Tuesday, 10 February 2015
If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 1 Corinthians 14:27
Paul now gives explicit instructions concerning tongues. This is a prescriptive verse for the church at Corinth (and thus to us because the letter is included in Scripture). To not adhere to this verse is to then violate a command found in the book which establishes faith and doctrine for the church. Logically, we can consider the following:
1) The words of the Bible are inspired by the Spirit of God.
2) The Spirit of God will never violate a precept which is found in the Bible, which He has inspired. Therefore,
3) Any practice or occurrence which is seen in a church and which violates the prescriptions of the Bible cannot be inspired by the Spirit.
Let’s remember this as we continue. Paul says that “if anyone speaks in a tongue” (which has been shown clearly in this chapter to be a known language), “let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.” The Spirit-inspired words of Paul note that speaking in a tongue (a known language) is acceptable within the church, but there are rules which must be followed –
1) No more than two or three may speak in a tongue during any one service. This can only be interpreted this way. It doesn’t mean “two or three at once” based on his continued words in this verse.
2) Each person speaking in tongues must do so in turn, not at the same time. The idea and design for speaking in tongues is that it is a tool to convince unbelievers; they are a sign to them. Therefore, in order to edify the church, there should be order and harmony rather than disorder in the speaking of tongues.
3) If a tongue is spoken within the church, it must be interpreted. If a tongue is spoken in a church and there is no interpreter, then there will be no edification. As edification is the intent of such speech, then the words should not even be uttered aloud.
These rules are given in the Bible. They are not exhortations, nor are they mere suggestions. They are instead prescriptive elements which are expected to be adhered to. Understanding this, then we can very easily root out any false tongues. Again, if the Spirit inspired the Bible and there is a practice which occurs within a church which does not conform to the Bible, then the source of that practice cannot be Spirit led.
Any “tongue” spoken in a church which is not interpreted cannot be a Spirit-led tongue. Any congregation where more than three people speak in a tongue cannot claim to be led by the Spirit. And any gathering where more than one tongue is spoken at a time cannot be speaking by the Spirit.
Life application: The Spirit of God isn’t confused.
Heavenly Father, even if every person on earth were to come against Your word and claim that it wasn’t necessary; even if every church on earth departed from the guidelines You have given for us to follow; and even if I were faced with death unless I turned my back on the Lord who is revealed to me in Your word, I would still ask for the strength and wisdom to stand on Your word and the truths it contains. Your word, O God, is more to be treasured than all the riches of this world because it tells me of My Lord Jesus. I stand on Your word, O God. Amen.