Posts Tagged With: spiritual gifts

Before We Debate About the Spiritual Gift of Tongues, How About This…

Amazingly, while many people speak about the gift of tongues, whether they exist or don’t exist, one aspect we tend to forget is how we use the language (i.e., tongue) that God has given us now?

Jump with me to 1 Corinthians 14:23-25:

23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Tongues, Paul says, are a sign for unbelievers.  When Peter, skeptical that God would send his Spirit to all the nations to show them His glory and His work through Jesus, we read in Acts 10:44-47:

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

What’s the point? The point is that God used this sign (not the gift, the sign) to show the world that God was moving forward in bringing His message of the Gospel through the Spirit to the whole world.  And, friends, we are the recipient of that.  God used His messengers through the Spirit and the gifts that He bestowed to take the message of the gospel, of which we are a recipient.

Dear Christians, unbelievers will enter into your life and your church.  So how are we using the language God has given to us?  Let me show you how some use them.  In Romans 1:28-32:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

How many times have we seen Christians come together, and use their tongues not for the purpose of building up believers in the faith, but to tear down other believers and leaders that God has put in their path. Rather than going and speaking directly to the person, they gossip and slander and become insolent, arrogant, boastful!  Many of these sins in place are right up there with the flow of the argument—God giving people over to their desires, their sexual sins.

Alan Redpath calls us to think when it comes to what we’re getting ready to say.  It’s an acronym:

T–Is it true?
H–Is it helpful?
I–Is it inspiring?
N–Is it necessary?
K–Is it kind?

If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut! And it worked!

But really, it’s not just about what we shouldn’t say, it’s about being clear regarding the person and work of Christ both in private, and in this case in public.  Prophesy and preaching and teaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection as the only hope for the forgiveness of sins and eternal must be crystal clear.  Intelligible.  Distinct.  Do we have that?  When we tell people phrases we’re used to like, “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Won’t you walk the aisle?”

You see, I fear that many in our churches in America believe that the church exists for them.  The spiritual gifts exist for them.  God in heaven simply exists to meet our needs.  We can only worship if the music is just right, the curriculum is just right, if the money is spent just right.  Do you see what’s happening?  Everything can come down to the fact that many believe that everything exists for them!  But vv 24-25 shatter that.  Clarity about the gospel, about Jesus’ person and work will convict as worked by the Spirit.  We want to be clear to call everyone to repent and believe the gospel as Jesus said.  We want to be clear to our family and friends about the gospel—and that our words and our actions match!

The entire point of 1 Corinthians 14 is that of clarity so that the church would be built up!  Outward love toward others always trumps simply building up oneself, whether it’s speaking in tongues or in any other aspect of our Christian walk. But we all speak in a language–how are we using that for God’s glory and building up the church?

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The Spirit-Filled Christian is Spiritual Aristocracy? What Should a Normal Christian Look Like?

When speaking of the Holy Spirit, we recognize that the Spirit has freed us from the false notions about being a Christian.  You see, whether we like it or not, God intends for us to engage our minds. He uses letters, words, phrases, sentences, chapters, and books to communicate His Word. He communicates propositions, ideas, worldviews, and calls his followers to proclaim and compel others to turn to the Good News of what it means to be right with God.

Verses 9-11 makes it clear as crystal what a Christian is:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

A Christian is this—the Spirit of God dwelling in you. We see this in verse 9, and verse 11. If you were not here last week, you need to read John 15:1-11 when Jesus told His disciples that you must be connected to the vine (Jesus being that vine), for apart from Him you can do nothing. It was a passage of self-examination.

This passage serves the same. Are we in the flesh, or are we in the Spirit? Are we relying on external duties? What’s happening in the private chambers of our heart? What’s happening in the privacy of our homes?

What a blessed gift God has given us in the Spirit. Some churches though have not been helpful in explaining the role of the Holy Spirit. Some say when you receive Jesus, you receive Him as a “first blessing,” but the Spirit comes later in fullness with a “second blessing” or “anointing.”

But what are the implications? When Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18) he then promised to send the disciples the Holy Spirit who would be a counselor, comforter, one who convicts of sin, and connect them with the Father. If we do not receive the Spirit until the later, then Jesus lied! He did leave us as orphans! We see that in verse 11 that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead raised us—but we see that phrase if the Spirit dwells in you.

But he did not simply save us to keep us company! We were saved and sealed by the Spirit to serve. We each have been given gifts in various measure in order to be His hands and feet here in this fallen world.

There’s a story of Niccolo Paginini willed his elegant violin to the city of Genoa. As he did so, he demanded that it never be used. It was a gift designated for preservation but not destined for service. In the same way, when the resurrected Christ willed his spiritual gifts to the children of God, he commanded they be used. They were gifts, not destined for preservation but destined for service.

G. Campbell Morgan says,

A man full of the Spirit is one who is living a normal Christian life. Fullness of the Spirit is not the state of spiritual aristocracy.

You say, “How can I tell that the Spirit dwells in me?” Ask yourself this:

  • Do I love Jesus with all I have, wanting to know Him and please Him more than anything?
  • If I sin against Him, does the Spirit convict me to confess and turn from my sin? If the Spirit of God dwells in you, he will kick out that which does not belong to God.
  • Am I bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? 
  • Do I have a desire to find out and exercise the gifts God has given to me and to be content with the measure to which God has given them (1 Corinthians 12)?
  • Do I have a love for other believers as His disciples, rather than a judgmentalism against them because they are not the way we want them to be? If you’re judgmental against others, you’re wanting them to be like you because you think you have it all together. As Ron Dunn once said, “Some believers think they have it all together, waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.” True love for others is wanting them to be more like Christ than anything else.  This involves in the church (attending, supporting, loving, challenging, encouraging) as well as outside the church. 

You see, the Spirit sets us free not simply from sin, but to serve. We were once hostile to the things of God—we did not nor could not obey him. By the Spirit who shows us Christ’s work on the cross in taking our sin, showing us the empty tomb in conquering death on our behalf, we are set free from sin… and we are able to obey Him!

This is true independence! Through Christ, He has freed us from the sin that weighs us down, from the self that loves for that to happen. John Adams, our second president, once said, “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” But through the power of the gospel of Christ, we are not devoured by that power, but delivered from the very power that would oppress us—our sin and ourselves.

Will this be your independence day? You don’t need to wait for July 4th—you may surrender now to the One who will set you free indeed.

(From the sermon preached on Sunday, June 30, 2013.  To listen to the entire sermon, click here.)

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A Sketch of our Process of Invite-Invest-Involve-Increase

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I’m getting to be more and more of a visual person the older I get.  My thoughts are (as I reflect on my own thinking) is that if I can not just write it out in prose, but put it in some sort of a picture, it helps galvanize and crystallize it in my own thinking. 

On Sunday, I preached on our Fifth Core Value: Unleash, and I shared this sketch on Sunday night.  I’ve been pondering this in my mind for a couple of years, and even shared it with my former church (Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in Lexington, KY) that first came to my mind in a sermon on Titus 2:1-10.  Then I saw the Kentucky Baptist Convention incorporate the “invite, invest, involve” slogan in a number of other places.  So I can say with a good conscience that I didn’t steal it! Smile  

But we needed a process that built upon the great success here with our introductory ARBC 101 class. 

Be prepared for more sketches.  What do you all do when trying to get ideas and concepts more firmly in your mind?

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