1 Corinthians 12:29-13:3 (A more excellent way)

spiritual gifts

(1Co 12:29-30 ESV) 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

These rhetorical questions all anticipate an answer of “no.” This is especially significant for tongues, as Paul plainly contradicts any notion that we should expect all Christians to one day speak in tongues. The gift of tongues is not a particularly honorable or expected gift — just one of several that a Christian might receive.

(1Co 12:31 ESV) But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. 

Paul thus introduces the magnificent chapter 13, making clear that faith, hope, and love are all gifts of a higher order than the the more flamboyant gifts previously under discussion.

(1Co 13:1 ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Whether Paul intends to say that tongues might involve angelic languages  or is speaking hyperbolically cannot be said for certain.

There does not seem to be any reason to think we are restricted to just one or the other [human or angelic languages], although the rhetorical pattern would suggest that speaking in tongues would most frequently entail speaking of (unknown) human languages, with the ability to speak angelic languages seen as an even more wonderful version or extension of the same gift.

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 626.

The scriptures say nothing of angelic tongues before this passage, but the Essene community in Qumran had a fascination with the possibility of speaking in angelic tongues (Ibid.), and so Paul may have been speaking of actual angelic tongues or merely using the term metaphorically to speak of the greatest imaginable kind of tongue speaking. Either way, his point isn’t that we should seek to speak in the tongues of angels; rather, Paul quite plainly urges love as far superior to even the ability to converse with Michael in his native language.

The reference to a noisy gong or clanging cymbal is not a criticism of instrumental music. Paul chooses a gong and a cymbal because neither is capable of multiple notes and so cannot play a tune.

With both there is ‘noise, but no melody’ (Thrall). The gift of ‘tongues’ means noise, but, unless there is interpretation, no meaning. The sounds of gongs and cymbals would have been familiar at Corinth from their use by devotees of Dionysius or Cybele.

Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale NTC 7; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 175.

All this is contrasted, of course, with agapē. The translators have no recourse in English but to say “love,” but “love” is not adequate.

First, [agapē] is practical. When he tells the Thessalonians that they must love one another even more than they are already doing, this has nothing much to do with the stirring up of emotions. It is about what used to be called ‘charity’: the putting of one’s assets at the disposal of those, particularly within the Christian family, who at present need them more than one does oneself. …

Second, for Paul ‘love’ is about unity. Indeed, it is both the motive for that unity and the thing that will make it work. It is the sign of life in a community; when Epaphras returns to Paul with news of a new community of believers in Colossae, the key thing he announces to the imprisoned apostle is ‘their love in the spirit’. We have already noted Paul’s breathtaking exhortation in Philippians 2:1–4, urging the little community to be in full accord and of one mind. This is costly and difficult, which is one reason why he follows the command with the equally breathtaking narrative of the Messiah’s own self-abnegation, suffering and death—and vindication. …

Third, ‘love’ is for Paul a virtue. Like the other aspects of ‘the fruit of the spirit’ in Galatians 5 it would be easy to suppose that, being fruit, it would ‘grow naturally’. But, as any gardener will know, just because the tree is alive and blossoming, it doesn’t mean there is no work to do. The fact that the list of ‘fruit of the spirit’ ends with ‘self-control’ gives the game away: this is no romantic dream of a ‘spontaneous’ goodness. Love, joy, peace and the rest are all things which, though indeed growing from the work of the spirit within, require careful tending, protecting, weeding and feeding. One may indeed be ‘taught by God’ to love one’s neighbours, but this does not obviate the need for exhortation and moral effort.

The fourth and in some ways most obvious feature of Paul’s vision of agapē is that it is rooted in, and sustained by, Jesus himself. ‘The son of God loved me and gave himself for me’: this is not an extraneous and merely pious remark, but goes to the heart of what, in much later theological parlance, would be called both the extra nos of salvation (what God does outside us and apart from us) and also the intra nos (what God does within the believer). … The Messiah is both the model and the means of love. 

N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, vol. 4, Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 429–431 (italics added).

(1Co 13:2 ESV)  2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

In parallel with v. 1, Paul addresses prophecy in terms similar to tongues. He is clearly hyperbolic, in that no one, not even Jesus, had a gift to understand “all mysteries and all knowledge,” as God the Father maintained some knowledge for himself while Jesus was on earth.

The reference to faith that could move a mountain could be a reference to Jesus’ own words, but the same expression is found in the Babylonian Talmud, and so it appears to have been proverbial.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to overlook the force of Paul’s statement. Paul is the apostle of faith, writing and preaching about faith in Jesus at length. Faith is a centerpiece of Paul’s theology and ministry. And yet he declares even the greatest imaginable faith to be “nothing” without love.

Oh, how I pray that the Churches of Christ would learn this lesson! Faith, doctrine,  theology — all these things — are meaningless in the absence of love. Some among us protest that we must never set truth and love in opposition to each other; and yet Paul does exactly that, declaring it “nothing” to know all mysteries and all knowledge, without love. Truth without love is nothing. Nothing.

(1Co 13:3 ESV)  3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

The textual evidence here is contradictory.

Witnesses are divided between give over my body … that I may boast and “give over my body that I may be burned,” with a number of other subsidiary variants of the second choice. The second reading would echo Daniel 3:95 LXX, where Daniel’s friends “gave their bodies to be burned,” but both external and internal considerations indicate that the first reading (“that I may boast”) is to be preferred. We take that I may boast to be the original text that was later altered once martyrdom by fire became a more common experience.

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 633-634.

If we accept the reading ‘boast’ we may perhaps think of people who sold themselves into slavery and used the money to provide food for the poor (1 Clement 55:2). Paul is saying that it is possible for a person to give his body up to burning or to slavery and make this spectacular sacrifice without love. That person may be moved by dedication to a high ideal, or by pride or the like. If so, he gains nothing. First-century people commonly saw great merit in deeds of charity and in suffering. Paul totally rejects all such ideas. Love is the one thing needful. Nothing can make up for its lack.

Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale NTC 7; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 177.

And so, Paul is saying that even if he sold himself into slavery to raise money for the poor, without love, he would gain nothing. God would give no credit at all for such an act unless motivated by love.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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40 Responses to 1 Corinthians 12:29-13:3 (A more excellent way)

  1. Paul’s rhetorical questions in v. 29-30 are clearly intended to evoke a negative answer. However, I would suggest that in this context, “tongues” and “interpretation” are presented as a pair. My reasoning addresses the disagreement to which Jay refers about whether all can or will speak in tongues. In I Cor 14, Paul speaks of tongues and “praying in the Spirit” in parallel. This is clearly one form of speaking in tongues, but not the only form of which the scripture speaks. If in I Cor 12, Paul is speaking of the public use of tongues –the one which requires interpretation– then it both fits within the list of examples that Paul brings to mind AND it does not run counter to Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:18 and Jude’s words in Jude 20-21. Those passages clearly encourage us all to pray in the Spirit, not just a few gifted folks.

    Now, this does not limit “praying in the Spirit” to praying in tongues. The logic I have employed here may equally suggest that praying in the Spirit is not limited to praying in tongues. But Paul clearly says that when he prays in the Spirit that his “mind is unfruitful”. If I may define this a bit by my own experience, when I pray in the spirit, my mind neither directs my prayer nor does it comprehend it. It is beyond the human mind. I cannot say for sure that a believer who prays in the Spirit will necessarily speak in words foreign to him, but such prayer is undeniably of a different nature than the one we pray with our own understanding.

    Now that I have alienated both my Pentecostal brothers and my evangelical brothers, I would not mind hearing considered comment.

  2. Monty says:

    Charles, good to hear from you. I haven’t seen many posts from you lately. More to do with the subject matter, I suppose?

  3. Hi, Monty. I have gotten involved in some other stuff and lost some bookmarks. Just now got hooked up to Wineskins and found this link. But yes, anytime I hear my CoC brothers discussing spiritual gifts, I have a distinct interest. Long ago I was, well, encouraged to seek alternative fellowship for expressing ideas not all that far from some of the ideas Jay is exploring. That encourages me. Much of my family is still a strong part of the CoC, and I retain hope that, whether or not they come to see what I have seen, maybe things will open up so I can eventually go from being the black sheep to being, say, battleship gray.

  4. Price Futrell says:

    Jay…did you intend to blow past “earnestly desire the higher gifts?” That seems to be an instruction or admonition for all… Actually, it seems that it is a rather strong admonition… Did you intend to come back to that or was the exclusion purposeful ?

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    When we speak of un-understandable utterances I recall this from Paul’s writings. But, as I try to understand how this fits into my life or anyone’s life, I am not sure that we would even be aware of the event occurring. It’s not words and possibly not even audible to ourselves, its to me more like our personal defender, defending and securing us in a total different world (spiritual) where we can only believe of through faith.
    If that could be true, then all occurrences of the suchlike here in this world, would be of no value. They would never have the value that is being described in Paul’s message. Different translations don’t always help me on this one.
    Rom 8:26-27 ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (27) And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

  6. Jay Guin says:


    Yep. Was distracted, watching Alabama giving up 44 points to Auburn. Totally messed me up for days. But, yes, I’m planning to circle back after we gather some context.

  7. Price Futrell says:

    LOL… well at least you will be here in Atlanta for the matchup.. We;ll be watching and still licking our wounds from getting beat by GT… ugh.

  8. Jay Guin says:


    I made it to the UA-AU match up here in Tuscaloosa. But have no plans to go to Atlanta. Still exhausted from Saturday. (And, against my better judgment, I found myself pulling for the SEC — and hence Ga. — versus the Rambling ‘Reck. I can’t believe you let those guys beat you. I will only find solace if GT beats FSU. I was an FSU fan when Bowden was there, but no more. No class. They need to get beat and beat bad.)

  9. Larry, I found your conjecture about tongues to be interesting. What is your personal experience with this gift?

  10. Price Futrell says:

    It’s difficult to beat luck.. and knowing that Paul Johnson was tutored under Erk Russell gives me some minor solace… 🙂

  11. Jay Guin says:

    Charles wrote,

    I cannot say for sure that a believer who prays in the Spirit will necessarily speak in words foreign to him, but such prayer is undeniably of a different nature than the one we pray with our own understanding.

    Charles, you are likely thinking of —

    (1Co 14:13-15 ESV) Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

    Evidently, the tongues known to Paul were not a language spoken by the speaker under his control, as his mind was “unfruitful.” On the other hand, if he were speaking Swahili in a Greek congregation, he would know what he was speaking but his listeners would not — absent interpretation — making his speech “unfruitful” in the sense of not being productive.

    Then again, the power of interpretation would not be necessary if he knew what he was saying. He could say what he intended when he spoke in Swahili. But Paul assumes that the gifts of tongues and interpretation go together to create a miracle that seems like a miracle — which requires that someone else interpret. So his comment re learning to interpret may be a bit wry or sardonic — expressing how little he cares for the tongues/interpretation schtick.

    I therefore take “pray with my spirit” to be broader than “pray in tongues.” Pray in tongues seems to be without the mind — i.e., ecstatic speech — whereas Paul encourages speech and song that are “with my mind.” These are evidently not necessarily contradictory concepts. I don’t think he means that he alternates between mind and spirit. I think he does them together.

    (1Co 14:18-19 ESV) 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

    This seems to cinch that tongues is NOT “with my mind.” Therefore, even the speaker doesn’t know the meaning unless there’s an interpreter.

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    Charles Mclean,
    I believe that humans on this earth are constantly looking for experiences. You can name it “gusto in this life”, the thrills of a highly emotional movie, the most beautiful place on earth or a sunset, the list can go on and on. I cannot remember at this time anyplace in the scriptures where one of God’s prophets or servants tried to sell others on the existence of God by proclaiming experiences which they felt or even actually experienced. That is just not a theme throughout scripture. In fact I would believe that most of God’s servants were not keyed into experiences, otherwise they would have seen themselves as members of the scum of the earth. They endured hardship, ridicule, punishment and all that Satan had to offer to attempt to diminish their devotion to God. There is a scripture that comes to mind that I see in play here.
    (Heb 11:1 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    Actually the whole chapter deals with many of God’s, and I believe you should notice while reading the accomplishments in their lives in scripture claimed or portrayed to others that they had encountered a relationship or an experience like the one I believe you are identifying with.
    On the other side of this picture many in scripture who did boast in their lives their standing within communities or thought themselves to be more important than they really were ( Haman) comes to mind. Satan most definitely can provide any man with a feeling, a desire, goods to match those desires, just what ever man can dream up that would cause him to depart from God’s ways, He offered Jesus the world, how stupid, did not he know that was not possible, but that is exactly the point it was possible if Jesus had accepted.
    Read of the mighty stories about Elijah, and remember his statement.
    (1 Ki 19:10 KJV) And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

    This man of God had more seeing to cause him to believe and have faith than probably anyone, yet seeing and experiencing would not keep his faith strong. The key is in. (Heb 11:1 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    Hoped for and not seen.

  13. Price Futrell says:

    Jay….Why does one assume that the language is known to the person speaking ? Why would there be a need for an interpreter if the speaker were able to know what he was saying.. Did the Apostles know all the languages they were speaking on the day of Pentecost ? I think that’s an assumption that can’t be validated. Seems without the “gift” of interpretation, the speaker would be at loss to explain what he/she said which leaves everybody in a quandry as to what was said.. Isn’t THAT the whole point… don’t speak unless you can interpret so as not to make yourself look foolish ?

    Larry… I assume that you don’t have any particular higher “gift” that God has given you to exercise in your ministry… If you had been given a gift you would not argue against the “experience” of using it in your ministry to others. While it might not be the focal point of the gift, being blessed by God supernaturally to help someone else is in and of itself a tremendous experience. One can’t ignore the human experience of being used by God beyond one’s natural ability. Perhaps that’s the whole point of I Cor 13.. to bring us back out of the “high” of that experience and focus on the purpose and intent…?

  14. Larry Cheek says:

    Price Futrell,
    I do believe that I have a gift from God, but just to be sure we are on the same page could you elaborate your understanding of a “higher gift”? I have seen many who claim to have “higher gifts” fall from their plateau.

  15. Dwight says:

    “Higher Gift”? The express purpose of the gifts in I Cor.12-14 were in servitude and part of the problem is that they were seeing their gifts as a higher gift, then the others, which is why Paul argues that we would desire prophecy over speaking in tongues, of tongues which was probably more impressive. In terms of “higher gift” it is notable that ch.13 the chapter on love is inbetween this discussion on gifts and is marked as the “greatest” and the source of why. Love appears to be a gift and is easily the most accessable and most useful of them all. So while many are fighting over which spiritual gift shows our recieving of salvation…love does it all.

  16. Jay, I am not sure I buy into praying in the spirit and with one’s mind at the same time, although I find switching between those two “channels” to be an easy and natural thing, if that is what you meant. The construction of Paul’s comparison seems to call simultaneity into doubt, as does his call to choose between these prayers in a group circumstance. See I Cor 14:14-15. I must be careful in reading this because the entire discussion of this gift is in reference to public use of the gift of tongues, and is corrective in overall intent. So let me not slice the words too fine where the overall context is directed elsewhere. But Paul clearly identifies praying in a tongue as a situation where he does not know what he is saying, His parallel construction uses the term “my spirit prays” in contraposition to praying something he understands, as well as saying something that those around him understand. When Paul speaks of praying in the spirit as well as praying in the understanding, I think he is acknowledging both sorts of prayer so as not to have his meaning stretched or misconstrued when he corrects those who were praying in the spirit in a moment where it was less than appropriate.

    Paul’s –and Jude’s– admonition to the saints to pray in the spirit regularly cannot readily be conflated with prayer that we understand. First, because Paul goes to great lengths to identify and explain the difference between the two, and second, because such conflation would render the terminology meaningless or at best redundant, as it would if one told a Parisian believer to pray in French.

  17. Monty says:

    I once saw a TV show(service) where the evangelist commanded all the church(several hundred) to speak in tongues. And they all did. Not sure what his point was, but they all got pretty roused up about it. Not sure Paul would agree with that.

  18. Dwight says:

    The truth is that we do not know a lot of what went on duiring these times of the “gifts” and how they were manifested besides what we are told and this doesn’t clear up much, except they did them. What kind of tongues were involved? What languages? Can we even approach these gifts today, after all we were told that these spiritual gifts would end, but love would endure. Paul was trying to make these gifts practical and not just about the gifts, but what they did for others in edification.

  19. Price Futrell says:

    Larry, I was referring to this passage that Jay skipped over temporarily … [1Co 12:31 ESV] But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” Paul comes back to this concept, IMO, after he talks about the qualification of Love in the use and purpose of any gift… [1Co 14:1 ESV] Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”… When he says “especially” that seems to indicate that Paul placed an emphasis on prophesy as opposed to say tongues which at times seemed to frustrate more than enlighten. Perhaps I’m wrong but my understanding of “higher gifts” would include prophesy. Although many are mentioned in Rom and Cor, it seems that Paul places emphasis on Prophesy but then again in chapter 14 he tells them more than once not to prohibit speaking in tongues. Paul may have included tongues with the “higher gifts” as well if his mentioning it on several occasions has any bearing on it.. At best all I can offer is an assumption. I would also include, if pressed, the gift of special wisdom or knowledge. Paul mentions prophesy, tongues and knowledge specifically as something that will away when “the perfect” comes.. That’s my reasoning on what would be included as the higher gifts. But, once again, since it doesn’t specifically say, it is merely an assumption.

  20. Dwight says:

    The times I’ve seen people “speak in tongues”, even they didn’t know what they said and nobody else did either or they said they did know what they said, but no one else did either. Either way they were not practical or useful to anyone else. Paul explained that the purpose of tongues and prophesy was for the benefit of others in the hearing of. This seemingly defied the purpose of the gifts. Even love is not useful, really, until directed towards others in aiding them. Love cannot be kept in and cannot but help, when expelled.

  21. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight I think we know that prophesy included the foretelling of events yet to have happened (Agagus) but that this wasn’t the same as “inscripturation” as Paul defied the admonition of Agabus and went on his journey anyway… We know from I Cor 14 that the prophesies were used to build up, edify and encourage the local body of believers. it was used to convince visitors that God was in the house… secrets that no one knew were revealed to the person in a way that convicted that person (rather than shamed).. I imagine we know more than we pretend we know since I’m not aware of any teaching in most CoC congregations on how to earnestly seek and use the gift of prophesy as if we no longer need the edification and encouragement from God that He provides via these gifts… It’s a shame that we have relegated the Holy Spirit to the first century as if we no longer depend on Him..

  22. Dwight says:

    The argument is, and it is a valid one, do we need to know more than we already know now? The Catholic church expresses that they have continued information, but of course it doesn’t change anything, except when the information went against scripture. Many in the coC believe that the HS works behind the scenes and doesn’t make the scene as it used to. Most of what we have recieved in ways of expanded supposed of prophecy or such has actually been detrimental to the scriptures…Mary Baker Eddy…Joseph Smith…anyone. The one problem is the lack of the apostles to verify any new or possibly added information, thus making it all suspect. If it is verified by scripture, then it isn’t new information and thus redundant. Now having said all of this I think we suppress any thought of the HS doing more than we want to allow. Most would argue that the gift of the prophets are contianed in the scriptures which we have.

  23. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight… I could be wrong but I think you are confusing “inscripturation”..prophesy from folks like Isaiah or Amos with Stephen’s daughters or Agabus which was never A) intended to be for all men for all time and B) wasn’t an obligation to obey… BIG DIFFERENCE… Testing the message against the Word and one’s conscience is permissible and actually advised.. Some folks over step their gifting.. Some are fakes… But brother, some of it is real and mighty to encourage..

    Was struggling in my relationship with the Lord some 15-16 years ago.. Found myself wondering if prayer was real or if I was just talking to the ceiling.. Had a woman about 2 weeks later tell me about a very specific prayer that I prayed and on what day I prayed it.. Convinced me beyond doubt of any kind that the Lord listens to our prayers. You tell me if that would get your attention if you were wondering if prayer was real ?

  24. Johnny says:

    I had a friend who’s daughter was struggling with cancer. As she left a dollar store an older woman came up to her, apologized for bothering her and asked ” does someone in your family have cancer?” When my friend replied yes the older lady said ” God wants you to know it is going to be alright”. Then the older lady turned and walked to her car. I am not sure how this happened, or how to define it. I do know it brought a sense of peace to my friend. The daughter is in full remission now.

  25. Price Futrell says:

    Thanks for sharing that Johnny.. Imagine how difficult it must have been at first for someone to go up to another person and say “God wanted me to tell you something” not even knowing what the circumstances are/were. One must be convinced that they have been moved by God to do something.. But, of course his sheep hear his voice.

  26. Dwight says:

    I’m not sure that I Cor.13:10 is strained as much as read. “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”
    It is pretty clear that while love will go on, other things won’t such as prophecies, tongues and knowledge. Either we understand that or we don’t. Again this doens’t mean that all spritual gifts will cease, but it does give a clear indication that some will or have.
    I know of many who have had “experiences” and I do not doubt the experiences, but they might not be a spiritual HS experience.
    Not to disuade you Johhny, but there are very few families today that do not have cancer somewhere amongst them, so the general question and answer is not that suprising, but that some will aid in comfort of a total stranger is a good thing. It shows the greatest gift in use…love.

  27. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight it all depends on how you define “the perfect”.. .I don’t see that as being the books of the Bible in binder form. That is the part that is strained… Surely there will be no need for prophesy when Jesus comes… no need for tongues when we are gathered as one people… no need for additional wisdom when the King of Kings is in our midst. Nope, not buying that Paul was trying to indicate that once new testament writings were collected, put in order and bound that God would suddenly pull out of our lives.. I guess some do.

  28. Dwight says:

    The question is do we have the word of God that leads us to Christ? If we don’t, then we need more prophecy, if we do, then we have what we need. What I have seen is that peoples attempts at prophesies in regards to future telling fail and peoples attempt at more knowledge present information that runs contrary to scripture. So prophesy is good today in theory, but in application it leaves a lot to be desired. Other gifts don’t need a reaffirmation of truth, but prophesy does.
    If another book came along, and there might be some now, that reflect on the saints without contradicting what we know, then I am not against it, but these are hard to find.
    I really don’t think Paul was thinking of the NT bound version either, but of truth in general.
    Again, what are we to use as the measuring stick for prophecy, etc. The truth as written. Paul over and over keeps telling the people…remember what I have written, because they were being led away by supposedly “new information”. The fact that we have scripture means that we can have God in our lives if we live by it. “Thy word is a path unto my feet and light unto my way.”

  29. Dwight says:

    Just a thought: I used to read “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” as if the light was showing the path by which we must walk and this is how we often read it, but this is reading more into a simple direct statement. I think we often highlight the walking and don’t see the grace involved here. Of course we are told to walk, which shows intent and action, but we are told to walk in the light, which is an illumination (Jesus is called the light) and we are told that if we walk in the light we will be walking with Jesus because He is in the light (also the sources of the light). This walk puts us in fellowship with other walkers. But as we walk in the light with Jesus, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. This is grace. This is not particular doctrinal path, but this is movement which involves Jesus besides us. So while we struggle to look for a path to stay on, we often forget to walk as Jesus walked in love and mercy, which is the real path. It is not about jumping in and out of the path, but staying with Jesus while we walk in Jesus in our lives.

  30. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight, IMO, you are starting out with a false premise.. that prophesy is only to enlighten us as to inscripturation.. that is, what all men for all time must know.. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case at all with the prophesy of the kind that Paul is speaking about in I Corinthians.. He said that the purpose was to exhort, edify and encourage.. None of the “prophesies” of the Corinthian church were ever recorded for all men for all time to know and use as far as I know and yet we know that many prophesied.

    Yes, we have what we need to know how we are saved. That is wonderful.. But many of the challenges of life aren’t necessarily covered by specific passages of “scripture.” Are we not still today in need of exhortation, edification and encouragement? Surely we are.

    I think it’s best to maintain an understanding that “inscripturation” is much different than prophesy as discussed in I Corinthians.. Paul even alluded to it when said this… [1Co 14:37 ESV] If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Paul here distinguishes HIS instructions from the prophet who may KNOW that what he is speaking is truth but is not authorized to speak as did Paul…

    Based on my experience is it highly advisable to “test the spirits” when somebody tells you that God told them to tell you something.. But, it is also my experience that there are times when there is no doubt that God was involved.

  31. Larry Cheek says:

    Price Futrell,
    I see it very interesting that you would make this statement. “Based on my experience is it highly advisable to “test the spirits” when somebody tells you that God told them to tell you something.. But, it is also my experience that there are times when there is no doubt that God was involved.”

    In a few examples that you have given there was a stranger although in the first just a woman who confirmed your prayer. It appears to me that the context of those messages need to be analyzed. Isn’t that “testing the spirits”? Testing the spirits, doesn’t appear to me to instruct us to test the deliverer, but the message. I will agree those messages captures attention very powerfully. But, is that really the litmus test for “testing the spirits”? The first test that I would see as reasonable would why did this happen? Why would God see that it was important to deliver a confirmation to me about a concern of mine, which would relieve me of worry or stress for the moment? I said moment because in both cases worry was the element that was relieved. A Christian has already been instructed that worry is sin, which we are not to worry about anything in this life. Worry shows a lack of faith. Second portion of the test, how would this message effect the balance of my life, you see the message was not to a group of individuals or Christians, it was to me, therefore what was happening in my life that caused God to see the need to provide this? Was I about to falter or become a non-believer over such worry? Had I been so good that he just felt like blessing me beyond many of my brothers? I see God having a purpose behind every action he does, especially in the context that we are observing. Just reading the interaction between God and men through the scriptures sets patterns by which that God operates.
    So where does this leave us in our Testing the message delivered by the spirits?
    We all know that God cares for us and is concerned about our welfare. But, how many places in scripture do you find God reveling this type of information to his servants? If you do was there not a lot more to the story than just the completion of the event.
    It is not very hard to notice that you have placed a great amount of faith into that these events were orchestrated by God. Well, if orchestrated by God, he has done something special for me!
    Surely, if I have not been living up to what he expects of me he would have delivered a different message, you know more like the messages delivered to the Seven Churches in Revelation, therefore, my relationship with God is good.

    But, we must also be able to consider another source. Satan the great deceiver also hears your prayers to God, in fact he knows as much about you as God does. He also can control health or sickness, he shows mighty wonders, performs miracles, he manipulates his servants on earth to perform his will. What is the most scary he is many times seen as an angel of light, doesn’t that reflect a little on messages? His messages are so powerful, notice their value in this scripture.
    2Co 11:12-14 ESV And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. (13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
    Satan,’s goal on earth is to deceive even the very elect, that is the most devout Christians. If he cannot do that because they have followed the directions of the following scriptures, then he will use all other means available to accomplish his mission. Which easily identifies actions you are describing.

    2Ti 3:14-17 ESV But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

  32. Red says:

    Johnny, impressed by the older woman’s humility, compassion and God using her to share His comfort with that family. A verse earlier in this chapter Jay quoted in a recent post; stood out to me in that the Spirit is the giver of gifts and that the different kinds of working is God at work. Before Jay’s post I had never noticed the “God at work” part of the verse.

    I Cor 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

    What happened to your friend is a great illustration of God’s love, compassion and his desire to work through us to bless those that are hurting and in despair.

    I sure, given the humbleness of the older woman, it was grace and the deep appreciation of the grace she had received that allowed her to reach out to a stranger with the Love of God.

    1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

  33. Price Futrell says:

    Larry, I do feel tremendous gratefulness to God for leading me closer to Himself. Answering prayers in many, many ways… I suggest that you “test” things in whatever way you propose.. There doesn’t seem to be a checklist… I would imagine that the HS indwelling me would confirm that it is the Father reaching out or that I should be cautious or that I should run !! I have no fear of Satan and His tricks.. God has me surrounded and protected and I have no fear… In the experiences I have been a part of there would have been no reason for Satan to confirm the authority and love of God that drew me from where I was to a place that I felt much closer to God..

    Perhaps there are those that are so afraid of the fake that they can’t see the real ??

  34. Dwight says:

    Price, I never said that prophecy wasn’t edifying, uplifting, encouraging, etc. in its nature, but the concept of prophecy through the scripture is to tell of something from God towards man. It is possible that those in I Cor.11-14 were speaking like John did in Revelations, but even in Revelations he says, “shortly come to pass…” to indicate he was telling of something that was going to happen and yet Revelations was an encourgement to those that could understand it…the saints Your argument depends upon what it does, with out approaching what it is. It is possible and highly probable that the prophecies in I Cor.12-14 declared God, gave information and uplifted at the same time. But we can do that today can’t we through the scriptures which were inspired by God and the Holy spirit?
    To follow your logic on [1Co 14:37 ESV] “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.”, we must argue that the prophecies in I Cor. were not either from God and not able to bring forth the Word of God to be regarded with any amount of authority. If it was from God it had authority. The point to the above is “thinks”, “if any one thinks” meaning that a person can “think” that they are a prophet or spiritual, but Paul was a real prophet and had the real Holy Spirit guiding him. The problem they had in I Cor. was of placing thier gifts above the gifts of others and “thinking” too highly of themselves with their “gifts”.The people in I Cor. were placing the “experience” of the gifts ahead of their brothers and sisters in humbleness and servitude. This was the issue with Simon the sorceror who saw the power and wanted it for power sake. Paul corrected the Corinthians arguing that the gifts weren’t for thier own personal glory, but the “building up” of the saints and convincing the lost who wandered in, but they were the real gifts with real power when used for others. They were of no use to themselves.
    In vs. 36 “Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?” meaning that they were not the originators of the Word of God that came through them and not the only ones either. They thought the power was in them and they gloried in the power, but it was a momentary gift from from God in prophecy, probably through the laying on of hands. But Paul had the gifts with him always. There is a difference in giving prophecy and being a prophet in that one can be short lived gift, but the other is the occupation and they in I Cor. were not prophets in this sense, even though they might have prophesied, but they “thought” they were.

  35. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight.. I guess we all are in different places of experience.. There seems to me to be a difference between my personal application of scripture that I share with someone else and a “leading’ to share something with someone who I may or may not know about something which I don’t have a clue about but addresses a need in that person’s life to which they were seeking God’s council. My feeling is that a book doesn’t take the place of God Himself. If God wishes to involve Himself and use human agency to do it, I find nothing in scripture where HE limits His ability to do just that. I supposed that if you ever have an experience as some have herein described, you might rethink the sola scripture argument.. But, that’s just my opinion…

  36. Dwight says:

    Not using the ‘sola scriptura” concept is where we get the Catholic church, which deviates from the gospel and sets a tradtion of man as a tradition of God due to personal experience. If we have no scripture, then we have no standard and can be led towards anything as long as they say it is from God. This was the problem in the early church where Paul writes to the Galatians, Ephesians, etc. about people bringing in concepts foreign to the gospel as it was given to them. You had the Encratites who forbade the drinking of wine, eating of meats and marriage and Paul had to come along and tell them that they were at liberty to do all of these things and the people telling them otherwise were making laws in Col.2.
    Now I am not against personal experiences, but they do not over ride that which we have recieved from the Jesus and the apostles. II Tim.3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    Now there are those who raise the scripture above Jesus himself and worship the Bible, but this is the wrong way of thinking. The scriptures bring us to Christ and are not an end to themselves. The Pharisees held up the Law, but forgot the people who the Law was written for and left God behind. But Jesus, who we are to follow, is called “the word and the word was with God” and “the word became flesh” in John 1.
    In John 8:31 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”
    IT is interesting that the “experiences” that are related herein do not involve miracles of healing or speaking in tongues or dividing fish, but someone coming up to them and telling them something or asking something that can be eaily explained in generalities. I have had experiences like that, but not like what is described in I Corinthians and still they would have to be tested by what we know…the word.
    I fall into the category of I cannot and will not limit God in performing miracles…healing when healing is prayed for, but this is not the same as man doing these things.

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