1 Corinthians 14:24, 25
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:…
In estimating the gifts of intelligent prophecy on the one hand, and the gifts of tongues on the other, the apostle tests their respective value by their practical utility. It could not be denied that one great end of the existence of the Christian Church was, as it still is, the instruction of the ignorant and the reformation of the sinful. It is clear that at Corinth, and at other places where Christian communities existed in the first age, there was already a constant intercourse between the Church and the world. Attracted by curiosity, or driven by spiritual wants and hopes, the unbelieving heathen and Jews would sometimes attend the Christian assemblies. This being so, Paul asks, What must be the effect upon such persons, first of such an exhibition of supernatural powers such as the Corinthians delighted in, and secondly of the proclamation of the truths and promises of the gospel? His own answer is that, whilst the speaking with tongues may amaze, it will probably be set down as ranting; whilst the utterance of God's Word will sometimes issue in the enlightenment, conviction, and salvation of the sinner. Surely a sufficient and decisive test!
I. THE MEANS OF THE UNBELIEVER'S CONVERSION. This is represented as prophecy, i.e. the uttering forth by man, as God's messenger, of God's mind and will. And in the case supposed by the apostle, evidently the declaration concerns the sinful state and the spiritual needs of man, the merciful purposes of God, the provision of pardon, renewal, and eternal life, through the Saviour Jesus Christ. Prophecy, so understood, has never ceased in the Church of the Lord Jesus. His ministers prophesy when they give witness to him, when they publish the gospel and its gracious invitations.
II. THE PROCESS OF THE UNBELIEVER'S CONVERSION. The question arises - How does the Christian prophecy affect the mind and heart of the ignorant and unbelieving hearer? According to the representation of the apostle, the word evinces its own divinity by making the sinner known to himself. And there can be no more generally convincing and conclusive evidence of the authority of religion than is afforded by the fact. that the preaching of the gospel reveals man to himself in his true state and position. The truths of the gospel are the utterances of him who formed the human heart. The candle of the Lord searches even the dark places of man's nature, and that which is hidden is brought forth to light. The conscience stricken sinner realizes his guilt and danger, and his need of a Divine Deliverer. He is convinced, examined, judged, by the several messages which penetrate his nature. The secrets of his heart, his iniquities, his sorrow and penitence, his aspirations for a better life, are all made manifest.
III. THE RESULTS AND SIGNS OF THE UNBELIEVER'S CONVERSION.
1. His enmity to God and to God's truth is utterly vanquished. He falls down, contrite and submissive, like him Who cried, "God, be merciful to me a sinner."
2. His enmity is exchanged for reverence and worship. Before, he may have adored the false gods whom he has been trained to revere; now and henceforth there is for him but one God, the Saviour of all men.
3. He acknowledges the Divine presence in the Church. Had he listened only to "tongues," he would have deemed the speakers to have raved. But listening to words of grace and truth, the convert acknowledges that in meeting e he has met with God, and their assembly has become to him, as it has God's people he has met with God, and their assembly has become to him, as it has become to multitudes, "the house of God, and the gate of heaven. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: