BIBLE DIGEST - Number 28                                                                                     March 1993

by Allon Maxwell

In the "Pentecostal" church at Corinth, a situation had arisen in which some "uninformed" members of the church, (1 Cor 12,1), had introduced disorder and confusion into their meetings. There was immaturity and a lack of understanding about gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Some of them had allowed themselves to be deceived by outward appearance, and had received another Jesus, a different gospel and a DIFFERENT SPIRIT. (2 Cor 11:3-4) They had been deceived by false apostles, DISGUISED as servants of righteousness. (2 Cor 11:15)

Paul seems to suggest that some former heathens needed to learn the important differences between real gifts of the Holy Spirit and their former "spiritual" experiences resulting from the worship of idols. Some of them were so ignorant of reality that they were actually giving themselves over to spirits (possibly of demonic origin?) which inspired them to curse Jesus! (1 Cor 12:2-3)

Speaking in tongues had been elevated out of all proportion to its usefulness and worse still, was being practised in a most unintelligent unhelpful way. 

Some were speaking in tongues without interpretation, communicating nothing at all to those who heard them. (1 Cor 14:6-11) 

Others were speaking in tongues, all at once, creating an unholy confusion which left them open to well deserved accusations of madness! (1 Cor 14:23)

Paul's point is that all of this confusion could not possibly be from the God of peace. God IS NOT the author of such confusion. (1 Cor 14:33) It follows, by inference, that if God is not the author of it, then neither are these disorderly "gifts" inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This same Corinthian disorder and confusion is found amongst Pentecostals today. It is common to encounter "times of worship" where all are encouraged to "worship in the Spirit", all speaking aloud in tongues at the same time.

THIS IS NOT WORSHIP! It is not the Holy Spirit. It is not from God. 

Rather, this is the very thing which Paul was trying to eliminate from the Corinthian church. It is to be rejected as confusion. Two, or at the most three, each in turn, and then only if interpreted, is the Biblical limit for order and peace.

It is also common to hear what they call "Singing in the Spirit", where the whole assembly sings in tongues together. It should be obvious to honest hearts that the addition of a little music to a practice condemned by Paul, does not make it any more from God than the same thing without music. God is not the author of "musical confusion" any more than of any other confusion!

Sometimes this "singing in the Spirit" is justified by the claim that it sounds so beautiful, that it must be from God. However, Paul also told the Corinthians that "beauty" could be deceptive. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light! (2 Cor 11:14) 

We must be careful not to make the mistake of judging "gifts" merely on outward appearance.

I am led to the inescapable conclusion that those who justify these disorderly practises, are at best "uninformed", and at worst, possibly deceived by the same false spirit which led to the disorder and confusion at Corinth.