Friday, July 8, 2011

Power from Heaven

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

One of the subjects that have brought much contention to the body of Christ is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. This is intriguing because scripture is rather clear on the issue. However, I have discovered over the years that deception in this area is rampant in the body of Christ.

The early church had no such issues as to whether the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues was a valid thing for every born-again believer. Much of the Apostle Paul’s admonitions to the churches were in regard to the use and operation of spiritual gifts, not the validity of their existence or availability.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit or “infilling” has been thought of as an optional, “additional” experience subsequent to salvation that God desires His people to have. However, being filled with the Spirit and speaking in other tongues is not a suggestion, but rather a commandment (Acts 1:4, Luke 24:49, Ephesians 5:18-19, Jude 1:20, Ephesians 6:18). God has not given us a choice in the matter, but rather this thinking is a position that many of us have assumed as a result of religious teaching and ideas that have no true scriptural foundation. In fact, God strongly condemns those that would oppose the working of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:24-32, I Thessalonians 5:19).

“Well, Brother Tom, I am filled with the Spirit!” “I feel the Holy Spirit working in my life all the time; I don’t need tongues!” If this is your position, then I would have to ask you, when did you become an authority on what you need? God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind… “Who is this that darkeneth counsel with words without knowledge?” “Gird up your loins like a man, and I will demand of you!” “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” “Declare if you have understanding!” “Do you know the ordinances of heaven?” “Can you set the dominion thereof in the earth?” (Job 38:1-41). Do you know all these things? If your answer is no to these questions, then you need to speak in tongues so the Holy Spirit can pray through you the things that He knows and you don’t! (Romans 8:26-27)

The Apostle Paul had multiple visions from the Lord (II Corinthians 12:1-6); he was caught up to heaven, and yet he declared, “I speak in tongues more than you all!” (I Corinthians 14:18) Even with the degree of revelation that He had received from God, Paul still didn’t know how to pray as he ought (Romans 8:26). A person who rejects speaking in tongues frustrates the Holy Spirit because God cannot do what He wants to do in their life, nor can He accomplish what he wants to do through that person in regard to other believers, the church, and those around them.

God commands every believer to put on the whole armor of God, which includes praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). We are also admonished to pray in the Spirit for other believers, and if we are not doing this, we are not operating in the perfect will of God, it’s really that simple. Do we always know what is going on in the lives and hearts of others? How can we pray effectively and obey this command without speaking in tongues?

“Well, my pastor doesn’t believe in that!” But God is not asking you what your pastor believes; He wants to know what you believe! (Matthew 16:15) “But what would my family say?” Jesus said, “He that loves father or mother, son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Brother Tom, are you saying that if I don’t pray in tongues that I’m going to hell?

Well, I suppose it would depend on why you don’t speak in tongues. If we reject the Holy Spirit in order to please men rather than obey God, and only obey the parts of the Bible that are convenient to us and those around us, then we will have to give an account for this. Teachers and leaders will be judged by an even stricter standard (James 3:1), and if a person continues to teach and preach false doctrine after he knows better, then he stands condemned (Titus 3:10-11, Galatians 1:6-9).

Satan has gone to extremes in order to keep people in ignorance, fear, and unbelief in this area. The reason is simple; Jesus said, “You shall be endued with power from on high!” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8) Does Satan want us to have power? NO! This miracle-working power will destroy the devil’s operations and interfere with his ability to dominate and control our lives and the lives of others around us. Of course he doesn’t like this, and he also knows that praying in tongues is a portal into other spiritual things that come out of heaven, such as the gifts of the Spirit.

When we pray in the Spirit, it’s like charging a battery, and likewise, being “filled” with the spirit is not a one-time event (Jude 1:20), any more than filling the gas tank in our car is a one-time event. We not only charge ourselves so that we are filled with power, but we pray mysteries and secrets (I Corinthians 14:2), the perfect will of God into the earth. Satan cannot understand what we are saying, and therefore his ability to hinder and launch counterattacks is limited. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit has never prayed a prayer of unbelief, nor has He ever prayed selfishly. In other words, everything He prays comes to pass.

I was recently reading a book written by another believer in which he shared the testimony of a man that God had miraculously healed in a church service. The man had been crippled for many years, but he had heard about the power of God that had operated at a certain Pentecostal church. He had also been warned about these “tongue-talkers” by his pastor. Well, he decided to go anyway, and during the service came forward for prayer. The power of God came upon him and he was miraculously healed.

He was so happy, of course, that he went around telling everyone about it; he even went to his pastor, and said, “Pastor, I thought you told me that this couldn’t happen!” “I thought you told me that these tongue-talkers were a fraud!” “But look at me, I’m healed!” But the pastor replied, “That’s right, it can’t happen; the devil healed you!” Then his pastor sat him down, and within a couple of hours had him convinced that he had been deceived, and that he needed to repent of allowing the devil to “heal” him. Sadly, the man “repented,” and within a couple days the man was crippled again, but he was worse than he had ever been. The minister who had written the book said that he had seen him years later, living on the street, a crippled mess. Did God punish him? NO! The man opened the door to the devil through unbelief, and left God “standing outside;” this man believed the lie of the devil. In fact, Jesus said that when an evil spirit leaves a man, he will seek re-entrance, and if it is granted, he will take seven more spirits more wicked than himself and the last state of that man will be worse than it was in the beginning (Luke 11:24-26).

Satan will whisper to believers, “Tongues have passed away,” or, “It’s not for every born-again believer,” or that tongues come from him. He employs the same tactic with healing, “Sure, God heals, but it’s not His will to heal you!” I’ve never met a person that prayed in tongues that believed that it was not for every believer. All those that believe this are the ones that don’t speak with tongues.

If you are reading this today, and you are not filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, pleased do not let this message offend you. Instead, allow it to ignite new hope on the inside of you, an excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead, that there is something more that God wants to give you!

It is certain that God will withhold no good thing from them who walk uprightly (Psalms 84:11). The ability to pray and speak in tongues opens up a whole new dimension of intimacy with God that would never be possible without it. We must be wise and understanding regarding the will of the Lord, and not to be fooled by the devil (Ephesians 5:17).