1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 97
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Well, a lot of babies were in the church of Corinth, a lot of babies. And because they were babies, they were absolutely of no use to anybody else in the body of Christ. That is what is on Paul’s mind. That is what he has been trying to say, building up the body of Christ is his whole thought process as here in chapters 12, 13 and 14. It is what spiritual giftedness is all about.|
1 Corinthians 14:13-17
Turn to 1 Corinthians 14. Yes, we are still there. In fact, we are going to be here for a while. I’ll be grateful to get to chapter 15, but I can’t rush it because we’ve got to deal with what Paul says. We are going to start in verse 13.
I entitled this “Baby Talk.” Isn’t it wonderful when a baby begins to grow up? The first sign that it is growing up is when he begins to speak a language you understand. In fact, the best and most intelligent words it can say is either “Daddy” or in my case, if you are a granddaddy, “Poppy.” That is my name. There are other names for grandfathers, I realize that, but Poppy happens to be the best because that is what my granddaughter calls me. I love it when you can talk to them, don’t you?
What does a baby contribute? Not a lot. A lot of pain that you have to go through to get them to that point. You want babies to grow up.
Well, a lot of babies were in the church of Corinth, a lot of babies. And because they were babies, they were absolutely of no use to anybody else in the body of Christ. That is what is on Paul’s mind. That is what he has been trying to say, building up the body of Christ is his whole thought process as here in chapters 12, 13 and 14. It is what spiritual giftedness is all about.
In 12:7, he says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good,” so that everybody might benefit. God does not single out an experience for me or an emotional gift for me so that I can be edified. He gives me gifts so that others can receive benefit from those gifts. He gives you the same types of gifts. God does what He does for the sake of the body.
Now one of the key words in chapter 14 is the word oikodome. It is used in the gospels three times and is used for a building. As a matter of fact, if you will look in 1 Corinthians 3:9, it is exactly the way Paul uses it back there in that chapter. I want you to see how he uses it. Verse 9 of chapter 3 says, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” That is the word right there. Now, when it is translated differently, when it is not translated “building” as it is in many places, when it is translated as “edification” or “edifying” or “edifies,” or however you want to do it, when it is translated like that, it refers to the process of building something with the finished product in mind.
Everything in our church building is done with the thought of the finished product. In other words, it wasn’t just something thrown together. As a matter of fact, the piece of property only holds a building with this shape. We are on a pie shaped lot, and the building fits the shape of this lot. We couldn’t have built a rectangular building. We couldn’t have built another kind of building. It has to be where it is. Everything was thought through. Everything that was done was with the finished product in mind.
As a matter of fact, our auditorium has no windows in it. I can remember the day when several of our leaders, men whom I respect with all of my life, almost got into a knockdown, drag out fight on whether or not we are going to have windows in this building. I remember going home and thinking, “These people are nuts. They are just absolutely crazy.” Nobody spoke to anybody after the meeting. Do you believe this? These are the most spiritual men I know in the church. I got home and got on my knees before the Lord asking Him to deal with them. And God said, “I am sorry, son. Relationships are more important than buildings. Now deal with this thing.” So finally I had to repent, and I said, “Lord, put the windows in there if you need to.”
Well, it was resolved. But why do we not have any windows in the building? I’ll tell you why. Because we foresaw the day that we might be on television. We recognized that the churches in this area who, as an afterthought, chose to go on television had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to blacken out the light that those beautiful windows brought in, because with that light ruined the TV picture. We knew that one day we wanted to get the gospel outside these walls, so we said, “Let’s don’t put any windows in the auditorium.”
You see, everything that was done was with the thinking of the finished product. It was useful, not just for the fact that we don’t have any windows, it was not somebody’s agenda, it was for the benefit of the finished product. That is the idea of oikodome. When you edify somebody, you do something for them with the finished product in mind. You want to see them grow up and become mature in their lives. Now that is one of the key words of chapter 14. This is what Paul is trying to say. Gifts are for the building up of the body. And every gift that you have is not just for that instant or for this one person, but it is for the whole body of Christ, with the finished product that they come into a maturity of their faith. Whatever you have been given is given to others to build and edify those people. Each time it is used, it is used to signify the building up of one another.
Look in verse 3 of chapter 14. The word oikodome is translated “edification.” Paul uses it to show what proclaiming the word of God does for others in this building of the body of Christ. He says in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “But one who prophesies [or tells forth the word of God] speaks to men for edification.” That telling forth of God’s Word is to build that person up. So, it is for the benefit of others that we tell forth the word of God.
In verse 5 of chapter 14 we read, “Now I wish that you all spoke in languages [you know now that “tongues,” plural, means “languages, known, understandable languages], but even more that you would tell forth the word of God [which is what “prophesy” is here]; and greater is one who tells forth the word of God than one who speaks in languages, unless he translates so that the church might receive edifying,” might be built up.
Why would Paul wish that everyone spoke in other languages? Because there are so many cultures and so many languages. He thought if we all spoke in those languages, we could get the gospel to them and we could help other believers in other places who spoke differently than we do grow up in the faith.
He uses the word in verse 12 to show that building others up is what we ought to be desiring more than anything else. That is what should be the single-most desire of our life, is that God use us for the building up and edifying of someone else in the body. Verse 12 says, “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.”
And then in verse 26 he uses the word as a warning. Look at verse 26. “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” In other words, if you are going to bring it into the church, you had better have as its purpose to build up and edify the body of Christ.
Now can you see in chapter 14 how understanding and comprehension linked together to help build the body of Christ. If you can’t, you are missing the whole context of what Paul is trying to say here. If you are going to speak in a language or a gibberish, as they were doing in Corinth, if you are going to speak in a tongue, singular, that no one understands, not even the speaker, then what good is it? It is nothing more in the context of building up the body than useless noise. That is all it is.
Well, now we push a little further in chapter 14, and I hate to tell you, folks, but Paul bears down even harder. We are not through yet. We have 20 something verses before we finish this chapter. I mean, he just unloads in chapter 14. He unloads on the problem that is going on in Corinth.
The nonsense of speaking in an unknown language
Now, there are three things we want to look at. First of all is the nonsense of speaking in an unknown language. Verse 13 reads, “Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.” Now the little word “therefore” that the New American Version brings out here really is better translated in the King James Version with “wherefore.” What is the difference in “therefore” and “wherefore?” Well, “therefore” usually hinges on what has just been said, but the word “wherefore” is a little different. The word is dioper. It is the word that presupposes now, presupposes a concession on Paul’s part.
This is interesting to me. Here is the great lawyer, the great stalwart of the faith, writing the epistles in the New Testament. It is almost like I can hear him right before he writes, “Ahhh, these are hard-headed people.” He has exhausted himself trying to help them. They don’t want to be taught. They enjoy gratifying this emotional experience. They don’t care if it doesn’t benefit anybody else. They don’t really care if it doesn’t benefit them or if they don’t understand it. The emotion is worth the experience. And Paul says, “Ahhh, wherefore, alright.”
He is not changing his mind, he is changing his approach. Paul hopes what he is about to show them will help them understand that it makes no sense whatsoever to pursue this kind of emotional experience. He wants to show them this. Verse 13 says, “Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.”
Now the word for “speaks” again is the word laleo. We have covered that several times since chapter 12. It has as its root idea to just make a noise, make a sound. In Corinth they chose to make noises that made no sense whatsoever. So in verse 13 it should read, “Let the one who speaks [or makes noises] in a tongue [this gibberish] pray that he may interpret.” That is present middle imperative. Present tense means that the whole time you are speaking this gibberish that means nothing to anybody, especially you, the whole time you are doing it, you better be praying. This is a command. The apostle puts a command on it. You better be praying at the same time that you have an understanding of everything that you are saying.
Now, there seems to be a note of sarcasm here. There is no interpretation of this gibberish. Paul really takes a different approach. “Alright, alright, alright,” he says, “if you are going to do it, fine. But buddy, you had better pray that you can interpret it.” I can hear one of them now thinking, “Well, we can’t interpret it.” And Paul is thinking to himself, “That is exactly right. You can’t. You can’t translate gibberish.” That is what was going on in Delphi 30 miles down the road. That is what was going on in the temple of Apollo in the center of Corinth. That is what was going on at the temple of Venice up on top of the hill. That was what was going on in the temple of Poseidon. It went on in every one of the temples where people would speak in a gibberish, and people would actually step forth and seek to interpret it. Paul said, “Alright, if you are going to do it, translate it and buddy, you better make sure the translation is right. And that is a command.”
There is sarcasm and frustration in his voice because, you see, he is about worn out trying to tell these hard-headed people that it makes no sense to do what they are doing. In giving this command, Paul is showing what they are doing is nonsense.
But not only were they speaking in this gibberish in the church of Corinth in the context that it is an open assembly when they come together, but they were praying in this gibberish. There are people who were saying, “Hey, we pray in this tongue.” He says in verse 14, “For if I pray in a tongue my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” Just like it makes no sense to speak in gibberish, it makes no sense to pray in gibberish, because no matter how emotional the experience is, nobody has a clue as to what is going on.
He says in verse 14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.” Now, what does that mean? Well, first of all, he is not talking about the Holy Spirit. Never in chapter 14 is the Holy Spirit linked to this tongue, this gibberish that was speaking there in Corinth. No, sir, it is “my spirit.” That is in the text, “my spirit.” Now, the word “spirit,” my human spirit, is the word pneuma. That means breath, but it is also the emotional center of man, the spirit of man, the heart of a man. That is the idea. Paul says, “If I pray in gibberish, my breath is praying, yes, there is something going on, there are noises that are heard, but it is definitely an emotional experience. It is definitely an emotional experience. If you have had that emotional experience, nobody doubts that. You have had some kind of an emotional experience and your tongue was involved and there was breath that was used. But there is a problem to that.
He says, “If I pray in a tongue, which is gibberish, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.” The word for “mind” is the word nous. It is the word for understanding. Paul says that if he were to pray in gibberish he might get an emotional high, but there would be no understanding of what was going on. If there is no understanding, then the body of Christ certainly is not being edified, and that is the bottom line of his discussion. Then why are you doing it? It is nonsense. If the body of Christ is not edified there is no use in doing it. That is his point. Paul does not deny that a man can pray in his emotional being, the innermost parts of his being, and never say or vocalize a word. He is not denying that. He is saying if a person is praying, then nobody hears him or maybe he is groaning or making a sound, but at least if he understands what he is saying, that is a fruitful prayer.
Many are the times that we have been in prayer and we have groaned and didn’t know what to say and in the midst of that, at least, we knew we understood that. But you see, he says, “Hey, if there is no understanding, what good is it?” “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.”
The word “unfruitful” is akarpos, from a, without, and karpos, fruit. So the fruit of speaking is understanding. If there is no understanding, then it is unfruitful. So all you are doing is making noise. It is not benefiting the body of Christ and you haven’t got a clue what you are saying.
When you conclude what Paul is at this particular point, he is saying, “Hey, I am not denying that a person can have an emotional experience. Yes, that is exactly what it is, but the pleasure of this emotional experience, that bypasses any kind of rational intelligence, invalidates the experience as being anything that fits in chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians.” That is the bottom line. That is what he is saying. It does not make any sense. It just makes no sense.
Verse 15 reads, “What is the outcome then?” This little phrase is literally translated better, “What then is there?” He says, “To pray in gibberish or speak noises, if it makes no sense, then what is the answer?” Paul says, “I’ve got the answer for me.” And on in the verse he says, “I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also.” In other words, I want to pray that I can understand my praying. That is what I am going to do. Now whatever you are going to do, you are going to do. I can’t change what you are doing, but I can set the table for you so you can understand how nonsensical it is. He says, “I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.”
You know, when we are singing the hymns, isn’t that wonderful? We understand every word. You know, all the revivals that have ever been recorded in church history were built around the great doctrinal hymns? And when people stood to sing, tears would come to their eyes. They were singing scripture and they were singing about Christ and what He had done for them. And if they couldn’t understand that, then all they would have is useless noise.
That is the best illustration to me of what Paul is saying. He said, “You can understand the prayer parts. Some people would question that, but you can’t question the singing part. If I pray, I am going to pray with understanding. If I sing, I am going to sing with understanding. That is the only thing that makes sense to me and to everyone else.” The mind and the spirit must be on the same page for it to qualify as a gift that God has given to the believer because when the mind and the spirit are on the same page, others in the body benefit from what is going on.
I am constantly asked, “What do you think about speaking in tongues?” That is the way people ask it. They don’t seem to understand that tongues, plural, are languages known. They don’t understand that “a tongue” is what Paul is dealing with here in Corinth. My answer still is this. I can’t deny anybody’s experience. So what I say back to people is this, if you are going to do that, help yourself, but you need to understand it is nonsense and you cannot put it in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Try as you might, it does not fit. It is like taking a square peg and trying to cram it into a round hole. It does not fit. Don’t come to me and tell me it fits in 1 Corinthians 12-14. It does not. It is nonsense when a person speaks anything that he can’t understand. It does not do anything but emotionally gratify that person for that moment. It does nothing for the benefit of the body of Christ. It is nonsense. So the nonsense of speaking in an unknown language.
The negative of speaking in an unknown language
Secondly, we see the negative of speaking in an unknown language. We have seen the nonsense of it, let’s see the negative of it. What is the big negative of it? Well, remember the context is what is going on in public worship in Corinth. Paul, after coming to his own conclusion of only praying and singing in a language he can understand and that which can be understood, says in verse 16, “Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?”
Now Paul again puts himself into a hypothetical situation. Paul is not saying he is doing anything, but he is about to put himself into that. After saying that it makes sense to pray and to sing with words that are understandable, he says, “Otherwise, if you bless in the spirit only.” The word “bless” there is the word eulogeo. It took me a long time to understand that word.
There are two words for “bless.” Macarios is used in Matthew 5 in the Beatitudes. It means totally, inwardly, spiritually satisfied. It does not mean happy. Happy comes from the word hap, which means circumstance. That is circumstantial happiness. That is not the word used here. The word used here is the word eulogeo, to speak well of something. It is the word that is used when you say your blessing.
I didn’t know this for years. I thought saying the blessing at the table was just something that mechanically I was taught to do when I grew up. But now I say the blessing differently. God, will you speak well of this food. What does God do when He speaks? He creates. And what does He create? That which is good in His sight. And I have eaten some stuff, folks, that I needed that blessing big time! “Oh, God, Oh, God, I am going to get it down, you speak well of it and keep it down.” Sometimes He did and sometimes He chose not to. He has a sense of humor. But when you pray, that is what eulogeo is.
However, eulogeo is also the word used to praise God, to speak well of God. He is saying when you stand up to praise God and you are doing it in an unknown tongue, in a gibberish that nobody can understand, you may be getting an emotional high out of it, but it is not helping anybody there: “how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks?”
Oh, I see what you are saying, Paul. You mean when I do something in the open assembly, I need to be thinking of how it benefits others and not how it benefits myself? Yes! That is what he is trying to say.
I know of a church that has made this statement. They said, “If you are here and you don’t agree with what we are doing, leave, because we don’t want you here.” Oh, that really fits with what Paul is saying, doesn’t it? You see, people who are having an emotional experience don’t want somebody coming in and telling them what the word of God says. Paul said, “If you stand up to praise God and you do that in an unknown tongue, nobody is going to understand.
Do you know what the word “ungifted” means? The word “ungifted” is the Greek word idiotes. Now what does it speak of? Of one who is unlearned, one who is ignorant, one who just simply doesn’t understand. So what is he talking about here? Probably the lost guy that walked into your service.
Now what are the lost people of Corinth doing in that day? They are over in the pagan temple hearing these priestesses get up and speak in a language that they had never heard before, gibberish. And they come out of that pagan influence, they walk inside the church and hear the same thing inside the church! As a matter of fact, if you will keep on reading in chapter 14, he said they are going to look at you and think you are mad, you are crazy. They don’t understand what is going on. There is nothing being said that makes any sense. So Paul says, “How can you say ‘Amen?’” The word means “let it be so.” It carries over from the Hebrew. It says, “Yes, that is exactly right. Let it always be so.”
Paul says, “Now how in the world can somebody who is lost who comes into the congregation say ‘Yes, that is right. Let is always be so,’ if you stand up and speak in a gibberish that nobody understands?” This person doesn’t have a clue what is going on. He can’t do that. Can you see the necessity now of speaking in a known language? That is Paul’s point. A person who is praying in a tongue, a gibberish, who is getting an emotional high out of it, oh, he thinks he is praising God, but he is the only one getting anything out of it. The people around him are sitting there thinking, “What in the world is going on?” The lost man thinks you are crazy because he can’t understand a thing that has happened.
There is another verse in scripture to hang on to. It says God is not the author of confusion, period. So Paul’s point is well taken. Verse 16 reads, “Otherwise, if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?” The negative effect of speaking in this language that nobody understands is that the people around you cannot grow and benefit from it.
Verse 17 continues, “For you are giving thanks well enough [you are getting experience out of it, you are getting a charge out of it], but the other man is not edified.” Now, how could he be? He doesn’t understand what is happening. When the Holy Spirit authors a gift in us, everyone should be built up, everyone should be edified. When the Spirit of God is working in our lives, this is what His gifts are all about.
Go back to chapter 3. I want to show you something. In 3:1 let me show you what he says. Now this is the church. The context has not changed. This is who he is dealing with, right here. He points back to when he first went to Corinth and met Priscilla and Aquila and started making tents. Then Timothy and Silas came over, and so he just dropped it and began to preach the word. That is when the church was born. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.” There was a time when I first came and you got saved and you were babies. You were babies. You acted like babies and talked like babies and made no sense like babies don’t make. But that is okay. There is a time to be a baby.
And then he says in verse 2, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.” You had a thirst at that time, but you didn’t have a hunger for the meat. You couldn’t handle it. All you could handle was the milk of the word, the ABCs. But here comes the indictment. So far there has been no indictment. He says in the last part of verse 2, “Indeed, even now you are not yet able.” There is your indictment. “You have remained babies. You have remained in the nursery. And now when you stand up and babble, you are babbling like babies. You haven’t grown up. You are speaking baby talk which is not useful to the body of Christ.” Nothing has changed since he gave that illustration.
It is funny how a baby doesn’t say anything that makes any sense. In Corinth these babies were babbling in a language they didn’t even understand. And Paul said, “That just doesn’t make any sense.” So we see the nonsense of it and the negative part of it—the lost people around you think you are crazy. They don’t understand what is going on.
The necessity of speaking in a known language
Finally, we have the necessity of speaking in a known language. The believers at Corinth were speaking this nonsensical, emotional experience that they were having, this gibberish in the worship services, and Paul is absolutely coming against it. Paul says something to correct them. He says in verse 18, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all.” That is one of the verses people who attack me on this love to use. “You see there, you see there.” And I want to say, “Don’t make me do this again. He says, ‘in tongues,’ singular or plural? Plural. And when it is in the plural, it has been already documented that it means known understandable languages.”
I feel the same thing Paul felt, “Good grief. Will you get it? That is the whole idea of what is going on here. Can’t you see it? I speak in languages more than you all.” And why does he do that? Because he speaks to so many different groups of people who speak so many different dialects. What does he do with this language? What he told them to do. He prophesies with it, which means he tells forth the word of God. And if he doesn’t have a translator, he translates it. Paul knew the language. He was multilingual. And he spoke many more languages than they did.
But then in verse 19 he puts this in a church context. Whether it be a language I know or whether it be one of this gibberish stuff that you are talking about, he includes it all right here. He says, “however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” I certainly don’t want that gibberish and if you want to take it and stretch it and say, “Well, in that particular case he could mean a language.” Well, help yourself. But Paul says, “No matter what you are talking about, I don’t want to speak anything where people cannot understand it.” That is his point. This comes right out of his own heart. He prefers five words that people can understand so that he might instruct them.
What does instruction do? It builds them up. What is the purpose of the gifts? To build up the body of Christ. He said, “I would rather speak those five words [here comes the contrast] rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. The word “ten thousand” really is not ten thousand. It is the word that means you can’t count them. Somebody just put ten thousand in there. It is the same word used in Revelation. And we get the word “myriad” from it, myriad’s upon myriad’s, as it says in the book of the Revelation. He said, you can take every language ever known, every sound ever been made by man and stack it all together and if people don’t understand it, give me five words in the church that people do understand, I would rather speak those five words. That is the apostle Paul. He sums it up very well.
Someone says, “Well, Paul is talking about speaking in the church, and I can do what I want to in my prayer closet. I wouldn’t do that in the church, but I would do it in my prayer closet.” Do you know what I think Paul would say to you? If that is what you want to do, help yourself. If you want an emotional experience that is nonsense, if you want an emotional gratification like any baby would want, then go get it. But I think he would also have me add, but don’t ever put it in 1 Corinthians 12-14. It doesn’t fit. You can’t put it there. Baby talk is for babies. We are to grow up and become useful to the body, and by being useful, we speak what is known, understood, and comprehended by what we say. Anything else is nonsense.
And oh, by the way, I think he would have me add something else. He is not saying it in the scripture so I am reading in between here. Remember that one day you will stand before Christ and answer for what you do in your body. As a matter of fact, he has already covered this, hasn’t he? Go back to 3:10-13. Look in verse 10. He doesn’t want to see them stand before God one day and not be rewarded. He wants them to be rewarded. He says, “I don’t say these things to shame you. I say it as a father would tell his children.” Why would a father tell his children? Because he wants his children to benefit from it. That is all he wants. He is not trying to embarrass them. He is not trying to make fun of them. He is simply trying to get their attention.
So he says in verse 10, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.” Another teacher, Apollos, followed him. Other teachers followed him. “But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if any man builds upon the foundation,” he broadens the context. He goes from the teachers who follow him to the people who listen to these teachers. He says every man who becomes a believer is a builder and you’ve got two choices, only two. You either do your Christian life out of the flesh, or you live by faith in the Word of God. If you live by faith and surrender to what God has said, Jesus who lives in you in the person of His Spirit will produce righteousness through you. But if you work out of the flesh and are as religious as you want to be and as emotionally experienced as you are, it doesn’t matter because the works that you are doing out of the flesh, if it is gratifying your flesh, will one day burn at the judgment seat of Christ.
Now this is important, folks. This is warning. He says in verse 13 there are two kinds of materials: precious stones, gold and silver, and then he adds wood, hay and straw. One is refined by fire; one is destroyed by fire. Now he didn’t say we are going to be judged. He said our work is going to be judged so that we might be rewarded. He goes on. He says in verse 13, “each man’s work will become evident.”
The word “each man” there means each man, but it means each man separate and apart from the next man. In other words, Paul says, “Hey, you want to attach yourself to any of these others, you want t attach yourself to an experience? When you stand there, you will stand on your own before God one day. And when you stand there, it is not what somebody did to you, it is what you did. It is your choice. You either live after the flesh or by faith.”
It says, it is going to be an individual test one day. Then he says it is going to be a very revealing test. Isn’t it funny down here, everything looks so spiritual because it is emotional. Isn’t it amazing how we judge that? I hear people all the time saying, “God came down in our church the other night. We had revival in our church.” It must have been because the music was loud and the feelings were up and people were coming forward and somebody might have cried. There are a lot of things we don’t know down here, friend, but when you stand before God one day, you are going to find out if it was revival or not. You are going to find out if that was nothing more than flesh being gratified or whether or not that was God being glorified one or the other.
Paul says it will become evident. That word “evident” means brilliant light. Nothing is going to be hidden. It is going to be evident. I mean, you are going to stand in the presence of God one day. Do you want to stand there and thank Him for something that did nothing else than emotionally gratify your flesh, or do you want to stand there and thank Him for what He did through you that built up the body of Christ? Man, listen to what Paul is saying. He said the day is going to show.
I don’t know what eschatology you have. I mean, I hear all kind of weird views, but I have my own. You come up with your own day. But I tell you what, on that day, whatever you come up with is going to be the day. The word “show it” is as used in verse 11 of chapter 1. It means information is going to be given on that day that we don’t have down here. It is not as easily seen down here, he said, because it is to be revealed with fire. And the word “revealed” means apocalypse. It means the cover is going to be taken off, the curtain is going to be raised. You are going to now see what you didn’t see before.
Now folks, this is supposed to be a good teaching because anything that is of the flesh is just going to disappear. And what is going to be left is of faith. I love that, because when I grew up, I heard it preached, “God is going to get you one day, boy, and He is going to hang your sins up there and everybody is going to see them. Every lustful thought you ever had, everything you ever did wrong. God is going to embarrass the stew out of you.” Well, I hate to pop the bubble of that kind of preaching, but if it is consumed by fire, how are you going to hang it out in front of everybody? He is not out to get you. He is not out to get me.
Do you know what happened to me this year? I made platinum with Delta. I flew enough miles and enough segments that I made platinum. Do you know what I discovered? When you get the platinum card, they do everything that is possibly known to man to help you keep it. Did you know that? They double your miles. They give you extra time. They didn’t do that before.
That is like God’s grace isn’t it? He saves us and does everything that is necessary to make sure we stand before Him one day and get rewarded. It would take a hard-headed person to stand before God one day and not have much left because God’s grace is so abounding in our life. I can do something wrong and confess it as sin. That is what 1 John 1:9 tells me to do. And if I John 1:9 tells me to do it and I do it by faith, it is another brick that went into the building because I have done what God said. Now, can’t we understand what God’s salvation is?
But Paul is saying, “Listen, people, if you are going to live your life to gratify your own flesh, you will stand before God one day. You will find out whether it was of Him or of you.” Now folks, get mad at me. But think. Why would you ever want to have an experience that nobody can understand? Why would you ever want to say anything that would bring confusion to the lost people of this world? It makes no sense. It is baby talk, period. It doesn’t fit in the economy of building up the body of Christ.
My prayer is that you just realize that you are in the body of Christ, not for your own personal fleshly gratification. You are in the body of Christ to be a vessel through which God can use, to energize His gift, to energize His ministry, to energize His effect in other people’s lives. And if we are not going to attach ourselves to Him, we are going to attach ourselves to experiences, we have got a hard row to hoe and division is going to result in the body of Christ because of it. But if you would just surrender to Him, that’s the key. That is the bottom line. Just attach yourself to Him.
Folks, I want to tell you something. There is an invisible line in front of you every day of your life and it says, you are going to do it My way or you are going to do it your way. And we’d better be making up our minds whose way we are going to do it. If you do it your way, you are headed down a road of nothing more than an emotional gratification, whether it be speaking in a nonsensical tongue, that is just what we are dealing with in Corinth, or whether it be whatever it is. And I tell you, when you stand before God one day, it is going to become immediately apparent what we threw away that we had down here. We will know as we are known and we will love Him forever. But I tell you what, I believe tears are going to be there when we realize what we had that we refused to tap into by the means of our surrender to Christ.