Seek the understanding of men

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Don’t be a baby all your life: GROW UP! If you’re going to get angry and throw a fit and kick your feet, OK; but for heaven’s sake, get what the Bible says and understand it like a grown-up man.

The question finally arises about there ever being a legitimate use for speaking in tongues in the life of a New Testament Christian. The answer is given in verses 21-22. Verse 21 is a quotation from the book of Isaiah (Isa 28:11). “This people” in both passages is not a reference to any Christian. There is nothing there about two Christians speaking to each other in tongues. Kenneth Copeland and Rodney Howard Brown, two charismatic TV fakirs, once made a video where they were telling jokes to each other in tongues. They would laugh at what the other was saying. That is not Christian, that is not New Testament, and that is not Bible. That is two Charismatics making fools out of each other and causing unbelievers to blaspheme God and their salvation because of their foolishness. Charismatics who make such a big “to do” about certain verses in First Corinthians 14 do not ever spend any time with verses 21 and 22.

The quote is from “the law.” “This people” are Jews, not Christians. The Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22), and, in the context of “this people,” verse 22 reminds us, “…tongues are for a sign.” In the context of verse 22, the “sign” is to an unbeliever, but when you see how tongues were used in the book of Acts, it becomes clear that the unbeliever is an unbelieving JEW. In Acts 2, the apostles speak in tongues to convince a bunch of unbelieving Jews that they have crucified their Messiah. In Acts 10, a group of saved Jews hears a family of newly saved Gentiles speak in tongues so that they will believe that God has given His Holy Spirit to the Gentiles—without baptism. In Acts 19, there are some disciples of John who had not yet believed on Christ and had never heard about the Holy Ghost. Upon receiving Christ and being baptized, they spoke in tongues to show them that Christ had indeed given them the Holy Ghost.

So tongues are a sign to Israel no matter where you find them in the Bible. They are given to make believers out of them. Moreover, this sign was given to the apostles and their direct converts (Mark 16:17), and the sign disappeared with people like Timothy, Mark, and Luke. Now, God can heal a fellow even though the sign of healing is no longer there, and God could enable a man to talk in a different language in certain situations. But the gift of tongues is no longer here. The signs are past tense.

As far as tongues in the Corinthian church goes, the Lord granted the gift to that church to witness to the unsaved Jews of that city. You will remember that the original meeting place for the church was in a “house joined hard to the synagogue” (Acts 18:7). The problem was that the Corinthians tried to bring tongues into the assembly as proof of their superiority over each other. Paul’s purpose in chapter 14 is to bring tongues back to its original function and importance: a witnessing tool to the Jews and the least of all gifts.






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