1 Corinthians 14:39-40 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
I almost stopped the reading at verse 33 when I was preparing the reading list because of the highly controversial remarks from verse 34 about women speaking in church. My grandfather W. O. Carver, who was a huge proponent of women serving in ministry (and who is therefore studiously ignored by the denomination he served with such distinction) said that in the early Church women would sit on one side of the room and men on the other, and the church in Corinth had a problem with women speaking out their questions to the disruption of the service, and that this was the only reason for verses 34 and 35. Paul certainly approved of various women in ministry, mentioned by name in several of his letters. All of that said, these verses that conclude the chapter are of great importance. Every believer should desire to be someone whom God can speak through freely. We get so hung up on predictive prophecy that we lose sight of the character of the vast majority of New Testament prophecy, which is simply speaking out what God is saying. Actually, predictive prophecy falls under that as well, but it is just a small fraction of the total. God uses different people in different ways, but we should all desire to be available as God’s instruments at all times, however He wants to use us. And the point about not forbidding speaking in tongues is important. More than one denomination had precisely such a prohibition for a while there. It wasn’t an issue until the resurrection of spiritual gifts in the 20th Century, but jealousy and pride always do a lot of damage when they are indulged, and Cessationists certainly ignored these two verses, largely because they weren’t manifesting spiritual gifts themselves.
My own career has been greatly shaped by this issue, because the Southern Baptists refused to appoint me as a missionary precisely because I was a “known Charismatic.” Sadly, we went through a lot of unnecessary turmoil and stress because they weren’t honest enough to be up front about it, and the policy wasn’t written down formally that I know of. With my family background, it might have made a big stink if it had come out! In any case, God turned all of that around and brought us here independently of any organization, giving me a freedom I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Right now, as I have written recently, I don’t do “Thus sayeth the Lord” prophesying in this church, but my desire and prayer is that every time I open my mouth to speak, God’s words would come out. Like Paul, I desire that everyone in the church speak in tongues for their edification, but at this point that isn’t much happening. I certainly won’t forbid it! I especially desire that each believer be available as God’s spokesperson to the people in their lives, so that the lies of the devil may be overcome by the truth and many set free.
Father, there is so much that I still don’t know. Help me do what You desire even when I don’t know what I’m doing! May we be a church that is fully hospitable to Your Spirit, rightly related to You on every level, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your rule and reign be established right here, as Your will is done in and through us for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!