ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY
The Complete Perfect Salvation
Series of Lectures
Presented in the Course
The Holy Spirit in the Now
Robert G. Voight, Ph.D.
In love and appreciation
with whom I have experienced
the realities of
God's mercies and goodness.
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Roberts, Oral. The Call. New York: Avon Books, 1971.
Roberts, Oral, ed. The Holy Bible. The Abundant Life Edition. Trans. George M. Lamsa. Philadelphia: A. J. Holman, 1961.
Roberts, Oral, ed. The Holy Bible With Personal Commentary. Oral Roberts Edition. Tulsa: Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, Inc., 1981.
Copyright 1988 by Oral Roberts University
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74131
All rights reserved
Printed at Tulsa, Oklahoma
ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE NOW
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I. THE PROVISION OF GOD FOR THE CHURCH
The Spirituals 1
Jesus Christ: The Gift of God to Man
The Gifts of Christ to the Church
The Gift of Ministries:
Apostles, 8; Prophets, 9; Evangelists, 10; Pastors, 11; Teachers, 12; Giving, 13; Ruling, 13; Ministry, 14; Helps, 14.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit:
The Day of Pentecost, 19; Samaria, 21; Paul, 23; House of Cornelius, 23; Ephesus, 25.
The History of the Church in Light of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Three Major Doctrines, 28; Five Doctrinal Positions, 29.
The Fruit, the Gifts, and the Spirit of Truth
The Fruit of the Spirit:
Love, 35; Joy, 40; Peace, 42; Longsuffering, 44; Gentleness, 45; Goodness, 46; Faith, 47; Meekness, 48; Temperance, 49.
The Gifts of the Spirit: 50
A Word of Wisdom, 52; A Word of Knowledge, 54; Discerning
of Spirits, 56; Faith, 58; Gifts of Healings, 60; Working of Miracles, 60.
The Gifts of Utterance
The Prayer Language, 62; The Gift of Tongues, 63; Interpretation of Tongues, 64; The Gift of Prophecy, 64;
I Corinthians 14 65
Direction, 65; Purposes, 67; All Sounds Have Significance, 70; I Will Pray with the Spirit, 73; I Will Sing with the Spirit, 75; Else When Thou Shalt Bless With the Spirit, 78; Tongues as a Sign, 80; Procedures, 82; God is not the Author of Confusion, 85.
The Armor of God
Loins Girded with Truth, 88; Breastplate of Righteousness, 88; Preparation of Gospel of Peace, 89; Shield of Faith, 89; Helmet of Salvation, 89; Sword of the Spirit, 90; Praying in the Spirit, 91.
PART II. THE TRANSFORMED LIFE
The Renewing of the Mind 92
The Need for Renewing the Mind
Repentance and Confession, 94; The Carnal Mind, 95; Weapons of Our Warfare, 96; The Mind of Christ, 98; Gird Up The Mind, 98.
The Process by Which the Mind is Renewed 100
Id, 101; Superego, 101; Ego, 102; Mental Mechanisms, 102; Portrait of a Sinner, 102.
The Holy Spirit in the Subconscious Mind 103
Christ in You, 104; The Fruit of the Spirit, 106; The Gifts of
the Spirit, 107.
The Holy Spirit in the Conscious Mind 110
Christ in the Conscience, 111; Christ My Ego Ideal, 114; Conformed to His Image, 117; What we are in Christ, 118; Our Standing in Christ, 119.
PART III. THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF ORAL ROBERTS
The Evangelist: Oral Roberts 123
The Making of the Evangelist, 123;
The Ministry of the Evangelist, 127;
The Message of the Evangelist, 129.
Addendum: Did Isaiah Speak in Tongues? 145
ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE NOW
In 1972, Lord J. Arthur Rank made a grant to Oral Roberts University to endow a Chair in the Holy Spirit. Oral Roberts was the first professor to be holder of that chair, and this course, The Holy Spirit in the Now, is the result of the several classes that Roberts taught concerning the Holy Spirit. In this course we will study the entire spectrum of New Testament scriptures concerning the "COMPLETE, PERFECT SALVATION" we have in Christ Jesus. This salvation includes the gift of God to the church--Jesus Christ; the gifts of Christ to the church--gifts of ministries and the gift of the Holy Spirit; and the provision of the Holy Spirit for the church--the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the Spirit of Truth. After considering all of the provisions--THE SPIRITUALS--that God has made for the church, we will consider a method by which the Holy Spirit actualizes the provisions of God in our lives: THE RENEWAL OF THE MIND. In the latter part of the course, we will review the life, the ministry, and the message of Oral Roberts.
PART I: THE SPIRITUALS: THE PROVISION OF GOD
I Cor. 12:1
I Cor. 12:5
I Cor. 12:4
I Cor. 12:6
I Cor. 12:8
Word of Wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Gospel of Peace
Discerning of Spirits
Working of Miracles
I Cor. 12:28
Gifts of Healing
Praying in the Spirit
Praying with Understanding
Interpretation of Tongues
TO EDIFY THE BODY OF CHRIST IN LOVE
THE SPIRITUALS is a comprehensive summary of the provision of God for the church. In writing to the Corinthian Church, Paul set forth the interrelationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the operation of the church:
Now concerning spiritual gifts [pneumatikos], brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts [charismata], but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations [diakonia], but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations [energema], but it is the same God which worketh all in all (1 Cor. 12:1-6).
Paul continually emphasizes the fact that he wants the church to understand the things of God. In the beginning of his discussion concerning the operation of the Spirit, he says, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." The word translated "spiritual gifts" is "pneumatikos"--an adjective. Therefore, we must find the noun or nouns which the adjective modifies. In the following verses Paul mentions three spirituals--gifts, ministries, and operations. Therefore, we may say that Paul does not wish us to be ignorant concerning the gifts of the Spirit, the ministry gifts of Christ, or the operations of God.
In this scripture passage, Paul makes a most important statement when he declares that we serve a God who speaks by His Spirit. He tells the Corinthians that at one time they were Gentiles carried away unto "dumb" idols--gods who could not speak, but now they serve a God who speaks to and through them by His Spirit. The Christian serves a God who speaks to him and through him by His Spirit. There are those who argue that God does not speak to men today. Paul's answer is that if we serve a god who does not speak, we must be led away unto a "dumb idol." He also declares that no man can say that Jesus is "accursed" if he speaks by the Spirit of God, and it is only if one speaks by the Spirit that he can truly say that "Jesus is Lord." The Christian serves a God who speaks; He speaks to His people through His people by the Holy Spirit. This is the emphasis of the following chapters of the Corinthian letter, since all of the gifts of God are primarily actualized by men or women speaking by the Spirit. We speak a word of wisdom, we speak a word of knowledge, we speak a word of faith, we speak a healing, we speak a miracle, we speak a prophecy, we speak in tongues, we speak an interpretation--we speak these things by the Holy Spirit.
Also, Paul discusses the interrelationship of the Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--in the work of the church. He points out that there are diversities of spiritual gifts, but the Holy Spirit manifests each of them; there are diversities of ministries, but the Lord Jesus Christ sets each of them in the church; there are diversities of operations, but God energizes each operation in each individual in each situation. Therefore, there can be no conflict in the manifestation of spiritual gifts or the operation of the ministry gifts because God oversees and energizes the entire work of the church. God is not the author of confusion.
CHRIST: THE GIFT OF GOD TO MAN
THE SPIRITUALS presents a very simplistic chart of God's provision for the church. The first provision is God's gift to man: the Lord Jesus Christ. God gave His only begotten Son and, with Him, God has given everything that pertains to life and to godliness. All of the provisions of God's grace are bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ. Two scriptures form a sure foundation for our faith--
John 3:16 and Romans 8:32:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
The gift of God was His Son, and with Him God freely gives us all things. Jesus said to the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes:
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:14-15).
Paul echoes this concept in writing to the Colossians about Jesus Christ:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell (Col. 1:19).
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9).
So all that God is, and all that God has, is in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the fulness of God. This is the relationship between God and His Son. Then Paul makes an amazing statement about the relationship between Christ and His church:
And gave him [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22-23).
John agrees with Paul's concept:
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace (John 1:16).
Jesus is the fulness of God, and the Church is the fulness of Christ, who
fills all in all, and Paul says that
We are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:10).
In summary, we might say that everything God is, everything God has, and all that God has done is in, and for, and through His Son Jesus Christ, and in the same manner all that Christ is, all that He has, and all that He has done is in, and for, and through His church, His bride, His beloved. Therefore, God's perfect gift is Jesus Christ "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3), and concerning whom the Apostle Paul could say,
My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
It is by Christ Jesus that God has provided a complete, perfect salvation. The reason God must provide such a salvation is that every mouth must be stopped and all the world become guilty before God. If there is any lack, if there is any area of life in which God has not accepted responsibility and made provision, then man or Satan can accuse God of being unjust. However, if God has assumed the responsibility for the needs of man, then man cannot gainsay God. As I meditate upon this great salvation, I am convinced that God has made a complete provision, and the only reason for failure or lack is that we do not avail ourselves of the grace of God. In each situation of life I recognize that Jesus has provided a fulness. If I am tempted, He reminds me that He was tempted in all points even as I am, and He has provided a way of escape that I may be able to bear it (I Cor. 10:13). If I am distressed, He reminds me that the "chastisement of my peace" was laid on Him (Isaiah 53:5). If I am ill, He would point me to the cross where He was "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
and John said,
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Jesus did not come to show us the way--He is the way. He did not come to teach us the truth--He is the truth. He did not come to give us a new life style or tell us how to live--He is the life. Paul said,
For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
Jesus is not just our savior, He is our salvation: "He that hath the Son hath life" (I John 5:12). Jesus is not just our healer--He is our healing. It is His life flowing through us that makes us whole, physically and spiritually. All that Christ is to us and all that He has provided for us may be summed up in the words of the Apostle to the Colossians:
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him (Col. 2:9-10).
We are complete in Christ. This is God's gift to us--a complete, perfect salvation in Jesus Christ.
THE GIFTS OF CHRIST TO THE CHURCH
Jesus Christ is God's provision for the world, and the Lord Jesus Christ made two provisions for the church: 1) the gift of the various ministries, and
2) the gift of the Holy Spirit. First, let us consider the various ministries that Jesus gave to the church, for it is through these ministries that all of the provisions of Christ and the Spirit are made available to the church.
THE MINISTRY GIFTS OF CHRIST
And there are differences of administrations
[ministries], but the same Lord (I Cor. 12:5).
The Apostle Paul speaks of these ministry gifts in various places, in various configurations: Ephesians 4:7-13, Romans 12:3-8, and I Corinthians 12:27-28. Some believe that all of these gifts are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, I make a distinction between the gifts of the Spirit, which are manifestations in which the Spirit manifests Himself--a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, utterances in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, faith, miracles, or healings, and the ministry gifts of Christ--apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, which are offices, or persons, or functions set in the church. The spiritual manifestations appear and disappear momentarily; however, the ministry gifts of Christ are permanent.
In the letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes concerning the gifts of Jesus Christ to the church:
Wherefore, he saith, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:8,11,12).
When Jesus ascended up on high, He gave gifts to men. The gifts that He gave are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Paul states that the purpose of the gifts was for
the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the fulness of the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
The immediate purpose of the gifts is "for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"; however, the ultimate purpose is to bring each of us "unto the measure of the fulness of the stature of Christ," to edify the body of Christ in love.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul combines the ministry gifts and spiritual gifts as he asks certain questions concerning the spirituals:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers. After that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues (I Cor. 12:28).
In this passage Paul adds the gifts of helps and governments to the ministry gifts that we found in Ephesians.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul gives us another schedule, another listing of the ministry gifts:
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office....Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: Or he that teacheth on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: Or he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom. 12-4-8).
In this passage Paul adds other gifts to those he set forth in his writings to the Ephesians and the Corinthians: prophecy, teaching, exhortation, giving, ministry, ruling, and showing mercy. Some of these, however, we could cross-reference with the gifts listed in other scriptures: prophecy to the prophet; teaching to the teacher; ministering or deaconing to government; showing mercy
as one of the helps; ruling also to government; and giving as a separate gift. This is how I developed the "Spirituals" outline that I am sharing with you.
Since the purpose of all gifts (spiritual and ministry) is to equip the saints for a work of ministry, I have placed the armor of God (the equipment of the saints) in the outline, showing that the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, and the ministry gifts of Christ, all contribute to equipping the saints for a work of ministry that they may be able to edify the body of Christ in love.
The apostle is one sent forth. The twelve apostles are the twelve foundation stones of the church; therefore, they are unique. However, the twelve apostles were not the only apostles that were given to the early church. For we find that God has set others in the church as apostles besides Peter, James, John, Matthew, Andrew, Judas, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, James, Simon, and Judas, the brother of James. When Judas fell from his apostleship, Mathias was chosen to take his office. One of the requirements of the early church for an apostle was that the person should have seen the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul laid claim to apostolic authority saying that he was an apostle because he had seen the Lord (I Cor. 9:1) as one born out of due time
(I Cor. 15:8). The Apostle Paul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, and so he lay his claim to being an apostle as one born out of due time, but as one having seen the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks of other apostles. He tells the Romans to
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles (Rom. 16:7).
He tells the Thessalonians that he and Sylvanius and Timotheus had not been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ" (I Thess. 1:1 and 2:6). So it appears that there were others who were called apostles besides the twelve. An apostle is one who has been sent forth on a special mission, and, therefore, is endued by the Spirit with apostolic power and authority. Some would ask, "Are there apostles today?" Yes, I believe there are apostles today, individuals whom God has sent forth for a special ministry with apostolic authority and power. One of the difficulties is that the church has been reluctant to recognize persons as apostles. Oral Roberts is recognized by many as an apostle, a man endued with apostolic power and authority to fulfill a special calling in life.
I make a distinction between the prophet and the simple gift of prophecy. The simple gift of prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort (I Cor. 14:3), and all may prophesy (I Cor. 14:31). But the ministry of the prophet is to speak forth the counsel of God. He reveals the will and the purpose of God contained in the mind of God for a specific situation. He declares what may not be known through the intellect, for He speaks by direct revelation from God. He speaks the mind of God. He speaks for God through the direct revelation of the Spirit, giving what is in the mind of God for that time. Luke tells us that there were certain prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch, and
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them
The prophets signified by the Spirit that it was time for Barnabas and Saul to do that which God had called them to do.
Luke records another incident at Antioch when the prophets, Judas and Silas,
exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them (Acts 15:32).
These prophecies confirmed that which God had already revealed. The word "confirmed" here is a very important word. Oral Roberts, in his discussion of the gift of prophecy, says that prophecy is more confirmational than it is directional. God confirms through the prophet what God has spoken to His people. Therefore, if someone should prophesy over you and give you a direction, it should be confirmational. God reveals His will to you and then He confirms it by speaking through others to you. So, always accept the fact that God will confirm any prophecy given to you. Judas and Silas confirmed the brethren. They confirmed them in that which God had already spoken to them.
Many times, the prophet speaks with a word of knowledge. But in the prophecies given by Judas and Silas, I do not think there was a word of know-ledge. The prophets did not tell them what the work was; they only confirmed what God had already revealed to Barnabas and Saul. However, Agabus the prophet gave a prophecy at Antioch that contained a word of knowledge. He signified by the Spirit that
There should be a great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:28).
His prophecy had a word of knowledge in it--there is coming a great dearth. Later, at Caesarea, Agabus
Took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles (Acts 21:8-11).
This prophecy also contained a word of knowledge.
These are the ministries of the apostles and the prophets. Paul said that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).
The evangelist is the bringer of good tidings. The most notable evangelist in the Bible was Philip, who went down to Samaria, preached Christ, and turned the whole city upside down. It was in Philip's house that Agabus gave his prophecy concerning Paul's being bound in Jerusalem (Acts 21:8). Even though Philip preaching the word with signs and wonders turned the city of Samaria to God, he did not seem to have apostolic power and authority. The apostles sent Peter and John to the city in order for the Samaritans to receive the fulness of the Spirit (Acts 8:14-15).
Paul told Timothy--a pastor, elder, and an apostle--to do the work of the evangelist (II Tim. 4:5). There is a difference between the message of the evangelist and the message of the pastor. Sometimes we fail to recognize this difference. The message of the evangelist is the good news; the message of the pastor is consecration, dedication, and sacrifice. The evangelist comes to tell us about all of the blessings that God has provided for us, all that God has given us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes people have difficulties with the message of the evangelist, especially the message of prosperity. Years ago when I was pastoring here in the city, many of Oral Roberts' associates came to my church. Oral Roberts preached the message of the evangelist and I preached the message of the pastor. Oral Roberts preached that God is a good God. If you serve God, He will give you abundant life. I preached that if you serve God, the love of God shed abroad in your heart will demand an entire consecration of everything you have. These concepts seemed to be contradictory. Finally, I realized that these are two sides of the love of God. God's love in God's heart caused God to give me all that He has in Christ Jesus. When God's love is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit, I will give everything I have to God. I will act as God acts. So, there is no real conflict.
Paul said to the Romans that if God, acting from the love in His heart,
spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" (Rom. 8:32).
All that God has He has given to us in Jesus Christ. God can create worlds, but He can not create another Son. He can create universes, but God only has one Son. When He gave us His Son, He gave us the best that He had, and He has given us all that He has in Him. This is the message of the evangelist. That same love, shed abroad in our hearts, will bring the same response. We will give our best to God.
These are the two sides to the gospel: the evangelist's side and the pastor's side. The evangelist talks about the goodness of God, the love of God, the blessing of God, the prosperity of God, and the joy of the Lord, while the pastor emphasizes the other side of the gospel--that when we have the love of God, we want to give up everything for Him, consecrate it all to Him, make a complete dedication of our lives to Him. Therefore, we must allow the evangelist to preach his message of blessing and prosperity and let the pastor preach his message of consecration, sacrifice, and dedication.
The pastor is the one who tends the flock of God. He is the shepherd or the pastor of the church and his most important role is the constant guiding and feeding of the flock with the Word. Paul, on his way to Jerusalem where he would be imprisoned, called the elders of the church at Ephesus and told them to
Take heed therefore to yourselves, and all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
The pastor is the shepherd, the one who takes care of the church. Peter called himself a pastor. He was a shepherd. He spoke to the elders and said,
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder...Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away
(I Peter 5:1-4).
I believe these admonitions set forth very graphically the ministry of the pastor. Many elders were pastors who labored in work and doctrine; however, some elders did not seem to have a preaching ministry (I Tim. 5:17). I will have more to say about this when I discuss the role of the elder in the church.
The teacher is the instructor in the Word. Some combine the two functions calling the person a "teaching pastor" or "pastoring teacher." The message of the teacher is gathered from the completed revelation of God which is contained in the Scripture. The prophet speaks by revelation, direct revelation. The teacher speaks from the completed revelation, the Word of God, with knowledge gained through study and with wisdom gained through experience. He reveals what may be known of God through the intellect. While the prophet speaks from the Spirit, bypassing the intellect, the teacher, inspired by the Spirit, speaks from the intellect, revealing that which may be known of God through study, through experience, and through the Word of God.
Therefore, as revelation is the foundation of the prophet, so knowledge is the foundation for the teacher. Luke tells us that there were certain teachers with the prophets in Antioch (Acts 13:1). Paul refers to himself as a "teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity" (I Tim. 2:7) and as a "preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (II Tim. 1:11).
We have discussed the five ministry gifts spoken of by Paul to the church at Ephesus. In the Book of Romans, Paul adds other ministries to these: ruling, giving, and showing mercy. He tells us
For I say through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith....Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness
The three offices he includes here that were not in his letter to the Ephesians are giving, ruling, and showing mercy.
Giving means to share or to impart. Paul exhorts those who minister in earthly things or temporal things to do so as if they are sharing and to do that very generously. God has set certain persons in the church who prosper, who are blessed with material things, in order that they may share those blessings with the whole church. There are two ways to give: 1) we can give by saying that this is mine, but I am going to give it to you because you are in need, or 2) we can share by saying that this is what God has provided in order that I may share it with God's people. Paul said we are to share by saying that God has prospered me and as a good steward of His abundance, I am sharing it with you. I am not giving it to you, I am sharing it with you. It belongs to God and I am his steward. I am the channel through which God would share what He has. Paul said he that he who gives (shares) must do it with simplicity, or, literally, with liberality. Let him do it bountifully. Thus, God sets givers in the church, those who have the function of giving, and He blesses them with material things. Paul said that they who have this gift should share liberally and bountifully.
RULING or GOVERNMENTS
The gift of ruling may be the same as the gift of governments (I Corinthians 12:28). These gifts refer to those who guide or take the lead in the church. The leaders in the early church were bishops, or elders, and deacons. Bishop, or elder, refers to the same function. The term Elder (presbuteros--an older, mature person) speaks of the spiritual maturity of the individual; the term bishop (episkopos--to watch over) speaks of the function of the office, that is, one who watches over or oversees the spiritual concerns of the house of God.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in word and doctrine (I Tim 5:17).
There were elders who taught or preached the word, and there were elders who just exercised spiritual oversight. So "bishop" describes the nature of the work, and "elder" reveals the maturity of that individual's spiritual experience.
In I Timothy 3:2-13 and in Titus 1:6-9, Paul has set forth the qualifications of the bishops and elders--their personal characteristics, their spiritual qualities, and their family relationships.
DEACONS or MINISTRY
The word "deacon" (diakonos) designates the office of the deacon and the word "ministry" (diakonia) designates his function. The deacons were set over the material things of the church. In the early church the people sold all their possessions and had all things in common (Acts 4:32-35). However, some of the Grecians felt that their widows were neglected. The apostles, who did not believe that they should leave the preaching of the word to wait on tables, asked the disciples to choose seven men to minister the material things of the church
(Acts 6:1-7). Among the seven who were chosen were Stephen and Philip.
The early church appointed both deacons and deaconesses. Phoebe was a deaconess in the church at Rome (Rom. 16:1-2). Both the deacons and deaconesses, who are a part of the government or the ruling element in the church, minister in the material affairs of the church. The positions of leadership or government in the early church, then, included bishops or elders, deacons, and deaconesses.
HELPS or SHEWING MERCY
The ministry of helps or shewing mercy in the local church renders assistance to the weak, to the poor, and to those individuals in need. Paul encourages those who are called to this ministry to perform their services with cheerfulness
or with a readiness of mind. The household of Stephanas devoted themselves to this ministry to the saints:
Ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints (I Cor. 16:15).
We know persons who have had a special ministry in helps or showing mercy--Mother Teresa in India, Mother Tucker in Tulsa, a French nun among the garbage people of France--various individuals who devote their lives to caring for the poor, the needy, the destitute, and the suffering. This is a special gift, a direct and special calling.
These are the ministry gifts that were emphasized by the Apostle Paul in his writings. There may be others. The purpose of all gifts, both those given by Christ and those given by the Holy Spirit, is to equip the saints so that each of them may have a ministry. The equipment of the saints will be considered under the concept of the armor of God.
THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We have considered the gift of various ministries which Christ gave to the church; now let us consider His other gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, was to be bestowed upon the church in the form of a baptism. In the New Testament this baptism began to be preached by John the Baptist, and his message is recorded in all the gospels and is quoted by Jesus and Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. Matthew and the other writers of the gospels record that John told his disciples:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).
John the Baptist also promised that Jesus would give the Holy Spirit without measure! Just before John was cast into prison, he was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim and the Jews were trying to dishearten John because Jesus seemed to be baptizing more people than John was. Rather than challenging them, John tells them that Jesus must increase and he must decrease because Jesus is above all, having come from heaven. The John makes an important statement about Jesus:
For he whom God sent, speaks the words of God, for not by measure he gives the Spirit (literal translation, John 3:34).
The King James Version of the bible adds unto him to the sentence.to make it appear that it is God that is giving the Spirit without measure unto Jesus. However, the words unto him are not in the original and the meaning seems to be that Jesus gives the Spirit to His children without measure. Luke records that on the Day of Pentecost "They were all filled with Spirit" (Acts 2:4). If all were filled, then the Spirit was given to each one without measure. Did Peter receive 100 per cent, and doubting Thomas only 65 per cent? No, I believe the Holy Spirit is a person and may not be parceled out. Jesus also promised the disciples that the Father would give them another comforter who would abide with them forever, he dwelt with them but would be in them. God gives to every man a measure of faith (Romans 12:4), and every one is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ephesians (4:7). Grace and Faith can be measured, but how do you measure a person. If the Holy Spirit is a person, He can not be measured, He cannot be portioned out in pieces. He is either in you or He is not in you. He does not leak out. He does not leave you half-full or half-empty. He abides with you forever! You may hinder the work of the Spirit in your life; however, He is still there, even if you ignore Him. Paul tells us that the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy (James 4:5). The Spirit is envious of any person or thing that would take our affection away from Jesus.
Jesus, as He was instructing the disciples after His resurrection about the necessity of waiting in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit, reminded them not only of what John had said but also that He had spoken of the promise:
Wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with
water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4-5).
Peter, giving his defense before the elders at Jerusalem for having preached to the Gentiles, reminded them of what John had said:
Then remembered I [when he saw the Holy Ghost fall on the Gentiles] the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 11:16).
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter answered the question, "What meaneth this?" by affirming that Jesus
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear (Acts 2:33).
And he further admonished them when they asked, "What shall we do?":
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39).
We may assume from the Scriptures that the promise of the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit, or the baptism in the Holy Spirit are all ways of describing the infilling of the Holy Spirit which God had promised to give to His children through His Son Jesus Christ. In addition to the message of John, we have the words of Jesus concerning this experience in the Spirit.
Most of the teachings of Jesus about the Holy Spirit are recorded in the Gospel of John. At the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost
was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39).
From this word of Jesus we learn that the Holy Spirit was to be given to those who believe on Jesus; however, He would not be given until after Jesus was glorified or raised from the dead, and the Spirit would be as rivers of living water flowing from the innermost being of the believers. No one received this experience until Jesus had risen from the dead. This is verified by the words that Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost:
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear (Acts 2:33).
The experience of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost is a fulfillment of the promise of Jesus in John 7:37-38.
At the Feast of the Passover, Jesus gave His most complete teaching on the Holy Spirit. He promised another comforter:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:16-17).
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26).
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 16:7).
Jesus also taught them that the Comforter was the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit would lead them into all truth, glorify Jesus, and reveal to them the things which God had given to them in Him.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:13-15).
When speaking of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, Luke relates the discourse of Jesus on receiving the Holy Spirit:
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?....If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
From this scripture we may assume that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who ask God for Him. However, on the basis of other scriptures, some would say that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given by a sovereign act of God when one accepts Jesus Christ. Thus the question arises, "Is the gift of the Holy Spirit given when one accepts Christ as savior or is the gift of the Holy Spirit given subsequent to one's receiving Christ?" Almost all believers accept the fact that everyone who receives Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit:
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom. 8:9).
However, the Pentecostal believes that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is an experience separate from and subsequent to receiving the Holy Spirit in the new birth. He also believes that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is given to the children of God who ask for it (Luke 11:13), and that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" empowers one for service.
Jesus spoke to His disciples about the Holy Spirit after He rose from the dead. He instructed the disciples to tarry at Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Spirit:
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
[He] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4-5).
In the words of Jesus, the Spirit is to bestow an enduement of power, not a means of salvation. Peter tells that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost and with power and Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38). This is the pattern for all believers. Every believer who receives the Baptism in the Holy Spirit has received the anointing. John tells us that we are anointed:
But the anointing [Holy Spirit] which you have received of him [Christ] abideth in you . . . . (I John 2:27).
Every child of God who is baptized in the Holy Spirit has all of the anointing and the power to accomplish God's perfect will for him. I believe that I have been just as anointed to teach this class over the years as Paul was to be the apostle to the Gentiles. God is no respecter of persons; however, God is a respecter of purpose. So, each one who has the fullness of the Spirit is equipped with the power to fulfill God's purpose for his life. He is anointed to do it! An acquaintance of mine has a 1950's Corvette. One beautiful day he was driving on the turnpike, and he decided to see how fast the car would go. There was very little traffic, the conditions were ideal, and the temptation was great. In a short time he was cruising along at 148 miles per hour. Suddenly, he looked ahead and two highway patrol cars were blocking the lanes of the turnpike. The patrol plane had clocked his speed and notified the patrolmen. As the story was being related, a voice spoke inside me and said, "You can do that!"
I answered, "Do What?"
The voice replied, "Go 148 miles an hour!"
The voice continued, "All you have to do is have the faith to get in the car and the courage to step on the gas pedal. The power is in the car. It is not in the driver. You can do it too!"
Then, I recognized the Spirit was teaching me an important lesson from this incident. I have the Holy Spirit. The power is in the Spirit. It is not in my ability. If I have the faith; if I have the courage; if I dare to live and walk in the Spirit, I can do the impossible! However, I might add a word or two of caution. First, with power comes responsibility. You do not need all of the power inherent in the motor of the Corvette to drive down main street in Tulsa. But it is nice to know the power is there if you need it. Most of us have power to do all that we are doing. One day, as I was asking God for more power, the Spirit asked me a question: "What do you want more power for. Do you not have the power to do all that you are doing?" I had to admit that I did, since about all I was doing was going to church on Sunday and Wednesday prayer meeting! I had the power to do that, even though there were a few times that I did not seem to have that much! When the power is needed, the Spirit will provide it!
The next word of caution is that when any of us starts living and walking in the fullness of the Spirit, there will always be someone, as the patrolmen did, park their
hindrances across the road to stop us. Paul describes it very well:
You did run well,; who did hinder you [who blew up your road] that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7).
Not everyone is going to rejoice if you begin to obey God. Oral Roberts learned this when he tried to answer the call of God on his life. God told him not to be like other preachers or a denomination but to be like Jesus and heal the people as He did. In the early days of his healing ministry he encountered a lot of opposition.
RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST (John 20:21-22)
A most important reference to the Holy Spirit is recorded in the Gospel of John. As the disciples were gathered together, Jesus appeared in their midst and said unto them:
Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:21-22).
In order to place this scripture in proper perspective we must look at it in relationship to the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST (Acts 2:1-39)
In order to understand what is meant by the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, or the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will look at the scriptural accounts of the instances in which people received this experience. By reading the accounts of their experiences, maybe we can gain a perspective about the Holy Spirit. The first recorded instance of the Baptism in the Spirit is on the Day of Pentecost.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there come a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance
As mentioned above, when Peter was answering the question concerning what had happened, he preached that Jesus had been exalted, had received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, and had poured the Spirit out on the people (Acts 2:29-33). Peter declared that Jesus had baptized his disciples in the Holy Spirit and that the promise was to all the Jews who were present, to their children, to the Gentiles, and to all whom the Lord would call (Acts 2:32-39).
The overarching question that must be addressed at this time is whether the Day of Pentecost is the birthday of the church, the moment that the disciples were born again in the full sense of the word and received the infusion of the Spirit, or is it a time of the outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit upon those who had been born again and received an infusion of the Holy Spirit at an earlier time (see John 20:21-22).
Most of us would agree that the disciples could not be born again until after Jesus died upon the cross as the sacrifice for sin and arose as our high priest to take His blood into the Holiest of Holies, into heaven itself. The Old Covenant was in effect until Jesus by His death on the cross instituted the New Covenant. As the writer of the Hebrew letter said
For where a testament is, there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead (Heb. 9:16-17).
Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren; therefore, Jesus is the prototype of the Christian, and there could not be a "Christian" until Jesus rose from the dead. Those who believe that SALVATION and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT are the same identical experience and are just different names for one's being incorporated into the body of Christ, and that there is no SUBSEQUENT experience after SALVATION, would designate the Day of Pentecost as the birthday of the church, the day the disciples were born again and incorporated into the body of Christ by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, those who believe that the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT is not SALVATION, but is an experience SUBSEQUENT to SALVATION, would designate the Day of Pentecost as the time when the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon born-again believers to empower them for ministry. In support of their explanation of the Day of Pentecost, they would point to the experience recorded by John as the time the disciples received the Spirit and were born again:
Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:21-22).
On the day He arose from the dead, Jesus infused them with the Holy Spirit, and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were daily in the temple praising and blessing God. If one puts off conversion until the Day of Pentecost, the disciples must of necessity be in a state of spiritual uncertainty for almost 50 days--from the death of Jesus until the Day of Pentecost--before they were converted.
So we must answer the question in light of our understanding of the scriptures. Is the Day of Pentecost the birthday of the church, that is, the day on which the disciples were fully converted by receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Or, is the Day of Pentecost the day that the disciples, having received the Holy Spirit in the new birth (John 20:22), were endued with the power that Jesus promised them (Acts 1:18)?
A Pentecostal would answer the question of SUBSEQUENCE by pointing out that the disciples were converted when Jesus breathed on them and imparted unto them the Holy Spirit in the new birth (John 20:22), and that the impartation of the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was an experience subsequent to the new birth, which
gave the disciples an enduement of power for ministry.
The persons who believe SALVATION and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT are the same identical experience would say that the disciples were born again on the Day of Pentecost by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Peter gave the scriptural means for such an experience when he said,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
They believe that there is no SUBSEQUENT experience following SALVATION and the so-called EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues is not a normative experience for all Christians.
THE CITY OF SAMARIA (Acts 8:5-17)
The next account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is in the city of Samaria. Philip went to Samaria and began to preach to them about Jesus. The whole city was stirred, many were healed, and many believed and were baptized in water. However, no one in the city received the BAPTISM of the Holy Spirit. Luke records that
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-16).
This account of the Samaritans receiving the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT presents special problems for those who do not believe in a SUBSEQUENT experience of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT after SALVATION. Their usual answer is that the salvation experience of the Samaritans was faulty and they were not converted until Peter and John laid hands on them, even though the record states that "they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ" and that "they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). On the other hand, Luke does not record that the Samaritans spoke in tongues when Peter and John laid hands on them that they might receive the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. So here we have a definite SUBSEQUENT experience of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT but we do not have the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues.
Luke makes an interesting observation in this account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only there were baptized in the name of the Lord
Jesus) (Acts 8:16).
On the Day of Pentecost Peter had established a formula for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit:
Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:39).
For almost ten years this seemed to be the pattern for the believers to receive the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT--repent, be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, Luke, by reminding us of this pattern, sets the stage for a new development in spiritual experience: believers may receive the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT before
they are baptized in water. This occurs when Peter goes to the house of Cornelius to preach to the Gentiles.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL (Acts 9:1-18)
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17).
Again, the key questions concern SUBSEQUENCE and EVIDENCE. The answers to the questions lie in whether Paul was converted when Jesus appeared unto him near Damascus or whether his SALVATION took place at the time he was baptized in water by Ananias. Of course, the Pentecostal would point out that Ananias, whom Paul has seen in a vision as he is praying, calls him "Brother Saul," suggesting that Paul had been converted and was a Christian. Ananias baptizes him in water and Paul receives the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. Even though the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues is not recorded, Paul writes to the Corinthians that "I speak with tongues more than ye all" (I Cor. 14:18).
THE HOUSE OF CORNELIUS (Acts 10:1-47)
As a result of three visions given to him on a housetop in Joppa, Peter was constrained by the Spirit to go to Caesarea to the house of Cornelius. When he inquired of Cornelius why he had sent for him, Cornelius related to him how an angel had told him to send to Joppa and ask Peter to come to speak to them. As Peter began to preach,
The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:44-48).
The Pentecostal would emphasize the fact that the reason the Jews with Peter knew that the Gentiles had received the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT was that they heard the EVIDENCE of speaking with tongues; however, it is difficult for the Pentecostal to prove that this BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT was subsequent to an experience of SALVATION. The angel had promised Cornelius that Peter would tell them words by which he "and all thy house shall be saved," and as Peter preached, the Holy Spirit fell on them.
In his defense before the apostles at Jerusalem concerning his preaching to the Gentiles, Peter rehearsed for them the story of his visions and also the angel's visit with Cornelius:
And he showed us [Peter and the Jews with him] how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God (Acts 11:13-17).
The most important difference between the experience of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT as received by those at the house of Cornelius, and the other recorded experiences, is that they received the experience before they were baptized in water. Therefore, it is difficult to establish a doctrinal position in which SALVATION and/or the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT is/are imparted in water baptism. Also, it is difficult to point out a single method whereby one may receive the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. As Oral Roberts says, "God uses a variety of methods to baptize individuals in the Holy Spirit."
The usual answer to these difficulties is that each of the recorded occurrences of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that does not conform to a preconceived doctrine is an unusual situation: the Samaritan's experience was unusual in that they were a mixed race--Jew and Gentile; the situation at Cornelius' house was unusual since this was the beginning of salvation for the Gentiles; and the next recorded instance of the outpouring of the Spirit is unusual since it involves persons who knew only the baptism of John the Baptist.
THE DISCIPLES AT EPHESUS (Acts 19:1-7)
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. Whey they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve
The major discussion concerning this account revolves around the question of SUBSEQUENCE: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Is the "receiving" SUBSEQUENT to the "believing" or is the "believing" and the "receiving" simultaneous? Some Greek grammarians would argue that the aorist tense used in this statement always has the connotation of simultaneous action; however, other scriptures that have the same aorist tense constructions cannot be construed as simultaneous action. For instance, in the statement of Jesus concerning marriage in heaven:
And the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother (Matt. 22:25).
If the aorist tense always portrays simultaneous action, this man died at the moment he married his wife, and he left no children. Also, in the account of Ananias and Sapphira, Luke records,
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him (Acts 5:6).
If the above rule of grammar be true, the young men were carrying Ananias out and burying him at the same time. Quite an accomplishment. It is difficult from the grammatical rules of the aorist tense to determine the relationship between the "believing" and the "receiving." We bring our own theological bias to the scripture and interpret it accordingly. The Pentecostal would, however, argue for a SUBSEQUENT action in the Ephesians' experience based upon the fact that they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, were baptized in water, and then Paul laid his hands on them that they might receive the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. There must of necessity have been a time lapse between believing, being baptized in water, and then having Paul's hands laid upon them--at least two and possibly three separate events. The Pentecostal would also point out the fact that their receiving of the Holy Spirit was known by the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues and prophesying.
OTHER SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES
The Pentecostal, in further support of his position, would refer to Paul's letter to the Ephesians which implies that the Ephesians were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise after that they believed:
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed: ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:13-14).
Many non-Pentecostals criticize the Pentecostals for building a doctrine of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT on the writings of Luke, the Acts of the Apostles, which is a history book. Others emphasize that Paul's teaching about the Holy Spirit is different from that which is expressed by Luke, and, therefore, Luke's teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is inconclusive.
Paul seems to have written very little concerning a doctrine of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. One of his most important statements is in his letter to the Corinthians:
For by [en] one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (I Cor. 12:13).
The question is whether the preposition en is instrumental--"by one Spirit"--
or locative--"in one Spirit." Does Paul mean that the Holy Spirit "baptizes the believer" into the body of Christ and the scripture refers to the experience of SALVATION? Or, does Paul mean that "in one Spirit," which is the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, the believer is initiated into Christ? Some would say that the scripture is not pivotal because Paul says that we "have been all made to drink into one Spirit" and that may refer to the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
As we have reviewed the scriptural references to the doctrine of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, the GIFT OF THE SPIRIT, or the PROMISE OF THE FATHER, we can see that there are various interpretations of the same scriptures. Therefore, each individual must "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). We now turn our attention to the teaching of the church concerning the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT after New Testament
THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT
OF THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In the light of the scriptural references to the gift of the Holy Spirit, I would now like to present an overview of what the church has taught about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact, I believe the history of the teaching of the church concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the history of the development of the church.
There are three major doctrines--SALVATION, SANCTIFICATION, and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT--that have shaped the church, and each of them, at some period of time, has been thought to be the experience which the Bible calls the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. A renewed emphasis upon one of these doctrines has produced a major revival at some period of the history of the church. I have summarized these teachings into five doctrinal positions as they relate to the concept of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
SALVATION: The doctrine of SALVATION may include such concepts as the new birth, baptism into Christ, regeneration, justification, conversion, initiation into Christ, or forgiveness of sins.
SANCTIFICATION: The teaching of SANCTIFICATION may include such teachings as pure love, holiness, purification of affections, dying daily, eradication of original sin, eradication of the Adamic nature, or sinless perfection.
THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: The doctrine of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, which has been taught as being either of the other two experiences, also has been taught as a separate experience which includes such ideas as enduement of power, power in ministry, power for witnessing, or charismata (gifts of the Spirit).
A renewed emphasis upon each of these doctrines, at some period of the church's history, has produced a revival and has given birth to new churches that have espoused and promoted each particular doctrine. In considering these doctrines, there are two primary questions that we must answer: 1) Is there a spiritual experience which is SUBSEQUENT to SALVATION or some other spiritual experience? and 2) What is the scriptural EVIDENCE that you have
received any one of these spiritual experiences? How one answers these questions usually will determine one's doctrinal position.
THE FIVE DOCTRINAL POSITIONS
POSITION #1: THE EARLY CHURCH TO THE PRESENT
In the early accounts of persons being initiated into the church, the historians inform us that the initiate was baptized in water, anointed all over with oil, clothed with new raiment, given communion, and received the laying on of hands for the impartation of a gift of the Spirit. We can see the symbolic significance of each of these activities in helping the new Christian to understand his salvation, the anointing of the Spirit, the new life in Christ, being one with Christ through the communion service. From New Testament times until the reformation, the church was united around the doctrinal teaching set forth in this position.
The churches in this category believe that all of the experiences--SALVATION, SANCTIFICATION, BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT--are initiated when one is baptized in water which is efficacious for salvation. When one is BAPTIZED IN WATER, he is baptized into Jesus Christ and initiated into the church. SALVATION and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT are synonymous terms, and SANCTIFICATION begins at SALVATION and is a progressive growth in grace. The churches who hold this view are the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the Churches of Christ, some Lutheran, and some Methodist churches.
POSITION #2: THE REFORMATION--1500 TO THE PRESENT
When Luther nailed his theses to the church door, he ushered in a renewed emphasis upon the spiritual reality of SALVATION: "the just shall live by faith." This gave rise to the idea of the "priesthood of the believer" and the need to trust the scriptures rather than the church for SALVATION.
The churches who hold this position teach that all of the experiences--SALVATION, SANCTIFICATION, BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT--are initiated in the experience of SALVATION. SALVATION and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT are synonymous terms, and SANCTIFICATION begins at SALVATION and is a progressive growth in grace. The emphasis on the spiritual aspects of SALVATION that "the just shall live by faith" brought about the Reformation Period. Most of the churches in this category do not consider WATER BAPTISM to be efficacious for SALVATION but as an outward symbol of an inward experience, the "answer of a good conscience toward God." Some of these churches would emphasize that one may be "filled with the Spirit"; however, this is not the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT but rather a special anointing for ministry. The churches who hold this view are the Baptist churches, the Presbyterian Church, the Disciples of Christ, the Congregational Church, some Methodist, and some Lutheran Churches.
POSITION #3: THE WESLEYAN/HOLINESS REVIVAL--1750 TO THE PRESENT
In 1739, Wesley had a heart-warming experience which planted the seeds of the holiness revival. The credo of the early Methodist Church was that it was raised up to take the message of holiness around the world. As the teaching of SANCTIFICATION or pure love became less and less identified with cleansing and more and more identified with a BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT as an enduement of power for service, the stage was set for the Pentecostal revival.
The churches of the Wesleyan, or holiness persuasion, generally teach that SALVATION is received by faith; however, there is a SUBSEQUENT experience of SANCTIFICATION also received by faith which enables one to live a holy life and experience a pure love for God. The experience of SANCTIFICATION became synonymous with the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT (without THE EVIDENCE of tongues); therefore, one received two separate, definite experiences of grace: SALVATION and SANCTIFICATION (BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT). WATER BAPTISM is not efficacious for SALVATION, but it is the "answer of a good conscience toward God," and it may be administered after SALVATION or after SANCTIFICATION. The churches holding this view are the Church of the Nazarene, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Christian Missionary Alliance, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, and the various churches of the Wesleyan/holiness persuasion.
POSITION #4: THE PENTECOSTAL REVIVAL (HOLINESS)--1900 TO THE PRESENT
Around the turn of the century, Charles Parham opened a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas. As the students searched the scriptures for an EVIDENCE of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, they concluded that speaking in tongues was the means whereby one may know he has received the infilling of the Spirit. Agnes Ozman was the first to receive the experience in Topeka, Kansas. The Pentecostal movement spread to Houston, Texas and later to Los Angeles, California. In 1906, the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles began, and people from all over the world came and received the experience of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT with the EVIDENCE of speaking with tongues. For me, Parham was the "Father of the Pentecostal Movement" because he was the first one to formulate the doctrine that speaking in tongues is the EVIDENCE of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. Many had spoken in tongues prior to the Topeka experience, but Parham was the one who made a doctrinal statement about the meaning of speaking in tongues.
Since the first persons who received the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues at the turn of the century were holiness people who had embraced SANCTIFICATION as a second definite work of grace, they added the experience of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT to their experiences of SALVATION and SANCTIFICATION, and thus began to teach a three-fold plan of salvation--SALVATION by faith, SANCTIFICATION, a second definite experience of grace by faith, and the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, a third definite experience received by faith with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues. WATER BAPTISM is the "answer of a good conscience toward God" and may be administered after SALVATION, after SANCTIFICATION, or after the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. The churches who espouse this view of these doctrines are the Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Church of God in Christ, the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), the Church of God of Prophecy, the Church of God of the Apostolic Faith, and various other churches that hold to a Wesleyan view of SANCTIFICATION.
POSITION #5: THE PENTECOSTAL REVIVAL (FINISHED WORK)--1910 TO PRESENT
The first doctrinal division in the Pentecostal movement was over the teaching of SANCTIFICATION as a second definite work of grace. In 1910, Pastor Durham began to preach the "finished work" of Christ and denied SANCTIFICATION as a second definite work of grace. This was the first major division in the Pentecostal movement. In 1914, the first General Council of the Assemblies of God meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, accepted the "finished work" view of SANCTIFICATION rather than the Wesleyan/holiness view. The individuals who embraced this teaching believed that SALVATION is received by faith, and that the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues also is received by faith; however, they teach that SANCTIFICATION begins at SALVATION and is a progressive growth in grace. WATER BAPTISM is not efficacious for SALVATION, but is the "answer of a good conscience toward God" and may be administered after SALVATION or after the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. The churches holding this view are the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, the Pentecostal Church of God, the Open Bible Standard Church, and the United Pentecostal Church.
THE CHARISMATIC RENEWAL: 1960 TO THE PRESENT
The Charismatic Renewal does not fit any of these positions because a Charismatic Christian may hold any of the above views and belong to any of the above churches, with the possible exception of a Pentecostal church. Usually a person who belongs to one of the traditional Pentecostal churches is called a "Pentecostal." A "Charismatic" believes in an experience of a BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT (usually with tongues) and the accompanying charismata or gifts of the Spirit, and may belong to any one of the "non-Pentecostal" churches, embracing any or all of the teachings of that particular church. A Charismatic also may believe that speaking in tongues is not the "initial physical EVIDENCE" of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT as taught by the "Classical Pentecostal," but that speaking in tongues is a CONSEQUENCE of the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Charismatic may also believe that all speaking with tongues is a manifestation of the "gift of tongues," and, therefore, does not accept the concept of a "prayer language," or "devotional tongues."
This brief outline may clarify the question of what the various churches believe concerning the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT and why there are different Pentecostal churches. Several of the present day Pentecostal churches--Pentecostal Holiness, Church of God in Christ, Church of God--were already organized before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1900, and the ministers of those churches accepted the BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues, making it part of the doctrine of their church. After 1900, other churches were established in different parts of the country, and some were the result of divisions in the organized churches.
This completes our study of the provisions of Christ for the church--the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT and the gift of the various ministries. We now turn our attention to the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ: 1) the fruit of the Spirit, 2) the gifts of the Spirit, and 3) the Spirit of Truth.
THE FRUIT, THE GIFTS, AND THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
In the chart, THE SPIRITUALS, we noted that the Holy Spirit comes to produce the character or the personality of Jesus in our lives. Remember, our theme is that we have a complete perfect salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not leave it to happenstance for us to express the character of Jesus Christ, but He gives to us the Holy Spirit. As we live in union with Christ, the Holy Spirit will produce His fruit, the character of Jesus Christ, in us.
There is a difference in the bestowing of the fruit of the Spirit and of the gifts of the Spirit. Fruit depends on the goodness of the individual; a gift depends on the goodness of the giver. Jesus and the Holy Spirit bestow their gifts on whomsoever they will. However, we are not given fruit. We bear fruit. As we live in union with Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit, the Spirit reproduces Christ in us. Therefore, in the day of judgment, by what will we be judged? By how many gifts we have? No, but by the fruit we bear. Near the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them... Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you (Matt 7:22-23).
Even if we possess several gifts, if we do not bear fruit, we will be rejected by Christ. Fruit is the result of a union of a believer with Christ, and we will be known by the fruit we bear. If the tree is good, its fruit will be good. If you saw me under an apple tree and heard me praying, "Oh, God, do not let my little apple tree have cherries this year. Please let my little apple tree bear apples," you would wonder about my sanity. You would think that I was acting very strangely, praying for an apple tree to have apples and not some other kind of fruit. You would probably say, "Hey, preacher, if you just give that little apple tree half a chance, it will produce apples." Right? Isn't it just as strange for Christians to pray, "Oh, Lord, please let me bear the fruit of the Spirit"? If you live in a right relationship with God, you will produce fruit; you will express the character of Jesus Christ.
God will express the fruit of the Spirit through me, if I will let Him. However, if I have prejudice in my heart, I may hinder the work of God. Consider the experience of the Apostle Peter. God gave him three visions on the housetop. In each of the three visions, God said, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (Acts 10:15). Three times God affirmed this to Peter. As a result of the visions, Peter went to the house of Cornelius and spoke to the Gentiles. While he preached, the Holy Spirit fell on them, and Peter rejoiced because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. Later he went to Jerusalem where certain leaders of the church confronted him for going in to the Gentiles and eating with them. Peter's defense was that God had given the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles; therefore, how could he withstand God? As a result, the leaders glorified God because the Gentiles had received eternal life (Acts 10:10-11:1-18). Peter then went to Antioch, and what happened? He would not eat with the Gentiles. Either because of fear or his old prejudice, he refused to eat with the Gentiles, and Barnabas was carried away with the dissimulation. But, did not Peter have three visions? Yes, God gave him three visions. Did he not preach to the Gentiles and see the Holy Spirit fall on them? Yes, he did that. Did he not justify what he did before the elders in the church at Jerusalem? Yes, he did that. However, when he got to Antioch, fear gripped his heart, or prejudice arose again, and he forgot all about God's love. He forgot all about visions. He forgot all about God's Word. He let fear or prejudice grip him, thus the love of God would not flow through him. It is not always easy to allow the Spirit to express the character of Christ through us. However, if we live in union with God, Christ will be produced in us. The Spirit of God will reproduce the nature of Christ. And love, which is the first facet of the fruit of the spirit, will find expression in our lives.
THE NINE FACETS OF THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
Since fruit is a singular word, some say there is just one fruit--love--and all other qualities are just facets of love. Others say that all nine facets make up the one fruit of the Spirit. Maybe one reason that Paul uses the singular word, fruit, is that every Christian should have all nine characteristics of the fruit; therefore, one may not say you have the fruit of love while I have the fruit of joy. Every child of God should express all of the character traits of Christ, not just a special one. Just as a tree will produce fruit after its own nature, so the child of God, will produce the fruit of the Spirit after his nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.
The first facet of the fruit of the Spirit is love, which is the greatest because God is love. God's very nature and God's very essence is love. "God so loved the world that He gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son." This is the love that God Himself bestowed upon individuals who were unworthy of His love, who were not desirous of His love, who were sinners, but whom God loved anyway. This kind of love cannot fail, nor can it be defeated, because it does not ask anything in return. It does not even ask if it may love, it just loves. You cannot stop God from loving you, nor can you keep God's children from loving you.
Three Greek words for love are used in scripture--agapao, phileo, and storge. Agapao is God's love. In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes an eloquent expression of this kind of love:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth (I Cor 13:4-8).
Phileo is the kind of love that finds some value or some intrinsic worth in someone or some thing, so that a strong affection for the object is expressed. These two kinds of love are contrasted in a conversation between Jesus and Peter:
LOVEST THOU ME?
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas lovest [phileo] thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest [phileo] thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my Sheep (John 21:15-17).
In the third appearance of Jesus after His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter a question, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these?" and Peter answered, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee." Jesus used agapao in the first two questions, and Peter used phileo in his answers. Finally, in the last question Jesus uses phileo. Jesus said unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me?" Peter is grieved but he never affirms a love that he is not sure he has. I have to admire Peter for that. Many of us affirm a strong love for God, but we fail to express that love. At that moment, Peter could only say that he had a strong affection for Jesus. Later, he reached that highest love and could say to those in trials,
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).
I think that Peter eventually could have answered Jesus, "agapao--I love you," but at that moment, he wasn't ready.
Another lesson that I learned from this conversation was that I should love the giver of the gift more than I love the gift. Jesus had given Peter one of the greatest catches of fish he had ever known--he could not get all the fish in the boat. Then Jesus asked Peter the question, "Lovest thou me more than these?" In other words, "Peter do you love me more than you love the great catch I have given you?" This is an age-old question, and it is the question that underlies the discussion between God and Satan over Job. As God was telling Satan of Job's good qualities, Satan challenged Job's character by saying,
Does Job fear God for nought? (Job 1:9).
In other words, Satan suggested to God that Job only served Him for the blessings God had given him, but that Job would curse Him if he was no longer blessed. After suffering every trial and temptation that Satan could devise against him, Job's love stood secure and he said,
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).
Job loved God more than he loved the things God had blessed him with. Today, Satan is still challenging God about His children with the same accusation, and many fail the test.
After Jesus had fed the 5,000 men and their families, they followed Him, and He began to teach them about the bread of God. Finally, He said,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53).
Jesus did not want them to follow him for the miracles or the loaves and fishes, but He wanted them to be one with Him. However, the people said that this was a hard saying, and they went back and walked no more with Him. Turning to the disciples Jesus asked, "Will ye also go away?" Peter answered,
Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life (John 6:60-68).
As long as Jesus fed the multitude, they were content to follow Him; however, when He asked them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, to be one with Him, they turned away from Him. "Lovest thou me more than these?" is the fundamental question.
Storge speaks of familial love, a love of family. Storge is used with "philos" in Paul's letter to the Romans:
Be kindly affectioned one to another (Rom. 12:10).
Another Greek word for love not used in the scripture is eros, from which we get the term erotic love, the kind of love that wants to possess someone, to manipulate them, and to use them for its own pleasure.
FAITH IS ENERGIZED BY LOVE
So agape love is the first facet of the fruit of the Spirit. We have seen the depths of it, the quality of it, and the power of it as we have read Paul's words. This love is powerful because it is this kind of love that energizes faith. Sometimes we wonder why our faith does not work. Paul says,
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6).
If your faith is not working, you need to examine your "love life." Faith is energized by love. Years ago I became rather distressed because I did not think God was saving and healing as many people as I thought He should. So I began to earnestly seek the Lord and started praying, "God, why are you not saving the people?" "Why are you not healing the people?" "I want you to have mercy on them." Seemingly, the Spirit brought a hush over my soul, and He whispered, "I have already had mercy. Now, I want you to have mercy." As I meditated upon those words, I realized that God has already done His part in the salvation and healing of people. If I would begin to love people, and if I would begin to have mercy on people, they would be saved. It was that simple. It is easy to place the responsibility on God and say, "God why do You not save them?" But God answers, "Why do you not love them?" I have found that if I want people to be saved, the best way to get them saved is to start loving them. When I want people to be healed, the best way to see them healed is to start loving them. When I desire people to be blessed, the best way to bless them is to start loving them. When I started loving them, things started happening: faith is energized by love. Faith is energized by love.
Paul emphasizes this truth in his discourse on love:
...and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing (I Cor. 13:2).
Faith without love may hinder the work of God. If some people had the faith to move a mountain, I wonder whose yard they would put it in?
PRAY THE LORD OF THE HARVEST
We have often heard it said that if you cannot go to the mission field, you can send someone. However, that is not exactly what Jesus said. Jesus said,
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest
Why did Jesus say for us to pray that He would send forth labourers? He knew that if we prayed, we would probably be the first to volunteer to go. It is true. I challenge any of you to start praying about the needs of any place in the world. If you are sincere, love will arise in your heart for that place, and you will be the first to go. You will go. Why? Because faith is energized by love. The moment you start loving a nation, loving a people, loving a person, loving the sick, loving the homeless, loving the lost--when you begin loving, your faith will be energized,
and God will begin to save, to heal, to work miracles through you. Love is very powerful because it energizes faith.
LOVE AND HOLINESS OF LIFE
Love will keep God's words and God's commandments. Jesus said,
If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23).
One night a little phrase came bubbling into my consciousness:
If I do, I did; He does!
Remember the lawyer who came to Jesus tempting him and saying:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:35-40).
Jesus is telling His disciples that if they love Him, they will keep His words (commandments). And if they keep His words, they love Him! Therefore, if I do (If I love Him), I did keep His commandments, because His commandments are that I love Him. And If I keep His commandments by loving Him, He does dwell in my heart.
John later says that Jesus gave us a new commandment to replace one of the two that were under the Law. We are not to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but by the new commandment, Jesus commands "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another"(John 13:34-35). Therefore, If I do (love God and love Jesus), I have kept His commandment; He does (dwell in my heart).
Paul says that love is the fulfilling of the law,
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
and love is the bond that ties all things together into a perfect whole:
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness ( Col 3:14).
Have you ever tried to quit a habit? The more you think about giving it up, the more you desire it? The more you want to overcome something, the more powerful it seems to become. However, there is a way to holiness of life, and that way is to fall so completely in love with Jesus, that nothing else matters. If you fall in love with Jesus Christ, completely and totally, nothing else will matter. One day I fell in love with Jesus, and nothing else mattered. My heart's desire was to please Him. My heart cried, "Lord I love you."
If you are struggling to live a holy life, if you are fighting against sin, if you are trying to commit yourself to God, fall in love with Jesus. If anyone loves and worships Him, Jesus promises that
My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:21-23).
GOD COMMITS HIMSELF TO LOVE
Love will bring intimacy with Jesus and the Father. Faith will give us the things of God, but love will give us God Himself. God does not necessarily commit Himself to faith, but He commits himself to love. Faith will bring the gift; love will bring the giver. Faith will bring the healing; love will bring the healer. Faith will bring a blessing; love will bring the one who blesses. John made an interesting observation about Jesus at the Passover in Jerusalem, when many were believing in His name after seeing the miracles that he did. John said,
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men (John 2:23-24).
Jesus did not commit himself to them even though they believed, but He has promised to commit himself to us if we love. If you want Jesus to abide with you, love Him. Jesus is the reward of love.
John was called the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was always very near Christ. At the cross, as Jesus was dying, He said to John,
Behold thy mother! (John 19:26-27).
Jesus committed his mother to the care of John because He knew that John loved Him.
The second facet of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. Paul said,
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom 14:17).
We must remember, however, that these qualities are the fruit of the Spirit and are, therefore, traits of character that are beyond the realization of man by his own efforts. In fact, Jesus, in speaking to His disciples concerning the vine and the branches, makes it clear that it is His joy that they share:
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
His joy is everlasting, a "joy that no man taketh from you" (John 16:22). In teaching them about the new relationship they will have with the Father through His name, Jesus said:
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).
In His prayer He reminds the Father that He is coming back to Him and has spoken to His disciples in order that "they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). His joy was the inner strength that sustained Him on the cross, as the writer of the Hebrew letter shares with us:
Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2).
David was caught up by the Spirit and prophesied how the hope of joy was the power that sustained Christ as he endured His sufferings,
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalms 16:10-11).
Peter, James, and John all caught the vision of this joy. James exhorts,
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations...that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).
Peter echoes the same idea as he encourages the church scattered abroad through persecution to remember that the
Trial of your faith... might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love...yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:6-8).
John says that he is writing to his fellow Christians about what he had seen and heard "that your joy may be full" (I John 1:1-4).
This joy of the Lord produced in our hearts by the Spirit enables us to fulfill the prophetic admonitions found in the scriptures:
Rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 3:1);
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Phil. 4:4);
Rejoice evermore....In everything give thanks
(I Thess 5:16-18).
Joy is the ability to rejoice and be content in whatsoever state you find yourself, to be able to cope with all of life's situations and problems. When the Christians were persecuted, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were beaten, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were put in jail, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were told not to preach, what did they do? They rejoiced. Everything was a cause for joy. How can you defeat people like that? Neither the devil nor the cares of life can ever defeat a person as long as that person rejoices in the Lord. In whatsoever situation you find yourself, the Spirit will enable you to give thanks, rejoice, and to express the joy of the Lord.
Peace is harmony or wholeness. Real peace is being in harmony with God, in harmony with yourself, and in harmony with your fellow man. That is real peace. There are two scriptures that speak of this peace:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
And let the peace of God rule [act as umpire] in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful (Col. 3:15).
Paul admonishes the Christian to allow the peace of God to act as a garrison, as an armed force, around about his heart. You have to allow peace to guard the heart and the mind by determining what thoughts are allowed to come into the heart through the mind and also by guarding what goes out of the heart. You should not let any thought find lodging in your heart that destroys the harmony of your life or distresses your mind; neither should you allow any word to proceed out of your mouth that destroys your harmony with your brother or causes discord among the brethren. You need to allow the peace of God to guard your heart so that harmony is preserved. By your words you can create strife among people, or by your words you can create peace. What you let in your mind and heart can distress you and cause you to become agitated, upset, disturbed, and anxious. Or, you can refuse to accept those thoughts--"bring them into obedience to the captivity of Christ"--and let the peace of God keep you. You need to be at harmony with God. You need to be at harmony with your fellow Christian. You need to be at harmony with yourself. The peace of God will keep you. Remember, from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. You need to bring anything that would upset you or destroy that peace under subjection, or you will speak the agitation and distress of your heart causing strife and hurt to others.
In the second scripture, Paul uses the image of an umpire--the one who makes the decisions concerning how the game is played. He says you must let the peace of God decide all matters of the heart, how the game of life is played. Everything must be brought under subjection to that peace--every thought, every word, every deed. You must remember that the peace of which he speaks is not the peace you find in the world, but the peace which passeth understanding, the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said,
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
My peace I give to you. You have the peace of God that passeth all understanding. The peace of God will rule and guard your heart. Jesus has given us this peace. Again He said,
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
My peace I leave with you. In this world you shall have tribulation. The Greek word for tribulation is thlipsis. It means pressure. In this world we are going to have all kinds of pressures. When we think of tribulation, we think of being persecuted by people; however, Jesus said that in this world we will have plain old pressure--social, economic, spiritual, physical, or mental. However, in the midst of the pressure, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," and "My peace I leave with you."
If you get too much pressure on the outside, you cave in, you become depressed. If you get too much pressure on the inside, you blow up, you explode, you get angry. Many spend all of their time either blowing up or caving in. They are too high, or they are too low. The Holy Spirit equalizes the pressures. He enables you to have harmony and peace. He helps you to maintain an equilibrium in your Christian walk. You do not have to be too high; you do not have to be too low; you can live a consistent life with the peace and the harmony of God in your heart.
There are two words that express the concept of patience in the New Testament: 1) Makrothumia (great temper)--patience with regards to persons, and 2) Hupomone (to abide under)--patience with regard to things. We need both kinds of longsuffering--patience with people who irritate and provoke us, and patience in the annoying circumstances of life. The word used here by the Apostle Paul is makrothumia, patience with regard to persons. Sometimes we think we just can not live under certain conditions. We cannot tolerate people or circumstances that are making our lives unbearable. The Apostle Paul found himself in such a situation and he prayed three times that God would alter, or ameliorate, the conditions in which he found himself day by day:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (II Cor. 12:7-9).
Three times he prayed, and he told God that he could not live under those conditions. His cry was, "God I can't take it anymore. The scourgings, the afflictions, the distresses, the reproaches, the persecutions, the imprisonments, the stonings, and the care of all the churches are more than I can bear." But in all three prayers, God gave him only one answer, "My grace is sufficient for thee." That was God's answer. God did not say that He would take the thorn away. God did not say He would make it any easier. He just said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Therefore, by the grace of God, Paul could, with patience, endure the thorn in the flesh, the buffeting of the messenger of Satan. There is only one reason for failure in the Christian experience. The failure is not caused by conditions or circumstances. We fail because we do not appropriate the grace of God. God's grace has provided whatever we need to live in any condition and under any circumstances with joy and thanksgiving.
There is a powerful little scripture tucked away in one of Paul's greetings:
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household (Phil. 4:22).
The saints in Caesar's house salute you. Isn't that great? The saints in Caesar's house salute you. Caesar, Nero, was very cruel--torturing, murdering, and destroying every Christian he could find. But in his palace, handing him his cup every day was a Christian; making his bed was a Christian; waiting on his table was a Christian. Caesar desired to destroy them, but they were right in his house. You can serve God in any place under any condition. While Caesar was ordering his soldiers to kill every Christian they could find, the Christians were living in his palace. If people can live for God in Caesar's house, they can live for God anywhere. Longsuffering, then, is being patient, is being able to endure, is being able to live life joyfully and victoriously in every situation.
Gentleness and goodness are companion words. Gentleness is goodness in action. Gentleness, or kindness, is goodness in action. Paul believes the gentleness or kindness of God is the foundation of our salvation,
That in ages to come he [God] might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness
toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).
God reveals His goodness through the acts of kindness bestowed upon us in Christ. You may perform many acts of goodness, but you need to perform them with gentleness. Be gentle. God's children ought to be gentle people, gentle men and gentle women, with good manners and respect one for another. Gentleness is goodness in action.
One of my favorite Bible illustrations of gentleness is from the experience of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 38:1-13). The prophet had been cast into the dungeon and was sunk down into the mud. Imagine: Jeremiah, the prophet of God, in a dungeon, waist deep in the mud. A servant of Zedekiah, the king, told the king of Jeremiah's situation and the king told him to get the prophet out of the dungeon before he died. Now, that was an act of goodness on the part of the king. To get the preacher out of the mud and out of prison was a good deed. On the way to the dungeon, the servant stopped under the king's treasury and found some old cast clouts (old pieces of leather or cloth), and old rotten rags, and a rope. At the dungeon he saw the prophet in the mud and he threw him the rope, the clouts, and the rags. Jeremiah put the rags and pieces of leather around him, under the rope. When the servant pulled him out, the rope wouldn't hurt him. The rope was goodness; the rags were gentleness. We like to help people, but sometimes we are not very gentle. Sometimes we think people ought to hurt a little when we help them out of the mess they are in. We think, "You got yourself in this mess, and I am going to help you get out; however, you need to hurt a little so you will remember it." However, if the gentleness of Christ flows through us, we will not want to hurt them.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault [down in the mud], ye which are spiritual, restore [throw him a rope and some clouts] such an one in the spirit of meekness [gentleness]; considering thyself, lest thou also are tempted [you are the next one who falls in the mud and someone pulls you out without any rags] (Gal. 6:1).
Be gentle in your dealings one with another. You do not have to be rude. You can be gentle when you deal with God's children. When you see your brother in a fault, be gentle with him. Be kind.
The moral quality of goodness is the fruit of the Spirit that prompts us to do good deeds, while gentleness is the way we do them. Paul prayed that
God would...fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness (II Thess. 1:11).
in the lives of the Thessalonians. God takes pleasure in bestowing the benefits of His goodness upon His children. As we mirror the image of Christ, we will reflect that goodness toward others. In fact, Paul said that the
Fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness [agathosune] and righteousness and truth...proving what is acceptable unto the Lord (Eph. 5:9-10).
Fruit is produced in goodness, as Jesus said, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit" (Matt. 7:17). It is interesting that there are very few individuals in the scriptures of whom it is said that he was a good man. One of these was Barnabas. When the church heard that a revival had broken out in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to the city. Luke records of Barnabas that
He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people were added unto the Lord (Acts 11:24).
The next quality Paul discusses is faith. Paul speaks of faith as a fruit of the Spirit and faith as a gift of the Spirit. God is so concerned about our having faith that He does not leave it to chance, but He gives us different ways to obtain faith. Faith as a fruit is faith in process. Because it is a fruit of the Spirit, it is produced by the Spirit. Paul tells us that this "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). As I hear the word of God and act upon the word of God, faith comes into my heart and begins to mature until, finally, I have a knowing, a witness, and I receive what I ask of God. This is the fruit of faith, a faith that comes, grows, matures, and brings to fruition my desire.
Faith, as a gift, does not grow. The Spirit drops it in your heart, fully mature. You may be driving down the street, not thinking of anything in particular, and all of a sudden, the Spirit drops faith in your heart for a need. It does not grow. You might not even be thinking about God, but suddenly faith drops in your heart. The end result is the same as with faith as a fruit; however, one is process and one is an event.
It is very difficult to distinguish between faith and working of miracles. A definition that may help is that faith is the ability to receive things from God, and working of miracles is the ability to do things for God. Faith is the ability to receive things from God. Working of miracles is the ability to do things for God. Faith is a knowing, a conviction based on hearing the Word. Either way, whether fruit or gift, faith comes. Whether it is a gift of the Spirit which God just drops in your heart, or whether, as you act upon the word, faith comes. Faith comes.
The author of Hebrews wrote,
But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that
he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).
Since faith is necessary, the Spirit gives you two ways of receiving it. One is through a process of living in union with Jesus Christ,
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you [faith comes], ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).
The other is by a sovereign act of the Spirit implanting faith in your heart as a gift. The Spirit gives you a knowing that God has done what you need to have done (see discussion of faith as a gift under Gifts of the Spirit).
Meekness is a tempered spirit, a spirit yielded to God. Meekness is a fruit of power, yet it is the opposite of self-assertiveness. A meek individual knows who he is, is confident in his relationship with God; therefore, he does not have to assert himself. Meekness is not weakness, because Moses, the meekest man on the face of the earth, was a man of decision and courage. He made decisions. He had courage. He spoke with authority. He knew who he was, was confident in his ability, and acted upon that knowledge.
As Paul was discussing his desire to visit the Corinthian Church, he referred to those who were "puffed up" because he had not visited them. He asks them in what manner would they like for him to come:
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness (I Cor. 4:1721),
Paul was a meek person, yet he was tough when clothed with the power of God. He was willing to use whatever measures were necessary to further the kingdom of God: the rod of chastisement or the spirit of love and humility. "For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Cor.4:20), and meekness is a fruit of power. It is a gentleness that comes from strength, power clothed with humility.
Temperance, self-control, is the proper use of one's abilities, by keeping the power of the will under the guidance of the Spirit. Temperance is to have control over. The word comes from kratos--force, strength, or power. Temperance is power. The wise man said,
...he that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32).
It is easier to control a city than it is to control yourself. Temperance is the ability to exercise self-control.
Paul uses imagery from the world of athletics to illustrate the necessity of temperance in the Christian life. He says,
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Cor. 9:24-27).
The keeping of the training rules to the Greek athlete was just as important as winning the prize. In an early recorded prayer, an athlete asked his god to let him win the prize, if he had kept the rules and had trained properly. Paul affirms this idea, "lest...when I have preached [taught the rules] to others, I myself should be a castaway [disqualified--not allowed to compete or, having won, be declared ineligible]."
In the above passage, Paul emphasizes the fact that everything that he did was to qualify for the prize: he did not run uncertainly--just to be running; he did not "beat the air," or "shadow box," but he made every blow count; and he "kept under his body," literally "beat his body black and blue" to keep it under subjection lest he yield to its desires and be disqualified. He exercised self-control.
These, then, are the nine facets of the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the character or the nature of Jesus Christ being reproduced in me and finding expression through me by the Holy Spirit.
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
We now turn our attention to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the enablings of the Spirit. Jesus said,
It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you (John 16:7).
And again, He said,
The works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father (John 14:12).
Jesus went to His Father to send us another comforter, that we might be able to do the works that He did, and even greater works than He did. We can interpret this either qualitatively or quantitatively. It is through the operation of the Holy Spirit within us that we are enabled to do His works. And they are called the gifts, the manifestations, or the appearings of the Spirit.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will
(I Cor. 12:7-11).
The manifestations, or the appearings, of the Spirit are given to every man to profit withal. The bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit depend upon the goodness of the giver. However, the expression of the fruit of the Spirit depends upon the goodness of the individual. If you are an individual living in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, His nature, His character is produced in you and expressed through you by the Holy Spirit. But the gifts of the Spirit are not based upon one's spirituality. They are premised upon the goodness of God.
On the first day of January, 1941, I went to a little church and began to pray; on the eighteenth of March, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit; and on the third of April, I preached my first revival sermon. I received a ministry gift. How spiritual was I? Who knows? However, God did not give me a gift because I was spiritual; God gave me a gift because He was a good God. How mature was I? How spiritual? I don't know. But God gave me a gift. So a gift depends on the goodness of the giver. But whatever fruit, whatever Christlikeness I express in my life is the result of over 50 years of living in union with Christ.
Sometimes we think that when the Holy Spirit manifests a spiritual gift, it must be a extraordinary experience. However, it dawned on me one day that gifts of the Spirit were being manifest through me. The Spirit whispered, "A word of wisdom or a word of knowledge often manifests itself through you, and you are not conscious of my presence." So, even though we may think that the Spirit does not manifest any spiritual gifts in our lives, we can be sure that the Spirit of God has manifested a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, faith, a gift of healing, a miracle for someone, and we were not aware of it. These gifts do not have to come through some supernatural phenomenon; they are part of the everyday experience of the Spirit-filled child of God. The Holy Spirit manifests them. The Spirit does it.
People define the gifts of the Spirit in various ways. Some list all of the ministry gifts and the spiritual gifts as gifts of the Spirit. Others classify them into various functional categories. Also, there has been a discussion about whether the gifts are in the church, in the Spirit, or in the individual. The answer is "Yes." The gifts are the property of the Spirit, they are manifest in the church, and they are manifest through the individual. But they are different from the ministry gifts of Christ. The ministry gifts that are given by the Lord Jesus Christ are offices set in the church. The manifestations of the Spirit are not offices set in the church. The Spirit may manifest one of His gifts through anyone at any time. They are manifest according to His sovereign will for a specific purpose at a specific time. However, Jesus sets certain people as teachers in certain churches. He calls certain people to be pastors of certain churches. If I went to your church, took your pastor by the hand and told him that I was going to be pastor of the church that morning, especially until after the offering was taken, what he would say? He would probably say, "I think not. I am set in this church as pastor." However, if I went to your church and told the pastor that the Lord had given me a spiritual gift for the church, he might allow me to minister the gift to the congregation. The manifestations of the Spirit appear and disappear, but the ministry gifts of Christ are settled in the church.
I have classified the gifts into three categories: The gifts of knowledge, the gifts of power, and the gifts of utterance.
THE GIFTS OF KNOWLEDGE
A WORD OF WISDOM
The gift of a word of wisdom is not a gift of wisdom, it is a word of wisdom given which one speaks by the Spirit. If one has an I.Q. of 70; he may speak by the Spirit with the wisdom of a genius. However, after he has spoken, his I.Q. is still 70. He may have learned something, but his IQ did not change. He spoke a word of wisdom as the Spirit gave him utterance. What is a word of wisdom? A word of wisdom is a word given by the Spirit that solves a problem, or answers a question, or enables one to give an expression of his faith.
GIVE TO CAESAR (Matthew 22:16:22)
What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?...Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's (Matt. 22:17-21).
The Pharisees came to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?" Jesus asked them to show Him a coin. He asked them whose image was on it. They said that Caesar's image was on it. Jesus responded that they should give to Caesar that which belonged to Caesar and give to God that which belongs to God. After that, they did not want to ask Him any more questions. Jesus gave them an answer through a word of wisdom: "Give that which belongs to Caesar [his coin] to him." And since you bear the image of God, give yourself to God. Jesus answered their question by a word of wisdom, and they marvelled at His words.
WHAT SHALL THE GENTILES DO? (Acts 15:1-31)
In the 15th chapter of Acts we are told that the church met together to determine what to do about the Gentiles who were being converted. What kind of lifestyle would they require of the Gentile church? Would they bind the ten commandments on the Gentiles? Would they make them keep the Jewish dietary laws? Must the Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law of Moses? What about the Sabbath Day? After much debate, James said,
Wherefore, my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:19-20).
The leaders accepted James' word and sent letters to the churches saying, "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things" (Acts 15:28). The Gentiles were not to be bound by the ten commandments, Jewish traditions, or other teachings of the Jewish religion. Rather they were to observe only these four necessary things. This was a word of wisdom. The Spirit of God gave James a word of wisdom.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL GIVE YOU WHAT TO SPEAK (Mark 13:11)
Jesus admonished his disciples to take no thought about what they would say when they were brought before rulers, for it would not be they who should speak but the Holy Spirit. He also said, "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (Luke 21:15). This is graphically illustrated in the experience of Stephen in his disputation with the Libertines
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke" (Acts 6:8-15).
ASK THE LITTLE BOY
When Oral Roberts attended the World Congress on Evangelism at the invitation of his friend Billy Graham, a native pastor asked him a question. A family in his church had brought a sick child to him, put the child in his hands and said, "Pray for our little boy." He told Oral Roberts that his church taught that the day of miracles was over. He was taught that he should not pray for people to be healed. Then he said, "I prayed for the little boy and God healed him. Brother Roberts did I do the right thing?" Oral Roberts started to give him a
theological answer, but the Holy Spirit checked him, and he said, "Why don't you ask the little boy?"
A word of wisdom is a gift of the Spirit that will provide the solution to a problem, give the answer to a question, or inspire a verbal defense of one's faith.
A WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
A word of knowledge is simply a knowing. A knowing. It is almost like seeing a television screen. You know what is in the past, in the present, or in the future.
NATHANIEL UNDER THE FIG TREE (John 1:45-51)
When Jesus met Nathaniel, he said, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee." A word of knowledge. He knew that Nathaniel was under the fig tree. He saw him there.
CATCH A FISH (Matt. 17:24-27)
When Peter was confronted by the tax collectors about paying tribute, Jesus knew that he was troubled and said,
Lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook [not even a baited hook?], and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee (Matt. 17:27).
How did Jesus know that there was a fish with money in its mouth that would bite an empty hook? He was given a word of knowledge. He knew the fish would be there through a word of knowledge.
AGABUS THE PROPHET (Acts 11:27-30) (Acts 21:10-13)
Oral Roberts teaches that a prophecy is more confirmational than directional. At Antioch,
As they [prophets] ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them (Acts 13:2).
And later at Antioch, Judas and Silas,
being prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them (Acts 15:32).
Sometimes, a prophet will speak a word of knowledge. In one instance, Agabus, the prophet,
signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:28).
On another occasion,
He took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle (Acts 21:11).
The Spirit spoke a word of knowledge by the prophet. Sometimes the prophet speaks with a word of knowledge; sometimes he prophesies without it. But when Agabus gave those two prophecies, he spoke with a word of knowledge. He knew Paul would be bound in chains, and he knew there would be a drought in Jerusalem, just as if he saw it happening.
ELISHA THE PROPHET (II Kings 5:1-27)
When Elisha healed Naaman the leper, Naaman offered Elisha "a blessing" which Elisha refused. But Gahazi, Elisha's servant, thought that he should receive something. When Naaman drove off, the servant of Elisha went after him and told him that two young men of the sons of the prophets had come and He would like to have a talent of silver and two changes of raiment for them. Naaman gave him more than he asked. When Gehazi returned, Elisha asked him where he had been. He said, "Thy servant went no whither." Elisha answered, "Went not my heart with thee?" Elisha knew exactly what he had done. How? The Spirit gave him a word of knowledge. Elisha then told Gehazi, through a word knowledge, that the "leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out of his presence a leper as white as snow"
(II Kings 5:27).
A WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN HEALING (Acts 14:6-11)
Many times a word of knowledge is manifest in conjunction with a gift of healing. At Lystra, Paul saw a man who had been a cripple from birth among those listening to him speak. Through a word of knowledge Paul perceived that he had faith to be healed and said to him, "Stand upright on thy feet." The man leaped to his feet and began to walk (Acts 14:6-11). Often, when Richard Roberts is ministering, the Spirit gives him a word of knowledge concerning the physical needs of the people in order to encourage them in their faith so they may receive the gift of healing that God has for them.
BUY THE LAND
In California, in 1961, Oral Roberts, phoned his associate in Tulsa and instructed him to go and buy the land for the university that day. His associate said, "The man won't sell it." Oral Roberts said, "Go today." The associate went to the man's house and inquired about purchasing the land. The man said that he and his wife had decided the night before to sell the property. How did Oral Roberts know which was the day to buy the land, after they had tried for months to purchase it? The Spirit had spoken a word of knowledge.
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
The third gift in the category of knowing is that of discerning of spirits. There are three kinds of spirits: the Spirit of God, the spirit of Satan, and the spirit of man. Sometimes things are of God. Sometimes things are of Satan. Sometimes things are of the spirit of man. Often we blame God or Satan when it is really the human spirit that is causing a situation. Perhaps, part of the reason for the confusion in the Corinthian Church was that they were following the human spirit. Paul does not tell them that they do not have the Spirit of God, nor does He tell them that the devil is at fault. Rather he says,
I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ" (I Cor. 3:1).
He could not talk unto them as unto men, but as unto mere babes. They were following their human spirit. They were doing what they wanted to do, instead of allowing the Spirit of God to use them for God's glory and in God's purpose. Therefore, we need a discerning of spirits to know what kind of spirit--God's, man's, or evil--is influencing a situation.
A DEAF AND DUMB SPIRIT (Mark 9:17-27)
As Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, a man brought his son to Jesus for deliverance from a spirit which would cast him into the fire, then cast him into the water. Jesus healed the boy by casting a deaf and dumb spirit out of the child. Not all convulsions are caused by spirits. Some are caused by organic or physical problems. However, there are some convulsions that are caused by spirits. We need the discerning of spirits to know if a spirit is causing the problem and to know what kind of spirit it is. How many of us would believe that a deaf and dumb spirit was causing that young man's infirmity? Jesus did, because He discerned the spirit.
LEGION AT THE TOMBS (Mark 5:1-20)
When Jesus met the man at the tombs in the country of the Gadarenes, He knew that an unclean spirit was tormenting the man. He made that spirit give his name, which was Legion, for there were many spirits in the man. After all of the spirits were cast out of the man, they entered a herd of swine, causing them to run into the sea and drown. Through discerning of spirits, a Christian may know the number and names of the evil spirits that are tormenting an individual.
GET BEHIND ME SATAN (Mark 8:27-33)
When Jesus began to speak of His rejection and death, Peter began to rebuke Him. Jesus said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan...for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Peter was disturbed because Jesus was talking about going to Jerusalem to die. However, Jesus discerned that Peter was being influenced by the wrong spirit, and He rebuked him for it.
The challenging part of this incident is that Peter had just received his greatest revelation of Jesus saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Yet, within a few minutes, he was rebuked by Jesus and told, "Get behind me Satan." We need to be able to discern the spirits so we know which things are of God. God may give you a great vision, but if you are not sensitive to the Spirit of God, the devil may influence the way in which you carry out that vision and hinder the work of God. If you start in the Spirit, you cannot be made perfect by the flesh. If you begin a work in the Spirit, you have to complete it in the Spirit.
These, then, are the gifts of knowledge: a word of wisdom, by which you speak a solution to a problem, give an answer to a perplexing question, or give an insight into a situation; a word of knowledge by which you are able to have a knowledge of things, either past or present or future; and the discerning of spirits, the ability to know whether the Spirit of God, or Satan, or the human spirit is the motivating power.
THE GIFTS OF POWER
THE GIFT OF FAITH
The gifts of power are faith, working of miracles, and gifts of healings. Since "Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)," God has given two ways of producing faith in our hearts: faith as a fruit of the Spirit and faith as a gift of the Spirit. Faith is both a fruit of the Spirit and a gift of the Spirit. Faith as fruit of the Spirit is faith in process. Even as fruit develops and matures, so faith grows. Faith as a fruit is faith in process:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:12).
As you read the word, as you speak the word, as you live the word, as you act the word, faith comes. When faith matures, a knowing is present, and your miracle is accomplished (see a discussion of faith as fruit under the "Fruit of the Spirit").
Faith as a gift, however, is faith as an act, an event. You do not do anything to receive it. As you are going through the routine things of life, faith is dropped in your heart by the Spirit. This is faith as a gift. The Holy Spirit gives it. The end result is the same. In other words, whether the knowing that you have in your heart is the result of faith as a gift or faith as fruit makes no difference, because it is faith. It is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). There is a knowing in your heart. That knowing can be developed as a fruit as you abide in Jesus Christ and His word abides in you; or the Spirit of God can just drop it in your heart out of the clear blue sky as a gift of faith.
ABRAHAM, THE FATHER OF FAITH
The best example of a man receiving a gift of faith is Abraham, father of faith. When Abram was 86 years old, God spoke to him and said,
Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be (Gen. 15:5).
Years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God spoke to him again about his children:
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee" (Gen. 17:5).
Paul sets forth the faith of Abraham:
(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken. So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through un-belief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being full persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform (Rom. 4:17-21).
Abraham believed God, and he went around praising God and saying, "I am the father of many nations." He would enter a city and the Chamber of Commerce would ask, "What is your name?" He would answer, "My name is Abraham. I am the father of many nations." They would reply, "Oh, great, where are your children?" Abraham would say, "I don't have any." Then the conversation would be repeated, "What did you say your name was?" "My name is Abraham; I am the father of many nations." "And where are your children?" "I don't have any kids, but I am the father of many nations." As the neighbors look over the backyard fence at him, they are even more puzzled. Abraham is standing out there with Sarah, stroking his beard, and he is counting stars and saying, "Sarah, look at them: Kids, Kids, Kids." The neighbors wondered about them, but of course, the neighbors realized that they were harmless, just senile. You would not necessarily have to institutionalize anybody just for going around talking about kids. One day, though, the Lord appeared and set the day for the blessed event. Upon hearing this, Sarah laughed. This is the way faith came to Abraham. God dropped faith into his heart. He believed in the God who calls "those things which be not as though they were"; "he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief"; and he "against hope believed in hope" that he might become the father of many nations. God had spoken, and Abraham believed God. He went around praising God, and God brought it to pass. That is the gift of faith--faith to receive from God.
GIFTS OF HEALINGS
The terms "gifts" and "healings" are plurals. If someone says that he has the "gift of healing," he would be suggesting that he could heal every illness or everybody. On the other hand, for one to say that he had "gifts of healings" leads to various interpretations of this manifestation of the Spirit: 1) a person may have more success in bringing healing for one type of illness than for others; 2) the Spirit may impart a specific gift of healing for a specific illness at a specific time; or 3) a person may bring healing for the same illness in a variety of ways. For instance, Jesus used various methods in the healing of blindness: He touched eyes (Matt. 9:27-31), He spit in eyes (Mark 8:22-26), He spoke the word over eyes (Luke 18:35-43), and He told one man to wash in the pool after He had spit on the ground, made a mudball, and placed it on the man's eyes (John 9:1-41).
One of the major concerns about the gifts of the Spirit, especially the "gifts of healings," is that we want to make a method out of the means by which the Spirit manifests Himself. The different ways that Jesus healed the blind could give rise to a variety of doctrines of healing. We could organize the "Spit in the Eye School," the "Wash in the Pool School," or the "Speak the Word School." People would then join a school, embrace the doctrine as THE truth, and teach that method as the ONLY way God can perform a healing. However, we cannot reduce God to a method; He is a person. He has a variety of ways of meeting the needs of His children. There are many ways to be healed; therefore, the Spirit bestows "gifts of healings." God through His Spirit will manifest the particular gift of healing for someone in need through any one of His children.
WORKING OF MIRACLES
The Greek phrase for "working of miracles" is in the plural. Literally, it means "(energemata dunameon--operations of works of power)" Even as there is no gift of healing, which would enable a person to heal everyone, so there is no gift bestowing the power to work miracles at will. The Spirit may move on anyone to manifest a work of power in a certain situation.
There are many opinions about the gift of working miracles, even as there are about the gifts of healings. Some place healings in the people realm and miracles in the natural realm, calling a miracle any activity that is contrary to the natural course of things. Miracles have to do with inanimate objects: the changing of the natural course of events or the overriding of the laws of nature. For example: Jesus turns the water into wine (John 2:1-11); Jesus feeds the five thousand men and their wives and children with five loaves and two fishes (Matt. 14:15-21); Paul speaks blindness upon Elymas, the sorcerer (Acts 13:7-11); Paul shakes off the serpent which had fastened upon his hand and is not harmed (Acts 28:3-6); or Paul and Silas are set free from prison by an earthquake (Acts 16:22-34). These are operations of works of power.
THE GIFTS OF UTTERANCE
As we begin our discussion of the gifts of utterance, may I remind you of the words of Paul:
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols [gods who cannot talk], even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 12:2-3).
The Christian serves a God who speaks by His Spirit. Paul says that if we speak by the Spirit of God, we cannot say that Jesus is accursed. He also contends that if we say that Jesus is Lord, we must speak by the Spirit. Finally, he declares that if we serve a god who does not speak, it must be a dumb idol.
In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul discusses various ways that God speaks by His Spirit: devotional tongues (the prayer language), the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and the message of the prophet.
THE PRAYER LANGUAGE
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself (I Cor. 14:4).
"Devotional tongues," or the "prayer language," is an utterance spoken to God in a tongue given by the Spirit that is not understood by the person who is speaking, because it bypasses the intellect. To be understood, it must be interpreted. It has as its purpose a prayer or an expression of praise. When spoken by an individual to God in private devotion, or, if spoken in a public service to God under one's breath, not aloud, it edifies the one who speaks.
THE GIFT OF TONGUES
I will pray with the Spirit...I will sing with the Spirit...Else when thou shalt bless with the Spirit (I Cor. 14:15-16)
The gift of tongues is an utterance spoken by the Spirit that is not understood by the speaker or the hearer(s), but is spoken to God audibly in the midst of others. Its purpose is to offer a prayer for the body of Christ or to offer thanksgiving to God for the body of Christ. In order to exercise the gift of tongues to edify the church, there must be an interpretation so the body will know the mind of the Spirit in the prayer or understand the praise offered by the Spirit to God and join in the prayer or thanksgiving with understanding. The gift of tongues enables us to pray collectively in the Spirit, or to make a collective psalm of praise in the Spirit, either of which is directed to God.
A special manifestation of tongues appeared on the Day of Pentecost. After the 120 believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues (the prayer language) as the Spirit gave them utterance, they went out of the upper room to the street corner. On the street, as certain of the disciples (Galileans) spoke in tongues (the gift of tongues), people of various nations heard in their own languages the wonderful works of God. The Spirit manifested the GIFT OF TONGUES through the speakers in order to give a PROPHECY to the hearers. It was not TONGUES AND INTERPRETATION because the people heard them speak in languages they understood.
This manifestation has occurred various times since that day. A person will give an utterance in a language unknown to him but which is understood by the hearer, revealing his need of God. A person speaks by the inspiration of the Spirit in a GIFT OF TONGUES and gives a PROPHECY in the language understood by the hearer, and "thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest...and he will worship God" (I Cor. 14:25). The Spirit may speak a prophecy through any of us by the gift of tongues to a person whose language we do not understand in order to give him a witness to the wonderful works of God.
While I distinguish between speaking in tongues as a private devotional exercise (Oral Roberts has termed this the "prayer language") and the gift of tongues which is for ministry to others, not every Charismatic would accept this distinction. However, most Pentecostals make a distinction between devotional tongues (the prayer language--speaking in tongues in prayer and praise to God in private devotions) and the gift of tongues, (expressing publicly the prayer and praise of the church in tongues to God), which must be interpreted.
THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret (I Cor. 14:13)
Interpretation of tongues does not mean translating the utterance in tongues, but rather giving the meaning of what is spoken to God in tongues. If one interprets an utterance in tongues, he gives the meaning of that utterance. A person may give a five-minute utterance in tongues followed by a one-minute interpretation, or a one-minute utterance may be followed by a five-minute interpretation. Interpretation does not translate word-for-word. It simply gives the meaning of the utterance in tongues. The interpretation would usually be a prayer or praise, revealing what is said to God. Oral Roberts, however, enlarges the meaning of interpretation to include God's response to that which is spoken. Under this concept, the interpretation of an utterance in tongues could be a prayer, a praise, a prophecy, a word of wisdom, or a word of knowledge. However one may view the gift of interpretation, Paul points out that the utterance in tongues is always spoken to God, while prophecy is always spoken to man.
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, exhortation, and comfort (I Cor. 14:3).
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted (I Cor. 14:31).
Prophecy is an utterance spoken by the Spirit in a language understood by the hearers. It is spoken by the Spirit, bypassing the intellect, and its purpose is edification, exhortation, and comfort. The person speaks on behalf of God to men. I make a distinction between the gift of prophecy given by the Spirit and the message of the prophet who is a gift of Christ to the church. The prophet speaks the mind or will of God for a specific purpose--often in judgment, often with a word of knowledge. The number of prophets who may speak is limited (v. 29), and the message of the prophet is to be judged by others (v. 29). The gift of prophecy is for a different purpose, is not judged, and is unlimited (v. 31).
These are the gifts of utterance that Paul discusses with the church at Corinth. In order to better understand these gifts, we will make a comparison and contrast study of the teachings of Paul in fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians.
THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF I CORINTHIANS
FOLLOW AFTER CHARITY
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts [pneumatikos--spirituals], but rather that ye may prophesy (I Cor. 14:1).
The theme of the thirteenth chapter, love, carries over into Paul's discussion of tongues and prophecy. The key concept in the fourteenth chapter is edification which is produced by understanding. Paul speaks of "edification" six times (verses 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 26); he speaks of "understanding" seven times (verses 2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20). All of the spirituals should produce edification for the body of Christ. This can only happen if the body of Christ understands the mind of the Spirit. We are to pursue love, desire spiritual gifts of which prophecy is the most desirable, and seek to excel in the edifying of the church.
In the opening verses of this chapter, Paul establishes the "direction" (to whom the utterances are addressed) and the "purposes" of the utterances. Here is a schematic that may help us as we compare and contrast prophecy with tongues and interpretation of tongues.
TO WHOM SPOKEN
Tongues is spoken TO God in an utterance not understood by the speaker or the hearers. It must be interpreted for the edification of the hearers.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries (I Cor. 14:2)
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself (I Cor. 14:4)
Prophecy is spoken FOR God in a language that is understood by both the speaker and the hearers. Its purpose is to edify, exhort, comfort men.
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation. and comfort
(I Cor. 14:3).
Paul compares and contrasts the persons to whom utterances in the Spirit are addressed. If we speak in tongues, we speak mysteries by the Spirit to God. No man understands what we speak to God in tongues by the Spirit because we speak mysteries. However, if we prophesy, we speak for God by the Spirit to men. Many times we hear it said that tongues and the interpretation of tongues is the equivalent of prophecy. I believe that Paul distinguishes between these two manifestations of the Spirit, even though tongues with interpretation may be as edifying to the church as the gift of prophecy. One distinction is that tongues are always spoken to God, while prophecy is always spoken to men. Another disctinc-
tion is in the edification of the speakers and the hearers. The person speaking in tongues edifies himself, while the one who prophesies edifies the church (I Cor. 14:4).
EDIFICATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself (I Cor. 14:4)
There are several ways that speaking in tongues may edify the individual. First, because speaking in tongues is speaking by the Spirit, we are edified by knowing that the Holy Spirit is resident within us. If we become depressed and feel as though we do not have a friend in the world, not even God, we can be built up in the spirit by speaking in tongues knowing that the comforter, the Holy Spirit, is abiding within us. We are built up and comforted.
Second, speaking in tongues releases the creative power of God. If we are willing for the Holy Spirit to speak through us in a language that does not seem to make any sense, or does not seem to have any value, we are more willing to open up our lives so the Holy Spirit might express other gifts through us.
Third, when we pray with the Spirit or sing with the Spirit, our prayer or our praise is in harmony with the will of God. This is edifying because we have confidence that when we pray, we know that we receive the things we ask of God according to His will. We have a sense of completeness and fulfillment which is edifying as we worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
Fourth, speaking in tongues is a rest and a refreshing. Isaiah prophesied that speaking with stammering lips or another tongue is a rest and a refreshing:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is
the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear (Isaiah 28:11-12). (Also see Addendum)
This rest and refreshing form the basis for Paul's declaration that the person who speaks in tongues edifies himself.
PURPOSE OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit (I Cor. 14:15-16).
The purpose of the gift of tongues, an utterance in tongues spoken to God, is to pray in the Spirit or to sing (psallo) in the Spirit. Paul's concept of blessing with the Spirit combines praying and singing in the Spirit. As the body of Christ comes together, the Spirit may gather up the needs of the church as if it were one individual and through a prayer in tongues present those needs to God. The Spirit prays a collective prayer for the body through an individual who prays in tongues. When the utterance is interpreted, the body is edified because the church understands what the concerns of the Spirit were in presenting the needs of the church to God.
In like manner, when the body meets, the Spirit may gather up the praise and thanksgiving of the church, express it in a song (psalm) and speak that psalm to God. When the utterance is interpreted, the body is edified because it understands the expression of praise that the Spirit spoke to the Father. The phrase "I will sing (psallo) in the Spirit" may be translated "I will psalm in the Spirit"; therefore, the Spirit is giving the church a psalm comparable to the psalms found in the Book of Psalms to express the emotional and spiritual concerns of the church.
PURPOSES OF THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort
(I Cor. 14:3).
When I speak of prophecy in this context, I am speaking of the simple gift of prophecy, the spiritual manifestation of prophecy and not the message of the prophet. Paul makes a distinction between the gift of prophecy (ye may all
prophesy one by one [I Cor. 14:31]) and the prophetic revelation given by a prophet (Eph. 4:11). The purposes of the gift of prophecy are edification, exhortation, and comfort.
One of the purposes of the gift of prophecy is edification, to promote the spiritual growth and development of the hearers. He that speaks in tongues to God edifies himself. He that prophesies to men edifies men, building them up. Philip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). They prophesied under the anointing of the Spirit to build up the church, to promote spiritual growth, and to promote the development of the hearer. To build up the saints at Corinth the Apostle Paul wrote,
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work
(II Cor. 9:8).
Another purpose of the gift of prophecy is exhortation. The word for exhortation, paraklesis, is also translated comforter. It means to admonish another, or urge another person in a future course of conduct. The one who prophesies exhorts someone to do something. For instance, Paul exhorts us to:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Quench not the spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:16-22).
These prophetic admonitions urge us to pursue a future course of conduct.
The other purpose of the gift of prophecy is to comfort. The word (paramuthia), translated comfort, means "near speech." A friend draws close to somebody and solaces them by the Spirit. The Spirit is very tender toward God's children and, through prophecy, He tries to help, to succor people, who have experienced trials or sorrows or tragedies. He brings them close to God and comforts them. Paul states it beautifully:
Blessed be God...Father of mercies...God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we our
selves are comforted of God (II Cor. 1:3-4).
The purpose, then, of the gift of prophecy is edification, exhortation, and comfort as contrasted to the purpose of tongues which is prayer and praise.
WHY PROPHECY IS GREATER THAN TONGUES
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying (I Cor. 14:5).
Paul reveals to us that while he wishes that all would speak in tongues, he would rather that we would prophesy, since prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, except the tongues should be interpreted. Prophecy is the greater gift because we are speaking for God to persons in languages they understand. We do not have to interpret the language; they understand what we are saying. Tongues is of little value to anyone except the person who does the speaking, unless there is an interpretation. If there is an interpretation, then there is a significance to the tongues that are spoken because the church can receive understanding through the interpretation.
WHAT IS SAID IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE METHOD OF SPEAKING
Now brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? (I Cor. 14:6).
Paul is careful to point out that speaking in tongues, or in any other language, is not what is important, but rather what is said, the content of the speaking, is of utmost importance. This is why Paul states, "Now, brethren, if I come unto you by speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you?" For instance, if I came to class and taught the lesson in a language that you did not understand, you would be profited very little.
Paul also says that there are basically two types of speakings that profit the church: prophecy and doctrine (teaching). Paul uses four words--revelation, knowledge, prophesying, doctrine--to discuss these two concepts. The foundation of prophecy is revelation by which one speaks for God. Prophecy does not come from the mind; it comes from the direct revelation of the Spirit and is spoken to the people. The Spirit gives the words, He gives the utterance; the person speaks the prophecy. The foundation of teaching, on the other hand, is knowledge. If one teaches, he speaks by knowledge. He speaks from the Word (the completed reve-lation of God), from experience, and from knowledge gained by years of study. My teaching comes primarily as a result of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. Teaching comes from the completed revelation of God; prophecy comes by the direct revelation of God. The Bible is the completed revelation of God. We teach from that knowledge. Prophecy, the direct revelation, comes by the Spirit's speaking through us to individuals. Paul said that if he came speaking some kind of tongue that was not understood, even though it was given by the Spirit, he would not profit or edify them. There are only two speakings that edify the church, according to this context: one is prophecy, based on revelation, and the other is teaching, based on knowledge. These are the utterances by which the church is edified.
ALL SOUNDS MUST HAVE SIGNIFICANCE
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore, If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me
(I Cor. 14:7-11)
Even inanimate objects that give sound, whether a pipe or a harp, must provide a distinction in the sounds, or we will not know what is being piped or harped. The sounds themselves are not important, but what they signify is. Have you ever thought about how strange are the sounds that make up a language? We glug and gargle and goo and gaggle and cackle and hiss and hum--we make all those sounds, yet the sounds have significance. We puff and hiss and spit, "Passssss a piesssss of pizzzzzzzza," and someone hands us a gastronomical delight. Amazing!
Paul says that even though the sounds may have a meaning to others, if there is no distinction in sounds, they may not have meaning to him. This is why the older generation does not understand certain kinds of music made by the younger generation. They cannot make a distinction in the sounds. Young people enjoy a rock concert, but the older generation wonders what is going on.
Then, Paul says, "so likewise you, except you utter by the tongue, words easy to understand, how shall it be known what is spoken?" Even though a person may be speaking by the Spirit in the tongue of angels, it will be as though he is speaking into the air. There are many kinds of voices in the world, almost 3,000 different dialects in which to express an idea, and every one of them has meaning to somebody. But, to the majority of us, only one, or a very few, have significance. For, as the apostle said, "If I don't know the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me," even though he is my brother in Christ.
Remember, it is not just the speaking that is important, whether it be angelic or the common language of the people. For we may listen for an hour to a speaker who has nothing to say and we are not edified. What is important is whether or not the church is edified.
This is why Paul said, "I would that you all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied" (verse 5), because in prophecy we are speaking in a language that can be understood for the purposes of edification. And this is why he also said, "Let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret" (verse 13). People must have an interpretation of what is spoken in tongues if they are to be edified.
EXCEL IN EDIFYING THE CHURCH
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret
(I Cor. 14:12,13).
When we read the scriptures, it is important to see the connections between the verses: the "wherefore's," the "even so's," the "for if's," the "what is it then's," and the "else when's." All of these little words have meaning. They all have a significance because each of these connectives is relating that scripture to something that the writer has already said and is providing a logical foundation for his argument.
Paul declares that if we are going to be zealous about spiritual things, if we are going to speak in tongues, if we are going to give utterances in the church, if we are going to be zealous of spirituals, we need to be zealous in finding ways that we may excel in the edifying of the church. This should be our desire. WHEREFORE, if we want to be zealous of spirituals; WHEREFORE, if we are going to edify the church; THEN, if we speak in an unknown tongue, we must pray for an interpretation. Why an interpretation? So we can edify the church. If we are speaking in tongues, we are edifying ourselves. However, if we are going to speak out in public, then we need to have an interpretation so someone else can understand what we are saying.
In these scriptures, Paul is also emphasizing common courtesy in personal relationships. Why would anyone, ministering in love, desire to edify himself at another person's inconvenience? It is not proper for me to edify myself by speaking in tongues while others sit there not understanding what I am saying, especially if they are unbelievers. It would be as if I invited them to my home, then sat at the dining table eating a good meal without asking them to eat with me. I am enjoying myself, edifying myself, while they are hungry. Paul's guidelines are based upon love and a consideration for the needs of others--"Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth [well-being]" (I Cor. 10:24).
THE NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING
For if I pray [or speak a psalm] in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays [or speaks a psalm] but my understanding is unfruitful (I Cor. 14:14).
When we pray in the Spirit our spirit prays and we are edified. However, Paul instructs us to pray for the interpretation in order to understand what the Spirit is saying and illuminate our intellect. As John said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29). We need to hear the voice of the Spirit to help us understand the will of God. What is the Spirit's prayer to God in our behalf? What is the psalm the Spirit is speaking to God? What is the blessing that the Spirit would bestow upon us?
Since we are praying or psalming in the Spirit, we are blessing by the Spirit in an excellent manner and our spirit is edified. However, without an interpretation, we are not receiving the full benefit of the manifestation--our understanding is unfruitful, our intellect is not enlightened. To receive the full spiritual and intellectual benefit, we should pray and psalm both with the Spirit and with the understanding.
I WILL PRAY WITH THE SPIRIT
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding....(I Cor. 14:15).
Paul will not be satisfied with anything less than the fulness of the blessing of the Spirit. He is determined to not only receive the full benefit of the spiritual edification of speaking in tongues, but also to receive the benefit of the intellectual stimulation of understanding what the mind of the Spirit is in the experience.
When we pray in tongues, our spirit prays but our understanding is unfruitful. If we pray in a tongue, our spirit is praying by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and we are talking to God. Tongues are to God. Our spirit is praying. We are speaking in tongues by the Spirit, so the Holy Spirit is prompting our spirit to speak in tongues to the Father in prayer. At those times when we do not know what to pray for, Paul gives us an answer,
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God
We know not what to pray for, and even if we did, we do not know how to pray for it, so the Spirit prays the prayer for us, through us, according to the will of God. Isn't that tremendous? God desires to answer the prayers of His children; therefore, He does not leave it completely to us to try to determine for what or how we should pray. Instead, He prompts our prayer through His Spirit, who prays the prayer according to His will and, as a result, God gives us the desires of our hearts. The Spirit prays for us, through us, so that God may give our desires to us. Wonderful!
So when I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, and I am speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But, unless there is an interpretation, my understanding is unfruitful! I am praying, my spirit is praying, but my intellect is not enlightened. It is not enough just to be edified spiritually. Paul wants us to have understanding, to be edified intellectually. It is not enough just to pray in the Spirit and think, "Well, I am very spiritual." No, I need understanding. I will pray with the Spirit (my spirit will pray by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), and
I will also pray with the understanding. I must have an interpretation of my praying or singing in tongues.
I WILL PRAY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING
To pray with the understanding is to interpret the tongue in which we pray, thereby knowing the meaning of the prayer. As I mentioned earlier, Oral Roberts enlarges the concept of interpretation: "When I pray in the Spirit by speaking in tongues and then I pray in English, one or two things may happen: I either speak what I said to God in prayer or praise, or I speak God's response to me." God's response may include three other speakings by the Spirit: a word of wisdom; a word of knowledge; a prophecy.
The concept of interpretation has posed a lot of questions for people. Oral Roberts, in a meeting with the Deans, shared with us what he believed about praying with the Spirit and praying with the understanding. He said that after he prayed in the Spirit, he would then pray in English, and try to sense if there was a direct relationship between his speaking in the Spirit and his speaking in English. Sometimes, his English prayer gave the meaning of his prayer in the Spirit. Other times, in his English prayer there was a new idea, a new concept, a word, a phrase, or a sentence that was anointed of the Spirit and was impressed upon his mind.
Perhaps the best way I can illustrate his explanation of praying with the Spirit is by discussing the way we read the Bible. Most of us believe that the Bible is given by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Holy men of God wrote the Bible as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even though it is inspired by the Spirit, we sometimes read whole chapters, and do not receive anything. Why do we read the Bible at times and do not get any inspiration from it? Is it because that part of the Bible was not inspired by the Spirit? The answer is that even though the word was inspired by the Spirit, at that moment He did not quicken any of it to our hearts. So it is with praying in the Spirit. We might pray in the Spirit and then pray in English, but there seems to be no correlation between our prayer in the Spirit and our prayer in English. The Holy Spirit did not quicken or interpret our prayer in the Spirit to us.
Other times, however, we read a chapter in the scriptures and a single word is illuminated, a word becomes alive. The Spirit quickens that word to us and through it, He interprets the whole chapter. Sometimes from a phrase, the Spirit may bring the whole chapter alive. This is an illustration of tongues and interpretation. We pray in tongues and we pray in English, but seemingly receive nothing. The Spirit does not interpret even a word from our prayer. Nothing. Then, we pray in tongues and we pray in English and we receive a new idea, a new concept. Or, we may pray in tongues and pray in English and receive a whole phrase or a whole prayer. God may give us an interpretation of the whole prayer. Therefore, when we pray in the Spirit, let us pray that we may interpret that we may understand what the Spirit is saying.
The reason Oral Roberts emphasizes tongues and interpretation is that through these gifts the University came into being. He walked over this land asking God how to build a university. For years he had preached a Pentecostal message that included speaking in tongues and all the gifts of the Spirit. However, it was as he was praying in the Spirit about building ORU that he began to interpret what the Spirit was saying and God gave him a word of knowledge. He began to see the outlines of the University.
Evelyn Roberts heard him praying in the Spirit and interpreting and she thought, "Finally, Oral has lost his mind." But, he explained what had been happening to him. He related that as he prayed in the Spirit and began to interpret the prayer, God began to illuminate his mind and he began to understand a way of communicating with God and a way of understanding what the Spirit would have him do in relationship to building the University.
If the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues illuminate the intellect, when we hear an utterance in tongues and an interpretation, we should meditate on it, trying to understand it. We have the mind of Christ, and if we have the mind of Christ, we ought to understand the things of God. So, when we hear an utterance in tongues, let us listen to what is being said, and ask ourselves, "What is this?" "What is the Spirit saying?" If it is a speaking by the Spirit, it should have some value to us; it should have meaning. We should listen, trying to understand what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I WILL SING WITH THE SPIRIT
I will sing [psallo] with the spirit, and I will sing [psallo] with the understanding also (I Cor. 14:15).
A good translation of this scripture would be: I will make a psalm with the Spirit; and I will make a psalm with the understanding also. I will offer my praise to God by the Spirit.
Paul joins praying and singing together and says, "Else when thou shalt bless by the spirit" (verse 17). Therefore, the purpose of tongues is to bless by the Spirit. My prayer and my praise are to bless. Speaking in tongues is prayer and psalming to God in order to bless, and the interpretation is for men that they might share the blessing of my thanksgiving and say amen at my giving of thanks.
In his letter, James likewise admonishes the Christians to pray and to sing:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms [psallo] (James 5:13).
James uses the same word that Paul used. This concept of singing with the Spirit, or blessing with the Spirit by offering your thanks to God, is beautifully echoed in the following two scriptures:
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody [psallo] in your heart to the Lord;
giving thanks [eucharisteo] always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:18-20).
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16).
In Ephesians, Paul admonishes us not to try to find escape in wine but to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody (psallo) in our hearts to the Lord. We are singing, making melody, and giving thanks to the Lord, but we are speaking to ourselves. So, when we are filled with the Spirit, what do we do? We make a psalm in the Spirit to the Lord (he that speaks in tongues speaks to God, verse 2), but we speak to one another (the interpretation of the tongue is for men, verse 5). We make psalms. We are speaking to ourselves, but we are singing and making melody to the Lord. This is singing with the Spirit and with the understanding. We are singing and making melody (by the Spirit in tongues) to the Lord, but we are also speaking to one another (by interpretation) in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
In Colossians, Paul says almost the same thing when he tells us that we are "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." We are singing (by the Spirit in tongues) to the Lord, but we are admonishing and teaching one another (by the interpretation). We are singing to the Lord but teaching and admonishing one another. This was rather puzzling to me until the Spirit seemingly said, "Why don't you read the Song of Moses?"
THE SONG OF MOSES
Moses spoke a song to God, and He told Moses to write the song down and teach the children:
Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel...Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel...And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended (Deut. 31:19,22,30).
God told Moses to write the song down as a witness for the children, to teach and admonish them. After Moses wrote the song, he spoke it to the Children of Israel.
After reading this scripture, I began to understand better what Paul meant by the scriptures, about singing or psalming in the Spirit. We make a psalm to the Lord, (tongues are to God), and then the interpretation of the psalm is given for teaching, for admonishing, or for encouraging one another. The song is spoken to the Lord, but in the interpretation we are speaking to one another. I believe this is why so many utterances in tongues seem to be spoken to people instead of unto God. They seem to be a message to men, not a psalm to God. If the Spirit desires that we use the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and admonish, we can understand why we may believe that tongues and interpretation are the same as a prophecy.
Next, the Spirit asked me to read Paul's song book. And I thought, "What! Read Paul's song book? What is that?" He said, "The Book of Psalms." I thought that if Paul said, I am going to sing in the Spirit, I should look in his song book (the Book of Psalms) to find out what his concept of a song was. As I began to read the psalms; I realized that many of the interpretations that I heard in the church after an utterance in tongues paralleled the psalms. I found that the interpretations that blessed the people also seemed to echo the psalms. The
Spirit, through tongues and interpretation in the form of a song, was giving to the body of Christ new psalms for today.
I began to study the variety of psalms that were written and spoken to God. It was amazing how many different kinds of songs there were. The psalmists wrote about things that we might not think would be appropriate for a song to God. There were around twenty seven psalms of prayer. These are songs that David or others sang or spoke as prayers to God. Fourteen psalms were psalms of praise. Even though they were singing to the Lord, the songs were written down to bless the people. I concluded that in singing or psalming through tongues and interpretation God is giving to the church up-to-date psalms. In other words, we do not always have to go back to the twenty-third psalm to receive comfort; God can give us a psalm for today that blesses us and refreshes us in the now--a psalm for today.
I also found that there are twenty one psalms of exhortation. It seems unusual to sing an exhortation, but that is what they did. These psalms of exhortation probably sounded like prophecies. Then there are twelve "country and western" psalms, songs of complaint, the "He done me wrong kind of songs." The psalmist complained to the Lord about how his enemies had wronged him. I estimate that there are twenty one psalms that make a statement, thirteen psalms of description, two of thanksgiving, and about seven psalms of declaration. Notice how widely the psalms vary. Often when we read a psalm, we feel that it is a message to the people; however, they sang or spoke them to the Lord. I believe that what happens in tongues and interpretation is that a psalm, according to the pattern of the Book of Psalms, is sung or is spoken to God, while the interpretation of the psalm is given for the teaching and admonishing of the people.
Most of the psalms were spoken or chanted, but there were also songs with melody. We sing hymns, spiritual songs (any song that is brought forth by the Spirit), and psalms. Three kinds of songs may be given by the Spirit. Some songs may be interpreted, some may not. When they are not interpreted, the singer is edified by his own singing of them. When they are interpreted, not only is the singer edified in the singing, but the understanding of the hearer is illuminated in the hearing.
ELSE WHEN THOU SHALT BLESS WITH THE SPIRIT
Else when thou shalt bless [eulogeo] with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks [eucharisteo], seeing he understandeth not what thou
sayest? For thou verily givest thanks [eucharisteo] well, but the other is not edified. I thank my [eucharisteo] God, I speak in tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue (I Cor. 14:16-19).
Paul sums up praying in the Spirit and singing in the Spirit by saying, "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit..." The purpose, then, of tongues and interpretation is blessing with the Spirit, through prayer or through praise. But if you bless with the Spirit (in tongues), how is the person going to say "Amen" at your giving of thanks if you do not interpret your blessing or offering of thanks? In this very interesting passage of scripture, the Apostle Paul is stating how we offer thanks by the Spirit.
From the Greek word eulogeo, translated bless, we derive our word eulogy. A eulogy presented at a funeral pronounces a blessing on the departed one. From the Greek word eucharisteo, translated giving of thanks, we derive our word eucharist or the Communion, a time for the offering of thanks. When we bless or eulogize by speaking in tongues by the Spirit, how can the unlearned man who does not understand what we are speaking by the Spirit say "Amen" at our eucharist or offering of thanks?
Then Paul implies, "Now do not get upset at me for what I said because you offer thanks (eucharist) very well." Certainly, if we are offering thanks by the Spirit (in tongues), we have to be doing it very well, because we are offering our thanks by the Spirit. However, Paul says that the other person is not edified because he cannot understand our offering of thanks (in tongues). In a variant reading of the Greek text, Paul affirms that he offers his thanks to God in the same manner:
I offer thanks [eucharisteo] to my God by speaking in tongues more than ye all (I Cor. 14:18).
In the King James text, we find this reading:
I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than ye all (I Cor. 14:18).
The only difference in the Greek manuscript used in the King James translation and the variant reading is an "n" on the end of the Greek word for "speak." If Paul wrote, "glossais lalon," it may be translated "by speaking with tongues." If he wrote, "glossais lalo," it may be translated, "I speak with tongues." I believe the variant reading fits the context more appropriately, which would make the passage of scripture read:
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at your offering of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily offerest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I offer thanks to my God by speaking with tongues more than you all. Yet in the church, I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue
(I Cor. 14:16-19).
Whichever translation we choose, blessing the people by words they understand is paramount to Paul. That is why he has spoken of edification and understanding so many times in these scriptures. Yet, Paul offers his thanks to God by speaking with tongues more than anyone else. He admonishes the Corinthians to
"forbid not to speak with tongues" (I Cor. 14:39), because he understands the value of speaking in tongues in order to edify one's self even if there is no interpretation.
TONGUES AS A SIGN (See Addendum)
Paul turns his attention to the purpose of tongues for the unbeliever-- tongues as a sign. This is another difficult passage. Some Bible commentators believe the translation has confused the meaning. But I believe that the passage is translated correctly. Paul writes,
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth
(I Cor. 14:21-25).
The key phrase is: "Yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." God said that He was going to speak to the people through men of other tongues and other lips, yet, they would not hear Him. Paul, therefore, said that tongues are for a sign, not to the believers, but to them that believe not. However, he points out that the tongues were not going to convince the unbelievers because God said they would not hear nor understand what was happening.
Many believe that if God said tongues are for a sign, then the more we speak in tongues the more we will convince people by the sign of tongues. However, God said that they will not hear. Therefore, Paul declares that if the whole church comes together in one place and all speak with tongues and the unlearned or unbelievers come in, they will say that we are mad. Why would they think that tongues were a sign? Because God said, "They will not hear me." God is speaking through His people in tongues under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but the unbelievers will not accept the sign. God ordained that He would speak to men--that tongues are a sign--but that when we speak in tongues, the people will not believe it is of God. This was true at Pentecost ("these men are full of new wine" (Acts 2:13), it was true in Paul's day ("will they not say that ye are mad" (I Cor. 14:23), and it is true today. People still are not convinced by tongues-speaking; they still say that tongues-speakers are out of their mind.
Therefore, tongues are a sign to unbelievers even though they will not hear. If the unbelievers come into a meeting and everyone is speaking in tongues, they will say that the people are mad. God said they would do this and they do. On the other hand, if the unbelievers come into a meeting and they hear a prophecy, even though it is a sign to the believers, they understand what is said because they hear the Spirit-inspired utterance in their own language. They hear with understanding and the word of God grips their hearts, and, falling down, they say that God is in us of a truth.
Earlier I observed that the Spirit may speak through someone in a language the speaker does not understand to a person who does understand the language, and give that person a prophecy in his own tongue. This is not speaking in an "unknown" tongue which must be interpreted; it is speaking in a language understood by a hearer. This manifestation of tongues may convince the
unbeliever because it is not an "unknown" tongue but a prophecy in the "known" language of the hearer, even if unknown to the speaker.
EACH HAS A CONTRIBUTION TO MAKE
How is it then, brethren? when you come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying
(I Cor. 14:26).
It may be well to point out here that in the New Testament church, the Christians met from house to house to edify themselves, and it was unusual for the unbelievers to be present. One of the difficulties in the way we worship today is that we invite the unbeliever to our services. Since the gifts of the Spirit are to edify the body, we are presented with the problem of how to edify the body of Christ through the manifestations of the Spirit in the presence of the unbeliever who does not understand them. Are we to eat the good meal, edifying ourselves, and let the unbeliever go hungry? Or, do we minister to the unbeliever and let the Christians go home unedified? I believe this is at the heart of much of our confusion today concerning spiritual gifts.
Be that as it may, Paul says that when Christians come together, every one has something to contribute to the building up of the body. One has a psalm; let him psalm by the Spirit. One has a doctrine; let him give his teaching. One has a tongue; let him speak by the Spirit the mysteries to God. One has a revelation; let him give his prophecy. One has an interpretation; let him give the interpretation that all might understand the utterance in tongues and say "Amen" at the offering of thanks to God. It is important that all be done for the edification of others. Let everything be done unto edifying. So the one with the psalm would be singing in the Spirit; the one with the doctrine would bring a teaching based upon new knowledge; the one with the tongue would lift up a prayer or offer thanks to God; the one with the revelation would prophesy to men for edification, exhortation, or comfort. But it is "God which worketh all in all" (12:6), and if God operates all, all will be done unto edifying and in decency and in order.
PROCEDURES and LIMITATIONS
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted (I Cor. 14:27-31).
After Paul lists the contributions each person may make for the edifying of the body, he places limitations upon certain speakings and gives guidelines for their use. Paul places limitations on tongues and, therefore, interpretation, and he limits the number of prophets who may speak in a service. However, he does not limit the number who may prophesy with the gift of prophecy.
Paul puts a limitation on the number of people who speak with tongues in a meeting:
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three (I Cor. 14:27).
Paul puts a limitation on the number of prophets who should speak in a meeting:
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge (I Cor. 14:29).
However, Paul does not place a limitation on the number of persons
who may exercise the gift of prophesy:
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted (I Cor. 14:31).
There is no limitation on the spiritual gift of prophecy, only on speaking in tongues (with or without interpretation) and prophets.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret (I Cor. 14:27).
Here, Paul is establishing a proper order for the manifestation of the gift of tongues. If any speak in tongues, the speaking should be limited to two, or at the most, three, and that by course, or one after the other, not all speaking at once. One may speak, another may speak, or a third may speak, one after another, and one should interpret. But if there is no interpretation after each or any of the utterances in tongues, then a person should keep silence in the church and speak (quietly) to himself and unto God. These are the guidelines that the Apostle Paul gave concerning the manifestation of the gift of tongues.
Paul says that when you are taking up the time of God's people, you should be considerate of them. For you to speak in tongues while people just sit there is not appropriate. If there is not an interpretation, then you should sit down and be quiet and talk to yourself and unto God for your edification. But remember Paul does not forbid to speak in tongues. He only provides guidelines for your speaking out in a meeting.
It is worth noting that Paul only suggests limitations for the two more sensational types of utterances, speaking in tongues and the message of the prophets. In considering this I asked myself the question, "Why would we need more than three prophetic messages, or why would we need more than three speakers in tongues in a given meeting? If speaking in tongues is to God for prayer and praise, then why would we need more than three, especially when it is essential that the teaching and preaching of the Word of God go forth. Or, how many direct revelations of the will of God given by the prophets are we able to comprehend in any one service?
I believe one of the reasons the Apostle Paul established these guidelines in the Corinthian Church was to reduce the temptation for the tongues-speakers and the prophets to compete with each other. Prophets should not get into the business of trying to out-prophesy one another and those who speak in tongues should not try to demonstrate their spirituality by much tongues-speaking. Therefore, Paul put limits on tongues and on the prophets but he does not limit the simple gift or manifestation of prophecy.
ALL MAY PROPHESY ONE BY ONE
Ye may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted (I Cor. 14:31).
Paul does not limit the gift of prophecy because the church needs all of the edification, exhortation, and comfort that it may receive, "that all may learn, and all may be comforted."
RESPECT FOR OTHERS
If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace (I Cor. 14:30).
This is an interesting scripture. Paul states that if a person is ministering and God reveals something to another person, the first person must hold his peace, while the second person assumes responsibility for the service. If the Spirit moves on someone to minister when someone else is ministering, the Spirit is saying that the second person has a fresh revelation from the God which supersedes the manifestation that the Spirit gave to the first person. Thus, the first person should be quiet and allow the second person to minister. The service and its continuance become the responsibility of the second person because God has revealed something to him and he must manifest it to the church. However, a person who assumes the responsibility of "replacing" his brother must recognize that LOVE does not "behave itself unseemly" and the Spirit will not force anyone to manifest any gift.
THE SPIRIT OF THE PROPHET IS SUBJECT TO THE PROPHET
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (I Cor. 14:32).
In light of the above discussion, this is a pivotal verse. The spirit of the prophet, and I might add, the spirit of every child of God, is subject to him. We have control over and, therefore, are responsible for our actions. Our spirits are subject to us. The Holy Spirit is always a gentleman, and we need to operate in love, always asking ourselves why we wish to do something. If it is not in love, then we should not speak or act, because God is not the author of confusion.
GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints
(I Cor. 14:33).
Let all things be done decently and in order
(I Cor. 14:40).
This thought refers us back to where we began our discussion of THE SPIRITUALS: "there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" (I Cor. 12:6). God works all gifts, all ministries, in all persons, and in all situations; therefore, there can be no conflict or disharmony in the ministries of Jesus Christ or the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. If there is conflict, confusion, lack of decency, or lack of order, someone is not moving in the Spirit of God; someone is operating in the human spirit, or the enemy of our souls is sowing confusion.
In spite of all of the many difficulties present in the spiritual worship of the Corinthian Church, Paul does not tell the people that they do not have the Spirit of God or that Satan is influencing them. Instead, he reminds them "that in everything ye are enriched by him (Christ) in all utterance, and in all knowledge" (I Cor. 1:5) and that they are "behind in no gift" (I Cor. 1:7). However, he continues,
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ (I Cor. 3:1).
Although they had the Spirit, had utterances and knowledge, and lacked no gift, they were following the human spirit, the carnal mind, rather than the mind of Christ.
This completes our study of Paul's answers to certain questions the Corinthians had asked him concerning the gifts of utterance. We can only guess as to what those questions were; however, we can apply his answers to the various situations which arise in our meetings. In comparing and contrasting the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues with the gift of prophecy, I have emphasized those distinctions that I believe Paul made: 1) one who speaks with the gift of tongues, speaks to God; one who speaks with the gift of prophecy, speaks to men; 2) the purpose of the gift of tongues is prayer and praise; the purpose of the gift of prophecy is edification, exhortation, and comfort; 3) the gift of tongues is a sign to the unbeliever; the gift of prophecy is a sign to the believer; and 4) the gift of tongues is limited in a meeting; the gift of prophecy is unlimited.
THE ARMOR OF GOD
Having completed our study of the ministry gifts of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, we turn our attention to the purpose of these provisions of God:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
This perfecting (katartidzo--"supplying what is necessary"), or equipping, of the saints with what is necessary for them to edify the body of Christ provides them with the armor of God.
One of Paul's favorite images portraying the Christian life is that of warfare. Lying in prison chained to a Roman soldier probably made an indelible impression upon Paul's mind, and he transferred the physical elements of the soldier's armor to the spiritual provisions God has made for His church: the armor of God.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints
At the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, I looked at the armor exhibit, and Paul's teaching became more significant. I saw suits of armor weighing 60 to 80 pounds, large shields, and broad swords, and I marveled that the soldiers were able to fight wearing such heavy armor and carrying such weapons. But even as the soldiers in Paul's day were equipped for battle with armor of steel, Paul challenges every Christian to put on the whole armor of God, not just certain parts, but all of it.
LOINS GIRDED ABOUT WITH TRUTH
First, we wrap ourselves in the truth. In the museum I saw the quilted vests knights wore under the armor so the armor would not chafe their skin. I thought, that must be what Paul was thinking about when he talked of girding our loins with truth. If we clothe ourselves in truth, then nothing can chafe us or make us uncomfortable. We are comfortable and protected regardless of conditions or circumstances. Sometimes we need to be protected even from the armor, because the weapons of our warfare make us uncomfortable if we are not living in truth. If we wrap ourselves in the truth, nothing can irritate us.
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The breastplate of righteousness, which is our right standing with God, protects our vital organs. As long as we know that we are in a right relationship with God, we will live free from guilt and condemnation. Paul says,
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us
If God has justified us, we are righteous. Again Paul wrote,
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:l).
The righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to us. Our breastplate protects our hearts from guilt and condemnation as we stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
Our feet are shod (hupodeo--to bind underneath) with the preparation (hetoimasia--firm footing) of the gospel of peace. Our Christian walk is on the firm footing of the gospel of peace. We walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4); we walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16); we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); we walk in love (Eph. 5:2); we walk in honesty (Rom. 13:13); we walk circumspectly (Eph. 5:15); we walk in Him (Col. 2:6); we walk in wisdom (Col. 4:5); we walk in truth (3 John 3); and we walk after the commandments of the Lord (2 John 6). This is our walk if our feet are bound by the gospel of peace. Also, we are ready to bear witness to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ:
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10:15).
We bear the glad tidings of peace.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Paul emphasizes the fact that we must take the shield of faith, whereby we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. The fiery darts of the wicked are the imaginations, the high things that exalt themselves against our knowledge of God, the doubts, the fears, and the impulses to temptation that Satan brings against us to destroy us. Using the shield of faith, we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; therefore, our best defense, our shield of faith, is our knowledge of the Word of God.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION
The helmet of salvation is a covering for our heads, a protection for our minds. This helmet is the knowledge of our present relationship with Jesus Christ, knowing that we are delivered from our enemies in the present moment.
The remission of our sins gives the knowledge of salvation--this knowledge is the helmet, the covering for our heads. Our salvation is past--we have been saved; present--we are being saved; and future--we shall be saved. Paul echoes the same concepts in his letter to the Thessalonians,
But let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation (I Thess. 5:8).
In this scripture, Paul says that our helmet is our hope of salvation: the knowledge and assurance of the Lord's return. The knowledge of the present state of our salvation and the knowledge of our complete salvation at the Lord's return serve as a covering around our heads to keep doubts, fears, and anxieties from entering our minds.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, are the parts of the armor that are the weapons of our warfare. Paul writes that the
Weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4-5).
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Our battle is not with people. Our battle is with the spiritual forces that influence people: principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness. If our loved ones are not Christian, our battle is not with them. Our battle is with the spiritual forces that control or influence them. We must challenge the forces that influence them and rebuke the powers of the enemy that would cause them to resist the will of God. We have to fight the battle in the spirit realm; therefore, we must not only have the proper weapons but must learn how to use each of them: the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.
After Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan, to fight the initial battle against His enemy. Satan tempted Jesus with the three temptations common to man as set forth by John:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (I John 2:16).
The temptations of Jesus were the lust of the flesh--"command that these stones be made bread," the lust of the eyes-- "sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world...all these things will I give thee," and the pride of life--"Cast thyself down... angels shall bear thee up." To quench the fiery darts in each trial and to put the enemy to flight, Jesus used the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit; He used the Word of God--"It is written" (Matt. 4:1-11). We sometimes make excuses when we compare ourselves with Jesus; however, Jesus never used any power to achieve any purpose but the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word of God, which are available to every Child of God. Not only do we have the same weapons that Jesus had, not only does Jesus give us the Holy Spirit to indwell us as He indwelt Him, but also we have Jesus Christ abiding within us to strengthen us. It is imperative that we remember that the shield and the sword are our knowledge of and ability to use the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. A knowledge of that Word builds for us a shield of faith, and the ability to use that Word is our sword.
The writer to the Hebrews describes the word of God:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12).
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
Usually, we do not include prayer in the armor. However, Oral Roberts calls praying in the Spirit the "seventh piece of the whole armor of God," and he says that the "only way you can pray ALWAYS . . . is not with your mind but with your spirit. Tongues is praying IN and WITH your spirit by the utterance of the Holy Spirit" (The Holy Bible with Personal Commentary, comment on Ephesians 6:10-18). We pray with the Spirit but we must also pray with the understanding. On the Spirituals chart, I have connected these pieces of the armor with the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues.
The sword and shield are our weapons, and when we add them to the rest of the armor provided for us by the Spirit, we shall be equipped for a ministry and ready to edify the body of Christ in love.
PART TWO. THE TRANSFORMED LIFE
THE SECRET OF THE TRANSFORMED LIFE
The will of God for His children is that we be "Christlike." As we have seen, Paul declares that the purpose of all of the ministries and the provisions of God is to bring us "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). In order to help the Romans understand how this transformation of life is accomplished, Paul wrote:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
When God created man, He gave him the ability to think and the privilege of choosing what he thinks about. Adam was created a spiritual being capable of having fellowship with God, and God gave him dominion over all the works of His hands. Adam was to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. In order to communicate with God and to fulfill God's directive, Adam must have possessed great spiritual and intellectual powers. After Adam's fall, man lost his spiritual awareness, and his mind was no longer dominated by his spirit, but by his senses; he became "carnally minded." This has been the condition of man ever since. As a sinner coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, I bring to him a mind controlled by the senses and filled with all of the ideas, biases, opinions, prejudices, hurts, fears, and experiences of my lifetime apart from God. When I receive the Lord Jesus Christ, I become a new creation:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; and behold, all things are become new (II Cor. 5:17).
When I was born the first time, I more or less had a "tabula rasa"--a blank tablet for a mind. From the time of my birth until the present, all kinds of ideas and impressions have been imprinted on my mind. When I was born again, converted, God for Christ's sake forgave my sins and imparted a new life to me. I was a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things pass away and all things become new. However, there was one thing that God did not do: He did not blot out my mind. The morning after I was converted, I awoke with the same head full of stuff that I had the night before I was converted, except I had a consciousness that I was a child of God. Instead of blotting out my memory and making my
mind a blank, God made provision for the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason Jesus told His disciples:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:13-15).
Therefore, instead of blotting out our minds, God gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, to create the "mind of Christ" within us, and to enable us to become that which God has made us in Christ Jesus.
Paul sets forth this concept so eloquently in his letter to the Corinthians:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:9-16).
The wonderful things which God has prepared for us are not all in the future, but they are in the NOW, and the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals them to us and empowers us to receive them. Because we are part of the human family, partakers of human nature, we understand the intellectual and emotional and physical needs of people. But as children of God, we begin to understand spiritual things--those things related to the will and purposes of God--because we are partakers of His divine nature. We now have the mind of Christ.
THE NEED FOR THE RENEWING OF THE MIND
When we speak of the power of the mind, some begin to think of the various pop-psychologies that deal with the power of positive thinking. While many of these psychologies are based upon scriptural truth, they make man the master of his destiny. For the Christian, Jesus Christ becomes his master, and he allows the Holy Spirit within him to begin the renewal process through the power of the Word of God.
REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION
I believe there are two concepts that we need to keep constantly before us: 1) repentance (metanoeo) which means to "change your mind," and 2) confession (homologeo) which means to "speak the same thing." You repent; God forgives. You change your mind; God changes your heart. You confess; God regenerates. For a time, I refused God's claims upon my life. Then I repented, I changed my mind, and I confessed what God said about me. God had said that I was a sinner, and if I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, I would be saved. I changed my mind about myself: I confessed I was a sinner, and I confessed that Jesus was my Lord and Savior, and I was saved. This is the process by which we receive the blessings of God: I change my mind from doubt to faith concerning my needs, and I confess that I receive them by faith, and I have them. For years, I felt that "to repent" meant only to be sorry for sin; however, I now feel that it is a necessary part of everyday Christian experience. James writes about temptation:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust [strong desire], and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14).
Sometimes we hear people say that you might as well commit a sin as to think about it. However, James says that we could not be tempted unless our minds were drawn away by a strong desire. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan: His mind was drawn away to think about bread, about kingdoms, about jumping off of temples. However, the temptation is not sin; but when the strong desire conceives, it brings forth sin. So, when my mind is drawn away, I repent--I
change my mind, and I confess the Word of God--"It is written." Just as Jesus
overcame temptation through repentance and confession, so we can overcome temptation in the same way.
In our discussion of the need for the renewing of the mind, we will consider the following scriptures:
1. The carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom.8:1).
2. Victories are won or lost in the mind (II Cor. 10:3).
3. Man is alienated from God through ignorance (Eph 4:17).
4. A Christian must arm himself with the mind of Christ
(I Pet. 4:1). See also Phil. 2:5-12.
5. The peace of God will keep our minds (Phil. 4:7-8).
6. One must gird up the loins of his mind (I Pet. 1:13).
7. One must put on the new man and be renewed in knowledge (Col. 3:9-17).
THE CARNAL MIND
One of the reasons for failure in our Christian life is that we try to live a spiritual life with a carnal mind. We try to apply carnal solutions to spiritual problems, or we try to use carnal means to achieve spiritual results. But Paul tells us:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be
The carnal mind is the mind that is controlled by our human nature--a mind that follows what reason infers from the five senses. On the other hand, the spiritual mind, the mind of Christ, which results from being made a new creation in Christ Jesus at one's conversion patterns itself after the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, brings into focus the warfare that the Christian is engaged in--the weapons and the strongholds:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:3-5).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul listed the weapons of our warfare as being the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and the shield of faith. In this scripture he tells us the weapons are for pulling down strongholds: for casting down imaginations, casting down high things, and bringing thoughts into captivity. The warfare is in, and for, the mind of the believer.
Paul lists three strongholds of the mind. The first, imaginations, hinders many Christians. In witnessing, we imagine defeat; in prayer, we imagine doubt; in love, we imagine rejection; in ability, we imagine weakness; in endeavors, we imagine failure--and on it goes. Before we even get to the front line of the battle, we are defeated by imaginations; Paul says we must cast them down.
Then, the high things that exalt themselves against our knowledge of God must also be pulled down. The weapons we have against these high things are the shield of faith, wherewith we can quench these fiery darts, and the very Word of God that the high thing challenges. Satan will even use scripture against our knowledge of scripture. Our empty wallets exalt themselves against our knowledge that God will supply all our needs. Our sickness exalts itself against our knowledge of God's wish for our health. Our weakness exalts itself against our knowledge that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Our lack exalts itself against our knowledge of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Daily, Satan assaults our minds with his fiery darts; our shield, our faith, is our defense, and our sword, the Word--"It is written" is the one weapon that will put the enemy to flight.
Last, in order to guard our minds and our hearts, we must learn how to bring our thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Christ's desire was to do the will of the Father; we ought also desire to do the will of the Father which means we must bring our thoughts into His obedience, into harmony with the will of God. An old saying, "We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair" is very appropriate. We cannot keep thoughts from coming into our minds, but we do not have to meditate upon them. We do have the power to determine what we think about. Sometimes, as we read the Bible or pray, our minds are like a busy city intersection with thoughts, like cars, going every which way. We must bring these thoughts into captivity and keep them under the control of the peace of God (Phil. 4:7).
ALIENATED FROM GOD THROUGH IGNORANCE
Paul explained to the Ephesians that man is alienated from the life of God through his ignorance:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:17-24).
Paul points out that the problem with the unregenerate man is that his mind is filled with vanity (emptiness), his understanding of the true purpose of life is darkened, his ignorance of God's love and grace have alienated him from God, his sins no longer satisfy but have degraded him, and he is morally bankrupt. Paul warns the Christians that their lives are to be different: they have learned through Christ to put off the old nature and its attendant corruption, to allow the Holy Spirit to renew their minds, and to put on the new man who is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Notice that all of this "putting off the old" and "putting on the new" takes place in the mind of the believer. It is true that we meet Christ in a personal experience of salvation; however, Paul says that we also learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught by Him.
THE MIND OF CHRIST
Paul told the Corinthians that "we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16), and he challenged the Philippians to "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). The Apostle Peter admonishes the Christians by using the example of Christ:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (I Peter 4:1).
From these scriptures we determine that the mind of Christ demands two responses from the believer: 1) the mind of Christ in the believer as described by Paul does not grasp at equality with God but chooses rather to be a servant; and 2) the mind of Christ in the believer as described by Peter reckons the believer to be dead to sin and alive to the will of God.
THE PEACE OF GOD
See the discussion under peace as a fruit of the Spirit (page 42).
GIRD UP THE LOINS OF YOUR MINDS
In an unusual image, Peter illustrates how important it is for the believer to discipline his mind:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance
(I Peter 1:13-14).
In New Testament times, people wore long flowing robes. When they went into the fields to work, they would wrap their robes around them and tie them with a belt or sash so the robes would not catch on anything. Peter admonishes the Christians to gird up their minds so they do not catch on everything. I often ask in class, "What have you students been thinking about since I have been lecturing to you?" A speaker may speak around 200 to 300 words a minute; however, a person is able to think 600 to 800 words a minute. So, while a preacher is preaching or a teacher is teaching, the listener may tune in for a sentence or two and then travel the universe--it is no wonder people get so little out of a sermon or students do not comprehend a lecture. Their minds are not girded up, and they catch on everything. It takes a disciplined mind to listen. Therefore, Jesus admonished the disciples to:
Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given (Mark 4:24).
BE RENEWED IN KNOWLEDGE
One of Paul's favorite images is "put off the old man and put on the new man." In his letter to the Colossians he describes the new man as being,
Renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col. 3:10).
Notice that Paul sets forth both the process and the result: we are renewed by our knowledge of what the image of Christ is and we are renewed by the God who has created us in that image. Paul explains to Titus that all of this is due to the mercy of God:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord (Titus 3:5-6).
We have examined a few of the scriptures that show the power that the mind exerts on the behavior of the individual, and the importance of having the mind renewed by the Holy Spirit. Even though I am formulating our discussion of the renewing of the mind on a psychological model, I am not advocating any psychological system. I have chosen the mental constructs from psychoanalysis as the foundation on which to build a model for the Holy Spirit's work in the renewal of the mind in order that we may have a more or less familiar system upon which to base our inquiry.
THE PROCESS BY WHICH THE MIND IS RENEWED
The following discussion of the process by which the mind is renewed by the Holy Spirit is based upon psychological concepts adapted from psychoanalysis, the psychological system of Sigmund Freud. In psychoanalysis, a therapist uses free association and dream interpretation to enable a person to verbalize any repressed instinctual drives in the unconscious mind. The therapist seeks to modify the emotions and behavior by making the patient aware of the origin and effects of unconscious emotional conflict in the hope of eliminating or diminishing anxiety. In psychoanalytic theory, the psyche has three major mental constructs: the ID, the SUPEREGO, and the EGO.
The ID is the source of a person's unconscious instinctive impulses and desires. In Biblical terms we might call the ID the "bowels" (splanchna--source of affections) or the "heart" (kardia--source of the real person). The wise man said,
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Jesus told his disciples it was not what went into the mouth that defiled a man, but what came out of his mouth,
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man (Matt. 15:18-20).
For the sake of our discussion, I will equate the heart of man with the ID, for out of it proceeds the issues of life. However, not only does the ID harbor the desires and instincts, but it also has the hurts, the traumas, and the effects of the sins that have been committed against us.
The SUPEREGO is a partially conscious part of the psyche that has identified itself with parents, grandparents or others and has formed from the teachings or values of those persons a moral standard of behavior or an ethical value system. The SUPEREGO is divided into two parts: the CONSCIENCE and the EGO IDEAL.
The CONSCIENCE is the morally self-critical part of our minds that determines our concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. We are not born with a set of values; our concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable are learned.
The EGO IDEAL is our self image, and it incorporates our life's goals and aspirations--the type of individual we wish to be. Some of us have been scripted by our parents to be a certain kind of person, and we spend our lives acting out the script they have handed to us.
The EGO is the "I," the conscious self, the central part of the personality which deals with reality and is influenced by social forces. The ego acts as a mediator. It seeks to resolve the conflict between the impulses from the ID and the ethical restraints from the SUPEREGO, thereby reducing anxiety. It is through the EGO that we express ourselves to the world. The world influences the EGO, and the EGO helps shape our world as we interact with social forces.
MENTAL MECHANISMS, sometimes called defense mechanisms, are processes, operating unconsciously, by which the ego or superego seeks to resolve emotional conflict and gain freedom from anxiety. When instincts or desires rise within us seeking to find expression to the world, the self-concept and the ethical values in the superego (the conscience and the ego ideal) may come in conflict with these desires or instincts, with the result that anxiety or mental conflict arises. The ego then seeks a way to reduce this anxiety through mental mechanisms.
For instance, you may feel guilty about your thoughts or feelings, so you accuse others of that activity in order to resolve the guilt. You have projected your guilt upon others. Or you may become angry and desire to punch someone in the nose; however, your superego reminds you that "you must turn the other cheek"; therefore, you suppress that anger. You go home, and the little dog runs out to see you. You yell at the little dog. You feel better. You could not strike the person, but you can yell at your little dog. This helps you to reduce the anxiety you feel about being angry. These are simple examples: however, we use many defense mechanisms to help us relieve our anxiety and maintain our mental balance.
PORTRAIT OF A SINNER
As we have discussed the various aspects of the personality and the operation of the mind in maintaining mental balance and in reducing anxiety as psychological theory presents them, we have tried to lay a foundation for understanding the process by which the Holy Spirit renews the mind. Also, we previously discussed many scriptures related to the need for the renewal of the mind. The most important need for the renewing of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual is seen in the tragic condition of man without God as set forth by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. Paul paints this graphic portrait of the sinner:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them....Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened...they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections...And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful (Rom. 1:18-31).
This is the portrait of man without God. The one reason for such a dismal picture is SIN.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
We begin our discussion of the renewal process by looking at work of the Holy Spirit in the subconscious mind, that part of the mind which is below the level of consciousness. We can do very little about the unconscious part of our minds, the subconscious. If we commit a sin and are conscious of it, we can ask God to forgive us; but for that which occurs below the level of consciousness, for all those sins that have been committed against us that we are not conscious of, only the Spirit of God can deal with them. Also, for those hurts that we have within our being that we are not conscious of, even though the effects of them may affect our emotional well-being, there is not much we can do about them. But God is faithful; God has given us a complete perfect salvation that takes care of every part of our total being.
CHRIST IN YOU
In the new birth, as we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ is formed in us. The Holy Spirit imparts the life of Christ to us. So the first thing that happens in our Christian experience is that Christ is formed in us. Jesus Christ becomes incarnate within us. The Holy Spirit superimposes the nature of Jesus Christ, the divine nature, upon our nature, the human nature, and now our desires, our wishes, our instincts begin to be "Christ-ianized," because they are no longer only the expression of the nature of man, but they are permeated by the nature of God and begin to find expression through the personality, the person, of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why we sometimes see cataclysmic conversions. Sinners living completely apart from God receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and their lives are completely transformed. They may have been alcoholics or drug addicts. They may have been bound by all manner of sin; however, when they receive the Lord Jesus Christ, when Christ comes in, every desire, every impulse seemingly is sanctified and their lives are completely transformed. The desires that previously dominated their lives no longer have influence or control over them. On the other hand, there are those who are converted but seem to have more of a struggle to overcome certain desires or certain temptations. However, the important thing is that Jesus Christ is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul said that this mystery was hidden from the foundation of the world until God revealed it unto him:
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in You, the hope of glory (Col. 1:26-27).
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in you, the hope of glory. This was the mystery. This was the revelation that God gave to the Apostle: the transforming power of Christian experience is derived from the impartation of Jesus Christ to the believer. The nature of Jesus Christ, even Christ Himself, is in us.
Jesus prayed to the Father for Him to effect this experience:
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: ...that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one (John 17:21-23).
And again, Jesus promised that when He sent them another comforter, they would know that He was abiding in them:
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you (John 14:20).
Probably the most powerful statement in the scriptures concerning this impartation of Christ is that of Paul himself, when he relates his experience in Christ to the Galatians:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
THE GALATIAN EXPERIENCE
It was to these same Galatians that Paul presented the dilemma of so many Christians' experience:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Gal. 4:19).
Why was Paul suffering the travail of birth again for these Galatian Christians? What had happened to them? After they were converted and received the Lord Jesus Christ, certain Judaizing teachers visited the church and preached to them that unless they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses, they could not be saved. Therefore, Paul exhorts them:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth...having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
....Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 3:1-3,5:1).
This is one of the most graphic illustrations of the need for the renewing of the mind. These Galatians had received Christ and had been set free by the Spirit of God; however, the false teachers had taught them that they must be circumcised and keep the law. As a result of their believing these teachers, they had lost the joy and freedom that they had received in Christ. Therefore, Paul was agonizing in prayer that Christ would be formed in them again.
The experience of the Galatians emphasizes the need to bring our minds into harmony with the Word of God. Many Christians receive Christ--His joy, His peace, His love--in their hearts, and then certain teachers begin to change their ego ideal (their concept of what a Christian is) by giving them a false impression of Christ. The Galatians had received a Christ of love, joy, and peace, and then, the false teachers said that was not the real Christ; the real Jesus is a circumcised, law-keeping Christ. The Galatians started conforming their lives to a "law-keeping Christ," and the Christ of love and joy died in their hearts. They were thrown into mental conflict. This illustrates one of the basic problems in Christian living: the Christ of the Christians' experience is not in harmony with the Christ preached by their church; therefore, they are thrown into mental conflict--confused, guilty, and condemned.
God said that He would make a new covenant with His children:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people (Heb. 8:10).
The Ten Commandments were written on tables of stone; but the new commandment of love, given to the Christian, is written in the mind and on the tables of the heart. This new commandment is imprinted upon our minds and engraved upon our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit as He imparts the life of Christ to us.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Not only is Jesus Christ now in us, but we begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit as a result of His presence. This fruit is the nature or character of Jesus Christ reproduced in us, and love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, faith--the character traits of Christ--begin to find expression through our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the new birth. The fruit of the Spirit arise from the ID, the unconscious part of us. We do not put them on. They are produced by the Spirit. They rise up from within, seeking expression through us to the world. Joy bubbles up. Love is shed abroad in our hearts. Peace flows like a river. These are the fruit of the Spirit, expressions of the personality or the character of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, I believe that the fruit of the Spirit will find expression through us to the world unless somebody has messed with our minds. Just as the false teachers messed with the minds of the Galatians, people may give us wrong instruction concerning the expression of Christ through our lives. We will express the love of God and other fruit of the Spirit unless somebody has messed with our thinking.
When I received the Lord Jesus Christ, I loved everybody. People that I had thought were homely, were beautiful. People that I had not particularly liked, I loved. I hugged everybody in the church. It was a great night. Then the people of the church started telling me that I could not love everybody. They told me that there were certain Christians I could not love because of their life-styles or their doctrinal teachings. I found that I was not allowed to love anybody except those who attended our church and believed our doctrine. Soon, I could barely tolerate some of them.
The new Christian overflows with the fruit of the Spirit; then, the church starts informing him that he cannot love everyone, he cannot have joy, he cannot have peace. He cannot express the wonders of the Lord except in a certain way. That is what happened to me, and, ever since my conversion, I have been trying to "get my head on straight" so I could love all of God's children. I still struggle to get my thoughts straight, allowing the love of God to flow through my life. Thus, the fruit of the Spirit will be expressed to the world through us unless somebody has given us wrong teaching.
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
Not only does the Spirit produce His fruit in our innermost beings, but He also manifests His gifts in our spirits. The gifts are resident in the subconscious. The gifts come up from within. Therefore, the gifts of the Spirit will manifest themselves through us, if we yield ourselves to Him. In other words, if you become ill, the Spirit may give me a gift of healing for you, if I will allow Him the freedom. But if I believe that the day of miracles is over and God does not heal, or if I am afraid, or if I do not feel I should pray for the sick--then there is little that the Spirit of God can do about manifesting His gift of healing through me.
How many times do we feel that we should pray for someone, but a doubt or a fear comes in, and we refuse to do it? How many times do we feel we should witness to an individual, but a doubt or a fear arises, and we refuse to do it? The Spirit of God desires to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the life of Jesus Christ to the world. Therefore, our responsibility is to allow the Spirit of God to renew our minds so that He may have freedom of expression. Jesus said,
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. But thus spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive (John 7:38-39).
If the rivers (fruit and gifts) are not flowing (finding a free expression), there is a dam (a mental block) somewhere. A doubt, a fear, a tradition, a teaching, a doctrine--something is stopping the flow. We need to understand what is stopping the flow of the living waters through us, so the fruit and gifts can find expression and bring blessing to people. Everyone of us has a tremendous potential to bless individuals if we can allow the Spirit free expression through our lives. God has given us the fruit of the Spirit to renew our personalities with the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has provided the gifts of the Spirit to enable us to do the works that Jesus did and the greater works as He promised.
I WILL PRAY WITH THE SPIRIT
One of the most important works of the Spirit in the subconscious mind is how He ministers to us concerning those things that we are not conscious of--all of the sins that have been committed against us, all of the things that have happened to us since birth which are affecting our lives today. We do not know exactly what is going on in our innermost beings. One of the values of praying in the Spirit is to help us in dealing with these subconscious conflicts.
As Paul said,
We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26).
I do not know what to pray for, and even when I know what to pray for, I do not know how to pray for it. I may feel that there is something inside of me that is bothering me, but I do not know what it is. I do not know how to pray about it, so what am I going to do? Is God going to leave me with my fears, with my doubts, with my conflicts, with my anxieties? No, God has provided a way of helping me. For even though I do not know how to pray as I ought, the Spirit of God helps my weaknesses and makes intercession for me with groanings which cannot be uttered. God, who knows what is the mind of the Spirit, answers the prayer of the Spirit, because the Spirit always makes intercession according to the will of God. Whenever I have had fears and doubts, I have prayed them through in the Spirit to God, and I have found a release in prayer. By faith, I have claimed the promise that God has taken care of the situation.
Most of us have been hurt. Most of us have been sinned against, resulting in our having anger, fear, resentment, hostility, or doubt bottled up inside of us. The Holy Spirit wants to cleanse us from these feelings. In fact, a special ministry of healing has come into existence in the last few years that addresses inner healing, or healing of the memories. This healing of the memories is one of the ways the Spirit of God edifies us when we pray in the Spirit. When we have doubts or fears or we have problems that we do not fully understand, the Holy Spirit is able to take those to God in prayer, and the God Who knows all things is able to cleanse us, deliver us, and transform our lives. We do not have to have scars. We do not have to bear the hurts. We do not have to suffer the anxieties. We do not have to be tormented by the fears. We do not have to have feelings of guilt grinding us down. We can find a joy and a peace and a freedom and a victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Christian psychiatrist, a Christian counselor, or a good Christian friend can help us to verbalize those things in the Spirit and enable us to receive forgiveness and healing--not for things that we have done, but for the things that others have done to us. We will be able to forgive them and find a cleansing and a healing. This is part of what we mean when we talk about the Holy Spirit edifying the believer when he prays with the Spirit and prays with the understanding, or when he psalms with the Spirit and psalms with the understanding.
I WILL SING WITH THE SPIRIT
In times of stress and conflict, many of us find great comfort and consolation in reading the psalms of David and of others. As I discussed earlier in the section concerning singing in the Spirit, I believe the Spirit gives us a new psalm of praise when we sing in the Spirit. He also may give us hymns or spiritual songs so that we may express our praise to Him. There is comfort and edification in singing as the Spirit gives the words, or the words and melody, of a song as the joy of the Lord bubbles up within our beings. This helps us to understand more fully the meaning of "he that speaks (prays or sings) in tongues edifies himself"
(I Cor. 14:4).
THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CONSCIOUS MIND
For the areas of the mind that are below the level of consciousness, God must take the initiative and cleanse and heal us by His Holy Spirit. God must deliver us. God must heal the hurts, and God must help us to extend forgiveness to those who have sinned against us or abused us. The Spirit of God must express the nature of Christ and manifest the gifts and enablings of Christ through us.
However, for those areas of the mind that are above the level of consciousness, we must assume more responsibility by taking the initiative and actively cooperating with the Spirit to effect the renewal process. The renewal of that part of my mind which is above the level of consciousness--the SUPEREGO--is my responsibility, and how I relate to the world through the EGO is a result of my decisions.
In discussing the work of the Holy Spirit in the renewing of the Superego, we must analyze two vital areas of our personalities, the Conscience and the Ego ideal. We have acquired our concepts of right and wrong and our moral values from parents, teachers, peers, or other significant persons in our lives. We have probably never taken the time to formulate a precise, logical, definitive value system of our own. Rather, our values are a hodge-podge of concepts pieced together. Many times we accept as true what society has legislated as being true without questioning the validity of the supposition. However, as Christians, we must bring this patch-work of ideas into harmony with the truth as it is revealed in Christ Jesus.
For many of us, our self-concept, our self-image, has been defined for us by our parents, who handed us a script which we are expected to act out on the stage of the world. We are not sure who we are. We feel as though we are chameleon-like individuals trying to adapt to whatever social situations we find ourselves in. We do not know who we are or who we want to be. Even the churches hold forth so many pictures of Christ that we find it difficult to know who the "Christ of the New Testament" is so we may follow Him.
Sometimes I wonder where all of my ideas about God came from. I have had to change my mind many times as the Spirit would reveal Jesus in a new glory (II Cor. 3:18). Often, I have made the statement that probably no two churches preach the same Jesus. Each church seems to see Him differently, and each stresses a different aspect of His person and work. I am not saying this is bad, but I believe this is why it is so important for us to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and bring about a transformation of our lives in harmony with the Word of God. Each of us, as a child of God, should desire to serve the Father "In Spirit and In Truth."
CHRIST IN THE CONSCIENCE
In the Old Testament we find that a way was provided for dealing with both the conscious and unconscious sins through a two-fold sin offering. If a person committed a specific type of conscious sin, he would bring a corresponding type of offering, an ephah of flour, a dove, or a lamb. But for the unconscious sins of the people, the high priest entered the Holiest of Holies once a year to offer a blood sacrifice for their errors--their sins of ignorance. Their consciences were never purged from the knowledge that they were sinners so they could never get free from a consciousness of sin. They could only roll their sins forward for another year. So every year the high priest offered the sacrifice and took the blood into the Holiest of Holies to atone for the sins of the people. The writer to the Hebrews states graphically that,
If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling of the ashes of the heifer sanctify through the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Jesus Christ, Who without spot, offered Himself to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:12-13).
Our great salvation purges our conscience. We need not go around with the consciousness that we are sinners because our consciences are purged. If we sin, we repent. But we need not go around feeling guilty or condemned. The Holy Spirit is purging our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. We have a two-fold atonement. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from the sins of which we are not conscious--our sins of ignorance, our errors--and for those sins that we knowingly commit, we repent and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the cleansing us from all sin.
CHRIST OUR ETHICAL TEACHER
The Holy Spirit reveals Christ, the Word, as our ethical teacher who renews and regenerates every part of the personality. For that part below the level of consciousness--our desires, our instincts--Christ is formed in us and His nature changes our natures. In us the fruit of the Spirit is borne and the gifts of the Spirit operate. There is forgiveness and cleansing for all of the hurts, all of the trauma. All of this is in the sub-conscious. For that part above the level of consciousness, the Holy Spirit helps us to gain a proper understanding of right and wrong and to accept the truth as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. The conscience is that part of our minds that contains our ethical value system. The values in our consciences are learned. We were not born with a value system; we were born with the ability to know right and wrong, but what we believe to be right and wrong, we have to learn. We all have different concepts of right and wrong. Our conscience sets the standards of what we believe to be moral and what we believe to be immoral. Therefore, our consciences--our knowledge of right and wrong--must be conformed to the written Word of God and Jesus Christ becomes our ethical teacher.
The conscience is like a tape recorder. We play tapes about things that are right and about things that are wrong. Paul teaches us:
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (I Tim. 1:5).
Charity, or love, is the end of the law and it is the fulfilling of the law. We must have a good conscience. But without God, we cannot depend on the conscience, for there are three things that can happen to it. The conscience can be defiled, seared, or shipwrecked. That is how tender it is.
First, we may defile the conscience. If we defile it, it will not be pure. Paul warns the Corinthians that they could go to the market, buy meat that had been offered to an idol, eat it, and not feel condemned because they believed an idol was nothing. However, one of their brothers might do the same thing and defile his conscience.
Howbeit, there is not in every man that knowledge (that an idol is nothing): for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled (I Cor. 8:7).
Paul recognized there were differences of opinion concerning what a person should eat or drink and which days a person should keep holy. However, if a person practiced something that was questionable for him, he risked defiling his conscience. So it is for us. Most of the time, Satan does not try to get us to do something very evil; he just starts weakening the conscience, encouraging us to defile it. He puts doubts into it.
Second, we may sear the conscience. The Spirit gave Paul a prophecy concerning the latter days:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (I Tim. 4:1-2).
Their conscience was seared so that it had no feeling. If a person suffers a severe burn, scar tissue forms and that portion of the skin loses much of its feeling. So it is with the conscience. Paul told the Romans that God punishes sin by sin, and the process is in three stages. When the Gentiles knew God they did not glorify Him, so
God gave them up to...dishonour their own bodies between themselves (Rom. 1:21-24).
If they continued to reject God, then
God gave them up to vile affections (Rom. 1:26).
Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28).
When men reject God and do not glorify Him or acknowledge Him, God gives them up physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Ultimately, the conscience may be shipwrecked. As Paul warns Timothy,
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (I Tim. 1:19).
The crux of the matter is faith, for if we do not believe that our lifestyle is pleasing to God, but we continue to live in it, we will shipwreck our conscience and cause our minds to become reprobate. Paul emphasizes this to the Romans,
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:22-23).
As the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit comes to renew our consciences, to purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. He begins to reform the conscience around the values and the absolutes of God's Word. And, we, instead of taking the value system of our parents, our culture, our peer group, or our world, bring our consciences into harmony with the truth of Jesus Christ. If we want to know what good is, we look at Jesus. If we want to know what truth is, we look at Jesus. If we want to know what righteousness is; we look at Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, reveals Christ the Word to us so that we might have the mind of Christ, that we might have His righteousness imputed to us, and that we might have His grace teach us how to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the conscious mind--reproducing the ethical values and moral teachings of Christ, the Word of God, in our consciences.
CHRIST IS MY EGO IDEAL
The work of the Holy Spirit in the EGO IDEAL is very exciting because He is conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. Our EGO IDEAL is our self image, our visualization of ourselves as we want to be. All of us pattern our lives after various ideals whether they are as we visualize ourselves as being or what our parents have programmed us to be.
Some children might as well wear a sign on their backs that says "be stupid", "be late," "kick-me," "be perfect," or "be lazy." Their parents have told them that they are stupid so long that they go around thinking "Oh, I'm stupid. You can't expect anything from me. I am stupid." Others have a "kick me" sign on their backs. "It doesn't make any difference what I do, kick me, I am a failure." Other children have been given good life scripts. They have been told that they have many sterling qualities--intelligence, beauty, wit, grace. They have been programmed to be doctors, preachers, lawyers, or business people. Whether we have been handed a good, bad, or indifferent script, we are living out the image that we have of ourselves. That is why it is important to bring the EGO IDEAL into harmony with the vision that God has for our lives in Jesus Christ.
To maintain a proper self-image is probably one of the most difficult things for a young person to achieve. When I was a young man, there were very few
life-styles from which to choose. Today, however, there are dozens. A new style may develop in California or New York, television will spread it across the nation, and young people in the remotest areas will adopt it immediately. This constant changing of life-styles makes it difficult for many young men and women to know who they are. Even in the church world, we find such a variety of expressions of what a "Christian" should be or should do that it is difficult for an individual not to be in conflict concerning his life-style. Many Christians suffer from a feeling of guilt and unworthiness.
We all pattern our lives after some ideal, whether consciously or unconsciously. We are reaching out toward a self-image which we use to pattern our lives. We either pattern our lives according to what the world says, what Satan says, and what self says, or we pattern our lives after the Word of God, after the Holy Spirit, and after the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, most of us are conscious of what Satan thinks about us. He continually reminds us of our fears, our doubts, our failures, our weaknesses, and our sins. He wants us to believe we are unloved, unacceptable, unworthy, unrighteous, and unappreciated. He torments us with the past, harangues us with the
present, and distresses us over the future. But he is a liar, the accuser of the brethren, and a slanderer. He comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy (John 10:10).
On the other hand, many of us do not understand what God thinks about us. God does not parade our inabilities and weaknesses before us, but, rather, He constantly reminds us that we are "complete in Christ Jesus."
Earlier I discussed the importance of repentance (changing your mind and bringing it into harmony with the word of God) and confession (speaking the same thing about the situation that God speaks). In no other area of Christian experience are these concepts more important than in the development of the EGO IDEAL. We must change the negative images we have about ourselves as well as any positive images if they are contrary to the will of God for us, in order to bring our self-image into harmony with the Word of God. A self-image based upon the Word of God must be our confession.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives this witness:
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain (I Cor. 15:10).
Paul says that the grace of God, which was bestowed upon him by the Lord Jesus Christ, was given to make him a complete person in Christ. Since that grace was not bestowed upon him in vain, Paul had become, and was a partaker of, everything that Jesus Christ died on the cross both to make him and to provide for him. This is Paul's confession: "I am everything and I have experienced everything that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have provided for me; not one of the provisions of God's grace has been in vain; I have received them all." What a testimony! What a confession!
In the letter to the Romans, Paul makes a statement about the Sonship of Jesus:
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:3-4).
Jesus could make two confessions: 1) According to the flesh He was the seed of David, and 2) According to the Spirit He was the Son of God. Very few times did Jesus confess anything according to the flesh nor did He echo what the religious leaders said about Him. Jesus made his confession according to the Spirit. He confessed that He was the Son of God. He confessed that He did the works and spoke the words of His Father. He confessed that He came from and would return to His Father. He confessed that He and His Father were one. Every confession was made according to the Holy Spirit and not according to the flesh. This was the confession of Jesus.
Earlier we talked about the faith of Abraham. If he had made his confession according to the flesh he would have said, "I am about a hundred years old, and Sarah is old and barren." However, he confessed according to the Spirit, according to the promise of God, and said, "I am the father of many nations." Paul emphasizes that Abraham staggered not at the promise of God but was strong in faith. Abraham made his confession according to the Spirit: I am the father of many nations.
As children of God, we also have two confessions: 1) We may say, "I am what I am according to the flesh," or, 2) We may say, "I am what I am according to the Spirit." God has given us His Spirit that we "might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Cor. 2:12) in order that we might make our confession according to the Spirit. If we are not experiencing the fulness of the grace of God, that portion of the grace of God is bestowed upon us in vain.
CHRIST LEFT US AN EXAMPLE
The total provision of the grace of God is for the purpose of making us Christlike:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (I Peter 2:21).
Christ is our example. The Greek word for example is "hupogrammon"--a writing template. In order to learn how to make certain characters, one placed a piece of paper over the hupogrammon and traced the outline of the letter. Thus, the admonition to the Christian is that Jesus is our hupogrammon--we place our lives over His and trace the outlines of His life on ours.
WE ARE TO BE CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE
In his letter to the Romans, Paul establishes the fact that God desires His children to be conformed to the image of Christ:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son
John echoes these words in his writings:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (I John 3:2).
Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, relates the process by which the
transformation is taking place:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord (II Cor. 3:18).
Paul used the image of a mirror to enable the Corinthians to see how the Spirit was transforming them. He writes, "Now we see through a glass (mirror), darkly" (I Cor. 13:12). Our vision of Jesus is only a reflection of His true glory; however, He wishes to reflect the image of that glory in every child of God. Every time we see Jesus in a new experience, in a new relationship, in a new glory, the Spirit of God transforms us into His image, reflecting His glory from glory to glory or from each new experience to the next new experience. The complete transformation will be accomplished when we no longer see a reflection of His glory, but when we see Him face to face at His second coming. Then, the transformation will be complete, and Paul says that not only does the Christian groan within himself but that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain" awaiting the final transformation, the transformation of the body (Rom. 8:22-23).
THE EGO IDEAL IS RENEWED BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WE ARE IN CHRIST
In his letter to the Colossians Paul states that:
In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10).
In light of the fact that "in Christ" is the fulness of God, that "of his fulness" has the Christian received, and that each Christian is "complete in Him," we conclude that we have a complete perfect salvation "in Christ." Therefore, it is necessary for every believer to know and comprehend what God has made us "in Christ."
In Ephesians, Paul reveals the believer's standing "in Christ":
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual bles-sings in heavenly places in Christ...he hath chosen us in Him [Christ]...he hath made us accepted in the beloved [Christ]...In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins...In whom [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance...in whom [Christ] also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise...[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
...we are his workmanship [poema], created in Christ Jesus...for to make in himself [Christ] of twain one new man...in whom [Christ] ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 1:1-2:22).
OUR STANDING IN CHRIST
In the Lord Jesus Christ, I am:
I am born again.
I am ransomed from the bondage of sin.
I am declared righteous.
I am pardoned of my sins.
I am received by God just as I am.
I am rescued from the power and consequences of sin and the power of Satan.
I am restored to fellowship with God.
I am set apart for God.
I am dead to sin through Christ's death on the cross.
I am raised from the dead to walk in newness of life.
Seated in heavenly places:
I am seated with Christ at the right hand of the
Father, far above all principalities and powers.
OUR NEW CHARACTER IN CHRIST
We are new creations in Christ. The world had never seen anything like a Christian until Jesus rose from the dead. He is the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8;29); the first born from the dead (Col. 1:18). On the cross, Jesus broke down the middle wall of partition that separated Jew and Gentile, and in Himself he created a new man, a new kind of person (Eph. 2:13-15). Some of the many different "identities" that believers assume when they are in Christ include: son of God, heir of God, joint heir with Jesus Christ, witness, member of His body, temple of God, stone, king, priest, branch of the vine, sheep of His fold, bond servant of God, ambassador of a king, steward of God's house, and citizen of the heavenly country. Each of these "identities" enables the Christian to play a unique role in the great drama God is producing on the stage of the world.
OUR ENABLINGS IN CHRIST
Jesus told His disciples that "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He delegated this power and authority to the church. The Scriptures are replete with references to the power and authority given to the believer in the
name of Jesus. One of the most eloquent statements ever penned is in the letter of Paul to the Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord
Jesus told His disciples:
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20).
One spring I planted mustard seed in my garden. I plowed a furrow in the ground with a garden plow, poured the tiny seeds into the palm of my hand, then scattered them in the furrow I had made. As I covered them with dirt, in my mind I heard them cry, "What in the world are we going to do now." The seeds were under clods of dirt which were many hundreds of times larger than they, and for the seeds to come up seemed hopeless. However, the seeds didn't worry or fret, they just lived. Finally, they placed their leafy arms against the clods and let the power of the life which God had placed within them exert power against the dirt. One day the seeds pushed the clods out of the way, their leafy arms waving above the ground, and I heard them testify, "We made it. Hallelujah!" Within each believer, as within each seed, is a principle of the life of God which is stronger than any force or power that can be against it.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24).
Jesus was the "corn of wheat" that God planted in the earth, and, from that planting, God is reaping a harvest (John 12:24). He planted a Christ, and He is harvesting Christians (little Christs). He planted an all powerful, victorious Christ; He will harvest an all powerful, victorious church.
The promise of the Holy Spirit was primarily one of receiving power:
Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you (Acts 1:8).
This power is inherent in a benediction Paul pronounced on the Ephesians:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).
The great miracles that are beyond the comprehension of the believer are going to be brought into existence through the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit working in him. This may be the reason Paul exhorted Timothy to
Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands (II Tim. 1:6).
If this is the gift of the Holy Spirit that Paul exhorts Timothy to stir up, then every believer needs to heed the admonition. As a young man, I worked as a roustabout in the oil fields. After we drilled a well to a certain depth, we had the well-shooter come out to "shoot" the well. A charge of dynamite and nitroglycerin was lowered to the bottom of the well and detonated in order to fracture the rock and allow the oil to flow freely. As the shooter prepared the charge, I must admit that I felt very uneasy. He would place sticks of dynamite on a board, slice them with a knife, and drop them in the torpedo he was making. Then, he took the container of nitroglycerin and poured the bluish-green liquid into the torpedo. There was enough power in those explosives to obliterate the hillside. I protested his slicing the dynamite on the board. His answer was that he was not exerting enough force to make it explode. Paul's admonition to Timothy took on new meaning.
There was enough power resident within those explosives to destroy everything around that drilling rig; however, until that power was stirred up, nothing happened. When the shooter lowered the torpedo to the bottom of the well and detonated it, the whole hillside shook. There is enough power resident within the church to wreak havoc with the gates of hell, if the believers would stir it up. Stir up the gift of God that is within you. God will do the "exceeding abundantly above" through the power that works in us.
Paul expressed the secret of his victorious life in the letter to the Colossians:
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
Some know how to prosper, but are not able to suffer want. Some live in need, but are not able to believe for sufficiency. The Apostle Paul had learned that Christ enabled him to meet every situation in life victoriously. His testimony was that "I am able for anything through the Lord Jesus Christ who gives me power."
This brings us full circle: We have a complete perfect salvation in Christ Jesus. Again I quote the Apostle:
In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10).
The reality of that complete perfect salvation is certain if I have Jesus Christ formed in the depth of my being by the Holy Spirit, if the fruit of the Spirit finds expression through my life, if the enablings of Christ are manifest through me by the Spirit, if Christ the truth is in my conscience, if Christ the life is the ideal in my ego ideal, and if Christ lives in me. Then, the life my ego expresses to the world will be the life of Christ. Because Christ lives in me, I can be open and honest with the world because when the world looks at me, they will see Jesus.
The reality of such an experience is the reason Paul could say,
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God (Gal. 2:20-21).
PART III. THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF ORAL ROBERTS
THE EVANGELIST: Oral Roberts
We will discuss the life and ministry of Oral Roberts in three parts: 1) The Making of the Evangelist (1918 to 1947), 2) The Ministry of the Evangelist (1947 to the present), and 3) The Message of the Evangelist. When Dr. David Harrell, Jr., author of the definitive biography of Oral Roberts, interviewed administrators, faculty, staff, and others, he often asked the question, "What is the genius of Oral Roberts?" Since my training is in English literature, I said, "Oral Roberts is what literary people would call a poet." A poet. The romantic writer Shelley called the poets "the legislators of the world." As legislators of the world, they are the shapers of mankind. I think that Oral Roberts could be called a poet, a shaper of mankind, a legislator of the world. The poet senses the well-springs of human need: the thoughts, the emotions, and the feelings that well up from the people. He shapes these into a form and gives them expression. In other words, the poet senses a need--a feeling, a thought, an emotion--rising from among the people. He takes that concept, that little slice of life, and he puts it in a literary form and tries to give an expression of that idea to the world. Oral Roberts is such a person.
Oral Roberts has always been at the forefront of the move of the Holy Spirit because he is sensitive, through the Holy Spirit, to the heartbeat, the needs, and the cries of the people. He has given expression to those needs through teachings and institutions. In turn, the form that gives expression to those needs serves to help meet the needs and to answer the heartcries of the individuals. Oral Roberts, as a poet, has created many writings, concepts, and institutions that have changed the Christian Church.
THE MAKING OF THE EVANGELIST--1918 to 1935
Oral Roberts was born January 24, 1918. Three months before his birth his mother was called to pray for a neighbor's child who was seriously ill. As she was crossing the field, she stooped to climb through a fence. Sensing the presence of God in the stirring of the wind, she made a vow to God. She vowed that if God would heal the child and give her a baby boy, she would dedicate her son to Almighty God for the ministry. God healed the neighbor's child that night, and Mama Roberts made her vow good. When Oral Roberts was born, his mother dedicated him to God and prayed that God would call him into the ministry.
It is difficult for many of us to understand the plight of a Pentecostal preacher in Oklahoma in the 1930's, in the depression days. The depression was a difficult time for many people: a time of poverty with little work, no way of making any money, and bread lines everywhere. The Pentecostal message was not popular in those days. The Pentecostal people were ridiculed, their homes were stoned, their places of worship were bombed. Oral Roberts bore the brunt of much of this persecution and ridicule. Not only was he a Pentecostal preacher's son, but he was a stutterer and his name was "Oral." You can imagine what happened when he started to school. The teachers would ask his name or ask him to recite his lessons, and he would panic. He would run from the classroom with the laughter of the teacher and children ringing in his ears.
At the age of 15, after several years of struggling, he ran away from home. Probably all of the different pressures in which he grew up came together and he felt that if he were to fulfill his dream of being a lawyer and governor of Oklahoma, he would have to change his environment. As he prepared to leave home and told his mother and father goodbye, his father said that he would send the authorities after him. But Oral Roberts promised that he would only run away again. He hoped that somewhere, somehow he would be able to fulfill his dream.
In 1935, at the age of 17, Oral Roberts came home. He was carried into the house, his lungs hemorrhaging, by his basketball coach. He had contracted tuberculosis, a disease which had plagued the Indians in Oklahoma for many years. His grandfather and other relatives had died of tuberculosis. This was before the day of the wonder drugs, so there was not much hope of anyone getting well from tuberculosis. All that Roberts had to look forward to was being sent to the state sanitarium at Talahina, Oklahoma, to die. That was the future that awaited Oral Roberts as they brought him home from a basketball tournament, having collapsed on the floor of the gymnasium. He was put to bed, where he laid for many months, wasting away.
Then one day his sister Jewell came into his room and spoke seven life-changing words to him. She said, "Oral, God is going to heal you." He answered, "Is He Jewell?" He had never been converted; he knew very little about the healing power of God. Some time later his brother Elmer came into his room and told him that he was going to take him to a revival where a man was praying for the sick. On the way to the service in Ada, Oklahoma, as he lay on a mattress pad in the back seat of the car, Roberts heard God speaking in his heart, "Son, I am going to heal you, and you are to take the message of My healing power to your generation." A 17-year-old boy, dying of tuberculosis, heard the voice of God speaking in his heart that God was going to heal him and that he was going to take God's healing power to his generation. That night he was the last one to be prayed for. As the minister prayed for him, God healed Oral Roberts. He could breathe freely again. God, also, loosed his tongue and, for many minutes, he stood and exhorted the individuals about what Jesus of Nazareth had done for him.
ORAL ROBERTS MEETS MISS EVELYN
Although it was almost a year before he regained his strength, from the time of his healing, he began to preach. That was in 1935. In 1936, while attending a camp meeting in Sulphur, Oklahoma, he took his place in the orchestra, looked over at the young lady on his right, and said, "Is my hair combed? Do I look all right?" She answered, "Oh, yes, you look very nice." Later that night Miss Evelyn wrote in her diary, "I sat by my future husband tonight." That is how their courtship began. He kept thinking that the Lord should provide him with a wife, and he kept hearing the name of Miss Evelyn. He began to write to her. One day he wrote to her and said something about her being a preacher's wife. She replied, "If you think that, you are fooled. I don't intend spending my life in a parsonage, raising a bunch of preacher's children." He wrote to her, "Who said anything about you and me getting married. Goodbye." However, after letters of apology, they continued their correspondence.
One day he took the money he had saved and bought a new, blue Chevrolet coupe. He put his mother in the front seat and drove to Texas. When they arrived at the school where Miss Evelyn was teaching, all of the children, of course, were excited because Miss Evelyn's "boy friend" had come to visit her. On the last day of his visit, he took her fishing, and, in his biography The Call he says, "The only thing we caught was each other." "On the way back from fishing," he writes, "I stopped my car on a sandbar to talk." He said, "Evelyn, my huge, happy, hilarious heart is throbbing tumultuously, tremendously, triumphantly, in a lasting, long-lived love for you. As I gaze into your beauteous, bounteous, beaming eyes, I am literally lost in a daring, delightful dream in which your fair, felicitous, fancy-filled face is ever present like a colossal, comprehensive constellation. Will you be my sweet, smiling, soulful, satisfied spouse?" To that Miss Evelyn replied, "Listen here, boy! If you're trying to propose to me, talk in the English language." So, he said, "I did it over again, and I was accepted. And we sealed it with a kiss" (p. 150). Evelyn continued to teach school, and he continued to hold evangelistic meetings. On Christmas Day, 1938, Oral and Evelyn were married.
THE SILENT YEARS
The twelve years from 1935 to 1947 are the silent years. Oral Roberts seldom speaks of this part of his ministry, but they were part of the making of the evangelist. As he pastored churches, evangelized, taught in Bible school, and wrote books and articles, he was trying to fulfill the call of God upon his life.
In 1947, while pastoring in Enid, Oklahoma, and attending Phillips University, he became more and more miserable because he didn't seem to be having the miracles and the signs and the wonders that he felt God would have him to receive. One day in a sociology class, the Lord spoke in his heart and said, "Don't be like other men; be like Jesus." He arose from his seat, walked out of the class, and began to earnestly seek God concerning his ministry. God spoke to him again and told him to read through the Gospels and the Book of Acts three times on his knees. Night after night he would kneel by the little heater reading the New Testament. As he read the Gospels and the Book of Acts, he began to see Jesus Christ rise from the pages of the New Testament: a Christ who was a healing Christ. Also, he kept having the same dream night after night, a dream in which he heard the cries of suffering humanity crying for someone to come and to bring deliverance to them.
THE FIRST HEALING SERVICE
Finally, he felt that it was time to settle the question about a healing ministry. He rented an auditorium in Enid in which to hold a healing service. Then, he put a fleece before the Lord, asking God for three things: 1) he wanted over a thousand people to attend the service (he was preaching to around two hundred every Sunday, and so that number seemed to be an impossibility), 2) he wanted God to help him pay the rent on the building ($160 for a Sunday afternoon), and 3) he wanted God to give him a miracle--God would heal someone to validate the healing ministry. He announced the healing service, then got a job at a men's clothing store in case the fleece didn't prove true. If God did not confirm his call, he was going to leave the ministry and start selling clothes.
The day of the healing service, everyone stood around after the church service, waiting till time to go to the healing meeting. When he walked into the building, the custodian said, "Preacher, I hear you want at least one thousand people? Well, there are 1,200 seated in the auditorium." When they took up the offering for the rent for the building, they received $163.03. (Three dollars and three cents more than the expense of the building.) Two conditions were met. But what about the miracle? While Oral Roberts was preaching, he jumped off the platform, and, at that moment, a German lady who had a crippled hand was
healed. God had opened her hand. As a result of that miracle, seven men accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of Oral Roberts' healing ministry.
This is the making of the Evangelist. In The Call he writes, "From poverty, to a runaway, to deathbed, and healing--it all combined to make me a preacher. Within two months of my healing I delivered my first sermon. It was a little sermon, but it was a start" (p. 35).
THE MINISTRY OF THE EVANGELIST
Later that year he came to Tulsa. Reverend Steve Pringle had a large tent on the north side of the city, and he invited Roberts to preach in the tent meeting. One night, as Roberts was ministering, a man standing across the street fired a bullet within a few inches of his head. As a result, he became a nationally known evangelist. The meeting continued several weeks, and God performed many healings. Oral Roberts decided he would move to Tulsa. In November 1947, he started publishing the Healing Waters magazine, and in 1948, he incorporated the Healing Waters organization. The first year, they mailed 25,000 letters, 30,000 prayer cloths, 15,000 books, and 90,000 copies of the Healing Waters.
THE TENT CRUSADES
In 1948, Roberts began his first crusade in Durham, North Carolina, in a tent seating 3000 people. When that tent was destroyed in 1950, by a storm in Amarillo, Texas, he purchased a new tent seating 7,500 people. In 1953, he purchased his last tent, seating 12,500 people. His last tent crusade was held in 1967.
Over the twenty years of tent crusades, thousands of people were saved, blessed, and healed. As we consider the ministry of Roberts across those years, we find that, from 1961 to 1970, he visited over 54 different countries.
THE TELEVISION MINISTRY
He began his television ministry in 1954. In order to televise the services in the big tent, he introduced the "Blessing Pact Covenant." This was the forerunner of the Seed-Faith concept. He asked four hundred twenty people to enter a covenant of $100 a year to raise the finances for televising the tent crusades, in order to take his healing ministry into the living rooms of the homes in America. He offered people a money back guarantee. If God did not prosper and bless them, he would return their money. I understand that two people wrote for their money back. One of them only wanted to see if his money would really be
returned. In 1955, the first tent crusade was televised, and, from 1955 to May of 1967, the ministry was on television. In 1967, Roberts took his ministry off television. Then, in 1969, he began to televise the prime time specials with Mahalia Jackson as his first guest star. Oral Roberts ushered in a new age of Christian television ministry.
A SHORT HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF ORU
In 1961, the land for the University was purchased--a miracle story within itself. In 1962, Roberts broke ground for the school, and in 1963, he held the first International Ministerial Seminar in the chapel in the north end of Timko-Barton building. In 1965, the school opened with three hundred students, and in 1967, the University was dedicated by Billy Graham.
In 1971, ORU received accreditation from North Central Association. Only one other school had received accreditation from North Central for its programs in such a short time.
In 1975, Oral Roberts announced the plans for the graduate and professional schools, and in 1978, all of the graduate and professional schools were open. In 1982, students were graduated from all of the schools of the University: undergraduate, graduate, and professional.
This is a brief overview of the ministry of Oral Roberts, and a sketch of Oral Roberts University from the day the land was purchased until the present when the University is accredited by the North Central Association, the Association of Theological Schools, and National Association of Schools of Music and has graduated over ten thousand students. ORU is a miracle. You live in the midst of a miracle.
THE MESSAGE OF THE EVANGELIST
In The Call, Roberts summed up the making of the evangelist when he said, "From poverty to a runaway to deathbed to healing, it all combined to make me a preacher. Within two months of my healing, I delivered my first sermon. It was a little sermon, but it was a start" (p. 35). From poverty to a runaway to deathbed to healing, this is the making of the evangelist.
The year 1947 was the beginning of the great healing revival that swept across the nation and circled the world. Oral Roberts and William Branham were the two apostles of healing that God used to bring forth that great healing revival. As a result of their proclamation of the healing of power of God, many evangelists were encouraged to bring the message of divine healing to the world during those years, from 1947 through the early 60's. Roberts was a pioneer, bringing a new emphasis of the doctrine of healing to the Christian Church. From 1948, when he raised his tent in Durham, North Carolina, until 1968, when he took it down in Anaheim, California, there were almost 20 years of unbroken ministry, of preaching divine healing and that God is a good God.
In discussing the message of Oral Roberts, I have divided it into two parts, the contributions he has made to the church and the concepts that are the foundation of his ministry.
ORAL ROBERTS' CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CHURCH
Oral Roberts major contribution to the Christian Church was the joining together of prayer and medicine. God called him to take His healing power to his generation. However, as I have reviewed his ministry over the years, I believe he has been instrumental in making prayer a vital force in various areas of our society: the business and professional world, the educational world, the church world, the entertainment world, as well as the medical world. When I speak of prayer, I am speaking about the Charismatic dimension of the Spirit: the fulness of the Holy Spirit with all of the gifts of the Spirit, the charismata.
PRAYER AND THE BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WORLD
In 1951, Demos Shakarian shared with Roberts a vision he had of a group of business and professional people who would serve the Lord Jesus Christ. As they talked about this vision, Roberts felt that the vision was of the Lord and encouraged Shakarian to pursue his dream. As a result, Roberts and Shakarian met with twenty-one businessmen in Clifton's Cafeteria in Los Angeles, California, with Roberts as the speaker. Out of that meeting was born the greatest institution of this generation for spreading the charismatic revival--The Full Gospel Businessmen's International Fellowship. Probably more people from the business and professional worlds have met the Lord Jesus Christ and have been filled with the Spirit through this institution than through any other organization. As of 1987, Demos Shakarian told me that they had over 700,000 members in approximately 40,000 chapters world-wide, and, by the end of the century, their hope was to have over one million members. This association is the greatest lay witness ministry in the Charismatic Movement. Oral Roberts was instrumental in joining together the charismatic dimension of Christianity with the business and professional world.
PRAYER AND EDUCATION
Roberts also has been the leader in the joining together of prayer and education--creating an institution where students may excel academically as well as spiritually. In my view, one of the greatest events that has happened, outside of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this generation, is the founding of Oral Roberts University. I believe that we have a tremendous opportunity to change the course of human events through what the students will contribute to the kingdom of God, if we fulfill the vision of ORU. This is a unique place where persons of all different churches can come together in the Holy Spirit and seek after the truth as it is revealed in Christ Jesus.
In the early 60's, when Roberts shared his vision of a university with me, I became excited and determined to be a part of it. I was pastoring a church here in the city of Tulsa at the time he began to share his dream. To have an institution where all Christians, regardless of their church affiliation, could come together in the Spirit and search after the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, was, I thought, a tremendous undertaking.
As a young man in junior college, I met the Lord Jesus Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit. I dropped out of junior college to go preach, because I believed that Jesus was going to be here that very year. He did not come that year, but I still look for him. However, after I was married and had a family, I accepted a church in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and enrolled in John Brown University. My desire was to see if a person could believe in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and achieve academic excellence. In my studies, leading to a doctorate, I found that a person can live in the fulness of the Spirit and also receive the accolades of the academic world. A Christian can excel academically and spiritually.
At ORU, one of the great institutions in the world, a student can be as spiritual as he wants to be, following the Holy Spirit, and, at the same time, he can cultivate the intellect, excelling academically. The academic and the spiritual complement each other here without any disparity, without any conflict.
PRAYER AND THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH
In 1968, Oral Roberts returned to the Methodist Church, causing quite a controversy among the Pentecostals. This event was important in that one of the great Protestant churches, the Methodist Church, opened its doors to accept a Charismatic, healing evangelist. They accepted him in the fulness of his ministry, which encouraged other churches to accept the Charismatic dimension of the gospel, until, today, almost every church has a renewal movement within the church--a group of Charismatic members who believe in the fulness of the Spirit.
PRAYER AND THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD
In 1969, Oral Roberts told the ORU faculty that he was going to go back on television with prime time television specials, joining the best of a Christian Charismatic ministry with the superstars of the entertainment world. Mahalia Jackson was the first superstar to be invited on the program. As a result of these Oral Roberts' specials, many of the great entertainers were touched by the Spirit of the Lord. It was not unusual, in those days, to have the top entertainers of the nation visit the University.
Through this joining together of prayer and entertainment, I believe Roberts opened the door for some of the top entertainers to be willing to make a public confession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As he went to California to make his specials, many persons from the worlds of film, theater, and entertainment were converted as they came into contact with Oral Roberts and his ministry on the television set.
Through his television ministry, he laid the foundation and created the format for the electronic church that has within it the potential to "preach the gospel to every creature."
PRAYER AND MEDICINE
In dedicating the City of Faith, in 1981, Roberts joined prayer and medicine. He probably has made as profound an impact upon health care in the United States as any non-medical person in history by bringing whole person medicine into prominence. Not "holistic medicine," but whole person medicine--where
people are treated not just as physical beings, but also as spiritual and mental beings. Many hospitals have become interested in the spiritual well-being of the patients they serve.
These are a few of the major contributions which Oral Roberts has made to society and to the church. I am sure that only God knows the full impact of Roberts' ministry in this nation and around the world. Many of the successful Charismatic ministers are indebted to him in some way: his ministry brought them salvation; his books deepened their ministry; his teachings challenged their faith; his faith gave them confidence; his creativity inspired their vision; his vision gave them courage to dream.
THE SEVEN CONCEPTS THAT CHANGED ORAL ROBERTS' LIFE
In a Holy Spirit conference sponsored by the School of Theology and Missions, Roberts spoke of seven concepts that changed his life. To understand him and his ministry, you need to have an understanding of these seven concepts.
THE OFFICE OF THE EVANGELIST
Roberts believes God has set him in the church as an evangelist. Even though he has functioned in each of the major offices set in the church by Jesus Christ, as listed by Paul in Ephesians (Eph. 4:11), Roberts feels that God has called him to be an evangelist--to take God's healing power to this generation. In our discussion of the office of the evangelist, I pointed out that the message of the evangelist is "the good news," and that we must allow the evangelist to bring the good tidings. Some feel that when the evangelist preaches the goodness of God, or the blessings of God, or the prosperity of God, he is overemphasizing a part of the gospel. But remember, the office of the evangelist is to bring the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the emphasis of Roberts' evangelistic ministry is that "God is a good God." Roberts teaches that God is at the point of your need; God is the source of all blessings; a Christian should plant a seed out of his need and expect a miracle harvest; Jesus is a healing Jesus; and Jesus came to give life and that more abundantly. These are all concepts of blessing and prosperity.
THE GIFTS OF HEALINGS
In 1961, Oral Roberts published The Abundant Life Edition of the Bible (referred to as A.L.E.), a Lamsa translation of the Eastern Orthodox scriptures. It is a fascinating book because it includes a series of essays concerning the Abundant Life. In these essays, Roberts writes about healing, prosperity, the concept that God is a good God, the abundant life, the point of contact, the resurrection, and the first key of seed faith--God is your source.
It is interesting to compare what Oral Roberts preaches today with what he wrote in 1961, over 32 years ago. When Roberts talks today about joining prayer and medicine, about the gifts of healings, about the abundant life, it is interesting to go back and see what the evangelist preached years ago.
In his essay on, "The Bible Way to Health and Healing" (A.L.E., p. 17), he discusses four ways that God heals: 1) God heals through the forces of nature--sunshine, fresh air, climate, good food, nutrition; 2) God heals through love and understanding--to receive love and understanding from persons around you who care for you and support you; 3) God heals through the skill of physicians, of body and mind--by the skillful use of forces placed on earth by God, dedicated men and women are able to correct many disharmonies in the human system; and 4) God heals miraculously by his own supernatural power. These are the four ways that God heals: nature, love, physicians, and supernaturally.
Elaborating on the supernatural means of healing, he says that God has seven aids to health: 1) The laying on of hands--They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover, Mark 16:18; 2) Anointing with oil--Let them anoint him with oil, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, James 5:14; 3) Confess your faults one to another--Confess your faults one to another that you may be healed, James 5:15; 4) Pray one for another that you might be healed--As you pray for another person, expect the healing to come back to you, James 5:15; 5) The Word of God--God sent His Word and healed them, Psalms 107:20; 6) The joy of the Lord--A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, Prov. 17:22; and 7) Holy Communion, I Cor. 11:23-30. These are supernatural aids to health. These are the ways that God has set in the body of Christ in order to bring health to the body of Christ. These are the ways God has for ministering abundant life in the physical realm. These are God's means of healing.
GOD IS A GOOD GOD
The concept that "God is a good God" was controversial when Roberts started preaching it years ago. While it seems like a cliche to us today, when he began preaching that "God is a good God, and the devil is a bad devil," it was a challenging statement.
One day as he ran out the door to catch the bus going to Phillips University, he remembered that he had forgotten to read his Bible. He ran back in the house, grabbed his Bible, and it opened to III John 2:
Beloved, I wish above all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers (III John 2).
He called for Evelyn, read the verse to her, and asked her if she knew that it was in the Bible. She said that she didn't know that the scripture was in the Bible. He did not go to school that day but stayed home and discussed the scripture with her. That verse of scripture changed his concept of God and changed his life. After reading III John 2, He began to preach: "God is a good God." He also began to preach the abundant life:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more
abundantly (John 10:10).
He emphasized that God desired to bless His people and to meet their needs.
Oral Roberts' theology begins with the concept that God is at the point of your need. You meet God at the point of your need, and, because God is a good God, He wants to meet your need. In "The Formula for Prosperity" (A.L.E., p. 25), Roberts provides a biblical formula for prosperity. The Christian's answer to any question concerning the true measure of prosperity is found in two scriptures: 1) The words of Agur (Proverbs 30:7-9) and 2) The words of Paul (I Cor. 9:8).
Agur desired two things of God:
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain (Prov. 30:7-9).
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he writes what Oral Roberts calls the "clearest definition of prosperity ever written":
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.... Now he that ministereth seed to the sower [God gives you seed to plant] both minister bread for your food [God meets your needs], and multiply your seed sown [God multiplies what you sow], and increase the fruits of your righteousness [God gives you an increase]; Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness [God prospers you], which causeth through us thanksgiving to God (II Cor. 9:8-11).
I have added the basic concepts of SEED FAITH in italics to the above scripture. When Roberts wrote about prosperity in 1961, he had defined only the first concept of the "Three Keys to Seed Faith"--"God is your source."
The theme that ties these two scriptures together is "sufficiency in all things." Agur prayed neither for riches nor for poverty, but for sufficiency. Likewise, Paul promised neither wealth nor lack, but sufficiency in all things. Oral Roberts comments on Paul's writing:
It [prosperity] is the possession of everything that you need for yourself and your loved ones and enough left over to give to those who need help. It stands to reason that if you have only the bare necessities of life, you are not prosperous. And if you have all the sufficiencies of life, but no more, that is not prosperity, for you are still barely getting by. Your cup is not yet running over. You may still be subject to the temptations King Agur prayed to avoid. But if you have everything you need with something left over for the poor, that is prosperity. If, after you have paid the tithe of your normal income, you still have something with which you can send missionaries into the foreign field to preach the Word of God and to make it possible for Jesus of Nazareth to be taken, through his Word, to those who know him not, that is prosperity (A.L.E., p. 25).
This is the clearest statement that I have ever read of what Oral Roberts believes is prosperity. When you have enough for you and your family, and enough left over to give to the poor, and enough to support the work of God, you have Bible prosperity. That is the God that Oral Roberts preaches, a God who wants to meet your needs; a God who wants to give you all sufficiency in all things in order that you might have seed to sow (your needs are met), your seed will be multiplied (you will receive an increase), and you will be bountifully blessed (you will receive a harvest). God, who is a good God, makes all grace abound toward you.
POINT OF CONTACT
It is almost impossible to understand Oral Roberts' ministry without understanding a point of contact. A point of contact is something you do, and, when you do it, you release your faith. To Roberts, faith is an action. Faith is something you do. It is not passive. A point of contact is something you do, so that when you do it, you release your faith. Probably the best Biblical example is the woman with the issue of blood who said, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole" (Matt. 9:21). She had a point of contact. If I can touch, I will be healed. When she touched, she was made well. This is a point of contact. All through the scriptures, we find examples of people using a point of contact: washing in the pool of Siloam, showing themselves to the high priest, dipping in Jordan seven times, speaking the word, anointing with oil, laying hands on the sick, speaking to a rock, stretching out a rod, breaking their pitchers--all something they did. Over and over again, they used a point of contact to release their faith.
In almost every letter Roberts sends to his partners, he includes a point of contact: a piece of rope, a packet of water, a prayer cloth, an outline of his hand, a vial of oil, a ribbon. Many people believe that these are gimmicks. However, by using a point of contact Oral Roberts is in good company. One of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament used a similar point of contact to help the people remember God." God told Moses to have the people sew a piece of blue ribbon on the hem of their garments and expect a miracle:
Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember the commandments of the Lord, and do them (Num. 15:38-39).
What would the critics say if Oral Roberts told his partners to sew blue fringe on their blue jeans and expect a miracle? Yet, that is what God told Moses to tell the people. The fact that Moses gave the people a point of contact is accepted by the church as scriptural and proper; however, if a modern day prophet tells people to do something similar, they criticize him.
Be that as it may, in spite of the criticism, Roberts still uses a point of contact. In the big tent, he always asked the audience to touch the seat in front when someone was being prayed for. In his radio ministry, Roberts asked the listeners to lay hands on the radio when he prayed. And later, on television, he asked them to lay hands on the television set. Always he asked the people to do
something as a point of contact for the releasing of their faith. They had to act their faith.
In order to understand Oral Roberts and to understand his ministry to his partners, one must understand what he means by a point of contact. It is something he tells his partners to do, that when they do it, they turn their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ loose and receive the answer to their prayers.
PRAYING WITH THE SPIRIT and PRAYING WITH THE UNDERSTANDING
The insight into the value of praying with the Spirit and praying with the understanding came out of building the University. As Roberts walked over these grounds praying, trying to understand how to build a university, he began to pray in the Spirit and he began to pray in English. There seemed to be a correlation between the two. As he continued, he was given a word of knowledge. He began to see how to bring ORU into existence. As a result of those experiences, he began to teach the therapeutic value of praying in tongues, of praying in the Spirit. Out of that came the concept of what we call the prayer language. The first time I ever heard anyone discuss the value of speaking in tongues--praying with the Spirit and praying with the understanding--was in 1963 at the First International Ministers Seminar held in Timko-Barton Hall of ORU.
Oral Roberts addressed two problem areas: the value of speaking in tongues and the emotionalism associated with speaking in tongues. He began to teach that speaking in tongues illuminated the intellect as one prayed with the Spirit and prayed with the understanding. The Spirit of God would heighten the understanding through the interpretation of the tongues in which one spoke.
One of the major criticisms of the Pentecostal movement had always been its emotionalism. Many of the commentaries on the Bible spoke of speaking in tongues as an ecstatic experience, the result of one's being in a trance-like state. However, Oral Roberts began to teach that speaking in tongues was under the control of the will of the individual--the spirit of the prophet was subject to the prophet--and speaking in tongues was controlled by the will of the speaker. This teaching had a profound influence upon the spread of the Charismatic Movement among professors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and businessmen The reason that many of the intellectuals and professionals had not accepted speaking with tongues was the exaggerated emphasis on the emotional quality of the experience. Oral Roberts took speaking with tongues out of the emotions and put it under the will, and they accepted it.
The forerunner of the concept of Seed Faith was the "Blessing Pact" that Roberts developed in 1954. In the essay "The Bible Formula for Prosperity" (A.L.E., p. 26), we find the outlines of Seed Faith with the first Key defined, "God is the Source," and the scripture reference for the second Key:
Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom
By 1961, the seeds of Seed Faith were germinating: the way to prosperity was to recognize God is the Source, follow the Word, and honor God with your substance.
Later, as he was being persecuted in a crusade in Florida, God told him to expect a miracle and to tell his partners to expect a miracle. That was how the last key of seed faith--EXPECT A MIRACLE--came into being.
These are the three Keys of Seed Faith: 1) God is your source, 2) Give as a seed out of your need that it might be given to you, and 3) expect a miracle. As with many of Roberts' teachings, Seed Faith is controversial, even though the principle of sowing and reaping, seed time and harvest, is built into the universe. One objection to Seed Faith is that we are trying to manipulate God by giving in order to receive. My answer is that it is impossible to manipulate God, even though we may try. If I understand the Bible, God has given to us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" in Jesus Christ. If this is true, then how can I manipulate God into doing something for me that He has already done? He has already given to me all that He has in Christ Jesus, so how can I manipulate Him? He is more willing to give, than I am to receive. May I say that again? God is more willing to give, than I am to receive. In fact, I believe God has many blessings that He would like to give me, if I would earnestly desire them.
The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt. 12:12).
In our halfhearted efforts in prayer, we may try to manipulate God, but God is more than ready to answer "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man" (James 5:16).
Many critics do not understand the foundation of Seed Faith. Roberts teaches that you must first give yourself as a seed to God in love. Out of the planting of the self in love will come the planting of your seeds in the lives of others in love. This complete consecration of your will to God will destroy any ulterior motive in your service to God.
Another question that is raised is "How can Oral Roberts teach that we give to get, if love asks for nothing except the privilege of loving?" To answer this question the Spirit directed my mind to the Key verse in Luke 6:38 and told me to read the context:
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil....Give, and it shall be
given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom (Luke 6:27-38).
As you read this, you may wonder if the same person was speaking. The first part of the teaching informs us that we are to give to our enemies, we are to lend without expecting any return, we are to offer our coat to those who take our cloak, especially to our enemies and those who hate us, and from those who take our goods, we do not ask them back again. That is giving in love without expectation. Then, the same Jesus told us to give and it would be given back unto us by men, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Many of us were taught the first part; a few of us were taught the second part. However, the same Christ taught it all in the same lesson. We see here the two sides of giving: the commandment and the promise. Jesus commands us to give in love even to our enemies without expecting anything from the ones to whom we give; however, if we give in love as Jesus commanded us, He has promised that He will cause men to give to us, and we will receive an abundant harvest. Some ministers emphasize the commandment; Oral Roberts emphasizes the promise.
The greatest example of Seed Faith is found in God's giving His Son Jesus Christ. All of the principles of Seed Faith are exhibited in this act of God: God is the source; He planted His Son in the earth as a seed; He focused his giving on the nation of Israel (Jesus came to the Jews), He gave out of a need to redeem His creation, He gave to receive a harvest of believers (called the firstfruits); He has not fully received from those to whom the gift of His Son was given (the Jews); but He will reap in due season (all Israel will be saved); and He expects this miracle to happen according to His Word.
One of the most provocative statements that I have heard on seed faith is "Your seed is someone's harvest." We ought to meditate on that. The seed that you plant is someone's harvest. If we all were in the rhythm of Seed Faith giving, our sowing and our reaping would complete a cycle. When you had a need, I would plant my seed to meet your need, and you would have your harvest. In turn, you would give, and your giving would meet someone else's need, and they would have their harvest. The planting of their seed would result in another person's needs being met. The result would be that each member of the body of Christ would minister to each member of the body and the body would have no lack. Paul had this in mind when he wrote:
[We] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love (Eph. 4:15-16).
If every member of the body of Christ, properly placed and firmly knitted together in love, worked effectually at giving the measure of supply that God had provided for it to every other member of the body, the church of Jesus Christ would have no lack. This would make an increase in every area of the life of the members of the church, and the body would edify itself in love. Notice that God did not say He would increase and edify; He said each member of the body by being joined to another member and giving its measure would cause the increase and edify the body. Two members of the body must come together and make a joint; it is the joint that supplies the increase. The rhythmic cycle of Seed Faith would supply the fulness and take away the lack in the body of Christ.
Oral Roberts teaches Seed Faith as an act and Seed Faith as a process: Seed Faith giving and Seed Faith living. Seed Faith giving is an act, an act of planting of a seed for a desired result. In Seed Faith living, however, one must first give himself to God in love. When one gives himself to God, then all that he does becomes a seed. Everything he does is an act of love towards the Father, and everything he gives is a seed that he plants to honor and glorify Him. Seed Faith becomes a life style, a way of living in sowing and reaping.
You probably have not heard Oral Roberts preach much about the resurrection, but in the Holy Bible with Personal Commentary (referred to as H.B.C.), he reveals the central place that the teaching of the resurrection has in his ministry. In commenting on Jesus' statement, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19), Roberts writes, "Our whole expectation for miracles is based upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
And again, he writes,
Through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God gave Jesus a name above everything that is named in this world and in the world to come, putting ALL things under His feet. When I began to see this in 1947, and now see it greater and greater, I know we as Christians must take time to FOCUS our faith on Jesus' NAME and see it as being ABOVE any name (H.B.C.: Commentary on Eph. 1:17-22).
At the resurrection, God gave Jesus Christ a name which is above every name, and, by the power of Jesus' resurrection, we are made alive unto God. In 1947, when Roberts began to realize this, he recognized that God has given the believer power and authority over all the powers of the devil. He writes,
Paul reminds every Christian that we have been raised UP from the death "of sins and trespasses"...and MADE to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is our divine right in the new covenant (H.B.C., comment on Eph. 2:1-6).
As Christians we not only believe in immortality, but we believe in the resurrection of the body. This is the "earnest expectation of every creature." Paul writes,
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God...Be-cause the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God...For we know the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now...even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for, to wit, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:16-23).
Every created thing is waiting with expectancy the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints. Paul calls this the "manifestation of the sons of God" (verse. 16). John calls this the hope of the Christian:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure (I John 3:2-3).
Our hope is not only that Jesus will come and deliver us from bondage, but that when we see Him as He is, we shall be changed into His likeness. If we have such a hope "in him," we purify ourselves as He is pure. This is the "manifestation of the sons of God." And Paul reminds the Ephesians that it is "by the church" that God will make all principalities and powers know what His eternal purpose was in Christ Jesus:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11).
That purpose was to "bring many sons and daughters unto glory" (Heb. 2:10), each one transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). The resurrection will complete the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming the child of God into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
These are the seven concepts that have changed Oral Roberts' life: the ministry of the evangelist, the gifts of healings, God is a good God, a point of contact, praying with the Spirit and praying with the understanding, Seed Faith, and the resurrection.
Did Isaiah Speak in Tongues?
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote:
20. Brethren be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
21. In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord (I Cor. 14:20-21 KJV)
These words. quickened to Paul's mind by the Spirit, were taken from prophecy in
which Isaiah declares:
9. Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
11. For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13. But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. [Italics mine]
Paul used Isaiah's prophecy to establish the fact that tongues were to be a sign
the unbelievers; however, he also pointed out that God said the unbelievers would not hear or accept the sign.
The editors of the New International Version of the Holy Bible translated the passage from Isaiah as follows:
9. Who is he trying to teach?
To whom is he explaining his message?
To children weaned from their milk,
to those just taken from the breast?
10. For it is:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there.
[Hebrew: sav lasav sav lasav
kav lakav kav lakav--]
11. Very well then, with foreign lips and strange
God will speak to this people,
12. to whom he said,
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest";
and, "This is the place of repose"--
but they would not listen.
13. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there--
[Hebrew: sav lasav sav lasav
kav lakav kav lakav--]
so that they will go and fall backward,
be injured and snared and captured.
After translating verses 10 and 13:
For it is:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there.
the editors add a very interesting footnote to verse 10:
(Hebrew / sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav possibly meaningless sounds; perhaps a mimicking of the prophet's words); also in verse 13. [I have placed their remarks in italics in verses 10 and 13]:
In light of this footnote, a more accurate translation of Isaiah 28:9-13 in the King James Version would be:
9. Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10. For it is:
sav lasav sav lasav
kav lakav kav lakav
11. For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13. But the word of the Lord was unto them:
sav lasav sav lasav
kav lakav kav lakav
that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
One night these passages from Paul and Isaiah were quickened to my mind by the Spirit. As Isaiah was prophesying of how God would "cause the weary to rest" and also provide a "refreshing" for them through "stammering lips and another tongue," the prophet begins to speak in tongues (the "meaningless sounds" of the translators of the New International Version). Paul declares that "tongues" would be a sign that God was speaking to the people; however, they would not hear or accept the sign. It appears that Isaiah was the first "Pentecostal" or "Charismatic" preacher.