The AMI QT Devotionals for March 28-April 2 are provided by Doug Tritton. Doug, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently serving as a staff at Symphony Church (Boston) while pursuing a M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary. He is married to Cindy and they are proud parents of Audrey.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY
God is Really Among You
1 Corinthians 14:20-25
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
The past two days we’ve been looking at the gifts of prophecy and tongues. We talked about how both are to be desired, but prophecy even more so. Today, we will explore in a little more depth why prophecy is to be desired above tongues. At first glance, it seems fairly obvious why prophecy is to be desired over tongues – prophecy is understood by all who are around, while tongues are understood only by God.
But there is a theological reason as well, which is mentioned in this passage. In v.21 Paul quotes a passage of Isaiah, and looking directly at this passage, this is what Isaiah 28:11 says, “For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people.” This passage is from a judgment God proclaimed against His people Israel, that because they did not listen to Him, He would speak through a different people, with a different language (think Pentecost, when the church spoke in many languages which outsiders could understand yet the Jews in Jerusalem could not understand).
When Paul is saying in v.22 that tongues are a sign for unbelievers, he is saying that tongues are a sign that unbelievers are outside of God’s covenant. Basically, tongues demonstrate to outsiders that they do not belong to God. Imagine a non-Christian coming to service and people are speaking in tongues for all to hear but there is no interpretation; this will not draw that person to God. In fact, Paul even says that person will think this church is out of their minds! (v. 23)
However, when prophecy is spoken, all can understand, even non-Christians. Thus, prophecy is a sign for believers – it demonstrates the availability of God’s voice to His people and His faithfulness to His people, that they are His covenantal people. So, if a non-believer comes to service and hears prophecy, that person will know that God is there and they will be convicted (v.24-25). This is why prophecy is to be desired above tongues – prophecy demonstrates the reality of the church being His people and opens up the heavens to even those who do not yet believe.
In summary, tongues in a sense closes the door of the Kingdom on unbelievers while prophecy opens up the Kingdom to all. Though this passage is specific to tongues and prophecy, there are many ways that we either close or open the door of the kingdom to outsiders. Let’s reflect on our lives, on our interactions with unbelievers. Are we living in a way that invites others in, or are we living in a way that pushes people out? This is a great question to always keep in mind in all areas of our lives – in church, at home, at work, in school, at the coffee shop…anywhere.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have remained faithful to us, Your people. Though we do not deserve to be Your people, still You have called us Yours. Help us to live in a way that makes the reality of Your Kingdom open to all people, for we know that You desire all to be saved. Help us to demonstrate that truth in the way we interact with others.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 22