Understanding The Holy Spirit Part 2

Sermon Summary

This message address some of the truths and misconceptions surrounding two of the most controversial spiritual gifts given by The Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. The text for this message is found in Acts chapter two which recounts the giving of The Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost! Other Biblical text are consulted for facts concerning these two gifts.

Community Group Discussion Guide

Some Christians simply ignore the topic of spiritual gifts while others emphasize the gifts to the point of elevating them to an unhealthy priority. How have you typically dealt with the topic of spiritual gifts in your life?

There appears to be three forms of speaking in tongues in The Bible and Paul spent a good bit of time giving guidelines for the gift of tongues. Why did Paul have to do this?Read 2 Corinthians 14:6-12

Read the following portion of the message and then discuss why prophecy is more about proclaiming God's truth as found in the Bible than it is about a mystical prophecy about someones future. "So many people think of prophesy as the forth telling of future events! This was certainly true at times for Old and New Testament Prophets, but many times prophesy was simply proclamation of God's  Word, His principles, His divine will! Prophecy was speaking God's truth in the language of the people for right then! It is not some mystical statement about what is going to happen in someone's life as if you've seen into their future! And here's one of the most important things about any prophecy…does it hold up under the scrutiny of God's Word? Does it line up? Is it in proper context? Is it accurate according to the principles and truths of God's Holy, inspired, and infallible Scripture? If you allow yourself to step away from the foundation of Holy Scripture then you are at the mercy of human whim, human emotion, human desire, human error" Read 1 Corinthians 14:3 to see the purpose of prophecy.

 

 

The gift of prophecy

 

Full sermon notes


"Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea" Bethel Music

I don't know what mountain is in front of you, but I know this, God is bigger than any mountain you face! God wants things to be well with your soul! He wants you to trust Him in the midst of the raging storms! He can speak to the storms of life and cause them to subside. And listen, even if He allows the storms to continue outside, He can  bring calm on the inside to your heart, in your spirit, in your inner being!

The event we're going to read about today came at a time in the disciples lives when they were facing great storms. Even though they had seen Jesus resurrected, they had also witnessed the horror of His crucifixion, and now they had seen Him ascend back to heaven. All they had was His promises to them. They were facing, on the one hand, a hostile religious establishment, and on the other hand the secular world of the Romans! You know they were scared, uncertain, worried, and confused! But they had a command from Jesus not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the Gift from God!

So let's pray and then we'll see what happened and how it applies to our lives today.
"Father God I ask you to let Your wonderful and amazing Holy Spirit speak to our hearts this morning truth from Your precious Word to us! Let us hear Your voice in our Spirit by way of Your Holy Spirit. I pray my words will be directed by Your Spirit and will be based on a proper interpretation of Your most Holy Scripture! I humble my self under Your mighty hand this morning. I know I don't have a complete grasp on all Your word or truth, but You know my heart desires to rightfully divide the word of truth before Your people here today! Anoint me with Your Spirit and wisdom and I will be quick to give You all the honor and glory! I trust You will guide us today! In Jesus sweet name I pray and I believe…Amen!"

Last week we talked about some of the basic truths surrounding the topic of The Holy Spirit! You can read the full notes of that sermon online, watch it, or listen to it at Northshorechurch.net. Today we will talk about some advanced or you might say, some of the more difficult issues. I know there are different opinions on some of the things I will say this morning and that's okay. In Christ we can agree to disagree on many things! For this second section we are going to go to the actual event Jesus told His disciples to wait for. The giving of the gift of The Holy Spirit. Let's go to Acts 2:1ff

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine. ’”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

What an amazing story! Jesus had told His disciples they would receive the gift of The Holy Spirit and that He would empower them to live their lives in such a manner they would become witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the whole world!
Interestingly enough, this day had been foretold by Joel many years prior. What Jesus promised the disciples had been planned by God long before in history! This event was a turning point in God's work with humanity. Jesus had come to the earth and lived a perfect life so He could give the perfect sacrifice so man could be reconciled to God! Now Jesus had finished His work here on earth in the flesh and had ascended back to heaven. On the Day of Pentecost God sent His Spirit to continue the work of Jesus in His followers!

Now it is so important for us to understand the cultural background to our story today and why God chose the time and the way in which He initially gave His Holy Spirit to His followers. It's not that The Holy Spirit had not been at work in the world before the day of Pentecost.

He had, but He had worked with individuals only at certain times and for certain situations. And in the Old Testament The Holy Spirit worked almost exclusively with prophets, priest, and kings. On the Day of Pentecost this changed in a magnificent way.
Fishermen, reformed tax collectors, and just plain old common folks were invited to be witnesses and ambassadors to represent God in the world. Let me remind you how it is put in God's Word...

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

And then this passage drives home what we have now been privileged to be in Christ by way of His precious Holy Spirit!

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The cultural background of the Day of Pentecost is fascinating. T.C. Smith described it this way in the Broadman Commentary…
"The Jews of the Dispersion, those who lived in all parts of the known world outside Palestine, did noir customarily attend the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem due to the
unfavorable weather conditions at that season of the year. They usually waited until the Feast of Pentecost and participated with the Palestinian Jews in the festivities for that occasion. Thus Pentecost was the next important event on the Jewish calendar after Passover. Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all lands temporarily residing in the city and environs. What a strategic time for the manifestation of God's power in the community of believers! In the Old Testament, Pentecost was strictly an agricultural feast. It commemorated the termination of the grain harvest."

So now we see that God was being very strategic in the timing of the giving of His Holy Spirit. Now I want to address why God sent His Spirit in such a spectacular way. The Jewish people had become so steeped in the legalism of their religion they had missed the whole point of the law. And what was that?

Galatians 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Jewish people were not going to easily give up their legalism. It was a way of life. God knew this and that's why He had promised the gift would be accompanied with signs and wonders. These were prophesied and were specifically for the Hebrew people. That's why Peter reminded them of the Joel prophesy. And even with the miraculous things that accompanied the giving of The Holy Spirit, there were those who refused to believe. In fact they made fun of the disciples and said they had had to much wine. You've heard me say this before, but I don't know anyone who has to much wine and all of a sudden becomes fluent in foreign languages! Oh, to be sure their language changes, but not in a good way!

What happened on the Day of Pentecost was a result of the desire of God to not only give a sign, but He wanted the people to hear the message of the Gospel. They said, "we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" "Declaring the wonders of God!" I believe that one statement is key to understanding why God gave us The Holy Spirit and why The Holy Spirit gives us gifts! It's all about declaring the wonders of God! Wonders like, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His love, His power, His will, and His willingness to guide our lives each and every day! With that purpose in mind I want to share with you God's Word on some very controversial Holy Spirit topics. Tongues and Prophecy.

Tongues

First, let me say this. I do not have this gift. Years ago, as a young follower of Christ, I had many people tell me I needed this gift and it was God's will for all believers to have this gift. I sought the Lord on this matter with great sincerity and yielded my tongue, my mind, my heart, my everything, to God and told Him I was willing to be used in any way He wanted to use me and that included my tongue! He did not give me that gift. It wasn't until years later I realized not every gift is for everyone!

We read it last week, but let's read it again...

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret?

We know from Scripture that not every disciple of Christ has the gift of tongues.

I have many dear brothers and sisters in Christ who have this gift! I have great respect for them and thank God for His work in their lives! But it's not a gift I've been given. There are several other facts about this gift I want to point out.

We know from Scripture there are three types of tongue gifts.

1. To share the gospel in another language.

This is found in our text on the day of Pentecost where each person could hear the good news of Christ in their own language.

2. A personal prayer language.

1 Corinthians 14:2 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.

3. A prophetic utterance.

1 Corinthians 14:5 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.

Hears the deal, non of the spiritual gifts are bad, so Paul says he wouldn't mind if every single person spoke in tongues, but he goes on to say he would rather them prophesy. Why did he say that? I'll tell you that in just a moment, but he says if anyone speaks in a tongue for everyone else to hear, then it requires an interpretation for the edification of the church as a whole. I stand by that! Now just a few more facts about tongues…

Out of sixty six books of the Bible, tongues is mentioned only in three books.
Mark 16:17, Acts chapters 2,10,19, and 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14.

Paul wrote twelve other books of the Bible after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues again!

Peter never mentioned tongues; John never mentioned tongues; neither did Jude.

And your point is?

Always follow the Word of God when placing importance or priority on anything!

Tongues is not a sign that you've received the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is the sign that you've received Jesus! The gift of tongues was a sign to the Jewish nation that God's prophecies had been fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was given!

However, the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life is not a particular gift, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit! We find the kinds of fruit that should be a part of a person's life who is under the control of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-26

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Now I want to share with just a few moments about another gift Paul mentions in his list of spiritual gifts and it is a fabulous transition to Andrew's series for next week.  
Remember, we are to seek the giver of the gifts, not the gifts, but Paul says it's okay to eagerly desire spiritual gifts. Is this a contradiction? No! As you seek to be filled with, immersed in, and guided by The Holy Spirit of God, it's okay to desire the gifts He will bestow upon you. But Paul does say if you were to desire one gift more than any other it should be the gift of prophecy. What's up with that? Well, let's look back at our text where Peter quoted Joel's Old Testament prophecy...

Prophecy

Acts 2:17 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Now let's see what Paul said about this gift of prophecy...

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

So many people think of prophesy as the forth telling of future events! This was certainly true at times for Old and New Testament Prophets, but many times prophesy was simply proclamation of God's  Word, His principles, His divine will! Prophecy was speaking God's truth in the language of the people for right then! It is not some mystical statement about what is going to happen in someone's life as if you've seen into their future! And here's one of the most important things about any prophecy…does it hold up under the scrutiny of God's Word? Does it line up? Is it in proper context? Is it accurate according to the principles and truths of God's Holy, inspired, and infallible Scripture? If you allow yourself to step away from the foundation of Holy Scripture then you are at the mercy of human whim, human emotion, human desire, human error!

This is a dangerous place! Now you know  why I study for many hours, get on my knees and pray for God's guidance, read the writings of godly Scholars, but heavily rely on God's Word. It's why I will explain Scripture with Scripture. There's safety when you are founded and grounded in the Word of God! In Bible times when a person bound by evil and wickedness heard the Word of God plainly spoken, the Holy Spirit would pierce their heart and under the weight of conviction, they would fall to their knees and cry out for the mercy of God. Those who didn't were those who had completely rejected God and His offer of mercy!

Paul stated in Ephesians 1:13-14 these words...

Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are  
God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Oh, by the way, did you notice what Paul said when said it's okay to desire the spiritual gifts The Holy Spirit wants to give you? We must not miss this. It's vital...

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

Follow the way of love! So priority one is love! Why desire the gift of prophecy? It is speaking the Word of God in love because of love. Do you know what happens when a person allows the Word of God to become a priority in their life? What happens when that person proclaims the truth of God's Word to others?

1 Corinthians 14:3b... everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.

If you love others you will want to strengthen them. You will want to encourage them. You will want to comfort them. These are God's priorities. I've got a question for you. Are you doing anything to strengthen others, to encourage others, to comfort others? If not, why not? It is clear from Scripture that we are to put others ahead of ourselves. The Corinthian church was in confusion because they were all about themselves instead of God and others. They were so heavenly minded they were no earthly good! Did you know this kind of attitude is always the source of confusion. It never brings glory to God. It never builds up, it always tears down. This flies in the face of God's stated priority  of building up His church.

1 Corinthians 4:12...Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

This was really a word of caution for each of us and for our church. Excel in gifts that build up the church. Listen, I love mountain top spiritual experiences as much as anyone, but I've learned not to allow my desire for supernatural experience and emotion become my priority in my walk with God! When we allow ourselves to go from one emotional high to the next, we run the grave risk of missing God's divine priorities and may miss the real mountaintop experience God has in store for us. Some folks live for big moves of God that appeal to our feelings. If God doesn't show up in a spectacular way, they are disappointed. At some point they get tired of chasing the illusive spiritual high and give up on God. We must realize the majority of life is lived in the valley. This is where we fight the battles. This is where we care for the hurting. This is where we win the victories by His strength, His power, His Word, His Spirit!

This is where people come to know Christ as their Savior. Shouldn't this be a priority for all Christians? Please hear this from my heart...I’m not against emotions. I’m a very emotional person. But I don’t depend on my emotions. Emotional highs are empty and meaningless if they are devoid of the revealed truth of God, the knowledge of God, the proclamation of the Word of God and the word of instruction that comes through the Word of God. If our foundation is not based on God's truth, the mountain we stand on will crumble and fall when shaken!

Not long after the Holy Spirit was given to the followers of Christ, Peter and John were arrested and told to no longer speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. To which they replied...

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.
20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Peter and John went back to the church and told them what had happened. The people of the church began quoting Scripture and praying. And Luke tells us in Acts 4:31 what happened...

Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Let's Pray!!