It’s no surprise to any of us––words are incredibly powerful, no matter who’s saying them. But words that come from God are the most powerful of all, which is why it’s so amazing that God chooses to share the power of his own words with us in the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. For some of us, tongues and prophecy are mysterious, foreign…maybe even a little weird! Whether you regularly walk in the gifts of the Spirit God’s entrusted to you, or you’re just getting started understanding how the Spirit moves in our lives, this weekend’s message is for you, as we demystify some of the most powerful truths about God’s Spirit and our words.
1. Tongues are for God. Prophecy is for people.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5
- God has given us the gifts of the Spirit as a way to demonstrate worship to him and love for one another, and that often involves our words.
- Tongues are for God, and prophecy is for people. Paul tells us to “earnestly desire” that we might prophesy. Why? Prophecy edifies and builds up the church, which is always the work God is up to in the assembly of his people. Tongues become edifying for the local church when there is someone present to interpret.
- Prophecy builds faith in God’s people and is a vital part of corporate worship. It is a communication of God’s truth to God’s people, and when God’s words are spoken to God’s people, powerful things happen.
Reflect on Paul’s words in this passage. Do you “earnestly desire” the gifts of the Spirit? Why or why not? Spend some time in prayer, asking God to allow you to experience the power of his Spirit in your life in fresh ways.
2. Understanding and interpretation must be sought.
1 Corinthians 14:6-19
- God doesn’t want anyone to feel like an outsider in his house. If we are walking correctly in the Spirit, we won’t be showy or demonstrative –– we will both welcome the Spirit’s power and the ability to help others be blessed by understanding what’s going on.
- The work of the Spirit, while it does edify the Body of Christ, is also personal connection to his Spirit. When we obsess over the gifts, often we overlook the relationship. God wants to draw us nearer to himself. Spiritual gifts are one way he does this.
- What God wants to do for all of us is divorce us from our obsession with ourselves. If we are given over to selfishness, we will try to make our worship and spiritual gifts about us, but that defeats the purpose. Spiritual gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit, for his work.
Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in and through your life? What gifts of the Spirit has God given you to walk in?
3. Let the signs do the work.
1 Corinthians 14:20-25
- Part of our maturity in Christ is to seek a deeper understanding of the Spirit’s work in our lives. While we are one Body with one Spirit speaking one gospel of salvation, this work can look a little different in each of our lives. That is the beauty of the diversity of the Church.
- The gifts of the Spirit will likely seem crazy to unbelievers, but they are also signs of God’s power. Paul says that tongues are actually a sign for unbelievers more than they are for believers. Believers are familiar with tongues, but if we don’t understand, it does us no good. But unbelievers cannot deny God’s power when they are confronted with the gift of tongues. That’s why we have to be in submission to the Holy Spirit to prophesy or speak in tongues. It has to be in God’s timing and in God’s way.
- The “work” of the signs of the Spirit of God is to reveal Jesus in his identity and power. The Holy Spirit always comes with power.
Where do you need to grow in spiritual maturity? If you don’t know, spend some time asking God this question. What steps is the Lord inviting you to take to grow up in him?
4. Edification is key
1 Corinthians 14:26-39
- Paul gives us practical steps for walking in the gifts of the Spirit. The first is that we take turns because, again, it’s not about us –– it’s about God. It’s not for our glory, it’s for his.
- The second step is confirmation. Does God’s Word confirm the prophetic word given? Do other believing people who are gifted in prophecy affirm the word given? All those pieces have to be in place, or the “prophecy” is probably not from God.
- If you’ve been given a tongue, but there’s no interpretation, then the tongue is just for you, not everyone.
- These practical applications create a structure for the Church to actively wait on the Spirit to see what God would do among his people. We want to be a people actively looking for his work and stepping out in faith in a way that honors him.
Have you received a prophetic word that you believe is from the Lord? How can you confirm it with other godly people and with the Word of God? What steps of faith do you need to take based on the word God gave you?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?