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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Words That Edify (1 Corinthians 14:2-4)

"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. (1 Corinthians 14:2-4).

Meaningful conversation occurs between two people who share the same language.

Communicating the best news in the world in English to non-English speakers is futile. Imagine finding the cure for cancer but not being able to communicate the cure to others due to a language barrier. No one understands the one who speaks in tongues but the gift of prophecy edifies those who hear. Paul seems to imply that those who desire only to speak in tongues are mainly interested in their own edification while those who desire the gift of prophecy are interested in the edification of others. Paul urges believers to desire gifts that benefit the entire body. 

Paul's instructions regarding the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues teaches at least four truths:
1. The childish Christian desires little to minister to others; therefore they only desire gifts that are personally beneficial or edifying.
2. The lazy Christian desires little to engage others in a cross-cultural conversation by attempting to learn another language in order to share the gospel.
3. The selfish and uncaring Christian sees non-English speakers as an economic drain and even dares to pray that God will do something to eliminate the immigration problem.
4. The apathetic Christian doesn't even bother sharing the good news with those who speak their own language. 

Could it be that we've so disobeyed the Great Commission to take the gospel to every kindred and tribe that God is bringing the world to our doorsteps and we still don't get it?. Instead of seeing lostness and need we see nuisance or we don't see them at all. Everyone ought to have the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in their language at least once. Therefore, desire the gift of prophecy for the spiritual benefit of others.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
1 Corinthians 14:1-15:34
  • How do the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues benefit the body?
  • How does prophecy benefit individuals in the body of Christ, the body of believers and unbelievers?
  • Why does a person have to hear (in his own language) the Gospel to be saved? (Romans 10:14-17)
  • What should characterize the church?
  • How does Paul define the Gospel message?
  • Why does Paul use himself as an example of gospel preaching?
  • Why is emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ so important?
  • What happened to all humanity as a result of Adam's sin?
  • What will happen to all those who've put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ?
  • How does Paul demonstrate his own belief in the resurrection?
Turning truth into prayer
People are saved because they HEAR the gospel in their own language and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help you share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone today. Pray for those serving the Lord in cross cultural ministry.