I’ve shared a bit about our family’s journey to Grace Church in a previous blog. Since that time, the Lord has continued to do amazing and unexpected things in our lives, the most recent of which I’d like to share with you all.
I’ve spent much of my life trying to look the part of being a Christian. If I just went to church every Sunday, if I just went on mission trips, if I just went to a Bible study, or didn’t drink or party, or didn’t curse, or didn’t hang around people who did, if my kids never threw tantrums, or I had a perfect marriage… THEN everyone would think I had it together, and as long as everyone thought I was ok, they wouldn’t ask questions. I wouldn’t have to let anyone in, so they wouldn’t know the real mess I was inside.
1. Devout Jewish people began worshipping Jesus as God after his resurrection. Which would have meant risking persecution and the torments of hell forever for worshipping a false god. And in this group are his two half-brothers James and Jude and his mother. James was opposed to Jesus’ claims of deity during his life but then James was transformed by seeing Jesus after his resurrection. He went on to pastor the Jerusalem church and write a book of the Bible.
I was baptized at my church in Florida when I was about 14 years old. I thought I was a Christian at the time. However, I was completely blind to my self-righteousness, legalism, and performance based habits. When I compared myself to most people, I thought I was a pretty good guy. As long as I didn’t commit any of the “bad sins”, I figured I was ok. Little did I know during that time in all my self-righteousness, I was just as guilty as the worst criminal on the planet.
The gift of tongues, or (as I prefer to call it) the gift of languages, is the most controversial of the all the spiritual gifts we find in the New Testament, and that's saying something. It attracts more extreme comments than any other gift, from both sides of the aisle. Many Pentecostals regard it as the sine qua non of Spirit baptism, and many conservatives regard those who use it (or claim to) as emotionally suggestible, unbiblical, or perhaps even demonic; damned if you do, damned if you don't. In between, a huge number of Christians—especially, it seems to me, in North America—are open to the gift of tongues in theory, but extremely cautious (or even frightened) in practice, not least because it is so often practised in sub-biblical or even downright bizarre ways. As someone who writes a lot about theology and prays in languages most days, I have a few thoughts about that.
Here are ten points that need to be borne in mind when developing a theology, and practice, of the gift of languages:
How gracious and creative is our God to make us one and also give each of us different gifts and roles and services and activities. Below is a list of definitions and explanations from Sunday’s sermon. Because the Spirit gives gifts, our prayer is that we would gain a better understanding of them and be excited to use them for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). The Spirit is empowering us to serve one another for our joint maturation. Thank you Lord!
Word of Knowledge - the ability to speak in a way that gives true knowledge to people—especially knowledge of Scripture and knowledge of God.
Word of Wisdom - the ability to speak a wise word in a situation with wisdom the Holy Spirit has given through years of meditation on Scripture and practicing godly living in everyday life.
Faith - this is not the faith that is granted to all Christians in salvation, but a kind of faith in an almighty and sovereign God that specifically believes that He is capable of intervening in the most dramatic or supernatural (or even more subtle and mundane) ways.
Gifts Of Healings - healings are granted by the Spirit, are occasional, and are subject to the sovereign purposes of God. Which means we pray expectantly for God to heal people. And we think God’s healing can come through in an instant by his touch or through him using medication. Healing is an expression of God’s mercy so we shouldn’t view it as a right. Healing is not the payment of a debt. God does not owe us healing. We don’t deserve healing. We do not name it and claim. We believe we should have faith for healing. But there is a vast difference between faith in God’s mercy and presumption based on an alleged right.
We don’t believe if anyone could ever heal, he could always heal. Multiple people have ongoing sickness and health problems in the New Testament and so we should see the gift of healing not based on the will of the person but subject to the will of God. A person may be gifted to heal many people, but not all. Another may be gifted to heal only one person at one particular time of one particular disease.
Working Of Miracles - Since Paul does not define “works of miracles” any more specifically than this, we can say that the gift of miracles may include the working of divine power in deliverance from danger, in intervention to meet special needs in the physical world (as in the case of Elijah in 1 Kings 17:1-16), in judgment on those who irrationally and violently oppose the gospel message, in vanquishing the demonic forces that wage war against the church, and in any other way in which God’s power is manifested in an evident way to further God’s purposes in a situation. All of these would be works of “power” in which the church would be helped and God’s glory would be made evident.
Distinguishing Of Spirits - Specifically, this is a special ability to evaluate the origin, authority, and application of a prophetic message. More generally, this gift may be the ability to distinguish between demonic forces from the Holy Spirit.
Application As We Move Forward
"If we spend less time searching to identify our spiritual gift(s) and more time actually praying and giving and helping and teaching and serving and exhorting those around us, the likelihood greatly increases that we will walk headlong into our gifting without ever knowing what happened. God will more likely meet us with His gifts in the midst of trying to help His children then He ever would while we’re taking a spiritual gifts analysis test” (Sam Storms, Beginner’s Guide To Spiritual Gifts).
These gifts are all manifestations of the Spirit for the common good. Healing serves the sister with that chronic pain and builds up our faith in our merciful God. Words of wisdom and knowledge help and instruct others in specific questions and situations. Demons being cast out is for our good. Having a crew of people that have the gift of faith and seem overly optimistic is good for others of us who are doubting and skeptical. All these various gifts are for the common good.
*These definitions are borrowed or adapted from D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, and The Village Church
And that’s why we decided to walk through Jonah this month. That’s why on the Sunday before Christmas we aren’t looking at Luke 1 but Jonah 4. Anger is all around us in this age and if we’d be honest this morning so often it’s in us.
Where does it come from? How will we address it? How is a baby 2,000 years ago better than anger management? We start off with Jonah being angry at God for God being God. Let’s look at Jonah 4
In the first two stages we looked at conviction and confession.* We have felt the weight of our sin by seeing it as God does and confessed it to Him and others. Before we move to next stage I want to warn you of turning these stages into a checklist. Anytime there is a numbered list I am uneasy because I know our hearts tend towards trusting in religious acts. The purpose can quickly become doing this list trying to keep God pleased so he will continue to bless you and answer your prayers.