Thursday, 12 February 2015
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 1 Corinthians 14:29
In contrast to “tongues” which Paul has been dealing with in immense detail, and upon which he has placed great restrictions, he now turns to prophesying. His admonition is “Let two or three prophets speak.” Notice that he does not add in “at the most” as he did with tongues. Why did he so restrict tongues and not prophesying? The answer is that tongues serve no purpose in the congregation unless they are translated. And even if they are translated, they often interrupt more than they edify.
In the case of prophesying, he does not want to quench the spirit when edification is the aim of the speaker. This follows perfectly with his words of 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 –
“Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
Having allowed the speaking of prophesy openly, and with the thought that two or three should speak, he then says, “and let the others judge.” This is an important thought to consider. People claim “inspiration” all the time, but not all who speak are inspired. All we need to do is look at any person who speaks in an incoherent tongue within a church to see how prevalent this is. Based on Paul’s words of instruction in this chapter, not one of them is under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Just like these false tongue speakers, people who speak coherently in a known language are not necessarily speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There is enough about false prophets and false teachers in the Bible that we should truly pay heed to every word uttered as the congregation meets. Those who hear should judge the truth of what is said based on a competent understanding of Scripture. And the only way to make such a competent evaluation is to:
1) Have the Bible handy for reference; and
2) Know where to go in the Bible to evaluate what is said.
One cannot do these things unless the nose is kept in its pages constantly. If this doesn’t occur as people speak, inevitably false doctrine will creep in. John warns us specifically about this in his first epistle –
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
Life application: The old saying, “Trust no one” is good advice. Until a person’s words have been compared to the word of God, they should be taken cautiously.
Lord, Your word warns us time and time again to be wise and discerning concerning those who speak falsely. I know that this is not possible without knowing Your word. Anyone can say anything and claim that they are telling the truth, but how gullible I would be to accept someone at face value concerning my eternal destiny. Please give me wisdom and discernment concerning Your word and the proper handling of it. Amen.