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A Heart For God: On Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy

Thursday, May 01, 2008

On Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy

There is a difference between tongues, the prayer language (1 Cor. 14:2, 4), and tongues, the spiritual gift (1 Cor. 14:5). Addressing the misuse of tongues, the spiritual gift, in the church at Corinth, Paul was not forbidding its use (1 Cor. 14:39). Of course, tongues is to be interpreted if it is to be acceptable in the corporate gathering/church setting (1 Cor. 14:5, 13, 27). Tongues and interpretation is equal to prophecy (1 Cor. 14:5). One of Paul’s many points in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 is that whatever the spiritual gift is in operation, all should be done in order (1 Cor. 14:32-33, 40) and for the edification/building up of believers (1 Cor. 14:26). His prescription is the same for tongues as it is for prophecy, “Let two or three speak in turn” (1 Cor. 14:17, 29). It’s because just as there can be a "tongues overload" (as it was the case in Corinth) so there can be a "prophecy overload." (Pointed preaching can get carried away, too?) A person can just take in so much. Where is the line of diminishing return on teaching/exhortation (prophecy) and when/where do you cross the line? How much truth can be absorbed in one sitting and then successfully implemented/applied in a person’s life? I’m talking practically speaking. And then there’s the whole subject of "technology overload" which I’ll save for another time. Suffice it to say for now, I believe there’s a point of diminishing return when it comes to the use of technology in the worship service as well. When is a good thing too much of a good thing?

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