Someone may say, "surely there's no need today for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit's gifts".
But equally surely, "if those first Believers needed them in their day, are today's Believers different"?
Who doesn't need to hear a word of wisdom at times of decision making or confusion?
Or a word of knowledge revealing that God knows about a difficult situation, giving hope to solve it?
Or a specific boost of faith that gives confidence to take a certain otherwise daunting step?
Or see and receive healings from God?
Or receive the working of a miracle?
Or hear an upbuilding prophecy and see the discerning of spirits at work to keep the Believers safe.
Or hear different kinds of tongues and be inspired by the ministry of the interpretation of those tongues?
Out of God's abundant grace the "... manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all".
The Spirit in Whole Gatherings - 2
(ORDER, DISORDER AND ELDERSHIP INVOLVEMENT)
"... when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
... But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory,
just as by the Spirit of the Lord,"
2 Corinthians 3'16-18.
God wants these wonderful words of 2 Corinthians 3'16-18 to dwell in our hearts. He wants Believers to always gather together with "unveiled faces". Open to God.
Looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12'2), as in a mirror, true transformation takes place.
Changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty". Freedom to change - into the image of Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul wrote about the manifestational gifts of the Holy Spirit in relation to the members and the fact of the Spirit being Lord.
In chapter 13 he emphasises that love is the essence of all ministry.
In chapter 14 he begins with words that summarise the two previous chapters. Although issues about disorderliness are to follow, he nevertheless encourages them:
"Pursue love, and desire spirituals, but especially that you may prophesy," verse 1.
But there is serious disorderliness in their gatherings that has to be sorted. However, most Believers today do not encounter anything like the situation explained here.
Having said that, it's the word of Christ and therefore as such is applicable today. There is much to learn from these overeager Believers.
Exasperated about the chaos Paul says:
Verse 26. "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation".
Verses 22 to 24. Most readers today are puzzled this explanation. But the Corinthians would have understood what he was referring to:
"... tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all".
To understand Paul's explanation it's helpful to keep in mind the four factors that are involved: prophecy, different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues (see 12'10) and personal tongues speaking.
Verses 2 to 5. At the same time as doing some clarifying, he is very encouraging about their interactions with the Holy Spirit:
"For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the Believers.
I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the Believers may receive edification".
So, back to verses 22 to 24 for a presentation with words added in italics for modern readers:
"... tongues (that is, speaking out in different kinds of tongues) are for a sign (when followed by the gift of interpretation of tongues), not to those who believe but to unbelievers;
but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues (for interpretation or personal tongues too), and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if all prophesy (in the local language), and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all".
So, although tongues and interpretation are a sign for Unbelievers, Believers can still be edified by them. And although prophecy is a sign for Believers, Unbelievers are still likely to be powerfully affected by it.
Tongues-Interpretation is a sign for Unbelievers. Example: An Unbeliever comes into a gathering. A Believer speaks out with a gift of a kind of incomprehensible tongues. The Unbeliever is attracted to the "foreign" language being spoken out.
Immediately another Believer speaks out with a gift of the interpretation of tongues. The Unbeliever is attentive to the "message" that's being spoken out.
Prophesying is a sign for Believers. Example: Believers are gathered and ministering to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Prayers are prayed. One speaks out in prophesy - words of edification and exhortation and comfort edifying the Believers.
However, Unbelievers or a very new Believers may arrive. They hear the prophesying, understand it being spoken in the local language and receive it.
Note. Believers are to prophesy. But if one feels to speak out in tongues for interpretation they should be prepared to interpret if no other Believer does.
Paul is very clear:
"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding," 1 Corinthians 14'15.
That's why he says:
"... if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say 'Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?" 1 Corinthians 14'16.
When he says, "... God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the congregations of the Saints" (1 Corinthians 14'33) he is serious.
While all that he says promotes order, Paul imposes it clearly by delivering the wisdom of God to these enthusiastic, admirable Believers:
"If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the Gathering, and let him speak to himself and to God .
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged," verses 27-31.
Paul was a man of encouragement. Even when things definitely were not right, he did not instruct them to stop completely, he directed them to do it the godly way.
What a man! What an apostle!