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The Supernatural Church

I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church concerning the public use of prayer in the spirit (tongues) and prophecy.  The apostle now gets into some technical guidelines for their worship service.

What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26

This verse gives us some insight into the early church.  It seems that they were a lot like us.  There was music, preaching, and prayer.

The difference is that they looked for the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit in their services.  They wanted to hear a revelation from God either through prophecy or tongues and interpretation.

I don’t know why there are people today who feel that the supernatural has no place in a church service.  Paul says that all of these need to be done for the strengthening of the church.  Does the church not need strengthening anymore?  Of course, it does!

But on the other hand, Paul doesn’t want there to be so many unexplainable things happening that outsiders are scared off.  There needs to be spiritual decorum.

So, Paul continues with his advice.  He starts with the gift of tongues and interpretation.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, two — or at the most three — should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
1 Corinthians 14:27-28

Please remember, this verse is referring to when there’s one main person praying in tongues.  Everyone else is focused on them.  In that case, there must be someone with the gift of interpretation.  If there’s no one to interpret, then no one should be leading out in their prayer language.

But there’s more to this passage.  It also tells me that I can pray in the spirit silently – within myself.  That’s a good thing to know.  There are times that I need to build myself up in the spirit when it’s not appropriate to pray out loud.  These could be times when I’m at school or at work.

Paul also talks about prophecy.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  As in all the congregations of the saints…
1 Corinthians 14:29-33

We need the revelation of God in our church gathering.  But the key is that it’s for our edification.  Therefore, the Lord wants everything done in a decent and orderly way.

There is never a time when anyone will be “out of control.”  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He never takes you over and makes you do things against your will.  You always have the choice to flow with Spirit or ignore Him.

I believe that God wants to show up in our worship services.  Our generation needs to be more open and receptive to the move of the Spirit.

That requires God’s people to spend more quality time in His presence.  The more time we spend with the Lord in private, the more prepared we are for His public appearance.

Question: What experiences, good or bad, have you had with the spiritual gifts in the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Spirit Led Meetings

I’m continuing to study the gifts of prophecy and tongues in First Corinthians, chapter 14.  Paul is trying to get this church back on track with the proper usage of these powerful workings of the Spirit.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22

This verse seems to confuse people.  The first definition of the word sign is a distinguishing mark.  For instance, circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel.  The second definition of a sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues get people’s attention.  It’s something beyond the realm of an unbeliever’s everyday life.

So what Paul’s saying in this verse, is that tongues are not unusual to believers (or at least they shouldn’t be).  It’s something that gets the attention of unbelievers.  Prophecy, speaking for God, is not that unusual for unbelievers.  They’ve heard moving speeches before.

When used together in a meeting, tongues will get their attention, and then the prophetic word will open their hearts.  Both are needed.  This generation is in desperate need of seeing the hand of God at work.

It’s time for God’s people to spend time praying in the spirit.  It’s not just a spiritual toy to take out when we want to feel happy.  It’s vital to our spiritual growth and the evangelism of our nation.

So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?  But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare.  So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
1 Corinthians 14:23-25

There is definitely a place for the usage of prayer in the spirit.  But it must be used carefully in church gatherings.

It’s more important that those who come to a meeting receive a Word from the Lord.  That’s especially true if there are unbelievers present, or even believers who don’t understand the usage of a prayer language.

I have a friend whose wife was a Christian and he wasn’t.  He refused to come to Christ.  He told her, “I’m not a bad person.  When I die, I’ll show God all the good things I’ve done and He’ll let me into Heaven.”

One night, his wife went off to church.  He decided to check the place out, without her knowing.  He snuck in and sat in the back of the church.

That night as the Pastor was giving the call for salvation he said, “And don’t think for one minute that you’re just going to show God all the good things you’ve done and He’ll let you into Heaven.  The only way is through the blood of Jesus.”

Talk about the secrets of your heart being laid bare!  Please understand that no amount of arguing or debating would have convinced him to turn to Christ.  But that night, one Word from God brought him to his knees in repentance.

We need the power of God to be present and active in our churches.  That only happens as God’s people spend quality time in the spirit.

Question: How have you seen a Word from God change a life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Our Resting Place

I’ve been posting from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Specifically, we’ve been looking at the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues.  The Corinthians were misusing these gifts and Paul was bringing correction.

Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
1 Corinthians 14:20

Paul is giving them some much-needed encouragement to grow up.  The word for thinking is referring to the thought processes that control our actions.

Children are, by nature, very selfish.  They don’t do things to be evil, but they are simply not thinking about the people around them.  They know what they want and that’s all that they see.

As we mature, we learn to take other people’s needs into account.  Paul wants us to see that our thinking should bring our actions in line with the love of Christ.  When we desire to bless others, we’re becoming more mature.

Maturity comes as we rest in Christ and learn from Him.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

In telling the church that they need to grow up, Paul refers to an Old Testament Scripture.  It talks about people speaking in a foreign language, yet Israel not listening.  I believe this is something that Paul preached to them while he was at their church, and now he’s reminding them.

What’s this all about?  To understand it, we need to see the whole verse from the book of Isaiah the prophet.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” — but they would not listen.
Isaiah 28:11-12

Within this verse are three words that speak to us about the place of resting in God.  The first means a quiet resting place away from any troubling distractions.  The next means a place where you can settle down and abide in safety.  The third means to rest and be refreshed.

These are the things that Paul was reminding the church through referencing this passage.  They need to grow up in their thinking.  They should be seeking the welfare of others in the gathering of the saints.

But how is it that you grow up in your thinking?  It only comes as you spend quality time resting in Christ.  Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him if we want to live that abundant life.

In previous posts, we saw that prayer in the spirit (tongues) builds us up, personally.  That’s the place of rest and growth.  As I regularly pray in the spirit in my private time, I experience the growth that I need to be a blessing in public.

When I pray in the spirit, I’m resting, abiding, in Christ.  That’s the most powerful tool of self-edification that I could ever access.  God has freely given this to all of His children.  Unfortunately, as the Scripture says, many refuse to hear this Word.

Allow the Holy Spirit to build you up and bring maturity in a powerful way.  Spend time praying in the spirit.

Question: How have you experienced growth and maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God in Control

I’m taking a few posts to talk about how God uses tongues and interpretation, as well as prophecy, to build up the church.  Most people understand why prophecy is important.  Tongues is a little more controversial.

For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
NIV

Paul shows us three things in this short passage.  First, my body is speaking in an unknown language.  At the same time, my mind is unfruitful.  But the most important aspect is the fact that my spirit is praying to God.

Notice that when I pray in the spirit, my spirit and body are active, but my mind is not a part of what’s transpiring. That’s because the gift of tongues is a physical reaction to a spiritual event.  My flesh doesn’t know how to handle what’s happening with me in the spirit.

According to this verse, what comes out of my mouth may or may not have anything to do with what’s happening in the spirit.  That includes the length of the “conversation”, any repetition, the language, or even the physical words spoken.

For instance; as my spirit is praying to God, a Native American may hear “Praise God, praise God, praise God” coming out of my mouth.

Prayer in the spirit – tongues – is for a spiritual exchange.  It’s all about communication with the Holy Spirit of God.  I can say “praise God” well enough in English.  So it’s not about what’s coming out of my mouth.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

That’s why the gift of tongues is only a temporary gifting. It will be unneeded in our resurrected body. We need this supernatural gift right now.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:7-8

Our tongue can be a big problem.  According to James, animals can be tamed; but you can’t tame the tongue.

What’s the difference between something tame and something wild?  Tame is about character.  A tame dog scratches at the door when he needs to relieve himself.  He’ll wait for you to feed him.

With a wild animal, it’s all instinct. They’ll do what they want whenever or wherever they are.

I’d like my tongue to be self-controlled.  But it’s not going to happen all by itself.

Is a lion in a zoo tame?  No; it’s simply being controlled.  The fact is, you can’t tame the tongue, but it can be controlled…if you’ll let God have control of your tongue.  Then the rest of your life is easy to turn over.

Have you ever noticed how easily we’ll give over control of most things to others?  We’ll let hair stylists, beauticians, surgeons, and trainers take over those areas of our lives.  But not the tongue.

I believe that’s why this gift is so controversial.  I’ve heard people say, “Even if you convince me it’s of God, I’m still not going to seek this gift.”

That’s because tongues are about giving control to God.  Prayer in the spirit is about learning to hear and yield to God.  When it comes to control, that’s the one thing we don’t want to relinquish in our lives.

As believers, we should be daily giving over more and more control to the Holy Spirit.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit positively changed your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Supernatural Orchestra

In the last few posts, we’ve been looking at how the church should be built up through prophecy, and tongues and interpretation.  God wants to strengthen us by His power.

Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?  Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:7-8

In talking about the need for understanding, Paul uses the example of musical instruments.  When we gather together, God has a purpose for what’s being said.  If someone is speaking, then it should be useful to build others up in the faith.

In an orchestra, everyone doesn’t just arrive and start playing whatever they want on their instruments.  They all play the same song together.  Even if some play melody and some play harmony, together they make a cohesive whole.

When we gather together, we need to speak with purpose.  The Holy Spirit is the great Conductor.  He should be orchestrating the whole so that all who attend are touched by His presence.

So it is with you.  Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?  You will just be speaking into the air.  Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.  If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
1 Corinthians 14:9-11

I understand that the context of this passage is about the need for a message in tongues to be interpreted.  However, in our generation, there’s another point that needs to be made.

In the modern church, we’ve come up with our own particular culture and language.  I sometimes wonder what the unchurched think about when they hear what we say in church.

We question why they don’t respond when we call them to be “washed in the blood” or “come to the cross”.  Those phrases have great meaning to us as believers.  But to the world, they mean nothing.

I’m not saying, like some do, that we need to stop preaching the blood of Christ or His cross.  No, instead, we need to be explaining the significance of these words.  We can’t just assume that everybody knows what we mean by these church terms.

Since I’ve already started going there, let me make a few more people mad at me.  I think that this also applies to those who insist on only using the King James Version of the bible.  That’s a foreign language to most people today.

It’s perfectly fine to use the KJV if those you’re speaking to were raised hearing it.  But in my case, a great number of people that I minister to don’t have English as their first language.  They need to hear the Word of God in a way that they can grasp and apply to their lives.

We need to stop being self-centered in our view of church ministry.  It’s not about what I want.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s desire that should be central.

When we come together as believers, we need to be in prayer as to how the Lord wants His service to flow.  It’s not about the songs I want to sing or the sermon I want to preach.  Christ is the head of the church and He should set the direction for each meeting.

Only in that way will we be assured that everyone in attendance, who are expecting to receive something, will meet with God.

Question: How do we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our church gatherings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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What’s the Point?

In my last post, I talked about the importance of a Word from God in the church.  When we gather together, there should be an expectancy that we will receive an impartation from the Lord.

In First Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul continues with this thought.

Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
1 Corinthians 14:6

Having already told the church that he desires everyone to pray in the spirit, the apostle now talks about his own ministry.  He, personally, has a rich spiritual prayer life.  And he will continue it when he comes to the Corinthian church.

When Paul prays in the spirit, he’s speaking to God.  When he comes to the gathering of believers, he wants to speak to them.  That’s how the church will be built up.

This statement is not an either/or proposition.  Paul prays in tongues so that he will be built up.  Then, when he comes to the church, he’ll have something to impart from the spirit.

He says there are four things that you can expect from his ministry.  They’re the same four things that should be the earmark of a healthy church, even in our generation.

Revelation.  The word, revelation, means an uncovering.  There are times when the preaching of the Word will uncover things that have been hidden.

We’re told to be the light of the world.  There are times when people don’t want to come into the light because it exposes the things that they’re hiding.

Anointed preaching has a way of opening people’s mail.  That’s a step in setting them free from their sin nature.

Knowledge.  Knowledge is simply the understanding of facts.  It’s learning something that you didn’t know before hearing it.

Godly preaching will expose you to facts about the people and places in the Bible that you hadn’t heard about before.  The more knowledge we receive, the stronger our faith in God will become.

This is a very important aspect of preaching.  Unfortunately, there are churches where knowledge is just about the only thing you get from their ministry.

Prophecy.  I’ve talked about this one before.  Prophecy is speaking a message that God wants to be delivered.  It doesn’t always deal with the future.

I believe that all preaching should be prophetic.  Personally, I don’t want to stand before a congregation unless I know that I’m saying what God wants them to hear.

But it’s not just preaching.  It could be a word of encouragement that the Lord wants you to share with a friend at work.  It doesn’t always have to be spoken before the whole church.

Word of Instruction.  This is specifically teaching that applies to your life.  It’s an instruction on how to live for Christ.

We have lived in the world, according to its rules, for our whole life until coming to Jesus.  Now, we’re a new creation, in a new kingdom, with a new destination, and therefore have a new lifestyle.  We need to be instructed on how this new life works.

When I come to a church gathering, there’s an expectation that one or more of these four aspects will impart God’s power to me.  Prayer in the spirit equips those in ministry to walk in this anointing.  It also prepares me to receive what the Lord has for me.

Question: How would the body of Christ look if this were in place in all church meetings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Prophecy vs. Tongues

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s dealing with the lack of love evident in their services.  In chapter 14, the apostle is talking specifically about the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

But that brings me to an important point that many people miss who try to forbid the use of prayer in the spirit (tongues).  They use these verses because they sound somewhat against this gift.

There’s a reason for this.  Paul’s not giving us a complete teaching on the gift of tongues.  He’s talking specifically about the Corinthian church’s abuse of it during their public gatherings.  That’s the application of this section.

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:5

We have to understand that this entire verse is Scripture.  There is absolutely no basis upon which to conclude that “I would rather have you prophesy” negates “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.”

It’s Paul’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) desire that everyone uses their spiritual language in prayer.  However, because of the love issue in this church, Paul would rather see the church edified.

In order for this to happen, they need to hear a Word from God.  More than that, they need to hear it in a language that they understand.

In this church, it must have been common for someone to get up before the congregation and pray in the spirit for a great length of time.  The speaker was built up, but the congregation was untouched.  There was nothing there to build anyone up.

That’s the situation that Paul was addressing.  When people come to a church gathering, there should be an expectation that they’ll receive something life-changing.  We’re not there to simply watch a spiritual show.

There needs to be something that will speak power into the lives of the hearers.  That means either a prophetic word or an interpretation of tongues.

That brings me to my next important point.  What exactly is the interpretation of tongues?

When I pray in tongues, I’m speaking mysteries to God.  My mind doesn’t know what’s being communicated.  So there are some who have concluded that a true interpretation will always be directed toward God.

It turns out there are two related Greek words that are used for the gift of interpretation.  In English, I would describe them as interpretation and interpretation-through.

I believe that interpretation is speaking forth in my native language exactly what is being communicated to God in my spirit.  Interpretation-through is God’s response to what I just said to Him in my spirit.  That’s why many times the length of the interpretation has no relationship to the length of the prayer in tongues.

The Greek word used in the above verse is interpretation-through.  That’s how the church is edified.  We’re built up either through a prophetic word from God or God’s personal response to a spiritual inquiry from our hearts.

We need all the Gifts of the Spirit active in the church to see God’s will accomplished in the earth.

Question: How have you experienced the gift of interpretation?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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