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Spiritual Investigations (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

A few years ago, I posted about the spiritual Christian. For the original series click here.  I looked at a verse that the apostle Paul wrote.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

My last statement was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated. You may wonder why I used the word, investigate when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case. It’s the investigation stage of the trial. Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things. On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out. It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer. They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I have taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God. Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them. Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from. I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it. What study books do you use?”

The soulish Christian just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit. They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord. A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He has made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English. The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used. What he literally said was who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That is a very powerful question. He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord. All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life. This is why we need to live daily in the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift. Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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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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How to Build Yourself Up

Many people ask why prayer in the spirit is so important.  Very often, it’s used as a spiritual toy that we only take out to play with on Sunday mornings.  Scripture lets us know that it’s much more than that.

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4

I’ve heard others talk about this passage of Scripture.  As I’ve said before, some think it means, “Prophecy good, tongues bad.”  The truth of the matter is that these are two totally different gifts that are to be used for two totally different purposes.

The reason God gives you the gift of this spiritual language is to edify you!  The word, edify, literally means to build up.  I can’t serve God without constantly being built up on the inside.  One of the most important reasons that God has given us this gift is so that we can regularly strengthen ourselves by the spirit.

Look at what Paul says further down in this chapter.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

This verse tells us that it’s our spirit, not our mouth that’s doing the praying.  My mind doesn’t understand what’s taking place.  This is because the communication that’s going on is spiritual.  At one point the Lord gave me an excellent illustration to emphasize this truth.

During a sermon when I was speaking on this topic, I asked my Assistant Pastor to come up front to help me demonstrate.  I gave him no prior warning as to what would be happening.  I then gave him a CD player and told him to place the earphones on.

I told him and the congregation, that when I press the play button, my assistant would hear a pastor preaching a salvation message.  What I wanted my assistant to do was to speak out loud exactly what the pastor on the CD was saying, word for word.  The result got quite a reaction.  This was because the pastor on the CD was preaching in the Korean language!

This is a beautiful picture of what happens when we pray in the spirit.  Your mind hears your spirit praying in a language it doesn’t recognize – the language of the spirit.  It tries to mimic it with your mouth but only ends up sounding unintelligible.

This is why what we hear coming out of someone’s mouth doesn’t always parallel what’s said by the gift of interpretation.  Your spirit might be interceding for a need, while your mouth is merely saying “Praise the Lord” over and over again in Russian.

It’s interesting to note here exactly what the gift of interpretation is as mentioned in the Bible.  The word the Apostle used means to put into words.  Basically, this means that the message we hear by the gift of interpretation was not in words until it was interpreted.  This goes right along with the truth that it’s our spirit praying and not our mouth.

This is also why the gift of tongues will cease after the resurrection.  The only reason that we speak this way during the use of the gift is that our minds don’t grasp what’s taking place in our spirit.  After the resurrection, we’ll still communicate with God in the spirit, but because our mind and body will be perfected, it will not have this outward effect anymore.

Question: How have you been built up by praying in the spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Purpose of Prayer in the Spirit

In my last post, I began to talk about two specific gifts of the Spirit – prophecy, and prayer in the spirit (tongues).  I showed that Paul’s emphasis was for the church of Corinth, and us as well, to make sure that loving others was the key ministry.

Now, I want to get into what Paul says in more detail.  It’s important that we understand how these gifts operate.  I believe that God wants His church to flow in this anointing.  That’s how the world will be evangelized in our generation.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:2

Further on in this epistle, Paul writes that he spoke in tongues more than all who were in the church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:18).  This tells me that he had an intimate knowledge of the use and the function of the gift.  Paul wrote about his experiences in the Greek language, which is a very descriptive language.

In order for us to understand what Paul wrote we rely upon translators to help us.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of these translators.  I’m in awe of the amount of work they have before them and realize that I could never accomplish half of what they do.  I’m very grateful for their work.

That being said, I also have a problem with a particular portion of their work.  As I’ve said, Paul wrote to us about his experiences in the deep usage of prayer in the spirit.  Unfortunately, the translators who worked on that passage may not have even experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, let alone the deeper works.

In reading the words that Paul wrote, these translators didn’t understand why Paul was using the words that he used.  So they tried to explain Paul’s words instead of telling us exactly what he said.

Because of this, many of the deeper truths of the Gift of Tongues were lost.  It’s my prayer that the Lord will once again restore our knowledge of these concepts through godly teachings such as this.

The verse I just quoted is one such verse.  The English words used in the translation are not the Greek words used in the original text.  After Paul tells us that the person is speaking to God, not to man, the next sentence actually reads (in Greek), “Indeed, no man hears him; his spirit speaks mysteries.”

This gives us fresh insight into the gift.  When I pray in tongues, I’m not speaking to man, but to God.  What’s coming out of my mouth is immaterial to the spiritual communication that’s going on.

According to Paul, no man even hears what I’m saying to God.  It’s not your flesh that’s communicating with Him.  There’s no correlation between what’s coming out of your mouth, and what is being exchanged with God in the spirit.

This is an important truth in understanding the gift of the spirit.  Every spiritual gift has its own unique purpose.  The reason I pray in the spirit is to speak directly to God from my spirit.

This is one of the most powerful parts of our spiritual walk.  It gives us access to the mind of God.  Paul talked about it in detail at the beginning of this letter.  To read my posts about it, click here for the starting post.

As we continue in this chapter, we’ll receive insight into the uses of both tongues and prophecy.  They’re both vitally needed in our Christian experience.

Question: How important is the Baptism of the Spirit to your walk with God?

©2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Power of Love

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s view of the spiritual gifts.  He’s explaining them to the church in Corinth.  The apostle was trying to straighten out some of their foolishness.

For the last few posts, we saw that the Gifts of the Spirit are useless without walking in love.  That’s the most important ingredient in any ministry.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1

We’re told here, that of the three most important concepts in Scripture – faith, hope, and love – the greatest is love.  Paul then tells us to pursue love.  In order to do that effectively, we need to walk in the spiritual gifts.

It literally says to be passionate about the things of the spirit.  We should especially desire to show love by speaking a Word on behalf of God.  That’s what prophecy is.  God is love and if you speak His Word, then love will be evident.

In order to understand First Corinthians, chapter 14, we need to keep it in its context.  Paul is writing to a church where everyone’s doing their own thing.  All they care about is their own wants and desires.  Love for others doesn’t enter into their thoughts.

He wants them to use their gifts to bless others.  That’s the context of his next statement.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:2-3

There are those who look at these verses, and the ones that follow, and conclude that the gift of tongues is bad and prophecy is good.  That’s not what Paul is trying to get across to this church.  That’s why I talked about the context.

The apostle wants us to see that in the church setting, love needs to be the major component.  Prayer in tongues has a definite purpose.  I use it to build myself up.  That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t directly show love to others.

So if I come to church and all I do is pray in the spirit, then I’m not loving others.  Instead, I’m being self-centric.

In the church, there needs to be an evident communication of God’s love.  Prophecy is a great gift for showing God’s love.  God’s Word can be a powerful encouragement to those around us.

In the church, I have a choice.  I can major on making sure that I’m blessed.  That’s what the Corinthian Christians were doing and Paul wasn’t happy with them.

My other option is to go to church with a desire to bless others.  Through the gift of prophecy, I can speak a word of strength, encouragement, and comfort.  I believe that’s what “being the church” is all about.

And in reality, I’ve found that when I want to bless others, God finds a way to bless me in the process.  There’s a mutual encouragement in the body of Christ.

Be passionate about spiritual gifts.  And seek to show the love of God in all that you do.

Question: How were you positively affected by someone operating in their spiritual gift?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, The Church

 

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