The Importance of Preaching
Tim Temple

Introduction

Today we want to think about the first five verses of chapter 14, beginning with verse 1:

I Corinthians 14

1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2For 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.
3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5I 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.

This chapter to which we come today, which we will be studying the next few weeks, is probably one of the most controversial parts of the Scripture. The controversy of this chapter seems to go in cycles. There are periods of time in the history of the Church in which it is a very controversial thing, and there are other times when it is simply reminiscent of other times. At the time in which we live, there is renewed interest in the matter of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly the gift of tongues and the gift of healing.

You may or may not realize it, but the latest resurgence of this kind of interest is in the form of a movement known as “the signs and wonders movement.” It is not as well known in towns the size of ours, but in the bigger cities the signs and wonders movement is a growing movement whereas the charismatic movement, which of course still continues today, really surfaced and became popular ten to fifteen years ago.

The charismatic movement seemed to attract people from all across the spectrum of Christianity, from liberal denominational churches, from conservative churches and from groups which had not previously been interested in these Pentecostal kinds of gifts; but the signs and wonders movement seems to have a large attraction to people who are in Bible Churches, people who are in conservative denominational churches.

It is something about which, if you have not heard already, you will be hearing; and because of that, it is a wonderful thing that we come in our study today to I Corinthians, chapter 14. This chapter comes in the section of the book which deals with the problems in the public worship service.

Among the many problems at Corinth was the way they were conducting their public worship gatherings. Paul has been dealing with the concept of the Church as the Body of Christ, the fact that the Church is not just a place we come to on Sunday, but rather that all of us are members of a body, members of a family. In fact, we saw in chapter 12 that actually we are literally the hands, arms and the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has put us in places in His body in which we represent Him and reach out to others in His behalf. Of course, in doing this Paul has touched on the doctrine of spiritual gifts and their use, and we have seen that we have various kinds of gifts given to various kinds of people so that Christians are very different from each other. We shouldn't be confused about the fact that one Christian may not have the same priorities as another Christian does. One Christian may not like the same things that another one does. Those things are not only unimportant to be worried about, but in fact they are the way God has designed things.

Spiritual Gifts In Public Worship

All that is by way of review, but it's very important to understand the context in which this controversial chapter occurs. In chapter 13, he taught that much more important than the exercise of spiritual gifts is the motive used in exercising those gifts. He talked about the love of God, love that is given regardless of the expectation of return, love that is given regardless of the response of the one who is loved and those kinds of things.

As we come to chapter 14, Paul is going to narrow the discussion down to the function of the spiritual gifts as they relate to our church services, the way we use those spiritual gifts in the church services. The reason that I have gone into all this review is that this is not to imply that the church service is the only place that we use our spiritual gifts. I have reviewed with you the past three chapters because those chapters establish that the church service is just the tip of the iceberg. Those chapters establish that our life with the Lord Jesus Christ and our membership in the Body of Christ goes on seven days a week, not just when we come to the church, not just when we come to the sanctuary on Sunday. This chapter focuses on the gatherings in the church.

Many people take chapter 14 of I Corinthians and think that is all there is to the Christian life; and whether they take chapter 14 that way or not, I think the majority of Christians probably assume that the Christian life consists of what we do for a couple of hours on Sunday morning and the rest of the time it is just whatever life gives us. But the whole concept of I Corinthians, chapters 12-14, is that we are the Body of Christ. We are members of the family of God and our relationship to God and to each other continues seven days a week.

Teaching Focused On the Word

In chapter 14, Paul focuses on a specific problem that was taking place in that church and that was the exaltation of the gift of tongues. Someone may ask, “Why are we going to take the time to give so much attention to something that is really not a major issue in our church?” The reason is that this is the Word of God and as we will see in chapter 14, the issue is not primarily the gift of tongues; the issue is the importance of the clear teaching of the Word of God.

What had happened at Corinth was that the focus on this particular spiritual gift–in principle it could be a focus on anything else–of speaking in tongues distracted their attention from the Word of God, and Paul is going to establish clearly in this chapter that the important thing is the exposition of the Scripture. He refers to it as prophecy. We will talk about why he refers to it that way, but the important focus in our church services should be the exaltation of Jesus Christ through the teaching of His Word.

Certainly there are other things that are a legitimate part of our worship. We have been over that many times before, but the focus on our church gatherings should be the exposition of the Word of God so that we can grow to be more like Jesus Christ. I hope you will not get bogged down in the particular spiritual gift and not see the principle the spiritual gift represents. At the same time, this chapter is an example of the fact that if we will stick to the Scripture and if we will objectively study the Word of God, any of the things that come along in our church activities and in our life in general will be dealt with. The reason that when some new development comes along we don't have to get up on a soap box and have some kind of tirade about this or that is that as we consistently teach the Word of God, sooner or later we come across what God has to say about those things. Again, I hope that as we look at this chapter you will realize that I am making a sincere attempt to teach the Word of God as clearly as I know how.

There are some in our church who have been involved in the gift of tongues and believe that it should be a part of the Christian life today, and I want to say at the onset I'm not attacking those individuals. I think those Christians are mature enough Christians to know that even the Apostle Paul is not attacking them, but if there is an attack, it is from the Apostle Paul because what I intend to do is look at the Scripture as God has written it through the pen of the Apostle.

The Preferability of Prophecy

I have divided this chapter into three parts: in verses 1-5, “The Preferability of Prophecy”, in verses 6-25, “The Proper Purpose of Tongues”, in verses 26-40, “The Proper Pursuit of Worship.” If we take these verses at their face value, if we look at them objectively, we will discover a very clear order of worship that ought to be taking place in our churches and which I believe will eliminate a great deal of what is being done in the name of Spirit-filled worship in some places. So today we want to think about “The Preferability of Prophecy” as it is brought out in verses 1-5. Now verse 1, which we read a few minutes ago serves as a link to the previous chapter. Chapter 13 was all about agape love–God's kind of love–and the fact that the highest aim in the believer's life should be to exercise that kind of love toward others that God exercises toward us.

Chapter 14, verse 1, provides this pivotal verse. Desire spiritual gifts especially that you may prophesy. Now let me point out something that is not apparent in the English, and that is that the word “desire” in verse 1 and the words “you may prophesy” are written in the second person plural in the Greek. There is no way to translate that across the board in the English, but it's clear in the Greek that this is addressing the whole group. The second person you, all of you, plural, should desire spiritual gifts, and you should desire prophecy. This instruction, you see, is addressed to the Church. We have a very similar thing in the last verse of chapter 12, verse 3l:

I Corinthians 12

31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

In other words, verse 31 of chapter 12 is a very often misunderstood verse. What he is saying is that the instruction to desire the best gifts is for the church, not just for individuals. We should pray, in other words, that our church would be filled with a thorough complement of all the gifts, that we should covet the best gifts for our church, that the spiritual gifts within our church, exercised properly, is the key to how effective that church will be.

We have talked about that concept in the past. In verse 31, he is saying you, plural, earnestly desire the best gifts. Then he moves into the importance of operating the gifts with the love of God. So in chapter 13, verse 1, he says all of you, plural, pursue love; all of you desire spiritual gifts, but all of you should desire especially the gift of prophecy.

The Test of a True Prophet

Now with that in mind, let's think about this gift of prophecy. What is he talking about? What is the character of the gift of prophecy? To do this we need to look at several passages of Scripture. When you have time, look at Deuteronomy, chapter 18, verses 21 and 22, which describes what a true prophet is. Those verses say, “If you shall say in your heart, how shall we know a true prophet'?” The distinction is this: If the thing that he prophesies does not come to pass, then he is not a prophet and you do not need to listen to him. If the thing that he prophesies does come to pass, then you know that he speaks with the authority of God.

That passage clarifies that a prophet is one that receives a message from God and passes it on to the people. More often than not those Old Testament prophets and the New Testament prophets had a message about the future, to the extent that the way you would know if it was a true prophet or not was that he would say something before it happened and you would wait to see if it came to pass, then you would know he was a prophet. So inherent in the gift of prophecy in the Old Testament and the first part of the New Testament is the foretelling of the future.

I Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 2, tells us that the gift of prophecy has to do with understanding mysteries, and in the New Testament there is still that sense of revealing and explaining that which is new as a part of the gift of prophecy.

If we look over to the last part of chapter 14, verses 29 and 30, we read:

I Corinthians 14

29Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

We will deal with those verses that have to do with orderliness in the church service in more detail later, but it you notice in verse 30, he is talking about prophets and he says, “If anything is revealed to another one.” In other words, the gift of prophecy, even in the New Testament, had to do with God revealing new information to the prophet. So prophecy was a most important gift. In the worship in the Old Testament, even the King depended on the prophet because the prophet was the one to whom God revealed new information. The prophet would explain the information when it came. And in the early days of the New Testament the gift of prophecy was very, very important because it gave an understanding of the New Covenant, the New Testament, what God was going to change by way of His activities. He never changed His principles, but changed His activities, and the prophet was the one who revealed those things.

Completeness of the Scripture

What does that have to do with us? The prophets revealed new truths and sometimes the prophet himself–sometimes other people–wrote those prophecies down. The end result was the New Testament as we have it today. The prophet was the key factor in developing for us God's truth in the New Testament, and now that the canon of the New Testament is closed, now that we have all of God's information that He intends for us to have in the New Testament, we no longer need the prophet. It is in that sense that prophecies cease because we have the Scripture, as I have pointed out to you many times before. John, chapter 20, verses 30 and 31, tells us that in the Scripture we have all that we need to know about how to become a Christian.

John 20

30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

In II Peter, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, we are told that in the Scripture, in the great and precious promises of God, we have all things that pertain to life and godliness, so that when God got the New Testament together, we have all that we need. Peter points out that there are many things that God did not write down, but He wrote down all the things that we need. Obviously, frankly, there are times we wish the Bible did say more than it does, but God gave us all that we need, and He gave us enough at the same time that we still have to trust Him for His guidance.

It would be handy, wouldn't it, if we had an indexed, alphabetized, World Book kind of Bible? Wouldn't that be handy, just to go and look up what God says to do about peer group pressure, and what God says to do about parents that have children who are facing peer group pressure, and what God says to do about this and what God says to do about that? There are many, many things that the Scripture does speak to–everything we need to know about living a godly life. At the same time, many things God did not record so that we would have to trust Him and so that we would have to study more carefully what He did write. Of course, as we have often pointed out, I think many times God does not give us guidance on new things because we are not obeying the things that we already have and the things that are already available to us in the Scripture.

The Gift of Teaching

To come back to the point, the gift of prophecy was important in Paul's day because it was being used to formulate the New Testament. Someone says, “Where does that leave us? If the gift of prophecy was so important in the Old Testament and it was so important in formulating the New Testament, now that we have the New Testament, what's so big about prophecy?” The Scofield Reference Bible I just recently realized is passing off the scene, and some of you newer, younger people may not have even heard of the Scofield Reference Bible. To those of us my age and twenty years older than I am, it's hard to imagine there are people that have never heard of the Scofield Reference Bible, but I have actually met two or three people that have never heard of it. The Scofield Reference Bible was a very fine study Bible that is still available, but you almost have to special order it to get hold of it now. It points out a number of very succinct distinctions, such as this about prophecy. Scofield points out that the prophet not only told the future but also, as Scofield says, he forthtold. He foretold the future, but he also forthtold about the present. Now that was just Scofield's clever way of using words that start with the same letter. He made a good point. The prophet not only foretold the future, but he also explained the Scripture. So even though we no longer have the gift of prophecy (revealing of new truth), because I've belabored the point that we already have the truth we need, we do still have those that explain God's truth. In the New Testament since the completion of the canon, that is known as the gift of teaching, but in principle it's the same thing Paul is talking about here in chapter 14, when he talks about prophecy.

For Edification of the Church

I hope you stayed with me during all that. Continuing the importance of prophecy in chapter 14, as it relates to us, we might just substitute the word “teaching,” or the words “exposition of Scripture,” because in Paul's day the prophet was doing what in our day the teachers of the Word of God are doing. It was just that the Scripture had not entirely been written down at that point. The principle of this chapter is the importance of preaching. That's the title I have given to this study today, “The Importance of Preaching the Word of God.”

In verses 2 and 3, we have the contrast of the gift of prophecy with the gift of tongues:

I Corinthians 14

2For 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.
3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Let's think about this for a minute. What Paul is saying is that the gift of prophecy–in our day the practice of teaching the Word of God–is profitable because the whole church can understand the prophet or, depending on his exercise of his gifts, a prophecy, an explanation given in the language that the hearers understand, is more profitable than the gift of tongues. The teaching of the Word of God is more profitable than the public exercise of the gift of tongues because he says in verse 2, no one understands the man who speaks in tongues. He's speaking to God, and he is speaking in the Spirit, but no one understands him. He speaks mysteries.

The purpose of the public gathering of the church is for us to learn more about God, and to be reminded of the things that we already know about God. That is why we come together, so the whole church can understand the prophet, whereas only God understands the man who speaks in tongues.

Verse 4 points out another reason the gift of prophecy is preferable very much along the same line. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the whole church. Notice how careful Paul is, and we want to exercise that same kind of carefulness, not to downgrade the gift of tongues. Paul is not saying and we should not say that the gift of tongues is a silly, wasted gift. He doesn't say that. Notice what he says in verse 4. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. There was edification to be had in the exercise of the gift of tongues.

If God is still giving that gift today, and it's beyond the scope of our lesson today and we are not going to get anywhere near the part of the chapter that tells the situations that God is giving that gift, if at all today–a very big “if” in my opinion–but if God is giving the gift of tongues today, the people who have that gift are edified by it. It is not something to be downgraded, and Paul is not saying they are silly or useless, but he is saying they edify themselves, but he who prophecies edifies the whole church.

Then in verse 5 he says the gift of prophecy is preferable because it eliminates the middle man:

I Corinthians 14

5I 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.

You see the pattern that Paul follows through these verses. The most important thing is the edification of the group as a whole. Sure, the man who speaks in tongues is edified. We'll say more about that in just a moment, but the important thing is not just that that speaker be edified but that the whole church be edified. Again let me point out that he says that the gift of tongues is an edifying gift, but the importance is how many people can be blessed with the exercise of the gift in a public worship service.

Definition of the Gift of Tongues

Now it's important to remember the context of this comparison. The context is extremely important in any Bible study, but we're making this particular application because these verses are some of the most misinterpreted in all the Bible, in my opinion. Go back to verse 2 and notice very carefully the definition of the gift of tongues:

I Corinthians 14

2For 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.

Those who believe the gift of tongues is still a very vital gift in this day in which we live, the charismatic movement, the people involved in the signs and wonders movement, whatever terminology they may use to describe themselves, say that the gift of tongues consists of ecstatic utterances or language of angels that only God can understand, and they base it on this verse. He who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God, and they say that this is a prayer language that is probably the language of the angels and it's only intended for God to understand. Sometimes they go back to chapter 13,verse 1, and quote: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels,…” The context of these verses is very important in being able to understand them. In chapter 13, verse 1, as we pointed out a few weeks ago, the context is sarcasm or extreme comparison. What he is saying is,“What if I could speak in the language of the angels, and didn't do it with love? It would be wasted.”

In chapter 14, verse 2, the context is what? Remember we have been talking about the public worship service. We're not talking about the Body of Christ in general. We talked about that. When we come to chapter 14, he is talking about the public worship service; and he says, as we just read a few minutes ago in verse 5, that unless that gift of tongues is interpreted, it is not as valuable as the gift of prophecy. In fact, it has very, very little importance in the public worship service unless there is an interpretation. He'll talk more about that when we get down in the last part of the chapter.

References to Known Human Languages

It is important to remind you, even if I have pointed it out before, that in every instance in the Bible in which the word “tongues” occurs, it is in reference to known human languages. In every place that the word “tongues” is used,except in I Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 1, where it is a sarcastic kind of reference, it is a reference to known human languages. The word that is usually translated with the word “tongues”, is the Greek word glossa which means “languages”. The word “interpret” in verse 5 is a translation of the Greek word meaning “to translate,” just as you would a known human language.

On the most important occasion in which the gift of tongues is recorded in the New Testament, The Day of Pentecost, the first reference that we have to the gift of tongues and the keystone verse that the charismatics keep going back to, it is obvious without going back to the Greek that we're speaking known human languages. Everyone heard the Gospel in his own language. They did not hear a prayer language, a language of angels. There were no angels there that needed to be converted. The sinners heard the Gospel in their own human language. Yet that is the verse that is usually referred to as the backbone of the gift of tongues.

Any instance of speaking in tongues which is other than a known language is not consistent with the Scripture. If you hear someone speaking in a tongue that is just babble and admits that he doesn't understand it and there is none else there that understands it, you have a very real reason to question if that is a legitimate gift of tongues.

We're going to see when we get down to the bottom part of this chapter that if a person speaks in a tongue in a public worship service, the one who is in charge of the service is to ask if there is an interpretation, a translation and if there is not, the tongues-speaking is to stop, because the only real value for the group in the exercise of the gift of tongues is what they may learn from it. You can not learn anything from someone babbling in another language.

Dividends of the Gift of Tongues

Now notice the dividends of the gift of tongues that he points out in verse 4.

I Corinthians 14

4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

The common teaching of the charismatic movement, based on this verse, is that speaking in tongues is for self-edification and therefore it is legitimate to practice it with no interpreter, because it clearly says, “He who speaks in tongues edifies himself,” but let's think about that for just a minute. Again the context of that verse is important. You see in this passage, Paul is not talking about the purpose of the gifts. He's zeroing in on this particular gift, but really he's talked about all of the gifts in the chapter before this, and he's not talking about the purpose of any of the gifts, but he is talking about the results of the gifts. So he is not saying that the purpose of the gift of tongues is self-edification, what he is saying is the result of the gift is self-edification. Now stay with me; this is complicated reasoning. The result of the exercise of any gift is self-edification. We could take verse 4 and plug in the name of any of the spiritual gifts. He who exercises the gift of evangelism edifies himself. He who teaches the Word of God edifies himself. He who gives edifies himself. He who shows mercy edifies himself. You see, the result of any spiritual gift is self-edification.

I believe I have the gift of teaching. I hope you believe it too, but let me assure you that when I teach the Word of God, I am blessed by that. I am edified by that. I may be the only one in the room who is, but it is very edifying to exercise your spiritual gift. If you have the gift of evangelism, even if you don't have the gift of evangelism, but if you have led somebody to Christ, you know that that is a thrilling experience, an edifying experience. We're built up by doing that, but is the purpose of the teacher only to edify himself? No! Obviously the purpose of the teacher is to edify the group. Is the purpose of the evangelist to edify himself? Of course not. The purpose of the evangelist is to bring people to Jesus Christ. So the same thing is true of tongues. When a person speaks in tongues, he's edified, but that is not the purpose of the tongues.

When we get down to the end of the chapter, we are going to see that there is a purpose to the gift of tongues, but it has to do with the evangelism of the Jews. When a person speaks in tongues, he is edified just like an evangelist is edified when he pursues his gift, and like a giver is edified when he pursues his gift. When anyone exercises his gift, he is edified.

Desirability of the Gift of Tongues

In verse 5, we find a verse that is very often used to point out the desirability of the gift of tongues. Paul says:

I Corinthians 14

5I 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.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Well, Paul said, 'I wish you all spoke with tongues'.”? That phrase in verse 5 is very often used to say everybody ought to speak in tongues and that it is even a gift that the Apostle Paul wished that everyone had. It's amazing to me how people are willing to take a sentence or even a part of a sentence of the Word of God completely out of context. Notice what the next phrase says. Paul did say, “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophecy.” You see again context is very important, and what Paul is saying here is that it would have been very helpful if everybody in Corinth, everybody in the New Testament world could have spoken in tongues. That would have been even more impressive to Israel. Verses 21 and 22 tell us that that is the purpose of the gift of tongues–to convict the nation of Israel, for the salvation of Jews–and that would have been accomplished a whole lot more quickly if everybody spoke with tongues. By the same token, wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody had the gift of evangelism? If Paul had been writing a chapter focusing on evangelism, I think he would have said the same thing. I wish you all had the gift of evangelism, because then the world would be converted to Christ that much sooner. But what he is saying is, “I wish this were so, but it is not the case.”

In chapter 7, where he is talking about marriage, he uses this very same technique. He says in chapter 7, verse 7:

I Corinthians 7

7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

Paul is saying in chapter 7, it would be much more convenient if all pastors were unmarried. In fact, it would be much more convenient if all Christians were unmarried because then they would not have to concentrate on their wives and children. They could spend their full time and energy on the ministry. It has been some months since we talked about chapter 7, but we went into that in some detail at the time. Paul knows that's not the case. He knows, in fact, that is not even the plan of God. He's just saying it would be handy if that were the plan of God, and that's the sense in which he says, in verse 5, “I would that you all spoke with tongues.” It is not a command of the Word of God. It is really not a legitimate desire of the Apostle Paul. It is simply a matter of saying that it would be nice if everybody had that gift or if everybody had some other gift.

In fact, if you look at verse 5 again, he is saying, “ I would that you all prophesied. I would that you all spoke with tongues, but even more, I would that you all prophesied.” Remember what he said in the last part of chapter 12? He had a whole list of questions there and he said, “Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?” Obviously the answer to all of those things is,“no.” You see, Paul knows that everybody isn't going to speak in tongues, and Paul knows that everybody isn't going to phrophesy. He's spent two chapters detailing the fact that we all have different gifts. God does not give everybody the same gift. That has been clearly established. Don't let someone tell you that I Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 5, says that every Christian ought to have the gift of tongues. Don't even let them tell you I Corinthians says that Paul wished every Christian had the gift of tongues. He did wish that in a very limited, literary kind of sense, but he knew it wasn't the case. It wasn't going to be the case.

Edification Rather Than Experience

Now let's put all of this together. The primary point of this section is that God's priority for the meeting of the local church, God's priority when we come together to worship Him, is on edification rather than on experience. It is thrilling, from what I'm told, to be in a service where there is a great deal of emotion, where there is singing in the Spirit, dancing in the Spirit, speaking in tongues. I'm told that that is a very thrilling thing to witness, but I want to tell you this morning on the basis of the Word of God that's not what God has designed for the meetings of the church. Some people like that more than others from a human standpoint, but that's not what God has designed. God's focus, and we have it in these first 5 verses–we will see the theme throughout the whole chapter–is on edification. God's purpose in our coming together on Sundays is that we be built up and strengthened in the knowledge of God. In fact, God's purpose for all of us as Christians is that we become more like Jesus Christ.

If you will think through the principles of the Word of God, the instructions to Christians, I think you will find that though the Scripture doesn't summarize it this way, a consenus of what the Scripture is saying is, learn to be more like Jesus Christ. Learn to love as Jesus Christ loved. Learn to serve as Christ served. Learn to reach out as Christ reached out. Any aspect of the Christian life has Jesus Christ as the subject, as it's focus. There is no objective that is prized by the charismatic movement or by the signs and wonders movement or by the Pentecostal denominations or any other experience-oriented movements that would not be fulfilled by our becoming more like Jesus Christ. What those people are seeking is the satisfaction of the presence of Jesus Christ, and that comes from the Word of God. We're not edified by hearing someone speak in tongues. We're not edified by hearing someone give a rousing message on patriotism. We are edified by that Book that was designed to give us all things that pertain to life and godliness. There is a place, in this day and time a very limited place, for the gift of tongues. There is a place, certainly, for patriotic messages, but in terms of edification, in terms of worshiping God, in terms of becoming more like Jesus Christ, that purpose is found in the Word of God. The Scripture, you see, is a biography in pictures, in narratives, in philosophy of Jesus Christ, a biography of Jesus Christ; and just as this message says, the focus of our worship services and our personal times of worship should be our edification through the study of the Word of God.


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