Or do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given? If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord Himself. But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.1 Corinthians 14:36-40
I told you yesterday of two theories of where the connection is. Now let me tell you another one – mine. I think the answer lies in the immediate section before the one we are looking at. Paul starts the section saying “Let’s summarize”. 14:26 (NLT) When you meet together this should happen with prophecies and tongues . . . Paul continues the input related to tongues and prophecy for a number of verses (until 14:33), then we have the comment on the side related to women being silent, because he has been thinking about the Corinthians’ chaotic services. Following the comment about woman nattering in church he then returns to the discussion on the gifts, in particular prophecy. Only now he is talking about an attitude that often comes with those who prophesy.
Do you think when you speak out a word of prophecy or a word of knowledge or wisdom that the Word of God emanates from you? Do you think you hold a franchise on the Word of Truth? Are you the only one that God is speaking to? I believe in the genuineness of the gifts of the spirit and their use for today. But I have frequently encountered an error that creeps in with the spoken gifts of revelation from God. “This is a word from the Lord – thus sayeth the Lord – and who are you to challenge it?” “We now hold a special place in God because we have these Words coming forth.” It is a flip side of the problem seen in the encounter I told you about in Bible Gem 465. Rather than us neglecting the Word from the Lord as in BG 465, this problem is that we and we only have the truth because we have these Words flowing from the Lord. I think Paul is countering that spirit.
It seems to me the kinds of things Paul is saying to the Corinthians are so applicable to the charismatic church of today. The same errors and the same spirit seems to exist. Therefore Paul says, don’t think that you are the repository for the Word of God or that you are the only ones to whom He is speaking. If you claim to speak for the Lord, if you claim to be spiritual and God is speaking through you then you should recognise what I (Paul) am saying is from God too. If you are spiritual then you recognise the truth in this and know there needs to be balance and order, checks and balances. If not then you [are out of line and you] will not be recognised.
People be eager to prophesy, don’t forbid tongues; inference, these who are of God. Don’t throw out these gifts because of the excess or the aberrations practised. Don’t reject these special abilities because of the chaos that reigns. Instead make sure everything is orderly and done in the proper way. I think this advice from Paul flows with a unity that relates to the same topic or discussion point. Furthermore it is very relevant in the climate or circumstances which most frequently accompany the use of the gifts of the Spirit. Even though He is speaking to us and through us in these gifts that does not mean we are special above all others and God’s favour rests solely on us.
Paul comes to his conclusion, and reassumes the exhortation he gave in the beginning of the chapter, pressing the members of this church to desire the gift of prophecy. Notice all that has gone in between is sandwiched between these two statements:
- 1Co 14:1 . . . But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.
- 1Co 14:39 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy . . .
And don’t forbid speaking in tongues but be sure it is all done in an orderly way.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.Bishop Desmond Tutu
No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.John Maxwell