Speaking in Tongues – Part III or Love and the Gifts

In Part I & II of my blog article entitled Speaking in Tongues we established from the Scriptures some important teachings about speaking in tongues.  Let’s review them before we continue. 

The sign gift of tongues is introduced in the book of Acts.  This gift  is presented as the ability to speak another language without ever having learned it.  We learned from the apostle Paul that whenever the gift of tongues was exercised, unbelieving Jews were present.  We learned from Paul’s quote in Isaiah 28, that the gift of tongues was a sign of coming judgment to the unbelieving Jew.  We learned through Paul’s teachings that not all (some) received the gift of tongues, but that all Christians are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit upon believing.  Therefore, tongues cannot be the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as established church practice.  We also mentioned the relatively small number of times the gift of tongues is referred to in Scripture.  The majority of those references consist of Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians who were abusing the gift.

As we consider the people to whom Paul was writing we need to remind ourselves that the Corinthians were Christians.  They had all the gifts, but the Corinthians were spiritually immature.  Their immaturity is reflected in their self-centeredness.  These gifts were not being used to edify others but rather to edify themselves.

The Corinthians had many problems which manifested their spiritual immaturity and lack of biblical love*:  jealousy and pride concerning each other’s spiritual gifts; misuse of their spiritual gifts; disunity in the body and sexual immorality; a lack of church discipline; gluttony and drunkeness at the Lord’s table; going to court against one another; and doctrinal issues.

The Apostle Paul inserted the love chapter into his teaching on the gifts between I Corinthians chapters 12 and 14.  Paul inserted the instructions on love because biblical love is what makes it all work.    Biblical love is the remedy for self-centeredness.  Biblical love is the fruit of the Spirit.  It is obvious that the Corinthians were not walking in the Spirit.  They had among themselves all the spiritual gifts, but without walking in the Spirit and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit which is love, those gifts were useless.

The Importance of Biblical Love*

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

The Characteristics of Biblical Love*

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself,  love is not puffed up, love doth not behave itself unseemly, love seeketh not its own, love is not easily provoked, love thinketh no evil;

Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but love rejoiceth in the truth; love beareth all things, love believeth all things, love hopeth all things, love endureth all things.

Biblical Love* Is Enduring…..Forever

Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Biblical Love* Is of Greatest Value

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Biblical Love* Is to be Pursued

Follow after love,……..I Corinthians 13:1 – 14:1a

  • Love is a choice, not a feeling.
  • Biblical love is about right relationships.  Our vertical relationship with God first and then our horizontal relationships with one another.  
  • Biblical love is not toleration of sin.  Scripture says that if a parent does not discipline his/her child then the parent does not love his/her child.  The same can be said of the church concerning discipline of members of the body of Christ according to Matthew 18.  No discipline equals no love.  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.  Proverbs 3:12  (We must remind ourselves that the goal of discipline is restoration.)
  • While unbelievers cannot be expected to behave as believers, it is not considered unloving to stand up for what is right and to uphold as a society the clear commands of Scripture (not necessarily one’s personal convictions**) as the highest moral standard so long as it is done with a right spirit.
  • By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35
  • By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. I John 5:2  
  • Biblical love does not have to like someone in order to love them.   We are to love our enemies.                    
  • The goal of biblical love is to attain the highest good for the object of its affection.  
  • Biblical love focuses on what is best for others, not on self.
  • God is love.

*Biblical love is in contrast to love as defined by our culture.  Love as defined by the culture is self-centered.  Biblical love always seeks the highest good (God’s will) for the object of it’s affection.  Biblical love sacrifices our self-centered desires for the will of God.

 **It is important to distinguish between clear commands of Scripture and personal convictions.  Personal convictions are standards that we acquire to ourselves based on implied teachings or what we individually consider to be biblical principle.  These often vary from believer to believer and therefore should be used to judge ourselves and not one another.

For a more complete study of this topic please read The Corinthian Catastrophe by George E. Gardner; copyright 1974 by Kregel Publications.

To be continued in Part IV.

Progress in the Christian Life

Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him. Without meaning to do it we have written our serious fault into our book titles and gospel songs.  A little talk with Jesus, we sing, and call our books God’s Minute, or something else as revealing. The Christian who is satisfied to give God His minute and to have a little talk with Jesus is the same one who shows up at the evangelistic service weeping over his retarded spiritual growth and begging the evangelist to show him the way out of his difficulty.

A.W. Tozer

As A Man Thinketh

For as a man he thinketh in his heart, so is he…….. Proverbs 23:7a.

This verse is commonly used to prove that a man is a sinner.  The lesson learned from it is that outward conformity can cover inward transgression.  What may appear to be lovely on the exterior, may not necessarily be what is in the heart.  

I believe that many obedient Christians suffer guilt because they are so often inundated by wrong thoughts.  The guilt comes from  focusing on the very appearance of the wrong thought in their heart rather than on their response to it.

When a wrong thought presents itself to the obedient believer, what does he or she immediately do?  The obedient believer confesses it to God in his or her heart.  To confess is to say the same thing about it that God does.  The Scripture says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  The goal of the obedient believer is to have no unconfessed sin.

Are you a believer?  Are you an obedient believer?  Do you respond to wrong thoughts in this way?  Do you confess to the Lord that the wrong thought is sin and that it does not belong in your heart?  Does the wrong thought grieve you because it is there?  Is this the way you think?  If you do respond this way then praise the Lord, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he……

……let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…..