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9 Bad Charismatic Habits We Need to Break

To round off 2013 J. Lee Grady shares some thoughts in Charisma News about some of the bad habits we have charismatics can be guilty of. “Please pray over this list before you blast me for being critical” he says:

1. The body slam

Pushing someone over when praying for them implying that the Spirit knocked them down

2. The courtesy drop

People falling over to conform to the pressure and fulfil expectations9 Bad Charismatic Habits We Need To Break

3. The song that never ends

This is hyperbole of course but singing songs over and over too many times is still a bad charismatic habit

4. The amateur flag corp

Yes, without supervision flag waving can be dangerous

5. The wannabe telethon offering

Too much emphasis on taking the collection just gives the impression the church is after your money

6. The sermon with seven endings

Preachers shouldn’t lie about being nearly finished when they are only half way through

7. The praise-a-go-go dancers

Embarrassing choreographed dance performances

8. The ear-shattering amp

Please turn the volume down

9. The “jump-start” glossalalia

Don’t ‘teach’ people to speak in tongues by repeating nonsense phrases.

I do agree with this list. I think some of the hyped ways that some people pray for others in big meetings is arguably his most important criticism.

I certainly believe it is vital to pray for people to receive the baptism in the Spirit and there are many other things that we can pray with people for. But personally I think praying in more intimate settings such as homes is a great way to do this but there isn’t anything wrong with doing it in larger gatherings.

Perhaps it is when people just want to be prayed for to have an experience like their friends have had that involves them keeling over that practices like this become unhelpful.

Please read the full article here.

December 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

10 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

I don’t think it is too far fetched to think that there might be 10 gifts of the Holy Spirit or even more. Paul refers to the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 as manifestations of the Spirit. Could there be other manifestations that we could add to this list or is this the complete list?

Photo by Ken’s Oven on flickr

There are certainly a number of other lists of the gifts. Some refer to spoken contributions when we gather as church. Others include more natural abilities that can be used in serving such as administration. Others list roles in the church such as apostles. Many of these lists overlap and none may be exhaustive.

This is probably the most famous lists of gifts of the Holy Spirit, certainly in charismatic circles. It is through these gifts that we know the Holy Spirit is with us when we gather together and when we are sent out in mission. However some of the gifts are better understood than others.

1 Corinthians 12:8-12

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Before turning to speculation about the tenth gift of the Spirit I want to define each one of the gifts in this passage in turn and look at how they work especially in relation to mission. What are they? How do they work? How do they help us fulfill God’s mission? Of course the purpose of the gifts is to build each other up as the body of Christ but the impact of these gifts also overflows to others.

1. A word of wisdom

This is when God gives someone insight into how God is working out his purposes so that they can speak into a situation enabling someone to make appropriate sensible decisions.

The word of wisdom can be seen as an inspired application of a supernaturally revealed insight into a certain situation. Like many of the gifts this may come in very natural ways in conversations and provide practical help in situations leading to level-headed and successful responses.

Wisdom

Wisdom by zigazou76 on flickr

So is a word of wisdom just God planting a seemingly random thought into our head of what do in a certain situation? Or it is insight about how to apply the truths about God’s ultimate purpose of sending Jesus? Looking at chapters such as 1 Corinthians 2 I get the feeling that it is it is more likely to involve the latter.

In Know Your Spiritual Gifts Mark Stibbe points out that it is not surprising that Jesus – wisdom incarnate – astounded people with his wisdom, such as when he answered his accusers’ questions about eating with sinners or when he said of the woman caught in adultery, ‘If any of you is without sin let him be the first to throw a stone’. Such insights were fundamentally theological but spoke about God’s purposes into situations in very practical ways.

A word of wisdom, then, is God helping us to apply our insights about God’s purposes into the ever the changing situations around us. Perhaps it can involve God helping us to listen to others and to really hear what they saying. The Spirit might bring to mind the questions that we need to ask or a story that might have some bearing on the situation that brings such insight into what is being discussed.

Though the context of 1 Corinthians 12 is the gathered church I see no reason to limit it to church conversations. God also speaks as we are involved in mission. Many of the words of wisdom spoken by Jesus are in conversations with people other than his disciples.

Let us look for God to guide our conversations with everyone so that we may demonstrate God’s wisdom to the world.

2. A word of knowledge

I tend to see the definition of this as ‘God given insight into God’s heart and mind’ that is given by teachers such as Rodman Williams and Mark Stibbe as being the most biblical. But the idea of this being specific knowledge of a situation that God reveals has been popularised by preachers such as John Wimber and is often what people mean when they use this term.

In the 1980s John Wimber popularised the term of a ‘word of knowledge’ as a supernatural insight into a person’s heart or situation. In practice what it often meant was someone getting up in a worship gathering and saying, “There is someone here with…” and describing a certain illness or injury. It is still often used in this way today.

What does the Bible say?

But is this popular idea really what the Bible describes as a ‘word of knowledge’? We can read stories such as Jesus and the woman at the well where God reveals facts supernaturally but what reason do I have to call this a word of knowledge?

Apart from 1 Corinthians 12 the phrase ‘word of knowledge’ doesn’t appear in the Bible. So in order to answer this question two authors I have much respect for Mark Stibbe in Know Your Spiritual Gifts and J Rodman Williams in Renewal Theology both look at the immediate context of what Paul meant by knowledge.

To Paul knowledge didn’t involve finding out about other’s people’s secrets. It involved receiving insight into God’s secrets now revealed – into the “unfathomable depths of God’s grace”, the wonderful truths about “his gracious gift of his son”, this grace that is now available to us his church.

This is not to say that God doesn’t speak supernaturally to people about situations just that they can’t see any justification for calling that a word of knowledge. They both suggest it would be more Biblical to call such experiences prophecy as Bible passages indicate that this is how the prophets spoke and never use the term ‘word of knowledge’.

So how should we define ‘word of knowledge’?

Perhaps it would be more accurately to use the term ‘word of knowledge’ to describe the sharing inspired insights into God’s purposes and grace with those we talk to.

3. Faith

The gift of faith is when God encourages you to hold onto him in a difficult situation even if you can see no way out. People’s faith may be stimulated by stories of answers to prayer – particularly of healing and miracles – or even of others being saved – but we need to ensure that these are cautiously stated and are factual and true or people will become cynical. Ultimately it is God that gives the faith it isn’t something you can whip up.

Faith

Faith by 4thglryofgod

The ability to move mountains

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says ‘If I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing’. This is a reference to what Jesus said about mountain moving faith in Mark 11. These verses show that the gift of faith is a supernatural confidence that God will remove any obstacle that gets in the way of us his purposes.

What, all the time?

I don’t agree with much of the Word of Faith teaching sometimes referred to as the ‘faith movement’ that is popular in some Christian media such as the God Channel. They imply that we are called to live in such mountain moving faith all the time. This sort of teaching can get people into serious financial trouble.

No, not all the time

In reality we pray and do not always see the answer come. We may be convinced that it is what God wants but still God does not do it. We also have doubts and we should not be made to feel guilty about that. A friend of mine David Matthew has written this article on this inspired by his own situation of praying for his house to sell.

But yes, sometimes

I believe that on occasions God does give us a confidence to see an obstacle overcome to further the purposes of his kingdom. This is the gift of faith.

4. Gifts of healing

Healings occur when God enables you to supernaturally bring about wholeness and relieve someone’s suffering in response to prayer. Healings may also come in response to you commanding sickness to leave or you commanding a healing to come as we see Jesus and the early apostles doing. But I think we need to take care that we do this in a gentle yet authoritative way.

Any believer can pray for the sick

The Bible says that elders are specifically called to pray for the sick. But it also shows that others may pray for healing too.

Writers such as Mark Stibbe and J Rodman Williams point out that the use of the present continuous tense here indicates that anyone who has been used in healing may expect to be used again in this way.

Of course they would agree that there are no guarantees. Perhaps that is why Paul does not use the term ‘healer’.

Let us pray with faith

The gifts of healing do appear to have a link with the gift of faith. When faith is present healing can happen and lack of faith can inhibit it.

We shouldn’t blame others or ourselves for lack of faith when healing does not occur. This sort of faith is a gift from God as much as the healing is. I don’t know why God doesn’t always heal. But I still keep praying for people and expect them to get well.

Don’t just pray for the sick in church

Of course we pray for each other to be healed when we gather as a church. We may even do that with the laying on of hands. But the Book of Acts shows us that this gift also has an important place in mission.

‘Healing on the Streets’ – a missional project that I looked at earlier this year – follows the Biblical pattern of speaking to the sickness in an authoritative yet gentle way, often also with the laying on of hands and sometimes anointing people with oil. But I don’t believe that street outreach should be the only or even the main outlet for this gift.

Offer to pray for your friends

In everyday conversation if someone tells us about an illness we can offer to pray for them. We may offer to pray for them audibly in front of them and lay hands on them but we don’t have to. We can offer to pray in our own devotional times or suggest that we ask our small group or church to pray.

We can be hesitant sometimes because we fear that God may not heal them. But even if God does not heal them, people will often be grateful for our prayers. So let’s take the opportunity and offer to pray anyway. We might be surprised at the result!

5. Miraculous powers

These are when God enables you to meet the needs of others in amazing and unusual ways. The way this term is often used gives much overlap with healing – but another important aspect of this God given provision. We need to take care to distinguish needs from wants and not be led astray by materialism. I am thrilled when I hear of God providing money and resources when it clearly demonstrates God’s care for the poor.

picture by jczorkmid on flickr

Miracles are powerful sudden and undeniably supernatural works of God. They may include sudden healings or unexplained provision of needs. As a charismatic I believe that miracles continued throughout history and do occur today although by their very nature they are not a common occurrence.

Miracles build our faith

Stories of true miracles are thrilling as they show God at work and bringing his grace and mercy to needy people. It is so encouraging when a friend or colleague tells us of something amazing that has happened as a result of our prayers. This can increase our confidence in praying for the needs of our friends.

Though I am skeptical of hype

Unfortunately if we search the internet for stories of miracles today we find stories of healings in big meetings surrounded by hype. God may well be at work in some of the situations but I must admit to being skeptical.

There are also cases of miracles such the appearance of gold fillings in people’s teeth or gold dust falling from the ceiling. I cannot see why God would do this as I can see no real benefit to the people involved.

I am sure that there are true miracles today

I am thrilled by personal accounts of God answering the prayers of people I know.

I also love hearing stories that are often ‘off the radar’ so to speak. It is great to hear stories of God providing for people, especially in poverty stricken countries, healing people or even bringing them back from the dead in places where access to medical care is limited. Here I can see God’s hand meeting people at a point of need.

Yes, despite my skepticism of the hype I believe that God can and does move today. These are Gifts of miracles!

6. Prophecy

When God speaks to you so that you can show others what he is saying. This doesn’t need to have the trapping of ‘Thus says the Lord…’. You might just want to say that you sense the Holy Spirit is emphasizing something that you go on to explain. It might be about God’s nature or purposes or specifics of a situation. Though some may refer to revelation about specifics of a situation such as insights into someone’s health problems as a word of knowledge – the Bible appears to refer to this as prophecy.

What is prophecy?

As a charismatic I believe that God still speaks today. God speaks through the Bible and the Spirit may emphasise certain verses to us and show us how these apply. This is the beginnings of prophecy.

Christian prophecy should never contradict what the Bible clearly says but it will be more than just someone explaining what the Bible means. It is someone speaking God’s perspective on a particular situation that may include facts that God reveals and even predictions of what God will do.

God may bring ideas to our minds as we focus on him either to be spoken right away or to be meditated on and then spoken at another time.

How should prophecy be worded?

In the Old Testament prophecy was mainly spoken in the first person as if God was actually dictating the message word for word in the prophet’s mind.

Interestingly in the New Testament we see prophecy said as ‘the Holy Spirit says that…’ rather than ‘Thus says the Lord…’ I have heard prophecy today in both formats but I must confess to feeling more comfortable with someone explaining what they feel God might be saying than saying ‘God says…’

This more conversational approach leaves us room to weigh what God is saying. It allows people to take what is good without worrying if they think that one or two phrases were not of God.

Where do we prophesy?

Prophecy may be for each other as we gather together in each other’s homes or in larger gatherings but also it may also be for others outside the church.

It could be that God gives a prophecy that is very relevant to a non-Christian who is visiting our meeting. But it could also be that God speaks to you with something to say to one of your friends or colleagues. If so we could end up prophesying anywhere – in a cafe or in a pub.

I wonder if raising a topic in conversation may prove a more fruitful way to explore what God is saying than saying ‘God told me this…’ especially if you are talking to someone who isn’t a Christian.

Whoever the prophecy is for whether the gathered church or individual friends or colleagues we need to pray for an opportunity to speak it out – and then go for it!

7. Distinguishing between spirits

The gift of discernment may give you insight into what is actually happening in a given spiritual situation. For instance, when someone is apparently responding to God in an unusual way is this really the Holy Spirit moving being embraced with humility or is it an emotional response as the result of human hype or showmanship or are their even evil forces at work here?

Spiritual discernment is telling the origin of a word or action. Is it inspired by God? Is it just someone’s good idea i.e. from their own spirit? Is its origin from some evil forces? As Christians this should be carried out with a charitable attitude. We need to take care that our seeking of the truth doesn’t end up making us angry and bitter mud slingers. Too often have I seen internet discussions between Christians go this way.

Discernment inside the church community

When a prophecy, teaching or an idea is brought to the church or Christian group it is important to discern its origins. Paul says that prophecy should be weighed. If the group is small enough a good way to do this is through questions and discussion. In a larger church situation this conversational approach may be more difficult. But however it is done the final responsibility of sifting what is said rests with the elders. However if God gives this gift to others they can express their feelings on this to the elders.

Discernment outside the church community

It could also be we need to be aware of the forces at work in our community, workplace or wherever we are trying to reach. I am aware that some charismatics have some quite bizarre ideas about how the devil works and how we should deal with him. We often need to be discerning about our approach to discernment.

Nigel Goring Wright’s Theology of the Dark Side gives a helpful and balanced understanding of how these forces may work. See my review of his book here.

8. Speaking in different kinds of tongues

Speaking in tongues is when God enables you to speak to him in languages you have never learnt. As with all the gifts you are still in control but if you receive this gift unlike other gifts you can operate it at will especially to use in their own devotions. Though sometimes the first gift someone receives we cannot say that without this ability someone is not Spirit filled.

The gift of tongues or the gift of languages is the supernatural ability to speak in a language that you have never learnt. Although it can be an earthly language, as it was on the day of Pentecost, often it is a heavenly language that is unintelligible to human hearers unless it is interpreted.

Are tongues the sign of baptism in the Spirit?

In Pentecostal circles speaking in tongues is often understood to be the initial sign of baptism in the Spirit. Baptism in the Spirit is not automatic upon becoming a follower of Jesus. It is a definite deep spiritual experience accompanied by some outward sign. My own experience was that I did speak in tongues but I cannot see from the scriptures that tongues are necessarily the sign of baptism with the Spirit.

How should we use speaking in tongues?

Personally I have found that praying in tongues silently in this way can be a real help as I go about my daily life. It strengthens me enabling me to be confident enough speak out or help someone when I need to and it opens up a channel through which God can guide my prayers.

Also in many charismatic circles there is a practice of everyone speaking in tongues at the same time. It appears that Paul tells the Corinthians that this isn’t the way to use these gifts. It is selfish and will course any guests or visitors to doubt the sanity of the group.

Paul indicates two ways to use tongues. Either one person at a time should speak in audibly tongues and someone else should interpret so that the rest can understand what is said or they should be speak in tongues silently holding the words inside their head.

I have discussed some these points on speaking on tongues before on my previous blog here.

9. Interpretation of tongues

The Bible indicates that speaking in tongues when we come together should involve each person speaking in turn and that someone should then explain to others what someone who just spoke in tongues actually said. I would only speak in tongues in this way if I felt specifically prompted by God and I believe the result would be a prayer from the Spirit that sums up some or all of the people’s hearts. When I hear such tongues or speak them myself I often sense that I understand them and so give the interpretation.

Generally tongues are languages that cannot be understood by the hearer. However Paul talks about tongues being explained to everyone by an interpreter. Many years ago I asked God for the gift of interpretation and began interpreting tongues.

Tongues should be interpreted as prayers

Paul argues that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to speak to God. This indicates to me that an interpretation will not be in the form of God speaking to us. Rather the interpretation will be in the form of a prayer. In my experience this isn’t so much a personal prayer but a prayer that gives insight into the heart of his people towards him – our longings and frustrations, our rejoicing and thanksgiving.

How I began interpreting tongues

After seeking God for the gift of interpretation I found that often when I spoke in tongues I began to understand what I was saying. It wasn’t that I now knew the language and could now translate anything I heard in it. But when I spoke I felt that I intuitively knew what it was about.

In my own devotional times I began to speak in tongues and then speak out what I felt I had said. The next step was to speak out in tongues when we came together as a church and then to interpret that tongue. Also as I listened to other people who spoke in tongues I found that I had similar experiences of understanding. So when people spoke out in tongues I started to also come forward directly after they had and speak out what I believed they had said. It was great to be in a church where there was freedom to do this.

Can we use interpretation in mission?

I have already found that speaking in tongues throughout the day helps guide my silent prayers. I wonder if the next step is to offer to pray with my non-Christian friends when they have a need. Praying silently in tongues to myself first and then praying out the interpretation.

What’s number 10?

Paul refers to these nine as manifestations of the Spirit. There are a number of other lists of the gifts. Some refer to spoken contributions when we gather as church. Others include more natural abilities that can be used in serving such as administration. Others list roles in the church such as apostles. Many of these lists overlap and none may be exhaustive.

In looking for a candidate for the tenth gifts I think we need to consider how the distinction between roles and manifestations is blurred by the way they are mixed in other lists back in 1 Corinthians such as 12:29-31 that lists:
• apostles
• prophets
• miracles
• healing
• helps
• administration
• tongues
• interpretation

So here are some possible candidates for further gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Gifts of ministry

If we refer to Ephesians 4: 11 we see that apostles and prophets appear to be more like offices in the church with the people themselves being the gifts to the church.

However someone may have a gift of evangelism though not have a leadership office of evangelist – perhaps it is still right to see them as an evangelist but not as a leader. Perhaps we can all be endued to some extent with these gifts for example some people may tend to be more prophetic than others or some more pastoral. After all ministry means serving rather than leading and we are all called to serve.

Gifts that amplify natural abilities

Would it be right to put a natural ability alongside these manifestation of the Spirit?

Just as helps and administration are listed in 1 Corinthians 12: 29-31 natural abilities and supernatural endowment are combined in Romans 12:6-10 that lists prophecy alongside:
• serving
• teaching
• encouraging
• giving generously
• leadership
• showing mercy

So perhaps it would.

Gifts of generosity

10th gift of the Holy SpiritCould giving generously be our tenth gift? Another list in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 again blurs the distinction between the nine manifestations and natural abilities and again mentions giving:
• tongues
• prophecy
• faith
• giving generously
• hardship (or martyrdom)

Showing mercy in Romans 10:12 and even hospitality in 1 Peter 4:9-10 may all be kinds of giving generously. For some believers giving of monetary resources may lead to hardship or even giving to the extent of giving our lives in martyrdom in some places today.

As well as martyrdom another gift that might not be too popular today could be that of celibacy. If you look at Corinthians 7:7 this might be another candidate for us – thankfully alongside marriage. Perhaps this could be another an aspect of generosity implying a giving up of our time to the extent of not spending it on raising a family.

To minister or to serve is just one manifestation of giving generously. And though someone may naturally give even if they are not a believer yet God can empower giving in amazing ways. So if I had to nominate a tenth to add to complete this list of the ten gifts of the Holy Spirit personally I’d choose gifts of generosity.

What do you think?

Are their only nine manifestations? I know there are only nine in I Corinthians 12:8-10 but God is such a creative God, surely there must be more? Perhaps you can think of others – either in the Bible or in your own experience. Which one would you nominate as the tenth? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Further Reading

Here is a good summary of Mark Stibbe’s out of print book Know Your Spiritual Gifts summarised by Alison Morgan

A friend of mine Scott Lencke is blogging about these gifts from 1 Corinthians 12 in his own blog Prodigal Thought and in a related team blog called “To Be Continued”.

Scott Lencke has started a series of posts over on Prodigal Thought on ‘What is Prophecy?’ Part one is here.

Discerning of Spirits another a post by Scott Lencke on Prodigal Thought.

Related posts on CharisMissional

What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?
What Does Charismatic Mean?
When I Spoke in Tongues at Greenbelt
How Often Do You Speak in Tongues?

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November 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (3)

7 Lessons on Hearing the Spirit from 1 Kings 13

Several weeks ago we had a visiting speaker at church who spoke on Hearing the Spirit. I understand that he spoke from 1 Kings 13 but I didn’t hear any of the talk as I was teaching the children at the same time.

The talk was not recorded and all I had was the questions that he gave us to use to discuss them. When we discussed them at our house I did hear some of the points but a lot of the time I was putting my daughter to bed.

But I thought it would be good to grapple with the passage using the questions and see if I could make some sense of it myself. These seven lessons is what I came up with:

1. To hear is to obey

Israelite altar at Beer-Sheva A man of God comes from Judah to Bethel and prophecies to the alter in front of King Jeroboam that a later king called Josiah will sacrifice the priests of the false gods on that alter.

Though the king heard what the man of God said he didn’t like it as it reminded him that Yahweh did not approve of the way he was leading the nation to worship other God’s. The way to really hear this would be for him to sacrifice the priests not wait until a later king did it. But he would not.

2. God speaks to people even when he speaks to something else

Prophesying to an object is a literary device that is sometimes used by prophets.
Though the prophet spoke to the alter God was really speaking to the humans – the pinnacle of his creation – who he knew would hear the words.

Later in the story God uses animals but his purposes are towards the people in the story as people are made in God’s image.

3. Be quick to listen and slow to speak

The King was slow to listen – he heard but did not obey – but like many extraverts today he was quick to speak. First he said “Seize him”. God punished his attack on his prophet by shrivelling his hand. He then asked for God to heal his hand and then offered hospitality and a gift as a thank you or payment for the healing.

The man of God had obviously meditated on what God was saying and knew that to receive hospitality did not fit in with God’s plan no matter how tempting. He did not act on a whim and may have found it hard to speak up and refuse the King but nevertheless he did refuse.

4. Discern the Spirit’s voice from that of others

An old prophet from Bethel then lies to him saying that an angel has visited him and asked him to offer hospitality to the man of God.

There are many who claim to be speaking God word in some way or other today – whether in prophecy or teaching. It is important to discern who is really speaking the truth – using both our minds and our spirits. Often there is mixture that we need to sift and sometimes they may actually be lying – claiming divine revelation or encounters with angels – as this old prophet did here.

5. Misrepresenting God may have consequences for those you lead astray

The man of God accepts. But then God speaks to the old prophet that the man of God will be judged for disobeying what he knew God had told him. The man of God leaves and is killed by a lion.

The danger of misrepresenting God is that people may be gullible and believe you. God will hold them accountable if deep down they know that those words are not in accord with God has spoken yet they still comply and do what you say.

6. A prophet may not always be honoured

God called the man of God from Judah to speak in Bethel – where people would not be over familiar with him. He was deceived and fell in Judah and did not receive honour in his own town by being buried with his ancestors but finally he was honoured in Bethel by the old prophet who gave him his own tomb.

7. Three distractions from hearing the Spirit

In the parable of the sower Jesus highlighted three distractions from hearing God that we can also see in this story:

a. Difficulties

The man of God appeared in some senses like the good soil but perhaps words are not rooted well enough and the difficulty of hunger meant that he fell for the old prophets lies.

b. Lack of understanding

His lack of understanding appears to have allowed the old prophet to act out of false motives but perhaps he was like the good soil in the end as he did honour the man of God.

c. Riches

The king though was clearly in bondage to riches and cares of this world. A trap that the man of God rejected when offered the gift by the king.

I really don’t know if this bears much resemblance to the original sermon but I trust that you found it interesting and edifying anyway.

Hey Andrew, what do you think?

August 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

How to Receive the Baptism in the Spirit

The baptism with the Spirit is a clear experience that follows on from turning to Christ. Sadly it isn’t the experience of all followers of Jesus but I believe that it can be. God has poured out is Spirit for us all. If you’ve not yet had this experience, then ask God and get others to pray with you. Yes, it’s that simple.

Here are answers to three basic questions about how to receive this:Baptism-of-Christ

1. What do I need to do to be baptised in the Spirit?

Ask to be filled (Matthew 7:7-11) and go on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19-20). If you’ve never had that initial experience of baptism of the Spirit then ask and keep on asking and drink deeply of the Holy Spirit.

You can pray for this yourself and other people can pray for you too. The Bible describes people laying their hands on people to receive the Spirit.

You don’t have to be anyone special to pray for others to be baptised in the Spirit. In Acts 9:17 Ananias prayed for Saul to be filled with the Spirit and there’s no indication he was anything more than an obedient follower of Jesus.

2. How do I know if I’ve been baptised in the Spirit?

Baptism in the Spirit brings a deep spiritual experience of joy that overflows to others. You will find a greater confidence is opening up conversations about your faith as well as a supernatural equipping to serve in other ways.

There are many occasions when the Spirit is recorded as being the enabling power for specific actions. This can include the gift of speaking in tongues but I do not believe that you must speak in tongues to be baptised in the Spirit.

There will be some evidence of receiving power to do things beyond your own ability. The book of Acts is full of such supernatural incidences such as hearing God speak words of guidance though prophecies, and seeing amazing answers to prayer such as miraculous healing.

3. Can I be baptised in the Spirit more than once?

Acts 4 says the disciples were filled with the Spirit again days after their initially baptism with the Spirit at Pentecost. As baptism is described as an initiation I would say we are only baptised in the Spirit once. But we can have similar overwhelming experiences of the Spirit time and time again.

The Spirit brings us to repentance and faith but that is only the first step. Then there is the second step of that initial infilling with the Spirit. This is breakthrough experience is what we call baptism with the Spirit. But there is then a third, fourth, fifth step as we are filled again.

If you have been baptised with the Spirit already keep on drinking and asking God for more. God may give you deep dramatic experiences. These are great. But ultimately it is the closeness of the Spirit helping us in our daily life is what is important.

So what are you waiting for? Pray to God to fill you and let me know what happens!

Related Posts

Baptised in the Spirit
What does Charismatic Mean?
5 Tips on How to be Empowered by the Holy Spirit for Mission

July 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm Comment (1)

Born Again by the Spirit Doesn’t Mean I’ve Got It All Sussed

Yes, that’s right being born again by the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all sussed. There are some things I’m convinced of but others I still think are worth pondering without being dogmatic.

Yes, I am born again

Being born again is definitely my experience and one that I am proud of. Since I became a Christian in my teens I have seen the Holy Spirits role as being empowering us for witness. I have always believed that God will bring people to himself, give them a new life.

I believe that God became human in the incarnation. He walked on earth, people could see him and talk with him see and hear what he was like. But now Jesus has ascended and sits enthroned at the right hand side of the Father and God has sent his Spirit to us.

The challenge for us as Christians in this process is to have conversations about spiritual issues with those who are genuinely interested here on earth. Being quite shy I find these difficult to initiate. The frustration in not being able to do this can I come over very forced. But when I get this right, it is still something that I love to do.

But I still have some questions

Question markYes, that’s right, there are still aspects of being born again that I have questions about that after all these years I still think are worth pondering.

Born of water and of spirit?

I wonder what it means to be born of water and of Spirit in John 3:5 and what Titus 3:5 means by the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Spirit. It is interesting that in The Normal Christian Birth David Pawson uses these verses to see baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit as part of being born again.

Most evangelicals usually just refer to being born again as repentance and faith. This may well be right but believers in the NT were always baptised immediately and if they hadn’t had an experience of the Holy Spirit this was immediately put right. Shouldn’t we expect this today?

All will be made alive?

Also while I believe that it is important for people to make their own decision but it is interesting that there are verses that say things like this “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22), implying that God does or will ultimately save everyone.

One interesting book on this is the Evangelical Universalist. Though it has some quite persuasive arguments I’m not fully convinced that God does save everyone in the end. But the possibility is not as far fetched as a lot of evangelicals might think.

How should we pray?

Sometimes I hear people praying for people to be saved but I can see no New Testament president for this. What I do pray for is for the confidence to chat about these things with people who are really interested. And for those who do want to follow Jesus to have the experience of baptism of the Spirit.

Just some thoughts! I’d be fascinated to know what you think.

Related Posts

What Happens When You Die – for a another question worth pondering.
What is the Gospel? – for more on what being born again means to me.
Revealing the Secret Identity of the Evangelical Universalist – on my previous blog

Further Reading

A recent interview of Evangelical Universalist Robin Parry on Rachel Held Evan’s blog. Follow the link in that post to the previous interview – Edward Fudge. I think I like his view better.

July 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

5 Ways the Holy Spirit is at Work

How is the Holy Spirit at work in your life? What is your experience of the Holy Spirit? Have you been baptised with the Holy Spirit? Where are you at with you relationship with the Holy Spirit? Here are five ways that the Spirit can work in you.

1. The Holy Spirit can guide you

St Peters Holy Spirit window Perhaps you struggle with the idea of God speaking to you. You may have a sense of the Spirit bringing things to your mind but you don’t always express it as a coherent voice speaking to you.

In their book Experiencing God one great tip to hearing God, that Blackaby and King, outline is to look at how God is at work – in the world, in your neighbourhood and in you. Knowing what God is doing prompts you to bring things in you and around in the direction that God moving.

As you begin to see what God is doing – throw yourself into it. This is, as many people today are experiencing, a way that the Holy Spirit will guide you.

2. The Holy Spirit can make the Bible clear

When you are reading the Bible do you ever find that you understand something that perhaps you have been slightly hazy about in the past. You suddenly get it! And it appears so obvious to you now. You know what it means and what you need to be doing.

In some way you feel that you’ve known this for a long time but now it feels clearer and you get excited about it all again.

Perhaps, like me, having read so many others talking about it God envisions you for mission when reading Luke 10.

Or you get head over heals about God’s purposes when you’re in the middle of reading Ephesians after hearing that God is emphasising these chapters today.

3. The Holy Spirit can provoke you to worship

For many years now Christians have been exploring creativity in worship. New ways of worshipping are engaging people and invigorating their adoration of God such as meditative worship, prayer stations and prayer walls – where people can graffiti their praises or express themselves in other artistic ways.

This is just one way that I believe the Holy Spirit has been at work provoking people to worship.

4. The Holy Spirit can provoke you to thanksgiving

We have so much to be grateful for. It is so easy to fall into complaining and negativity which saps your spiritual strength. Just as many people are realising, thinking about how God has blessed us can revolution our attitude. It is as the Holy Spirit provokes us to gratitude you begin to experience God’s joy.

5. The Holy Spirit can comfort you

The Holy Spirit helps us to be more self-controlled and not fall into despair he is also a great comforter sympathising with us in our trials and disappointments. It is great to emphasise the positive but unless we are sensitive to others an over emphasis of this can have the unfortunate side effect of alienating those who are hurting.

Do I detect a trend that faith filled songs that have perhaps been a little over triumph-alistic are being replaced in popularity with more mature worship songs? I wonder if us the Holy Spirit is encouraging us to say whatever befalls us we will still trust God even when we don’t see God answering our deep heartfelt prayers.

So there are five ways that the Spirit can work within you. There are of course many more. What would you add?

Related Posts

Baptised in the Spirit

July 6, 2013 at 6:00 am Comments (0)

What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?

I wonder what gifts of the Spirit have you used in the past. It could be that they were just for that moment. But perhaps it’s time to be using them again.

Today I want to start a series of posts all connected in some way with the Holy Spirit. Hopefully these will encourage you to think more about the Spirit and seek a greater experience of the Spirit.

What are the spiritual gifts?

To start with there is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit himself is a gift given to us from God. But there are also particular abilities, empowerings and roles that are gifts of the Spirit. There are a number of lists of these in the New Testament that overlap to some extent.

In my series on the Nine Gifts of the Spirit have already looked at one of the lists in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10:Gifts
• wisdom
• knowledge
• faith
• healing
• miracles
• discernment
• tongues
• interpretation

These are manifestations of the Spirit. In that blog series I have mentioned how I would understand each one of these working. But this is not the only list.

Romans

Natural abilities and supernatural endowment are combined in Romans 12:6-10 that lists prophecy alongside:
• serving
• teaching
• encouraging
• giving generously
• leadership
• showing mercy

The List in Ephesians

Ephesians 4:11 lists the five fold ministries, which appear to be more like offices with the people themselves being the gift to the church:
• apostles
• prophets
• evangelists
• pastors
• teachers

However someone may have a gift of evangelism though not have a leadership office of evangelist – perhaps it is right to see them as an evangelist in a lesser sense. Perhaps we can all be endued to some extent with these gifts for example some people may tend to be more prophetic than others or some more pastoral.

The other Corinthian lists

But the distinction between roles and manifestations is blurred by the way they are mixed in other lists back in 1 Corinthians such as 12:29-31 that lists:
• apostles
• prophets
• miracles
• healing
• helps
• administration
• tongues
• interpretation

and again in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 list:
• tongues
• prophecy
• faith
• giving generously
• hardship (or martyrdom)

These lists do not appear to be exhaustive. Other gifts are implied in the context of 1 Corinthians 7:7 indicate gifts of celibacy and marriage. Perhaps you can think of others – either in the Bible or in your own experience.

Context

The gifts are all in the context of love (1 Corinthians 13), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).

In which gifts have you been used by God?

Here are a few questions to ask. Again, the list is by no means exhaustive but it might give you one or two clues to the gifts that you have experienced.

• Have you led any teams in the church, at work or elsewhere? Could you have experienced the gift of leadership?

• You may have had insights into understanding the Bible. Could you have experienced the gift of knowledge? See my definition here.

• Have you ever felt you’ve understood some of what someone has said when they’ve spoken in tongues but never spoken out?

• Do you have the knack of getting people to work together by putting them in touch with each other? Could that be your gift of administration?

• Perhaps there have been times you have been prompted to give way beyond what you would naturally be able to afford and you’ve found God supplied.

Look over the other gifts to see where you might have been used in that way even if you didn’t call it that and it wasn’t that spectacular.

What are the barriers to moving in them again?

Imagine doing these some of these exploits for God again. Perhaps you could even grow in your ability to do them beyond what you did before. What is stopping you?

• Perhaps you feel you don’t have the time to do these now. You’ve got so busy with your job or with your family or other commitments. Could it be time to give more time to these again?

• Perhaps you’ve not had the opportunity to use these gifts recently. Could it be time to take some initiative and make the opportunity?

• Have you got out of practice? It might take a bit of confidence building on your part to do it. But surely God is worth that.

I wonder what gifts come to mind that you could begin to move in again. I also wonder what ways you could use them to serve God not only around other Christians but in mission too. Whatever they are why not give them a go! What do you think?

Related posts

The Nine Gifts of the Spirit
What Does Charismatic Mean?
Baptised in the Spirit

July 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

When God Speaks Back – an interview with Tanya Luhrmann

This post from NPR (America’s National Public Radio) includes a fascinating and helpful interview with psychologist and anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann who has recently studies what it means to hear the voice of God and have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Tanya Luhrmann is a professor at Stanford University who has visited a number of groups in the Vineyard movement. She describes the findings of her observations and interviews with these Christians in her new book When God Speaks Back.

In the radio interview she outlines what she saw and heard and some of the conversations moved her to tears.

“They learn to experience some of their thoughts as not being thoughts from them, but thoughts from God that they hear inside their mind,” she says.

In When God Speaks Back she describes people building a conversation with Jesus like this – based on their understanding of God – who is primarily loving and accepting. Interestingly she describes how people to learn to discern which thoughts come from God and which are purely from their own imagination.

Overall I found Tanya Luhrmann’s comments about evangelical Christianity respectful and helpful in articulating the idea of hearing God. Personally they gave me valuable insights into my own experiences and into some of the ways that people talk about hearing God especially when they recount word for word dialogues.

Please have a quick look at the summary of this interview about When God Speaks Back on the NPR site or even better take the time to listen to the radio interview.

March 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

5 Wonderful Traits of Traditional Worship

It is great being part of a charismatic church that meets both in homes and in a community centre. There is a wonderful sense of God’s presence when we meet together. But having been to more traditional services on occasions I feel that they too have some very positive elements that we can learn from and try to recapture.

1. Love of liturgy

Well written words that everyone says together can be a great blessing. There is a poetic depth that can enhance our worship. Our sense of corporate worship is enhanced by the knowledge that congregations across the world are joining with us following the pattern of the church year through the lectionary. Why not pick up on the lectionary or using scripted corporate prayers even on occasions?

2. Planning and preparation

The people contributing have obviously thought through what they are going do how each part fits together to make a whole. In many Anglican churches and in other denominations hymns, liturgy and sermon often fit together seamlessly. Activities such as communion and praying for current affairs are often regularly scheduled. Let’s not make a love for spontaneity an excuse not to prepare. In fact planning can release people in their gifts.

3. Beautiful backgrounds

Not only is there a value of a beautifully put together service but care is taken in arranging the setting. This is helpful in minimizing distractions but even if your concentration is drawn by the background it is still getting you to meditate on Christ. I remember being wowed at the icons when I visited my local Orthodox Church. It would be great to use art in worship. But even an awareness of how your room looks like to people would help!

4. Heritage of hymns

There is a depth of lyrics in some of the old hymns written by some great hymnists of the past. There is plenty of theology is them to ponder as you sing. The tunes too are very easy to sing as a congregation. My wife comments that she is always embarrassed at how loudly I sing at carol services. In choosing our songs for worship lets not forget some of these great hymns of the past.

5. Space for silence

I love the way traditional services are not afraid of silence. They often give time to mediate on the words that we say and to respond to the words of the sermon. I do find that in more tradition services there is space to interact with God in a quiet and calming atmosphere. Let’s not be frightened of periods of extended silence in our worship.

If you are part of a tradition church I would encourage you to value these elements. If you are part of a church like mine then take time to visit churches like this and if and when you have opportunity to lead worship seek to incorporate these elements in whatever way is appropriate in your own times of worship.

February 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What is the Interpretation of Tongues?

Generally tongues are languages that cannot be understood by the hearer. However Paul talks about tongues being explained to everyone by an interpreter. Many years ago I asked God for the gift of interpretation and began interpreting tongues.

Tongues should be interpreted as prayers

Paul argues that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to speak to God. This indicates to me that an interpretation will not be in the form of God speaking to us. Rather the interpretation will be in the form of a prayer. In my experience this isn’t so much a personal prayer but a prayer that gives insight into the heart of his people towards him – our longings and frustrations, our rejoicing and thanksgiving.

How I began interpreting tongues

After seeking God for the gift of interpretation I found that often when I spoke in tongues I began to understand what I was saying. It wasn’t that I now knew the language and could now translate anything I heard in it. But when I spoke I felt that I intuitively knew what it was about.

In my own devotional times I began to speak in tongues and then speak out what I felt I had said. The next step was to speak out in tongues when we came together as a church and then to interpret that tongue. Also as I listened to other people who spoke in tongues I found that I had similar experiences of understanding. So when people spoke out in tongues I started to also come forward directly after they had and speak out what I believed they had said. It was great to be in a church where there was freedom to do this.

Can we use interpretation in mission?

I have already found that speaking in tongues throughout the day helps guide my silent prayers. I wonder if the next step is to offer to pray with my non-Christian friends when they have a need. Praying silently in tongues to myself first and then praying out the interpretation.

October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

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