I believe it’s important to view scripture in context.
I think most honest folks do.
If I Corinthians 14 instructs Christians for all time not to forbid speaking in tongues; to allow two or three prophets to speak; that someone must interpret; that all are permitted to prophesy (in order to convict visitors of their sin); that all things must be done decently and in order; and that women should keep silent … how is it that some folks can isolate only the last two instructions to enforce at the neglect of the others?
If it’s because people today are not gifted to speak in tongues, then is that because we have forbidden them? Quenched the Spirit?
If it’s because tongues have “passed away” (13:8), have prophecy and knowledge also passed away? If that’s true, how can we hope to convict visitors of their sin? Especially if only half of the church is allowed to speak?
Do we still earnestly desire the spiritual gift of prophecy?
Has it ceased to be true that “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort”?
Is it possible that by neglecting the tradition of letting two or three speak, we are undermining the credibility of God’s holy Word in the ears and eyes and minds and hearts of those who visit our assemblies?
Do we even have or care about those who visit our assemblies anymore?
Okay, don’t worry about me; I’m not going all holy-roller on you. I just want to know some things.
So I am full of questions. Like these:
What good does it do if someone listening to the one-and-only-minister actually does have a revelation while listening there in the assembly and can’t raise his or her hand to share it with the rest? Even if the minister is obviously troubled, perplexed or even misdirected in what he says on the subject? Will it simply do to mention it to him in the lobby later so that he can say, “Well, that’s interesting; I’ll have to study and consider that”?
Do we dare send our visitors away with the impression that we don’t have a clue what we’re talking about – especially if God has chosen to reveal His truth then and there (as He certainly, undeniably, scripturally has before)?
Has He changed His mind about revealing things to women and children? And men?
Didn’t His son choose to stay some extra time in Samaria because of the testimony of the woman at the well?
Did He not reveal the fact of His resurrection first to the women who came to pay homage at His temporary tomb?
Did His Spirit not pour His prophetic gifts into the four daughters of Phillip?
Does it no longer please Him to reveal things to little children?
If we are so dedicated to restoring the New Testament church of century one in the context of century twenty-one, shouldn’t we be praying to be able to do so to the fullest … rather than just by picking the easy “rules” to “enforce”?
Or is it just possible that the entire set of instructions in I Corinthians 14 was directed toward a set of circumstances unique to the church in that time and place and context?
A church where chaos prevailed and women spoke out because what went on was unintelligible and would not submit to their husbands who shushed them because in their church, God was not perceived as a God of order and peace – as in all the other churches?
Have we applied the specific instructions of a church in trouble during century one to a church relatively untroubled by such chaos for the next twenty centuries?
Why have we not been praying earnestly, unceasingly, forcefully and together for the discernment to know what eternal principles are revealed by this and other scriptures, and what instructions were intended as remedies for specific infractions of good manners and others’ rights to hear, understand and, yes, speak the truth of His Story?