“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.
Tags: prophecy, signs, tongues
During the holiday season, an atheistic organization put a sign alongside the community Christmas display in Madison, Wisconsin. It blatantly declared: “In this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our material world. Religion is but a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
On the back of that sign was the warning: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. Where do you suppose such a statement as that came from? If there is no God, why are they quoting Him? Either there is a God who establishes order out of chaos, or we should let nature take its natural course, which is always chaos. I choose to believe in God but wouldn’t trust the atheists with my sign!
Tags: Christmas, Law, signs, stealing
I spent Monday at a retreat with some other area pastors at a United Methodist Church camp in LaGrange County. It was a great time of interaction and sharing thoughts. These were ministers from other denominations, but it was so heart-warming to hear their individual stories of conversion and calling. Inspirational!
At one point we scattered over the rustic campground, which was mostly wooded, for private devotional time. When we returned, one of the pastors was really excited that he had seen a sign from God. While praying about a problem he was dealing with, he observed a cardinal and blue jay sitting on a branch near each other. Now, blue jays are aggressive birds that will chase any other species away, and cardinals are non-aggressive and keep to themselves. But, here they sat together.
I don’t know what the pastor was dealing with, but this was received as God giving him a sign. It may have been relationship difficulties with his spouse, or perhaps a problem with his church or denomination. But, this was clearly a sign of unity for him.
What sign has God given you recently that delivered a message to your heart?
Tags: birds, message, nature, signs, unity
I came to Christ making a bargain with Him. I said, “God, if You’ll _______________________, then I’ll give You my life and follow You.” However, I didn’t have any bargaining chips God was interested in. He wanted me unconditionally, and I had to learn that the hard way.
Film director Woody Allen once said, “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
Even those who lived near Jesus and had witnessed His miracles asked for more proof. Comparing Jesus to Moses, they asked, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You?…Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat'” (John 6:30-31).
It was just one day earlier He had indeed given them bread. He had fed 5,000 of them with the bread from one boy’s lunch! But, rather than becoming defensive, He used the moment to teach them, “I am the bread of life” (v. 35).
Haven’t we seen enough signs already?
Tags: belief, bread, proof, signs
A priest and a pastor from the local churches were standing by the side of the road pounding a sign into the ground, which read: ‘The End is Near! Turn Yourself Around Now Before its Too Late!”
As a car sped past them, the driver yelled, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.
The priest turned to the pastor and asked, “Do you think the sign should just say, ‘Bridge Out’?”
Perhaps the end is near and the church just isn’t speaking clear enough. Perhaps there’s a better way to say it.
Tags: communication, humor, second coming, signs
After a woman sued a McDonald’s Restaurant for being burned by hot coffee, companies started changing their manuals and warning labels. Check out these instructions:
- On a frozen dinner: DEFROST BEFORE EATING.
- On an iron: CAUTION! DO NOT IRON CLOTHES ON BODY.
- On a peanut butter jar: MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS.
- On a milk bottlecap: AFTER OPENING, KEEP UPRIGHT.
If some people need these obvious guidelines on household items, think about how much more we need God’s direction. Psalm 119 tells of the importance of His instruction manual – the Bible. Consider:
- “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
- “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Tags: instructions, signs, warning
Yesterday, February 3, Anita went with me to a doctor’s appointment in Ft. Wayne. When we got out, it was about 12:30 PM, so we decided to get a bite to eat. As we pulled up to a stop sign at a side street, I could hardly believe my eyes. There, in the grass next to the road, were about ten red-breasted robins. On February 3!
What’s up with nature these days? Don’t those robins have an internal calendar telling them when to go north? Or have they been here all winter? Hadn’t they been notified by the ground hogs that there will be 6 more weeks of winter? Or perhaps those particular birds had eaten poison and were deranged or something.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees when he said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times“ ( Matthew 16:2-3).
What are sign that let you know that the last days are upon us?