NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

July 27

Lesson 9

Seek the Good of Others

Devotional Reading: Titus 3:8-14

Background Scripture: 1 Corinthians 14:13-26

1 Corinthians 14:13-26

13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

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.

22 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.

23 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?

24 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:

25 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.

26 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.

Key Verse

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. —1 Corinthians 14:26

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each student will be able to:

1. Explain the role of speaking in tongues in the Corinthians' (or other first-century) worship experience.

2. Compare and contrast speaking in tongues with contemporary activities that may be personally rewarding to the one practicing it, but is of little help to others without being explained first.

3. Identify one practice in his or her church's conduct of worship services that is a barrier to unbelievers and discuss with church leaders a plan for change.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Birth of a Movement

B. Lesson Background

I. Problem (1 Corinthians 14:13-17)

A. Unfruitfulness (vv. 13, 14)

B. Understanding (vv. 15-17)

Identifying the Problem

II. Solution (1 Corinthians 14:18-26)

A. What Paul Wants (vv. 18-20)

B. What the Law Says (vv. 21, 22)

C. What the Impact Is (vv. 23-26)

Everything in Order

Conclusion

A. Building Up the Church

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. Birth of a Movement

In 1906, William J. Seymour opened the Apostolic Faith Mission church in a modest, two-story building south of the Los Angeles city hall. Seymour was preaching a new type of message, and the church was quickly flooded with people. Seymour proposed that becoming a Christian was a three-step process: (1) salvation by faith, (2) cleansing sanctification of the believer by the Holy Spirit, and (3) filling of the believer by the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way.

The most prominent of the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit was said to be the ability to speak in tongues—ecstatic languages of prayer and worship. Seymour and others declared that this was a restoration of the gifts of the first-century church as depicted in the book of Acts. What Seymour launched came to be known as the Azusa Street Revival, which lasted until about 1915.

Many churches came into being as a result, and these came to be known as Pentecostal churches. Later, a similar movement of people known as charismatics began to develop within many denominations. Charismatics often encountered hostility in churches that did not accept the practice of speaking in tongues. Despite opposition, the charismatic movement has grown. It is estimated that 500 million Christians today are charismatic or Pentecostal—25 percent of all Christians worldwide.

The practice of speaking in tongues was controversial in Paul's day. It is still controversial today because many believe that the miraculous spiritual gifts, including the ability to speak in tongues, ceased with the completion of the New Testament; this is known as cessationism, and is the position of this commentary. But even though we no longer have such gifts, there are principles in Paul's instructions about them that still apply.

B. Lesson Background

Paul wrote letters to the churches in Rome, Corinth, the region of Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica. Yet in all of his letters, Paul addressed the issue of speaking in tongues only with the church in Corinth, and only in 1 Corinthians. (The other New Testament texts that address this subject are Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6.) Paul's lengthy discussion of tongues in 1 Corinthians indicates that this was a point of controversy within the Corinthian church.

Scholars within Pentecostal churches generally divide the phenomenon into two categories. One category is glossolalia, defined as a worship language that does not communicate by itself, but needs interpretation. Sometimes this is called a prayer language (based on 1 Corinthians 14:14), a worship language (based on 14:15), or the language of angels (based on 13:1). The other general category is xenoglossia, the miraculous ability to speak in an existing foreign language that the speaker has not studied. The purpose is usually for evangelism, as in Acts 2.

One thing to keep in mind as we study this lesson is that not everyone in the Corinthian church spoke in tongues. We can see this fact in a series of seven rhetorical questions that Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 12:29, 30. The sixth of these is "Do all speak in tongues?" The expected answer to this and to the other six questions is no.

Paul has already said several things about speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 by the time we get to the opening wherefore of today's text: it is speaking to God (v. 2a), is a spiritual mystery (v. 2b), and is primarily for self-edification (v. 4). Paul also expressed a personal desire that all the Corinthians speak in tongues (v. 5), but he further taught that prophesying was to be preferred over speaking in tongues "except he interpret" (v. 5).

I. Problem

                                                                              (1 Corinthians 14:13-17)

A. Unfruitfulness (vv. 13, 14)

13, 14. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

The translators have added the word unknown for the sake of clarity here. Such additions are clearly indicated by use of italics in most editions of the King James Version. Taken literally, the word translated tongue refers to the muscle-organ located in the bottom of the mouth. But in the Bible, tongue is more often used in a nonliteral sense to refer to an organized pattern of human speech, or what we call language. What Paul is referring to in the two verses before us, and what the KJV translators recognized, is a practice of people seeming to speak in a language (organized speech) that was unknown to themselves or to their hearers.

Paul sees this uninterpreted activity within a church service to be unfruitful, unhelpful, unedifying. Therefore, he asks that any speaking in tongues be interpreted. He has more to say about this below, as we shall see.

B. Understanding (vv. 15-17)

15. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

In the view of the KJV translators, the spirit Paul speaks of here is the human spirit, as indicated by its lack of being capitalized: spirit, not Spirit. This is the correct translation, and it allows us to understand this verse better. Paul is not in favor of mindless activity—speaking that is understood by neither the speaker nor the hearers. He wants praying and singing that is spiritual and with the understanding also. He wants the mind to be aware of what the mouth is saying.

What Do You Think?

What can the church do to help people pray and sing with greater understanding?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

The role of faith in prayer and singing

The role of humility in prayer and singing

The role of persistence in prayer and singing

The content of prayer and song

Other

16, 17. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Paul gives a very practical reason for his instruction for praying in a way that others can understand, a reason that might seem almost comical: if someone is praying publicly in unintelligible speech, how will anyone know when it is time (or if it is appropriate) to say Amen? (Amen means "may it be true" or "let it be so"). In particular, Paul has in mind the unlearned, someone without the gift of tongues and/or their interpretation.

Central to Paul's point is the issue of edification. This word is borrowed from the sphere of house construction, where it literally means "build up." Paul's question is this: how is an unlearned person spiritually built up in any way by hearing someone pray in a tongue that the unlearned person cannot understand? This is a clarifying question of purpose.

What Do You Think?

What steps can the church take to make the gospel more intelligible to an uncomprehending world?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Spiritual jargon

Biblical terms that culture misdefines

Cultural awareness

Other

Identifying the Problem

Have you heard about Joe, who was afraid his wife was losing her hearing? Joe told the family doctor that his wife refused to have her hearing checked. The doctor suggested that Joe perform a hearing test at home. He was to call to his wife from another room. If she did not answer, he would move a few feet closer and call again. He was to repeat this test until she responded.

So one evening while his wife was preparing their meal, Joe stood down the hall and called, "Rose, what's for dinner?" No answer. Joe moved a few feet closer and tried again. Still no answer. After several attempts, Joe was at the doorway to the kitchen when he again asked, "Rose, what's for dinner?" With exasperation in her voice, she responded, "For the sixth time, it's steak, potatoes, and green beans!"

Rose was not the one with the hearing problem!

This silly story illustrates the fact that communication problems aren't always what we think they are. Those Corinthians speaking in tongues might have been edifying themselves, but others in the church couldn't understand. So Paul told them, in effect, "If you're not communicating, you're missing the point!" What applications of the principle to contemporary church life can you think of?—C. R. B.

II. Solution

                                                                           (1 Corinthians 14:18-26)

A. What Paul Wants (vv. 18-20)

18, 19. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

Paul continues by stating a fact that some may find surprising: I speak with tongues more than ye all. There is no one more invested in speaking in tongues than the apostle himself, the very one who had planted the church in Corinth.

Despite his own proficiency in the tongues area, Paul points the readers in a different direction. He notes that to speak an unknown tongue is not to speak with understanding. Five words that are understood are to be preferred over ten thousand words that are without meaning to the hearers. Paul's goal in the speaking of intelligible words is the teaching of others. The unintelligible words of tongues may be impressive and exciting, but they do not benefit others since such words convey no useful content.

20. Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Paul adds to his point by introducing a difference between children and adults. It is OK to have a childlike innocence when it comes to malice (evil), but it is not OK to be childish regarding the matter at hand. The Corinthians need to grow up when it comes to the issue of communicating with understanding (compare 1 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:14). The implication is that there is a certain childishness regarding the issue of speaking in tongues the way the Corinthians are approaching it. Speaking in tongues may provide a personal faith experience, but there are deeper issues one must grasp.

What Do You Think?

What has helped you grow most from spiritual childishness to maturity? What can you do to help others in this regard?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Selflessness

Personal holiness

Scripture knowledge

Prayer habits

Other

B. What the Law Says (vv. 21, 22)

21, 22a. 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.

Paul offers a loose quotation of Isaiah 28:11, 12. Ministering 700 years before, Isaiah warned that a time was coming when the Israelites would hear the foreign languages (other tongues and other lips) of oppressors such as the Assyrians (compare Deuteronomy 28:49). This was to happen when the people proved themselves faithless by refusing to listen to the Lord's prophets time after time.

How to Say It

Assyrians Uh-sear-e-unz.

Colosse Ko-lahss-ee.

Corinth Kor-inth.

Corinthians Ko-rin-thee-unz (th as in thin).

Ephesus Ef-uh-sus.

Galatia Guh-lay-shuh.

glossolalia glaw-suh-lay-lee-uh.

Philippi Fih-lip-pie or Fil-ih-pie.

Thessalonica Thess-uh-lo-nye-kuh (th as in thin).

xenoglossia zen-uh-glaw-see-uh.

 

The fulfilled prediction that God's people were indeed given over to the control of those having other tongues and other lips therefore served as a sign of God's judgment on the faithlessness of His people in that day. Similarly, speaking in tongues may end up serving for a sign in the church at Corinth to lead them that believe not to conclude that God is absent from the gathering (see 1 Corinthians 14:23, below).

22b. But prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The appropriate context for the use of tongues just established in verse 22a is now contrasted with that of prophesying. Opinions vary regarding what exactly this activity is, but it is clearly something different from speaking in tongues or interpretation of tongues.

In the context of the first-century church, to prophesy can involve predicting the future (Acts 11:28; 21:10-12), but that does not seem to be its primary function. More broadly, those who prophesy "speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation... that all may learn, and all may be comforted" (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31). Prophesying therefore seems to involve a teaching function, perhaps something akin to the act of preaching the Word today.

To be able to prophesy, as being able to speak in tongues, is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 13:2; compare 1 Timothy 4:14). The first-century church does not view prophets as belonging solely to Old Testament times, but acknowledges prophets of their own day (see Acts 13:1; 15:32; 21:9). Since the gift of prophetic speech serves as a witness within the body of believers rather than for them that believe not, its primary function seems to be to bring believers to maturity. As it is exercised primarily in that regard, it can have an additional good benefit, as verse 24 below shows.

C. What the Impact Is (vv. 23-26)

23. 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?

Having explained a potential effect of speaking in tongues as a sign for unbelievers, Paul proceeds to warn of an additional danger as he sets up a hypothetical situation. Imagine that the whole church is gathered for worship in one place. Then while everyone is speaking in tongues, there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers. As these folks witness everyone else there speaking in tongues, what will they think? They will conclude that everyone is mad (insane)!

To present the church as a group of people all speaking in tongues at once will be interpreted as mayhem—surely a negative witness. Paul poses this hypothetical scenario because it is more than hypothetical. This is what is actually going on in the Corinthian church. The chaotic nature of their gatherings has become a deterrent for visitors. (Paul describes the orderly use of tongues in verses 26-28, not in today's text.)

What Do You Think?

What safeguards can the church adopt to ensure orderly participation when a worship service includes an open time of "sharing"?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Before-the-fact policy to prevent problems

After-the-fact intervention to correct ongoing problems

24, 25. 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.

Paul presents an alternative scenario. Imagine that one that believeth not, or one unlearned comes to a gathering where the church members all prophesy, speaking the Word of God in intelligible ways. Paul proposes that the unbeliever in such a case will be convinced. Such a person will see the positive impact that the prophesying of the gospel message is having on the gathered believers (that God is in you).

As a result, this person will feel judged that the sin in his or her life is unacceptable. Such an unbeliever will then fall down to worship God. (Paul describes the orderly use of prophesying in verses 29-33, not in today's text.)

What Do You Think?

What are some things the church of today can
do to demonstrate a genuine openness for unbelievers who walk in?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In teaching methods

In music styles

In fellowship

In building layouts

Other

By contrast, the chaos of many believers speaking in tongues at the same time is like a trumpet giving "an uncertain sound" (1 Corinthians 14:8). This is military imagery. Roman armies use trumpeters to relay signals to troops prepared for battle. The success of an army in battle depends on clear signals, and this is the message for the Corinthians. As much as one might enjoy speaking in tongues on a personal level, clear communication via intelligible words should be the priority.

26. 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.

A few verses later, Paul will end this chapter with the imperatives "forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:39b, 40). Some planning is necessary to make that happen, and Paul proceeds to outline the thinking that should go into that planning in the verse before us.

Before we examine Paul's thoughts in detail, a couple of cautions are in order. First, the phrasing every one of you hath ... , hath ... , etc., should not be taken to mean that each and every one of the Corinthians is to come to a worship service with all of the things listed. Rather, the idea is more like "some have this, some have that" (compare
1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Second, we should not interpret the verse before us as "the" God-ordained pattern for worship services, but as a hypothetical way of how good planning can work.

The psalm someone might cite or sing may be from the Old Testament, or it may be a Christian hymn that is known to the congregation. For someone to present a doctrine indicates a teaching time. This may involve using Scripture, repeating a teaching received from Paul, etc. Then someone can speak in a tongue, which must be followed by an interpretation (see v. 27); if there is no one available to interpret, then tongues speaking should not occur (v. 28).

Paul also desires that speaking time be allowed for someone having a revelation. Opinions differ as to whether being enabled to speak revelations is the same as being enabled to prophesy. The fact that 1 Corinthians 14:6 mentions speaking both "by revelation, ... or by prophesying" leads some to conclude that those are distinct concepts. Others think, however, that the concepts are synonymous or nearly so. The important principle that applies either way is that we are to let all things be done unto edifying.

Recalling from comments on verse 17 that edify is related to build, we see the connection with 1 Corinthians 3:9, where Paul refers to his readers as "God's building." That building, the church, is constructed by God himself (see Ephesians 2:19-22), but it is also built up by leaders of the church.

Everything in Order

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, rising more than 2,700 feet over the city of Dubai. More than 30 on-site contracting companies were involved in the construction. At one time, more than 12,000 workers were on site daily.

Imagine the confusion if the first contractors to arrive on the scene were plumbers. What if the interior decorators showed up before excavation had even started? Obviously, such an approach would have been downright laughable. Millions of man-hours went into the building's construction, much of it devoted to ensuring that workers and materials for each phase arrived on site at the right time.

Paul's instructions to those who made up "God's building" in Corinth were intended to bring order from confusion. Orderly worship doesn't just happen; it takes planning to ensure that everyone is on the same page. We should not be any less concerned about this today than Paul was in the first century.—C. R. B.

Visual for Lesson 9. Start a discussion by pointing to this visual as you ask, "What else does worship do? Why?

Conclusion
A. Building Up the Church

Paul's sage advice "Let all things be done unto edifying" (v. 26) can be used in many situations. It challenges us to evaluate our church activities by a simple question: Does it build up the church or tear it down?

Consider how this test applies to your own church and how you relate to it on a personal level. What issues are important to you? music styles? preaching methods? Sunday school options? Do you want changes to suit your own preferences? When does voicing your preferences cross the line from building up the church to tearing it down?

These are hard questions! We move toward the right answers when we realize that the abiding value of 1 Corinthians 14 is not so much doctrinal instruction about the gift of speaking in tongues but about how we understand the priority of edification in the church.

B. Prayer

Father, may we love the church as much as You do. May we resist selfishness as we seek to build up others within our congregation. May You bless our church as You give it unity and a clarity of purpose. In the name of Jesus, amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Always ask, "Does it edify?"


August 3

Lesson 10

Comfort in Times of Trouble

Devotional Reading: Psalm 46

Background Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

Key Verse

Our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. —2 Corinthians 1:7

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each student will be able to:

1. Describe the nature of the suffering and the consolation that Paul discusses.

2. Explain the relationships between suffering, comfort, and prayer in the life of the Christian.

3. Write a letter of encouragement to a missionary supported by his or her church, including a prayer of consolation similar to what Paul describes.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Xtreme Christianity?

B. Lesson Background

I. Reality of God's Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

A. Thanking the Father (vv. 3, 4)

Blessed, and Blessing Others

B. Standing with Christ (vv. 5-7)

II. Reliance on God's Strength (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)

A. Burdened Heavily (v. 8)

B. Delivered Providentially (vv. 9, 10)

Despairing of Life

C. Celebrating Thankfully (v. 11)

Conclusion

A. Power to Overcome Suffering

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2013-2014 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless