Friday, February 8, 2013

The Great Disconnect

 Act 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

Act 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (KJ version)
Receiving water baptism in the River Jordan, Nov. 2012

 Pentecost was truly a phenomenal, supernatural occurrence which took place 50 days after Christ ascended into heaven to be with the Father God. It was the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture and the beginning of the church age. The book of Acts provides us with numerous examples of what took place at that time in Israel and what should take place again and again in the kingdom of God as the church advances through history. Jesus Christ is our head and we, the universal church, are His body. We are commanded to WAIT until we receive power from on high to do the works of God and to establish His kingdom.

Unfortunately, we have not been successful at doing that and many local churches (not all) have experienced a disconnect from the Head. Today the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit available to the early church are woefully absent from our gatherings, our personal lives and ministry for the Lord. Some denominations even teach they are not evident today, because they weren't necessary after the establishment of the early church. We are a mere shadow of what used to be, or maybe never was in the first place in some modern churches, because the traditions of natural-minded men took over the management of church programs and services. What once was a genuine move of God gradually becomes another denomination or network of churches bent on doing their own thing.

The congregation shows up on Sundays and Wednesdays, expecting leaders to perform up to their expectations and present a quality program that includes all the usual elements of “church.” So we throw in the scripture, “Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there I am also,” making the great assumption that God is going to show up and be in charge. The potential is found in scripture, but the actuality is often not what takes place. When the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit is not yielded to, then men fall back into performance orientation, because “the show must go on.” Remember how the disciples went right back to their fishing when Jesus left to go be with the Father. They went back to what they were used to doing naturally when His Presence was no longer there to guide them. What was the solution? Pentecost! Pentecost should be celebrated every day in the life of a true Spirit-filled believer. Even if we are not a member of a Pentecostal denominational church! Since when did the things that took place at Pentecost become invalid and unnecessary in today's world?
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

When believers receive the Holy Ghost (KJ), they are also offered another unique gift- the supernatural ability to speak in another, heavenly language. This is different from the gift of tongues for use in the congregation to deliver a rhema word from the Lord mentioned in I Cor. 12: 7-11 which requires an interpretation. Tongues are given primarily as a private prayer language to each Spirit-filled child of God. This is a Holy Spirit enabled prayer language we can use to build ourselves up in the Holy Spirit, to strengthen our own spirit, to stir up other gifts (word of knowledge, discernment, wisdom, prophecy), to put our natural thinking on hold while we try to hear clearly from the Lord, or to worship God in a heavenly language. Often our natural language fails to be adequate to express our love and devotion. There are times when the Holy Spirit wants to intercede through us, using our tongue to effect change in the heavenlies. This is the gift of praying in the Spirit and being enabled to sing in the Spirit referred to in I Cor. 14 and Eph. 5:18. 

Praying corporately and quietly in the Spirit during gatherings should be encouraged in order to yield to the Presence of God in the service and see His gifts manifest in the members of his body. Praying in the Spirit enables us to stay focused on God and what He wants to accomplish. It translates us out of the natural realm into the spiritual realm where God is. It enables us to tune in on His radio frequency. The gift of tongues is used to deliver a “thus saith the Lord” word to an individual or a group, whether those words are used or not. Praying in the Spirit enables us, like Jesus did, to look into the Spirit realm and see what God is doing and saying so we can release that into the natural world. When that occurs there should to be someone available to give the interpretation. If that gift is truly being activated by the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit will have someone there ready to give the interpretation. The group then waits quietly for it to come forward. The key here is to WAIT to see what the Spirit of God wants to say through the body, not just proceed with the programed agenda. If after a few moments no one speaks out, then you move on with the service.

Perhaps the person with the interpretation was too timid or unsure to speak it out. Or perhaps the inexperienced person with the gifts of tongues missed God. It can happen when first learning how to cooperate with the Spirit and there should be no condemnation for messing up. How will we learn unless we are provided a safe place to practice our gifts. If some stranger comes into a gathering of believers and begins to disrupt the flow of the service with tongues out loud, then elders may need to attend to that problem. God is not the author of confusion and if that happens the person may need to be corrected, or escorted out graciously. Of course, none of the above happens in a service unless the leadership promotes the gifts and provides perimeters for them to function orderly. See I Cor. 14:26-40.
Therefore, tongues given by the Holy Spirit is a gift which can be manifested privately for one's benefit, or publicly for God's glory. There are times as well when a group of believers can pray in the Spirit out loud or sing in the Spirit simultaneously as an expression of worship. This usually subsides after a short duration and the service continues. Often this is the time when the group WAITS on the Lord to receive direction for the service, to see the various gifts manifest in the group, or to see believers come forward with a testimony that gives glory to God. Corporate singing in the Spirit is a marvelous experience which draws the body of Christ into greater unity and intimacy with the Lord. On occasion the Spirit of God has been known to “sing” His love song back to the body through a willing and yielded believer experienced in doing that.

Now if someone doesn't want the gift that is offered by the Spirit of God, is afraid of it, is afraid of what others may think about them, then they won't receive the gift. They may receive more of the Spirit, but not the gift of tongues. The Spirit of God does not force His gifts or fruit on anyone. They have to want the gift as much as they want the breath of life. Also the person may need to be delivered first of some demonic spirits before this gift is manifested. Sometimes demonic spirits in a person, like doubt, unbelief or occult spirits controlling the person hinder their ability to manifest the gift of tongues. The Spirit of God does not give His gifts to persons not capable of handling them rightly, or using them for God's glory. See the illustration below with Simon the sorcerer. 
Tongues is also a gift that is usually best “caught” rather than “taught.” Learning how to release your natural tongue to be used by the Spirit supernaturally can be problematic too when we can't get our mental activity out of the way. Often children receive tongues more easily than adults do with their child-like faith. So one can have prayer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands, but their comfort and freedom to pray in the Spirit may come later on. Let's use the analogy of learning how to ride a bicycle for the first time. There is a learning curve of maintaining speed, balance, coordination of eyes, hands and feet that has to occur to be successful.  So it is with receiving your prayer language. For some people it comes immediately and for others it can take some time of seeking and believing for the manifestation.

Usually, there is a very good reason why someone does not have this supernatural ability. That reason becomes a hindrance which has to be repented of, or over come first. Perhaps they have formed a hard judgment against tongues (tongues are of the devil), judged others who have the gift as “less than” or inferior to them spiritually. Pride is a huge hindrance to receiving the gift of tongues! God knows the heart of a man and does not bestow His gifts to someone who doesn't want them or will misuse them. 
Many people believe the gifts of tongues is the primary way we know someone has received the Holy Spirit. It is the primary evidence, but not the only way we can know. Many anointed preachers, teachers, missionaries and ordinary Christians serve God passionately and love God with their whole heart, soul and mind. We can see they are filled with the Spirit by the evidence of their dedication, good works, and the fruit of the Spirit in their nature and character. These people could also receive the gift of tongues if they wanted to. But if they don't believe they need the gift, or don't believe it is important to have a prayer language, or are not “waiting on God” to receive it, then they don't get a prayer language. Some people will say, “If God wants me to have tongues, then he'll give it to me. If not, then he won't.” Thereby putting all the responsibility and blame on God for not receiving tongues when the problem lies within themselves.
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

God wants every believer to have this very special Gift, the indwelling power of His Spirit. John 14:15 tells us that Jesus said “If you love me and obey what I command, then I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of Truth.” He was going away and wanted to leave us with the Spirit of truth, the Comforter, the Paraclete to live inside us. Emanuel, God in us! Too many Christians don't wait for the Gift, don't even know the Gift is available today, or think they have the Gift already when they DON'T. Therefore, they live far below their potential in Christ and miss out on the plan, purpose and destiny God has for them.

Pat getting baptized in the River Jordan by Perry Stone
 Act 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

Act 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Act 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Simon is a great example of a “believer” in Christ who did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8: 9-13 we see Simon was a magician who boasted of having great power and who amazed people with his sorcery and occult powers provided by demonic spirits. People were following Simon around amazed by the things he could do supernaturally. Simon then heard the gospel message, believed on Christ and was baptized in water for his sins. He then began to follow Philip around astonished by the signs and miracles he saw the apostles do. He witnessed the fact that Peter and John laid hands on people to impart the Holy Spirit to them. 

Still being spiritually ignorant and blind, because he did not receive the fullness of the Spirit at his conversion, Simon tried to buy the baptism from them. He was still operating in spiritual darkness even though he had confessed his salvation through Christ and received water baptism. Peter rebuked him for trying to buy the gift of God and told Simon to repent of the wickedness in his heart. This water baptized believer was still “full of bitterness and being held captive to sin.” (verse 23). Today someone like Simon would need to receive deliverance from the occult gifts and spirits he had allowed to posses him before he could receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of a heavenly prayer language. Now some will debate that Simon must have not been "saved" in the first place, but there is no specific verse that tells us that. In fact it is written that he accepted Christ, was water baptized and was following the disciples trying to learn all he could about this new power of God. Of course, we realize the Christian life is all about having a relationship with God first, then the power will come.

Another example of converts to Christ who evidently did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 5:1-11. Here we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira who sold some property and came to the disciples to give their offering. Peter full of the Holy Spirit and by the gift of a word of knowledge knew that they were being dishonest by holding back some of the money. “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit...You have not lied to men, but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down dead. Three hours later the same thing happened to his wife. Lying to the Holy Spirit has dire consequences for Christians! 
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Act 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. 
This passage sites a very unusual situation which most modern churches have not experienced in their services, although individual believers have reported their conversion in this manner. Peter was sharing the gospel message to a group of Gentiles gathered at Cornelius' house. He told them “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” and how he went about healing all who were under the power of the devil. While Peter was speaking to this group the Holy Spirit suddenly came on all who heard the message. Once again Joel's prophecy was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit was “poured out” on the Gentiles in that room and they began to speak in other tongues, praising God. (an example of corporate tongues glorifying God in a gathering of believers). Peter who was rather astonished-- immediately agreed that since they were already filled with the Spirit they needed to be baptized in the Name of Jesus with water for the remission of their sins. For this particular group of unconverted men and women, they experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit FIRST, and then were granted salvation in Christ SECOND, not at the same time. Here we read where the baptism in the Spirit was a separate experience for this group. A similar experience is reported in Acts 11:12-18.

Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 

Praying for a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit


      These examples from the book of Acts prove beyond doubt that Christians, whether they are Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal or Church of God, can not put the Holy Spirit in their doctrinal box and expect Him to do the same thing every time in every place, because we think we have figured out how the great mystery of the kingdom of God is suppose to work. Salvation first and filled with the Holy Spirit at the same time, or subsequently as a separate and distinct experience (if it ever happens at all), represents the traditions of men for most church leadership in modern America. And when God wants to break out of that doctrinal box which we put Him in we say... 
“Oh, but we've never done it that way before.”

God is sovereign and can do what He wants to do IF AND WHEN we learn how to get out of His way, unafraid to let Him be in control of our lives and services. Until then we are setting our natural limitations on the ability of the Lord to have His way in us and through us. The modern, traditional church needs to learn how to YIELD to the Spirit of God in our services and let Him have His way among us. Until then, we're simply going through the traditional modes of operation void of God's dynamic Presence and power. God's will is for church services, home group meetings and family life to be a dynamically powerful, transformational experience where people come to meet with God and see Him face to face manifested THROUGH the people of God! And the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the gift of speaking in tongues is a prerequisite for all this to happen! The great disconnect will disappear and the body of Christ will be functioning in union with the Head. When we learn how to Welcome the Holy Spirit acknowledging Him as LORD over our gatherings, and WAIT upon Him submitting to His Leadership, then we can truly say, “The Presence of God is in this place.” 

Scriptures are copied from E-Sword, King James Version.
(The author would like to say that she has not accomplished perfectly all that she writes about, but views these ideas as goals that must be sought after and attained if at all possible in order to be obedient to the Scriptures. She realizes in many cases she is "preaching to the choir" as well and that many of her readers are walking in much of the revelation shared in these articles.)