Thought for March 1st “THE ONE WHO PROPHECIES BUILDS UP THE CHURCH”
Today’s 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians completes Paul’s detailed advice to the believers on the wise use of the spiritual gifts that were then available. Those who claim some type of spiritual gift today almost always quote very selectively from this chapter, ignoring the context. They had no Bible to read in Corinth – like we have! It seems there were ‘sayings’ in circulation, Paul quotes some, see 1 Tim.1 v.15; 4 v.8,9; 2 Tim. 2 v.11; Titus 3 v.8.
There is one particular gift that Paul stresses. Today’s first verse states, “earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophecy” What is this gift of prophecy? It is clearly explained in v.3, “ …the one who prophecies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” Then v.4 and 5 “The one who prophecies builds up the church … The one who prophecies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues … that the church may be built up.” We commented yesterday on v.23 on the negative effect of tongue speaking in church.
In contrast to tongues, if believers “all prophecy” in the sense of upbuilding fellow believers, how positive this would be. Remember how this was God’s primary commission to the Old Testament prophets; frequently their task was to turn the people back to serving God properly,
In the same way, ‘prophecy’ was to be used in the Corinthian church and those with sprit-empowered messages, were to build up their fellow believers – then when an “unbeliever or outsider 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.”
There is surely a parallel to this today when God’s word is logically and clearly explained in the affect it has, usually over time – and the reverent spirit it produces.. When a person who comes amongst us and is seeking God then his or her mind will become convinced that God and Christ are really among us. In modern language use – we should say, ‘Awesome’! Do we really sense this? Tomorrow’s powerful 15th chapter is an essential foundation in our efforts to “prophecy” and convince others (and ourselves) of our foundation purpose and hope in living.
Today’s chapter concludes with appropriate words, “my brothers earnestly desire to prophecy … all things should be done decently and in order.” We ‘hear’ the words of ‘prophecy’ today through reading the divine word every day – let us not neglect to ‘listen.’