AUDIO RECORDING: There’s a way to practice gifts lesson 5 | THE FMU FAITH FITNESS FARM (

If Jesus has more for you, don’t you want it? Where others avoid certain topics, we press in.

Today, let’s talk-through modern-day prophecy and tongues in the church. We’ll use 1 Corinthians 14 as our guiding scripture. In this chapter we get a clear picture of priority, purpose, and what this looks like in a practical setting.

SUMMARY (must read)

Gifts are good, but there’s a way to use them. That’s my biggest takeaway today from this chapter. I have to admit, I didn’t know Paul had to steer these Christians in Corinth so heavily. I can hear him saying, “There’s a way to do this guys. Get it together. You know better.”

I don’t sense he’s saying this is black and white. I sense he’s giving general rules and direction. He’s speaking to our assembly at church (context matters), where unbelievers will be present; not a small group where only gift-practicing Christians are present. He seems to be concerned with chaos and lack of order at corporate gatherings. As we read this, I think we need to take into consideration that there are probably exceptions, depending on where we are & who we are with. I think that’s one of his main points. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. He pushes and pulls us back and forth with his desire for us to exercise gifts but operating in a level-headed manner when we do so. Ultimately, I hear him saying that attitude matters. Who are we edifying: ourselves? Or others? It’s truly not about us. After thoroughly reviewing this text, I feel more grounded. But it’s obvious that creating a gift-seeking and gift-practicing culture takes practice and deliberate treading so that His will may be done, not ours.


  • There is a priority. We must earnestly desire gifts, but especially that we may prophesy. Why? Because it builds up others.
  • There is purpose to both gifts. Paul is glad he speaks in tongues more than anyone else.
  • There is instruction on how to operate within our gifts because God is a God of peace. He’d rather make his presence known and cut people to the heart, then to confuse them.


Look what we see in the first line of 1 Corinthians 14:

Pursue love, yet earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 

The Apostle Paul tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts yet prioritize prophecy. Prior to this passage he teaches us how to set our humility.

Remember in 1 Corinthians 12 he addresses exercising spiritual gifts in the right manner and demeanor, telling us that all gifts come from the same Spirit and their diversity matters to strengthen the entire body. He then goes into the greatest and most often quoted scripture on love in chapter 13, saying that without love we are just a noisy gong or clanging cymbal, gain nothing, and need to put aside childish things.

Leading into chapter 14 he’s setting us up. What should we pursue? Love. What should we earnestly desire? Gifts. How should we do it? Maturely and reasonably. And now, what should we prioritize? Prophecy.

This does not mean tongues isn’t important. Look what he says just a few sentences later, “Now I wish that all of you spoke in tongues, but rather that you would prophecy; and greater is the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edification.” (verse 5)

He says he wishes that all of us spoke in tongues. Why prophecy above tongues? He tells us in verse 2.

For the one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for edification, exhortation, and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 

And a little later in this chapter he’ll say, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I prefer to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue”. (verse 18-19)

He’s proud that he speaks in tongues more than anyone else. But Paul is reminding us again the purpose of gifts is to edify, strengthen, build up, encourage, and comfort people. He says tongues builds up your personal faith, while prophecy builds up and instructs other people. There is priority to put others above self (Philippians 2:3).

Obviously, this early church needed reminders about exercising love & prioritizing gifts because they were forgetting their purpose.

Have you ever experienced that in a church or among a group of believers?

Don’t worry. Paul guides us with purpose and instruction.


In case you don’t know, here’s a definition of Prophecy:

Prophecy is the telling-forth of God’s message to build up, encourage, validate, or confirm, through a statement or message in praise of God, or a word of instruction, refutation, reproof, admonition, or comfort for others. Prophecy is always in accord with His word and His current work and it’s communication that has been revealed or disclosed to a person by the Holy Spirit. (see our list of gifts and their descriptions here)

Second, modern day prophecy is NOT contradicting, changing, or adding to canonized scripture.

Who does prophecy serve?

Others. “…the one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Corinthians14:4)

Tongues Definition (Greek word glossolalia, lit. language)

It’s a “Spirit-prompted ability to pray and praise God in a heavenly dialect, possibly even an angelic language,” between an individual and God. This gift is a “Spirit-empowered capacity to speak meaningful words that are only understood by our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Read more here at Crosswalk by Sam Storms) *Yes, it could also be an actual language that exists on this earth like Portuguese or Italian or Russian. But if someone were to speak tongues in this manner in a public setting, then it seems like God would provide interpretation through the gift of someone else.

Who does tongues serve?

Self. “The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” (1 Corinthians 14:4)

Are these gifts for believers or unbelievers? Or both?

In verses 22-25 Paul seems like he’s contradicting himself. “Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a signnot for unbelievers but for believers.” 

He starts off by saying that tongues are a “sign” for unbelievers and prophecy a “sign” for believers. But then look at what he says…

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? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 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.

Now he’s saying that unbelievers will think people who speak in tongues are out of their mind and prophecy will convict unbelievers. Which one is it Paul?

Some bible commentators suggest by “sign” he means a sign that we are mad.

By the looks of verses 23-25, it seems like he’s saying in general prophecy can convict a non-believer and make them fall on their faces in worship, “declaring that God is certainly among you,” (verse 25), whereas tongues can confuse them and make them think we are out of our minds (verse 23). This we should avoid as Paul will point out a few sentences later by saying, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” (verse 33)

Either way, I think practically speaking, both gifts can serve both demographics depending on the circumstances and God’s Will. I’m lost in translation or Paul is a little tipsy!

If the gifts are practiced, there must be intention. “But now brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophecy, or of teaching?” (verse 6)

Paul keeps pointing back to why we receive and practice gifts in the first place, for the benefit of others. If something is unintelligible, then the gift has no benefit. How can someone say amen if they do not know what you are saying, he emphasizes in verse 16. And if we are eager to possess spiritual gifts, he wants us to strive to excel for the edification of the church.” (verse 11)

Therefore, pray, sing, and bless God with both spirit and mind (verse 13). He doesn’t undermine praying and worshipping in the spirit. But doing so in the spirit is not understandable to others. The mind, meaning our actual language, is understandable to others. There’s a time and a place. Paul seems to keep clarifying the distinction that praying in tongues is a mystery between you and God and mainly edifies yourself. If to be edifying to another, it would be understood, intelligible, interpreted by way of revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or teaching to strengthen another.


As we read Paul’s instructions for when we assemble, I see a sense of control and order. Regarding a church setting, it seems like tongues requires interpretation (verse 27). *Not necessarily if one is praying or worshipping in the spirit between themselves and God. But if someone addresses the crowd or a minister is preaching from the pulpit, for example.

 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two or at the most three, and each one in turn, and one is to interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he is to keep silent in church; and have him speak to himself and to God.” 

This is probably why some churches forbid this gift, for fear of losing control. One Sunday morning we were standing in church for worship and after the last song everyone sat down except one man. He spoke in tongues loudly while the rest of the church was completely silent. It was awkward. The Pastor acknowledged that if that were to happen, there should be an interpreter. There wasn’t. No one had any idea what he said. It only led to confusion. I’m not saying he wasn’t speaking in tongues. But I understand what Paul means when he says it will be confusing.

Are there exceptions? I think so. If I walk into my home church and hear a group of friends worshipping and praying in tongues, would it concern me personally? No. In fact, since I know them and their hearts and also what this gift is, it would actually be encouraging in itself. In this respect, I don’t think it’s improper or requires interpretation.

Prophecy requires examination (verse 29). *You can’t just let anyone give a prophetic word without analyzing and evaluating it.

Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, then the first one is to keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 

As believers, we are all able to use the Word and Spirit to test, judge, and evaluate prophecy. We are supposed to (1 Thess 5:19). I share some ways to do this in another article, including testing with scripture, praying to God for confirmation, discerning with your spouse and other believers (if the word is for you), and determining how trustworthy they are.

Furthermore, we should be careful sharing a prophetic word without proper examination beforehand, and refrain from over-interpretation. Notice Paul’s phrase, “Spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.” Again, exercise self-control.

Are there exceptions? I think so. Practicing with a close friend is different than practicing in front of an unknown group.


Lastly, I want to point out one more thing, a call to maturity.

Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. (verse 20) 

What does this mean?

We see three different levels that are somewhat confusing: children, infants, and adults. Paul speaks to the Corinthians to not think like children regarding their gifts. Do not exalt tongues outlandishly as if you’re showing off that you have something others don’t have. He then says but be infants in evil, referring to innocence, inexperience, harmlessness. No malice, anger, or harshness to one another. Then lastly, be adult in your thinking. Full grown. There’s a way we act and carry ourselves in a reasonable, controlled, and upright manner.

I see the need for this mindset to apply to both sides of the aisle. Not just in how one exercises gifts in a controlled and orderly manner, but also for people who are opposed to them. Be reasonable and confident in your faith. What’s the worst that can happen? Trust and follow God through the process as you equip your saints. Yes, it may get messy at times. But this is why we are told in Ephesians 4 to be humble, loving, and patient with one another; to speak the truth in love and grow out of infancy into the head of Christ; to no longer walk in our old selves but in our new, regenerative selves daily; so that we foster an environment that does NOT grieve, quench, and halt God, His Holy Spirit, and our relationship with our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There’s a way to do this.


  • There is a priority. We must earnestly desire gifts, but especially that we may prophesy. Why? Because it builds up others.
  • There is purpose to both gifts. Paul is glad he speaks in tongues more than anyone else.
  • There is instruction on how to operate within our gifts because God is a God of peace. He’d rather make his presence known and cut people to the heart, then to confuse them.

If you want to watch some really good content on this subject, check out Remnant Radio. Watch video.