THE CORINTHIAN CONFUSION

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I CORINTHIANS 14:1-22




INTRODUCTION:


  1. George Gardiner grew up in a Pentecostal home, but as he read his Bible he had doubts and questions about Pentecostal doctrines and practices.
  2. Whenever he asked questions, he would be rebuked. His fellow Pentecostals warned him to be careful lest he be guilty of committing "the sin against the Holy Ghost."
  3. Finally, God brought him out of Pentecostalism and he became a fundamental preacher. He wrote a good little book called The Corinthian Catastrophe.
  4. What helped George Gardiner is what helped many others that have been mixed up in error, and that is a serious study of Godís Word.
  5. Gardiner served in the US Air Force during WWII and this allowed him much time to study the Bible. God opened his eyes and he got his doctrine straight.
  6. As a pastor I am always coming into contact with people who have been mixed up with the tongues movement. I have been able to help some of them, and others I could not help because they were unteachable. Paul describes these types of people in 14:38.
  7. I hope todayís study in I Cor.14 is a help because chances are every one assembled here today knows someone who attends a Pentecostal or charismatic church.
  8. Before I proceed any further, I want to clarify some terms. I basically use the tongues movement, the charismatic movement, and Pentecostalism interchangeably even though there are some minor distinctions.

 

I. TONGUES DO NOT EDIFY THE CHURCH.

    1. We saw last week that in I Cor.13:8, Paul says that tongues "shall cease." The great Bible teacher, H.A. Ironside said: "We know both from Scripture and church history that most of the so-called miraculous gifts passed away shortly after the Bible was completed. They are not needed now as they were at the beginning...They served their purpose, a very useful one, in authenticating the message as divine, when these signs followed the proclamation of the truth. Now with Godís complete revelation in our hands, we do not require signs to manifest it as the Word of the Lord. When preached in power, it authenticates itself."
    2. John Chrysostom was a famous pastor from Antioch who wrote many commentaries on Paulís epistles. He wrote these words in the fourth century: "This whole passage (referring to I Cor.14) is very obscure; but the obscurity arises from our ignorance of the facts described, which, though familiar to those to whom the apostle wrote, have ceased to occur."
    3. Today we will see that tongues do not edify the local church. The word "edify" is used several times in this chapter (cf. 14:3,4,5, 12,17,26).
    4. Letís read this carefully and try to follow Paulís train of thought. First of all, he says it is better to "prophesy" (14:1), i.e., it is better to preach.
    5. When we think of a man prophesying, we usually think of someone predicting the future. But it has another meaning. In addition to foretelling, it could also mean forth-telling, or "telling forth Godís message."
    6. Secondly, he says that when a man speaks in tongues, "no man understandeth him" (14:2). Than what good is it?
    7. Later on, Paul says, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all" (14:18). I heard Jimmy Swaggart say on TV that this is proof that Paul was a "tongues-speaker" just like Swaggart and his followers. But what Paul is really saying is that he spoke in several different languages.
    8. But even though he was able to speak in more languages than they all, he preferred to speak in a language that his hearers could understand (14:19).
    9. In I Cor.14:20 he exhorts them not to act like little children (cf. 13:8-11).
    10. Then in 14:21 he quotes from Deut.28:49 and Isa.28:11, 12 to show that men are not saved by anything so much as by the preaching of the Word of God in plain language.
    11. I do not have the time today to expand on this but Paul is saying that back in the OT period, God sent the strange tongue of the Assyrian conquerors as a judgment on the unbelieving Jews.
    12. Therefore, tongues are not a sign to convert men, but rather to condemn those hardened in their unbelief (cf. 14:22).
    13. So Paul says it is better to prophesy than to speak in tongues (14:23-25). Secondly, Paul says when a man speaks in tongues, no one understands him, so what is the point of it? It is better to proclaim Godís word in plain English (or Spanish, French, etc.). Thirdly, he says tongues were for a sign to unbelievers.
    14. Now fourthly, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (14:3). So whereas tongues do not help to edify the church; prophesying is good for "edification, and exhortation, and comfort."
    15. Fifthly, Paul states he "that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church" (14:4). So the church is not edified through tongues-speaking but by prophesying (preaching).
    16. Keep in mind that "to edify" does not mean to build up numerically, but to build up spiritually. Oftentimes it can mean both, and if God is working there will be numerical growth, but the emphasis should be on spiritual growth.
    17. Numerical growth does not necessarily mean God is blessing. For example, the Mormon Church (LDS) is spreading like wildfire all over the world but it is a false cult.

 

II. TONGUES SHOULD ONLY BE SPOKEN WITH AN INTERPRETER.

    1. In I Cor.14:5, Paul says, "For greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpretÖ"
    2. This is not practiced today. I was driving in my car one night listening to WMCA and I heard Sid Roth speaking in tongues. There was no interpreter. This type of thing is going on all over the world Ė people are babbling away and there is no one interpreting.
    3. Beloved, mark carefully 14:33. The charismatic movement is full of confusion. They are leading people into Romanism, and eventually the devilís one-world church. I think this is what was behind Promise Keepers. Thank God they were exposed and now they are falling apart.
    4. The tongues in the Bible are known languages (cf. Acts 2:1-11). The word "unknown" in our King James Bible is in italics for clarity (cf. 14:4,13,14,19,27). It means "unknown to the person speaking" or sometimes even "unknown to the people listening" but it never means "unknown (or nonexistent) languages."
    5. The Bible is clear: "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church" (14:28).

 

III. WOMEN ARE NOT TO SPEAK IN TONGUES (14:34,35).

    1. The Bible says women are to keep silence in the churches (14:34). I believe with all my heart that if this Scripture were followed, the tongues movement would close down tomorrow.
    2. Paul goes on to say that if they are to ask questions, let them wait till they get home and ask their husbands (14:35). Ironside said, "In these days, it is often the men that do not understand and they ask the women at home!" If this were true back in 1934, how much more so today in 2003!?
    3. Some feminists and liberals claim that these are just Paulís opinions but that is not true. He says in 14:37, "the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."
    4. God is a God of order, not disorder (14:40). The devil is behind disorder. Rock music is disorderly. Churches with no standards are disorderly. Allowing ladies to preach is disorderly (cf. I Tim. 2:11,12). All these new Bible translations are disorderly.
    5. All of this is the devilís work and if you have discernment you can see all these things coming out of the charismatic movement.

CONCLUSION:

  1. The Bible teaches that tongues are known languages. Several Baptist missionaries have told me that they knew Pentecostal missionaries who never bothered to learn the language of the country they were working in and they had to work with interpreters.
  2. The Bible also teaches that tongues were a temporary gift that would some day cease. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that unless certain requirements are met, people should not speak in tongues.
  3. So even if one sincerely believes that the gift has not yet ceased, he would still have to comply with the guidelines set forth here in I Cor.14.
  4. Since this is not being done, we can only conclude that the modern day tongues movement is a counterfeit, that it is not of God, and that their tongues are some sort of self-deception and delusion.


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