Pentecost: The Tongues of the Nations & the Unity and Diversity of the Spirit

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-five verse of the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 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. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except shall I 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 hapr, 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. 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, forsasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Corinthians 14:1-12).

 

            “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unkown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unkown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edieifed. 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 14:13-19).

 

            “Brethren, be not chlldren in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 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 ssign, 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. 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? 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” (1 Corinthians 14:20-25).

 

            When you come to the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints you will encounter the continuation of what is written in both the twelfth and thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book. If you turn and direct your attention back to the twelfth chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing unto the Corinthian saints along the lines of spiritual gifts. Through the words and language that is found in the twelfth chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul seeking to provide for them a context and framework regarding spiritual gifts. What’s more is that when you read the twelfth chapter in its entirety you will find the concept of spiritual gifts being spoken in direct relation to the body of Christ. Not only this but when you read the twelfth chapter of the New Testament book of First Corinthians you will find the apostle Paul speaking of the spiritual gifts in direct relation to and in direct connection with the body of Christ as the spiritual gifts were indeed given by the Spirit unto members of the body. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that in the twelfth chapter we see both unity and diversity in the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. I have previously written concerning the Holy Spirit and although the Holy Spirit is united with the eternal Father and the Son and although the Spirit is united within Himself He is also diverse in His operation, role and function. You cannot read the words written and recorded in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the diversity that is found in the person of the Holy Spirit.

 

            As I read the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth that the Holy Spirit is indeed incredibly diverse in His role and function in the earth. The words presented in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts aptly demonstrates and describes this diversity that is found in the person and presence of the Holy Spirit as it was the Spirit who gave utterance unto the one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room. Luke describes how the sound as of a mighty rushing wind filled the whole room where they were gathered together and how cloven tongues like as of fire rested upon each and every one of them. In addition to these each of those who were present in the upper room began speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It’s important for us to recognize the events which took place on the day of Pentecost for when the Spirit was manifested for the first time in the absence of the Lord Jesus He did so through a tremendous display of diversity. On the day of Pentecost each of the one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room began speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance and the tongues which they spoke in would be the tongues of every nation under heaven. Luke describes how at the time of the Jewish feast and the day of Pentecost there were in the city of Jerusalem devout Jews from every nation under heaven. This is incredibly important to recognize and pay attention to for as you continue reading in the second chapter you will find those in Jerusalem marvelling and being amazed at what was unfolding before their very eyes for these Galileans were speaking in their own native tongues which they were born speaking and understanding.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and consider the tremendous reality surrounding the day of Pentecost and the events which took place thereon and I am brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding that day. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit demonstrated that He wasn’t merely the Spirit of the Jews nor the spirit of Judaea, Jerusalem and Galilee. If there is one thing I so absolutely love and appreciate concerning the arrival of the Holy Spirit is that He didn’t come and He didn’t arrive speaking Hebrew and manifesting Himself as the Spirit of the Jews alone. Pause for a moment and think about the fact the Holy Spirit could have arrived on the day of Pentecost and could have chosen to do something entirely and altogether different that demonstrated He was the Spirit unto the Jews. We know that when the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh He took on the seed of Abraham and came unto the Jewish people in Galilee, Judaea and Jerusalem. When, however, we come to the demonstration, manifestation and arrival of the Holy Spirit we encounter the tremendous truth that when He arrived He demonstrated Himself as the Spirit of and unto the nations. The fact that the Holy Spirit gave utterance unto those in the upper room to speak with the tongues of the nations under heaven not only demonstrates a reversal of what the living God had wrought at Babel centuries earlier in the plains of Shinar when He confused the languages of the earth but also that the Holy Spirit knew and spoke the languages of every nation under haven. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous reality surrounding the diversity that is found in the person of the Holy Spirit.

 

            What I so absolutely love and appreciate about the day of Pentecost is that when the Spirit did indeed arrive He perfectly and powerfully demonstrated the diversity that is found in Him for He was indeed “a Spirit unto the nations of the earth.” There is something truly wonderful about the events which took place on the day of Pentecost for when the Holy Spirit arrived He demonstrated and showed that He was and would be a Spirit unto every nation under heaven and upon the earth. The Holy Spirit showed up on the day of Pentecost and perfectly revealed the tremendous reality that He not only knew every language under heaven but also spoke every nation under. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for when we think about the Holy Spirit we must needs recognize and understand that although He initially and originally came unto one-hundred and twenty Jews in an upper room in the midst of the city of Jerusalem He came manifesting the tongues and speaking the languages of the nations. How absolutely incredible it is to think about this tremendous truth and how on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit showed up not speaking the language of the Jews [alone] but speaking the languages of the nations of the earth. If every nation under heaven represented in the city of Jerusalem during that time then we have to logically deduce and conclude that the speaking in the tongues of the nations of the earth was an incredibly powerful manifestation of the word and message that would be spoken unto the nations of the earth. The simple fact that these one-hundred and twenty spoke the words and languages of the nations under heaven demonstrates the awesome truth that the Holy Spirit would raise up the body of Christ as a powerful witness unto the nations of the earth.

 

            The more I read the words which are found here in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the diversity that is found in the Holy Spirit and how on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit showed and revealed Himself to be the Spirit unto the nations of the earth. The Holy Spirit demonstrated that it was the divine will of the Father that every nation under heaven would hear the wonderful works of the living God in their own language. How truly wonderful and powerful it is to read the words found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for within it we are brought face to face with the great reality of the diversity of the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit would come speaking unto every nation under heaven. The fact that every nation under heaven was represented in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost cannot be understated nor can it be overstated for we must needs recognize how when the Holy Spirit arrived He came speaking the languages of the nations of the earth and enabled ordinary and perhaps even unlearned Galileans to speak in and with the tongues of the nations of the earth. Oh I can’t help but think about what the day of Pentecost would and could have been if He did not come speaking the languages of the nations under heaven and had perhaps manifested Himself in an entirely different way. Oh pause for a moment and consider what would and could have happened on the day of Pentecost if the Spirit had not granted utterance unto those in the upper room to speak with other tongues. Think about what would and could have happened on the day of Pentecost if the Holy Spirit had not come speaking the languages of the nations of the earth declaring and speaking of the wonderful works of the living God.

 

            I have to admit there is something truly astonishing when considering the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for on the day of Pentecost we find the person of the Holy Spirit arriving giving utterance unto the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room to speak with the tongues of the nations of the earth under heaven. When in the plain of Shinar at the tower of Babel the LORD not only scattered the inhabitants of the earth but also confused their languages we find on the day of Pentecost the nations of the earth being represented as coming together in the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit enabling men and women to speak the languages of those nations. On the day of Pentecost the nations would be represented as gathering together in the city of Jerusalem as the Spirit would arrive speaking the languages of those nations and enabling one-hundred and twenty ordinary and unlearned Galileans to speak with the tongues of those nations. The events which took place on the day of Pentecost are truly remarkable when you take the time to think about them for they bring us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the manifestation and demonstration of the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit was diverse in His role and operation within and upon the earth. The Holy Spirit was indeed and was in fact a Spirit unto the nations and for the nations of the earth for imagine what those Jews who heard the wonderful works of the living God being spoken in their own tongue and language thought and did as they returned unto their own nation and people. We know that on the day of Pentecost there were three thousand souls which were added unto the number of the church but imagine how many hundreds if not thousands of Jews from other nations under heaven would think as they returned unto their own nation having heard in their own native tongue the wonderful works of the living God.

 

 

            There is something absolutely incredible about the words found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for on the day of Pentecost we encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that the Holy Spirit enabled one-hundred and twenty ordinary men and women to speak with the tongues of other nations which were under heaven. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we come face to face with how incredibly diverse the Holy Spirit truly is. Although the Holy Spirit does indeed come promoting and producing unity within the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ He does so allowing the Church to be diverse within itself. In fact this is what is so incredible about the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. It is when you come to the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints you find the apostle Paul describing the diversity of the Holy Spirit—not only in terms of the ministrations and manifestations of spiritual gifts but also in the individual members themselves. You cannot read the words found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the Holy Spirit and how He is not only diverse in terms of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ but He is also diverse within the body of Christ. What we have great need of recognizing and understanding is that the Holy Spirit not only produces diversity in spiritual gifts but the Holy Spirit also comes producing diversity within the body of Christ.

 

            I have previously written that when we speak of the unity of and the unity within the body of Christ we must needs recognize that this unity cannot exist without and apart from diversity. There is absolutely no denying the fact that the Holy Spirit does indeed and does in fact come producing unity within the body of Christ, however, we must needs acknowledge the awesome and powerful truth that this unity cannot truly operate and function without and apart from diversity. Unity truly only has its perfect work and manifestation within the body of Christ in the context of diversity among its members. We would like to think that unity means conformity and that unity means similarity and yet the truth of the matter is that true unity within the body of Christ not only allows diversity but also promotes diversity. What’s more is that this diversity extends beyond merely race and gender but into every area and facet of our beings. There would be those who think and speak of unity within the body of Christ as the members being conformed into the image and likeness of each other and yet I would dare say that nothing could be further from the truth. There would be those who think of, speak of and promote unity in the body of Christ as the members being exactly like unto each other. There would be others who would speak of unity in the body of Christ as the members of the body of Christ being conformed into the image and likeness of each other when in reality the members of the body of Christ have been called to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. True unity within the body of Christ allows for diversity within the body as men and women are transformed into the nature, the image and the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Oh I am sitting here today thinking about the tremendous truth that is found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the diversity that is not only found in unity but which is also at the very heart and foundation of unity. There is not a doubt in my mind that there can never be true unity within the body of Christ without and apart from the diversity of its members as each and every member is allowed to be uniquely themselves in the sight and presence of the living God. We have great need of recognizing and understanding this incredible truth and reality for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely awesome and powerful truth surrounding the diversity of the body of Christ and how we can be diverse and yet united as one What’s more is I would dare say that there cannot truly be unity in the body of Christ if we expect conformity and have no space or room for diversity. True unity within the body of Christ allows each and every person to be uniquely themselves and to be exactly who the living God called and created them to be. Oh how many ministers and preachers throughout the years have sorely and severely missed this point when speaking of unity. Oh how many preachers and ministers throughout the years have promoted unity with conformity at the very heart and center of it. There is not a doubt in my mind that nothing could be further from the truth and that such a line of thinking needs to be eradicated from our hearts and minds.

 

            Over the past year and a half we have watched countless calls and cries for unity within this nation as the BLM movement has taken center stage more than ever before. We have watched and witnessed as the LGTBQ community has taken center stage in the midst of this nation as an entire community calls for solidarity with them in their purposes and agenda. Over the past year and a half this nation has been bitterly divided within itself across gender, racial and political lines. As if this weren’t enough this nation has even been divided across religious lines as one religion claims and professes itself to be the only way while others claim that theirs is the only way. There has perhaps never been a time in the history of this nation—with the exception of the Civil War and the days of Rose Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others—when this nation has been as divided as it is now. There is absolutely no denying the incredible truth facing this nation—the truth that this nation is and has been bitterly divided. What’s more is this nation is and has become even more divided for over the past several months a vaccine has been introduced into the earth promising safety and health from COVID-19. Over the past several months this nation ahs become a nation of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Perhaps more than political affiliation, perhaps more than religious affiliation, and perhaps even more than racial and gender lines the vaccine and its implementation within this nation has introduced an entirely new division among the citizens of the country. Not only this but relationships have proven to rise and fall based on being vaccinated and not vaccinated. Family members have become ostracized and estranged from each other on account of the vaccine as those who are vaccinated cannot and will not see or be associated with other family members if they haven’t been vaccinated.

 

            In all reality I am absolutely and utterly amazed at how divisive the vaccine has truly become over the past several months and how something that is supposedly so life-changing and life-saving has not only become politicized but has also divided a nation even further. You cannot deny the fact that the vaccine has indeed become a means of dividing this nation even further and how those who have chosen not to get the vaccine are perceived as being selfish, inconsiderate and even harmful unto others. There is absolutely no denying or mistaking the tremendous reality surrounding the vaccine in this nation particularly and how within this nation perhaps more than any other nation it has been a source and point of division among the citizens and inhabitants of this nation. I do not know what it is like in other nations but I know the vaccine has introduced an entirely new and different level of division within this nation as men and women who are vaccinated are entirely and altogether unwilling to associate and entertain those who are not vaccinated. Even the body of Christ has witnessed this particular truth as there are those within the Church who have received the vaccine and those who have not received and will not receive it. Oh there is something truly astonishing about the nature of this vaccine and how it has promoted great division within this nation especially. It cannot be overstated that the vaccine has been promoted and promised to be so life-saving and life-changing and yet has produced an incredible division within this nation across political, religious, racial, socio-economical and gender lines.

 

            If the past year and a half has proven anything its that the underlying message being preached and presented unto this nation is that true unity requires conformity. Over the past year and a half we have witnessed the tremendous message being portrayed that unity does in fact represent conformity to an agenda altogether different than that of each individual. You cannot live in this nation and have been living here for the past year and a half and not consider and see how the underlying message has been unity with conformity to a specific line of thinking and to a specific agenda. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when considering that which has been presented over the past year and a half it’s that there has been a false unity that has been presented to this nation. From COVID-19 to BLM to the “Me Too” movement to the LGTBQ community to political and religious affiliations we have witnessed and encounter a tremendous unity that is entirely and altogether false. Not only this but this unity has proven to be deadly and dangerous for it is unity with conformity unto a specific agenda and pattern of thinking. Oh I would dare say that the unity that is and has been presented within this nation is not the type of unity which is produced by the person of the Holy Spirit—unity which has at the very heart and center of it diversity. We must needs recognize and understand how absolutely incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the incredibly powerful truth surrounding the unity of the Holy Spirit and how the unity of the Holy Spirit speaks of diversity of the members of the body of Christ as well as of spiritual gifts.

 

            The words and language found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints are absolutely and utterly incredible when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw our attention to the truly astonishing truth surrounding the unity and diversity of the Holy Spirit. That which we find and read in the twelfth chapter of this epistle brings us face to face with the diversity of the Spirit as it pertains to spiritual gifts—and not only diversity in relation to spiritual gifts but also diversity among the individual members of the body of Christ. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture without and apart from the tremendous truth that the unity of the Spirit—a unity that was first introduced on the day of Pentecost as three thousand souls were added unto the original one-hundred and twenty was first manifested and witnessed. It is in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the members of the body of Christ gathering together in one place, having all things common and being of one mind and one heart. In fact this is precisely what the apostle Paul sought to convey unto the Philippian church when writing the epistle sent unto them. You cannot read the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints and not come face to face with the tremendous and passionate plea and call for unity within the body of Christ. Moreover you must consider the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints for within this chapter we find the same underlying message being spoken by the apostle Paul unto these dear saints.

 

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings. That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:1-18).

 

            “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended dis the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we draw and call our attention to the words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture for within them we encounter the tremendous call to the unity of the body of Christ. While it is absolutely necessary we recognize and consider the unity of the body of Christ as it is united under its head we must needs recognize and consider the tremendous truth that this unity of the body cannot and will not truly be what the living and eternal God intended it to be without and apart from the diversity of its members. There is a great and present need within our hearts and minds to truly recognize that while the unity of the body is indeed necessary there is a great need within our members to be diverse and yet united and vice versa. It cannot be stated enough that unity in the body has at the very heart and center of it diversity and individuality as each member is granted permission to be unequivocally themselves without shame or remorse. With this being said we must needs recognize that this diversity has intrinsically linked and connected to it a powerful and clarion call to be conformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth for it brings us face to face with the truly wonderful truth surrounding the unity and diversity of the body and how both are intrinsically linked to the head of the Church which is Christ and being conformed into His image and likeness. We cannot afford to miss on this particular point for it calls and draws us into the place where we recognize that we have indeed been called to unity in the body of Christ, however, with that unity comes the invitation to diversity while the true measure of our conformity is to the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            There is something worth noting and pointing out when considering the words which are written in the first epistle unto the Corinthian saints for in an epistle where the apostle Paul spoke of division and schisms among its members we find a clarion call to unity of the body. What’s more is that within the twelfth chapter we find that it is possible to be united together with the individual members of the body while at the same time retaining our own unique individuality and being diverse from the other members of the body. We must recognize and understand how truly necessary this is for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding the unity and diversity of the body of Christ and how the Spirit is the author of both among us in our members. What a truly wonderful and powerful thing it is to think about and consider the fact that we can indeed be diverse from each other and yet be united together in the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. That which the apostle Paul presents in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Ephesian saints is incredibly powerful when you take the time to consider it for the apostle calls the Ephesians to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Moreover the apostle Paul would also go on to write and speak of the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God which are unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Please pay close and careful attention to the words which are presented before us here for with them we are brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the unity of the body as being a unity produced and wrought by the Holy Spirit among our members. There is absolutely no denying this truly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the unity of the body of Christ and how it is indeed a work of the Holy Spirit among us in our members.

 

            When you come to the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find the diversity of the Holy Spirit in direct relation to spiritual gifts as well as to the members of the body of Christ. It is absolutely unmistakable when reading the words found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints that the apostle Paul called his audience and readers to the place where they recognized and understood that while the body of Christ is indeed united within itself among its members it is entirely and altogether diverse among its members. It’s absolutely incredible how the apostle Paul described there being one Lord, one Spirit, one baptism and even one body, and yet when speaking concerning the body of Christ the apostle Paul described how the body of Christ was made up of many members. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about the body of Christ it’s that not only is it joined together with its head which is the Lord Jesus but it is also united together within itself among its members. There is absolutely no denying the tremendous truth surrounding the body of Christ and how it is such that is entirely and altogether diverse within itself and yet in the face of that diversity is united together with itself. There must be absolutely no mistaking this truly awesome and powerful truth for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the unity and diversity of the Holy Spirit within the earth as well as within the body of Christ.

 

            I continue sitting here writing these words and I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous truth surrounding the body of Christ and how the body of Christ is indeed united together by the Spirit and yet that Spirit not only promotes but allows diversity and individuality. If there is one thing we have great need of recognizing and understanding it’s that the Holy Spirit is indeed unique and diverse within Himself and fosters and promotes that same diversity side by side together with unity. There is something truly awesome and powerful about this particular truth for when we come to this particular portion of the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we are brought face to face with the diversity of the Spirit as manifested and evidenced in terms of spiritual gifts and the members of the body. We have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to this truth for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and powerful reality of the unity of the body of Christ as being evidenced and manifested in its freedom to be diverse within itself. There is absolutely no mistaking this truly awesome and powerful truth for it calls and draws our attention to the reality that the Holy Spirit came to this earth to cause the body of Christ to be conceived in the earth and yet the members of that body are entirely and altogether diverse and different from each other. The Holy Spirit didn’t come to cause the conception of the body of Christ that the members might be conformed into the pattern and mold of another member of the body of Christ. The body of Christ can only truly  and properly function the way it was designed and created to when its members recognize that they were called to be diverse from and among each other without needing to conform themselves to each other.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this first epistle written by the apostle Paul you will encounter and come face to face with the astounding truth that the spiritual gifts of the body must needs be tempered according to love. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints that at the very heart of spiritual gifts and at the very heart of the body of Christ is love. While it must needs be said that the spiritual gifts themselves speak of the diversity of the Holy Spirit we must acknowledge and understand that the spiritual gifts were given in the context of love one for another in the body of Christ. It’s interesting to see how the apostle Paul concluded the twelfth chapter of this first epistle for he did so speaking of a more excellent way. That excellent way was love for the apostle Paul emphatically declared that at the very heart and center of everything we do must needs be love. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to declare that if we gave our body to be burned as a martyr for our faith and yet had not love it is all meaningless. The apostle Paul would speak of understanding all mysteries and how we could understand all mysteries and could speak with the tongues of angels and yet if we had not love we were nothing more than a clanging cymbal. Paul would go on to further write and declare how we could prophesy and yet if we did so without and apart from love we are entirely and altogether useless and unprofitable. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how incredibly important this truly is for it confronts the tremendous truth surrounding the spiritual gifts of the body of Christ as well as the body of Christ themselves.

 

            I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints it is necessary to consider the words and language that is found in the thirteenth chapter. The words and language found in the thirteenth chapter are widely and largely considered to be one of the most well-known and beloved passages in the entire epistle for it calls the members of the body of Christ to a more excellent way and to a pursuit that is much greater than spiritual gifts. In all reality that which the apostle Paul called the Corinthian saints to was earnestly and eagerly desiring spiritual gifts but even greater than desiring spiritual gifts was desiring and following love. For the apostle Paul the spiritual gifts were entirely and altogether worthless and meaningless if they did not have at the very heart and center of them love. When the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of the spiritual gifts he did so in terms of calling the body of Christ to exercise those spiritual gifts in the context of love one for another. It is with this in mind I would like to invite you to consider the following words which are found in the thirteenth chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

 

            “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. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeekth not  her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).

 

            Oh please pay careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words which we see here bring us face to face with perhaps the greatest pursuit in the body of Christ—even greater than that of spiritual gifts. There would be those who would chase after spiritual gifts within the body of Christ and yet the apostle Paul sought to convey and present unto the Corinthian saints that spiritual gifts are entirely and altogether nothing without and apart from love and charity. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of the body of Christ and how the body of Christ must have at the very heart and center of it love and charity. The apostle Paul made it perfectly and abundantly clear that spiritual gifts must needs be administered and exercised in the body of Christ with love as the very heart and foundation of their exercising among the members of the body. The apostle Paul believed that we could speak with the tongues of men and angels, we could have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, we could have faith to remove mountains and even bestow all our goods to feed the poor and yet if we have not love we are nothing it profits us nothing. Oh there is something to be said about the unity of the body of Christ and its members for at the very heart and center of that unity is a selfless and sacrificial love that is willing to love our neighbor as ourselves and love our brother and sister as Christ loved us. We must needs recognize and understand that we love not because we know how to love or can love in and of ourselves in our own strength but because the living and eternal God loved and loves us first.

 

            The words and language found in these chapters must be carefully understood in reference to the unity and diversity of the Spirit as evidenced within spiritual gifts and the individual members of the body. What we find in these chapters is incredibly unique and powerful for within them is a powerful and clarion call to recognize the diversity of the body of Christ and how its members are individually and uniquely placed within it for the edification of the body in love under one head. There is a great need within ourselves to recognize that when we speak of spiritual gifts we must needs speak of it in terms of love and charity. If whatever spiritual gift you profess to possess does not have at the very heart and center of it charity and love I would dare say that spiritual gift means absolutely nothing. Oh how many men and women might be gifted and might exercise spiritual gifts within the body of Christ and yet at the very heart and center of those spiritual gifts love and charity is missing? How many men and women think and feel as though they can exercise spiritual gifts within the body of Christ without and apart from love and think that such pleases the living and eternal God? If you turn and direct your attention to the first and opening verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul instructing his readers and audience to follow after charity and to desire spiritual gifts but rather prophecy. In the twelfth chapter of this first epistle the apostle Paul spoke of spiritual gifts while in the thirteenth chapter the apostle Paul spoke of charity. Now here we are in the fourteenth chapter of this epistle and we are brought face to face with the pursuit of both charity and spiritual gifts and yet desiring that we might prophecy.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter its this dichotomy and distinction that exists between speaking with other tongues and prophecy. In the second verse of this chapter the apostle Paul declared how he which speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men but unto God for no man understands him. Furthermore the apostle Paul goes on to describe how no man understands the man which speaks in tongues for in the spirit that one speaks mysteries before the Spirit of the living God. The apostle Paul goes on to write how he which prophesies speaks unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort. Those who speak in tongues edify themselves while those who prophecy edify the church. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul declaring unto the Corinthian saints how he would that they all spake with tongues but rather that they prophesied for greater was he who prophesied than he which spoke with tongues unless the one who spoke in tongues interprets that the church may receive edifying. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of the words and language which is found in this passage of Scripture for at the very heart and center of the words presented here is the edification of the church. The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful reality surrounding the edification of the body and a witness and testimony unto the unbeliever who enters in among the congregation. How truly awesome and powerful it is to think about and consider the words found in this chapter and how the members of the body of Christ have been called to edify one another in love while also being a witness and testimony unto the unbeliever who enters in among them in their midst.

 

            The words and language we find in the fourteenth chapter begin with the invitation and declaration to follow charity and yet intrinsically linked and directly connected to that is the underlying need for the edification of the body of Christ. The apostle Paul spoke of the fundamental difference between speaking in tongues and it edifying the individual who is speaking in tongues versus prophesying and how it edifies the entire congregation of believers. It is truly remarkable to consider the words and language found in this particular passage of Scripture for it seems to draw a distinction between the speaking in other tongues we saw in the second chapter of the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost and what the apostle Paul writes here. What we see on the day of Pentecost is one-hundred and twenty individuals speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance and Jews from every nation under heaven hearing these disciples speaking forth the wonderful works of God in their own tongue. There is absolutely no disputing or denying the reality of what we find on the day of Pentecost and that the other tongues which they spoke in were for a witness and testimony of all those who were present in the city of Jerusalem. The other tongues which the Spirit granted those one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room to speak in served to demonstrate the diversity of the Spirit as He would arrive declaring the wonderful works of God in the tongues of every nation under heaven. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about the events which took place on the day of Pentecost and how on that day the Spirit showed up demonstrating that He was indeed the Spirit unto and for the nations of the earth.

 

            I can’t help but think about and consider the vast and fundamental difference that exists between the other tongues which the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room spoke with on the day of Pentecost and the tongues which the apostle Paul references here in this passage. That which we find in this particular passage is the apostle Paul speaking of speaking in tongues and yet doing so speaking unto God alone from our spirit and for our own edification. The apostle Paul declared that speaking with other tongues in the body of Christ has not benefit for the body itself unless there is an interpretation. For the apostle Paul he recognized and understood that speaking with other tongues in the context of the corporate setting of the body of Christ is for the benefit of the individual speaking in those tongues rather than the benefit of the body. The apostle Paul goes on to declare that if he prays in an unknown tongue it was his spirit which prays but his understanding is unfruitful. This would be immediately followed by the apostle Paul emphatically declaring how he would pray with the spirit and would pray with the understanding and he would sing with the spirit and he would sing with understanding. The apostle Paul drew a clear and present distinction between singing and praying with the Spirit and singing and praying with understanding. To sing and pray with understanding suggests the tremendous reality of doing so with our tongue with which we speak that we might in fact understand what we are speaking and declaring in the sight and presence of the living God. What we must recognize within this passage is the clear and present distinction and difference between singing with the spirit in mysteries and in an unknown language versus singing with our understanding in the language and tongue we are familiar with. This same reality is as much true of praying with the Spirit versus praying with our understanding and must needs be understood when reading these words written by the apostle Paul.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading these words it’s the tremendous truth surrounding the difference between prophesying in the corporate setting of the body of Christ and speaking with tongues in that same setting. The apostle Paul spoke of speaking with tongues in the corporate setting of the church and how unless there is an interpretation we are indeed speaking mysteries before God which we ourselves do not understand. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand how there is indeed a place for speaking with other tongues for by doing so we are not only praying with the Spirit unto the living God but we are also edifying ourselves in the setting of the body of Christ. There is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for the words contained here bring us face to face with the distinction which exists between speaking with tongues and prophesying. Speaking with other tongues in the context of the corporate setting of the body of Christ offers no edification for the body unless there is indeed interpretation of those tongues, however, prophecy is for the direct edification and benefit of the corporate body of Christ. We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage for when we gather together as the collective and corporate body of Christ we do so that each and every member might be edified. What’s more is that not only do we seek the edification of the individual members of the body of Christ but we also seek a witness and testimony unto the unbeliever who might enter in among us in our midst.

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the incredible reality surrounding speaking with tongues and prophesying in the context and setting of the body of Christ. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth a distinction between the two and how one serves for the edification of the individual while the other serves the edification of the body as a whole. With this being said we must needs ask ourselves a very pointed and powerful question concerning our coming and gathering together with the body of Christ. There is a great need for us to ask what we seek for when we enter into the corporate setting of the body of Christ and whether or not we seek our own edification or whether we seek the edification of each member of the body of Christ. There are those who gather together with the body of Christ and seek their own edification and their own gratification while there are others who gather together that the whole body might be edified. Please note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking personal edification when entering into the house of the Lord and gathering together with other believers, however, that cannot and should not be our central and sole focus. It is possible for us to gather together as the body of Christ and to seek and pursue our own edification and through speaking in tongues we find means of edifying ourselves. With that being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that when we gather together unto the corporate and collective body of Christ we not only seek our own personal edification and benefit but also the edification and benefit of all those who gather. What’s more is that within this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul brings us face to face with the tremendous benefit of the unlearned and the unbeliever when coming unto the body of Christ for the ultimate purpose of prophesying in the corporate setting of the body of Christ is that the secrets of the heart of the unlearned and unbeliever might be made manifest and so falling down on his face will worship God and report how God was of a truth present among them.

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fifth verse of this passage of Scripture for what we find here is an incredibly awesome and powerful reality of what must needs be said and declared of us when we gather together as the body of Christ. Perhaps the single greatest question is not only whether or not both the individual and collective body of Christ is edified but also whether or not the secrets of the heart of the unbeliever are made manifest and so falling down on his face he worships God. What’s more is that we must also recognize and understand whether or not it is and can be said of our corporate body of believers that of a truth God is in and among us. Pause for a moment and ask yourself if it can be said of you personally that God is in you and whether or not it can be said of you as a corporate and collective body of believers that God is of a truth in us. There is perhaps no greater testimony and witness surrounding the corporate body of Christ than that of the living God of eternity—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—being present among us in our midst. This is precisely what the apostle Paul sought to convey in the sixth chapter of both the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the sixth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. In fact I feel compelled to leave you with the following words which are found in the sixth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints that you might not only ask yourself personally but also yourselves as a collective body of believers whether or not the living and eternal God truly is among you your midst:

 

O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).

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