This guide to the Holy Spirit is extremely long. (over 21,000 words). It is available on Kindle and Nook if you would like the convenience of reading it on your e-reader or bookmark this page so you can read it all at your pleasure rather than trying to read it in one setting.

Dedication

Dedication

Dedicated to the one woman who supernaturally stood by me all of my life, Juneetta Marie Surber, My mother.

Introduction

I absolutely hate hype. I don’t care if it is Madison Avenue hype, TV preacher hype, or political hype. I hate the feeling of being manipulated.

Many people don’t realize it but when hype is used to promote something or to make something happen; it is actually a form of manipulation. It is selling something.

That is acceptable with some things in life, but it is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to the things of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit empowered life.

When starting out to write a book on the Holy Spirit, my prayer was that God would enable me to write something that is fresh and unique. I am not a theologian but neither am I a novice.

I have spent 33 years of my life on a journey with Jesus trying to live in such a way that I first and foremost bring glory to Him and secondly am being used by Him to touch others with His grace and mercy.

There have been a huge number of books written by people on the Holy Spirit. I have found that most of them come from either one of two standpoints.

Either they are written from a purely experiential point of view where they share their experiences of the Holy Spirit’s work throughout their lives, or they come from an intellectual point of view where they try to understand and teach about the Holy Spirit using human reasoning.

While both approaches have their merit, I have discovered that the fruit each of them produces is not what I would call balanced.

Either you have people coming to an understanding that a Spirit filled life is dry and uneventful, or you have people heading off into chasing experiences and emotion that cause them to do some pretty nutty things.

I believe in balance. I have said many times that I am on a quest for the radical middle. I do not think that God gave us our brain for nothing and that when we live our Christian faith in the real world that we should put our brain in neutral.

God also created emotions and the Christian life is one that should be experienced. Unusual and out of the ordinary experiences should be part of the Christian life.

I do not think that these two aspects of being human have to be mutually exclusive. We can have a reasoned and balanced approach to experiential Christianity.

It is because of this belief that I am writing this book. I am going to share with you my journey both experientially and theologically that has brought me to the point where I have found, at least for me, the balancing point where a believer in Jesus can truly walk in supernatural power but at the same time not become a religious fanatic or holy rolling nutcase.

My Pentecostal and Charismatic brothers and sisters will probably hate me for some of what I am going to say, and I am sure that my brothers and sisters in the Cessation-ist camps that do not believe in the modern-day gifts of the Spirit are not going to like what I have to say.

That is Okay!

In all honesty, if that is their reaction, then I have probably struck the balance that I am trying to strike.

It is my prayer that God will speak to your heart and through all of this, enable you to walk in a natural but supernatural way as you go about your daily life and see real fruit coming from it in ways you never dreamed possible.

Remember it was just ordinary fishermen, IRS agents, political zealots and a doctor who changed their world. They had some crazy things happen, but they never tried to be crazy for the craziness sake.

Blessings,

Pastor Duke

Come Holy Spirit

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” Acts 1: 8

I just got done making a radio commercial for my church. In that commercial I used the phrase “Come Holy Spirit”. Today as I was listening to the finished commercial, I thought to myself, “are we ready for the Holy Spirit to come?”

On the day of Pentecost when the promise of the Holy Spirit happened and the Holy Spirit came, there was quite a commotion. There was a mighty rushing wind. People saw apparitions of tongues of fire descending upon the building where the disciples were gathered. They all started speaking in languages they never learned. And at least 3000 people gathered to see what was going on.

Are we ready for that? Are we ready to see God do the unusual in order to draw crowds that need Jesus? Are we ready to let God be His own PR man?

It is one thing to talk about these things that happened in the past but are we ready or even willing to let them happen in the present?

What will my little church do if all of a sudden 50 strangers show up because of a mighty rushing wind or a vision of flames over the building? What would they do if they all started speaking in tongues?

Or even less dramatic. What would they do if they all were compelled to just stay in the church and pray until they knew they were empowered to change their world by God?

Are we ready for it?

I am not sure I am ready. How can you be ready for something that you don’t really know what it will be like?

However I am hungry for it. I am fed up, sick and tired, dissatisfied, and plain ole bored with church as usual. I don’t need to hear or preach another sermon. I don’t need to sing another song. I don’t need to attend another service.

What I need and what I want is an authentic and powerful encounter with the God of the universe.

How about you? Are your ready to say “Come Holy Spirit” and be willing to have the unusual happen in your life?

Living Naturally Supernatural

Recently I had a discussion with someone from a church that has made it a doctrine that certain practices and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are meant to be kept in special believers meetings.

I understand why they came up with this doctrine but for the life of me cannot understand how they biblically justify it.

It takes a major twisting of 1 Corinthians 14 to even come to a shred of justification for this belief.

I do understand why they do it.

A couple of weeks after I gave my life to Jesus, I had an experience with the Holy Spirit, that set me down a path of being open to supernatural things happening.

I had read the book by Hal Lindsey entitled “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. In which he devoted a chapter to what he called “the tongues movement”.

Well I was so ignorant and naive, that I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. So I asked a friend.

What I didn’t know was my friend’s dad was the pastor in the Foursquare denomination. (a traditional Pentecostal church).

He explained to me that it was a prayer language and that you ask God and He gives it to you.

So I went home that day, went to my bedroom, asked God, and got it!

No mighty rushing wind, no flames descending upon our house, and no being flattened on the ground. I just got it.

I went to my church the next Sunday, and told them what had happened and they looked at me like I had swallowed a demon. Not what I expected in the least!

Supernatural Living Without Being Super-Weird

So needless to say, I soon found myself attending the Foursquare church.

Now I know that every denomination and every family of churches have their healthy churches and their less than healthy ones. This one was healthy.

They were open to the moving of the Holy Spirit, but nobody acted weird. They were not trying to put on a show for God and man about how “in the Spirit” they were.

In fact the pastor, Jerry Cook, would constantly tell us that if we could not behave in Walmart the way we behaved in church, then we need to change the way we behave.

This was my first experience with people open to the Holy Spirit.

Then I moved to the Los Angeles area to go to the Foursquare Bible college.

My uncle, who was the pastor of a Pentecostal Church of God church, (a hard-line Pentecostal church with holiness roots) offered to mentor me. He was a fan of A.A. Allen, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and Oral Roberts.

Needless to say, I was introduced to a whole new breed of people who claimed to be under the Holy Spirit’s influence.

I still remember, and with somewhat fond memories now, of my uncle screaming and shouting his sermons, of Sister Kathy who would fall off the piano bench under the “Spirit’s” power and lick the leg of the piano.

Brother Ray who would run up and down the aisles, and of many who would start shaking and seemingly convulse. I remember thinking to myself “Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into.

I now realize that Jesus was still there, but that the people had been taught, that is how God moves. You didn’t have a good church service unless those type of things happened.

So I totally understand why people would be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater concerning the practices and manifestations of the Holy Spirit in a church service.

There have been a lot of abuses and a lot of plain old bad teaching by people who were sincere, but not very biblically literate.

How Can We Live Supernaturally As A Christian?

So where is the balance point? How can we have the power and operation of the Holy Spirit without getting weird? I think it lies with these points.

Understand that what is weird to you might not be weird to God

The Holy Spirit does at times do unusual things as He wills. Acts 2, Acts 3:1-10, Acts 9:1-9 and many others.

They key words there are “as He wills”

We should not try to make something happen, or repeat or replicate what happens, but just allow God to be God.

You see, we are not wise enough to know if something will look strange to someone, or if they will think “wow that has to be God.”

That does mean however, that you have to be broken enough, and humble enough to be willing to be a fool for Jesus if at some point you are asked to do something out of your comfort zone.

Walk in love and not in a need to perform

We should always be aware that no matter the manifestation or gift, that it must operate out of a heart of love and not performance or show. 1 Corinthians 13

As I read recently in another bloggers article, we need to trust that God loves and accepts us. It is that lack of trust that drives us to try to perform for Him, or put on a show about how much we should deserve His love.

I honestly think, that if we trust His love for us, that the need to try to make it happen, or do something that looks spiritual dissipates.

We can allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wants without the hype.

So if the Holy Spirit wants you to do a Pentecostal jig in church, you better make darn sure you would do it in Walmart too!

Look for ways to use your supernatural gifts in the marketplace and not just in church

Realize that most of the manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not done in believers meetings or in church services but they happened while people were out about their business in the real world.

Again I would encourage you to look at the Acts 2 and 3 passages above, also those in Acts 10,

They spoke in tongues in front of unbelievers just like in Acts 2. Acts 16:16-19

Paul cast out a devil in public.

I would encourage every one of you, to read once again the book of Acts, and take notice of all the miraculous things that were done, and ask of each one of them.

Did it happen in a church service or out in the public, mixing with people?

Model your supernatural Christian life after Jesus

Finally, take a good look at how Jesus behaved. Did he put on a show? Was there any hype? Did he do Pentecostal shout, or a Charismatic convulse?

In the end, is it not all about doing the works of Jesus through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit? If you can’t see Jesus doing it, then don’t do it yourself.

I honestly hope that this helps you.

For some of you, to get over your fear of letting God use you in supernatural ways.

For others of you, to help you use the gifts and empowerment that God has given you in ways that are both more effective in reaching people, and more authentic and real to the common man.

I know I am still learning both of these as well.

Now let’s go more in depth concerning the actual gifts of the Spirit.

What Are Spiritual Gifts? 

There are three major passages within the Bible that talks about gifts. Many theologians and Bible teachers combine these three passages to make what they call a spiritual gifts list.

However, I do not believe that this is the proper approach in understanding what spiritual gifts are.

The three biblical passages concerning gifts are found in Romans chapter 12, 1st Corinthians chapter 12, and Ephesians chapter 4. It is only in the 1st Corinthians passage that the term “spiritual gift” is used.

I believe, the reason for this is because the gifts listed in 1st Corinthians 12 are gifts given by the Holy Spirit whereas the gifts listed in Romans 12 are gifts given by God the father, and the gifts given in Ephesians chapter four specifically state that they are gifts given by Christ.

So when we talk about spiritual gifts we are going to deal specifically with the gifts listed in 1st Corinthians chapter 12.

1 Corinthians 12:4

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

The gifts of the spirit are the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, extraordinary faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues.

These nine gifts are what I believe to be, the comprehensive list of gifts that are given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Now I know that some could argue that since God is a triune God, and that the three persons of the Godhead, are, in fact, one, that there is no differentiation between the three.

I believe, however, that each member of the Godhead has different roles and functions to play within the Trinity. That is why I believe this is the comprehensive list of gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. That is why I believe that this is the correct passage to use when talking about spiritual gifts.

Now once again I want to make sure you understand me. I am not saying that this is the comprehensive list of gifts that God gives to people.

I am saying that as far as supernatural gifts, that this is the comprehensive list. There are many wonderful gifts that God gives to people in life, but they are not supernatural gifts.

So in this book, I will be sharing with you whether or not spiritual gifts are for today and what should motivate us in the use of spiritual gifts, along with explaining each of the 9 gifts of the Spirit.

Are Spiritual Gifts For Today? 

The first thing that we have to figure out in dealing with the subject of spiritual gifts is the question “Are spiritual gifts for today.”

There are two streams of thought concerning this question.

There are those that believe that spiritual gifts ended with the death of the last apostle. They believe that the spiritual gifts talked about in 1st Corinthians 12 are not for today, but that they were part of ushering in the church age.

This theological viewpoint is called cessation-ism coming from the fact that they believed the gifts ceased.

They base this viewpoint on a passage in 1st Corinthians 13:8 where it says that prophecies will fail, tongues will cease, and knowledge will be done away with.

They tie that verse with a belief that there are no recorded instances of spiritual gifts being used in history after the death of the apostles.

The other viewpoint concerning spiritual gifts is that there was no “age of apostles” but that there is only the “church age.”

This viewpoint believes that at the ascension of Christ, and the subsequent pouring out of the Holy Spirit ushered in what is called the church age. They believe that from that time, until now, we have been living in the church age.

Because of this, they believe the spiritual gifts were not limited to just the apostles but were and are available to every believer. They do not believe that the gifts of the Spirit died out with the last apostle but were used throughout history up until our modern era.

They will wholeheartedly admit that there were times in history where the use of spiritual gifts waned but credit this to the spiritual condition of the church rather than believing it was God’s will that the gifts die out.

Their answer on the question of “Are spiritual gifts for today” is a resounding yes.

So let’s take a look at the scripture used by both camps to prove their viewpoint and let’s take a look at the historical record to see whether or not spiritual gifts are for today.

The Scriptural Argument Concerning Modern Day Manifestations Of Spiritual Gifts.

Let’s take a look at the passage in 1st Corinthians that talk about the end of spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (NKJV)

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

As you can see the Bible clearly states that spiritual gifts will end. The question is not if they end but when they end.

In verse 10, it states that the gifts will end when that which is perfect has come.

The cessation-ist’s viewpoint is that this scripture is talking about the Bible. That since there are many places in the scriptures where it talks about God’s word being perfect that when the New Testament was completed that there was no need for spiritual gifts any longer.

The other viewpoint to the scripture believes that although the Bible is perfect and God’s word never fails, this particular scripture is not talking about the Bible or the completion of the New Testament but instead is talking about the return of Christ.

They believe this because of what is written in vs. 11 and 12 where it says that “now we see dimly but then face to face,” “that now we know in part that then we shall know as we are already known.”

They contend that we still only see dimly, that we still only know in part, but that when Jesus returns it will be then that we see Him in person or “face to face,” that we will see clearly, and we shall know Him the way he already knows us.

I personally find this interpretation to be more accurate considering the context.

The Historical Argument Concerning Spiritual Gifts Passing Away.

Does history support the claim that spiritual gifts stopped operating after the death of the last apostle?

This question is very important because if there is no record of spiritual gifts being operated after the death of the last apostle, then it gives much more credence to the interpretation that spiritual gifts were given by God to help the early church before the writing and formation of the New Testament.

However, if there is historical evidence regarding the operation of the gifts of the Spirit after the death of the last apostle and the writing of the New Testament, then it totally invalidates the cessation-ist point of view.

So let’s take a look at the historical record to see if we can find any evidence regarding the operation of the gifts of the Spirit.

JUSTIN MARTYR. A.D. 100 to 165.

“for many of our people, of us Christians, have healed and still continue to heal in every part of the world, and even in your city (Rome) numbers possessed by evil spirits (are healed) such as could not be healed by other exorcists, simply by adjuring them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. There are prophetic gifts among us even until now. You may see with us both women and men having gifts from the Spirit of God.”.

EUSEBIUS. The famous Church historian of Caesarea. A.D. 260 to 340.

“Of those that flourished in these times, Quadratus is said to have been distinguished for his prophetical gifts. There are many others, also, noted in these times, who held rank in the apostolic succession…. The Holy Spirit also wrought many wonders as yet through them, so that as soon as the gospel was heard, men in crowds voluntarily and eagerly embraced the true faith with their whole minds.”

IRENAEUS, The overseer of the Church at Lyons in France. A.D. 115? 125? to 202

“Wherefore, also, those who were truly His disciples, receiving grace from Him, in His name performed these things for the benefit of the rest of men, as everyone received the free gift from Him. Some, indeed, most certainly and truly cast out demons, so that frequently those persons themselves were cleansed from wicked spirits, believed and were received into the Church. Others have the knowledge of things to come, as also visions and prophetic communications; others heal the sick by the imposition of hands, and restore them to health. And, moreover, as we said above, even the dead have been raised, and continued with us for many years. And why should we say more? It is impossible to tell the number of gifts which the Church throughout the world received from God, and the deeds performed in the name of Jesus Christ that was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and this to every day for the benefit of the heathen, without deceiving any, or exacting their money. For as she has received freely from God, she also ministers. Nor does she perform anything by means of angelic invocations or by incantations, or by any other wicked, curious art; but directing her prayers to the Lord who made all things, in a pure, sincere and straightforward spirit, and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind, and not to lead them into error. —- The name of our Lord Jesus Christ EVEN NOW confers benefits, and cures thoroughly and effectually ALL who ANYWHERE believe on Him.”

SOUER. The German Historian.

Souer writes on page 406 of the 3rd volume of his “History of the Christian Church,” that Martin Luther experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

“Dr. Martin Luther was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues and interpreter, in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Charles Spurgeon in his own autobiography

“While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul though him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.’”

What Is The Honest Conclusion To The Question “Are Spiritual Gifts For Today?”

As you can see there is historical evidence of the gifts of the Spirit in operation throughout history.   These gifts did not stop with the deaths of the apostles or with the compilation of the New Testament.

Because of that, I can only come to the conclusion that the answer for the question “are spiritual gifts for today?” It has to be a resounding yes!

As much as I love my brothers and sisters who believe otherwise, their argument that the gifts of the Spirit ceased with the death of the last apostle just does not hold water.

So regardless of you denominational background, I would encourage each of you to continue along with me in this study on spiritual gifts so that you too can understand spiritual gifts and fulfill the admonition given by the Apostle Paul to not be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:1)

The Motivation To Use Spiritual Gifts

Before we go on any further in the study of spiritual gifts, we need to stop and look at what is the Biblical motivating factor for the use of spiritual gifts.

There are those in today’s world that may have a perfectly valid spiritual gift but are using it in an invalid manner.

The spiritual gifts may be real, but the motivation of the person using the gift may be carnal. T

hat is why before I go on any further in teaching you about spiritual gifts, I’m going to make sure that you understand that these gifts are meant to be used with proper motivation.

Because spiritual gifts can be such a powerful tool in the propagation of the gospel, and because any tool used improperly can cause great harm, we need to understand our own motivating factors that cause us to desire spiritual gifts.

I hope that as you read this lesson, you will allow the Spirit of God to search your heart and let him to weed out any motivations that would not be proper.

Spiritual Gifts Are Not A Badge Of Honor.

Early in my Christian life I was dating a wonderful young lady who did not come from a Charismatic background. She and her family went to a very conservative church.

I was spiritually proud of the gift of speaking in tongues that God had given me and had very little wisdom if any.

One day I “thought” I heard the Lord speak to me that I needed to break up with this gal because she didn’t speak in tongues. Oh how foolish I was in that!

My motivation was not love, but pride in how “spiritual” I was.

Not only did it hurt her deeply, but it kept her from receiving all the fullness that God had for her for years.

Obviously, I was not hearing from God nor was I operating out of a motivation of love.

Now wouldn’t you know it, 32 years later I reaped what I sowed. Instead of being dumped for speaking in tongues, I was dumped because I believed that the gift of tongues could be used properly in a congregational setting.

Spiritual pride comes in many forms so be very careful to guard your heart again spiritual pride.

Many people assume that if a person has a spiritual gift that they must somehow be more spiritual. They believe that their maturity level must be higher than the average Christian.

They believe that somehow the person of operating the spiritual gift must have obtained a higher level of spirituality in order to receive that gift.

This is not biblical nor is it a healthy belief. The word in the Greek for spiritual gift is charismata. Charis means grace. Mata means gift. Together they mean grace gifts or gifts of grace.

Grace is the undeserved favor of God. So these spiritual gifts are not something that is earned or obtained but are given to believers by the grace of God. You did not earn them nor do you deserve them.

This is important because we tend to give credence to the teachings of those that operate in spiritual gifts. We think that because they have a healing gift, or because they have a prophetic gift that they must be smarter than us and know God better than us.

When you understand that spiritual gifts are just an out working of the grace of God then you can no longer be motivated by the desire to obtain a higher level of spirituality. Grace is undeserved. Grace is unmerited.

When the church comes to understand that spiritual gifts do not make one person better than another person, or one person more spiritual than another person, then there will be no reason to feel that a spiritual gift is a badge of honor.

Until that time, we need to check our motives and make sure that we’re not seeking and desiring in spiritual gifts, just so we can look more spiritual.

The Proper Motivation For Spiritual Gifts Is Love.

The Biblical passage for spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians covers three chapters. 1st Corinthians 12 gives a list of spiritual gifts. 1st Corinthians 14 gives the proper use of spiritual gifts. And sandwiched right between those two chapters is the famous chapter on love.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 (NKJV) The Greatest Gift

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Paul in this passage does the same thing that I am doing here today. He is making sure that the Corinthian church understands that spiritual gifts are supposed to be motivated by love.

He makes it very clear that if spiritual gifts are not motivated by love than they are worthless.

This is one of the things that concerns me the most about how spiritual gifts are being used within the church today. You cannot convince me that what we’re seeing on Christian TV is motivated by love.

Let me show you what I mean. Paul goes on to give a picture of a love in 1st Corinthians 13.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now I ask you, is what you are seeing on Christian TV or even in your local church look like that?

I don’t know about you but when I watch some of the famous healing evangelists, I see people parading around. I see people seeking their own gain. I see people who were puffed up.

This is why I hate hype so much!

The same thing seems to be going on with the current prophetic movement.

I believe in prophecy but I highly question the motive behind those that feel they need to call themselves prophets and especially the recent fad of every Tom Dick and Harry running around calling themselves apostles.

It is nothing more than parading around and being puffed up.

I don’t make people call me pastor or use it as a title of reverence. It is my calling within the body of Christ, but it is not my title. The need for titles to me, shows a need for recognition.

When you are seeking spiritual gifts and operating in the gift that God has given you, your motivation must be a love for the person you are using the gift on.

When you are laying hands on the sick, you must be motivated by a love for the sick person and want to see the best for them.

When you give a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge to an individual in must be because you love that person with the love of Jesus. And when you speak in tongues in a congregational setting, it must not be because you want to attract attention to yourself, but because you truly love and want the best for that congregation.

The same applies to all nine of the spiritual gifts.

The Empowerment Of The Holy Spirit

As I sit down this morning to share with you, my thoughts on the baptism of the Holy Spirit also known as the empowerment of the Holy Sprit, I am reminded by the still small voice of Jesus to once again make sure that everyone understands that this subject is not a subject that we want to allow the enemy of our souls to cause division or get into strife about.

Although I believe that this subject is important for every believer, it is not something that is important enough to break fellowship with one another. It is not an issue pertaining to salvation thus it is not an essential. It is in nonessential.

Because it is not essential, it falls under the category of giving one another liberty.

In all honesty, I don’t care what we call this experience semantically. I care that you come to a place where you experience an event with the Holy Spirit that is so powerful that it releases His gifts to operate in your life.

So with that in mind, I will do my best to explain to you to the best of my knowledge what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is.

What Is The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit?

The baptism of the Holy Spirit has been something that has brought a lot of confusion to many people.

I believe that this confusion, at least in part, is due to the fact of mixed-up semantics. Those both in our modern vernacular and in the scriptural text, certain phrases and idioms were used interchangeably.

That just as we will use the term love to mean many different things, so too we and the Biblical writers used the term “filled with the Spirit”, and “Spirit filled” to mean different things at different times.

So allow me to try to give some definitions to the terms surrounding the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit also called receiving the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ.

This is what happens at the time when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and becomes born again. Let me make this clear.

Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received the Holy Spirit!

I do not want there to be any confusion about this. This is been of bone of contention between Charismatic/ Pentecostal believers and non-Charismatic/ Pentecostal believers.

This contention has all been caused due to semantics. No charismatic/ Pentecostal believer or theologian, who is a serious student of the word of God at all, believes that just because a person has not experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit means that they have not received the Holy Spirit.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not receiving the spirit or having the spirit indwelling you but is having the Holy Spirit come upon you and empowering you with supernatural gifts to accomplish the works of Christ in this world.

Some people have a problem with this because it would indicate that there may be more than one work of grace in a believer’s life.

In all honesty, I think that this issue is really splitting hairs. I do not believe that there is just one work of grace that happens in a believer’s life but the continual work of grace from the time that they receive Christ until they meet him personally.

So whether there is one work of grace, two works of grace, three works of grace, or a 1000 works of grace, it does not matter.

The term “Spirit Filled”

The term being filled with the Spirit or Spirit filled is the term that is most confusing of all. It is the one that is used for both the indwelling of the Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit depending on the context in which it is used.

Sometimes both modern-day believer’s and the Biblical authors use this term to describe either event.

This has caused a lot of confusion and in some cases offense because both the person using the term and the person hearing the term misunderstood the context in which it was being used.

One person is hearing “You are not saved” while the other person is saying, “You are not empowered.”

The Biblical Foundation Of The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.

The Biblical foundation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit goes back to the Prophet Joel.

Joel 2:28-29 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Spirit Poured Out
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

This is the same passage that Peter used on the day of Pentecost to explain to the people that had gathered due to the commotion that had been caused by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Now many believe that what happened on the day of Pentecost was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to those that were in the upper room. However, let me show you where the disciples already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

In the gospel of John, Jesus blew on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:19-21 (NKJV) The Apostles Commissioned

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[ a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.   21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

This happened before the ascension of Christ and before the day of Pentecost. As you can see they were already indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

The day of Pentecost was not the day that the disciples were indwelt are rather it was the day that they were empowered. This empowering was prophesied not only by Joel but also by John the Baptist. He said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

The word baptize used both in conjunction with water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit literally means to immerse and to soak something.

Just as a believer is immersed in water during water baptism, so is the believer immersed in the Holy Spirit during the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Let me explain it this way.

When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, your cup was filled with the Holy Spirit.

When you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit you, and you’re already filled cup are immersed into the vast ocean of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes upon you and engulfs you totally.

It is this immersion that empowers you with supernatural gifts. These gifts are not designed to make you something special, but rather are meant to be used in your service for the King.

Is There An Initial Evidence Or Outward Sign Of The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.

Traditional Pentecostals and some Charismatic believe that speaking in tongues is the initial sign or outward evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They get this belief from the passage in Acts chapter 2 where those that were in the upper room spoke in unknown tongues.

However, there are other passages throughout the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit came upon believer’s and were given different gifts.

In Acts 19:6 the Apostle Paul laid hands on a group of believers who had already been baptized water, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Because of this I personally do not go as far as some and say that the initial outward sign and evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues.

I do, however, believe that if a believer has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then there will be an outward sign to that event.

Whether they start to have miracles happen in response to their prayers, or whether they lay hands on the sick and see them recover, or whether they prophesy or even speak in tongues there will be an outward sign that confirms their baptism of the Holy Spirit.

How Do You Receive The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit?

I don’t know if there’s one correct way to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I received that baptism two weeks after my conversion experience.

My prayer was not very theological or advanced. I asked God to give me the ability to pray in tongues. He did just that.

Others have had times of deep consecration before they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Others have responded to an altar call and had hands laid on them, and then they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think there is one correct method. I think what it takes is a desire to be empowered for service and openness to letting God do something out of the ordinary.

No matter which spiritual gift works through you, it will be out of the ordinary and beyond human reasoning. You have to be willing to allow that to happen. God will not violate your will.

God knows that you are seeking Him and His empowerment so that you can do the things Jesus did for the same reasons that Jesus did them. The formula is not important.

So if you are interested in receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then I suggest you follow the teachings of Jesus where he talked about seeking the Holy Spirit in Luke’s gospel.

Luke 11: 9-13 (NKJV)

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking  

9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

If you desire for Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, then start asking, seeking, and knocking.   Do not fear that you will receive something that God does not desire you to have.

This gift is a good gift that is given to us by our heavenly Father.

Do not fear that you will receive something from Satan. You are not asking Satan you’re asking your heavenly Father.

Do you honestly think that God would allow Satan to answer a prayer that was meant for, and directed to your heavenly Father? I think not!

The Word Of Wisdom

As we continue on with our study of spiritual gifts, I’m going to go in the same order as the Apostle Paul. So today we are going to be looking at what is the word of wisdom?

The gifts of the Spirit can be broken down into three main categories. These categories are speaking gifts, revealing gifts, and power gifts.

The word of wisdom is a revealing gift. The word wisdom in its most simplified form means knowledge applied.

So a word of wisdom is a small snippet of the knowledge of God applied. This is not human wisdom or natural wisdom but this is wisdom that comes from no other source than God revealing it supernaturally.

Now there are some that teach that the word of wisdom reveals the future, but they are confusing the gift of prophecy with a word of wisdom.

So in this lesson I’m going to show you both where Jesus operated this gift and where the early church operated this gift.

Hopefully, when we’re done we will both have a better understanding of what is the word of wisdom and how it can operate within the church today.

What Is The Word Of Wisdom And How Does It Operate?

Jesus Use Of The Word Of Wisdom.

In Matthew’s gospel chapter 17 we find a very unusual story of Jesus being asked to pay the temple tax.

Jesus tells Peter to go down to the lake throw in a line and from the very first fish that he catches he will find a silver coin in its mouth.

This is an instance of where Jesus used the gift of the word of wisdom. The problem was that they needed to pay the temple tax. The knowledge was that there was a fish in that lake that had a silver coin in its mouth.

So the knowledge applied was to go down and throw line in the water and take out a silver coin from the fish’s mouth.

Again in Matthew’s gospel chapter 21 we see Jesus preparing for his triumphal entry.

In order to fulfill prophecy Jesus needs to enter Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus tells his disciples where they can find a donkey and he tells them what to say if anyone asks any questions.

Again here we see that there’s a problem to be solved, in this case it is that need of a donkey. The knowledge here is the location of the donkey. And the word of wisdom is telling the disciples what to do to find the donkey and what to say if anyone asks.

The Use Of The Word Of Wisdom In The Early Church.

In the book of Acts chapter nine we have the example of the word of wisdom being given to an Ananias. God tells him to go and pray for a man named Saul. Ananias can’t believe what he is hearing. The last he heard, Saul had been killing Christians.

Once again we have here the problem, the knowledge, and the knowledge applied. Saul needed someone to pray for him. God knew that Saul had converted. The knowledge applied was the instructions given to Ananias.

In Acts chapter 10 we have a man named Cornelius who receives a vision from the Lord. This vision contains a word of wisdom. He is told to send for a man named Peter lose in Joppa with a man named Simon the tanner.

This here again is knowledge applied. At the same time this is happening, Peter is being given a vision about not calling the things that God has made clean, unclean.

When the men arrive looking for Peter, Peter understands that God was talking about the gentiles.

There are many ways that this gift can be used. You can receive a word of wisdom personally that applies to your own life. You can receive a word of wisdom that is to be given to another. You can be given a word of wisdom that is meant to be shared with your local congregation.

What I encourage you to do is to relax. Don’t try to force any gift to operate. All nine of the gifts of the Spirit are given as the Holy Spirit wills, not at our back and call.

Don’t try to hyper-spiritualize the gift. God does not speak in King James English unless of course He’s talking to King James. Since God does not speak in King James English you do not need to as well.

Just be yourself and express yourself like you’d normally would. If you are sharing the word of wisdom with somebody else and it is truly God, they will recognize that it is God without you trying to spiritualize it.

I hope this lesson of the word of wisdom has given you a greater understanding of the spiritual gift.

As I said in the previous paragraph don’t try to force this gift to happen Just be open to letting God give you supernatural application of knowledge that you did not have before.

The Word Of Knowledge

This morning let’s take a look at what is the word of knowledge. This spiritual gift is probably one of the most exercised gifts in the body of Christ today.

When used properly it can be a powerful tool to demonstrate that God really is alive and well and living inside the lives of ordinary people like you and I.

When used improperly it can look like charlatanry and fortune telling.

I sometimes cringe at the notion of people running around seeking after “words from God”. Trust me! God is a big boy. If He has a word for you, He is more than capable of sending somebody to you to give you that word. You don’t have to go “seeking” after a word.

About a year and a half after I went through the pain of divorce, I had an instance where I couldn’t get away from some “words from God”.

I had been struggling with the issue if I would ever go back into ministry. I was truly wrestling with the biblical text of whether or not I was disqualified to be in ministry anymore.

Well God had an opinion on this subject and proceeded to let me know. On three different occasions in three different churches, with three different people, all who did not know me or my history, I was given a word of knowledge concerning my past and that God was not done with me and that I would be returning to pastoral ministry.

So my friends, God is more than capable of bringing a word to you if He has something to say. You do not have to go chasing words from God.

What Is The Word Of Knowledge?

In a nutshell, the world of knowledge is a gift given by God where some type of knowledge is revealed to you that you only knew by revelation and not prior knowledge.

There are many examples in the scripture of this gift in operation. Jesus used it on many occasions as well as the Apostles.

I am going to give you just a couple of examples where both Jesus and the Apostles used this gift and then give you some insight I have personally learned over the years in how you can use this gift both in evangelism and in the building up of your local church family.

Examples Of Jesus Using The Word Of Knowledge.

One of the most famous examples of Jesus using the gift of the word of knowledge is the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well in John 4.

Jesus is sitting at a well and a Samaritan woman comes up to the well. Jesus strikes up a conversation with her. They talk for a few minutes and then Jesus tells her to go get her husband. She tells him that she has no husband.

Jesus then proceeds to use the gift of the word of knowledge and reveal to her that He knows she has had 5 husbands and the man she was with now was not even her husband.

This is an awesome example of this gift in operation. Jesus had never met the woman, had no idea her background or lifestyle, yet God revealed to Him knowledge that He previously did not have.

Another famous example of Jesus using the gift of the word of knowledge is at the last supper. Jesus, when they were all sitting together at the table, informs everyone that one of them is going to betray Him.

Of course they are all shocked which shows that this was not something that they were expecting. T

hen Jesus says that the one who will betray him is the one that He will pass the bread soaked in wine to. He passes that bread to Judas.

This is another example of knowledge about a fact being revealed at a certain point.

Now I want you all to remember, that although Jesus was, and is, fully God, He chose to give up the powers of the Godhead to come in human form. He was using and demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit which descended upon Him at His baptism.

In examining these examples we do not want to fall into the trap of just thinking that this was just Jesus being God. Yes Jesus was God, but at this moment He was the son of man and operating as a man.

Examples Of The Word Of Knowledge In Operation In The Early Church.

In Acts 5 we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira. This couple had been watching people bring gifts to the apostles and receiving credit for their generosity. Ananias and Sapphira decided to sell a piece of property for a certain amount of money but tell the people that they had sold it for a lesser amount making them think that they were giving all of the proceeds from the sale to the ministry of the Apostles.

However God knew how much they had sold the property for and He told Peter. Peter then asked Ananias if He sold the property for the amount that Ananias said, and Ananias lied and said yes.

Well you know the rest of the story. Ananias fell dead, they took him out, then Sapphira came and told the same lie and she too was planted 6 feet under with her husband. Peter received from the Holy Spirit, knowledge that He didn’t have from a natural source. It was supernatural knowledge.

The other example is the one I used with the gift of the word of wisdom. Many times these two gifts go hand in hand. It is the example in Acts 10 where Cornelius was told to send for Peter. He was given the knowledge of where Peter was.

Not only that, but Peter was given a vision to prepare him to go to Cornelius’s house. Cornelius was given knowledge that He did not have previously by natural means. It was given to him supernaturally.

Using The Gift Of The Word Of Knowledge Today.

The gift of the word of knowledge can be a powerful tool in evangelism.

Just as Jesus spoke the secrets of the woman at the well’s past, so if used lovingly it can be used to open the eyes and make people today more receptive to what you have to say concerning the gospel. It has a way of breaking down the natural barriers people sometimes put up when being told the gospel message.

It can also be a powerful tool in the church today. As in my case, it helped me overcome some bad teaching concerning the qualifications of elders and the guilt and unforgiveness I was still dealing with concerning being divorced.

When using the gift of the word of knowledge, make sure you are operating in love. Many times this gift exposes people and makes them vulnerable.

As with all the gifts, I will emphasize that it is not your gift. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. He just uses you as a vessel for the moment. As such, this gift is most authentic and genuine when it is used gently and without attracting undue attention.

I hope you have enjoyed this teaching on the gift of the word of knowledge. Every time I study on this subject I personally learn something new.

The Gift Of Extraordinary Faith

Today we are going to look at the gift of extraordinary faith.

The reason I call it extraordinary faith is because every believer is given what Paul called a “measure of faith”. This was the faith to believe that Jesus would save us. It was the faith that sparked being born again.

In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul is not talking about saving faith, but about a spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit. It is mountain moving faith. It is the type of faith that produces the miraculous.

This gift is one of 3 gifts that are sometimes called power gifts because they demonstrate the power of God. The other two being the working of miracles and gifts of healings.

The best way I have learned to discern when the gift of extraordinary faith is in operation is the profound absence of fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith. It is at the polar end of the spectrum spiritually.

So when you see something miraculous happen, coupled with the absence of fear, then you know it is the gift of extraordinary faith at work.

Jesus Operating The Gift Of Extraordinary Faith

I can think of 2 examples off the top of my head where Jesus operated the gift of extraordinary faith.

The first example is a very famous story of where Jesus calms the storm. In this example, Jesus tells the disciples to take the boat and cross the sea of Galilee to the other side. They start sailing and halfway across a huge storm arises. It is so bad that the boat is getting swamped.

However what do we see Jesus doing? He is sleeping! Talk about no fear! It get’s so bad that the disciples wake Jesus and ask him if he even cares that they are perishing.

His words to them indicate a lot. He asks, “Where is your faith?” As we all know, Jesus spoke to the wind and the waves and told them to be still. That was the working of extraordinary faith.

The second example is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 4. Jesus is preaching in his home town. He tells them that the acceptable day of the Lord has arrived. He told them that He was the messiah.

He then proceeded to tell them that because of their lack of faith, no miracles would happen among them.

Well this ticked off the people and they proceeded to drag Jesus to the edge of a cliff preparing to throw him off the cliff. However Jesus again showed no fear, and just walked right through the people.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I had a group of angry church people getting ready to throw me off a cliff, I would be just a little afraid and I am not big or strong enough to plow my way through the crowd.

This was an operation of the gift of extraordinary faith.

The Gift Of Unusual Faith In The Early Church.

One of the greatest examples of this gift in the early church is the story of the stoning of Stephen in Acts chapters 6 and 7.

Stephen was a man known for being full of faith. He ended up ticking off some religious leaders by telling them that they had crucified the messiah. Stephen knew that if He said anything to these people along these lines that they would get angry and stone him. Yet he showed no fear, and all the way through this experience he showed no fear.

Although we do not see the same outcome as what happened with Jesus, we still see the miraculous happen as Stephen sees Jesus waiting for Him as he finishes his last breath.

Another example is found in Acts chapter 16 where Paul and Silas had been thrown into jail because they had cast a demon out of a girl who made money for people by fortune telling.

Once again we see no fear. In fact, what we do see is Paul and Silas singing hymns while they are in jail. We see the opposite of fear.

All of a sudden there is an earthquake and God enables a jailbreak! However, instead of making a run for it, Paul and Silas stick around, and the Philippian jailer ends up being saved, along with all of his household, and new members are added to the fledgling church at Philippi!

The Use Of The Gift Of Faith In The Church Today.

There have been many instances of the gift of extraordinary faith in the modern church.

Whether it has been those called to the mission field walking up to ticket counters with no money and at the last minute somebody giving them the exact amount they needed, or whether it has been those in countries antagonistic to the gospel, receiving the faith to face martyrdom.

Extraordinary faith is alive and well in the modern church.

There may be times where God will give you this gift. It may be something as small as standing up in front of your peers to give God glory, or it may be something else.

Just be assured that if you are given this gift, then God will be there to perform the miraculous part. You just need to be the willing vessel.

The Gift Of Healing

Today in our series on spiritual gifts we are going to look at the gift of healing.

Now the scripture actually does not say the gift of healing but says “gifts of healings”. This is important because some people are under the impression that the gift of healing is just given to a select few that can heal the sick. This is not what the scriptures meant nor does it conform to the biblical text in 1 Corinthians.

Remember that these are gifts of the Holy Spirit, not our gifts. They are given as He wills, not according to our ability or merit.

Paul said that the manifestation of spiritual gifts are given to each of us for the common good, or to meet the needs as they arise.

Thus, there is not one gift given to one person to the exclusion of all the other gifts or all the other people. It is based on the needs present and the will of God.

That is why Paul used a plural form of the word for gifts and for healings. There are many times where more than one healing is needed and more than one type of healing and so each healing is a separate gift, and done by more than one person.

It is because of this misunderstanding about the gift of healing that has caused the glamorization of this gift and the abuse by certain unscrupulous men who have used the gift of God for personal gain.

How many of you would support a person living an extravagant lifestyle if you knew that you could receive healing at your local church?

Wouldn’t you rather support your local church and it’s ministry in the community rather than send an offering to a “man of God” that you do not know in hopes of receiving a prayer that will heal you?

Common sense dictates that a person would rather support their local church in their local communities and it is only because of the belief that they have to go to someone “special” to get healing is why they look somewhere else.

Jesus The Great Physician And His Use Of The Gift Of Healing

There are more instances of Jesus healing people in the New Testament than there is room for me to list in one chapter. I am just going to take a couple of examples to show you Jesus using the gift of healing.

In Mark’s gospel, Chapter 1, we see where Jesus comes from speaking in the synagogue to Peter’s house. He finds out that Peter’s mother in law is sick with a fever. Jesus takes her hand, lifts her up and she is made whole instantly.

In fact, she is made so much better that she starts cooking them dinner! Now how is that for healing?

Now I choose this instance not because it was the most miraculous, but actually for the opposite reason. It was just a fever. It was not cancer, or leprosy, or bleeding that had lasted for years, but just a fever. It shows that Jesus cares about even the small things not just the big ones. He healed a fever.

The second example I want to show is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 5. Here we see a leper coming to Jesus and asking for healing.

He said, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean”. Here the leper is asking if the Lord is willing to heal. Jesus response should be the response that we all take to heart. He said, “I am willing, be cleansed”. Immediately the leper was healed.

Now, I am not God, nor do I want His job however, from this passage we can see that God is willing for us to be healed. He is no respecter of persons, and He has not changed.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

So when it comes to the question of whether or not God is willing to heal us, the answer is in the book! “I am willing, be cleansed”.

I do not understand why some people receive healing and others don’t, but I will stand by the book. You cannot find one place in the scriptures where a person came to Jesus and asked for healing and did not receive healing. It just is not there.

The Gift Of Healing Shown In The Early Church.

Not only did Jesus heal the sick, but so did believers in the early church. In fact Jesus said that healing would be one of the signs following those that believed in Mark 16.

The first example of this comes shortly after the day of Pentecost.

Peter and John in Acts 3, are heading to the temple as was their custom when they were distracted by a beggar looking for a donation. Peter and John, looking beyond the immediate need of the beggar, saw the real need.

They saw the need of this man to be healed, so they said “Silver and Gold we do not have, but what we do have we give to you. In the name of Jesus rise up and walk.

The man was healed and he was quite demonstrative in his joy. He was walking and leaping and praising God.

Talk about Pentecostals having wild church services! This man was overjoyed at what Jesus had done!

In Acts 28 Paul was on the island of Malta. Here he was staying at the home of a Roman official named Publius. His father was sick with fever and dysentery. Paul laid hands on him and he was healed.

This caused many other sick people on that island to come to Paul to be healed, and they were all healed.

Paul was not a faith healer or a healing evangelist. He was an Apostle which many seem to think gave them the ability to do the miraculous, but before any of the Apostles became Apostles, they were believers.

The power is not in the office, the power came from the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is in every believer and the power of the Holy Spirit is available to every believer.

Remember these are gifts of the Spirit not gifts of the Apostles.

The Biblical Use Of The Gift Of Healing In The Modern Church

I am a firm believer that the gift of healing is supposed to be present and in use in the modern church. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same Spirit that still is present in every believer.

However I do not believe that what we see in most healing evangelists is the proper use of the gift of healing. They have made it a carnival show and a means to fleece hurting people desperate for God to heal them.

Never do you see Jesus or the early church making healing a spectator sport. Yes you see people witness healings, and yes you see people testifying about the fact they were healed, but you do not see them being paraded around as proof that a ministry was valid or worth supporting.

I believe that the proper use of healing is both evangelistic and pastoral. Healing is supposed to be a sign that God is truly with us. That the Holy Spirit is real and powerful.

When unbelieving people see sick people made well in the name of Jesus it tears down skepticism and cynicism. They cannot deny what they see before their very eyes.

The gift of healing is also pastoral. Jesus, our good shepherd, cares about his sheep.

Because of that care, He does not want his sheep to be unwell. That is why James told the people to call for the elders of the church when they are sick so that they can be prayed for and healed. (James 5:14-15).

The gift of healing is meant to both communicate the power of God to unbelievers, and the love of God to believers.

What About People Who Don’t Get Healed?

Now, after having said all that, I want you to know that I understand many peoples concerns with this subject. I have and still do wrestle with certain issues like

“What happens if I pray for somebody and they don’t get healed?” or

“What if people start doing weird things if I pray for them?”

All I can say to those questions is the answers I have come to myself. It is not my job to protect God’s reputation.

I do not understand why some people get healed and some people don’t. It is a question I will ask when I get to heaven.

All I know is that healing is in the book and I am supposed to lay hands on the sick. It says so in the book!

I do know this, I have seen people healed when I have prayed for them. Not just of the sniffles or a hang nail, but heart disease and abscessed teeth and many other things.

I am not a faith healer. I have no power to heal. Jesus is the healer. It is a gift that is given by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit wills.

It is not my job to worry if it will work, it is my job to be obedient.

I also am not worried about people doing weird stuff. I don’t hype things up. I don’t try to rev up their faith or get them to run around or anything else. I am the anti-hype pastor.

It doesn’t take histrionics to get people healed. The Holy Spirit is a gentle dove. You can lay hands on the sick and operate in the gift of healing without causing a commotion or making a spectacle of it.

Now if they are healed they may get excited! That is okay! Honest emotion is not negative.

You would get excited too if you were healed of cancer, or were paralyzed and now could walk. I know I would.

So, take a small step of faith. Be willing to pray for people to be healed and be used by the Holy Spirit with the gift of healing.

You never know. The next person you pray for might end up walking and running and leaping and praising God right into your church! Now wouldn’t that be a pleasant surprise?

The Gift Of Working Miracles

Today we are going to look at the spiritual gift of working of miracles. The gift of miracles is a unique gift because it really has no boundaries.

What I mean by that, is that the very nature of this gift, supersedes natural laws and thinking. It is truly the gift that can be explained in no other way than it was a miracle.

Now their are other gifts that are miraculous like extraordinary faith and the gift of healing, but the gift of working of miracles goes beyond these other two gifts and changes impossibilities into possibilities.

This gift is probably the least seen gift in the modern church. I am not sure why this is other than it is probably the least expected of all the gifts.

I think that we are so used to working things out, looking to science or reason for our solutions that we forget to look to God for miraculous solutions at time.

I also believe that this is why there are more reports of miracles happening in nations and cultures that are not based on western civilization and it’s reliance on reason.

So if nothing else, I hope to at least get you to entertain the possibility that God does have available for the church even in the west, the gift of miracles.

The Gift Of Miracles Shown In The Miracles Of Jesus.

Since the definition of the gift of miracles is a gift that supersedes the laws of nature or physics or rational thinking, then the first miracle that I think of when looking at the life of Jesus is the water being turned to wine at the wedding at Cana.

In John’s gospel chapter 2, we have the story of Jesus attending a wedding where they ran out of wine.

Now without getting into a theological debate as to whether or not Jesus made real wine or grape juice, the fact remains that water was turned into something other than water. He didn’t use fruit concentrate, or powdered flavoring, but He turned it into wine and it was better than the wine that was served first!

This is a miracle that supersedes the laws of nature and physics. Water cannot be changed into another substance just by filling water jugs and serving it. There was a miracle that happened here.

The next instance I think of, is where Jesus walked on the water.

In Matthew’s gospel chapter 14, we have the instance where Jesus told the disciples to cross over the sea of Galilee ahead of Him. Around dawn, he comes strolling out to them, walking on water.

This freaked the disciples out and they thought it was some type of ghost. Jesus tells them not to be afraid, and Peter’s response was, “If it is you Lord, bid me to come”. So Jesus said come! Not only did Jesus walk on the water, but Peter did as well.

Now we all know the story how Peter got his eyes off of Jesus and on to the wind and the waves, and started to sink.

However don’t be too hard on Peter. How many of you have walked on water?

I have a theory about walking on water. You have to move your feet really fast!

The Gift Of Miracles In The Early Church.

I always give you examples of spiritual gifts, not only in Jesus but also in the early church so that you can see that it wasn’t just some divine attribute that Jesus had that allowed Him to do these things, but it is the divine attribute of the Holy Spirit that enabled both Jesus and ordinary people like you and I to operate in these things.

There are many examples of miracles in the early church. The first one I want to show you is located in the book of Acts chapter 8.

Philip, a guy who had been chosen to wait tables, was out evangelizing. He was having many signs and wonders done at his hands. God tells him through an angelic visitation to go meet a guy from Ethiopia and share with him the gospel.

Philip does so and the Ethiopian man accepts Christ. As Philip is baptizing this man, as He comes up out of the water He disappears and then reappears in the town of Azotus.

Gene Roddenberry was not the one to first think of transporters. God did! Lord beam me up!

The next instance that comes to mind is when Paul in Acts chapter 20 got a little long winded and preached until midnight and a boy fell asleep in a window and fell out of it 3 stories to the ground.

He died instantly. However, Paul threw himself on the boy, wrapped his arms around him, and proclaimed He is alive. The boy came back to life.

Once again that supersedes the laws of nature and physics. It was not healing, it was resurrection.

The Gift Of Miracles In The Modern Church.

There are still miracles happening today. I remember the story told to me by an old Pentecostal pastor named Rev. Archie Hicks, who while traveling from one town to another to become the pastor of a church ran out of gas.

He and his wife and kids were poor people living by faith on what God provided for them. They had no money and had over 100 miles to go. All they had was a gallon of water.

Rev. Hicks poured that gallon of water into his gas tank, started the engine and drove to the town they were traveling to to be the new pastor.

I talked to another old time Pentecostal preacher named Brother Garman. He and some others who had witnessed this miracle recalled on many occasions a visible force would tug on his suit jacket sleeve leading him to those that needed to be prayed for. I heard this verified by more than one person who was there.

In my own life, I view what transpired with the events that allowed me to return to pastoral ministry to be somewhat of a modern day miracle itself. I waited 8 years for God to open the doors for a divorced and single man to once again be in pastoral ministry.

As most of you know, there is not much demand for divorced pastors, let alone one who is single and cannot provide the church with the love and nurture that a pastor’s wife normally does.

So when I received the call to come and be the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven Wyoming, to me that was a miracle that superseded the odds of human nature and rational thinking.

The Gift Of Discerning Of Spirits

Today we are going to talk about what is commonly called the gift of discernment. The Bible actually calls it the gift of discerning of spirits.

There is a big difference between what many people think is the gift of discernment and what is the gift of discerning of spirits.

There have been a lot of people who have been taught that the gift of discernment is talking about discerning between right and wrong, sin and righteousness, and whether people are right with God or unsaved or backslidden.

This is not the gift of discerning of spirits but more than likely stems from a critical or judgmental spirit.

Rarely have I seen a person who claims to have the gift of discernment and using it in this way come from a motive of love but rather they seem to have a hidden emotional need to look better than others.

The Real Definition Of The Gift Of Discernment

The gift of discernment, is not about discerning the hearts of people but about discerning the source of something.

When you are operating in the gift of discernment, you are recognizing where the driving force behind an action is coming from.

Many times, the actual motivational force behind people’s actions and behavior is not clear. This is where the gift of discernment comes in.

3 Categories Of Spirits Discerned By The Gift Of Discernment

  1. The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God living in the inside of born again believers in Jesus. This is recognized by the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians chapter 5.
  2. The human spirit. Man is a triune being created in the image of God. He has body, soul, and spirit. The spirit of man usually can be recognized by a self-centered or egotistical point of reference.
  3. Demonic spirits. These are fallen angels of whom, Satan is the leader. They are not all knowing, or all powerful, or have other attributes only attributed to God, but they are powerful and dangerous. You can tell if you are dealing with a demonic spirit by the fact that they are always in opposition to the advancement of the kingdom of God. They will oppose the advance of the kingdom of God in the life of an individual or in the region of humanity they are in charge of.

The Gift Of Discernment In The Life Of Jesus

I personally love the Apostle Peter. He reminds me a lot of myself. At one moment he gets something right and is on the top of the world, and the next moment, he sticks his foot in his mouth and eats another bite of humble pie.

This is the case in the example I am going to show you about the gift of discernment in the life of Jesus.

In Matthew’s gospel chapter 16 we have the incident where Peter has just had the revelation that Jesus is the son of God. He is flying high on the accolades of being the first one to understand this.

Then Jesus tells them that He is going to be put to death. Peter responds saying “Lord this shall never happen to you!”. Jesus responds by saying “Get behind me Satan!”

This is a prime example of the gift of discerning of spirits. Jesus rightly discerns the motivating force behind Peter’s words.

Jesus was not calling Peter Satan, but was addressing the spirit influencing Peter at the moment. That spirit was in opposition to the advancement of the rule and reign of Jesus over the earth thus it was a demonic spirit and in this case, Satan himself.

Another example of this gift in operation is at the last supper. Although it is not explicitly shown, you can gather from the context that it is in operation.

In Luke’s gospel chapter 22, we see the story of the last supper. It says that Satan had entered the heart of Judas Iscariot. During the last supper, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them is going to betray him, and then subtly points him out. He then tells Judas to go do what he must do.

It is obvious to me that Jesus picked up on the change in Judas, and the plot ahead and discerned what Satan was up to. This again is the gift of discerning of spirits.

The Gift Of Discernment In The Early Church

In the book of Acts chapter 8 we have the story of Simon the sorcerer. He was a recent convert to Christianity and was amazed at the signs and wonders that was done in the name of Jesus.

When Peter and John arrived and started laying hands on the believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he offered them money so he could have this gift.

Now here is a prime example of how we need to discern the difference between what is coming from the human spirit and what is coming from a demonic spirit.

Peter and John did not call him Satan, or try to cast a demon out of him, but instead rebuked him and told him to repent. The motivation was coming from his human spirit. It was out of a desire for fame and power. It was self-centered and egotistical.

Later in the book of Acts we see the Apostle Paul do something that on the outside looks strange.

In Acts chapter 16 we have the report of a woman following Paul and Silas and Timothy around proclaiming that “These men are from the most high God and are telling the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days.

Now on the outside this seems to be okay. She is telling the truth. However Paul discerned that the motivation behind the woman’s words and actions is demonic. He cast’s a spirit out of her. The commotion she was causing was actually disruptive and counter-productive.

How many times have you seen someone who was spouting what sounded like the truth but in fact had the fruit of chaos?

This is why it is important to know the difference between the gift of discerning of spirits and what people call discernment. Many times those that are spouting truth but have no love, are not motivated by the Spirit of God.

The Gift Of Discernment In The Modern Church

It is very important to have this gift in operation in the local church.

We miss the boat so many times in how we deal with people. We try to cast devils out of people that have no devils but are giving in to the natural man with things like lust and greed and a desire for power.

We try to council people who are demonically influenced. We allow people in positions of leadership based on their knowledge of truth and unwittingly allow demonic influence into our church boards and pulpits alike.

Too many times I have seen both shepherds and church leaders on the local level operate in ungodly ways. Shepherds who herd the sheep like cattle, rather than lead the sheep like a servant. Boards who want control and be the defenders of the doctrine and protectors of the property.

It takes the discernment of spirits to understand what is going on and the proper method of dealing with these situations. Those motivated by their human spirits need to be led to a place of repentance. Those being influenced by demonic spirits need to have that spirit cast out and that is done with much prayer and fasting not having congregational votes or stirring strife.

Recently I had an experience where it was a clear operation of the gift of discerning of spirits.

We had a lady attend church. All of a sudden the only thing anybody could hear during the worship time was this woman singing. She was louder than the PA system!

Soon she started trying to get ahead of the worship pastor and lead the congregation herself. This was obviously a demonic influence going on. We had to stop and take control of the situation.

May God grant us all the wisdom to discern the difference between His Spirit, the human spirit, and demonic spirits.

The Gift Of Prophecy

There is a lot of buzz in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles today concerning the gift of prophecy. There is a whole movement that has sprung up called the Prophetic Movement. We have men and women running around calling themselves prophets.

When I was just a few years old in the Lord, I got involved with a “movement”. I thought it was the latest and greatest thing that God was doing.

It was only after a couple of years getting banged around and swallowing some pretty bad doctrine did I realize that there is only 1 movement that God is calling us to. That is to run your own race towards the high calling that is in Christ Jesus.

Since that time I have seen at least 4 movements come and go. All of them brought an issue or an understanding of our faith to the conversation table, but they also brought a lot of baggage because of extremes that went along with the movement.

In today’s lesson on the gift of prophecy, I am going to try to remove the baggage, maybe bring some correction, but most importantly I hope to encourage each and every one of you that you can be used in the spiritual gift of prophecy.

The Gift Of Prophecy In The Bible.

In this lesson of the gift of prophecy I am going to center our discussion around the gift in the New Testament. It is not that there is not many examples of the gift of prophecy in the Old Testament, but that we are living in the Church age, not the age of Mosaic law and as such it has changed the way the gift of prophecy works.

There is a mental picture that comes from Old Testament prophets and prophecy that depicts a wild-haired dude that is just slightly off his rocker who stands on street corners with proclamations of doom and gloom. You will not find this model of prophecy in the New Testament. In

1 Corinthians 14:3 it says

“But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.” 

You will notice that it leaves out pronouncements of divine judgement and retribution. I believe that the reason for this is that the payment for sin and the spiritual consequences of sin were taken care of at the cross of Christ.

There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) New Testament prophecy transformed from edicts of destruction and displeasure to words that strengthen, encourage, and comfort.

The Gift Of Prophecy In The Life Of Jesus.

In Luke’s gospel chapter 22 we have a very famous incident of the gift of prophecy at work in the life of Jesus. It is the time where Jesus predicts the Peter’s denial of him.

Notice that Jesus tells Peter that Satan had asked to sift him like wheat. Satan wanted to take him out, but Jesus said that He prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail.

Now that is a word that is both comforting and encouraging. Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, but He also told him that he had been prayed for.

This also shows that faith goes beyond our incidents where we fail. It is what we do in the long term, not the short term that matters.

In John’s gospel chapter 2, we see where Jesus operates the gift of prophecy in the prediction of his death and resurrection.

He tells the religious leaders who were questioning His authority that if they destroyed the “temple” He would rebuild it in three days. He was talking about his own body being the temple, and they assumed He was talking about the physical temple they worshiped at.

There is an important point in this incident of the gift of prophecy in the life of Jesus. You cannot take all prophecy at face value or assume you know what it is talking about. I have found it best to let a prophetic word play out and ponder it for a while before acting upon it or deciding what it means.

The Gift Of Prophecy In The Early Church.

In the book of Acts chapter 21 we have two incidents of the gift of prophecy in the early church. Both had to do with Pauls return to Jerusalem. The first incident the scriptures just say that the believers prophesied by the Holy Spirit for Paul not to return to Jerusalem.

In the second instance we have a clearer picture of the prophetic gift in action where A man named Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied up his own hands and feet and told Paul that he would be bound the same way by the Jewish leaders if he went to Jerusalem.

Now I have always speculated as to whether or not Paul missed the boat and disregarded the prophecies or if he had decided and seen that the prophecies were given not to warn him not to go but to forewarn him what was ahead.

It is obvious that Paul felt that they were to prepare him for what lay ahead of him not to dissuade him from going. I just always wonder if he interpreted the reason for those prophecies or not. Regardless, Paul was right about this. The will of God will be done regardless.

This brings up a very good point concerning the gift of prophecy. It is not the job of the prophet to interpret what the meaning of the prophecy is. That is the right and responsibility of the one receiving the prophecy.

If you are giving a prophetic word, then you need to be the messenger not the interpreter. You need to make sure your own spiritual pride and ego are out of the way.

It is not your job to make sure the prophecy is accepted or heeded. It is just your job to give the message, however I have found that if the word you are giving is encouraging, strengthening, and comforting then there is usually very little resistance.

The Gift Of Prophecy Today

As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, there is a lot of buzz about the gift of prophecy today. I have watched, listened, and tried to sift through this hub bub about God restoring the gift of prophecy and I have come to my own conclusions as to what is from God and what is hype.

Here are a few things that I look for when deciding if a word that is given to me is truly a prophetic word or a word designed to profit the one giving it. I ask myself these questions and not necessarily in this order.

  • Does this word line up with being a word that encourages, strengthens, and comforts?
  • Does the messenger walk in, and have a track record of humility?
  • Does this word line of with the written word of God?
  • Has this word been judged and confirmed by others?

True Prophets Must Be Humble

We have seen that Paul said that prophetic words will encourage, strengthen, and comfort. The scriptures also teach that we are to be concerned with false teachers and those that would spread bad doctrine.

I have found that just by looking at a person’s humility level with discern a lot about the type of words that they will give.

If you take a close look at the life of Paul, you will see a progression of his own humility becoming deeper. As He got older he went from thinking of himself as least of all the Apostles, to the point He thought of himself as just a recipient of grace as the chief of all sinners.

The need for recognition and title’s diminished directly in proportion to his humility and recognition of his need of grace.

Prophecy Must Line Up With The Bible

Any word of prophecy needs to line up with the revealed written word of God. God does not contradict God.

If a person gives you a word of prophecy that contradicts the word of God, then they are not speaking from the Spirit of God, but are speaking out of their own soulish nature.

Spit these out as trash or lovingly bring correction to the one giving the word.

Prophetic Words Are To Be Judged

Finally I believe that any prophetic word has to be judged. In 1 Corinthians 14:29 it says “Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.”

In 2002 I received 3 prophetic words concerning returning to ministry. They were given to me over a 2-3 month period of time by 3 different people in three different church’s and none of these people had met me before.

I took those words and then presented them to people who I hold in high regard spiritually. They all felt that it was God and that I would be returning to ministry.

If you receive a prophetic word from somebody, I suggest you do the same thing. Let the word be judged.

In my own church here in Pine Haven, if there is a prophetic word given, we stop and evaluate the word and decide whether it is from God or not. This has brought a balance in our church that when a prophetic word is given, then it is taken seriously, and at the same time it has made those with the gift cautious in it’s use.

This has been a healthy thing in our congregation and we don’t have any self proclaimed prophets running around wounding the sheep.

I know that I will probably get some flack about my stance and teaching concerning the gift of prophecy.

That is ok.

I learned a long time ago to run the race before me, not to follow a movement. I hope and pray that you will hear my heart and that you too will find the place of balance and integrity when being used with the gift of prophecy.

The Gift Of Speaking In Tongues

The gift of speaking in unknown tongues has been one of the most controversial of all the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12.

It is not my desire to stir or spread controversy, so as I answer the question of what is speaking in tongues, I am reminded, so I remind you, of Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 13 where He says that even if he spoke with the tongues of men and angels but had not love, he would just be a clanging cymbal.

So as I try to approach the question of what is speaking in tongues, please hear my heart.

This is not a subject or an issue that should bring division or cause us to lose focus on the mission we all have been given. We are called to witnesses to this world by loving one
another.

The gift of speaking in tongues is a gift that is unique to the New Testament church. You do not find this gift in operation at all in the Old Testament.

The gift of speaking in tongues is the ability to speak in a language that was previously unknown to you.

It is not the talent for learning new languages but a gift of being able to speak in an unknown language by the unction of the Holy Spirit.

Now many people have criticized those who have this gift because they have tried to test to see if they were known human languages that people have spoken.

Sometimes this has been the case, but many times the people speaking in tongues have not spoken in a language that was currently known.

However this is not a proof that the tongues are fake. As I made mention, Paul talked about speaking in the tongues of men and angels. I personally believe that many believers that have this gift speak in a heavenly language, not an earthly one.

Another distinction that needs to be made in understanding what is speaking in tongues, is the distinction between praying in tongues and publicly speaking in tongues.

Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 14 that when he prays in tongues, his spirit is praying but his mind is unfruitful.

In the same token, if you use the gift of tongues publicly then it must be interpreted otherwise people will think you are nuts!

When a tongue is interpreted then it becomes the same as a prophetic word designed to be a sign to unbelievers to cause them to say that “God is truly among you”.

I have seen this happen on more than one occasion that when the gift of tongues has been used publicly and it is interpreted that it has bypassed the walls of resistance placed in the heart of unbelievers and caused them to come to saving faith in Christ.

Did Jesus Speak In Tongues?

There is no recorded instance where Jesus publicly spoke in tongues. This gift is only recorded in the life of the early church.

However there is an instance where it is at least possible that Jesus may have prayed in tongues.

It is not a specific reference but there is some biblical foundation that this is indeed a possibility with this reference.

In John gospel, chapter 11 we have the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

And in verse 38 the Bible makes a peculiar statement when it says “Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.”  The term “groaning in Himself” could be a reference to praying in tongues.

In Romans 8:26 it says that the Spirit makes intercession for us with “groanings that cannot be uttered”.

Paul when talking about praying in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 uses the term “Praying in the Spirit” synonymously with praying in tongues.

So, it is at least possible that Jesus prayed in tongues. I would not make a hard and fast doctrine out of it but it is at least a possibility.

The Gift Of Tongues In The Early Church.

The first recorded instance of speaking in tongues is found in Acts chapter 2.

The Apostles and other disciples were meeting in the upper room. They were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised them. There was a major experience that happened where there was the sound of strong wind, visions of tongues of fire descending upon them, and they began to speak with other tongues.

This whole incident was seen not just by the Apostles but everyone who was in the vicinity saw it. They came rushing to see what had happened.

The Apostles came out of the upper room and Peter finally gets his foot out of his mouth and preaches his first sermon and 3000 unbelievers became believers in Jesus.

They heard the people that were in the upper room speaking in their native languages. Somewhere close to 20 languages and dialects altogether.

The next instance of this gift being recorded is in Acts chapter 10. Peter just had a vision about not calling what God had made clean, unclean.

He is preaching at a gentile’s house named Cornelius. As he is preaching the gentiles start speaking in tongues. Peter sees this and gets the point. These gentiles had been saved! Something that was not believed possible before.

He then says, well we might as well baptize them and all who were previously unsaved, got baptized. This time the gift was not a sign to unbelievers as much as it was a sign to Peter and the other disciples that were with Peter.

The next instance we have recorded of people speaking in tongues is during one of Paul’s missionary journeys. He runs across a group of believers in Acts chapter 19. He asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed.

Now obviously Paul was not talking about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes with salvation since they were already believers. He was talking about the empowering of the Holy Spirit also known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

They replied that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul asked what type of baptism they had. They were baptized with John’s baptism.

So Paul made sure that they got it right and baptized them in the name of Jesus. Now this is important because you do not baptize unbelievers or unsaved people.

After they were baptized, then Paul laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came “upon them” and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.

Notice that it says upon them. They received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit not salvation.

The Gift Of Tongues In The Church Today.

As much as Pentecostals would like to take credit for the gift of tongues in the church today, there have been other recorded instances of the gift of tongues in recent history.

Martin Luther spoke in tongues.

There were outbreaks of tongues in the revivals held by John and Charles Wesley along with others.

In tomorrow’s post I am going to go into great detail about the proper use of the gift of tongues in the church.

Suffice it to say that according to the latest statistics, those that believe in speaking in tongues as a part of the modern church, is somewhere between 400 – 600 million believers comprising 25% of the total believers worldwide. It is the fastest growing and most evangelistic of all the streams of Christianity.

That does not mean that they are superior or have arrived.

Trust me I know! I am part of that group and we are by no means special or perfect.

However, I do believe that because we have been open to the grace of God empowering us for service, we have had a major impact on the modern world.

The Proper Use Of The Gift Of Tongues In The Church

As I am writing today’s Bible study on the proper use of the gift of tongues, I can already hear both my Pentecostal/Charismatic brothers and sisters and my barely Charismatic and non-Charismatic brothers and sisters rummaging around in their garages to get a rope to string me up!

There will be those that will feel that what I have to say either goes too far or not far enough.

That is okay!

Recently I had two different people in my own church complain the same way.

To one I was too Charismatic, and to the other I was not Charismatic enough.

To me that confirms that I am right where I should be.

I am on a quest for the radical middle.

However I hope to show you where and why I am taking the stands I am taking concerning this gift.

The Purpose Of The Gift Of Tongues In The Modern Church.

In looking at the gift of speaking in tongues, (This gift is called glossolalia in the Greek), a person needs to discern that there are two very different aspects to this gift.

There is the evangelistic aspect of this gift which is the public use of tongues and the interpretation of those tongues and the private use of this gift in prayer.

Not discerning this factor causes much confusion concerning this gift and thus the improper application and in some cases prohibition of the gift in a public church service.

The evangelistic use of the gift of tongues in today’s church.

According to the Apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 14, the gift of tongues is a sign for unbelievers. (1 Cor 14:22)

It is a sign that causes what I call the astonishment factor.

When someone who is not a believer sees this gift in operation coupled with the gift of interpretation it causes them to strongly consider that “God is with you” as the Apostle Paul puts it.

This reaction bypasses the intellectual defenses that many people place against the gospel and speaks directly to their heart which ultimately needs to be spoken to because faith comes from the heart and not the intellect.

The caveat to this gift is that it must be done in decency and order. Outbursts of this gift without an interpretation in a public service in not in order.

The Apostle specifically states that they must be interpreted if it is in a public service otherwise the person with this gift needs to stay silent and speak to themselves and to God.

Another consideration to take into account is that if an unbeliever comes into your public meeting and all of you are speaking in tongues, it will just look like chaos and they will call you crazy.

There is no way to interpret everyone’s tongues at once.

Not only that but even though the scripture talks about singing in the spirit and praying in the spirit, it will still look crazy if you do it corporately in a public service.

If you want to do it together in a private meeting or by yourself with your family then by all means do it, but if it is in a public meeting with those that don’t understand or believe then my dear Charismatic friends, please don’t.

You do not want to put up a roadblock in front of them by thinking you are out of your mind.

The gift of tongues in a public setting is supposed to be interpreted period!

The private use of the gift of tongues.

Praying in tongues or praying in the spirit is beneficial to the life of the believer.

In the book of Jude it tells us that we build ourselves up by praying in the Spirit.

In Romans chapter 8 it tells us that when we do not know how to pray, then the Holy Spirit prays through us with groanings that cannot be uttered.

Praying in unknown tongues allows us to pray in a manner that causes us to draw on the power promised to us by Jesus when He said we would be endued with power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. (Acts 1:8)

The Apostle Paul said that He would pray with the Spirit and pray with his understanding. He would do both. He was giving the same instruction to the believers in Corinth.

Speaking in tongues privately is also giving thanks to God.

Paul also says that when people are speaking in tongues they are giving thanks to God. (1 Cor. 14:16-17)

I cannot think of one person who would be opposed to a person giving thanks to God.

So when you are praying or singing in the Spirit, you are doing things that are spiritually beneficial for you.

Using The Gift Of Tongues

When it comes right down to it, the gift of tongues is the least of the gifts. It is the highest regulated and the least effective of all the gifts.

Pentecostals and Charismatics have made more of it than it should have been.

It became a source of pride and spiritual elitism for many, yours truly included at one point in his life.

The Apostle Paul exhorted us to seek after spiritual gifts but especially that we would prophecy not speak in tongues.

I personally believe that this gift is available for any believer for private use.

However our focus is not to be on our private spiritual life, but to be used for the benefit of others thus it is the lowest of all the gifts.

That does not mean to not use it, or to avail yourself of the strength that comes from praying and singing in the Spirit, but it means that your goal should not be to just build yourself up, but your goal should be that you are used by God to build others up.

Do Not Forbid The Speaking Of Tongues In Church

I believe that is why Paul instructed the church not to forbid the speaking of tongues in the church.

Both because of its evangelistic power and for the strength that it brings the believers in their private spiritual life.

Thus I must also say to my non-Charismatic and barely Charismatic churches, If you are forbidding the speaking of tongues in a public service, you are in direct contradiction to the word of God.

The Bible clearly states that when we come together that we are to have a song, a teaching, a revelation and a tongue and interpretation.

It is clearly meant for our public services and to come to any other conclusion is to drastically twist the clear instructions of the scriptures with caveats.

So my friends, regardless if you agree with me or not, you are called to love. On that we all agree.

So put those ropes away and leave them for another day.

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.

The Gift Of Interpreting Tongues

In this final teaching on the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit we are going to look at interpretation of tongues.

As I made clear in the last teaching on the proper use of tongues, the gift of tongues must be interpreted in a public meeting. If it is not interpreted then it is out of order and the uninformed or unbelieving person will think everybody is crazy. No one will be blessed by this gift.

The gift of interpreting tongues is a pretty straightforward gift.

As with the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues is a gift where you hear somebody speak in an unknown tongue, and you are given the meaning of that tongue.

Both the one who speaks in tongues, and the one who interprets did not have this given to them by a natural ability, but by a supernatural gift given at the time.

It does not mean that you have a knack for picking up languages, but it means that by the grace of God you were given the ability to understand the meaning of the tongue at the time given.

What Is An Interpretation of Tongues?

According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:6, an interpretation of tongues can be a revelation, prophecy, word of instruction, or knowledge.

From this passage we can see that the goal of the gift of interpretation of tongues is to speak to the people, in such a way that they will understand the mind of God. It is not limited to the interpretation of a prayer language.

That is what is done when you speak in tongues privately to yourself and to God. In a public setting they are used bring revelation, knowledge, prophecy or a word of instruction. It is one of the methods that God can use to speak to His people and to unbelievers.

There is no clear cut case that the interpretation of tongues is the word for word interpretation of what is being spoken. Just as in translating from one language to another language with natural ability, the goal is not to literally translate each word, but to convey the same thought,

I believe that the interpretation of tongues is a gift where you give the meaning of what is being said, not a literal word for word translation.

Even in our English translations of the Bible, they are not word for word translations, because of the language differences, but they are meaning for meaning translations.

The Use Of The Gift Of Interpretation Of Tongues In The New Testament.

As with the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues is not recorded during the life of Jesus. This gift came into operation along with other 9 gifts of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. There are no specific instances where they record this gift in operation other than in the book of 1 Corinthians.

However there is a possible occurrence of this gift in Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit came upon the gentile believers at Cornelius’s house. It says there that they spoke in tongues and prophesied. The prophecy there could have been the interpretation of those tongues.

The majority of the instruction concerning this gift is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14. This gift is obviously tied in tandem with the gift of speaking in tongues thus the instructions that are given to the gift of speaking in tongues is applicable to the interpretation of tongues.

It is supposed to be done clearly so all can hear. It is supposed to be limited to 2 or 3 times during a service at the most. It is supposed to be done in an orderly and non-confusing fashion.

When done in this manner, then it becomes a blessing to everyone and fulfills the law of love that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13 which is supposed to motivate any spiritual gift.

Interpreting Tongues In The Modern Day Church.

Just as Paul admonished the Corinthian church to use these gifts in a decent and orderly fashion, the scriptures still admonish us to do the same. Although our format and our technology has changed, the motivating factors of love and order still apply. If this gift is to be used, it should not interrupt another gift in operation.

Whether it is the gift of leading people to worship, the gift of teaching during a sermon, or any other gift that may be operating at the time. If a person has a tongue, and another has the interpretation, they should wait for an appropriate time to exercise this gift.

Now that makes it pretty tough for those people who have this gift that attend churches that schedule every part of the service in advance down to the minute.

In those cases, I suggest that you if God has given you a tongue, or an interpretation, that you quietly and without drawing attention to yourself, approach your pastor or worship leader and inform them that you have a gift to offer.

Allow them to decide when would be appropriate to make room for this gift. If they decide not to, then that is between them and God. You were obedient to be available to be used with your spiritual gift.

If you attend a church that is less scheduled and more open to the operation of spiritual gifts within the public church service, then wait for a time when there is a pause and people are focusing on allowing the gifts to operate.

In my church I always allow a time for the gifts to operate after the worship portion of the service. We will wait on the Lord.

Now that doesn’t mean we always see tongues and interpretation. In fact it has only happened a few times, but we regularly see gifts in operation, sometimes it is healing, sometimes it is prophecy, and once in a while it is tongues and interpretation.

The model I use works well in a smaller church but obviously in a larger church you may want to screen those that may have a gift to offer. We do live in a pretty crazy world and it may not be wise to just allow anyone to use a speaking gift without first knowing they are sound. We do have the admonition of knowing those that labor among us.

So in a larger church setting you may want to talk to your leaders or mature saints in the Lord and release them to operate their gifts. If someone who you don’t know or is immature gets it wrong and messes up, don’t panic. Use it as a teaching time to instruct the congregation in the proper use of spiritual gifts.

Anytime I have a tongue and interpretation happen in my congregation, I take 10 minutes to briefly explain what just happened. That way the weird and scary factor is eliminated and everybody understands. If a person makes a mistake in the use of this gift, don’t crucify them. Just take them aside and share with them how they can better use their gift.

All of us have fallen off a bicycle before. Aren’t you glad that you weren’t ridiculed and prohibited from riding again? The zeal for spiritual gifts is good. Just be wise and channel it so that it can be a blessing for all.

The Believers Guide To The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

Becoming Empowered By Dying To Self

I have a sticky note on my computer screen reminding myself to write about dying to self.

Although this is probably one of the most important principles of living a Spirit empowered life, I placed it on the end for a reason.

It honestly does not matter if we understand everything there is about spiritual gifts and their operation if we only allow it to be head knowledge and do nothing about it.

That is where the issue of dying to self comes in. You see, as much as I disagree with those that come from the cessation-ist point of view concerning spiritual gifts, they are right about one thing.

In order for the Spirit to have control of your life you must die to self. There cannot be a continual struggle for leadership. Jesus said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.

John 12: 24

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

This is the reason, although there are people out there that operate in spiritual gifts, we see them doing so in ways that do not bring glory to God. They have not died to self and end up using the gifts that were given to them by the grace of God to bring glory to themselves.

The result of this is that there is not a real harvest produced using these gifts. Yes, people may get healed and others prophesied to but in the end neither comes any closer to a dedicated and committed relationship with Jesus.

The gifts of the Spirit and living out a Spirit empowered life is to have only one goal. Its purpose is to point to Jesus and Jesus alone.

Every time, there was a spiritual gift in operation in the life of the early church it was used to confirm and point the way to Jesus. It was at no time used to bring glory or honor to men and absolutely at no time was used for financial gain.

If I am to walk in a Spirit empowered life, then I must decide to die to self. The ownership of my life must be forfeited. My life must stop being my own and be turned over to His ownership.

That is easier said than done.   The Apostle Paul put it this way in the book of Galatians.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

So What Does It Take To Die To Self?

Jesus said that we have to take up our cross and follow Him.

Mark 8:34

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Now Jesus did not mean that we were to all hang ourselves on a literal cross, but we were to follow His example of denying ourselves.

That is why I am so adamant about certain teachings that promote self-centered attitudes and indulging ourselves. They do not line up with following the example of Jesus. Jesus said to watch Him as He heads to His cross and follow His example.

Now for some of us, it may be giving up the luxuries of the world to go and share the gospel in a foreign country.

For others, it may be giving up having a secure income so that one parent can stay home to raise the kids.

For others, it may be giving up a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s moral law.

Whatever it is, the Christian journey will bring you to a point of laying down your life. It will bring you to the point where you say, “Not my will, but Yours be done Lord.”

That is what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus. You are following His example of being a servant even if it means suffering.

If you do not crucify your flesh (your human desire to control and dictate the direction of your life), then invariably you will stop being a servant and start being a master and when you are a master, you stop being Spirit led or empowered.

How Do We Allow Christ To Live In Us?

Dying to self is only half of the equation. The other half is allowing Christ to live in us.

My whole approach to Spirit empowered living is proactive rather than reactive. That means that I am not just abstaining from what I am not supposed to do, but I am participating in what I am supposed to do.

I have found that the way to have Christ live in me is to relax. I am not talking about meditation or some type of relaxation technique, but I am talking about not striving to make it happen.

When I am striving to make something happen it is me that is living in me and not Jesus.

When I give up trying to make something happen, then that is when He is free to make the miraculous happen.

I mentioned at the beginning of the book that I was part of the Foursquare denomination. I was a part of that family for 30 years. They are good people, and I didn’t leave the family for any negative reasons; God just called me to pastor a church that was part of the Association of Vineyard Churches.

When the Foursquare church was started it was started by a woman evangelist named Aimee Semple McPherson. She is still one of my heroes of the faith today.

However, one of the things that happened is that because God gifted and used her in such a mighty way, people started to act like her and became “Sister Aimee” clones. They were trying to make something happen.

It was, in essence, hype, although it was probably well meaning hype. Emulation is the highest form of flattery.

In order to allow Christ to live in you, you have to stop trying to be anything else than what God has made you to be. That is why when I am with exuberant and demonstrative people, my feathers do not get ruffled.

It is ok, as long as they are transparent and being who God created them to be. The moment they do it because they are performing then it turns into hype.

The same is true for quiet and introspective people. I get along great with them. I don’t try to change them. They are being who the creator of this diverse universe created them to be.

However, if they are being “spiritual looking” in church, but they shout and scream at a football game or go wild in Wal-Mart, then it is just another form of hype.

When Christ lives in you, it will be unique, creative and special. Why? It is because His love relationship with you will be special between you and Him.

When you are not trying to be religious or sanctimonious and are just living your life empowered by His Spirit, allowing Him to use you just as you are without pretense, then truly miracles happen.

People’s lives will be touched.

Jesus will be glorified in you.

Notice how Paul starts out his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 1: 1

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

Notice that Paul didn’t lose his identity but instead his became tied to Jesus.

Who am I?

I am Duke, a servant of Jesus, called to be a pastor, dedicated to the spread of the good news of God.

Who are you?.

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