Cross Word: Conviction (1 Corinthians 14:1-25)
Topic: Sermons Passage: 1 Corinthians 14:1–14:25
I’ve noticed a pattern when I mention to someone that my sermon this Sunday will be on 1 Corinthians 14:1-25, which is titled Prophecy and Tongues. Generally there’s an “Ohhh! I bet that’ll be fun. Prophecy and tongues!”. Sometimes there’s a, “What did you do to get assigned that passage? That’ll be tough!”. Not surprisingly, with passages like this, there are a lot of questions that we would all like to have answered. But while the text might require me to define some terms and deal with some pastoral issues, I don’t think that we’re going to spend the majority of our time focused on the gifts themselves.
As was the case in other parts of 1 Corinthians that dealt with specific issues, we will find that this section on prophecy and tongues is not primarily about the topic of prophecy and tongues. It’s primarily about the way in which we use the spiritual gifts that we’ve been given. Not surprisingly, the context helps us. Chapter 13’s exhortation to love and the second half of chapter 14’s exhortation to have orderly worship means that what’s in view is not primarily the gifts themselves, but their use. So Paul is far more concerned with how you use your gifts than giving insight into how he defines what tongues and prophecy are. Sure, we can glean conclusions about the gifts of prophecy and tongues from this passage, but I think that misses the main point.
So as we wade into the mysteries of speaking in tongues and prophesying, hopefully, we’ll stay focused on how the lessons we’ve learned from chapters 12 and 13 are applied to this specific issue that was plaguing the Corinthian church. And as we look at how Paul handled these two gifts, we will see how the Gospel controls the way in which we approach the gifts, skills, and talents that we have been given. See you Sunday!