Posted by: pastordiehl   in Spiritual Gifts

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Corinthians 14:22).

The seldom used word ‘wherefore’ refers to the cause or the reason for something. He makes two opposite statements in this verse:

1) ‘“Tongues are…a sign…to them that believe not“. In this case Paul is setting up the scenario for what he is about to say next. He is referring not to your personal prayer language, but a message in tongues, with interpretation, before a group of others, including those who believe not. Although it was clear in Paul’s mind, it may be confusing to those who are just learning about spiritual gifts. There is a distinction between speaking in tongues as your personal prayer language (which needs no interpretation and should be kept to oneself) and a message in tongues within the assembly of the saints, which requires interpretation. In the next few verses Paul describes how a message in tongues with interpretation influences unbelievers.

2) “Prophesying serves…them which believe“. Prophesying is speaking what God has revealed to others so we can instruct them in the ways of God. We learned earlier that a message in tongues with interpretation equals prophecy. But prophecy is always done in the language of the people, otherwise no one can understand the message.

A “sign” simply is something that indicates something else. Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17). These are indications of the indwelling Holy Spirit at work in the heart of the believer.

In the next 17 verses Paul lays out some ground rules for the ministry of spiritual gifts in the assembly of the saints. As we go through them I’d like to hear your experience with each of these rules.

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