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. 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? -- 1 Corinthians 14:15, 16.
According to the light which God has given me, there will yet be a large company raised up in the East to consistently obey the truth. Those who follow in the distracted course they have chosen will be left to embrace errors which will finally cause their overthrow; but they will for a time be stumbling blocks to those who would receive the truth. Ministers who labour in word and doctrine should be thorough workmen, and should present the truth in its purity, yet with simplicity. They should feed the flock with clean provender, thoroughly winnowed. There are wandering stars professing to be ministers sent of God who are preaching the Sabbath from place to place, but who have truth mixed up with error and are throwing out their mass of discordant views to the people. Satan has pushed them in to disgust intelligent and sensible unbelievers. Some of these have much to say upon the gifts and are often especially exercised. They give themselves up to wild, excitable feelings and make unintelligible sounds which they call the gift of tongues, and a certain class seem to be charmed with these strange manifestations. A strange spirit rules with this class, which would bear down and run over anyone who would reprove them. God's Spirit is not in the work and does not attend such workmen. They have another spirit. Still, such preachers have success among a certain class. But this will greatly increase the labour of those servants whom God shall send, who are qualified to present before the people the Sabbath and the gifts in their proper light, and whose influence and example are worthy of imitation -- Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, p. 414.
For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified -- 1 Corinthians 14:17.
Whatever view is adopted, one thing is certain, that the manifestation of the gift at Pentecost and the purposes for which it was given (Acts 2) differed in many respects from the gift as manifested in Corinth. The gift at Corinth served to edify the speaker, not others (1 Cor. 14:4). Paul did not encourage its use in public unless an interpreter was present (vs. 12, 13, 27). He did not recommend its use in the church (vs. 19, 28). The address was to God, not men (vs. 2, 28). The speaker was in a state of ecstasy with his conscious mind dormant (v. 14). These things were not true of the gift that came upon the disciples at Pentecost. The ability to speak in foreign languages was distinctly designed to edify others. It was bestowed so that the disciples could preach the gospel without the services of an interpreter. The address in a tongue was to men, not God, and the speaker was not in an ecstatic state but functioned even as one might do who had acquired facility in the language through study.
Because of certain obscurities with regard to the precise manner in which the gift of tongues was anciently manifested, Satan has found it easy to counterfeit the gift. Incoherent ejaculations were well known and widely met with in pagan worship. Also in later times, under the guise of Christianity, various manifestations of so-called tongues have from time to time appeared. However, when these manifestations are compared with the scriptural specifications of the gift of tongues they are found to be something quite at variance with the gift anciently imparted by the Spirit. These manifestations must therefore be rejected as spurious. However, the presence of the counterfeit must not lead us to think meanly of the genuine. The proper manifestation of the gift with which Paul deals in 1 Cor. 14 performed a useful function. True, it was abused, but Paul attempted to correct the abuses and to assign the operation of the gift to its proper place and function -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [Additional Notes on 1 Corinthians 14].
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 -- 1 Corinthians 14:18, 19.
There is a great work to be done in our world. Men and women are to be converted, not by the gift of tongues nor by the working of miracles, but by the preaching of Christ crucified. Why delay the effort to make the world better? Why wait for some wonderful thing to be done, some costly apparatus to be provided? ... Into all that we do, whether our work be in the shop, on the farm, or in the office, we are to bring the endeavour to save souls.
This life is full of gracious opportunities, which you can improve in the exercise of your God-given abilities to bless others, and in so doing bless yourself, without considering self in the matter. Trivial circumstances oftentimes prove a decided blessing to the one who acts from principle and has formed the habit of doing right because it is right. Seek for a perfect character, and let all you do, whether seen and appreciated by human eyes or not, be done with an eye single to God's glory, because you belong to God and He has redeemed you at the price of His own life. Be faithful in the least as well as in the greatest; learn to speak the truth, to act all times the truth. Let the heart be fully submitted to God. If controlled by His grace, you will do little deeds of kindness, take up the duties lying next to you, and bring all the sunshine into your life and character that it is possible to bring, scattering the gifts of love and blessing along the pathway of life. Your works will be far-reaching as eternity. Your lifework will be seen in heaven, and there it will live, through ceaseless ages, because it is found precious in the sight of God -- My Life Today, p. 219.
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe -- 1 Corinthians 14:21, 22.
The truth should be presented in a manner which will make it attractive to the intelligent mind. We are not understood as a people, but are looked upon as poor, weak-minded, low, and degraded. Then how important for all who teach, and all who believe the truth, to be so affected by its sanctifying influence that their consistent, elevated lives shall show unbelievers that they have been deceived in this people. How important that the cause of truth be stripped of everything like a false and fanatical excitement, that the truth may stand upon its own merits, revealing its native purity and exalted character.
I saw that it is highly important for those who preach the truth to be refined in their manners, to shun oddities and eccentricities, and present the truth in its purity and clearness. I was referred to Titus 1:9: "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." In verse 16 Paul speaks of a class who profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being "unto every good work reprobate." He then exhorts Titus: "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. . . . Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." This instruction is written for the benefit of all whom God has called to preach the word, and also for the benefit of His people who hear the word -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 414, 415.
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? -- 1 Corinthians 14:23.
Two principal views with regard to the gift of tongues as discussed in ch. 14 are held: (1) That the manifestation is to be described in terms of the phenomenon of tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2); that the language spoken under the influence of the gift was a foreign language, one that could be easily understood by a foreigner of that tongue; that by speaking in a foreign tongue in the church when no one understanding the language was present the Corinthians were perverting the function of the gift; and that it was this misuse of the gift that Paul rebuked.
(2) That the manifestation was different from that on the day of Pentecost; that the language was not one spoken by men, and that thus no man could understand unless there was present an interpreter who possessed the gift of the Spirit to understand the language (1 Cor. 12:10); that its function was to confirm the faith of new converts (1 Cor. 14:22; cf. Acts 10:44-46; 11:15) and to provide personal spiritual edification (1 Cor. 14:4); that it was the exercise, in public assemblies, of this gift, designed primarily for private, personal edification, that Paul rebuked in 1 Cor. 14. Other views combine elements of these two views -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [Additional Notes on 1 Corinthians 14].
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.
Our churches are called upon to take hold of this work with far greater earnestness than has yet been manifested. Every church should make special provision for the training of its missionaries, thus aiding the fulfilment of the great command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." My brethren, we have erred and sinned in attempting too little. There should be more labourers in the foreign missionary field. There are among us those who, without the toil and delay of learning a foreign language, might qualify themselves to proclaim the truth to other nations. In the primitive church, missionaries were miraculously endowed with a knowledge of the languages in which they were called to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. And if God was willing thus to help His servants then, can we doubt that His blessing will rest upon our efforts to qualify those who naturally possess a knowledge of foreign tongues, and who with proper encouragement would bear to their own country men the message of truth? We might have had more labourers in foreign missionary fields had those who entered these fields availed themselves of every talent within their reach. But some have had a disposition to refuse help if it did not come just according to their ideas and plans. And what is the result? If our missionaries were to be removed by sickness or death from their fields of labour, where are the men whom they have educated to fill their places? -- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 391.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret -- 1 Corinthians 14:27.
One man arises, claiming to be led of God, who advocates the heresy of the non-resurrection of the wicked, which is one of Satan's great master-pieces of error. Another cherishes erroneous views in regard to the future age. Another zealously urges the American costume. They all want full religious liberty, and each one goes independent of the others, and yet claims that God is especially at work among them. Some rejoice in the idea that they have the gifts which others have not, and they exult over the matter. May God deliver his people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them? Are they brought through the exercise of these gifts into the unity of the faith? And do they convince the unbeliever that God is with them of a truth? These discordant ones, believing all these different views, getting together and having considerable excitement, and the unknown tongue, 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, and their influence is effectual to keep men and women out of the Sabbath. Such will be rewarded according as their works shall be. Would to God they would be reformed or give up the Sabbath. They would not then stand in the way of unbelievers. God has led out men who have toiled for years, who have been willing to make any sacrifice, who have suffered privation, and endured trials in every shape to get out the truth before the world, and by their consistent course do away the reproach that fanatics have brought upon the cause of God. They have met opposition in every form. They have toiled night and day in searching the evidences of our faith, that they might bring out the truth in its clearness, in a connected form, that it might stand all opposition. Incessant labour and mental trials in connection with this great work have worn down more than one constitution, and prematurely sprinkled heads with grey hairs. They have not worn out in vain. God has marked their earnest, tearful, agonising prayers to him for light and truth, and that the truth might shine in its clearness. He has marked their self-sacrificing efforts, and he will reward them as their works have been -- Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4b, pp. 159, 160.
But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God -- 1 Corinthians 14:28.
The gift, therefore, performs a useful function, and has its place, but not in public assemblies unless an interpreter is present (see vs. 5, 19). It may be noted that with copies of the OT Scriptures rare, there would be more need for personal revelations of divine truth (see v. 4). The prophet receives divine revelations, but he is merely the agent by whom these revelations are to be imparted to the church so that it may be built up -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [1 Corinthians 14:4].
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language -- Acts 2:4-6.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The Holy Spirit, assuming the form of tongues of fire, rested upon those assembled. This was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the disciples, which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which they had heretofore been unacquainted. The appearance of fire signified the fervent zeal with which the apostles would labour and the power that would attend their work.
"There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." During the dispersion the Jews had been scattered to almost every part of the inhabited world, and in their exile they had learned to speak various languages. Many of these Jews were on this occasion in Jerusalem, attending the religious festivals then in progress. Every known tongue was represented by those assembled. This diversity of languages would have been a great hindrance to the proclamation of the gospel; God therefore in a miraculous manner supplied the deficiency of the apostles. The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a lifetime. They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were labouring. This miraculous gift was a strong evidence to the world that their commission bore the signet of Heaven. From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language -- Acts of the Apostles, pp. 39, 40.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? -- Acts 2:7, 8.
The priests and rulers were greatly enraged at this wonderful manifestation, but they dared not give way to their malice, for fear of exposing themselves to the violence of the people. They had put the Nazarene to death; but here were His servants, unlettered men of Galilee, telling in all the languages then spoken, the story of His life and ministry. The priests, determined to account for the miraculous power of the disciples in some natural way, declared that they were drunken from partaking largely of the new wine prepared for the feast. Some of the most ignorant of the people present seized upon this suggestion as the truth, but the more intelligent knew it to be false; and those who understood the different languages testified to the accuracy with which these languages were used by the disciples.
In answer to the accusation of the priests Peter showed that this demonstration was in direct fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such power would come upon men to fit them for a special work. "Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem," he said, "be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy." -- Acts of the Apostles, pp. 40, 41.