Saturday, September 22, 2018
“In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).
While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?
First Corinthians chapter 14 outlines the six rules that regulated the gift of tongues (which gift the Corinthians were abusing). When the Holy Spirit was involved, these six principles were always in place. Any deviation, even slightly, meant that the experience was artificial and satanic. Someone was striving in his or her flesh to mimic or counterfeit God’s work.
Primarily, tongues served as a sign to the nation Israel (today’s Scripture). Secondly, two—or maximum, three—individuals were to speak in tongues during one meeting (verse 27). Thirdly, the speakers had to take turns, and not talk over each other (verse 27). Fourthly, the tongue had to be translated or the speaker was to remain silent (verses 27,28). Fifthly, only men spoke in tongues (verses 34,35). Lastly, there was to be decency, order, self-control (verse 40). These six rules describe the only type of speaking in tongues the Holy Spirit has ever (!) endorsed!
It was particularly important that tongues be translated. This interpretation allowed unsaved Jews to not only hear a foreign language (recognizing God’s judgment on their nation), but also learn God’s Word in their own native tongue (whatever it happened to be). An intelligible message, as opposed to gibberish, afforded them an opportunity to be convicted of their sin and converted to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Now that that Acts transitional period is over, God dealing with Israel has passed, so the spiritual gifts have ceased (1 Corinthians 8:8-13). We have a completed Bible, total revelation from God, and thus temporary spiritual gifts and fragmentary revelation are unnecessary (2 Timothy 3:16,17; cf. Colossians 1:25-27).
Our two latest Bible Q&As: “Did Saul of Tarsus ever meet Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry?” and “Did Paul just hear Jesus’ voice, or did he see Him, too?”