1 New Covenant prophecy is given for “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (I Cor. 14:3). Sounds like a really important gift to develop and exercise. Speaking in tongues builds up the speaker, which is wonderful, but prophecy “builds up the church” (14:4). Wow!
2 Paul wrote, “You can all prophesy” (I Corinthians 14:31). The indwelling Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts, makes that possible. So if the Spirit is in you, so is the potential to prophesy! Exciting.
3 The apostle encourages us to do just that. He writes, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (14:1). So sister, brother–go for it!
4 When should it happen? Paul says, “When you come together…” (v. 26). Are you mentoring someone? Prophesy over him or her. In a small group? Great place for prophecy. In church? By all means. Counseling appointment? Yep. Let’s build one another up with this incredible gift.
5 To learn how to prophesy, first learn how to hear the voice of God. Jesus said of the Spirit, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14).
6 Anything we should be aware of when prophesying? Yes. “If I have prophetic powers…but have not love, I am nothing!” (13:2). For prophecy to flow well, it comes from a heart of love. We are not looking for something wrong to shame somebody; we are looking for something right to encourage & affirm. The love chapter comes between the two longest chapters on spiritual gifts.
7 Many have the gift of prophecy. Fewer have the calling as a prophet. That takes the gift to a new level. “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11,12). Prophets teach the church how to hear God’s voice, how to develop the gifts, how to function together with all the gifts.
8 Tongues and prophecy work well together. Speaking in a tongue builds up the one doing it–prophecy builds up those who are hearing the prophetic word. The more I speak in tongues, the more prepared I am to speak anointed words to others, whether in a small group setting or in a church. If Paul were among us, he would be wondering why prophecy is not more in use.
9 Paul, the greatest of all apostles, strongly urged the exercise of spiritual gifts and especially prophecy. He wrote, “Now I want you all to speak in tongues” (which suggests that it is available to all), but even more to prophesy” (14:5). Prophecy should be a common part of church life.
10 Prophecy can even be used powerfully with unbelievers because of its revelatory nature. “If all prophesy (in church), and an unbeliever or outside enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (14:24,25). Cool! Powerful! May we heed the Spirit who is beckoning us to take this gift off the table and use it often!
10 TRUTHS ABOUT TONGUES
…from I Corinthians 14
- We are speaking to God (2). Call it prayer. We are making sounds we don’t understand, and Scripture says that our words are aimed directly toward heaven. I am blessed, offering a perfect prayer without my mind involved. Powerful. Prophecy is to people, tongues are to God. When we pray in tongues, we have an audience of One. He is listening and responding, though we usually don’t know what we are saying or praying. Good to sometimes interpret the tongue.
- What to some is foolish babbling is speaking mysteries, a strong New Testament word about revelations hidden for ages but now made known to the people of God. Glorious that He allows us to utter great mysteries.
- Paul says that they are mysteries “in the Spirit,” a wonderful place to be. One way to live and walk in the Spirit is to speak often in tongues.
- The one who speaks in a tongue “builds himself up” (4). I don’t know anyone overdosing on encouragement; most I know could use some. Speaking in tongues can lift you out of discouragement, give you spiritual muscles, prepare you to enter into other gifts, and open you to further revelation. Astounding.
- Paul says, “I want you all to speak in tongues” (5). He had found great value in it and hoped for many to experience it. We have yet to mine the depths of its riches. Keep exercising it, and God will show you more.
- Speaking in tongues is a language (Acts 2). Those filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were speaking, and Jews from around the world who came for the festival days understood. Miraculous. After I taught at a seminar in Bergen, Norway, I spoke in tongues while the pastors met in small groups. A young man from Serbia came to the mic and said, “Paul is speaking my language and is telling us to be courageous,” which was the theme of my teaching. How long does it take to speak a new language? About three years–unless you are filled with the Spirit. Then it may happen instantly. Incredible!!
- Two different kinds of prayer: with the mind and with the spirit (15). We do not use our mind when speaking in tongues. That means that when we need our mind for other activities (driving, reading the Bible, making breakfast), we can still speak in tongues and not be distracted. What a versatile gift!
- The greatest apostle of all time said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all” (18). He found great blessing in it and wanted to encourage others to use it. He knew that some had shelved it, not knowing its value. It helps bring revelation of truth, release people from oppression, and do spiritual warfare, to name just a few benefits.
- Tongues can be a sign for unbelievers (22). It happened at Pentecost. The disciples were doing the impossible in speaking known languages, and it got the attention of thousands.
- I Corinthians 13 teaches that tongues without love is useless. We fly with two wings–the gifts and the fruit.