To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues -- 1 Corinthians 12:10.
There is a great work to be done. The world will not be converted by the gift of tongues, or by the working of miracles, but by preaching Christ crucified. The Holy Spirit must be allowed to work. God has placed instrumentalities in our hands, and we must use every one of them to do His will and way. As believers we are privileged to act a part in forwarding the truth for this time. As far as possible we are to employ the means and agencies that God has given us to introduce the truth into new localities. Churches must be built to accommodate the people of God, that they may stand as centres of light, shining amid the darkness of the world. . . .
This work of God would have us do. Christ's example must be followed by those who claim to be His children. Relieve the physical necessities of your fellowmen, and their gratitude will break down the barriers and enable you to reach their hearts. Consider this matter earnestly. As churches you have had an opportunity to work as labourers together with God. Had you obeyed the word of God, had you entered upon this work, you would have been blessed and encouraged, and would have obtained a rich experience. You would have found yourselves, as the human agencies of God, earnestly advocating a scheme of saving, of restoration, of salvation. This scheme would not be fixed, but progressive, moving on from grace to grace, and from strength to strength -- Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 424, 425.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues -- 1 Corinthians 12:28.
Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterises all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganised in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organised and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorised to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganisation. All who desire the co-operation of the heavenly messengers must work in unison with them. Those who have the unction from on high will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can co-operate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganisation, and disorder. All these evils are the result of Satan's efforts to weaken our forces, to destroy our courage, and prevent successful action.
Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and perfect discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven's arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality, that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united and are labouring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These devoted souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man's say-so. They are amenable to no man. I was shown that it is Satan's special work to lead men to feel that it is God's order for them to strike out for themselves and choose their own course independent of their brethren -- Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 28, 29.
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way -- 1 Corinthians 12:30, 31.
As Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He prayed for them in a most touching, solemn manner that they all might be one "as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." The apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians exhorts them to unity: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement."
God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. He will discipline and fit up His people. They will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite, each moving independently of the body. Through the diversity of the gifts and governments that He has placed in the church, they will all come to the unity of the faith. If one man takes his views of Bible truth without regard to the opinions of his brethren, and justifies his course, alleging that he has a right to his own peculiar views, and then presses them upon others, how can he be fulfilling the prayer of Christ? And if another and still another arises, each asserting his right to believe and talk what he pleases without reference to the faith of the body, where will be that harmony which existed between Christ and His Father, and which Christ prayed might exist among His brethren? -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 446, 447.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away -- 1 Corinthians 13:8.
"By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." The more closely we resemble our Saviour in character, the greater will be our love toward those for whom He died. Christians who manifest a spirit of unselfish love for one another are bearing a testimony for Christ which unbelievers can neither gainsay nor resist. It is impossible to estimate the power of such an example. Nothing will so successfully defeat the devices of Satan and his emissaries, nothing will so build up the Redeemer's kingdom, as will the love of Christ manifested by the members of the church. Peace and prosperity can be enjoyed only as meekness and love are in active exercise.
In his First Epistle to the Corinthians the apostle Paul sets forth the importance of that love which should be cherished by the followers of Christ: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
No matter how high his profession, he whose heart is not imbued with love for God and for his fellow men is not a disciple of Christ. Though he should possess great faith, and even have power to work miracles, yet without love his faith would be worthless. He might display great liberality, but should he from some other motive than genuine love bestow all his goods to feed the poor, the act would not commend him to the favour of God. In his zeal he might even meet a martyr's death, yet if destitute of the gold of love he would be regarded by God as a deluded enthusiast or an ambitious hypocrite -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 167-169.
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries -- 1 Corinthians 14:1, 2.
The only remedy for the East is thorough discipline and organisation. A spirit of fanaticism has ruled a certain class of Sabbathkeepers there; they have sipped but lightly at the fountain of truth and are unacquainted with the spirit of the message of the third angel. Nothing can be done for this class until their fanatical views are corrected. Some who were in the 1854 movement have brought along with them erroneous views, such as the non-resurrection of the wicked, and the future age, and they are seeking to unite these views and their past experience with the message of the third angel. They cannot do this; there is no concord between Christ and Belial. The non-resurrection of the wicked and their peculiar views of the age to come are gross errors which Satan has worked in among the last-day heresies to serve his own purpose to ruin souls. These errors can have no harmony with the message of heavenly origin.
Some of these persons have exercises which they call gifts and say that the Lord has placed them in the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here. The fruits of all this have not been good. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Fanaticism and noise have been considered special evidences of faith. Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this and get up an excitement of feeling. But the influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone, they sink lower than before the meeting because their happiness did not come from the right source. The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement are those which are characterised with solemnity and deep searching of heart; each seeking to know himself, and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1. pp. 411, 412.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church -- 1 Corinthians 14:4.
Some rejoice and exult that they have the gifts, which others have not. May God deliver His people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them? Are they through the exercise of these gifts, brought into the unity of the faith? And do they convince the unbeliever that God is with them of a truth? When these discordant ones, holding their different views, come together and there is considerable excitement and the unknown tongue, they let their light so shine that unbelievers would say: These people are not sane; they are carried away with a false excitement, and we know that they do not have the truth. Such stand directly in the way of sinners; their influence is effectual to keep others from accepting the Sabbath. Such will be rewarded according to their works. Would to God they would be reformed or give up the Sabbath! They would not then stand in the way of unbelievers -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 419.
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying -- 1 Corinthians 14:5.
Lest he be accused of unduly belittling any gift of the Spirit, Paul expressed a desire that all the believers could speak with tongues. It was an important gift, and had a prominent part to play in the work of the church. However, this gift was not to overshadow the less spectacular but more important gift of prophecy.
The gift of prophecy was greater because of its value to the church. More were benefited by it than by the gift of tongues. The gifts of the Spirit should be evaluated according to their usefulness, rather than by their spectacular nature. Apparently the one who spoke with tongues was not always able to interpret the mysteries that had been revealed to him. Paul counsels him to pray "that he may interpret" (v. 13), but warns that "if there be no interpreter" he should "keep silence in the church" (vs. 27, 28). Paul asserted that he spoke with tongues more than all the Corinthians (v. 18) -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [1 Corinthians 14:5].
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air -- 1 Corinthians 14:6-9.
It will be helpful in a consideration of this question to enumerate the characteristics of the gift of tongues as it was manifested at Pentecost and in Corinth. For a discussion of the gift there was clearly an ability to speak in foreign languages, and the purpose of the gift was to facilitate the spread of the gospel (cf. AA 39, 40). A second function may be seen in the experience of Peter in the house of Cornelius, where the manifestation of the gift convinced Peter and the sceptical Jewish Christians who were with him that God accepted the Gentiles (see on Acts 10:46), and doubtless also convinced Cornelius and those with him that the work of Peter bore the signet of Heaven.
Concerning the gift later manifested at Corinth the following characteristics are noted: (1) The gift is inferior to prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1). (2) The speaker in tongues addresses God, not men (v. 2). (3) No man understands the speaker in tongues (v. 2). (4) The speaker is "in the spirit," that is, in an ecstatic state (1 Cor. 14:2, 14; cf. on Rev. 1:10). (5) The speaker utters mysteries (1 Cor. 14:2; for a definition of mysteries see on Rom. 11:25). (6) The speaker edifies himself, not the church (1 Cor. 14:4). (7) Paul wishes that all had the gift (v. 5). (8) The speaker should pray that he may interpret so that the church may be edified (vs. 12, 13). (9) The understanding, or mind, is unfruitful when one prays in a "tongue," thereby indicating that the experience is not one of the conscious mind (v. 14). (10) The gift was for a sign to them that believe not (v. 22). (11) The gift was to be used in the church only if an interpreter was present (v. 27); otherwise the speaker was to speak only to himself and to God (v. 28). (12) The Corinthians were admonished not to forbid speaking in tongues (v. 39) -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [Additional Notes on 1 Corinthians 14].
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church -- 1 Corinthians 14:10-12.
In the context some prefer to translate the word "languages". Languages are spoken with the intention of conveying some intelligible idea to the hearers. All are for utility and not for display. Barbarian [was] a common term used to denote one who was not a Greek, one who was outside the sphere of the Greek language and culture. It is used here to denote a person who spoke a foreign tongue. There is nothing wrong in desiring spiritual gifts; God wills that He people should thus be blessed, but the great objective of all the outpouring of the Spirit, namely the edification of the church, must be the goal of the desire for the gifts. There should be no selfish seeking for the gifts order to exalt self and satisfy personal ambition for power above one's fellows -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [1 Corinthians 14:10-12].
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 -- 1 Corinthians 14:13, 14.
This list of characteristics of the gift makes clear that the apostle is not dealing with a counterfeit gift. He has listed "tongues" among the genuine gifts of the Spirit (ch. 12:8-10), and nowhere hints that the manifestation described in ch. 14 is not of God. On the contrary, he commends it (ch. 14:5, 17), claims that he spoke with tongues more than the Corinthians (v. 18), wishes that all had the gift, and urges the believers not to forbid the exercise of the gift (v. 39). His aim throughout the discussion is to show its proper place and function and to warn against its abuse.
That the Corinthians abused the gift is evident. They spoke with tongues in the church when no interpreter was present and when no one but the speakers themselves was benefited. Several apparently spoke at the same time and while others were prophesying, teaching, etc. This resulted in general confusion (vs. 26-33, 40).
The question as to whether the tongues were in a spoken language or in a language unknown by men, or simply inarticulate sounds, has been much debated by commentators. Those who believe that the speech was in a language foreign to the speaker but understood by those familiar with the language argue by what they call the analogy of Scripture, that the gift in Corinth ought to be explained on the basis of the manifestations on Pentecost (Acts 2) and on other occasions (Acts 10:44-46; 11:15; 19:6) and that therefore the purpose was clearly to enable men to preach the gospel in tongues formerly unknown to them. Passages like 1 Cor. 14:2, which indicate that no man understands, they interpret as meaning that no one present understands, although foreigners might. They further point out that it is difficult to conceive that the Holy Spirit would manifest Himself in an unknown tongue under the circumstances of ch. 14.
Those who hold that the phenomenon consisted of unintelligible sounds not related to any human language argue that this is the most natural way to interpret the various passages concerned, and that this is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn when all of the characteristics listed are taken into consideration. They believe that Paul's illustrations in vs. 7-10 are designed to show that the utterances were either inarticulate sounds or a language not capable of being understood by men unless they too were possessed of the Spirit and were endowed with the gift of interpretation (ch. 12:10) -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [Additional Notes on 1 Corinthians 14].