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by Jacob Ninan
You know when Jesus was born, He was born of the Holy Spirit. He lived the next 30 years of His life in the power of the Holy Spirit and He never sinned even once. So much so, that at the end of 30 years when He was getting baptized in the River Jordan, the Father said from heaven, ďThis is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.Ē He was absolutely pleased with this Son because He had lived such a life. At that time again the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove and settled upon His head. It was a picture of Jesus identifying with us.
When we are born again we are born of the Holy Spirit and thatís how we become children of God. After the disciples of Jesus were born of God, just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told them to wait in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit came upon them. He said when the Holy Spirit came upon them they would receive power and they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Samaria and all the parts of the world.
So there is something that the Holy Spirit can do in our lives after we are born again, after we become children of God. We can refer to this as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When John the Baptist was baptizing people in water he said, ďIím baptizing you in water but there is Somebody coming after me who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.Ē So there is something called the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
When John the Baptist was baptizing people in water he said, ďIím baptizing you in water but there is Somebody coming after me who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.Ē
Why did Jesus need this baptism in the Holy Spirit at that point in time? Because from that point onwards for the next three and half years, He was going around doing many things, proclaiming the kingdom of God, healing people, raising the dead, casting out demons. He did many things and He was doing them in the power of the Holy Spirit. So when we are born again, itís alright as long as we are just minding our own business and going around not disturbing anybody else. But the moment we start wanting to serve God, wanting to bless other people, wanting to help other people, we come to see that we need something more than what we have. Our natural abilities and skills are not enough.
Letís imagine for the time being that Iím a great singer, that I got a Grammy award or something. But with my Grammy award or my voice I cannot bless somebodyís heart, unless the Holy Spirit is working in me. So even though we have natural gifts and natural abilities which God has given to us, they are not enough for us to able to touch peopleís lives, touch peopleís heart and make them different. For that, we cannot do anything. We need to let the Holy Spirit work in us. So today I want to discuss with you about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, earnestly desire. Itís not just, ďOk Lord, if You give me some gifts I will be happy, or I want this gift or I want that gift.Ē No! Earnestly desire spiritual gifts! We read in 1 Corinthians 14:1, ďPursue after love yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.Ē And 1 Corinthians 12:31 says, ďEarnestly desire the greatest gifts.Ē
So when we look at these verses we must understand itís not just for the so called full time workers or people who are officially involved in Christian ministry. Itís for all of us in the body of Christóall of usóif we have to be effective in the small things that we do. We may not do great things, we may not be known by other people, we may never stand on the pulpit, we may never be on a public show in front of other people. No, but we all have interactions with other people in our own circles. And to be effective there, we need these spiritual gifts.
Itís for all of us in the body of Christóall of usóif we have to be effective in the small things that we do.
You know when we talk about spiritual gifts like many other things there are lots of controversies among Christians. Spiritual gifts are mainly addressed in the book of 1 Corinthians. So some people say, ďOh! It was all written for those people in Corinth at that time, not for us.Ē Thatís not true, because if you read the first verses of that letter, 1 Corinthians Chapter 1: 1-2, it says, ďPaul called an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God and Sosthenes our brother to the church of God which is at Corinth.Ē Yes. ďTo those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus saints by calling with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.Ē Not just for the Corinthians, but for all those who call on the name of the Lord, including us. The letter, yes, it addresses certain specific issues in Corinth, but they are also lessons for us. But when we talk about spiritual gifts we have to understand itís not just for the Corinthians, itís not just for the full time workers, not just for the Christian workers but itís for all people who call on the name of the Lord.
Some other people, I think a large group of people among Christians, say that all these spiritual gifts ceased with the apostles. That means, only the apostles exercised these gifts in their time, and that after we have been given the Bibleóthe fullness of Godís revelation is there in the Bibleóthey all have ceased. So they say that these spiritual gifts were all signs given to those people in those days. Such people are referred to as the cessationists. They say all these spiritual gifts have ceased. But the Bible says something else. You know, the verses which people quote to say these things have ceased are in 1 Corinthians 13: 8Ė10. It says, ďLove never fails but if there are gifts of prophecies they will be done away with.Ē They will cease. ďIf there are tongues they will cease. If there is knowledge it will be done away with.Ē So it looks as if this is what it comes to. But it goes on, ďFor we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.Ē So these people understand this Ďperfectí as the coming of the Bible, the completion of the writings of the Bible, all the books of the Bible. When the books were ready they say now everything is perfect, now you donít need what is partial, they will all fade away, prophecy, tongues, all these things will go away.
But like in all our interpretations of the Bible we must read the Bible in its context. Not just one verse, not just one above or one below. But the whole context of what is written. If you just read two verses below. In verse 12 Paul is writing this, ďFor now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part but then I will know fully just as I have also been also been fully known.Ē Now, what is Paul talking about? He is not talking about the coming of the Bible. He is talking about standing face to face before the Lord. Then he says he will know fully. So this perfect thing that he was talking to about earlier is actually referring to the time when everything is made perfect. Even this body will go away; we will be given a perfect body. And everything will be perfect, no pain, no sorrow, no sin and no confusion. That is the perfection he is talking about. So till then, what is imperfect will still remain. So the Bible or God is not saying that now that the Bible has come there is no need for spiritual gifts. That is an interpretation which is not true.
The other thing to look at is this. Donít we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Donít we feel or donít we sense the need for these gifts in our lives? Can we manage without these gifts? Can we manage just by knowing many verses in the Bible, using our natural abilities, knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and all these things? Some people are trying to manage just with these things.
If we try to do that we see that something is missing. Something is really missing in our lives. We are really not able to touch people with simple words of knowledge. Just quoting verses and passages will really not be able to help people unless the Holy Spirit is with us, working through us and touching peoplesí lives.
Just quoting verses and passages will really not be able to help people unless the Holy Spirit is with us, working through us and touching peoplesí lives.
So we see that in reality we need the Holy Spirit. And especially these days, what are called the end days, when Satan is becoming more and more active, there is an increase in false teachings, false prophets, false miracle workers, false signs and wonders. So many things are happening. Many people including Christians are getting deceived by so many of these supernatural things which are going on around us. In these days, will God leave His people without equipment for war? The power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are needed at this time to reach out to people around us and to battle against the works of darkness. We need the power of the Holy Spirit and we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So itís not right to imagine that those were only for the apostles and now we can manage just with this written Bible. No!
But when we look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit we find that there is a lot of confusion among Christians. We need a great balance here. So if you look at the way Paul has written, he has actually devoted 3 full chapters in his first letter to the Corinthians to address this issue. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 describes different gifts and tells us about who they are to be given to, who gives them, and who chooses what gift to give to us. Only God chooses what gift to give to us. We cannot choose for ourselves what gift we want; God decides all that. And then he describes all those gifts. And then there is chapter 13. Chapter 13 is well known among Christians as the chapter on love. But we need to see that chapter 13 was written to explain how chapter 12 is to be used. Why do we need all these gifts? When we get these gifts how to operate them? Paul says in the last verse of chapter 12, ďI will show you a better way to use these gifts,Ē and then he describes love.
What he says is that these gifts are to be exercised in love. And what is love? We will not seek our own, will not keep an account of wrong suffered. We will hope all things and all those other things which we know from chapter 13.
These gifts are to be exercised in love.
And then he continues with chapter 14 and comes back to gifts. He says you can have a lot of misuse of gifts, especially the gift of tongues. People can misuse it, overdo it and be taken up with it. So keep things in balance. So chapter 14 is about balanced use of the gifts of the Spirit. So 12, 13 and 14 together give a picture of how these gifts are given, what these gifts are and how they are to be used.
Now letís go into some more detail and understand what all God has prepared for us.
If you look at chapter 12 verses 8Ė10, we get a list of some of these gifts of the Holy Spirit. For example, it says about the word of wisdom. You know in very practical terms, when we are in a difficult situation and we want to help somebody. We want to say something to help somebody else and we donít know what to say. Then the Holy Spirit can give to us a word of wisdom for that situation and once we say that or once somebody with that gift says that then you can see how the situation suddenly changes completely. It was a word from God, a word of wisdom for that particular situation. It is a gift which God gives to people.
ďAnd to another word of knowledge.Ē For example when we do counselling, you know many people when they come for counselling, they tell us the story about what their problem is. But when we get involved in counselling we understand that sometimes or even many times the real problem is much deeper than what these people are saying. And if we want to address those deeper issues and we donít know how to get in, sometimes God can give the word of knowledge. Suddenly an idea pops up into our mind and we think we should ask them about this. And they are surprised why we are asking that particular question. And we also are surprised why we are asking that question! But it was given to us by Godóthat word of knowledge about this situation which was existing there and which we naturally donít have any way of knowing.
Faith here is talking about the gift of faith and not the normal faith we all need to have. Normal faith is described in Hebrews 11:6, where we believe that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Without that kind of faith it is impossible to please God. But here it is talking about a different faith, a faith for extraordinary situations. For example, somebody is sick and we are very worried about whatís going to happen. We are praying and then God at that point gives us faith in our hearts, supernatural faith in our hearts, which convinces us that this sickness is not unto death. Then we are at peace, we are confident that this sickness is going to pass. Where did that come from? Itís not us creating a faith in our hearts by repetition of some promise or anything; God just gave that faith to us at that point; thatís called the gift of faith.
Another, healing. This we of course understand, the gift of healingópraying for peopleís healing and people are getting healed. Effecting miracles. Healing is one form of miracles. There could be other miracles which cannot be explained by natural means.
Prophecy. There are two type of prophecy. One is to foretell the future. And nowadays, what we need to understand is that Hebrew chapter 8:11 makes it very clear that all Godís children have direct access to the Father and we donít need to go through people to find out Godís will for our lives. We donít need to run to prophets and ask who we shall get married to, if we should take this job, etc. That was under the Old Testament. Now, all of us have direct access to the Father. We can go to the Father Himself and ask, ďIs this the person I am going to get married to? Is this the job I should take?Ē We donít need to go to prophets for that. But sometimes God gives prophets like the man called Agabus in the Acts of the Apostles. He stood there in the church and said there was going to be a famine in Jerusalem. All the people collected money and sent to Jerusalem to help the poor brothers in Jerusalem who were in need because of the famine. So sometimes prophecy is about foretelling the future but not about personal prophecies. But the main aspect of prophecy which we read in 1 Corinthians 14 is, to say things as a representative of God which can comfort, encourage, edifyóthat means to build up and strengthenóother people. That is also referred to as prophecy. So a person who stands up and preaches, a person who writes a letter to somebody, sends an email, talks on the phone, can encourage, edify, build up, etc. This is also using a gift of prophecy.
There is also distinguishing of spirits. People who have that ability can recognise when evil spirits are active in a certain situation, and they can bind them or cast them out. Various kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues. We will look at this a little later and at this moment we will just leave that.
Verse 28 in the same chapter says that God has appointed in the church apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, helps, administration, various kinds of tongues. Itís another list. Then if you see Romans 12:6-8, we have another list of gifts Ė prophecy, faith, service (serving other people), teaching, exhortation, giving (that means giving to other peoplesí needs), leading (that means a person who gets things done along with other people), showing mercy and spreading cheerfulnessÖ So what do we get from all these gifts? It is wrong for us to take only these which are listed here as the recognized gifts of the Holy Spirit. It indicates to us that there are many, many, many gifts like these. For example, Iíve mentioned about singing, singing with an anointing that can bless other people, which can touch other people. Many people get converted when they listen to a song. Singing or serving tables is not mentioned here. You remember in the Acts of Apostles, when there was confusion about feeding the Greek widows. Seven people were chosen including Stephen and Philip, and the criterion for choosing such people was that they should be filled with the Holy Spirit. For what? For serving tables! Suppose we have a lunch here and people are standing here and serving tables. Do we think they need the Holy Spirit to be able to serve tables? We will not think so naturally. But to be able to serve in such a way with a smile, with a word of encouragement, with a greeting and talking with people and all that even to such an extent that you can bless these people! A person, when he comes in here with a lot of fear, complaints and all such things, when he comes across a person with a smile and a helpful attitude, that personsí life is touched through the gift of the Holy Spirit. What gift? Serving tables! So what we can understand is that gifts can be many things. It need not be all about pastors and teachers and evangelists and all that. Gifts can be anything which God give to us according to His choice.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says, ďTo each one is given the manifestations of the Spirit.Ē To each one! If we are a genuine member of the body of Christ, for us God gives or God wants to give some gift. Maybe more than one gift, several gifts. God wants to give each one; so there is no one who can say I canít do anything, I am so small, I donít know so much of the Bible, I have no training, I donít know this and I donít know that. We cannot say that. What we need to do is to go and ask God for the gifts which He has already planned for us because God says in His word, for each one there is a gift or more than one gift which God wants to give.
Many people have this problem. If you look around, maybe if you look at your own life, you will see that many people are undervaluing themselves, comparing themselves to somebody else and saying, ďI am not like that, therefore I am a nobody. I canít speak like that, I canít sing like that, I canít stand before people like that, I donít know how to talk to people, I am so shy, I am like this, I am like that.Ē Many people undervalue themselves just like that man with the one talent. He says, ďI donít have 3 talents, I donít have 5 talents, I have only one talent and so let me just bury it.Ē He buried it and he lost out. We may have one talent, we may have half a talent, but whatever we have, we are in the body of Christ and we are an important part of the body of Christ. In the Bible it talks about the eye which cannot tell the foot, ďBecause you are not an eye I donít need you or you are not a member of the body of Christ.Ē The foot is also a member. Maybe the eye is more prominent. Everybody looks at the eye, everybody values the eye more. Fine, but the foot is also important. Some of the internal organs in our body, nobody sees them. As long as they are working properly, we donít even know that they are there. But when they donít work we will know immediately they are there. So there are hidden members in the body of Christ, for example, the people who pray for other people sitting at home. Nobody knows they are praying, nobody knows who there are praying for, but many people are getting blessing because somebody is praying for them. They are hidden. They donít get recognition. They donít get fame. When they are dead and they are going to be buried, people standing around donít know what these people have done for them. But they have been making such a valuable contribution to the body of Christ for many people around them. Each person, whatever gift we have been given, is important to God.
Many people are undervaluing themselves, comparing themselves to somebody else and saying, ďI am not like that, therefore I am a nobody."
The other side is, many people are exalting themselves because of the gifts they have been given. And they think that they are not like any ordinary people, they are some great people, they are some special people for God. They exalt themselves and they donít listen to anybodyís correction or anybodyís warning or anything. They become too big in their own eyes and then they fall down suddenly. So the point is, there are people who are misusing their gifts. There are people who are going to excesses, doing the things in the wrong way. That should not prevent us from seeking for the genuine gifts and genuine way of operating these gifts. Just because there are people who are misusing things it doesnít mean that we also will automatically misuse them. We donít need to misuse them. We can use them in the right way. We donít need to exalt ourselves. We can exalt Jesus. We can use the gifts which God has given to us. Finally, it is not for our glory but for His glory.
Many people are exalting themselves because of the gifts they have been given.
The problem in many, many, many cases is, James says in his book, ďYou donít receive because you donít ask.Ē And that can be a major problem. We know about gifts, but we have such poor opinion about ourselves that we donít ask. We think itís all for some great people and not for us, saying, ďI am just an ordinary person, what can I do? I donít know much about the Bible, I have never been to Bible college, I have not done this, so what can I do?Ē So as a result the gifts which God wants them to have they donít receive. Because God wants them to ask. Many times we donít receive many things that God has for us because we donít ask.
When we ask, again James says we can ask with wrong motives. Yes, it is very possible when you look at spiritual gifts that we can ask for wrong motives. Imagine if I have the gift of healing how many people will be coming after me? I will be put upon the posters everywhere, I can have a big meeting, ten thousand people, one lakh people will come, my name will be all over the paper, I will be on the TV, and all that. So I ask. Thatís not for Jesus, exalting Jesus, thatís not for serving other people, thatís only for exalting myself. Some other people ask for wrong motives because spiritual gifts have something exciting about them, something thrilling about them, and so people ask for the sake of that thrill. How nice it will be if I can speak in tongues? Or if I go to this meeting and somebody puts his hand on me and I just fall backwards, how thrilling! So many people are seeking for these gifts for the sake of the thrill and the excitement not for the sake of glorifying God or serving other people. If you look at 1 Corinthians 12:7, it says these gifts are given for the common good. Not for ourselves, not for ourselves to enjoy, not for ourselves to experience the thrills, but itís for enabling us, for giving us a power to serve other people.
So thatís why Paul wrote after the 12th chapter the 13th chapter to show that if you want gifts to be used, do it in loveónot seeking your own, not looking at your own interest, look at other people needs, their interest and serve them in love. Thatís why chapter 13 comes after chapter 12. There is another danger when you seek for spiritual gifts that we know. Now when the Charismatic movement was coming into the world and peopleónot just Pentecostals but people from all different forms of denominationsóstarted speaking in tongues, and it became a kind of a status symbol for them. ďDo you speak in tongues? I spoke in tongues!Ē Then everybody wants to join the club of speaking in tongues. So you can speak in tongues by manipulating yourself. Can you do that? Yes, we can do that. We have enough ability to manipulate our mind in such a way that we can come out with some funny sounds and we say, ďYes I also speak in tongues.Ē Thatís a possibility. And in big groups when everybody else is speaking in tongues we are excited and this thing is called mass psychology. Everybody is doing it and we also want to do it. We are thrilled and emotionally stirred and then we also start saying some sounds. So that is a counterfeit. Thatís not a spiritual gift, it is manipulating gifts. Itís our own manipulation or the manipulation of the speaker who is telling everybody to speak.
You know there are churches, actually there are churches, Pentecostal churches, where the pastor will put his finger into the mouth and move the tongue around and say, ďGo on, try to speak,Ē and some sounds will come. He says this is speaking in tongues.
So when you see all these things happening we say, ďNo, I donít want all these things.Ē So we back off and miss the real one. There is another thing. Speaking in tongues and many of these gifts can be demonic in origin. And thatís a big thing. Sometimes or many times we are unable to distinguish what is coming from the demons and what is coming from the Holy Spirit. For example, in the court of Pharaoh, Moses threw down his rod and it became a serpent. The magicians also threw down their rods and they also became serpents. So it looks the same. If you look just at the rods which became serpents, both look the same. One is from the demons and one is from God. How do we know the difference? Many times we donít recognize the difference. I remember when I was young and I was walking down a road in Chennai there was a crowd of people gathered near the side of the road. I went to see what was happening and there was a man sitting on the wall speaking in tongues. He was a dwarf and obviously he was not a Christian. He was speaking in tongues non-stop and people were going on listening to him. So it is not only the Holy Spirit who can make people talk in tongues. The demons can do it and there are temples where these things are happening, and other religions where these things are happening. So there is a lot of counterfeitópsychological counterfeits, demonic counterfeits. In such a background many of us will think itís safer for us not to seek after these things. Itís safe for me to just sit at home, mind my own business and not get involved in all these things. But in that process of keeping away from these things, we miss the genuine gifts which God wants to give to us.
So God says, if we ask sincerely, if we ask with an intention to glorify Him and not ourselves, God says He will protect us from the counterfeit. We look at Luke 11:9Ė13 where Jesus says, ďI say you ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you; For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.Ē Now comes the promise. ďNow suppose one of your fathers is asked by his son for a fish he will not give him a snake instead of a fish will he? Or if he is asked for an egg he will not give him a scorpion will he? If you then been evil know how to give good gifts to your father how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?Ē
God says, if we ask sincerely, if we ask with an intention to glorify Him and not ourselves, God says He will protect us from the counterfeit.
So if we ask God our Father in all sincerity, with all good motives, God says He will not give us a stone, or a scorpion, or a serpent, or any such thing. He will give us the Holy Spirit. And it says here about asking, especially in connection with the asking for the Holy Spirit. There are many things we need to ask for. Yes. But here it seems to emphasize the fact that when you ask for the Holy Spirit, donít be afraid of landing up with a scorpion or a snake or a stone or any such thing. You ask for the Holy Spirit the Father will give you the Holy Spirit. Jesus, in that context, explains to us how we should ask for the Holy Spirit. Itís not the matter of tarrying for the Holy Spirit for a long period of time, fasting, asking God again and again. Itís not just that. If you go to the previous verses, verses 5-8, Jesus said, ďThen He said to them, suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ĎFriend lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey and I have nothing to set before him; and from the inside he answers and says donít bother me the door has already been shut and my children I are in bed. I canít get up and give you anything.íĒ And Jesus continues, ďI tell you even though he will not get up and give him anything because of his friends yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.Ē And then the earlier passage which we read comesóask, knock, seek and seek for the Holy Spirit and God will not give you a stone and serpent and all that. So how is this particular portion coming in? This person went to the neighbour and knocked on the door persistently till he opened at midnight. Jesus said ask like that. Then He goes on to say ask, keep on asking and the Father will give you the Holy Spirit.
This person was not asking for himself. He was not asking because he didnít have food at home. He was asking because of a friend had come and he didnít have anything to give. So we come back to the original context where we were saying, when we try to minister to other people, when we try to help other people and we see we donít have anything to give to that person. Thatís when we see we need spiritual gifts. We need more than what we have in ourselves in the natural abilities. We need supernatural anointing from God; supernatural gifts from God in order to serve other people efficiently. So there Jesus is telling us, if you asked like that not for yourself, not for exalting yourself, not for having thrills, but just because you want to help somebody else, if you ask like that I will give you the Holy Spirit. I will not give snakes and scorpions and all such things. So that is the lesson we have to learn from here.
Now we come back to this gift of tongues because it causes a lot of confusion for many people. You know there are two ways of speaking in tongues. Paul addresses both. One is about speaking in tongues in a church meeting like this. Suppose there is somebody who gets a revelation from God. So he stands up and he speaks in tongues. In that sense, he doesnít know what the revelation is but he is prompted because he has the gift of tongues. He is prompted by the Holy Spirit to get up and speak out a few sentences in tongues. Nobody can understand. But there is somebody else there in the same meeting who has got the gift of interpretation. As soon as this first person finishes, the second person stands up and interprets what the first person said. So that is one way of exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit within a church context. But then Paul says if there is no interpreter present, please keep quiet. Donít say things with unknown tongues in a meeting because nobody can understand whatís going on. You better say some words in a language which everybody can understand. So in a church meeting it is known in advance that there is an interpreter present and then God prompts both these people. Then this is one way God reveals something of particular importance to that church. Thatís one thing.
The other thing is called speaking in tongues in private. Nobody is there to listen to us. We are alone in some place and we are speaking in tongues to the Lord. We donít know what we are saying but we trust and believe that the Lord knows what we are saying because itís not us making some noise, us trying to manipulate our tongues and say some words. If we are speaking prompted by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit knows what He is saying through us and God knows what we are praying. I can think of two occasions where this speaking in tongues in private can be very, very useful.
For example we are in a tight situation, with so many things pressing upon us. We donít know how to pray, what to pray, what to ask. We donít know. We are so confused. We can pray in tongues believing God hears our needs. He knows the deepest cry of our heart, the groanings which cannot be uttered because we ourselves donít know what to pray for. Then the Holy Spirit comes along and helps us by the speaking in tongues and expressing our heart to the Lord and He can understand. And when we do this, the Bible says we are strengthened in our own life by the way we speak in tongues. We donít understand what we are saying. No! We donít try to understand, but this is an act of faith by the gift God has given to us.
Another occasion I can think of is like this. Letís say we are so grateful to God for what He has done for us, how great He is and all that. We try to praise Him and very soon we run out of words. We can say, ďHallelujah!Ē We can say, ďPraise the Lord!Ē We can say, ďThank you Jesus!Ē So many things we say, but finally our heart is still full and we donít have words to praise Him with. Again in such a situation the gift of tongues comes in very handy. We can express the deepest heartfelt gratitude in our heart, worship to God in a way which He understands. We may not understand but we trust in Him that He understands. So these are waysómaybe there are other waysóin which we can use the gift of tongues, the Bible says, for edifying or building up ourselves.
The first way of doing it is in the church context. Paul says if there is no interpreters present please keep quiet. Then donít use that gift of tongues in the church. Many people in different churches use that gift to impress other people, to show that they have something which you donít have. So we should not use it like that. We should not cause confusion in a church. But if there is an interpreter present then there may be an occasion to do that.
Paul himself gave his testimony. He said in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19, ď I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all yet in the church I decide to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.Ē Paul was very realistic. Even though as a person, as an individual in his private life, he spoke in tongues more than all the other people, in the church he wanted to speak in a language which everybody could understand. So he exercised the gift of tongues in a very balanced manner.
So finally what do we have to say? Donít go after thrilling experiences. Donít go after things that will make us special, exalt us. Donít go after such things. Be humble. Be willing to do just what God wants us to do. You know, if you look around the world there are many things that are attracting many young people and even older people because they are just seeking after experiences and thrills. You may have read about or you may have seen videos about this so called laughter revival. Some preacher in the US was standing in the auditorium and he started laughing. It became uncontrollable laughter and he couldnít control himself, and soon many people in the audience also started laughing and they said this was the Holy Spirit revival. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon us the Holy Spirit doesnít take away our control. If a person is speaking in tongues, it is not uncontrollable. He can stop when he wants. He can also start when he wants. Sometimes he gets prompted by the Holy Spirit to start but he can decide whether to do it or not. It is not uncontrollable. So this uncontrollable laughter was not from the Holy Spirit because it goes against Godís word which says that the Spirit is in a manís own power, in control. Otherwise it is not from the Holy Spirit. And this experience of laughing uncontrollably soon changed to barking like dogs and that also was called as a Holy Spirit revival. And now you know the people who come to the meeting and touch and sometimes they try to push a little bit and people fall down. And I saw just some time ago on the TV there is a person in India who doesnít need to even touch. He stands with the mike and he speaks in tongues and people far away start all falling down. And he is known as a very, very mighty man of God who doesnít even have to touch. Just speak and people fall down. What are people going to these people for? Experiences? Thrills?
Jesus said there are false prophets, false signs and wonders these days, the last days. So Jesus said, ďWatch out.Ē And He has given us a guideline how to find out which is from God, which is from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, ďJudge them by their fruit.Ē Two types of fruit we can think of. One is the fruit in the life of the person who is leading this happening, this event. What kind of a life does this man have? What kind of a personal life, private life, does this man have? Is he manifesting the nature of Christ? Is he honest with his money? Does he tell lies? Does he cheat people by manipulating the audience? There are even cases of people acting things out. Suppose I am a healer and I bring out a person in a wheel chair and I touch him and he gets healed, he starts walking without the wheel chair. Later on people come to find out this was just an act which I paid this man to come and act. And somebody comes and asks me why I did this and I say it was to create faith in the audience. So cheating and things like that are being done in the name of Christ. We should judge them by their fruit.
Jesus has given us a guideline how to find out which is from God, which is from the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we look for the fruit in the lives of people who apparently went through such experiences. Suppose I did like this and you fell down. But after sometime you got up and continued with your old life. Where is the fruit? Why did you have to fall down? Did it change your life? Did you increase in your love for God? Did you increase in you love for people? Did your whole attitude towards God change? Became more loyal, more submissive? No! Nothing happened. It was a nice experience. I fell down and I can come back and say I also fell down. So judge for the fruit. And if there is no such fruit in your life donít go for all these thrilling experiences. Donít fall for these big time preachers who come and exhibit such forms and people are thronging to him because of these thrilling experiences. Donít fall for such things. Jesus said, ďJudge for their fruit.Ē
Now, why is the devil trying to cause so much of counterfeit? Because he doesnít want people to get the genuine thing. There is a genuine experience from the Holy Spirit. There are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit. The devil is trying to give people counterfeit experiences. They think they have the Holy Spirit but their life has not changed. Some people are going into these experiences and they get caught into demonic activities later on. We have reasons to believe that some of the great names in these TV ministries are in touch with demonic powers to get power for their manipulation and all that. So some people get caught into that also. So keep away from the counterfeit but seek earnestly for the genuine spiritual gifts. If we want to be useful for God, if we want to be useful for other people, whatever we do whether it is singing or serving tables or whatever it is do it with a genuine interest or a genuine desire to be a blessing to people and then God will protect us from the counterfeits. We donít have to fear that when we pray for the Holy Spirit we will get something else. God tells us to seek earnestly for spiritual gifts.
Why is the devil trying to cause so much of counterfeit? Because he doesnít want people to get the genuine thing.
--Transcript of a spoken message.
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