As we’re going through the book of Acts, I want to give us clarity and confidence regarding the Holy Spirit, providing a resource and reference point. In light of this, since the gifts are frequently misunderstood and misapplied in some churches and denominations, let me give you 5 plumb lines for using the gifts.
1. Love governs how the gifts are used.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 14:1
2. Tongues speak to God, not to people.
Personal Edification: 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4-5, 15, 17-18, 26-33, 39-40
Tongues + Interpretation = Prophecy: 1 Corinthians 14:5, 14, 26-33, 39-40
The issue is intelligibility: 1 Corinthians 14:6-11, 15-17, 19-33, 39-40s
3. Prophecy speaks from God to people.
Corporate Edification: 1 Corinthians 14:3-5, 15, 26-33, 39-40
Intelligibility: 1 Corinthians 14:6, 15, 26-33, 39-40
Prophecy compassionately illuminates, directs, and even predicts.
Prophecy edifies, encourages, and empowers.
The word immediately resonates with you; it’s an anointed word.
The word can give you courage or give you caution.
Regarding the “how,” always be wise with your introductions:
- “I think this is what the Holy Spirit is saying.”
- Let others determine if it is the Holy Spirit or not.
- Prophecy can be listened to, recorded, and discerned before it is delivered.
4. Gifts are given so that the church may be built up.
Purpose: 1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:5, 12, 17, 26-33, 39-40
Diversity within unity, not uniformity: 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Every member needs every member: 1 Corinthians 12:21
No division in the body: 1 Corinthians 12:25
Same care for one another: 1 Corinthians 12:25
5. Don’t make it difficult for outsiders.
What is best for unbelievers? 1 Corinthians 14:16, 19-25, 39-40
Let me share a few thoughts from D.A. Carson about understanding the difference between tongues in the book of Acts and tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Some gifts, notably tongues, function in Acts in ways particularly related to the beginning of the church age, or the launch of the Church. This is important, but it’s also important to note that it doesn’t follow that Luke (the writer of Acts) expects them to cease once the church has been established and the cannon of Scripture is completed.
The manifestations of the Spirit are tied to the Spirit, to the purposes of the Church, fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, and not limited to the establishment of the Church. This use of tongues can occur today whenever God deems it the best way to fulfill His mission.
It isn’t consistent with the principles of interpretation for Scripture to think that certain classes of the Spirit’s manifestation cease once the crucial points of redemptive history have passed.
Tongues in Acts:
- are known languages;
- only occur in group situations;
- are not said to recur;
- are public;
- may serve the purpose of attestation.
Tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14:
- are private prayer languages;
- fall to the individual;
- may be used in private;
- must be translated in public;
- serve no purpose of attestation.
In the same way that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, neither the Holy Spirit nor His function has changed.
Throughout these Priority Times, I’ll often give additional context and timelines to help bring clarity to the bigger picture of what’s going on. For example, after speaking to the disciples in Acts 1:8, Jesus ascended to heaven. This was 40 days after his resurrection. Pentecost – the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit – happened 10 days later.
As we move forward, I’ll try to add as many of these snippets as is helpful. These seemingly small details are important learning tools for understanding the context of what’s going on, so don’t dismiss them as irrelevant. You might be surprised how God speaks to you through them!
I’ve run out of time… but we’ll pick back up with the passage in the next post. Until then, spend some time reading Acts 2:1-13 and write down what you sense the Lord is saying to you.