Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(5/19) We’ve spent weeks looking at the spiritual gifts given to the body. And as we get into this last message in this series we find ourselves again in 1 Corinthians but this time in chapter 14. First Corinthians is such a great book. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I? It is so rich in applicable content to our 21st century lives.
Now last week we talked about love being so critical in our application of our gifts. And this week, Paul is going to continue laying out for us the foundational principle for the gifts insofar as the church is concerned and how we do life together. And so, by way of introduction, I want to remind you that the church is not just a building… it’s not
just a place… it’s not an event… it really and truly is, in its essence, people, living their life together with Jesus Christ at the center… as their Lord… and as their God and Savior. You see, Jesus is the one who is connecting the many parts together, who is changing our lives and working through each of us, so that everyone is blessed and so that more people meet him.
So because of the focus on Jesus… because of the importance of Jesus... and because of his preeminence in all things… our new series of messages is entitled "Why Jesus?" For the next six weeks we are going to consider six often asked questions… six significant teachings about the person and work of Jesus Christ. And I believe these will be six
eye-opening and life changing teachings from the Word of God. Because it really comes down to this… each of us making a decision… and each of us answering the question that Jesus poses to his disciples in Matthew 16:15.
Jesus looks at them… Jesus asks this penetrating question… "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" "Don’t quote some TV preacher… don’t quote a bumper sticker... Who do you say that I am?"
So as we begin our new series we’ll consider the exclusive nature of Jesus claims to be God. Next week in "Why Jesus" we’ll reflect on the ultimate choice faced by every living, breathing human being on earth… to answer Jesus question…"Who do you say I am?" You see there are really only three responses to that question. One, either Jesus Christ was a
wacko... a nut job… and a lunatic. Or two, he knew what he was saying and He was very purposeful in telling the greatest lie that’s ever been told. Or three that he wasn’t crazy… that he wasn’t lying... and that He was and is the exalted Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ! He is the Savior of the world! So my whole goal is to point out that it’s all about Jesus... to reveal
to you Jesus… to introduce to you Jesus… to show you Jesus… so you may have the opportunity to respond to him as Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
And so, I’ve got to stop before I get too carried away… because this morning… as we get into the Word of God we going to finish our series One Body… Many Parts. Let’s read from…
1 Corinthians 14:1-12
"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a
tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if
the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what
someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church." NIV
1. Follow the Way of Love
Now last week we talked about love. We saw how there are spiritual gifts and then there’s spiritual maturity and they’re different… and what God was saying is that you can be a great worship leader but if you don’t love the people you lead, you’re not doing any good. You could be a great teacher but if you don’t love the people you’re teaching, you’re
not doing any good. So you can be a great servant, administrator, speaker, or healer, but if you don’t love people, you’re immature, and you’re not using the gift for the purpose that God gave it.
You see the context of true love is using our spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ. The whole point of the spiritual gifts is that they’re different ways that we can love each other… And today Paul follows up in verse one, "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who
speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God." So that brings us back to last week in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where he says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels… but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
Here’s what he’s saying. I could speak in tongues all day long, but if I’m a jerk, it doesn’t count. That’s the point. If I’m not following the way of love, "I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." I’m only making noise… but we need to be loving too. We all have different gifts, but one thing unifies us… one thing connects us together… and
that one thing is love. All of our gifts are little more than different ways in which we can love each other. So if you’re a servant, you love by serving. If you’re a teacher, you love by teaching. If you’re a helper, you love by helping. If you’re a leader, you love by leading. The spiritual gifts are just ways to love each other. And so what he’s saying is that if we have
the gift but we don’t love, we’ve missed the whole point. We’re not building up, we’re tearing down.
You see, the problem is never the spiritual gift. The gifts are good. The gifts are from God, but the problem is when they’re used… when they’re exercised without love. The problem is when they’re forced on others… It’s the adult Bible study teacher who invites you to come and then yells at you to sit down and shut up. It is the small group leader who
injects themselves into the group and then insists that they follow. But there is no love… We’re a Bible believing church, so we believe in tongues, but in addition to tongues, we must be loving. That’s all... We must follow the way of love… because the whole point of spiritual gifts is that they’re different ways that we can love each other.
So we believe in prophecy but in addition to prophecy, we must be loving and…
2. Speak in a Way that Encourages.
Paul says if you want to value anything… if you want to value one gift above the others… treasure prophecy. And I believe here he’s talking about the preaching of the Word of God. He is not talking about fortune telling. Now in that day they had the Old Testament and they had the New Covenant application, but they didn’t have the Bibles we have today.
So when he speaks of prophecy it was fresh revelation of Christ in the Old Testament. That was the one thing that would keep the church straightened out… keep everybody on mission… and keep everything together… When the Bible is taught accurately so that the people in the church know who Jesus is, know what Jesus accomplished, know what the Bible says and follow the teachings
So what he says is this… love all the gifts… eagerly desire spiritual gifts… and if you want to elevate one, if you want to honor one, honor the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Because "everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort…. he who prophesies edifies the church." He’s building up!
Anatole France once said, "Nine tenths of education is encouragement." The same could be said for preaching, but according to Paul, 33% of preaching is for strengthening… 33% of preaching is for encouragement… and 33% of preaching is for comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Of course I am preaching to myself again, but couldn’t this apply to all of our conversations, as well.
Here's my point. We need to check the content of our conversations, whether it is in front of the church or one on one, to see how much time we spend encouraging others, as opposed to how much time we spend pointing out faults… or complaining about how bad things are… or warning about how bad things are going to be...
You see we’ve been called to be people of encouragement, but what does that look like… what is that in real life?
According to various online dictionaries, encouragement can be defined as:
1. Contributing the progress or growth of someone or something.
2. The expression of approval or support.
3. To motivate, or incite to action or practice.
4. To give hope or courage to someone.
You could say in our context that encouragement is telling someone what they need to hear in order to take a step of faith.
An encouraging word reminds us that God's mercy is always greater than our sin…
An encouraging word reminds us that there is no situation that is beyond his ability to restore…
An encouraging word reminds us that holiness isn't an unattainable goal…
An encouraging word reminds us that that becoming like Christ isn't beyond our grasp… but it is the privilege of every believer.
So whether we're in front of the Church or just talking to a friend one on one, we're called to be the voice of encouragement. The Bible says you can do it. And here's how in verse 3, speak "to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort". And in Hebrews chapter 12, "Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees… Make level paths for your
feet…" (Hebrews 12:12).
As we’re building up… let’s start taking steps in that direction and…
3. Excel in Gifts that Build Up the Church.
The apostle writes, "If I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?" (1 Corinthians 14:6).
In other words, if I get up and speak in tongues, you wouldn’t know what I am talking about… it’d be like me getting up and speaking Klingon for an hour. All the Trekkies would be hanging on… they’d be into it… but everybody else is like "we don’t know what you’re talking about… we love you… we’re glad you’re happy, but you should do that somewhere
else, maybe like at home, because here, you’re just not helping. You know, it was cute for a minute but now we’re lost."
Paul says, "So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church" (1 Corinthians 14:12).
The whole point of the spiritual gifts are to build up the body… it’s to edify others… but verse four tells us, "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself". So let’s suppose you have the gift of hospitality, you don’t just bake cupcakes for yourself. No, you make cupcakes for other people. That’s the gift of hospitality. If you have the gift of
teaching, you don’t sit in your living room every Thursday night and lecture yourself. No, you find some other people who are like minded and you teach them. The whole point of spiritual gifts is to edify other people and not just yourself.
So Paul says in verse four, "But he who prophesies edifies the church." He who speaks the Bible… he who proclaims the truth of God’s word… "Speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort." Bible preaching benefits the whole church. Speaking in tongues may make you happy… but the rest of us are totally in the dark.
So we want "to excel in gifts that build up the church" (1 Corinthians 14:12). That’s why the majority of our time is spent preaching the Bible… preaching the Word of God… and we don’t get together and have a tongues marathon, you know what I mean? We don’t do that.
We’re not against speaking in tongues. Many of us speak in tongues. And Paul says in verse five, "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified" (1 Corinthians 14:5).
What Paul is saying, "Is you know we’re trying to build up the Church. You gotta consider the fact that there are visitors, there are non-Christians that come to the church and if you act like a bunch of wackos you’re not helping out, right? Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that edify, that build up the church" (1
Now some of you, I know, you’ve brought people to church. How would you feel if you finally got your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, or family member to come to church and that day we were having a tonguesfest and I got totally caught up in it, I’m praising God, and forgot to say anything about Jesus? So all the way home, you’d be apologizing to
your guest saying, "It’s usually not like that. I am so sorry. I’ll pay for the therapist. It’s all my fault." You know what I mean? Have you ever experienced that? I have… but you want to bring your friends to church and you want them hear about Jesus and not get freaked out. I mean, Christianity’s freakish enough isn’t it? You know we’ve got the living dead, the Holy
Spirit, and on and on. We don’t need to add to the freakishness.
So when we get together, the point is Bible teaching… Bible preaching… about Jesus. So that you can bring your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and not have them totally freak out. And you know when they come… that we’re going to talk about Jesus… that we’re going to open the Bible... and the point of all of this is simply this. We are one body
with many parts. Each part is gifted in a unique way with one purpose. And that one purpose is that we get to demonstrate our love for each other. And if somebody else comes in and they’re loved… they feel welcomed… they feel like they’re home… that’s building up the church. And that’s our goal… that we’d fill up heaven!
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