verse, I just quoted from the fourth chapter of John's Gospel when Jesus said true worshipers must worship the Father in spirit and in truth it is interesting that he combined truth with worshiping in the spirit see saying must be a heart worship and has to be genuine and has to be our spirit bearing witness with the spirit of God in the spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit has to operate on that level but at the same type has to be according to truth and truth involves content.

This is what Paul says). McClung my spirit prays that is a ton. I don't understand my spirit prays, but my mind is on fruitful so what shall I do well. I will pray with my spirit but I will also pray with my mind in such a danger in our time of indulging, especially in American Christianity and what I call contentless Christianity is a kind of Christianity that often takes place in services where there seems to be a great deal of fire, but not much white great deal of emotion, but not much instruction so people will go away on an emotional Jag, but when you asked him afterwards what it is that they learned or what difference it's going to make in their lives because the time they spent together that particular form of worship is really very little offer. I think that's a terrible danger. Reason why it's such a danger is that if we get off into that kind of emotional Jag apart from content. It's very easy to find ourselves performing in ways that are contrary to God's revelation in his word, we can say well I just feel that it's the right thing to do.

I was so excited I just thought that we should do this because that's always dangerous unless you can go back to the word and say this is what the word teaches as I try to take that word and applied to my life.

It seems to me inescapable that it has to be applied in this way, some of the great spokesman of our time called attention to this John Stockton.

Some of his writings calls attention to the practice of Christianity without content and this is how dangerous it is. Francis Schaeffer and some of his writings is done the same thing. He says in our world today. We must rest content content and content again.

I believe that's absolutely true. That's not to say content apart from an emotional response. People respond in different ways but were hardhearted indeed, and we can read these great truths of the gospel of God's love for us in his desire for our lives not be emotionally moved by them. I followed, but you see, it should be the content of Scripture that moves us rather than simply indulging in that emotional experience alone. So Paul says you see prophecy in the sense of proclaiming the word teaching the word applying the word is not only beneficial for the church and to be practice. For that reason, but is beneficial for the individual himself, and then finally talks also the benefit of this for unbelievers. It's interesting how he doesn't begin to talk about it in verse 22 saying that tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers and prophecy is for believers but for unbelievers. What he means by that is that tongues is a miracle and therefore a miracle is something that the unbelieving world will set up a notice where in the experience of Christian people shouldn't be all that unusual should be more commonplace. That's true enough.

But he says he says is in contrast to what he is just stated in verse 22 in your worship service, you practice kind of worship in which here and there and all over the church, one after the other, sometimes several at one time people are standing up and are babbling away in tongues and an unbeliever comes in to your gathering as we hope will be the case he's going to say I've never been in such a crazy place in my life are all out of their mind to get anything out of it can understand the word turn around and leave and say that's a good place to stay away from. But on the contrary, he says of an unbeliever comes into your fellowship instead of that kind of unintelligible speech he finds people actually articulating the great truths of the word of God, showing what they mean and why they make sense and how they apply not the life of people who live a generation of a thousand years ago, but how they apply to the lives of people living today and why they're important. Then he says that person is going to go out of their edified and is going to sign way the section ends God is really among you, and of course that's what we desire.

And that's why we do things the way we do.

The last half of this chapter Paul sums it up and applies it in several areas that he has not spoken about in the first half of the chapter is essential point is what we do must be done for edification for the building up of the church is always some radius rules but should be followed if we really take that seriously doesn't say that people must never speak in tongues in church, but he says if you do, it should be done this way should be two or three who speak in times not more a 20 or 30 something in which you should overindulge two or three says of the most and then secondly, they should speak one at a time.

Not all at once, even if you can understand they should speak one of the time because of everybody speaking at once can even catch the words when it's time he says and then thirdly, when they speak there should always be someone there to interpret. Because if what were concerned about is the edification of the body and the communication of scriptural truth unbelievers must have interpretation because something which is unintelligible is no message at all. So he sums it up in that way then there's a paragraph here in which he applies in other parts of worship as well is been talking about problems and principles that could control the practice of the speaking in tongues, but he says look the same thing applies to breaching when you have a preaching service. You should have two or three that most where the people out of 15 or 20 people preaching one after the other on and on and on. He said several just you. And furthermore, they must speak clearly so they can be understood, one at a time because he says usually were concerned about the same thing.

It's not that this is valid and this is invalid, but it's what were trying to accomplish in Christian worship, and I suppose for the same reason he has little paragraph here in which he speaks about women being silent in the churches doesn't mean I am sure that a woman can never speak in a church building. When he talks about the churches is referring to the assembly. The worship services that go on the often uses the word in that way we know that even in such services. There's never the case of women can't do anything because in the 11th chapter he talks about a woman praying and seems to assume that she can pray or teach in a certain way. That's all right. What's he talking about what he's talking about. I believe the same thing he's talking about an IT Texan first Timothy the second chapter where he says he suffers women to keep silence of the church and he's giving instruction for the ordering of the church and he says a woman is not to usurp authority over a man what he's talking about is the orientated teaching and disciplinary role of the session or the ministers in the churches of Jesus Christ saying there is a restriction here. So when were talking about ordering the churches. It's not to say that women don't have gifts and that the right places for those gifts to be fulfilled. But in this authoritative teaching and preaching role which ministers occupy this something that should be restricted to men and not women come to the very end and he sums it up, and he sums it up with the three principles that you find in verses 39 and 40, first of all, be eager to prophesy to see if prophecy is as good as he says it is preaching or teaching. In this way is as good as he says it is in every one of us should seek to be able to do that in some way because of you going to desire anything desire that. Secondly, don't forbid to speak in tongues.

Whenever any of us receive enlightenment like that and something that we suddenly realize as good or better than something else first thing we want to do is restrict somebody else's exercise of the gift were all very guilty of that Paul says no don't do that. He says you desire the best thing but make sure that you don't forbid somebody else to do what they're doing. Then, as he concludes. He says everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way that is should be done in a way that is appropriate.

What were trying to accomplish because the final analysis, it's not because of who we are, how spectacular we see is not even to the extent of how eloquent we can speak about biblical truths or how clear we can be in their exposition or how wise we may appear is not because we do spectacular things in our services, it's not because we have magnificent stories to relate how this had been true of our lives, and God intervened in the supernatural way and did this.

Those things have their place, but rather it's the word of God. Whether were faithful in the exposition teaching in the application of this work.

That's what God honors God honors his word is an honor.

Your experience doesn't honor your intellectual capabilities. The devils are smarter than you are.

God honors his word.

Where were faithful where we teach that God himself speaks and stands behind it carries the truth of that word home to the human heart brings about that rebirth, which is absolutely necessary if one would see the kingdom of God is pray our father we ask you to bless these truths to our hearts into our practice, we read many passages of your word that seemed to instruct us essentially in a personal way.

But then we read a passage like this, which is so clear and speaking the way we should conduct ourselves together, as Christian people in Christian worship, we would pray our father to give his ears to hear and grace to learn and obedient spirits to do what your Holy Spirit says to us, to our honor to the praise of the honor of the glory of Jesus Christ in whose name we pray you were listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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