And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16)
I want begin this morning with a story from the past about experiencing God. Experiencing God is a great privilege. Think about John Wesley’s testimony, taken from his personal diary entry on Jan. 1, 1739: About 3 in the morning (with 60 brethren), as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground… or the testimony of two Quakers who commented on Wesley’s ministry: “(Wesley) preached conversion in Bristol and some of the congregation fell to the ground and foamed at the mouth… people cried as in the agony of death, who were struck to the ground and lay there groaning… many more were brought to the birth… all were in floods of ears, cried, prayed, roared aloud, all of them lying on the ground… or Wesley’s own words: “When I began to pray, the flame broke out. Many cried aloud, many sank to the ground, many trembled exceedingly.”
We want to be a “spiritual greenhouse” where young plants can grow quickly. We value getting oil to grow in intimacy, intercession, and revelation as the way to be most effective in ministering God’s truth and presence as we journey with Jesus.
OUR ministry includes: intimacy, intercession, End-Time message and KINGDOM POWER. OUR mandate IS TO REVEAL: intimacy, intercession, End-Time Message, and KINGDOM POWER
Intimacy with God: Intimacy is expressed in abandonment. God has “abandoned” Himself to us by loving us with agape. This is what Mike Bickle calls the “ravished heart of God” or the Song of Solomon message, You have ravished my heart, My sister, My spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace (Song 4:9). It is seen in As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love (Jn. 15:9) and You have ravished My heart, My sister, My spouse (Bride of Christ analogy)… (Song 4:9)
Ceremonial Abandonment Issues Intimacy is our abandonment to God that’s expressed in walking out the First Commandment by obeying Him in our inward thoughts and outward actions by embracing the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle. The First Commandment is more than connecting to God, it is expressed by loving Him as we love people who He loves, You shall love the Lord…with all your heart… This is the first commandment (Mt. 22:37-38), Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple… Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple (Lk. 14:27, 33)
Virginal Mindset When we pray, we acquire the oil (fuel) that is necessary to walk out the First Commandment (after our prayer times). We gain the “fuel of intimacy” in times of prayer by connecting and relating to God as a Person. This empowers us to love God and man. Prayer aligns our heart with the reality that we are living before His eyes, so that we do not burn out, Those who were foolish…took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil… (Mt. 25:3-4)
End-Time Messengers: we proclaim the unique message of God’s end-time plan to bring us into the age-to-come and out of this present evil age. God is raising up a generation of friends of the Bridegroom who are, Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for God… The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh (globally) shall see it together… (Isa. 40:3-5) and The friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears Him… (Jn. 3:29)
Prophetic as Conditional: All prophecy is conditional and depends on us hearing and embracing what is being said. It depends on people and their responses to be fulfilled or to be ignored. Prophecy isn’t automatic nor is it unalterably destined to be fulfilled. God doesn’t overstep human responsibility. Jonah 3:4 is a graphic illustration of an application of this truth, in 40 days Nineveh shall be destroyed. Sin, rebellion, disobedience, lack of submission, lack of preparation, a closed heart: all can cause a shift in prophetic release.
Prophecy is a Sign of Blessing: When Paul said that both speaking in tongues and prophecy are signs for the age we live in, he made a strong connection between these two gift manifestations that is hard to deny (1 Corinthians 14: 21-22), In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Signs are things that point to something other than themselves. They are intended to give direction and to attract you to something someone else thinks you need. Trench defines sign as a miraculous phenomenon that points to a higher reality beyond itself.
Our translations don’t add the word sign when it comes to prophecy, it could be added as a italicized word, as it is strongly implied in the Greek and that would fit the rules. Paul’s expression, for a sign (einai eis) is a common phrase in non canonical extrabiblical Greek that expresses destination conceptually. In other words, both believers and unbelievers are were destined for a special consequence in this setting (tongues and prophecy). As these two supernatural endowments operate in perpetual continuity, they were to lift/direct people to a higher reality in life.
Tongues are a Sign of Judgment: Isaiah 28:11-12 says, For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, 12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear. This is the original quote Paul was referencing. This tongue that couldn’t be understood (Assyrian) was a sound of judgment, as the people of the land had constantly turned away from God’s offer for rest and refreshing, continuously rebuffing Him. Because of this, God’s people faced God’s judgment at the hands of the Assyrians.
Paul identifies the principle of judgment and redirects it toward non-believers in 1 Corinthians, as the language sign is redirected toward unbelievers. I would add that I think this form of judgment is for unbelievers outside the body of Christ and inside the confines of the church. When people persist in refusing to believe God and that which He provides, we can face measures of judgment. Every time we speak in tongues publically or privately, it an operational sign, a beacon, that says God will judge persistent unbelief. And just as God delays or tarries the act of His total judgment on unbelievers, tongues were always intended as continuous prophetic warning sign of impending judgment.
Elementary (First) Principles: Repentance from dead works and Faith Toward God
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits (Hebrews 6:1-3).
Swindoll: When your memories of the past obscure your vision of the future, it leaves you bankrupt in the present. So true…it’s one thing to honor and bring into the present valuable lessons and experiences of the past..but it’s another thing to build monuments to the past leaving you frozen in the present.
Prophecy is Meant to be a Sign of Rest and Refreshing: Paul almost omits To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear (v.12). If God’s people had heard/listened, they would have had rest and refreshment by becoming believers. The aspect of listening is massively important. God intended the continuous flow of the prophetic and glossolalia as a sign of another time of refreshing (Acts 3:19), Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Peter’s address as well as Paul’s exhortation was originally spoken to Jewish people on both sides of faiths’ conversion.
Habakkuk once declared that: “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4)
The power of this verses truth points us to the need to be trusting people, as we apply our confidence toward God, regardless of our present day circumstances. That is why this one verse was quoted on three different occasions in the NT. Faith in this manner has a dual application, as it addresses both God’s faithfulness to His promises, and to the faithfulness of us as individuals who stand before God in relationship with Him (RT Kendall, Before the Throne).
Spiritual language enables us to speak prophetically to God intimately and experience Him He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him… (v. 2).
Speaking to God in spiritual language is not the only way to speak to Him, but it is a privileged benefit through which we gain intimacy with God, and by which the Holy Spirit empowers us to serve others.
God loves you uniquely and individually. Utilizing prayer language is an important element in speaking to God personally, as it allows us to address Him uniquely and individually, as we express our hearts in a way only He understands.
While we may not necessarily know what we are saying, we do know the One we are speaking with, as well as the quality of what our heart is feeling toward Him, as Holy Spirit lets us communicate beyond the language limitations we have.
Spiritual language equips us with prophetic insight…however, in the Spirit he speaks mysteries. (v. 2). The word “mysteries” is not talking about peculiar things but about God’s truth being brought into the light. It may be fresh to our minds, but it’s not going to be different from what’s in the Bible. To us, a mystery is something we can’t figure out, but in the Greek (mysterion), it is an insight or revelation that we now understand, especially as our inner heart is poured out in prophetic prayer.
Spiritual language is self-edifying He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself… (v. 4)
We speak in tongues, because there is an edifying—or building up—of ourselves. It’s good for us. This doesn’t mean that we are not interested in loving the lost and serving others. Scripture says: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Jude continues by saying that we are to be compassion ward the lost, and reach out to those who need to be drawn from the threat of eternal loss into life in Jesus.
The use of our spiritual language also serves as an occasion where we welcome the Encourager, the Comforter, aka Holy Spirit, as He comes alongside us to help us (Paraclete). When we pray in the Spirit, Holy Spirit flows refreshing goodness into us. This is indeed something you have to experience personally, as there is no human explanation for the supernatural infusion of His encouragement and strength into our lives when we pray in the Spirit.
Spiritual language enlarges the boundary of our praise and intercession… For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us… (Rom. 8:26)
Worship and praise are powerful tools of warfare that drive back darkness. Praise drives darkness away, as true praise and worship is despised by the enemy. There is power in our praise when it becomes an instrument in the hands of the Spirit to drive back the works of darkness. Praise is an instrument of warfare and intercession, and it is loathed by the Adversary. It’s why we are supposed to sing in the Spirit.
The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26-28 that we don’t know how or what to pray often. This is offset with Holy Spirit knowing the mind of the Father, and Holy Spirit then enabling us to pray exactly the way we need to, regardless of our human limitations. Holy 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. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
All of these benefits of spiritual language help us see in the Word why on the day the Church was born, the Lord gave everybody the gift of spiritual language. It wasn’t to prove to them that Holy Spirit had come; as the love of God overflowing in their hearts accomplished that task. Nor was it to demonstrate that the power of God had come. Over each of their heads could be seen fire from Heaven that had come to energize. I believe spiritual language was given not as a proof but as a resource they would need in order for the Church to be the Church.
I will never argue against the idea that tongues are an evidence of the baptism of the Spirit, because I think there is sufficient evidence for that. It’s just not the only evidence. But the Lord did not give us spiritual language as a point of argument for the Church. He gave it as a resource to capacitate the Church. The Holy Spirit, who has come to dwell in us, wants to overflow every one of us and, in that overflow, to release His spiritual language.