1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 103
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2009|
|“Who Do You Think You Are?” Not you, but the church of Corinth, as Paul addresses this church and wraps up all that he’s been saying for three chapters here, 12, 13 and 14.|
1 Corinthians 14:36-40
John Ankerberg: Hi, this is John Ankerberg and today I want to present to you my very, very good friend, Dr. Wayne Barber. For 18 years he was pastor of the huge Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was co-teacher with Kay Arthur for 14 years at Precept Ministries. He studied with Dr. Spiros Zodhiates and co-hosted with him the national radio and TV program “New Testament Light” for 10 years. Wayne has taught the message of living grace, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, all around the world. He is president, founder and principle speaker of Living Grace Ministries. And in February 2011 he returned to Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as senior pastor. Wayne has authored several books. The most recent one is entitled Living Grace: Letting Jesus Be Jesus in You. And he’s also co-authored the Following God series of studies published by AMG. I hope that you’ll enjoy listening to Dr. Wayne Barber.
Who Do You Think You Are?
Dr. Wayne Barber: Turn with me this morning to 1 Corinthians 14. And God willing, before this service is over we will finish chapter 14, before the Lord has come for His church. I’ve wondered for awhile if we would ever finish chapters 12, 13 and 14. Some people that turn the television set on periodically and they don’t know that we’ve been in Corinthians for 107 messages may think we have an agenda. The only agenda we have is working our way through 1 Corinthians, and we just happen to be finishing up chapter 14 today.
My title today is “Who Do You Think You Are?” Not you, but the church of Corinth, as Paul addresses this church and wraps up all that he’s been saying for three chapters here, 12, 13 and 14. When you stop to think of it, you’ve got to feel for the apostle Paul. How would you like the assignment of dealing with the carnal, fleshly-minded church of Corinth, a church that had no concern for its own: to the degree that a man could live and sleep with his father’s wife, his stepmother, he could commit incest and adultery at the same time; everybody know about it and nobody deal with it? They did not love each other at all. In fact, a church that had no biblical concept of what the family was all about. A church that didn’t have any kind of relationships that were godly because they were suing each other at the drop of a hat. A church with no sensitivity to people around them, that did not understand the message of grace. A church that had no reverence at all when they’d come to the Lord’s Supper. As a matter of fact, they made it a mockery. And a church with no grasp of spiritual matters, no balance whatsoever, to the point that they were willing to take their emotional experiences and actually characterize them as spiritual things that are happening to them day by day.
Well, Paul did deal with them. He dealt with them biblically; he dealt with them firmly; and he dealt with them lovingly. And we’ve been his audience for 14 chapters as we’ve watched him deal with these people. We’ve seen the exasperation in his life. The two times he uses that concession word in chapter 14, when it’s almost like he just comes to the point and says “Oh, good grief!” and he starts over again with them, just the exasperation of dealing with hard-headed people who don’t want to hear what the Word of God has to say.
The Corinthian believers were a tough group. The saddest thing was they had been taught by the Word of God, the best-taught church in the New Testament. Paul had been their pastor; Apollos had been their pastor. But they didn’t want to live up underneath the authority of God’s Word. This was evidenced by the way they deified their emotional experiences and they put it above God’s Word. They began to live outside of what God’s Word had to say. You see, when a person is living after his flesh, not living surrendered to Christ, that person does not care about doctrine. Doctrine is not important to him; experience is all that matters, what gratifies the flesh, what pleases the flesh. Back in chapter 4 in verse 6 Paul said “Now these things brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written.” That’s what they were doing, exceeding that which was written.
Their public meetings could not be called anything close to a worship service; it was so confusing and chaotic. By their fleshly living the only message they were communicating to the lost world around them in Corinth was that God must be a God of confusion and disorder. That’s all they were saying to the people that were there. First Corinthians 14:33, this led Paul to say very emphatically, “for God is not a God of confusion,” and that word means disorder, things that are disruptive. He says, “but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” In other words, He didn’t change the standard for Corinth. It’s that way in every one of the churches that God dealt with and we see in the New Testament. God’s character is a character that is one of order. It’s a character of integrity, decency, order.
And remember, 12:4-6, as we were talking about, as easing through into his teaching on the error in Corinth. And he says it’s the same spirit who gives the gifts, the same Lord that gives the ministry, the same God the Father that gives the effects. You see, His character doesn’t change. Now the way He does things is different with one and another, but His character is immutable, it’s unchangeable. The behavior that He produces in us therefore is a behavior of order, a behavior that is decent. That’s when God is working because that’s who He is and He doesn’t change and He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. But contrary to God’s character which is unchangeable, our character and our flesh, rather is changeable. And because it’s changeable it’s fickle and therefore it’s not trustworthy.
All that was happening in Corinth was a result of people attaching themselves to their own untrustworthy and worthless flesh. And, folks, I want to tell you, just like Paul said in Romans, any time we attach ourselves to the flesh we are serving the law of sin. And there’s no other way around it: no matter if you want to call it religious or whatever else, it’s serving the law of sin. We’ve got to be attached to Christ, living in surrender to His Spirit.
Well, in our context this morning he’s summing up chapters 12, 13 and 14. He’s trying to put some order back into their services. His specific topic cannot be missed and cannot be forgotten, but his specific topic has been the foolish gibberish that’s going on in Corinth, a non-language. And he says this is not right because it cannot be interpreted and when God speaks He speaks so that people can hear and people can understand.
Well, let’s look at verses 36 and following, down to the last verse of chapter 14. Verse 36, he says, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write,” Paul says, “to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
If you did not write Scripture, then simply obey it
Now, summing up all of these thoughts, I’m going to bring four things to you this morning. And remember, I’m not the absolute; the Word of God is. But here’s what I see in my study and I want to share it with you. First of all, to the people of Corinth, who do you think you are? If you did not write Scripture then simply obey it. Now there are two questions Paul brings up in verse 36. Let’s look at them. First of all he says, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth?” Was it from you, you flesh and blood Corinthians, that the word of God came from? Wow, man, you are spiritual. Whoa, if the word came out of you!
Now, see, what he’s doing is very facetious here. What he’s saying is it’s a fallacy to think that you have an authority. God’s Word has the authority. It doesn’t come from man, it comes from God. We need to understand that the flesh and blood are different from the sphere of the Spirit. God is Spirit. We’re flesh and blood. These are in two different spheres altogether, two different worlds. John says in John 4:24, “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” Now, as Spirit, God originates not from this earth, but, as a matter of fact, He doesn’t originate, because God is God; He’s always been. And it’s, see, a significant thing here. In John 3:31, “He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” He’s in a different category. He’s in a different sphere. He’s in a different world than man is in.
The moment man, his fleshly arrogance, begins to add to or take away from what God’s Word has to say is the moment he’s just tried to put himself into a sphere that only God dwells. He has committed the ultimate act of stupidity. But, you see, flesh always seeks to do just that, doesn’t it. Romans 1, remember Paul says in verse 22, “Professing to be wise they became fools.” You know, in chapter 1 he’s saying God revealed Himself to them. They knew Him, but they chose not to bow to Him. They chose to be the authority rather than what God had given to them. As a matter of fact, the context of that is interesting. In verse 21 of Romans 1 he says, “For even though they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened.” And then it says, “Professing to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man.”
Man loves to worship man. He loves to brag of what he can do, what he knows and what he has. That’s Jeremiah 9:23. And the very moment we begin to question or step above, exceed what’s written, we become like the Corinthians. We become very foolish. We step in a sphere that we cannot step into, when the Word of God didn’t come from man, the Word of God came from God. It’s by choosing to do things their way they projected themselves into a sphere that only God dwells.
It’s so sad when this mentality creeps into the church as it had in Corinth. They’ve done the same thing. They’ve exalted their experiences above that which is written. Verse 36 says, “Was it from you that the Word of God first went forth?” The word “from you” is the word, should be “out of you.” Now there’s a difference in two prepositions. Let me teach you the word. “From you” is apo. Apo would mean my pen is beside my pocket. And if I took it from it, I took it away from it, but it never was a part of my pocket, it was just alongside it. That’s apo, that’s from, away from. But if you put the pen inside the pocket, now it’s part of the pocket. To take it out of, ek, would mean to take the pen out of the pocket, the pocket is missing something now because something came out of it.
Now that’s the first preposition of this little two words there that makes it one Greek word. There are two words that make up one word: ek, and then the word exerchomai, which means to come. He said, “Did the word of God originate within you and did it come forth out of you? Is that where the word of God came from?” Wow! You Corinthians certainly are spiritual. See how facetious and what he’s doing here? What he’s telling them is, “Who do you think you are? The Word of God didn’t come from you. The Word of God came from Him. He’s got the design and you must bow before His design.”
Now the term, “the word of God” begins with the understanding that the word of God, the living Word of God, is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God,” verse 14, “and the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Christ didn’t come from God, He came out of because He is God, you see. And therefore that which He says comes out of God. It doesn’t come from man or from God. It comes out of the very heart, the very mouth of God. Second Timothy says the Scripture is “God-breathed.” I mean, it comes right out of the very mouth of God. It’s what God said, totally different sphere than where man dwells.
So Paul is simply saying to the Corinthians that had gone beyond and exceeded what was written, and he’s saying, “Who do you think you are? Did the word of God come out of you? Did it originate with you? Is that it?” You know, it’s not much different today, is it, when people put themselves above and beyond the Word of God? As a matter of fact there’s a church out in California that has what they call an open canon. Therefore they have, still have, prophets and apostles they say in the office now. And they say they’re continuing to give revelations to what the Word of God has to say. And the apostle Paul would have fun with that one, wouldn’t he. He’d say, “What? Did the word of God come out of you?”
You see, as a matter of fact, it was in the paper a couple of weeks ago, probably you saw it, about Andy Griffith. There’s a church that’s doing “the gospel according to Andy Griffith,” and they’re going back to his old programs and they’re getting values out of it. And, oh gosh. I mean, would Paul have a time in the 20th century? I mean, they didn’t have television back then. But this is the kind of stuff we’re talking about. When people think there’s a source outside of that which God has spoken. That comes out of the mouth of God. And anything that comes out of man is not worth fooling with because it comes out of untrustworthy and un, and worthless flesh. But then the flesh enjoys to be in control, doesn’t it.
So the first question, did you write Scripture? Hey, Corinthians, hey, come on, come on, did Scripture come out of you? Who do you think you are? In other words, if it didn’t come out of you then get busy and obey it. Quit trying to rewrite it. The second question is in verse 36, the last part of it. “Or has it come to you only?” Now, if they could answer the first question—that didn’t come out of us—then Paul would say, “Alright, do you have some private hold on it, some private understanding of it?” It’s the same thing Paul is doing here that I believe that Peter does in his epistle, second epistle. And of course the second epistles normally are dealing with false teachers. And Peter says in 2 Peter 1:20, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” If I stand up here and interpret it one way, you interpret it another way, both of us must need to come together and begin to pray, because one of us is wrong. And as soon as you change your mind everything will be okay. No, but one of us is wrong. The Scriptures of not private interpretation.
You’ve been with me for 18 years. How many times have you heard me stand up here, many, many times and say, “I’m wrong; I need to change that,” because it is of no private interpretation. “Corinthians, you mean what you’re doing is somehow something that nobody else got? Do you have this new revelation towards these experiences, etc., that’s going on and somehow it means something to you, but it doesn’t mean anything to the other people? Who do you think you are?”
“Or has it come to you only?” In other words, has it stopped with you? The word “coming to you only,” is the word katantao. Kata means down, and tao means to meet. Coming down and meeting something and stop it. Has it stopped just with you? Are you so special that you have a special revelation that nobody else has? When experience is chosen to replace what God says, someone has placed themselves in a very authoritative position. They are now exceeding the Word of God. They’ve put themselves above it. Either their experience or whatever else it is. They’re acting as if they’re the source of God’s Word. They’re acting as if they have the handle on it that nobody else has. Corinth had this attitude. “We’re the right ones. The rest of you are wrong. Don’t tell me what Scripture says. We’re writing it as we go.”
You know, some of the letters I’ve gotten in this series—and it’s not just been bad; I make it sound a lot worse than it is—none of them have dealt with the text. I told you that the last time. Nobody deals with the text anymore. It doesn’t matter to anybody anymore. “Hey brother, you don’t understand, son. You haven’t been where I’ve been. You haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced.” Well, I don’t know what to say back because I’m not the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul was in an office they don’t even have today. But I can say that he would have said, “Who do you think that you are? Just who do you think you are?”
You’d better be careful, because one of the evidences of the Antichrist being in this world is the focus upon signs and wonders. If you have not studied Matthew 24-25, if you haven’t studied 2 Thessalonians, you don’t know what I’m talking about. But it would do you some good to study it because when he comes he’s going to seek to deceive the elect with signs and wonders. And I’ll tell you, the emphasis that people are putting on signs and wonders and all this other stuff, I’m telling you, folks, it’s telling you something. Paul is trying to correct the church in Corinth. We need to be corrected today. Come back to the Word of God. Leave that experience out there. It’ll follow you. You come, you pursue Christ and His righteousness and pursue His Word. Don’t step outside what God’s Word has to say. Who do you think you are Corinthians? Did you write the Scripture? Did it come out of you? Do you have a special understanding of it?
I am the apostle, not you
Then secondly, he says in my understanding of it, “Who do you think you are? I am the apostle, not you.” Now you know the difference, and this is where it becomes important. I’ve had people come up and say, oh, they still have apostles today. No, they do not. Now if you want to take it in the generic form I don’t care. The word in the Latin for “missionary” is the word “apostle.” If you want to do that, help yourself. But there is no office of apostle as it was in the New Testament. And this right now makes that doctrine very important. Paul says, “Who in the world do you think you are? I’m the apostle, not you. You’re saying this as if you are the authority. No sir, you are not the authority. God’s Word is, and I’m the authority because I’m the apostle, and we’re writing it as we go,” he would say.
Verse 37: “If anyone thinks he’s a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” Now, the present tense is used here: If anyone’s walking around thinking. In other words, this is not a one-time thought that went through his mind, as he had pizza the night before. This is a person living in this kind of mindset. The word “if” is an iffy word. He could have changed that word and put another word for “if;” that would have made it an absolute fact. But he’s not trying to nail them to the wall. Very facetiously though, they know what’s going on; he says if and it’s iffy, “But if anyone’s walking around professing to be a prophet, thinking himself to be a prophet.” The word “thinking” means it’s totally engrossed into his mind to where that’s all he can think about. I’m a prophet, buddy I’m a prophet. “If anyone’s walking around thinking himself to be a prophet.”
Now a prophet was one who got a message from God and took it and delivered it to the people, or it was one who foretold events in the future. So they had two basic areas of being a prophet. Paul said if any of you are going around saying that you’re a prophet, you’re speaking as if you have the authority of a prophet. And then he says, he goes on “If anybody thinks he’s a prophet, or thinks he’s spiritual.” And the word “spiritual” there means directed by the Spirit of God. Now there are a lot of people today who want to say “I’m a prophet and I’m spiritual,” and Paul says, “Okay, if that’s what you’re thinking and that’s the way you’re living,” then he goes on. He said, “Then let him [let that one who’s thinking that way] recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandments.” Now that word “recognize” means to fully grasp and understand.
In other words, it’s kind of like my momma used to say to me, “Wayne Allen.” Buddy, I want to tell you, when she was mad at me she’d say, “Wayne Allen” “Yes ma’am,” and I said yes ma’am, because, buddy, she could whip me. She was 5’ 6” and could stand up on a chair and smack me in the knee, but she’d take me down, buddy. She was upset when she was upset. And she’d say, “Wayne Allen.” “Yes ma’am.” “Now you listen to me.” “I’m listening to you.” “Don’t you miss a word I’m saying. You understand me?” That’s what Paul’s saying by using the word epiginosko. In other words, you get everything I’m saying to you. Don’t you miss a single word. Understand what I’m about to tell you, alright?
“Let him recognize” what? What is he fully to understand? “Let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” The things I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. The letter that Paul is writing to the Corinthians is not just simply a letter he wrote on a whim, on a nice afternoon when he had some time. But it’s written by the authority of God Himself. Paul seems to be saying, “Hello, Lord, help me out here. Help me out.” Paul seems to be saying, “I don’t know who you think you are, you people who exceed the word of God, you people who, by your experiences, tell others that you’re prophets under God’s direction.” But he says, “I don’t know who you think you are, but I know who I am, and I’m an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what I’m telling you is by the authority God has put upon my life.”
Now, folks, we don’t have the office of prophet today, but you know what we do have? We have the book that they gave to us. Ephesians 2:20, “Our faith is built upon the prophets and the apostles.” So what does that tell us? That tells me that when I stand up here and I’ve got the Word of God in my hand and somebody is in this room and you’re exceeding what is written I can say to you with the same authority the apostle Paul said, “You are wrong. This is right and until you come to this you’ll never understand what God wants to do in your life.” Now, that’s exciting to me. There’s no authority in me, there’s authority in this book. And that’s what Paul is saying. “Listen, I don’t care what you people are doing. I don’t care how spiritual you think he is. I don’t care what experiences you’re having. Listen to me. If it’s not in God’s Word, back away. I’m telling you what God says. Who do you think you are in living the way you choose?”
I tell you what, this man gets his point across really well. There’s so much going on in Christianity today that makes me think that it’s just like reading the newspaper. People are still doing the same thing. One of the largest movements in America today; I was just in a meeting several weeks ago. And a pastor friend of mine went, and this is from him, this is not rumor. This is what he was told face to face. One of the biggest movements that’s going on in Christianity today, the pastor of the individual who began that movement had a vision a few months ago. Now here’s his vision. His vision was the vision of the blue guitar, the vision. And here what it says. He told this friend of mine, he said, “Now God has put on my heart that He’s going to do away with the church and do away with all this preaching in the Word. He’s going to bring revival through music.” He said the mantle was on Elvis Presley, but the guy just got too big and died. He was on the Beatles, but they didn’t make it. But he said God’s about to raise up a group that’s going to pull everybody together and unify them with music.
Wow, does that bless you? I thought the Spirit of God was the one who unified believers. I didn’t think there was any other way, but through the Spirit of God. That unity is only resident in Him. You know, there’s a lot of people saying a lot of things today that I guarantee the apostle Paul would absolutely, he’d have a stroke if he knew what was going on today. Folks, it’s the same thing that was going on in Corinth. Who do we think we are? God gave us His Word. We’re given everything according to life and godliness, and we’re to live in light of that. And when you exceed that which is written you have stepped on ground that’s dangerous ground, and you’ve put yourself into a position that God and God alone is going to deal with you. I’ll tell you. You better get back up under what God says. Forget your experience. Forget your emotion and get back up under Him and then let Him be your experience and everything else will take care of itself.
Who do you think you are, Corinthians? Did you write Scripture? Who do you think you are? I’m the apostle, not you. You think you’re a prophet? Do you think you’re spiritual? Then let you recognize this, you better grasp it. Don’t miss a word I’m telling you. What I’m telling you is from God. Whatever you’re doing is from man and there’s a huge difference.
The consequences are going to be yours
Then thirdly, who do you think you are, Corinthians? If you ignore what I’m telling you, then the consequences are going to be yours. You know, the apostle Paul kind of understood they’re going to ignore him. Most of the people in Corinth were so hard-headed they didn’t want to hear anybody anyway. One of the things that dawned on me, he writes this letter. That sorry sucker; wait until I talk to him in heaven. It’s a little tougher when you have to face them face on. But he wrote them and that’s one of the reasons he can be so tough I think.
Verse 38 of chapter 14: “But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” Now we have a little difficulty here. If you’ve got a King James you’ve got a better translation than this one. I don’t know why they did this. I don’t know whether or not they ran to see what the meaning of it was or what. But the words “does not recognize,” the word is agnoeo. Agnoeo is the word that means don’t understand. It was used earlier in 1 Corinthians. Remember back in chapter 12 he said I don’t want you to remain unaware, ignorant, brethren. It’s the word we get the word ignoramus from. In other words, if somebody does not—now, he puts it in a tense that makes a lot of sense out of it here—he says, “If anyone continues and remains ignorant of what I’m telling you here.” And he puts it in the present indicative active. That’s a lifestyle and that’s a choice. You choose to remain ignorant of it. You choose not to understand it. You’d rather have your experience than have what I have to say to you.
Then Paul says, “Let him not be recognized.” Now, I wouldn’t translate it quite that way. I’d say let him remain ignorant, which is the way the King James translated it. And I think maybe he stretches it to say, yeah, let him remain ignorant and the consequences of remaining ignorant is that you will not recognize him as a spiritual man or a prophet. “Don’t even get near him if he doesn’t recognize and understand what I’ve just told you,” is basically what Paul is saying. “Don’t pay attention to those who don’t pay attention to me,” Paul says. And we would say today don’t pay attention to people who don’t pay attention to God’s Word. Back away because there’s all kinds of danger in that.
Listen, if you have a 1,000 bottles of milk and you poison five of them, but you don’t know which five you’ve poisoned you’ve just poisoned all 1,000 of them. And that’s what’s going on today. It’s amazing to me how many people will go hear some ignorant preacher and don’t understand what gets into your mind that you can’t get out unless you get back in the Word of God. It’s incredible how error is like a hook and our flesh loves it because it’s emotional, it’s sensual; you can see it, touch it, feel it. And once we see it and once we experience it, look out. So Paul says don’t even pay attention to it. Don’t even pay attention to it. Let them be ignorant. Just go on and let them be ignorant. If they choose to remain ignorant and not understand what I’m saying, that’s fine; but they’re going to enjoy the consequences of every bit of that.
I was watching TV and I heard one of the big “gurus”. He was teaching out of James 1. I spent a whole year of my life in James and I know what James says. I said, “Uh huh, this is going to be good. Let’s just see what he’s got to say.” Verse 2: “Count it all joy, brethren, when you encounter various trials.” He took the word “trials,” peirasmos. I said, “Hey he’s right. That’s exactly right. Maybe this guy’s not so bad after all.” Then he says, “Now that’s a form of the word peirazo, which is found down in verse 13.” I said, “Yeah, somebody’s done some homework.” And he goes down there, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone for evil.” And you know what that man did? He took that truth—so far he’s doing fine—ripped it out of context and made this statement. He said, “Since God can’t tempt you and can’t be tempted, then your trials are never from God. They’re only from the devil. Take authority over them.” What? Good night alivin’! Man, if I could have had a brick I’d had one less television.
That’s what I’m talking about. You know how many people sit at home and watch that kind of stuff and don’t have a clue that they’re listening to error and that error is taking hooks into their mind? And if you don’t understand it, friend, you’re paying attention to those who don’t pay attention to God’s Word. And I want to tell you something, buddy, it’s a downhill slide. It’s a downhill slide.
It’s my last message in chapters 12, 13 and 14. I’m not going to mention it again, but we’re going to nail it today as Paul nails it. Get up under the Word of God. The letters that I’ve gotten haven’t been so bad. Now, I may have shared this earlier in the service. I can’t remember. I’m so jet-lagged right now I don’t know where I am. None of them deal with the text. Nobody wants to deal with the text anymore. Who cares about doctrine? We’d better start caring about it, folks, because that’s one of the ways in which the Antichrist is coming on this earth. You do know that religion is his best friend. Oh, you like to be religious. What’s religious, brother Wayne? That’s exceeding what is written and doing it the way you want to do it instead of doing it God’s way to put it simply. Man, how stupid can we be America? America wallows around and if you put Jesus’ name and tag it to it, or you put well the Word, or put an emotion in there, oh, if somebody cries, it’s got to be of God. Good night! What does the Word of God say? Period! “Well, brother Wayne, I had this experience, but that Word, that knocks me.” Well, good! Good! You park that experience and walk away from it and start living surrendered to Him and let Him be your experience.
Well, who do you think you are Corinth? Who do you think you are, and don’t you realize the needs that are around you? See, while they were busy chasing their experiences, edifying themselves, remember when God gives the gifts it’s not to edify you, but it’s to edify others. They were forgetting the need that was around them. Verse 39: “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.” I can hear somebody saying now, how are you going to get around that one, brother Wayne? Easy. People need God’s Word, don’t they. The word “prophecy,” “prophesy,” we’ve been over this so many times, it basically means to speak forth that which is the word of God to others.
And Paul begins his sentence and says, “Therefore, my brethren.” I told you he loved these people. That word “brethren” is a very affectionate term. And you only tell the hard things to people you love, and he’s saying awfully hard things here as he closes out these three chapters. Like I told you I think earlier, we were at a meeting one time and my wife leaned over to me and she said, “Wayne, shut up.” She doesn’t normally do that. I mean, that’s pretty profound. I didn’t think I was saying anything that bad. And I said “Why?” She said, “Just shut your mouth. Just shut your mouth.” “What’s wrong?” About 15 people at the table and I said, “What’s wrong?” And she said, “There’s something green hanging between your teeth right down here.” How long had it been there? And my friends were setting around the table I thought, but the only one that loved me was willing to tell me what I didn’t want to hear, but needed to. “Get that green thing.”
Verse 39: “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.” That word “desire earnestly” is the idea of intense desire. I don’t know if I can explain it or not. When I used to go trout fishing with my dad, when I was growing up I would hyperventilate. I’m serious. My daddy took a paper bag with him when we’d go to the creek because I’d get so excited. I couldn’t sleep the night before. In the car I was just one nervous wreck. We’d get there and I would run to the stream and I would start having shallow breathing. My daddy would be right behind me put the bag on me, “Breathe in the bag.” Get myself breathing again. I’d get so excited. Now that’s what the word means. Hyperventilate if you have to, but get excited about the fact that people need to hear the word of God that are around you. People are dying for it.
Man, in a church in Poland. How in the world did this stuff get to Poland? And they’re starting these seeker services. I’m sorry, but that stuff just bothers the stew out of me. The Word of God says no man seeketh after God. No, not one. And they say “We don’t want to be an offense.” The Word of God is an offense. It has to be before a man can understand grace and salvation. How did it get to Poland? Good grief! Desire not to build people and churches. Desire the Word of God and desire to teach it and tell it to others and share it. The Word of God is that important, not these experiences you’re having and parading around as if you’re spiritual. Man, have a desire in your heart for the needs that other people have around you.
“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.” Now, when you prophesy you’re telling forth the Word of God. Now that’s connected with one of the ways in which you do it, “and do not forbid to speak in tongues.” I want to show you something. If you don’t understand that the tongue singular is what’s going on in Corinth, that the tongues plural, or languages, you’re going to get so messed up in interpretation of this chapter that you’re going to tie yourself up in knots. If you’ll stay with it, it makes all the sense in the world. And what he’s saying is, don’t forbid somebody to use other languages. My goodness, these other languages will communicate to somebody who understands them. In other words, don’t just speak to the people around you. Get out. Take it to others of other languages and of other places. Man, this is part of what it’s all about. Desire to tell forth the Word of God.
I was just in Hungary and Poland as I told you. Hungary, have you ever seen their language? They’ve got words as long as this pulpit. How in the world would you say it? It looks like a chicken was drunk and walking around with ink on its feet when they wrote the words out, and that thing is about that long. I mean, it’s the third hardest language in the world. And to stand up and to start preaching the Word of God, and to have a translator standing right beside you and then have it echoed back to you from the people that they got it, they got it exactly the way you said it. You said it in one language. They translated it into another. The apostle Paul says, man, get the word out to the other languages, the other places. This is the vision that you ought to have. Desire it. Desire it earnestly to get that word out.
But then he adds in verse 40, “Let all things,” no matter what you do, “be done properly and in an orderly manner.” You see, if God is doing them then everything you’ll do will be proper. It’ll have integrity to it; it’ll have order to it. Decent, it’ll be decent and honest. Our witness is so important to others. The word “behavior” is translated out of the same word. Romans 13:13 says, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealously.” First Thessalonians 4:12 uses the same word: “So that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”
Well, so much for chapters 12, 13 and 14. We’re about to enter chapter 15 now. Chapter 15 is the chapter on death. I figure I’m going to get killed preaching this stuff anyway. I might as well know what’s going to happen the moment I die.
Be discerning. Who do we think we are when we step outside the bounds of what God has written? Well, I’ll tell you what. I get a humorous thing go over me when I think of the apostle Paul living in the 20th century. Some of these meeting, people barking like dogs, roaring like lions, and I can see the apostle Paul walking in the foyer of the building. No, I really can’t. I think it’d be a lot worse than I can see it. Son, they’d hear his voice for 16 miles before he finished. “What in the world is going on here? Who do we think we are?” Romans 12:3, “Let no man think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” And you know what that leads into? The teaching on gifts. “Let no man think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”
I love you. I really do. It scares me to death what’s going on in our world today and how many people that call themselves conservative, Bible-believing Christians are buying into this stuff as fast as they can hear it. No discernment. This is of God and this is of flesh. And when you preach against it, you’re a hated person, I want you to know that. I’m glad to have some friends right here.