by Mike Ratliff
Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp. (Numbers 11:26-30 ESV)
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 ESV)
As I ended our study last week on the Biblical definition of being Spirit Filled, I became convinced that after that was complete I should compare that with some very aberrant things being presented as “Christian” by an internationally, well-known local “church” in the metro area in which I live. I gave some hints about that in the post “What is the Purpose of Being Filled With the Spirit?” even though I did not give the name of the “church.” I did that because I was still praying about whether God really wanted me to do this. On my recent trip to Oklahoma, several family members encountered me concentrating on this as I meditated on scripture and prayed for wisdom. They all attempted to startle me as if I they thought I was in some sort of sleep state or something. No, I was simply listening to the Spirit as I worked through the Word comparing God’s truth with what I know these people are saying and doing which is most certainly not. I was simply planning the outline of what you are about to read. With each interruption I was concerned that I would lose the trail and not be able to get back to where God had me, but as I sat down this evening with my Bibles, lexicons, and commentaries, I found that the trail is indeed very hot and I pray that God uses me in this battle for His truth for His glory alone.
Carefully read the two passages I placed at the top of this post, Numbers 11:26-30 and 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. Actually, the second passage leads right into the the passage which is the focus for this post, 1 Corinthians 14:1-25. I wanted you to read these other passages to keep things in context. I have a friend, a good friend, who claims to be “a Pentecostal.” However, he and I have talked quite a bit about this topic. He asked me a few years ago if I had ever spoken in tongues. I told him that I had not. I asked him if he had. He told me that he had not either, but that since the church or denomination he was part of placed such a premium on that that it bothered him some that he did not. He refused “to fake it.” He told me that if he was not overcome by some outside force to speak in tongues then he was not going to just start doing it. He then asked me if it bothered me that I had not spoken in tongues. I told him that it didn’t bother me at all. He asked me why. I almost quoted sections of 1 Corinthians 14 to him. I am a Bible teacher. I teach from God’s Word. I make things from God’s Word clear to those who also have the Spirit of God. Tongue speaking is not meant for that purpose, but is a sign gift used by God to influence unbelievers. On the other hand, in the Church, the verbal gifts that God uses are those of preaching and teaching, which would include prophecy. I then told my friend that if God wanted me to speak in tongues then it was entirely up to Him to make that happen and I am His bondservant or slave to do with as He wills so…
Before I name the church in question, I want to go over this passage. We may have to go through several posts to get through it all. In the end, I want to compare what we will learn through this and what we learned last week with what I will show you through some videos I will attempt to post here of what is going on in that “church” and some others they sponsor.
Pursue love, 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 no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5 ESV)
The words translated above as “speaks in a tongue” are the Greek words λαλῶν γλώσσῃ or laleō glōssa. The word λαλῶν simply means “to speak,” but in this usage is would be best translated as “one speaking.” The word translated “a tongue” by the ESV, γλώσσῃ is the Dative, singular form of γλῶσσα, which means “language.” The fact that in v2 Paul used the singular form of γλῶσσα in a negative sense saying that “no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit” is referring to the counterfeit gift of pagan gibberish that was part of their “worship.” In fact, in every instance of this form of γλῶσσα in 1 Corinthians 14, the King James translators added consistently the word “unknown” before it, but never in the case of the plural form as we see in v5, “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” Here is v5 from the Greek, “θέλω δὲ πάντας ὑμᾶς λαλεῖν γλώσσαις, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε· μείζων γὰρ ὁ προφητεύων ἢ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσαις, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ διερμηνεύῃ, ἵνα ἡ ἐκκλησία οἰκοδομὴν λάβῃ.” Both instances of the word translated as “tongues” in this passage are γλώσσαις, which is the Dative, plural form of γλῶσσα. The plural form indicates the genuine gift of a foreign language.
Now, with that said, let’s read vv1-5 from that context. Paul was actually saying that prophesy was the best gift for the church because prophesies builds up the church. What purpose do the speaking in tongues serve? They serve no purpose unless there is an interpreter or if the language being spoken is the one spoken by the unbeliever meant to hear the Word of God by the one with that gift of tongues. Notice that is is all about what is best for the church.
Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 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.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (1 Corinthians 14:6-25 ESV)
Again, notice that in the singular form the word “tongue” is not used by Paul in a positive sense, but a negative one. However, in the usage of “tongues,” they are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. On the other hand, prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. This is why church is not for the unchurched, but for Christians alone.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, (1 Corinthians 14:26-33 ESV)
Carefully read this my brethren. This is speaking of orderly worship. There is no chaos here. There is no ranting and raving with people running around screaming and laughing like madmen. This is about order and peace and and not confusion. Any church or its leadership that claims that “God is here!” because they have what they call “manifestations” of the Spirit in which people run around jerking and falling down causing others to fly around the room spinning and such, babbling and screaming are talking about something alien to what the Apostle Paul was describing here. If you look back at the top of this post to 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 you will read that these spiritual gifts like tongues and prophecy will pass away when the perfect shall come. He qualifies that statement in the rest of that passage so that when some say that the completion of the Bible is “the perfect” actually makes little sense. No, this stuff that is partial now will pass away when the perfect comes and that is when Christ returns. Does this mean that I believe in the gift of tongues? Yes, but as you read above, as Paul qualified it. It is for ministering to unbelievers only; not believers in the Church. I believe this is why I have never experienced it all in my entire walk and ministry because I minister through teaching from God’s Word to believers.
Now let me move on to an example of a church that gets all of this wrong. I live in the Kansas City area. I live on the Kansas side of the metro. On the Missouri side is a “church” called “International House of Prayer” or “IHOP,” which is linked to the Kansas City Prophets, which are both linked to a church in our area that is advertising heavily on TV now as the World Revival Church. One of the “fruits” of all this is a “faith healer” named Todd Bentley. These are all linked together. The more I dug into this, the more I found the same people moving between these groups. If you look at their web sites and promos you won’t see the stuff that others have shown me with all of the Satanic body twitching, body slamming stuff going on with the the focus being on “the manifestations” of the God through what they call the gifts of the Spirit which we have been looking at for weeks and know that what they are doing does not line up with God’s Word.
I will post just one video that includes some of what goes on at World Revival Church as part of their “Worship.” This video is part 2 of a series. I suggest you watch the entire series on Youtube. In any case, I will start working on what true worship is in our next post, God willing. Here is the video.