Holy Spirit Part 2: Operating in the Gifts of the Spirit

“Mikey, the only time tongues was poured out was in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19, and that was to fulfill the prophecy from the book of Joel, and then to fulfill what Jesus said in Acts 1:8 where he poured out the Spirit in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world,” my Baptist friend said. “The purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that way was to show that both the Jews in Jerusalem, as well as Gentiles in Samaria, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the world, are now a part of the Body of Christ.”

By the way, I love this Baptist friend of mine, but I do disagree with his position and here’s why. I don’t believe we can take Acts (a history) apart from 1 Corinthians or other Epistles. 

Just a little background on proper Biblical interpretation, if you will. Kay Arthur, a dear Baptist scholar, lays out 7 principles of interpretation in her Inductive method. I agree with these rules. One of those rules is that you can’t base a belief off of a history alone. Most Christian doctrine, believe it or not, comes from the Epistles and clear repeated emphasis in scripture. Since Acts is a history, it would be easy to dismiss the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to a moment in history to show that Gentiles were now a part of the Body of Christ….if there wasn’t the book of 1 Corinthians.

So last post we talked about the pattern and history of how the Holy Spirit fell throughout the Book of Acts. Now let’s see what it says in this book of Corinthians. First off, what we see is that this church was using these gifts on the regular. This was a part of their weekly (or more often) worship service. We’ll pick up in chapter 12.

1Cor 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

Well that’s good. So I guess he’s about to educate us so we aren’t ignorant in Spiritual girts. Let’s skip down to verse 7

1Co 12:7 …the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Let’s unpack that: First, it seems that each one of these gifts is given to different people, and it is for the profit of all, but it’s the same Holy Spirit that is pouring each of them out. What we have to understand about these gifts is that they are Supernaturally powered, meaning, they are not out of our strength, but rather through the Spirit.

  1. Word of Wisdom: A supernatural wisdom that one can operate out of in a given situation. This is beyond regular wisdom, but divine direction.
  2. Word of Knowledge: Knowledge about a specific situation that we couldn’t have known prior.
  3. Faith: This is a kind of super faith that one may need to do something big. Because this is in the lineup of Supernaturally powered gifts of the Spirit, we must assume that this is talking about something beyond what we can do on our own.
  4. Gifts of Healing: this is like what Jesus did everywhere. This isn’t doctors and nurses
  5. Working of Miracles: There are various kinds of miracles, like feeding the 5,000
  6. Prophecy: The ability to see into the future or hear clearly the voice of God on a given situation
  7. Discerning of Spirits: Understanding about the Ephesians 6 type of spiritual warfare going on all around us. There’s more to it, but for now, that will do. 
  8. Different kinds of tongues: Ahhh, so there are DIFFERENT kinds of Tongues you say? Probably for different purposes? We’ll unpack this later
  9. Interpretation of tongues: This happens when a message of tongues is given to a congregation. This is when it must be interpreted.

One day, I’ll go more in depth with these. What we need to know for now is that these gifts were in regular operation on a daily basis in the early church.

“But my pastor said that these gifts will cease?” Right. Let’s look at that. It comes from 1 Corinthians 13, the next chapter.

1Co 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

So, we just came out of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, which deals with the Gifts of the Spirit, and tells us what they are. Then we come to chapter 13, which tells us that the reason that we have these gifts is for LOVE, ie, not to “look cool.” And what we understand about this group of verses is that they are the same SUPERNATURALLY POWERED SPIRITUAL GIFTS that we talked about in chapter 12.

And something interesting happens here. They all cease at some point. We agree on that. Where we disagree is WHEN these spiritual gifts cease. We all agree that they will cease when “that which is perfect has come,” but we disagree on what “that which is perfect” is.

My Baptist friends say that perfection was when the Bible came into our hands. I believe that the context of this scripture is speaking about when we are all in heaven around the throne, or when heaven comes to earth in the New Heavens and New Earth….however it ends up happening in Revelation. 

When we are in heaven, there will be no need for tongues, because we’ll probably all speak the same language. No need for healing because the healing of the nations will come from the tree of life. You get the picture.

But then we come to Chapter 14 which tells us how to use these Spiritual gifts.

I Corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Some commands are given here. The first one, because we just came out of chapter 13 (the love chapter) says to pursue love. That means, to go after it. Seek it out. Hunt it down.

Then is says that we are to “desire spiritual gifts.” Is that a positive thing or a negative thing? POSITIVE! We are supposed to do this. But most of all to prophesy. Why? To help everyone out.

14:2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

Does it say that speaking in a tongue is a bad thing? No. This is a good thing.

Who am I talking to when I speak in a tongue? TO GOD, not to Men. So, here we have this VERTICAL (to God), and HORIZONTAL (to man) idea emerge. This is very important if we are going to handle the text accurately.

Let me ask you this. When you pray or worship at church, can others around you hear you? YES! Are you talking to them? NO! You’re talking to GOD!

The same thing in true when “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Others around you can hear, you, but it’s not to them it’s to God.

Is “speaking mysteries” a bad thing? My high school girlfriend would have you believe so, but I don’t think so. Barnes & Nobel has a whole row of mystery novels, not to mention, usually when it says “mystery” in the Bible, it’s speaking about a good thing…marriage, grace, etc.

14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

A prophecy is given to the whole church, or to the person who is being prayed over. When someone prophesies, they are speaking exhortation and comfort to whom?

To men (Horizontal), which means, Not to God (Vertical).

14:4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church

“He who speaks in a tongue…” Okay, so here we see one of the “different types of tongues” that it spoke of in chapter 12. This is a personal prayer language, vs. the message in tongues to a congregation that we’ll talk about in a second. And this personal prayer language somehow “edifies” the person praying. It builds them up.

Is it good to edify yourself? No? Then why, when you’re on an airplane do they say that in the event of an emergency, when the oxygen masks come down, you are to place it on yourself first and then on your baby?

In the same way, if a mother is breastfeeding, they have to feed themselves before they can have anything to give to their child. It’s great to be edified, right? When you go to worship at your church, and the Holy Spirit touches you, and you come out of church ALIVE and ready to face the week, that’s a great thing! Same thing with having a prayer time with God. You feel edified, filled up, full, charged, motivated. This is a GOOD THING.

He says, that he who speaks in a tongue does what?

He edifies himself. So, one way to edify yourself is to pray in tongues. Pray long. Pray hard. Pray in tongues as long as you can and it will build you up. My high school girlfriend would have you believe it is a bad thing because it’s “being selfish.”

But I think what was really happening was that since I was a new believer that she’d led to the Lord, she couldn’t believe that I had something she didn’t. I think her pride was pricked, she didn’t want to feel small. I see this all the time and we’ll talk about it in Part 3 “Mind Traps.”

But again, prophecy is better in church. Why? Because it helps the whole church, not just one person. It is like mass edification.

14:5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

He wished they all spoke in tongues. Is that a good thing? Yes. Is he being sarcastic? I don’t think so. Is this like when you know your wife isn’t happy but she says she’s fine? No! He’s being literal here. He wishes they all spoke with tongues. Let’s let that linger for a second before we rush on to the next part. So it’s good to speak in tongues.

Then we come to the next part. “but even more that you prophesied.” Why? Because prophecy is greater due to the fact that it helps others. But then again, when tongues are interpreted, the whole church can be edified too, and therefore it becomes prophecy.

So praying in tongues is to God, not to man, Right? This is somewhat private and therefore what we call Personal Edification vs. Prophecy, which becomes Public Exhortation.

14:6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?

If I come to who? To you (horizontal). If I come talk to you, face to face, or from the platform as if I’m preaching, and I speak with tongues (unknown languages) it won’t profit you unless I speak in some language you understand, thereby making it prophecy. Also, “teaching” means, something you do to other people, making it Public Exhortation.

Now, if someone is praying over me, they aren’t talking to me, but to God. And if “he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God,” then I don’t need to know what is being said. But if he looks me in the eye and speaks in tongues, it might be helpful if he spoke in a language I understand.

14:13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.

Let him who speaks in tongues publicly (to the crowd) pray that he may interpret. Church history tells us that in the Corinthian church, they didn’t understand how to function in the gifts of the Holy Spirit yet. They were immature. They would just stand up while the preacher was preaching and start talking to everyone in tongues. This would happen enough times that it became a distraction and the church became like a flock of birds, going this way and that.

Paul is trying to bring order to this situation, so that the church ends up going where they were intended to go. Sometimes when you hear “a word” from God in your Spirit (according to John 16:13) you think it’s for everyone.

God can be speaking simultaneously to everyone in the room different things all at the same time. I see it all the time, a student comes up to the platform during worship and says, “I have a word” and I judge whether it’s for everyone, for me to know, or just for them. Many times, we hear God’s voice and become so excited that we want to share it with everyone, but it’s really just for you. It seems that this was happening in the Corinthian church because there were a lot of “words” coming forth, and it was up to the elders to decide on what direction the church was moving together at each service.

14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

“my understanding is unfruitful,” meaning, your spirit is being built up, but your carnal mind is without understanding. Here, my high school girlfriend would say, “See, it’s a bad thing! Unfruitful! there it is.” I’d like to go back and ask her, “why are you fighting this so much?”

WHY is “my understanding unfruitful” a bad thing? Let’s talk about our carnal mind for a second.

Romans 8:7 says “…The carnal mind is enmity (hostile) against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be…”

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

My Baptist friend would say, “see, these groanings cannot be uttered,” To which I would say, “Of course they can’t be…by myself. That’s why these groanings have to be Holy Spirit Empowered.”

One time, we were having a band come out and do a huge concert at the Wesley. When the band got here, they saw that we only had 120 volt breakers. They said, there’s no way that our 120 volt breaker box could power their huge speakers.

They grabbed this contraption that bypassed our 120 volt breaker box and hooked straight into the main power coming in off the power lines. Then it had enough power to push those huge speakers.

I thought, “man, that’s a lot like our carnal minds. We have such a hard time praying what we need to. We have a hard time believing what we need to believe. We have a hard time not doubting that God can do impossible things. It’s like the ancient Proverb that says we have two dogs inside of us: a dark dog and a light dog. The one that we feed the most, devours the other.

Our carnal mind is like that 120 volt breaker that flips, and cuts off power when we come to something we don’t understand. But the Spirit prays through us when we don’t know what to pray. He circumnavigates the carnal mind and goes straight Holy Spirit to our spirit and charges our inner man. This edifies us and builds us up.

2 Purposes of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Notice i didn’t say 2 purposes of the Holy Spirit Himself…there are many purposes that the Holy Spirit brings. Here, we are talking about the BAPTISM of the Holy Spirit that Jesus told them to wait for in Jerusalem so they would be EMPOWERED witnesses.

  1. To enable you to be a POWERFUL witness
    Acts 1:8-“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
  2. The building up of your faith: Personal Edification
    Jude 1:20 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…”

14:15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.  I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

After all of this, what is his conclusion? What is he trying to say? I will pray and sing in both “the Spirit” and “the understanding.” It’s a “both/and,” rather than an “either/or” situation. DO BOTH!

In both 1 Corinthians 14:15 and in Jude verse 20, we have the phrase “praying in the Holy Spirit.” 

What does it mean?

I think it means “praying in tongues.” Why do I think that?

1Cor. 14:15 compares and contrasts “praying with the spirit” against “praying with the understanding,” leading me to believe that one is understood and one is not, otherwise, why would they use the word “understanding” if it didn’t mean the other was not understood?

In like fashion to 1 Cor. 14:4, Jude verse 20 says that Praying in the Spirit (in tongues) builds yourself up or edifies yourself, and that this is a good thing.

14:18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all

He’s saying this is a good thing. “Guys, I pray in tongues more than all of you. I need to. I got to have this edification on the daily!”

Why? Because it makes you strong in spirit and we all saw what he went through. He was going to need it. How about you? I know I do!

14:19 Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

First, we have to figure out what “in the church” means? (See verse 28)

Second, why would he rather “speak” 5 words of understanding?

To “teach others also.”

but Why?

Because it is better to edify everyone than just yourself when you’re all together, but that does not mean that we are not to edify ourselves as well.

14:27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.

If anyone wants to get up and take the microphone and speak in tongues, let it be one at a time. I know there weren’t microphones back then. Basically, if you felt the unction of the Spirit to give a message to everyone, let it be one at a time. And then, let there be an interpreter.

14:28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.

So “in church” means Public exhortation to the whole congregation (horizontal)

“But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church….” and if I didn’t know any better, I would have believed that there was a PERIOD THERE!!!!

BUT THERE’S NOT A PERIOD. THERE’S A COMMA!!!! Praise God there’s a comma!!! See, this is the part where my high school girlfriend had me so confused. I didn’t know the rules to proper exegetical interpretation. All I saw was that if it wasn’t interpreted, that I was to not pray in tongues in the church building. But that’s not what it says!

First, if we understand “in church” to mean basically, “hey everyone I have a message from the Lord,” instead of merely a person praying in the midst of worship and someone happens to overhear me praying in tongues between me and God.

What does it say after the comma?

“let him SPEAK to Himself and GOD” Wait what? One more time for those in the back.

“Let,” meaning, don’t hinder that person. Don’t judge them. Don’t make fun of them. Don’t tell them that they are evil because they are speaking to God (vertical). Let, means “allow” them….to do what?

“Let him SPEAK,” Notice it doesn’t say “think,” or “pray so silently no one can hear you.”

“…to Himself and to GOD.” What would that be? Personal Edification (vertical), and therefore it has nothing to do with you any more than when someone is singing to God in worship and not talking to you has anything to do with you. It’s none of your business because he’s talking to himself and God. Now the moment he turns to speak to the whole congregation, it would be good for that to be interpreted.

What does he end the chapter with? What is his final conclusion? The next verse starts with “therefore” which is a term of conclusion. Let’s see what his final thought is.

14:39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

Wait, what?

Desire to prophesy. Cool. “AND DO NOT FORBID TO SPEAK WITH TONGUES.” I find that very interesting since many churches forbid people to speak with tongues. They use the excuse that the word “tongues”in the Greek is “Glossolalia,” which means “foreign language.” They would deny the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that says, “though I speak with the tongues of men and angels…” to mean that there is, in fact, a “heavenly language,” as Pentecostals have come to know it. They would say that Glossolalia means a “human foreign language…not this gibberish that we see in Pentecostal churches.”

I disagree. I believe that “tongues of angels” is just as much a foreign language as any on earth. I get it. But I disagree. And that’s okay.

14:40 (thesis of I Corinthians 14) Let all things be done with decency and order

The way this verse usually gets interpreted is funny to me. It would seem that some people think that the only way for something to be “decent” or “in order” is for it to be in a funeral home. Be as still, and quiet, and reverent as humanly possible. Try not to breathe, or clap, or be undignified. That’s ‘in order!'”

But I see David ripping outer clothing off and saying “I’ll become even more undignified than this!” I think that heaven will be a holy celebration with every form of music, dancing, clapping, silence at times, shouting at other times.

“Decency and order” can easily be described as “going the same direction” like a worship band all reading off of each other and hitting the same dynamics and playing on the same click track. If it’s time to worship, let’s all worship in our own way. If it’s time to sit down and be Publicly Exhorted, let’s not stand up and start worshipping.

When it’s out of order is when there are those pulling in different directions.

In all, if it was so important to Jesus that they wait in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Father had been given….if those were the last words of Jesus to the Disciples, it must have been pretty important.

A final word from 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 says 

1Th 5:19  Do not quench the Spirit.

meaning it’s possible to “quench the Spirit.” This is a command to not do something. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and He will not INVADE and take over. If you don’t want Him there, if you are scared of Him, if you start to freeze up, He backs off. We’ll talk more about this next time in “Mind Traps.”

1Thessalonians 5:20  Do not despise prophecies.

So Prophecies are good things, right? but…

1Th 5:21  Test all things…

So test it. Make sure it’s not just someone making some stuff up. AHHH….so you mean we have to have really tough conversations with people who misuse the Gifts of the Spirit? Yup. Otherwise, we just clamp down and “quench the Spirit.”

This seems to be some people’s resolve. “Well, if it can’t be done right every time, then we won’t let it happen at all.” And the Holy Spirit is like, “Okay.” and He is quenched in that place. If we make room for Him, He is more than willing to show up and pour out as much as we will let him.

And remember

Acts 2:39-“For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

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