The Gifts of The Spirit - RR274K20b

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Gifts of the Spirit
Course: Course - Godly Social Order - 1 Corinthians
Subject: Subject:Sociology
Lesson#: 36
Length: 0:38:22
TapeCode: rr274k20b
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Godly Social Order - Corinthians.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Blessed is the man who Thou choosest and come to approach unto Thee that he may dwell in Thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple. Let us pray.

Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for the blessings of the week past. We thank Thee that day after day Thou dost surround us with a multitude of thy mercies and blessings. That we move, live and have our being in Thee, in Thy grace and mercy and in Thy providential care. We thank thee Our Father that we are not our own but Thine. Teach us in all things to give thanks knowing that this is Thy will for us. Bless us now as we give ourselves to the study of Thy word, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 14:1-19 and our subject: The Gifts of the Spirit.

“Follow 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.

 6Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

 7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

 8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

 9So 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.

 10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

 11Therefore 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.

 12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

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

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

 15What 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.

 16Else 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?

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

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

 19Yet 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.”

In these verses Paul returns to the subject of speaking in tongues. [00:06:44]

This experience is the mark of the Holy Spirit...[edit]

This experience is the mark of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God, that is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. This is what scripture tells us. Now the Holy Spirit has not grown senile since the days of Moses when he was defined as the spirit of wisdom, understanding and knowledge and to associate him with mindless aesthetic utterances is to imitate the ancient Greek view of oracles. They spoke but nobody could understand the real meaning of what they said. It should not surprise us that in Greek Corinth such a view should prevail among even the converted. The church men repeat in our time the same idea and it is a serious error. When these men were speaking in tongues they were speaking in actual languages. On the day of Pentecost to a great number of pilgrims from all over the world, to Corinth to the many merchants who came all over the world to Corinth which was a manufacturing center and buyers came from everywhere as far as China. That churchmen today are so prone to saying it was just a mindless meaningless babble is wrong. There is no irrationality or unconscious element in the triune God and therefore the Holy Spirit cannot be the voice of mindless emotionalism. Now First John 4:1 summons believers to put away everything except this simple test. Is the utterance from God? For if it is from God then it is fully consistent with God and His revelation. Our goal should not be to possess remarkable gifts, Paul says, such as speaking in tongues but rather to prophecy, that is, to speak for God. Assuming that the speaking in tongues is an actual pronouncement in a foreign language which is what Paul says it is when it is genuine it still remains true that to speak plainly for God is the greater gift. [00:10:41]

In a cosmopolitan city like Corinth with a continual...[edit]

In a cosmopolitan city like Corinth with a continual coming and going of foreign buyers speaking in tongues could be very important but to speak for God clearly is obviously always the greater gift. Tongues means languages in that to use the word for mindless utterances as some people do today is to do violence to the text. If a man speaks in an unknown language only God can understand him and God is not the one who needs to hear and to understand. Our speaking must be to men therefore it must be comprehensible so to speak in an unknown tongue, Paul says, helps no one. Whereas to speak for God in the common tongue means to edify the church. Paul’s stress therefore is very clearly, very obviously, on understanding. This is the whole point of worship. We are to speak the word of God understandably. It is the communication of knowledge. The biblical doctrine of God makes clear that he is totally self-conscious, totally self-consistent in all his being. There are no dark corners, no unconscious elements in the Triune God. This is why Paul stresses the fact that teaching, speaking for God, that is prophesying is the best expression of the Christian faith. So what Paul is saying: even if you speak let us say in Chinese, because there are a few Chinese merchants in the group, two or three, how much better it would be to speak for God in the language everyone or most people can understand? This is the whole point of the service, to understand the things of God. [00:13:45]

Of what value, Paul asks, would my apostolic ministry...[edit]

Of what value, Paul asks, would my apostolic ministry be to you if I came speaking in an unknown language, in Hittite for example? Only a comprehensible ministry can be of God. So by speaking to you by revelation, knowledge, prophesying or by instruction in doctrine is paramount. Is it teaching if nothing is taught? Is it of God if it be not understandable? If a harp or a pipe gives forth only a single sound of what use is it? Who can understand anything or get any pleasure if a musical instrument is used to play one sound only. There is neither music or communication. Similarly, Paul says; if a man speaks in an unknown tongue all the sounds sound equally meaningless and are equally worthless. Musical instruments are themselves purposeful even though they are without life when they give music. Thus a trumpet can sound a call to battle or to worship so its sound has meaning. If we require meaning of a trumpet sound how much more so do we require it of man made in the image of God? Paul is saying even instruments which are not alive convey meaning when they are properly used. It was an unforgettable thing for me when on one occasion some years ago I had the opportunity to hear a very prominent bagpiper. And what he explained about bagpipes was that they were used for communication. The sound carries a long way and especially in hill and mountainous countries it can echo through the glens, the valleys. So how was it used in the old days? Well, he demonstrated to us how a single tune could be made for example, a hymn tune, a part of worship and yet by changing that tune slightly it could be a call to battle. [00:17:22]

Or it could be tell people...[edit]

Or it could be tell people: be on the alert, there may be troops moving in. So he went on to demonstrate how a single tune could be a means of communication of several kinds of things. And this is how communication was made possible as one piper after another sounded it and it went great distances. Well it follows accordingly that speaking in tongues must have a purpose, Paul says, to edify the church. On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem the many foreign pilgrims heard the gospel, each in their own tongue we are told. In Corinth with its many foreign merchants speaking in tongues had its place if rightly used. For a man to speak in Parthenon when no Parthian was present would have been an exercise in pride and arrogance, not praise. The Corinthians who were zealous of such spiritual gifts should seek rather to be zealous for the edifying of the church, the teaching of the church. Otherwise they were abusing the gifts of God. This means that one who spoke in an unknown tongue should pray that he should interpret what he has said that all present might be blessed. Then in verses fourteen through sixteen Paul drives home this point: the gifts should be a blessing to ourselves and to others because the true gifts are of the Spirit, they are always intelligible whether they be speaking or singing, whatever. The Holy Spirit is not mindless nor can we be so in him. Singing, praying or speaking in the Spirit means that it will be with the understanding, Paul says. The radical intelligibility of man when filled with the spirit is stressed most emphatically so what Paul is saying is: when the Holy Spirit uses us then we are the most understandable, the most profound. If there be no understanding how can anyone in the room say Amen to your utterances? [00:21:12]

However well ye may give thanks or praise God the listener...[edit]

However well ye may give thanks or praise God the listener is an outsider to your expression. This is important to remember. Paul is not stressing a service where everybody is ecstatic and mindless but a service where everyone in the spirit comes more intelligible, more profound because they are in the Spirit of God. In verses eighteen and nineteen Paul gives thanks because he can speak in tongues and languages in the spirit more than you all. He however would rather speak five words with understanding than ten thousand in an unknown tongue that no one in the congregation can understand. Now it is amazing that in spite of this very plain speaking Paul is so widely misunderstood. Both Charismatics and non-Charismatics fail to understand Paul at this point all too often. This failure begins with the doctrine of God. If the Triune God for us is indeed the absolute creator and redeemer, the all wise and almighty God of all creation there can be no vague and meaningless manifestations of his revelation and his mercies. When the gifts manifested themselves through oracles in the Greco-Roman world the speaking was riddled with double messages and confusion. The oracles were better at misleading men then informing them. Now this is because the Greco-Roman gods were not supreme, they were not infinite, they were not all wise, and so when they predicted the future they gave a riddle. That was the best they could do. As against this, the biblical revelation stresses clarity, the most urgent messages are the plainest. Thus God does not give Noah or anyone else in the Old Testament a riddle but He says rather as to Noah, you have seven days and then I will cause it to rain forty days and forty nights and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. That’s understandable. [00:25:26]

God gives Noah no riddle but God himself gives the...[edit]

God gives Noah no riddle but God himself gives the plain and total meaning of His purpose. He is the totally absolute and self-conscious God. It is this same God who gives to man the gift of the Spirit of the gifts of the Spirit. Not surprisingly to prophecy means to speak clearly and plainly for God. This is his greatest gift. Let us pray.

Almighty God we give thanks unto Thee that Thy word is truth and Thy word speaks plainly, clearly and simply to us. Give us hearing ears that we understand and obey. We thank Thee that Thou hast given us Thy salvation and with it whatever Thou hast chosen that we might be blessed in Thee and in our daily walk. Our God we thank Thee, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Are there any questions or comments about our lesson?

This chapter is especially important in our day, not only because of the charismatic movement but also because of the scholars in the church who have so badly misinterpreted the chapter and given us the doctrine of God which is confusion rather than clarity. Yes? [00:28:25]

[Man speaking] Can you give a concise overview of the...[edit]

[Man speaking] Can you give a concise overview of the history, the idea of speaking in tongues and how the church has approached that over the centuries? And where the modern view of that has come from?

[Rushdoony] An overview of speaking in tongues?]

[Same man] An overview of speaking in tongues.

[Rushdoony] Well, speaking in tongues was something that god used to witness to the early church and the world of the early church that Christ was still alive, that He who they crucified and regarded as dead was very much alive. So that this is one of a number of gifts that included healing. We read that when they healed they healed in the name of Jesus Christ, I say unto you arise and walk. This created a sensation because they could remember throughout Judea and they had heard elsewhere that Jesus of Nazareth had by His fiat word has healed men of all kinds of things. Even raised the dead! So by this it was clear that as was declared on the day of Pentecost, this same Jesus whom ye crucified was dead and was buried is now alive. So the purposes of the gifts of the spirit was to witness to the reality of the continuing fact that Christ was alive and was going to work in His church. And as Paul says in thirteen, whether there be these gifts they shall pass away, but now by the faith, hope and love. So the gifts in time would have done their work but the abiding quality is the changed character and life. Does that help answer the question?

[Man speaking] Where there people, for instance, in the early medieval period or before the reformation that believed in the speaking in tongues as some modern groups do?

[Rushdoony] There were groups who after the early church wanted to revive the gifts of the Spirit rather than being content with the gift of the Spirit. There were quite a number in the second and third centuries that drew great followings but in time they died out in spite of the fact that they were immensely popular and successful briefly. They were also some at the time of the Reformation. The failure of these groups after a tremendous initial success is that they seem to be very important because of the phenomena but they prove to be less important because the other and more important things in time became less apparent. They became from their early days when they seemed to be a remarkable, a very loving and warm hearted fellowship, they became very quarrelsome. Problems became routine and commonplace so they committed suicide in effect. Well of course we’ve had a revival of this in the last century, the urbanites in England that’s subsided and then we have had a movement early in this century and we’ve had one since World War Two. They’ve come and gone. They often attribute a great deal in that they are important for the church, it reminds them that maybe they are becoming dull and stogy as they often do become, bureaucratic and so on. And the most important thing about the charismatic movement in recent years that unlike the Pentecostal movement of earlier years it has not become church centered. [00:34:19]

But faith centered...[edit]

But faith centered. And as a result it has manifested an ability to grow, to change, and so there are some remarkably hopeful aspects, exciting aspects by refusing to say churchmanship is primary and stressing the faith, they are in that respect in line with the early church in a remarkable way. Any more questions or comments? Yes?

[Man speaking] there have been many false prophets and we’re warned to be aware of false prophets. Does scripture teach us to tell the difference?

[Rushdoony] A prophet is one who speaks for God. Now, that is paramount for a prophet. Not himself, not his organization or what he is building up. This is a very critical point. There has been many a false movement within the church that started out by seeming to be exceptionally good, as recalling people to the faith, as being a source or reviving of the Christian church. But they become man centered, they stress the organization or the leadership, or their authority, their forms which can be Presbyterian or Baptist or catholic or what have you. So the faith recedes in its centrality and that makes them false prophets, false movements. Does that help? You can be speaking the truth in part but destroying it in its essence if you have shifted the center, given a different focus and this has become too commonplace. Well, let us conclude now with prayer. [00:37:30]

Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word...[edit]

Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that Thou hast called us to believe, obey and to proclaim Thy saving truth. Make us ever zealous and joyful in Thy service. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.