Division VS Multiplication

Once again I want to deal with issues that have caused division in the church rather than brought unity through the Spirit.

1. The Authority and place of prophecy in the body.
2. The use of tongues / other languages in the body.

> Prophecy and Prophets…

Jesus referring to John the Baptist as the last Elijah (Matt 11) the last in a long series of Old Testament prophets. Jesus indicated that… the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.{Elijah}… 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

Indication is given of a change in the nature and form of prophets and prophecy in the coming age of the kingdom of God. The utterance of Prophets was committed to word and forms the basis of the scripture we have as the Old Testament. In the new age of the church the words of the apostle primarily is treated in this manner…

It sounds like there is an order of gifts in 1 Cor 12: 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

Here Paul lists the 3 speaking with authority gifts in an order of preeminence. The apostolic word written by the Apostles that we have as scripture takes pre eminence over and above prophecy and teaching. It is the standard that we measure by.     SOLA Scriptura.

So prophecy is not equal to scripture and should be measured against the word of God.

In the bible we have examples of New Testament prophets, prophesying in this manner…

Acts 21:4 having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

Here through prophecy the disciples are telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem… Presumably if this prophecy were of equal measure as the sovereign word of God then Paul would follow there advice… so what did Paul do… 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey. He continued on his journey to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:10 The Prophet Agabus… 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit, This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, Let the will of the Lord be done.

Agabus is warning Paul of what will happen in Jerusalem as were the believers at Tyre… yet his description is not quite right… its the romans not the Jews who bound Paul… The Jews plotted and tried to kill him and Paul is rescued by force. (Acts 21)

Agabus had a sense maybe a vision of what was going to happen to Paul as did the other believers. This was not exactly correct and certainly not equal to scripture since Paul disobeys it and the people state… 14 Let the will of the Lord be done.

Paul advises that Prophecy should be examined and weighed against scripture and the body… 1 Thes 5: 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. (presuming some is not good)
1 Cor 14: 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

I have issue with people using the Old Testament Prophet formula ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’… as this elevates the utterance, to being the words of God.

Paul had issue with this also 1 Cor 14: 36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. Again scripture and Apostles word elevated above prophecy.

I strongly agree with Pauls’ summary here though… 1 Cor 14: 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order… Earnestly desire prophecy and do not forbid speaking in tongues…

> Speaking in Tongues or other languages whats the go with that…

The Greek word is (glossa) translated tongue or language. Speaks in Tongues can give a sense of not being ordered structured or distinct to a language, yet the words are the same.

Definition… (prayer / praise spoken in syllables of a language not known by the speaker.)      … Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem

It seems that this is mainly speaking to God; but can be speaking to others, in this instance interpretation is needed. 1 Cor 14: 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 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.

With our mind we pray or sing – know / understand the words
With our spirit we pray or sing – in unknown words to us

One is not better than the other Paul encourages both but in a group he encourages only one…1 Cor 14: 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue…. 1 Cor 14: 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church… 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

I note with interest that Paul says ‘IF’ any speak in a tongue in 27. assuming tongues may not always be used in the body every time it gathers. Just like other gifts healing is not always used or discernment but the gifts are used as the spirit directs and moves amongst His Body the church.

The gifts are after all for others not ourselves… they are to glorify God and build up His Church, for unity and edification.

Look out into the universe and contemplate the glory of God. Observe the stars, millions of them, twinkling in the night sky, all with a message of unity, part of the very nature of God.    Sai Baba

The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself. Ralph Waldo Emerson”