1 Corinthians 14:21-25 (KJV) In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.  Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.  If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?  But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:  And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Audio of Sermon:
A careful reading on the Scripture is generally all that is necessary to clear up any confusion. So it is with the Gift of Tongues.
Several many years ago – back in the 60s in America – a group of Christians did not read the Scriptures and began to push speaking in tongues. A Wikipedia article notes that:
“The Azusa Street Revival was a historic revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California, and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, worship services and speaking in tongues. The participants were criticized by the secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.”
An entire denomination of Christianity believes that you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit unless you speak in tongues. They did not carefully read what the Apostle wrote. Hear his Words:
Tongues are FOR A SIGN,
NOT to them THAT BELIEVE,
BUT to THEM THAT BELIEVE NOT (vs 22)
We use “signs” every day. If you had never been to my house I give you specific instructions on what street to turn on, and how to notice 308 Evergreen when you go there. But once you come to my home a few times you no longer need the signs. I no longer need the signs. I’ve been there. I live there I can get home several ways, and at no point do I need the signs.
Tongues Are A Sign For Unbelievers, Not For Believers
You can disagree with this if you want, but this is what the Apostle states. If you are a Christian – saved by the glorious Grace of Christ and the Indwelling Spirit – you do not need the Gift of Tongues to affirm your salvation. Read it again with me.
1 Corinthians 14:22 (KJV) Wherefore tongues are for a sign, NOT TO THEM THAT BELIEVE, BUT TO THEM THAT BELIEVE NOT: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
Tongues were given as an evangelistic tool to share the Gospel with the lost. Prophesying or Preaching – the sharing forth of God’s Word – was given to those who believe. Though Jesus could have spoken in tongues – for He is the God Who created the many languages of the Tower of Babel …
Jesus never spoke in tongues throughout His entire earthly ministry
Jesus never spoke in tongues throughout His entire earthly ministry
Jesus never spoke in tongues throughout His entire earthly ministry
Jesus spoke in Koine Greek (the language of the people) and Aramaic (the language of the Jews). How do we know this? Because Jesus’ words are recorded in the New Testament in Koine Greek and Aramaic.
Jesus spoke to be understood. God gave us our tongues so we can communicate, so we can speak to one another. Jesus shared the Gospel – prophesying – preaching – calling people to follow Him. Jesus often spoke in parables not to make things easier understood, but to shut off deeper Biblical truth to those who were unsaved. A person must understand the GOSPEL before a person goes into the deeper truths of God.
Matthew 13:10-13 (NKJV) And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
The unbeliever cannot understand the deeper truths of God until they have been saved. It is for this reason I do not preach messages like the one tonight on a Sunday morning. Sunday mornings we have a higher likelihood of having unbelievers in our midst. They need to hear the Gospel, and it doesn’t hurt us either.
Tongues Were Prophesied As
A Sign To Unbelieving Israel
Tongues were given as a sign to fulfill the prophesy of Scripture. The Apostle says …
1 Corinthians 14:21 IN THE LAW it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
This is a quotation of …
Isaiah 28:11-12 (NKJV) For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.
Christ came to Israel FIRST. He came to save His Old Testament people FIRST. God called Israel to salvation. God sent the Messiah to Israel first. Yet Israel rejected Christ.
John 1:10-13 (NKJV) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Christ came to the Jews first.
Though many Jews received Christ as Savior,
Israel as a nation rejected Christ, and rejects Him today.
Fifty (50) days after His resurrection on the Jewish Fourth of July called The Day of Pentecost the Apostles along with 113 others were gathered in an upper room praying. The power of God descended, and those in the upper room went out speaking in many different tongues. The unbelievers in that festival at first thought these people were speaking from drunkenness. Peter replied:
Acts 2:14-21 (NKJV) … Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (quoting Joel 2:28-32) 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
Tongues were a sign for not believers but UNBELIEVERS. Tongues go the attention of the unbeliever. The unbeliever heard the Gospel in their own language. Through the gift of tongues the Gospel was shared on Pentecost, and on that day 3000 came into the Church not by roll but by faith in Christ.
The Tongues that were effective to save souls on the day of Pentecost were effective because the unbeliever understood what was being said. On the Day of Pentecost people from many different countries and in many different languages heard the proclamation of Christ.
Uninterpreted Tongues Serves
No Purpose But Confusion
What happens if an unbeliever comes to the assembly of the Church and many people are speaking many tongues that the unbeliever does not understand? The Apostle says:
1 Corinthians 14:23 (KJV) If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
To come together and speak a Word that people do not understand does not bless the unbeliever, but drives them away. They leave the assembly saying “These people are mad, or drunk with wine” as some purported on the Day of Pentecost. But then the Apostle says:
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (KJV) But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:  And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
But if everyone prophesies – shares the clear Word of God so that all can understand -the unbeliever or unlearned can hear what is being said. The speaking of unknown tongues is not a blessing to the Body of Christ. None are saved where the Gospel is not clearly presented and the Word of God is not clearly expounded.
There must be clarity in what we say. We must be clear, and give a clear report of what God has given us, if the world will have a chance of being saved. The Apostle chastises the Corinthians, saying:
1 Corinthians 14:26 (KJV) How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Everything that is done in a Church is to be done unto edifying. Everything! That word “edify” is the Greek οἰκοδομή oikodomē which means “to build up or promote spiritual growth in the body”. Everything that is done in God’s Church should be upbuilding, nourishing.
To come together just to speak in tongues builds up no one. To come together to share the love of God and to witness of the glorious Gospel of Christ builds up everyone. Paul goes on to say:
1 Corinthians 14:27-31 (KJV) If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.  Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
Every person is to work together in every way possible to aid in the Word of God going forth in an orderly and well understood manner.
If there’s a screaming baby, don’t just stare – BE THE CHURCH.
If there’s a ringing phone, don’t just stare – BE THE CHURCH.
If there’s a flying wasp, don’t just stare – BE THE CHURCH.
Listen. Learn. Grow. Share.
Work together to be a blessing by sharing the Word.
Paul did not forbid speaking in tongues or prophesying in the Church. But if there was no one who could interpret – convert into the understood language of the audience – then the Apostle said “let him keep silence in the Church”.
Without the interpreter present the person so gifted with Tongues was supposed to speak to himself and to God. He was to keep silence in the Church. Why? Because the uninterpreted tongue blesses no one.
And even in prophesy or preaching, teaching, witnessing not everyone was to go at the same time. The Apostle said let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge (listen). What is the point of this?
Can you imagine during the Worship Service I’m preaching, and dear Ruby jumps up and faces the audience. Interrupting what I’m saying she says “and that’s what our Sunday School lesson is going to be on today.” Then Ruby takes off, and starts teaching her Sunday School lesson.
As she gets into her lesson Jimmy jumps up and begins to share what he has for Sunday School. Now he’s trying to over-speak Ruby.
Then Beth Kirby stands up and starts putting her lesson before the Church. If someone were to walk in as a guest it would not be understandable, but confusion.
God does not want His Church confused, but comforted, blessed by the Word of God. All of you who are so gifted are to speak the Word one by one, that all may learn and all may be comforted.
The intent of the Spiritual Gift is never to confuse nor harm, but to build up. This is one of my favorite texts of Scripure, on I wish you all would take to heart:
1 Corinthians 14:32-33 (KJV) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
A Spiritual gift is operated in union with God. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the Prophets. God gives us Spiritual gifts, but we control their use. I control my gift every week. If I didn’t, you would get out of Church Assembly for several hours. I try to monitor my time, and do God’s will within the allotted amount of time we have scheduled. When you are restless and fidgety I know it’s time to close.
And it’s about that time … because we have a Business Meeting to attend to. May God bless your hearts with His Word!