February 24th, 2007
A call has to be clear and certain. As Paul said in today’s reading, “If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for war?” If you’ve decided to become a follower of Jesus, then that’s what you need to be. You can’t succeed if you want to keep doing things which are inconsistent with following Jesus. If you say you’re a Christian but you still cheat and act selfishly and oppress others, then you’re making an uncertain sound with your trumpet, and you’ll be a very poor example to the people who are watching you.
Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 14
14:1 Pursue love and enthusiastically seek spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. 14:2 Someone who speaks in another language speaks not to people, but to God. No one understands because the person speaks mysteries in the Spirit. 14:3 But someone who prophesies speaks to people for their education, inspiration and encouragement. 14:4 Someone who speaks in another language benefits personally, but someone who prophesies benefits the whole church. 14:5 I wish you could all speak in other languages, but even more I wish that you could prophesy. The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in other languages, unless someone interprets, so the whole church can benefit.
14:6 Friends, how would it help you if I came to you speaking in other languages, unless I communicate some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 14:7 If lifeless things which make sounds, such as pipes or harps, do not produce distinct sounds, how would anyone know what music is being played? 14:8 If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for war? 14:9 Likewise, unless you speak words which are easy to understand, how will people know what you are saying? You would be talking into space. 14:10 Doubtless there are numerous kinds of sounds in the world, and none of them is without meaning. 14:11 If I do not know the meaning of the sound, I would be a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker would be a foreigner to me. 14:12 You enthusiastically seek spiritual gifts, so seek gifts that will benefit the church. 14:13 Someone who speaks in another language should pray for an interpretation. 14:14 If I pray in another language, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive.
14:15 What is the way forward? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray with my mind. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing with my mind. 14:16 Otherwise if you praise God in the spirit, how can an untrained person say “Amen” to your thanksgiving if the person does not know what you have said? 14:17 You have done a good job of giving thanks, but the other person does not benefit. 14:18 I am grateful to God that I speak in other languages more than any of you. 14:19 However in the church I would rather speak five understandable words to instruct others than ten thousand words in another language.
14:20 Friends, do not be children in your thinking. Be babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in your thoughts. 14:21 The law says, “I will speak to this people by people of strange languages and by the lips of strangers. Not even then will they hear me, says the Lord.” 14:22 So other languages are a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophesying is a sign, not for unbelievers, but for believers. 14:23 If the whole church is gathered and everyone speaks in other languages, and untrained people or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are crazy? 14:24 But if everyone prophesies, and an unbeliever or untrained person comes in, that person is enlightened and called to account by everyone. 14:25 So the secrets of the person’s heart are revealed and the person will fall down and worship God, declaring that God is indeed present amongst you.
14:26 What next, friends? When you meet together, each of you has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation. Everything should be done to encourage each other. 14:27 If someone speaks in another language, two, or at the most three people should speak in turn, and someone should interpret. 14:28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep silent in the church, and speak to himself and to God. 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others evaluate what is said. 14:30 If a revelation comes to someone who is sitting, the first person should be silent. 14:31 You can prophesy one by one, so that everyone can learn and be encouraged. 14:32 The spirits of the prophets are under the control of the prophets, 14:33 because God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 14:34 women should be silent in church. They are not allowed to speak. They should be submissive, as the law requires. 14:35 If they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is embarrassing for a woman to speak in church.
14:36 Did the word of God come from you? Or did it come to you only? 14:37 If you think you are a prophet or spiritual, you should recognise that the things which I write to you are the commandment of the Lord. 14:38 Anyone who is ignorant can stay ignorant. 14:39 So friends, enthusiastically desire to prophesy, and do not forbid people to speak in other languages. 14:40 Just do everything decently and in order.