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August 23, 2003

How is it?

1 Corinthians 14:26
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

I havent had time to pull out my greek NT and exegete this passage. This journal isn't the place for that kind of study (although it may prompt it). It's a place to look at things from different angles; to process them in my imperfect way that the Lord uses to bring understanding.

As a person who comes from a traditional Pentcostal background and theology, the issues of "tongues" and the other spiritual gifts has not only been settled for me, but is an important part of my daily Xian life. As a pastor who leads a local church, I have found that the issues in chs. 12-14 cause a lot of confusion,producing a lot of different views. So I felt like Paul was asking me this question when he said, "How is it then?" - how should the gifts be facilitated in a corporate gathering?

I have two takes on this passage today in answer to this question. The first response is that order leads to edification. As I see 1 Corinthians (epecially these chapeters) as corrective, not restrictive, it seems like this church was just a free-for-all each time they got together. Each person "competing" was using thier gifts as thier proof of thier spiritual aptutide. Paul could be saying here, and I paraphrase, "Come on! You mean every time you get together every person has something to contribute? Get serious. If you don't have anything to contribute that will build up those around you, that's OK. You don't have to make sure you get your two-cents in at every gathering to prove how spiritual you are." I've been in places like that before. It's self-serving and contributes to the confusion of how the gifts really function.

The other way to look at this passage is that participation contributes to edification. 12:7 says that "the mainifestion of the Spirit is give to each one for the profit of all." It is the HS that distributes the appropriate gift to each individual for each situation. Too often (in my opinion) the church have become content to sit back and let someone else to the work of building the body - the pastor teaching, the worship leader, etc. This spectator mentality can keep people disengaged from the things of the Spirit and how He may want to use them in the building of the church.

"How is it then" in NH? I desire for it to be a place where people have the permission to use thier gifts to build the body without having the pressure to use thier gifts to prove thier spiritual worth or find affirmation.

Lord, let us be a place where your Spirit is manifest in power and in order.

November 3, 2010

“(W)ho was I that I could withstand God?”

Acts 11:15-17 (NKJV)
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

OBSERVATION
Peter is describing the events that took place at Cornelius’ house, probably the most significant gentile convert to “the way.” After Pentecost, this is probably the most important event in the expansion of Christianity. Recognizing it’s significance, it is important to keep in mind everything that Luke describes that took place in Chapter 10, and what the apostles chose as the determining factors to evaluate one’s conversion:

Acts 10:44-46 (NKJV)
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God…

APPLICATION
It is interesting that those “of the circumcision who believed” (that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the life of the believer ) only had one evidence to evaluate whether the “uncircumsicised” were the same as them in belief and experience – that is “they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”

Still today the issue of tongues is misunderstood and divisive in the church. Yet it was the initial factor that united early Jew and Gentile believers as followers of Christ. It was not ritual. It was not doctrine. The thing that united men and women, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor and identified them as believers is something that is described as “heavenly language.” When one is immersed into the life of the Spirit, it would naturally produce something that is “super-natural” – beyond our previous experience, but fully organic and natural.

The early church saw this as a natural (although not exclusive) part of a new “spiritual” life. I don’t know why today we rarely acknowledge the significance of tongues, and are even resistant to it? I love what Peter said in 11:17, “who was I that I could withstand God?” I wish that would be said of us today.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Spiritual Gifts category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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