1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 99
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Paul wasted no time in getting to the very crux of the matter. He says, “You people just won’t grow up.” In 1:12, he says, “Some of you are attached to Paul, some of you are attached to Cephas, some of you are attached to Apollos. That is your problem. You are attached to everything and anybody except Christ. You are living like babies. Perhaps your intentions are good, but you are doing some very ignorant things.”|
1 Corinthians 14:20-25
Good Intentions Don’t Necessarily Make Things Right
I am not real good at titles, so the only title I could come up with is “Good Intentions Don’t Necessarily Make Things Right.” You know, children have the very best of intentions, but they do some very ignorant things. They really have the best of intentions.
I have loved listening to my wife’s stories about all the funny things that happened when she was growing up.
When she was in about the first or second grade the teachers told the children, “If you are real, real good, you get to help clean up the teachers’ lounge.” One of these days my wife was cleaning the tables they would eat on and she—good intentions, good intentions—saw a jar there that had some white powdery like substance inside of it. And she got that jar, thinking it was sugar, and refilled all the sugar bowls on the table, not realizing that it was laundry detergent! Her intentions were good.
Children have the best of intentions, but sometimes end up doing some of the most ignorant things. Now you say, “What in the world has that got to do with our text today?” It has everything to do with it. We are dealing with the children at Corinth. These are Christians who ought to be walking in maturity. They were in the best taught church in the New Testament, but were living and acting like babies.
Chapter 3 verses 1-3 told us immediately what the problem was. Paul wasted no time in getting to the very crux of the matter. He says, “You people just won’t grow up.” In 1:12, he says, “Some of you are attached to Paul, some of you are attached to Cephas, some of you are attached to Apollos. That is your problem. You are attached to everything and anybody except Christ. You are living like babies. Perhaps your intentions are good, but you are doing some very ignorant things.”
Now his word in verse 20 sums up a lot of what he has been saying in chapter 14. He has come at this situation of speaking in this unknown gibberish in so many directions. He is going to come at it from a different direction this time. He says in verse 20, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking.” Now, you can’t divorce that from its context. We know the whole chapter 14 is dealing with the contrast of speaking in languages and speaking in a tongue, which was the gibberish that was going on in Corinth.
Paul gives them a command. It is an imperative. It is present active. He says, “Do not keep on being children,” active voice. You are making the choice yourself. Nobody is making you do this. This is what you and you alone are doing and you are accountable.
The word for “children” is the word paidia. Now there are several words for “children.” Why this word? Because it is the word that means a little child that is ignorant and lives, because of being ignorant, in immaturity.
The next phrase continues to clear it up. “Do not be children in your thinking.” The word for “thinking” there is phren. It is the word for “understanding.” Children act out of what they understand. They do childish things because they do not understand. “Bottom line,” Paul says to the Corinthian church, “will you please grow up?” He contrasts their immaturity with these words.
Look at verse 20 again. He says, “yet in evil be babes.” The choice of his words. I believe in the inerrant, inspired, infallible word of God. I believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of scripture and right here, look here, at the word “evil,” kakia. There are other words for “evil,” but this is a particular word the Holy Spirit chose to use here. Why? Because it is used for “malice.”
This is the word that Peter chooses to use in 1 Peter 2:1 when he says, “Get that garment of flesh off of you, that garment of malice.” Malice is the thread, the fabric of the flesh garment. And he says, “When it comes to flesh activity, when it comes to flesh deeds, you be babes.”
Now it is an interesting word for “babes.” I told you there were different words. This word is nepiazo. It is the word for an innocent little baby. He says, “When it comes to acting after the flesh, when it comes to wearing that fleshly garment, you be innocent, not ignorant. You need to be aware, but be innocent when it comes to participating in fleshly deeds.”
Can you see what he is saying to the Corinthians? That is sort of interesting. They were anything but innocent when it came to the flesh. They knew nothing of the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. There was no love in the church of Corinth, none whatsoever. There were divisions, quarreling, strife. But they could teach a course. They probably had PhD’s in living after the flesh.
Then he goes on and says, “but in your thinking, be mature.” Now the word for “thinking” again is the word understanding. In your understanding, be mature. The word “mature” is the word which means to accomplish a goal, reach the goal of your understanding, which always means it will reflect in the way you live. Grow up in your mind, grow up in the way you think and that is going to change drastically what you are doing.
Again, look at the context. The context is speaking in an unknown language, in a gibberish that they were doing in Corinth. It was nothing more, as Paul is inferring here, than thinking and acting as a child, as if they knew no better. Their intentions, I am certain, were good, but they were doing ignorant things. It was that which activated their flesh. As a result, they had strife and division within the church.
Paul is now going to show them that the tongues, the miraculous speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost, the languages that people heard and understood even though they were foreign to the people speaking them, were foreign languages. He said that whole thing about tongues, the languages were never a sign for the believer. But he is going to start showing them now as he takes another approach. He is going to go back into prophetic history and show them it was always intended to be a sign to the unbeliever.
Now why would he do this? Because evidently, Corinth thought that if you had this experience, that somehow became a spiritual sign to other believers that you were at a certain level of your Christian life. That is what we have dealt with in chapters 12, 13 and even now up into 14. They might have even thought it was a sign to unbelievers, perhaps and that is maybe why he addresses this. He doesn’t tell us, but he is going to go back and show that it was never intended to be a sign for believers, but a sign to unbelievers.
I have the feeling and he doesn’t clarify it as clearly as I wish he would, but I think the feeling is, they think they are reproducing Pentecost. They think that they were having the same experience that happened at Pentecost. Why else would Paul go back and refer specifically to the prophecy of people speaking in unknown languages? Why would he do that? I don’t think there is any other reason for him to do that.
Over a hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that God would speak a judgment to Israel by strange tongues and by the lips of strangers. And in spite of this miracle that happened on Pentecost—its Messianic fulfillment was at Pentecost—in spite of that, Israel would not listen and therefore, would again go into judgment that God would invoke upon them. Paul wants the Corinthians to know that their whole premise of what they are doing was wrong. But not only that, their practice was wrong. Everything was off base according to scripture. They didn’t seem to understand what they were doing.
Well, look at verse 21: “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”
The purpose of tongues
Well, let’s enter in. There are two things I want us to understand in this portion of scripture beginning in verse 20 there of chapter 14. First of all, as Paul so beautifully brings it out, is the purpose of tongues. Now, even though the people of Corinth were not speaking in these languages that are understandable, they were speaking in a gibberish, identified by the little term “a tongue” in chapter 14. The apostle Paul wants to go back and say, “Listen, I want you to understand that it was predicted by the prophets that there would come a day that miraculously people would speak with other languages by lips of strangers and that would be a prophecy of judgment for Israel.”
Verse 21 again reads. “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people [speaking of Israel], and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord.”
Now, turn over to Isaiah 28:11-12. This is what he is referring to. He quotes the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied both to the northern tribes and to the southern tribes. He had quite a ministry there. But the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 28:11 says, “Indeed he will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue. He who said to them here is rest, give rest to the weary and here is repose, but they would not listen.” Now that is a prophecy Isaiah gave at a certain point in history. Fifteen years before he gave that prophecy, the northern kingdom had gone into captivity. Now that was 722 BC. They went in because of unbelief and apostasy. Now the prophet also warned that the southern kingdom would go the same route, that the Babylonians would take them into captivity. And he warned them, “Unless you repent, you are going to follow the same route as your big sister, the ten northern tribes. The same exact judgment that came upon them will come upon you, except not by the Assyrians but by the Babylonians.”
Remember, the southern tribes were Judah and Benjamin. Mainly you refer to them as Judah even though Benjamin was included. They said that the prophet Isaiah was talking to them as if they were children. His teaching was too simple. They wouldn’t pay attention to the prophecy that Isaiah was trying to warn them with. They accused him of talking to them as if they were babies.
As a matter of fact, look at verse 9 of chapter 28 where we find this reference of one day these foreign tongues will be spoken. It says in verse 9, “To whom would he teach knowledge and to whom would he interpret the message. Those just weaned from milk, those just taken from the breast. In other words, they said, “Man, what are you doing? I mean this is simplistic what you are saying to us.” They didn’t take him seriously. He had indeed spoken to them simply.
Look at verse 10: “For He says, ‘Order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a little here, a little there.’” What he is talking about is how simply he went about prophesying and laying it out so that nobody could misunderstand. He was saying to Judah, “I have given you a little here. I’ve given you a little there. I have been trying to draw a picture for you. Judgment is coming.” But yet they wouldn’t listen. In verse 12 we read, “He who said to them, ‘Here is rest, give rest to the weary,’ and, ‘Here is repose,’” now look at the last phrase, “but they would not listen.” And as a result of that, the judgment would come.
Eight hundred years before Isaiah, God had warned Israel and certainly the judgment came, the Assyrian captivity. In Deuteronomy 28:49 we read, “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth as the eagles swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand.” The strange language of their conquerors would be spoken as a sign of God’s judgment upon them and they would be taken into the Assyrian captivity.
Then one hundred years after Isaiah, Jeremiah the prophet says in Jeremiah 5:15, “Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel, declares the Lord. It is an enduring nation. It is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say.” The sign of judgment would be a language that they could not understand. And Isaiah, standing right in the middle, points back. That is what He said then, and you didn’t listen. You went into captivity. “And then a hundred years from now,” he says, “if you don’t listen to me, again it is going to happen.” It did, and Jeremiah prophesied the same thing.
So when the apostles spoke at Pentecost in languages that were not their own, the people who were there, the Jews who were there, came from all kinds of foreign countries around and they began to hear their own languages, foreign languages, not the native Hebrew that they grew up with but the foreign languages spoken to them. The miracle was that they did understand it, however, it was a foreign language spoken to them. They should have known, judgment has come once again. If God dropped judgment upon those who had disobeyed Him in the Old Testament and taken them into Assyrian captivity, if God brought judgment upon them under Judah and Benjamin, the two southern tribes and taken them into captivity of Babylon, how much more would He bring judgment on those who had crucified the Lord, the son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ? Judgment had come and the prophecy came forth as men speaking in languages that were not their own native Hebrew tongue. It came from foreign languages and it was again a sign of judgment. It had fallen upon them for their disobedience.
In 70 AD, that judgment fell. Just like it was prophesied before the Assyrian captivity, just as it was prophesied before the Babylonian captivity, it came again and it came again at Pentecost. Jerusalem was totally, utterly destroyed under the emperor Titus. Over one million Jews were slaughtered. Thousands were taken captive. The Temple was plundered, desecrated and utterly destroyed. The rest of the city was burned to the ground. One historian comments that Israel had no history whatsoever for 60 years as a result of the destruction of AD 70. God said it. You crucified My Son and judgment is coming upon you once again. And the sign of that judgment will be men miraculously speaking in foreign tongues.
He warned them, Jesus did, in Luke 19:43, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you and surround you and hem you in on every side and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” My Son walked among you and you did not recognize your time of visitation and therefore, judgment would be announced and judgment would fall.
Now I want to ask you a question. If you were the Corinthians and you were into this speaking in a gibberish, thinking somehow it was a spiritual sign, not only to believers of your spirituality, but to unbelievers so that they would know that they could be pointed to Christ somehow and suddenly it dawns on you that all of that is a false premise? How would you handle that? How would you handle that? How do you handle it today? How do you handle that? They had the experience, so what are you going to do, when you suddenly find out that speaking in those foreign tongues was not a sign for believers, had nothing to do with spirituality, but it had to do with the judgment of God upon Israel? Tongues were spoken, the judgment was sealed.
Well, once again, the destruction of Israel took place in 70 AD. And once that happened, why would there be a need to repeat the miraculous tongue speaking of Pentecost? It had done its work. It was prophesied, it happened and judgment fell. Why would you need that again? There is no reason for it to be there again. Now, remember, Paul is referring to known languages, much less the gibberish that was going on in Corinth.
Even though Israel has rejected Jesus Christ, there is something else that you might need to know here. Even though judgment fell upon them, and yes, AD 70 happened and all of the judgment of the Jews there, but listen, God is not finished with Israel yet. Now, I am not one of these people who think that we are spiritual Israel and God has done away with Israel. No, sir, no, no, no. And you need to know where I am coming from. Make sure you understand that without any question in your mind.
Why do I believe that God is not finished with Israel yet? Because I believe God to be a faithful God. What He promises, He fulfills. Look at Jeremiah 31:33. Now if you can get around this prophecy, then you can convince me that we are spiritual Israel. But if you can’t get around it, hang it up because this one nails it to the floor right here. This is the prophet Jeremiah prophesying the new covenant by which we have been grafted into by the way, the new covenant that God is going to make with His people one day, we get the first benefits of it. Jeremiah 31:33 says, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put my law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’ Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name.”
He talks about a fixed order here. He talks about the sun giving light by day and the moon and the stars for light by night. Now look at verse 36. If you can get around this verse, then you can convince me perhaps that we are spiritual Israel and God has written Israel off the map. It says in verse 36, “‘If this fixed order departs from before Me [What is the order? The sun giving light by day, the moon and the stars giving light by night],’ declares the Lord, ‘Then the offspring of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.’”
Now, I don’t know about you, friend, but the sun is still in the sky, the stars and the moon giving light at night. And God said, “Until that stops, I still consider Israel as a nation.”
Zechariah says at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel, one-third of that nation will be saved. Why? Because of them? No, sir. Because of who He is. He promised him and God is faithful to His promises. God still loves Israel. God still loves Israel. But tongues don’t have anything to do here with what we are talking about. Tongues is still a sign of God’s judgment, this miraculous speaking in tongues.
This happened at Pentecost in the three different recorded instances in Acts. What happened there was a picture of God’s judgment towards Israel, speaking in languages other than Hebrew, pictured for us something else. It pictured for us the door being opened to all nations of the world. Once Pentecost came and tongues were spoken, the foreign tongues, as a judgment on Israel, from that point on, God is saying I am not working through one nation any more. I work now through My church and all nations are welcome to come to me through My Son. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Don’t you love that? That opened the door for me and you. When those tongues were spoken as a sign of God’s judgment, it opened the door for all the nations now to come into the covenant that God has and that includes Israel. And God continues to show His mercy and grace and many Jewish people are coming into the covenant even as I speak. But as a nation, they have not yet repented, but one day will come, their day of atonement will come. The very fact that other languages were spoken to the Jews at Pentecost does signal a whole turn of events in the economy of God as the church now comes on the scene.
In verse 11 of Romans 11 it says, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be!” talking about Israel, “But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” there it is, just as clear as you can read it. And then verse 25 of chapter 11 in Romans, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob,” which is Israel, “and this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’”
So God now has opened the door for all nations and He certainly, though He has judged them, has not closed it on Israel. He still has a promise and He will fulfill it to them at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel, which will come sometime in the future. I am one of those who believes we will be out of here. Now if you want to stay, stay; I am going with the first bunch. When the church is raptured, that begins the seventieth week of Daniel. And God then turns His focus back to that nation that rejected Him. But the nation that He promised would one day have their day of atonement.
The sign of tongues was repeated when Peter and them took the gospel to the Gentile world. It says in Acts, “while Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message and all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.” Again, those tongues being a sign of judgment to the Jew but a sign of promise to the Gentile. The doors are now open and whosoever will may come.
So we have the purpose of tongues. Now, you can see Paul’s argument here. “Now that I have finished that, Corinthians, where are you coming from? What is the profit of you doing what you are doing? How does that fit in scripture? And folks, I don’t know why people can’t see it. It does not fit. As a matter of fact, if it were known, understandable languages, that is one thing, but the fact that it was a gibberish that nobody could understand pushes it even further as being totally ridiculous as to anything spiritual in a person’s life.
The problem with tongues
Well then, secondly, we see the problem with tongues. He deals first of all with the purpose of tongues, what were they there for. And if you think you are redoing Pentecost, what do you want to do that for? Because at Pentecost, those tongues opened the door for the Gentiles but it brought judgment upon the Jewish nation. In 1 Corinthians 14:22 we read, “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe.”
Paul is awesome in the way he orchestrates his arguments. I mean, he is just a master at it. If you have ever studied his epistles, you know that already about him. He sets you up before he ever brings in what he is trying to say. He has shown the Corinthians that although the Jews received a miraculous witness, they rejected it. They rejected languages, not only that were foreign, but languages that they actually understood. They rejected the message. They clearly heard the message. Now Paul says to the Corinthians, “Here you are, speaking in an unintelligible manner and you expect something understandable to come from that? Could it be you are doing this with the hope of impressing non-believers? Isn’t it obvious to you Corinthians that if you are doing this as any kind of sign, now you are impressed with yourself and believers seem to be impressed with it? But if you are doing this for unbelievers, isn’t it obvious to you if they won’t accept languages that they can understand why do you think that they are going to accept a language that they can’t understand?
He said if you think that you can get across any amount of message by what you are doing to an unbeliever, you are kidding yourself. Paul seems to want to know, where in scripture are you coming from? Where in scripture does it say that this kind of stuff goes along with the gospel and the preaching, the telling forth of the gospel? Nowhere. Then why are you doing it? That is his point.
Verse 23 reads, “If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?” Now Paul uses an “if” here that is the hypothetical “if.” He says, “Okay, let’s just set up this.” He is driving his point home and he says, “Let’s just set up a situation. It is hypothetical, but let’s just set it up.”
Let’s assume that this happens and he is dealing with public worship in Corinth. What does that tell you? That tells you this must have been going on in Corinth, causing all the confusion that was there. He says, “If the whole church should assemble together, everybody is there, and all of them, every one of them are speaking in languages.” Tongues, remember, when it is plural, refers to known, understandable languages. Now, even though what Corinth was doing was gibberish and was not a language, Paul says, “I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. What if you all came together and you all spoke in another language that was understandable to those who knew that language?” He said, “Do you realize what kind of chaos that would be?”
You know, one of these days, I would love for everybody in the church to be able to go to Europe and some of these places I go when they have about five translators going at the same time. I mean, you’ve got your Hungarians and Russians and Romanians; you’ve got different languages; and somebody is saying, “What in the world? This is a circus. Man, I don’t understand anything that is going on in this place!”
That is his point. Only those who knew the languages could benefit from them. If everybody was speaking a different language, a lot of people there don’t know what is going on. So he says, “If therefore the whole church should assemble together, and let’s just give you the benefit of the doubt, you spoke in languages that were known languages, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter…”
The word “ungifted” is the word idiotes. It means somebody that is ignorant. Ignorant of what? Ignorant of the particular languages that are being spoken. Obviously the context will rule.
He also says unbelievers. Unbelievers are exactly that, they are unbelievers. They don’t believe in Christ. They don’t believe the gospel. Maybe they have never heard it. How are they going to hear it if everybody is speaking in another language?
“Will they not say that you are mad?” The word “mad” means you people are crazy! What in the heck are you doing? Can’t you see someone in the 20th century who walks inside a church and everybody in the whole church is speaking in a foreign language and he thinks, “Good grief, man, are these people drunk?” Hey, by the way, wasn’t that what they said at Pentecost? Because, you see, the Jews heard that language, but the others who were there didn’t understand that language and they accused the apostles that spoke of being drunk. The same argument that Paul is using right here.
It says in verse 24, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”
Now, you have to remember, prophesying is not foretelling. We have covered that. The word 90% of the time always means to tell forth, it means to tell forth the word of God. Now he is comparing and contrasting what they are doing, even if he gives them the benefit of the doubt and says, “Okay, maybe what you say is an actual language; but,” he said, “what good is that?” The prophesying, the telling forth, the preaching of the word of God is what stirs the hearts of people, not an emotional, even a miraculous experience. Do you think miracles get people saved? Then go back and study Luke 16 when the rich man died. The rich man said when he saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, “Hey, can I come out of hell just for a minute? Can I go tell my brothers?” And what did they say? If he will not believe the law and prophets, he won’t believe you. You can walk straight out of hell and tell them and they won’t believe you. Miracles don’t get anybody saved. But the word of God is what gets people saved.
If we prophesy, tell forth the word of God, clearly, in a language that can be understood, then he says an unbeliever or an ungifted man who enters and doesn’t know what church is all about can be convicted by all, each and every part of it. Why? Because if you point in five directions, you don’t point in any. If you point in one direction and people hear God’s Word goes deep into their heart. It says he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all. That is a beautiful picture here of the power of preaching the word of God. When you proclaim the word of God and you declare forth what God has said, that is what brings salvation to people’s hearts. Miracles never saved anybody. Oh, they have gotten their attention and they have wanted another emotional experience, but you end up competing with yourself. And after a while it gets a little old.
So Paul says, “Why don’t you come back? Have some sense. Come on, let your mind go a little further in your understanding. And even though you’ve got good intentions, you are doing some ignorant things. Come on, snap out of it. Come beyond that and be what God wants you to be.” He is convicted by all, called into account by all.
Then verse 25 explains that. The word of God goes deep into his soul. Verse 25 says, “the secrets of his heart are disclosed.” Boy, does that sound familiar to you? Remember James said when we go to the word of God it is like a mirror. You look into a mirror and you see exactly what you are like.
Have you ever been some place and the word of God has been preached, and all of a sudden you think, this guy knows me and is directing that message right at me? All he did was just preach the word. And what did it do? The secrets of your heart were disclosed.
I tell you what, folks, every meeting I go into, every conference I do, somebody comes to me and says, “You have been talking to our preacher, haven’t you?” It happens every single time. And I have to stand in the pulpit and say, “I have not been talking to your preacher. I just know something about flesh. I look at it in the mirror every morning and everywhere I go, flesh is flesh. It is sick.”
When you preach the word of God, friend, flesh comes to the surface and nobody is pointing fingers at anybody else, the finger is pointing right here. Verse 25 continues, “and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” Paul shows the power of preaching. And he said, “Why in the world would you have a service where there is preaching in any kind of language that people can’t understand, especially the gibberish that you are doing? What in the world, what good does it do for anybody? But proclaim with understanding the word of God and people’s hearts will be revealed. Whether they deal with it or not, that is not your situation.”
Someone told me something years ago. He said, “You know, you are not responsible for people hearing what you say. God is only going to hold you responsible for what you say. Set the table, son.” That is what he said. “If they eat or don’t eat, that is their problem. They will answer to God. You are not responsible for whether they eat it or don’t eat it. You just make sure the table is properly set.” That blesses me, because there is power in God’s word.
So the bottom line, he says, “Grow up, Corinthians, just grow up. Stop babbling. Stop thinking that this is something spiritual. It certainly doesn’t impress the believer, and the unbeliever will think you are nuts. Do what is mature. Tell forth the word of God.”
Have you looked at chapter 14 at the different arguments? Back there when he says “wherefore” he says it like a sigh, like a concession. Like “Oh, come on, man, I am getting wiped out. Alright, let’s do it this way.” Then he finishes that and comes back and says, “Let’s try it again. Let’s go back to prophecy.” He is continuing to try to show them what, to me, makes all the sense in the world except to those who have experienced something, they don’t know what, but they think it must be of God because they can’t explain it otherwise. Be careful. Your intentions may be wonderful, but that doesn’t make it right.