Friday, June 26, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 28, 2015

Over 80,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD WILL NEVER FORGET
(GOD judges our unholy priorities, practices, and activities)
(Amos 8)

In Amos chapter 8 we find the prophet’s, now famous, “Vision of the ripe fruit”. Here GOD describes to Amos, in very grim details, of how HIS once beloved Israel was now “ripe for judgment” because of her many continued miscarriages of justice against the poor and down-trodden people in her community. Yes, Israel’s social injustices and economic disparity against the weak, had severely stretched, even the patience of GOD, to dangerous and, perhaps unchartered limits.    
In this passage GOD paints a picture of a terrible irony where worshipers are singing songs of praise in the temple (entertaining themselves by playing church) while the poor and needy of the community (the real church work) were suffering greatly just outside the church house doors. Here GOD says that such insincere worship in the temple will be turned to wailing as, in that day, we will see dead bodies scattered everywhere, even within, and outside the church house doors (Vs.1-3).
In verses 4-6 the LORD says that the church worshipers so enjoyed robbing the poor and trampling over the needy that they actually couldn’t wait until the Sabbath days, and the religious festivals were over, so that they could get back to their dishonest activities and dealings. They even went as far as to, in many instances, enslave poor people who owed them as little as a piece of silver, or a pair of sandals.
To be GOD’s elect does not give one a license to sin and mistreat others. The Israelites assumed that since they were the “descendants of Abraham” they were guaranteed GOD’s blessings no matter how deep their sin ran from generation to generation. In verse 7 GOD calls such an attitude “the pride of Israel”. Here the LORD swears an oath that HE will not forget the wicked things that they had done, and that the whole earth (even their enemies) would tremble and mourn in the wake of the punishment that HE would hang on HIS chosen people. All of their joyful celebrations would turn into mourning, and all of their joyous songs would be reduced to dirges (funeral songs), and the intensity of their grief would rival that of one who had lost their only begotten son, and all of their hope had been cut off  for the family’s future (Vs. 8-10).
In verses 11-14 GOD said that HE would bring a famine on the land, not from “a lack of bread and water”, but rather, from “the hearing of HIS Word”. Since Israel had refused to hear HIS Words any longer, GOD would fall silent for an undisclosed period of time. And in those days, while under duress from GOD’s punishment, the people would, to no avail, begin to inquire desperately for HIS help, hope, and explanation.  However, GOD will refuse them, just as they refused HIM, by rejecting the messages of HIS prophets, until after the time when the consequences of their sins have run its course.
Furthermore, GOD says that even the young and strong in those days, who, are physically able to endure and persist the longest, will grow weary in their search to hear the Word of GOD, and not find satisfaction in their search. And all those who have made idols of their possessions, and worship and swear by their wealth, will lose their lives to eternal damnation, just as they had lost their hearts to the people and things of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




      


Friday, June 19, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 21, 2015

Over 80,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

REBUKED FOR SELFISHNESS
(GOD abhors selfishness)
(Amos 6)

In Amos chapter 6 we find the prophet’s fifth and final message. It is a message that is totally dedicated as a warning to a certain number of people who wielded great power in Israel, by way of their worldly success and wealth. Amos lived in a time when Israel lavished in great material and financial prosperity. The lengthy reigns of King Jeroboam II in the north, and King Uzziah in the southern kingdom of Judah, had greatly stabilized and expanded the divided territories of Israel as a whole.
Judah, under the leadership of King Uzziah, had conquered the Philistines, who were situated to their north, the Ammonites, who dwelled to the east, and all of the Arabic states, who dwelled beyond their southern borders. In northern Israel, Jeroboam II was able to extend his borders northward into Aram and reclaim Israel’s land that had been lost earlier in Transjordan.
Through their expansions, Israel was able to gain control over the lucrative trade routes triggering a boon for many of her cities, and as a new upper class of citizenry emerged, the poor became targets of governmental and economic exploitation. Just like in today’s society, luciferic laws and ordinances were put in place for the express purpose of generating monies from an already financially oppressed segment of the population.  
This message from GOD, through the lips of the prophet Amos, tells us plainly that HE will not hold blameless, those who have become selfish, prideful and complacent in their own luxury. Here GOD sends a stern warning that such people will suffer the same fate as the powerful surrounding nations whom Israel strove to imitate, and, who had been brought down to a state of humbleness before them. Their “pride” will be crushed into “humility” by an enemy that GOD would raise up against them (Assyria in 722 B.C.), and there would be no safe place of refuge that could be obtained or bought by their power and wealth. In fact, GOD says, the rich and powerful who were self-oriented will be the first to feel the pinch and effects of HIS wrath (v.7). 
Wealth itself is not intrinsically evil, but, too often, wealth promotes self-indulgence, and makes us indifferent towards others. It is “the love of money” that is the root of all evil, not the money itself. We fall away from GOD when we fall in love with the things of this world, and so it will bode us well to remember that, the more we gain in life, the more we need GOD, and not, the opposite.
When the Israelites were poor, they were humble, unselfish, and full of worship. However, the fuller their pockets became, the emptier their worship became. To go with everything in life, we need GOD, and with wealth and prosperity we need HIM all the more.  It is very possible, however, to be wealthy, and also have a heart for GOD, but history tells us that most people refuse to pursue both, and indeed, most choose “empty worship (playing church) and prosperity”, over GOD.
Even though both Samaria and Jerusalem are mentioned in the opening line of this passage, Jerusalem, the capital city of the southern kingdom of Israel had only just began to awaken GOD’s terrible wrath. However, northern Israel (Samaria was its capital) were well along their way, as far as trying the patience of GOD. And so the remainder of this passage serves as a warning to them and their prideful, selfish, sinful lifestyles which was also leading all of the other people of Israel, both north and south, into disobedience to GOD.
In verse 2 GOD advises the rich and affluent of Israel to go and pay a visit to the former great pagan cities of Calneh and Gath and see how HE had brought them down because of their selfish pride and arrogance, and their hedonistic lifestyles. They had put away every thought of GOD’s warnings of coming disasters believing that their wealth could extricate them from any dangers or troubles. They sprawled around in their luxurious lifestyles, fancying themselves to be great musicians as King David was, drinking wine by the bowl-full, wearing sweet perfumes, and caring nothing about the nation they were sucking dry, both spiritually and physically. GOD had also warned them too, that they would be the first to go into captivity, and, they were (Vs.3-4).
No one ever understood the dangers of prosperity and materials things as clearly as JESUS did. Because of HIS unprecedented closer walk with GOD the FATHER, HE learned very early in HIS “human life” that, money and material things could fix a person’s heart very firmly to this world. In fact, a person can gain such a large stake in it, or have such a huge interest in it, that they will find it very difficult to even contemplate leaving it. In truth, if it were not for our “love of the things we have”, most of us wouldn’t find it that difficult to die.
Even for professed Christians, who should understand clearly that this life is immediately followed by “eternal life” in Heaven, still struggle with the idea of having to leave the wealth we’ve acquired in this world behind. It is said that, out of every one hundred people that can withstand adversity, only one of that hundred is able to handle prosperity humbly. A person is usually judged by two standards when it comes to prosperity; one is “how we came about it”, and two is “how we use it”. Will we use it as if we have undisputed possession of it? Or, will we remember that we hold it only in stewardship to GOD?
And so, in the final analysis, it all boils down to this question, “How bad do we want salvation? Do we want it bad enough to relinquish the people and things of this world? To many of us, just like the rich young ruler in Mark chapter 10, the answer to that question is, “I want it, but I don’t think I want it as much as all that (as we point to our things)”.
It’s really, in the end, all about “salvation”, and JESUS sums up the whole doctrine of salvation in a nutshell when HE states, in effect, if a person is to depend upon his or her own efforts to achieve salvation, then, it is impossible for anyone. Salvation is a gift from GOD, and with GOD, all things are possible. If a person relies totally upon his or her possessions, they can never be “saved”. However, if they can bring themselves to rely upon the “saving power” and “redeeming love” of GOD, they can enter “for free” into the Kingdom of Heaven.
That’s the thought that JESUS stated then, and that’s the thought that the Apostle Paul and all the New Testament writers wrote about in all of their doctrinal letters, and that’s the thought that, still, for us today, is the very foundation of the Christian Faith.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Friday, June 12, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 14, 2015

Over 79,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD IS NOT FOOLED
(A mind made up for GOD seeks only what is good, and lives)
(Amos 5)

In Amos chapter 5 we find the third and fourth messages of the prophet Amos, who prophesied in the eighth century along with Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. In the opening lines of chapter 5, verses 1-2, we see a “dirge” or “funeral song” that was probably designed by GOD to provoke a great lament from the wayward children of Israel because of their sins. Here the stench of death seems to cast a pall over Israel as it moves ever closer to destruction at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.
In verse 3, one can sense that the blessings of GOD to “increase the offspring”, that had been promised to Abraham, blessings that could only be experienced by “an obedient generation”, has now been temporarily interrupted by the sins of “a disobedient generation”. And now, instead of having “a tenfold increase” in population growth, they will experience “a tenfold decrease” in their current population.
Israel is told “not to seek GOD within their defiled houses of worship”, but rather they should look to find HIM among the poor and oppressed. Here the Hebrew word used for “seek” is “daras” and it means “to turn to GOD in trust and confidence”. If we are to continue to “mix the holy with the profane in our places of worship”, i.e. in our music and other un-GODly church activities, we can expect to do it without the presence of GOD. For GOD will withdraw HIMSELF from such unholy activities. Here in verses 4-5, GOD says, when we are really ready to respond to HIM in the right way, we can find HIM among the poor, and the oppressed, and that,  the way to express our faith in HIM, is by standing against oppression, or, by being “just” in all of our ways, at all times.   
In verses 10-13, we see a continued denunciation by GOD, through HIS prophet Amos, concerning the legal injustice that was being perpetrated by the “Dayyaneh Gezeloths” (Robber Judges) who sold their court decisions to the highest bidder. Here GOD also rebukes the Government workers, who overtaxed the poor, and the landlords (slumlords), who overcharged the poor for rent in sub-par housing, while all the time claiming to be “children”, or “followers” of GOD.
Luciferic laws, ordinances, judges, lawyers, and crooked government officials are not a new problem to the poor who dwell on the lower end of society in this world. These problems have been a stench in the nostrils of GOD throughout all the ages of mankind, and HE has always given it to HIS prophets, as a priority, to deliver the message of HIS dissatisfaction toward those who love to trample unjustly over the economically challenged.
In verses 14-15, we see that the possibility still exists for the people of Israel to separate themselves from these evil practices, as GOD urges them to repent, and begin to do that which is good and just, and to flee from evil. And GOD extends that same opportunity to the “powers that be” in this day and age. In verses 16-17, Amos concludes his third message of this prophesy, by returning to his opening plea, and reminding Israel of the severe “death penalty” involved, if they failed to heed GOD’s warnings.
In the biblical Greek, the word used to describe those who are involved in “religious pretense” and “public show” is “hupokrites” (hoop-ok-ree-tace). It is from that word that we derive our English word “hypocrite”. In verses 21-24, Amos reminds the Israelites of yet another of their fatal flaws. It was their tendency to live in “religious hypocrisy”, involving themselves in “playing church”, and “double lifestyles”, instead of dedicating themselves to “true praise and worship” on a daily basis. We, as a Church also struggle with the same hypocrisy today as many come to worship services seeking only to be entertained with good music from “worldly entertainers” and “well-dressed hooping preachers” that don’t even know or understand scriptures well enough to try and teach others.
GOD’s anger is always directed largely at those involved in “religious hypocrisy” and the mixing of the “holy” with the “profane”. It was then, and it still is today. It is a kind of “empty worship” that GOD simply will not tolerate, especially from the Church leaders and those who call themselves by HIS name (professed Christians) in this world.
Here GOD gives a stern warning to those involved in religious hypocrisy. HE makes it quite clear that HE detests their showing off in public, and then, living an unGODly lifestyle, in private. HE will not accept their tithes or offerings, and their hymns of praise are only noise to HIS ears, and so, HE will not listen to them. GOD tells us, that, instead, what HE really wants to see is a “a mighty stream of justice”, flowing from among us, and “a river of righteous living” that will never run dry in any of our lifetimes, here on earth (v.23-24).


A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, June 5, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 7, 2015

Over 79,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

JUDGMENT ON ISRAEL AND JUDAH
(Keep GOD’s Law or you will go astray)
(Amos 2:4-16)

The prophet Amos was a contemporary of the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. His message was directed at the northern Kingdom of Israel, even though he physically resided in the southern Kingdom of Judah. He begins his prophesy by announcing judgment on the surrounding nations such as Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon (Amos 1:3-2:3), before later changing his focus to Judah and northern Israel itself (Amos 2:4-9:10).
In his scathing condemnation of GOD’s chosen people however, Amos severely denounces, in particular, the social sins and injustices of the nation, government and judicial corruption, greed, and the worship of false gods. Here in this book, a series of “five stern messages” unfold, and yet, when all is said and done, it ends with little hope that Israel was interested in changing her unjust behavior towards the indigent, the weakest sector of their society, and nor were they willing to improve their intolerable disrespect towards the GOD WHO, quite literally, sees all that they do.      
The events in the Book of Amos take place during one the most prosperous times in northern Israel’s history. Their dynamic king, Jeroboam II, had led them in war to successful victories over their hostile neighbors, and, as a result, had won control of the lucrative trade routes that now poured wealth into Samaria, Israel’s northern capital.
It was a golden age for the wealthy that built grand homes and proud public facilities, near the popular worship centers of Bethel and Dan, and in those days, the fertile land of northern Israel presented bumper crops year after year. Unfortunately, beneath the glitter, glamour, and prosperity of this golden society, lay the dark tragedy of social injustice and economic disparity.
In those days, as is the case now, the rich had little regard for their, less fortunate, Jewish brothers, or, for that matter, had little regard even for GOD HIMSELF, or, HIS sacred Laws. The poor were mercilessly oppressed by merchants who used “unjust weights of measure in the marketplace”, and, by “robber judges” (“Deyanneh Gezeloth” in the Hebrew) whose justice was for sell to the highest bidder.
And so, it is against this backdrop of “prosperity” and “wickedness” that we find the prophet Amos, a farmer and shepherd from the town of Tekoa in nearby Judah, being called by GOD to deliver a resounding message to his wayward kinsman in northern Israel. In this deeply penetrating prophesy, Amos exposes the very underbelly of this seemingly upright society.
In Amos 1:1-2, he writes of the receiving of his prophesy from GOD, just two years before the earthquake that occurred during the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah. Here he describes what he had seen and heard, as the LORD’s roar of judgment vividly places an “imaginary noose” around the necks of Judah and northern Israel. He first, reveals how GOD would serve justice on Israel’s surrounding neighbors (Vs. 3-2:3), and then later, he reveals just how GOD would tighten that noose to choke off the sins of Israel itself.
In chapter 2, verses 6-8, Amos’ message focuses on northern Israel (namely Ephraim), who would be the first of GOD’s chosen nation to fall (in 722 B.C.). Ephraim, the most influential of Israel’s twelve tribes, during that period, had used that influence to lead the whole nation into sin. They had perverted justice by oppressing the poor, and in many cases, by selling poor and honest people into slavery in exchange for silver, gold, and, sometimes, for as little as a pair of sandals. They also famously committed the sexual sin of “incest” (father and son sleeping with the same woman), and held festivals to their idol gods, sacrificing to them, money, and things that they had stolen from others.
The oracles of the Old Testament prophets such as Amos, in a very real sense, are aimed at the hearts of generations of people who are fortunate enough, or blessed enough, to read and hear them. They are attempts by GOD to soften the hard-heartedness that has been brought on by pride, selfishness, and greed. Hopefully, the prophetic messages of HIS faithful servants will touch and soften those hearts to the needs of the poor and oppressed, those who have been brought down by circumstances that are not self-imposed, and cause them to seek to remedy those injustices that contributed to their condition, and condemned them to poverty and hopelessness.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, May 29, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 31, 2015

Over 79,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE GREATEST GIFT IS LOVE
(Exercise your gifts with love)
(1 Corinthians 13)

Faith, hope and love are the three great enduring things. They are also the defining spiritual qualities that must be embodied by any person who desires to be a “true follower” of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR, and anyone who wishes to worship GOD the FATHER in spirit, and in truth. Of those three qualities, “love” is the greatest.
In the Apostle Paul’s, now famous, first letter to the Corinthians, the segment we now know as chapter 13, is perhaps the best known passage. It has come to be known, the world over, as “The Love Chapter”. Here in this segment, Paul shifts his focus from that of “spiritual gifts”, to how one can measure and express his or her “spirituality” in the “most excellent way”. Paul insists that we can only reach spiritual maturity by applying “love” in the application of those spiritual gifts toward others, during our lifetime.
Love is an element of quality that is so vital, that, without it, not even the greatest of spiritual gifts, can enrich, or enhance the lives of anyone who possesses them, nor can they ever be of benefit to those who we wish to serve, help, or aid (Vs.1-3). Paul understood, quite clearly, that love is not just an abstract or philosophical idea, but rather, it is practical, and must be expressed in the everyday actions and attitudes of the believer (Vs.4-7).
Even the greatest of spiritual gifts are naturally “limited and distorted” by their own mortalities and human imperfections. No spiritual gift is designed by GOD to last forever, they will, over time, fade and deteriorate with age (Vs.8-12). However, through it all, we can rely on our “faith”, “hope”, and “love” (GOD personified) to sustain us, and love, which is the greatest of the three, is also the very foundation of the Christian Faith, and, of life itself. Understanding that, we can see quite vividly why love is the true measure of a person’s spirituality, and, why it exemplifies the closeness of one’s relationship with GOD.
Paul sought to make sure that we realize, quite readily, who among us is truly spiritual, and who it is among us that desire to dupe us. He helps us to make that distinction by first, making sure that we understand the true nature of love, and then, by presenting to us, the criteria by which we can evaluate the spirituality of others (diakrino judgment) so that we won’t be tricked into following the leadership and advice of false teachers.
Here Paul shows us, in his own brilliant sort of way, the true behavioral definition of “love”. In this passage the Apostle is saying in effect that, any person who claims to be a “spiritual representative of GOD”, quite simply, must act like it, and not just talk like it. GOD is love, and when JESUS came to earth, HE came to demonstrate that love to us in the most excellent sacrificial, unselfish way possible, over and over again. As a result, HE HIMSELF became what love should be like in human form. HE became “love personified” in the eyes of mankind for all time. HE showed us exactly what love should look like as an integral part of the human, earthly experience, and, how we need to incorporate that love into our everyday actions and attitudes.
And while it is true that perfection won’t come to the Christian Church until GOD’s program for it is consummated with the “second coming” of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and, until then, a church is only perfect when no human being is in it (at the very moment human beings enter into a church building, perfection leaves out the door). However, we, as Christians can still all reach a high level of maturity by correctly learning and practicing the immortal acts of love already exhibited to us by CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF, while HE lived perfectly under GOD, in human form, here on earth.
All that we know now is partial and incomplete, because many of us are still mere children in CHRIST. And I guest, when we are children, we should be expected to act like children, just as when we become adults, we are expected to put away childish things and behavior. Before we come to know CHRIST, we’ve already long become accustomed to looking at ourselves through an unclean mirror, and we have never really seen ourselves as we really are.
Coming to know CHRIST gives us an opportunity to walk into the store of GOD and pick us up a free bottle of “Faith”, which contains within it, the blood of CHRIST. We then can take that bottle home and use it to spray some “Hope” on that unclean mirror. And with “Love” we can wipe the stain away, and begin seeing ourselves clearly for the very first time. From there, we will able to turn our lives around and start to head in the right direction, and through the mercy of GOD that is contained in “Salvation”, and the leadership of the HOLY SPIRIT that is embodied in us, we can begin to walk in “the newness of life”, that can only be found, in CHRIST JESUS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Friday, May 22, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 24, 2015

Over 78,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES
(Speaking in other languages)
(Acts 2:1-12 & 1 Corinthians 14:13-19)

Strangely, it has always been a matter of considerable debate, just what the Apostle Paul means by “speaking in tongues”. In chapters 12-14 of his first letter to the Corinthians, he uses the Greek expression “glossa” (gloce-sah) 21 times for “Tongues” and it is by definition “the organ in one’s mouth that is used primarily for taste and speech”, and, it is “a learned spoken language or dialect, not naturally acquired”.
“Ecstatic (emotional) utterances (statements)”, otherwise known as “speaking in tongues” is non-sense utterances that have no possible interpretation, not even by the person who speaks them, and, is of no spiritual value, or no apparent spiritual benefit, to anyone who hears it. It finds its origins in the ancient pagan prophetesses known as “sibyls”, or “sibylla”. One sibyl in particular, the “Cumaean Sibyl”, was the most famous of the ten pagan sibyls in and around the Roman Empire in the first century. She was the priestess who presided over the Apollonian Oracle at Cumae, an important Greek colony located near Naples, Italy.
The word “sibyl” comes from the ancient Greek word “sibylla”, which means “prophetess”. Because of the importance of the Cumaean Sibyl’s position in the legends of early Rome (it is even codified in “Virgil's Aeneid VI”), she became the most famous of all the ten pagan sibyls in the Roman Empire prior to the first century and beyond.
These sibyls were believed, even by medieval Christians, to prophesy through the use of “ecstatic utterances” and thereby, they even began to gain spiritual weight and respect in the Christian Church of the first century. Their “Sibylline Oracles” sometimes called the "pseudo-Sibylline Oracles" are a collection of “oracular utterances” written in Greek hexameters, ascribed to the Sibyls, who uttered so-called divine revelations “while in a frenzied emotional state”. Fourteen books and eight fragments of Sibylline Oracles survive today. These collections of utterances have been composed or edited under various circumstances, probably between the 2nd and 6th centuries AD.
The Sibylline Oracles are a valuable source for information about “Classical mythology” and early first century Gnostic, Jewish, and Christian beliefs. Some apocalyptic passages scattered throughout these oracles seem to give “sketchy outlines” of the Apostle John's Book of Revelation, and other Apocalyptic literature. These oracles have undergone extensive editing, re-writing, and redaction as they came to be exploited in wider and wider circles as the years went by.
The satanic demon spirit behind ecstatic utterances is called “Cybele” (sounds the same as “sibyl”) known as “Magna Mater”, or, “The Great Mother” in Roman religion. The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle of Cumae recommended her conscription as a key religious component in Rome's second war against Carthage.
Later Roman mythographers channeled this demon up as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome's eventual military and political dominance over the Mediterranean world, Romanized forms of “Cybele's cults” spread throughout the Roman Empire. The meaning and morality of her “transgender” cults and priesthoods were topics of debate and dispute throughout ancient Greek and Roman literature, and remains so, even in modern scholarship.
The Apostle Paul was very much aware of the pagan sibyl’s influence in the Christian Church in its infancy, mostly through the work of “Gnostics” and antichrist Jews, and he knew that the Corinthians may have thought of ecstatic utterances as a spiritual gift from GOD. That is why in this first letter to the Corinthians, we find Paul using the word “glossa” 21 times between chapters 12-14 to demonstrate, and accentuate, the difference between “a learned language or dialect” (those gifts or abilities that come from GOD), and the “mumble jumble” emotional utterances of the pagan sibyls.   
Nowhere in its biblical use, or its Greek or English definition does the word “glossa” or “tongue” refer to “ecstatic speech”, not in any of Paul’s letters (used only three other times outside of 1 Corinthians), and, not when used anywhere else in the New Testament. Whether it is used “literally” of the physical organ (Mark 7:33, James 3:5, Revelations 16:10), or “figuratively” of human languages (Acts 2:11, Revelations 5:9, 7:9, 10:11, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6, & 17:15) the word is always the same.
What Paul is saying in verse two of this chapter of 1 Corinthians 14, is that, if a person were sitting in a Church assembly in France, for instance, and everyone in the assembly spoke in the French language except that person, then, if that one person was to stand up and start speaking in, say, the German tongue, no one would be able to understand them but GOD.
And while that person, who may be gifted to teach in more than one language, or, “tongue”, and, could be uttering something that may be totally GODly and spiritual, it wouldn’t be of benefit to anyone in the assembly because none of them are gifted in the German dialect. They simply would not be able to comprehend what the, more gifted, person were saying, as it would sound to them like “utter non-sense” or “mumble jumble” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
However, one who has the gift of prophecy, which is a “Spiritual gift”, is helping people grow in the LORD, encouraging them, and comforting them (v.3). The person who speaks in various tongues, a “learned gift”, through GOD-given intellectual capabilities”, is only strengthened “personally” in the LORD, while one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire Church (v.4).
In verse 5 Paul says, “I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues, but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy. For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so the whole church can get some good out of it”. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in tongues, how would that help you? But if I bring you some revelation or some special knowledge or some prophecy or some teaching, that is what will help you (NLT).
Paul himself spoke in various tongues, in fact, the bible tells us that he was able to speak and write in at least three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. However, he tells us in verses 9-12 that “If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room. There are many different languages in the world, and all are excellent for those who understand them, but to me they mean nothing. I will not understand people who speak those languages, and they will not understand me. Since you are all so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask GOD for those that will be of real help to the whole church (NLT).
Languages that are interpreted can benefit the assembly (Acts 19:6) as well as prophesy, therefore, the gift of interpretation should be requested from GOD also. This means that someone independent of the person, who is speaking a different language, must be present and able to interpret what that person is saying to the assembly, not just the person themselves (v.13).
Gifts are not given by GOD, so much for personal use, as they are for use in helping others, and building them up. “Personal edification” is something that should be a by-product, or a result, that is reserved for someone who has shared their gift to help better the Christian community as a whole. Personal edification should not be a result of one helping himself, or taking advantage of others.
Some people try to make a distinction between the word “tongues” in this epistle, and the use of the word “tongues” in the book of Acts on Pentecost Day. However, there is no difference as the same Greek term “glossa” is used in both instances. The only difference is that the HOLY SPIRIT acted on several people on that Pentecost day, giving them special supernatural abilities to instantly communicate in other languages that was not their own, for the benefit of the many foreigners who were in Jerusalem at that time, and, who spoke in many different languages.
GOD wanted everyone in attendance that day, regardless of their native tongue, to participate in, and to understand the significance of this “distinctive act”, where HE first allowed HIS HOLY SPIRIT to embody all those who choose to believe in CHRIST JESUS.
Paul says in this particular passage of the book of Acts, that unbelievers view “strange tongues” as being some sort of a sign, while believers are not of that opinion (v.22). In order for unbelievers to become convicted of their sins, they must hear the Gospel in their own native languages before they can begin to comprehend the things of GOD.
The Word of GOD should convict and condemn by what it says to us personally, and it can’t do that unless it is first understood by those who hear and see it. However, among those who see, hear, and understand the Word, their secret thoughts are laid bare, and they can then, fall to their knees and worship GOD with their whole heart, as they should.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website