HOUSMAIL HM#029 - THE "MAD" CHURCH AT CORINTH 21 June 1999 __________________________________________________________________________
THE PROBLEM CHURCH
Amongst Charismatic Churches, the Corinthian Church is often held up as a role model, especially with regard to "manifesting" gifts of the spirit.
Alas ..... NOTHING could be further from the truth!
A careful study of Paul's two epistles to this Church, will discover a long catalogue of MORAL and DOCTRINAL problems which needed to be corrected, in order for the Church to function as it should. These epistles were written because the Church was ANYTHING BUT a "role model"!
A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
Not the least of their problems was the presence of false apostles, a false gospel, and a "different spirit". (2 Cor 11:3-5, & 13-15) And from 1 Cor 12:1-3, we learn that there was also a very serious lack of understanding about REAL gifts of the Spirit!
From verse 2 we learn that some members of the Church were former IDOLATERS, who in the practice of their heathen religion, had been engaged in "spiritual practices" of another kind. And from verses 2-3, it becomes clear that some of these converts had imported their heathen "spiritual gifts" to the Corinthian Church! Indeed there were people, who under the influence of something other than the Spirit of God, were actually cursing Jesus! Paul had no difficulty in identifying THAT as FALSE!
However, there were other problems far more subtle than that. One of these which attracted particular attention from Paul, was the need to deal with a counterfeit "gift of tongues" which was causing confusion in their meetings. The "spirit" causing this confusion, Paul says, COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE FROM GOD, (v 33) any more than that other "spirit" which was cursing Jesus.
DO ALL SPEAK IN TONGUES?
Reading carefully between the lines, it seems that there must have been some who were insisting that "the gift of tongues" was of primary importance, and that everyoneshould have "it". Paul puts THAT FALSE DOCTRINE to rest in 1 Cor 12:29-30, when he asks the rhetoric question, "Do all speak in tongues?". The expected answer is clearly "NO"!
AN ALIEN TONGUE
There is another often missed element from the Old Testament, which Paul uses in his attempt to eliminate FALSE spiritual experience from Corinth. In 1 Cor 14:21-22, Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12: "Nay, but by men of strange lips and with an alien tongue the LORD will speak to this people, to whom he has said, "This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose"; yet they would not hear."
In Isaiah, the context is clearly a prophecy of God's coming JUDGEMENT AGAINST A SINFUL NATION!
They had refused to listen to God's precepts "line upon line, here little, there a little", so now he was about to speak to them in judgement, through an invading army, who would come speaking a foreign language which they could not understand. THAT foreign language spoken to the captives, would be God expressing his displeasure to UNBELIEVERS!
Paul's conclusion from that is in 1 Cor 14:22:
"Thus, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers."
Tongues of the "Corinthian kind" are NOT the same as those which were heard on the day of Pentecost! The languages spoken on that occasion in Jerusalem were UNDERSTOOD without interpretation, by men who became believers! But whatever it was at Corinth, it could NOT be understood by the hearers. That is the point of Paul's quotation from Isaiah. What was happening at Corinth was the same thing that Isaiah had prophesied would happen when God was displeased with people who REFUSED to hear and believe. And therefore it was NOT God speaking to a believing Church! No one can become a believer, and no believer can be "edified", unless they understand what is said. That is why, if God wants to speak to BELIEVERS, he does so through prophecy, spoken in a language easily understood without interpretation! "Prophecy is for believers!"
AN INVADING ARMY
The confusion of the Corinthian tongues was NOT a sign of God's blessing, but of impending judgement! God abandons wilfully disobedient and unbelieving people to an "invading army"!
If we read 1 Cor 12:1-3 carefully, the plain inference is that the "invasion" had already occurred in the Corinthian Church! They were being taken over by demonic forces, and counterfeit "gifts", imported into the Church by former IDOL WORSHIPPERS!
And no wonder! ..... When we read Paul's "catalogue" of the problems in the Corinthian Church, we marvel that God had been so patient with them.
Paul's bottom line is in 1 Cor 14:20,23:
"Brethren, DO NOT BE CHILDREN IN YOUR THINKING ..... if, therefore, the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are MAD?"
It seems that, in our time, we have quite a few of these "MAD CHURCHES", who are exposed to the CORINTHIAN DELUSION, because they have refused to believe the truth, "precept upon precept, line upon line"! (2 Thess 2:9-12)