1 Peter 1:13-25
God's Call To a Holy Life
The Church's greatest need is holy preaching, holy living, and holy witnessing. Each of these depends upon the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wishes to baptize every believe with His presence, power, purity, and love. Every Christian needs to be delivered from inbred sin and empowered for service. The Holy Spirit is the answer to these needs.
Said John the Baptist to those to whom he preached, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire". (Matthew 3:11) Jesus Himself promised the Holy Spirit to His children, as the greatest of all gifts. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian who openly asks. Said Jesus, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13) A short time before Jesus' death, He said, "I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." (John 16:7)
The Bible promises cleansing to the heart of every earnest believer: "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". (1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:9) This is reminiscent of the Old Testament passage: "Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". (Isaiah 1:18) It is God's will that Christians be sanctified completely–made pure within. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for thy shall see God". (Matthew 5:8) Paul wrote, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification". (1 Thessalonians 4:3 a)
It is God's command that Christians be holy. "Sanctification is not the same with justification. Justification is a change of our state from guilt to pardon; sanctification is a change of nature from sin to holiness." (Binney's Theological Compend, p. 129) Peter wrote, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behaviour). Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
During the next few devotionals, let us look at the Christian in light of his greatest need–his need for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is God's promise, God's command, and God's will.
"Father, thou art holy and thou hast called me to live a holy life. Now make me holy through the cleansing blood of Christ! Cleanse me from all carnal acts and attitudes. Enable me to have a sincere love for my fellow men. Through Jesus' empowering name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What I need, He will supply; what I ask, He will give–holiness of heart and life! What I receive–God's love–I will share openly and gladly!
Examples Of Spirit-Filled Believers In Acts
Recorded in the Book of Acts are several specific examples of believers who received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus prayed to His Father for His disciples: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". (John 17:16-17) Jesus was not praying for their conversion or justification; He was praying for their sanctification. They were already sanctified in the sense that they were initially converted, and thus set apart for special service. They, however, were not sanctified in the deeper sense of the term. They needed the sanctification which would result in cleansing from inbred sin.
Later, just before His ascension, Christ told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem. "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. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:4-5)
Jesus fulfilled this promise on the Day of Pentecost. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:1, Acts 2:4 a)
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached with great power. Peter's message was definite–justification and sanctification. "Then Peter said unto them (the crowd), "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 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." (Acts 2:38- 39)
Another example of believers who experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the Samaritan believers. In Acts 8:5-8, we have described a great revival with many turning to God and finding new joy. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many the were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:5-8)
However, a few verses later we read: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). The laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:14-17) Thus, we find that these new Christians received the fullness of God's Spirit in their hearts.
"Father, you promised to pour out your Holy Spirit upon your people in the last days. So, as in the days of old (Psalms 51:6), create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon me today."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who began a good work in me–justification–will bring His work in my life to completion–sanctification!
Acts 9:3-6, Acts 17:1-34
The 'Acts Of The Holy Spirit' In The Book Of Acts
We must continue to look at examples of believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit, in the Book of Acts.
Saul, who later became the great apostle Paul, was known to be a terrible persecutor of Christians in his earlier life. However, the day came, as is well known , when Saul was dramatically converted. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what whilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:3-6)
Later in the account we find that God sent Ananias to Paul for a specific purpose: "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 9:17)
Paul became a flaming evangelist and often spoke of the Spirit's ministry to the Christian. Paul wrote the greatest of all descriptions of perfect love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which is in reality the essence of holiness.
In the tenth chapter of Acts we have a description of a godly Gentile Christian, Cornelius. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And new send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter." (Acts 10:1-5)
Cornelius was a devoutly religious man who feared and respected God. He was a man of prayer and liberality. But yet God wanted to lead Cornelius into a closer walk with Him.
God sent Peter to minister unto Cornelius. Peter spoke about Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Says the Scripture, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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." (Acts 10:44-45)
"O God, your ways are past finding out, and yet I see your footsteps on the sands of time as you pursue mankind with your eternal love. You pursued a hot-tempered Saul and turned him into a love-filled Paul. You pursued a devoutly religious Cornelius and turned him unto a spirit-filled believer. Act dynamically in my life to make me a tender and receptive and Spirit- controlled believer!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Written Word (Bible) will lead me to the Living Word (Christ) whose life will be imparted to me through the Dynamic Spirit!
Knowing The Way Of God More Accurately
In the eighteenth chapter of Acts, there is an account of a mighty preacher of God who was shown "the way of God more accurately". "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he know only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. It is noted that Apollos knew only of "the baptism of John". This I believe means that Apollos knew only the doctrine of repentance and justification. To know the way more perfectly or accurately is to know not only the baptism of repentance (as John the Baptist taught) but also to know personally the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
There is a most interesting account of twelve Epheisan disciples learning about and experiencing the fullness of the Spirit in their lives. "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed'? They answered, 'No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit'. So Paul asked, 'Then what baptism did you receive'? 'John's baptism', they replied. Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus'. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all." (Acts 19:1-7, NIV) Repentance is important and essential before one is ready to receive the baptism of God's Spirit. However, a Christian must not stop short of going on to the experience of the Spirit's fullness.
As a child, I was raised in a Christian environment, for which I will always be deeply grateful. As a child of eleven, I became subject to deep conviction for sin, and in simple faith accepted Christ as Saviour at that age. That was March 12, 1956. A few months later I first became aware of my need for Spirit-filling, under the preaching of this subject. After that sermon, I went forward to an altar where my godly grandmother earnestly prayed with and for me. I felt God helped me that night, but I did not receive the witness of the Spirit's fullness until a few days later, in a cabin on the Free Methodist campground in Cannon City, where my minister talked to me and prayed with me. God seemed to flood my soul with His love, and I witnessed to others immediately following this experience. It was a glorious experience– it seemed that God opened the gates of heaven and poured out upon me a holy and tender love. I wanted to put my arms around the whole world and tell them I loved them–and that God loved them and wanted to save them!
"O thou Giver of all good and perfect gifts, I thank you for the gift of your precious Spirit, and for your love which you shed abroad in my heart through your Spirit!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. The more of me that the Spirit controls, the more love for people I will express!
Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6-7
What About 'Speaking In Tongues'?
Notes John T. Seamands, in his excellent little booklet 'The Gift of The Spirit', "There is much confusion among God's people these days concerning the significance of the gift of tongues. Many insist that unless persons have received this gift, they have not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We need to search the Scriptures diligently for the truth.
"The Book of Acts records six instances where people were filled with the Spirit of God. (1) On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (2:1-4). Three outer manifestations are mentioned: a sound like wind, tongues like fire, and 'speaking in other tongues'. (2) Later in Jerusalem (4:31) . Here it is only recorded that 'the place in which they were gathered together was shaken'. (3) At Samaria (8:14-17). This time there were no external accompaniments. (4) Paul's experience at Damascus (9:17). Again there was no special manifestation, except that he regained his sight. (5) In the household of Cornelius at Caesarea (10:44-48). Here it is recorded that 'they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God'. (6) Ephesus (19:1-7). On this occasion the group 'spoke with tongues and prophesied'.
"In three instances there were outer manifestations, and in three cases there were none. When manifestations did occur, they varied in number and in type. Only on three occasions did the group speak in tongues. But in every instance the central fact was the same–'they were all filled with the Holy Spirit'." (The Gift of the Spirit, p. 41; John T. Seamands)
What is 'Tongues' all about? How should I react to this strange phenomenon? What really is the meaning and the value of tongues? Is there really any benefit derived from speaking in tongues? Is it essential, from the Scriptural viewpoint, that all believers speak in tongues? Is tongues merely a first-century phenomenon that lost its purpose long ago or is it a present day reality? Why is there so much resistance against tongues-speaking people? Why do some tongues-speaking Christians 'insist' on all Christians needing to speak in 'Tongues' if they claim to be 'baptized in the Spirit'?
During the next few days we must look at this important, but controversial, subject. Sincere Christians will probably continue for a long time to disagree on their interpretations regarding the purpose and place of Tongues, but we must nevertheless attempt to gain a clearer understanding (and hopefully a more balanced understanding) of this difficult subject. A charitable spirit among sincere believers who strongly disagree on this subject, is called for! "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Corinthians 1:13)
"Father, I am glad that in the end, when all persons will be judged by Jesus Christ, that all will be judged solely on the basis of the love response of the heart and not on the basis of the perfect understanding of the mind. Help me to have an open mind as I approach a controversial subject, but, above all, give me a deep love for my fellow Christians who differ from me, both in their understanding and in their practices. In Jesus' charitable Name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I must always "agree to disagree agreeably" with those fellow Christians who, like me, love the Lord deeply but who hold different convictions and interpretations than what I hold."
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
What Is The Primary Evidence Of The Spirit's Fullness?
What is the primary and universal evidence of the Spirit's fullness in a believer's life? The primary evidence is increased love for God and man. Jesus made it clear that the life that the Christian is intended to live is the life of love. When asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. That is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets". (Matthew 22:37-40) It is a universal expectation and even imperative that every Christian possess the gift of God's love as outlined in I Corinthians 13. Love is the "more excellent way". The importance of love is emphasized time and time again in the New Testament epistles: (1) Love is the Spirit's gift to believers–Romans 5:5, (2) Love is the Fruit of the Spirit–Galatians 5:22, (3) Love is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament Law–Romans 13:10, (4) The fullness of God is evidenced by the fullness of Love–Ephesians 3:19, (5) Holiness means abounding in love– 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13, (6) Purity of soul and sincere love exist together–1 Peter 1:22.
The Spirit's baptism is the baptism of love. This baptism of love gives inner purity, as symbolized by fire. John the Baptist predicted the Spirit's Baptism: "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". (Matthew 3:11) On the Day of Pentecost, tongues of fire appeared to those who were Spirit-baptized, inwardly cleansing them from all sin. (Acts 2:3)
This baptism of love gives outward power to witness, as symbolized by the mighty rushing wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). This is one sign that will always follow the Spirit's Baptism of love–outward expression of love in witnessing. Jesus foretold this just before he ascended: "But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". (Acts 1:8, RSV)
Said one man upon receiving the Spirit's fullness, "At the actual moment of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there was one overwhelming impression: I was bathed in, surrounded by, washed through with love. I don't know why more hadn't been made of this in the things I had read on the subject. Perhaps because we are so concerned with the power aspect of the Holy Spirit. But the nature of that power, I am convinced, is love." This is the testimony of a man who claimed to speak in 'Tongues' following his Baptism in the Spirit. It was not 'Tongues', but love, that most described the experience of Spirit- Baptism in the life of this man. In fact, he concludes: "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the gift of love such as we have never known it."
"By this shall all men know that I am a true follower of thee, O God, and by this shall I personally have evidence that I am truly a Spirit-filled person– because I love Christ supremely, because I love others sincerely, because I love myself subordinately. Flood my life with your holy love!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Baptism with water is an outward sign of an inward work of God's justifying grace in. my life. Baptism in love is an inward sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, enabling me more effectively to perform outward works of compassion and service.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
The Spirit's Fullness And The 'Activation Of Spiritual Gifts'
Increased love (giving inner purity and outward power to witness) is the universal and primary sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. What place does 'Tongues' have then in relationship to being Baptized with the Spirit? Tongues is valuable as a secondary evidence (not primary or universal evidence) of being Baptized by the Spirit. What is meant by 'Tongues' being a secondary evidence of the Spirit's fullness? To answer that question, 'Tongues' must be looked at in terms of a gift.
'Tongues' is one out of several God-given gifts to be used, as all gifts are to be used, to glorify Christ, to do a God-given task better, and to edify the Church of Jesus Christ. "Why is it that He gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God's people will be equipped to do better work for Him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity." (Ephesians 4:12, Living Bible)
Each gift is God-selected and God-given to individual believers, and each gift is for helping the entire Church. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 in the Living Bible.) Each gift is to be used as an expression of the believer's supreme love for Christ.
A study of the Book of Acts seems to show that one affect of the Spir it's Baptism is the activation of the God-given gifts. 'Tongues' is one of the gifts and therefore when the Spirit Baptizes a large group of believers at one time, those believers who possess the gift of 'Tongues' can expect that their gift will be activated. Those believers who possess some other (less spectacular) gift can expect that their particular gift will also be activated.
Does this principle of the 'activation of gifts', due to the Spirit's Baptism, appear to be valid from a study of Acts? It appears so. Several of the gifts which Paul mentions (1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11) were activated in the lives of those who possessed them, following the Spirit's Baptism. The gift of miracle working was activated by the Spirit's Baptism (Acts 2:43, Acts 5:12-16, Acts 6:8); the gift of healing (Acts 3:6-7); the gift of preaching (Acts 2:14, Acts 2:41); the gift of teaching doctrine (Acts 2:43); the gift of ministering or helping other in special ways (Acts 2:45, Acts 4:34-37); the gift of business administration and organization (Acts 6:3); the gift of speaking in languages that had never been learned by the speaker (Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6); The gift of discerning good and evil spirits (Acts 5:1-6, Acts 8:23).
The activation of the gift of tongues, following the Spirit's Baptism was no more a sign of being filled with the Spirit than the activation of one of the other gifts, for example, the gift of healing, or the gift of preaching, or the gift of administration. The evidence to the man who is Spirit Baptized is always an increase in love which results in inward purity and greater outward power for witnessing.
"Father, to know you fully, I must experience the Holy Spirit intimately. Because the spirit has come into the world to glorify Christ, I too, as a Spirit-filled believer, will glorify Christ–by my loving words and by my compassionate works!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will use the Spirit-wrought activation of my spiritual gifts to glorify Christ and to edify fellow believers!
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
Must Every Believer 'Speak In Tongues'?
What about the viewpoint of the Pentecostals who say that the two chapters in I Corinthians (chapters 12,14) refer to 'tongues' as a gift only while the 'tongues' discussed in Acts refer to the initial sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit? The Pentecostals "believe that everyone does speak in tongues, however briefly, at the moment of his Baptism, whether or not he is subsequently given the gift of tongues for use in his daily Christian life." (They Speak With Other Tongues, p. 76)
One thing is clear from the Corinthian passage: The gift of unknown tongues is not a universal gift and nothing is said in Corinthians that would give the idea that unknown tongues should be claimed as a sign of Spirit Baptism. Secondly, there is no conclusive evidence in the Book of Acts that all spoke in tongues at the time of the Spirit's Baptism. Consider the Samaritan believers–Acts 8:17, and Paul–Acts 9:17. Third, there is considerable evidence from studying those passages in Acts which describe people speaking in tongues following their Spirit Baptism, that the tongues refer to actual known languages (Acts 2 unquestionably means this and Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6 may also mean literal known languages). Those who claim the necessity of Tongues as evidence for Spirit Baptism, usually refer to the Acts passages for their argument (Acts 2 especially where, say they, all 120 in the Upper Room spoke in tongues). For the sake of consistency, if the Acts passages are the 'proof' passages, should not the tongues which are given as evidence for the Spirit's Baptism be actual languages, not unknown tongues? It was definitely actual languages in Acts 2 and there is strong grounds for believing that the passage on Cornelius (Acts 10:46) refers to an actual foreign language. Phillips translates this passage 'foreign tongues', although New English Bible translates this as 'tongues of ecstasy', and the Amplified says 'foreign languages'. In each of these passages, at least one of the translators believes the passages refer to actual languages. The only thing that we can conclude from these Acts passages is that we cannot be sure what all the passages on tongues in Acts mean. It is possible that all the references to 'tongues' may mean actual languages.
If the Pentecostals choose to use the Book of Acts as the grounds for establishing their belief in tongues as evidence of Spirit Baptism, then, if they are consistent, they must conclude that the tongues which they claim as the sign for Baptism will, more times than not, be actual languages rather than 'unknown tongues'. There is no undisputed passage in Acts that definitely establishes the 'tongues' as 'unknown tongues'. The passage on tongues most referred to by the Pentecostals (Acts 2) as 'proof' that 'tongues' is a sign of Spirit Baptism, refers to actual languages.
"Father, I do not seek for some spectacular or emotional or dramatic 'sign' of your Spirit's fullness in my life. Evidence your Spirit's presence in my life by enabling me to have a deeper love for you and a greater compassion for others. To be Spirit-filled is to be love-filled!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will never 'seek' for 'Tongues'; I will seek for Christ only, and, in seeking Christ, I will discover the fullness of the Spirit with the accompanying fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Acts 2:1-12, John 10:44-48, John 19:1-7
The Purpose Of 'Tongues' In The Book Of Acts
John T. Seamands, in his booklet 'The Gift of the Spirit' has some very helpful insights on the subject of 'Tongues' in the Book of Acts. Many other scholars would basically agree with his interpretation of those Acts passages which speak of 'Tongues'. Here is what Seamands says:
"It is very clear that the nature of 'tongues' mentioned in Acts was not that of an unintelligible language, but a temporary ability to proclaim the gospel in a foreign language. Note these words carefully: 'And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each one of us in his own native language?'" Then Luke goes on to list fifteen different places from which the people had come for the feast at Jerusalem.
"Now why was this gift necessary? Surely not because the disciples needed to speak a foreign language in order to communicate to the people, for they all spoke a common language, Aramaic and/or Greek. When Peter preached his sermon that day, he did not need a gift of language or an interpreter; he preached in a language the people understood. The purpose of God's gift was to provide supernatural evidence that this was not a Jewish but a universal religion, cutting across all national boundaries. It verified God's promise spoken through the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days … I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh'. So this was a special miracle for a special occasion with a special purpose. And it happened, rightly so, first at Jerusalem.
"The same linguistic miracle took place again at Caesarea to Cornelius and his group who were Roman Gentiles. Finally, it occurred in Ephesus, the center of Greek and pagan culture in Asia Minor. Now every last vestige of Jewish sectarianism was broken. The Good News was truly World News! So we see that at the three great centers of culture (Jewish in Jerusalem, Roman in Caesarea, and Graeco-pagan in Ephesus) a temporary gift of speaking in a foreign language was given when people were baptized with the Holy Spirit." (The Gift of The Spirit, p. 42; John T. Seamands)
Paul never speaks of 'unknown tongues' in terms of a 'sign' of being filled with the Holy Spirit, but he does refer to unknown tongues as being a 'gift' (1 Corinthians 12:14). What about the thousands of believers who have never spoken in tongues, and yet who are living the life described in I Corinthians 13? Can one say that these persons have never been Baptized by the Spirit? If one concludes that these thousands of loving people have not been filled with the Spirit because they have not spoken in tongues, then speaking in tongues becomes the earmark of the Spirit Baptism rather than love. But Paul would be the first to refute this conclusion. Paul taught that love is the distinguishing evidence and mark of the Spirit-filled life.
"The universality of the Gospel message, and the general outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the world of all peoples of all races, are vividly demonstrated in the Book of Acts. Thank you, Father, that Jews, Romans, Greeks and pagans–all–are included in your great economy of grace and mercy! Glory!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Indiscriminately and universally the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all people of all nations. I will personally open my life to the fullness of the Spirit!
1 Thessalonians 2:10-12, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
The Holy Spirit Is The Sanctifying Spirit
Paul taught that it is possible to exercise the various gifts selfishly and at a time before one is Spirit Baptized. The carnal Corinthians gloried in 'Tongues' and in other gifts–such as eloquence, knowledge, etc. Because of their preoccupation with spiritual gifts, rather than with the Giver, Paul had to write to them about the 'more excellent way' (I Corinthians 13). What the tongues-speaking, carnal Corinthians needed was a Baptism of love which would result in an inner cleansing from carnality and an outward redirecting of their particular gifts ('Tongues' being one of the several gifts) from selfish use to Christ-honoring use. Paul well knew how carnally the Corinthians were using their gifts and how futile the exercise of a gift was without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). It is the Holy Spirit's job to saturate the heart of the believer with love (Romans 5:5). the gift-oriented Corinthians needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The presence of love was in their lives by virtue of their initial conversion, but not the supremacy of love. The Holy Spirit was Resident in their lives but he was not yet President of their lives. The Corinthians were too gift-oriented and not enough Giver-oriented. They had not yet experienced the Giver–the Holy Spirit–in all His fullness.
The Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit who justifies the sinner, but the Spirit is also the one who sanctifies the believer. It was sanctification that the carnal, gift-oriented Corinthians needed, and the life of sanctification is best described in I Corinthians 13. Arthur D. Zahniser clearly distinguishes between justification and sanctification. "Justification is pardon, sanctification is purity. Justification saves from sinning; sanctification saves from sin… Justification is citizenship in the kingdom of heaven; sanctification makes us soldiers of the Cross … Justification creates a desire to service; sanctification fits and equips for proficient service. By justification the love of God is shed abroad in the heart; by sanctification the love of God is perfected in the soul … Justification saves from the wrath of God; sanctification brings into full harmony with the nature of God … Justification takes the believer out of the world; sanctification takes the world out the of the believer… Justification admits us into the family of God on earth; sanctification fits us for the society of God in heaven. Justification is witnessed to by the Spirit; sanctification is attested by the baptism of the Holy Ghost."
"Father, you are a God of grace and of gifts. The greatest of all your gifts to the world is the blessed Holy Spirit, whose ministry includes conviction of sin, conversion of the sinner, and cleansing and empowerment of the believer. Cleanse me from all carnal attitudes, perfect my motives, and activate my gifts–all for the purpose of glorifying Christ, edifying the Church, and witnessing to the world! In Jesus' precious name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to be used in loving ways. I will allow the Spirit creatively and lovingly to use my gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1-40
Personal And Congregational Use Of 'Tongues'
In considering the use of tongues, let us look at the use in terms of personal use and congregational use. What about the personal use? The gift of 'Tongues' has several personal uses. The gift of tongues edifies the believer who speaks in 'tongues'. "So a person 'speaking in tongues' helps himself grow spiritually." (1 Corinthians 14:4) Speaking in tongues is one method of prayer. "For if I pray in a language I don't understand, my spirit is praying, but I don't know what I am saying. Well, then, what shall I do? I will do both. I will pray in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language that everyone understands." (1 Corinthians 14:14-14, Living Bible) Praying in tongues lets one pray, when with his own mind he has no idea what to ask for in a given situation. Paul also experienced singing in unknown tongues, for he had that particular gift. "I will sing in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language, so that I can understand the praise I am giving." (1 Corinthians 14:15 b, Living Bible) The gift of tongues is a gift of praise, as assumed in 1 Corinthians 14:16, but it is to be used in ones private devotions to God and not publicly, unless there is definitely an interpreter. "For if you praise and thank God with the spirit alone, speaking in another language, how can those who don't understand you be praising God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don't know what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but the other people present won't be helped." (1 Corinthians 14:16-17, Living Bible)
What about the congregational use of 'Tongues'? There are certain limitations which Paul gives for using this strange, yet wonderful, gift within a public service. The gift must not be used in the presence of unbelievers, for unbelievers would think the non-intelligible sounds were signs that the Church and the Church members were 'mad' (or 'crazy'). "If at a full Church meeting you are all speaking with 'tongues' and men come in who are both uninstructed and without faith; will they not say that you are insane?" (1 Corinthians 14:23, Phillips)
Even amidst a totally Christian congregation, there must be an interpreter present who can intelligently interpret the unknown tongue. "If the question of speaking with a 'tongue' arises, confine the speaking to two or three at the most and have someone to interpret what is said. If you have no interpreter then let the speaker with a 'tongue' keep silent in the Church and speak only to himself and God." (1 Corinthians 14:27-28, Phillips) It appears, for the sake of safeguarding public misuse of the gift, that he who has the gift of speaking in unknown tongues should also have the gift of interpretation. "He who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret." (1 Corinthians 14:13, RSV)
"Father, I thank you for those spiritual gifts which you have given to me. Help me to use these gifts appropriately and sensitively and humbly–not to gratify or to glorify myself–but to enhance myself and to edify my fellow Christians, and, most of all, to glorify you."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will carefully control the exercise of my spiritual gifts so that I might not misrepresent Christianity to an unbelieving world!
1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 1 Corinthians 14:39-40
Open-Mindedness To The Use Of 'Tongues'
When 'Tongues' are used in a public service under the conditions specified in the last devotional (i.e., a totally Christian group with intelligent interpretation), all in the congregation must receive benefit from it. If the tongues disturb the worship atmosphere or disrupt the Christian unity, then they are being misused. "Everything should be done to make your Church strong in the faith."
Why do so many react so strongly against 'tongues' and the Pentecostal movement? There are doubtless several reasons, but the following are two main reasons.
First, because of unfamiliarity with the gift and the user. Just as pagans are first amazed and repelled by the thought of God dying on a cross, so Christians who are unacquainted with Pentecostals are first amazed and repelled by the thought of someone speaking in an "unknown tongue". Hostility comes many times because of ignorance of the real meaning and place of this strange, but wonderful gift.
Second, because of the perversion of the gift. There have been many times when the public use of tongues has repelled unbelievers and left believers cold, because of the misuse of the gift. However, misuse of a gift should not take away the desire for the open use of the gift. Notes John Wesley, in his Journal, "The danger (wrote Wesley, talking of outcries, convulsion, dancing, visions, trances, and the like) was to regard them too little; to condemn them altogether; to imagine they had nothing of God in them, and were a hindrance to His work. Whereas the truth is: (1) God suddenly and strongly convinced many that they were lost sinners, the natural consequences whereof were sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions; (2) to strengthen and encourage them that believe, and to make His work more apparent, He favored several of them with divine dreams, others with trances and visions; (3) in some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace; (4) Satan likewise mimicked this work of God in order to discredit the whole work; and yet it is not wise to give up this part any more than to give up the whole. At first it was, doubtless, wholly from God. It is partly so at this day; and He will enable us to discern how far, in every case, the work is pure, and where it mixes or degenerates. The shadow is no disparagement of the substance, nor the counterfeit of the real diamond."
Simply because there is the counterfeit in 'tongues', does not discredit the genuine and wholesome expression of 'tongues'. Paul indicates that, because 'tongues' cannot be understood without interpretation, the gift of 'prophecy' (or forth-telling the Word in preaching) is definitely a superior gift to that of speaking in 'tongues'. However, believers who don't have the gift of 'tongues' are to respect believers who do have and practice the gift of 'tongues'.
"Father, free me from judging my fellow Christians who differ from me in background, temperament, experience, and spiritual gifts. Help me never to impose my standards and convictions upon others, but instead to cultivate a spirit of love, acceptance, and understanding, recognizing always that there are a variety of gifts and a variety of manifestations of those gifts."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek in the Church to maintain the unity of the faith amidst the diversity of gifts and amidst the manifold variety of expressions of those gifts.
1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Maintaining a 'Balanced' Attitude Towards 'Tongues'
After making a brief 'study' on the subject of 'Tongues', what can we conclude? (1) Tongues is one out of several gifts given to some believers by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit chooses. There is no evidence that speaking in tongues is the universal sign of the Spirits' Baptism. (2) The gift of tongues, along with all other gifts, will be activated in the lives of some believers by the Spirit, at the time of the Spirit's Baptism. The activation of individual gifts is a secondary evidence of the Spirit's Baptism. (3) The Spirit's Baptism is a Baptism of love which enables the believer to exercise his gift unselfishly, be that gift tongues or something else. Love is the universal and primary sign of the Spirit's fullness, and I Corinthians 13 shows love to be an imperative in the believer's life. (4) It is possible to exercise many or all of the gifts (including 'speaking in tongues') without being Spirit Baptized (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). (5) Specifications for the use of tongues, both publicly and congregationally, are clearly outlined and should be carefully noted. (6) Resistance to tongues is largely explained in terms of unfamiliarity with tongues or because at times there has been a misuse of tongues. People naturally react negatively to the strange or to the bizarre. Unfamiliarity is a poor excuse, however, for resistance, and simply because there is the counterfeit in tongues does not discredit the genuine and wholesome expression of tongues. Wrote Paul, "In conclusion then, my brothers, set your heart on preaching the Word of God, while not forbidding the use of 'tongues'. Let everything be done decently and in order." (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)
The following advice represents, to me, a 'balanced' attitude towards 'Tongues'. (1) Never take the hard and rigid stance which denies the validity of all tongues experience and seeks to stop it at any cost … (2) Make room for people in the Christian fellowship who express their spiritual vitality in different ways. (3) Take time for serious Biblical and historical study of the whole phenomenon of tongue-speaking. .(4) Do not allow tongue-speakers to disrupt or take over public worship services. . (5) Do not cultivate vote seeking groups who are trying to get the gift of tongues. Nothing could be more contrary to the New Testament. Nowhere are Christians urged to seek this gift or pursue tongues as a special sign of their spirituality or unusual Christian attainment. (6) Stress the New Testament doctrine of the Holy Spirit as regenerating, empowering, renewing, and sealing the Christian life. (7) Emphasize the positive note that tongues or any other spiritual experience must be evaluated ultimately by the fruit which is born in the Christian life. Does the tongue-speaker radiate the love of Christ more truly? Rejoice!" (Speaking In Tongues. Let's Talk About It, p. 150-151)
"Father, I see now that the final test to determine authentic Christians is the love test. Help me, in the spirit of charity, to allow my fellow brothers to respond to the Holy Spirit in their own unique ways. I know, O God, that you will vindicate your truth by the fruit that is borne in the lives of your people."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By this shall all men know that I am a Spirit controlled believer–because of the fruit of Christ-like lave which is evident in my life!
What About 'Speaking In Tongues'?
List several Scriptures that indicate that the fullness of the Holy Spirit (entire sanctification) is God's promise, God's command, and God's will for every believer.
Give your interpretation of Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17:16-17–"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
For what purpose did Jesus tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-5)?
What was the 'focus' of Peter's message on 'The Day of Pentecost' (Acts 2:38-39)?
List and describe several specific examples (as recorded in the Book of Acts) of believers who received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, subsequent to their personal conversion to Christ.
From a study of the Book of Acts, what can be concluded regarding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit?
What is the primary and universal evidence of the Spirit's fullness in a believer's life? (Give Scriptural references to document your answer.)
What does the 'mighty rushing wind' on the Day of Pentecost symbolize (Acts 2:4)?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement (made by a man who claimed wonderfully to be filled with the Holy Spirit): "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the gift of love such as we have never known it."
What is meant by 'Tongues' being a secondary evidence of the Spirit's fullness?
Is there evidence, from a study of the Book of Acts, that a believer's God-given spiritual gift/gifts will be 'activated' at the time of the believer's Baptism in the Spirit? List some of the gifts which were activated at the time of the Spirit's Baptism (in the Book of Acts).
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The activation of the gift of 'Tongues', following the Spirit's Baptism was no more a sign of being filled with the Spirit than the activation of one of the other gifts, for example, the gift of healing, or the gift of preaching, or the gift of administration".
How does John T. Seaman's interpret the meaning and the significance of 'Tongues' in Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6?
Is it possible to 'speak in tongues' and yet not be 'filled with the Spirit'? (Note 1 Corinthians 13:1)
What About 'Speaking In Tongues'? (Continued)
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following evaluation of the problematic Corinthian believers: "The Corinthians were too gift-oriented and not enough Giver-oriented. They had not yet experienced the Giver–the Holy Spirit–in all His fullness." Is it possible yet today for believers to be too absorbed in their pursuits of spiritual gifts and manifestations, and not concerned enough in knowing and experiencing the presence and purity of the Holy Spirit in their lives?
Considering the quotation by Arthur D. Zahniser, how would you distinguish between justification and sanctification? "Do you now experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with his cleansing of heart and empowerment for service?" If not, do you have an intensified desire to know the fullness for the Spirit? Will you seek the Spirit's fullness through study, counsel, and prayer?
What are some of the positive benefits to be derived from the personal use of 'Tongues' as a God-given gift? (Note 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:14-17)
What are the specific guidelines which Paul gives for the public use of the gift of 'Tongues'?
Why do so many react so strongly against 'Tongues' and the Pentecostal movement?
What should be the appropriate reaction by non-tongues-speaking, Spirit- filled believers who are challenged by tongues-speaking believers that claim that all Christians must speak in tongues in order to be 'filled with the Spirit'?
After making a brief study of the strange and controversial phenomenon of 'Tongues' (as taught in the Book of Acts and I Corinthians), what do you believe is a 'Balanced' and 'Biblical' understanding of the place and importance of 'Tongues' in our modern-day Churches?