By Brooke Holt
“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and 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.” - 1 Corinthians 14:23-25
Just imagine the scenario that Paul was describing in the Corinthian church. People are talking everywhere, over each other, and none of the talk made any sense whatsoever. Who was talking and why? Who was being addressed and what was the actual message? Sounds like chaos, doesn’t it?
Then, just imagine that you are in that kind of church setting, and the neighbor that you invited comes in with her family. What would be this family’s impressions about God, the church, and the message? Likely, they would be quick to want to leave and completely unimpressed at the surrounding chaos. You may just want to duck and hide from that neighbor for a few weeks!
In contrast to the chaos of speaking in tongues was the gift of prophecy. Prophetic words were spoken in an intelligible language; they were divine messages entrusted to the prophet to deliver on God’s behalf. Again, imagine your neighbor and her family accept your invitation to visit church. One of your fellow church members receives a word for your neighbor which is faithfully delivered so that she can hear and understand. That prophecy makes her feel seen by God, known by God, and loved by God. She is cut to the heart that the Lord would send someone to speak directly to her and her circumstances.
That, Paul said, is the spiritual experience that can lead to conversion, and that is the kind of public exercise of spiritual gifts that edifies the church and everyone present. God is known, and God is glorified. Paul continued to remind the Corinthians that worship was not about them but Jesus. And in meeting Jesus, lives were changed as people came to know and love the Lord.
Have you ever been blessed or challenged by words of prophecy? Do you believe that it is a gift to be exercised in the church today? Paul encouraged all the Corinthians to seek this gift. What do you think he might say to you today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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