The Baptism in the Spirit & Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Oral Gifts
Messages in Tongues
Interpretation of Tongues
A Study Series by Rev Albert M Martin
In this study of the Baptism & Gifts of the Holy Spirit I believe God’s desire is for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow regularly in the Body of Christ. Smith Wigglesworth once said, “If the Spirit does not move me, I move the Spirit.” What did he mean? That we do not wait for a special visitation of the Holy Spirit, for He is already in us, if we have been baptised into Him.
Smith Wigglesworth also said, “When a man is filled with the Spirit he has no conception of what he has. We are so limited in our conception of what we have received. The only way we can know the power that has been given is through the ministration and manifestation of the Spirit of God.”
In a historical context, it would be true to say that the Gifts of The Holy Spirit and speaking in a tongues (glossolalia) by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was a common practice amongst Christians in the first-century Church. Unfortunately, a decline in both practice and teaching occurred, and I will say that if teaching stops invariably so does practice.
In the first half of the twentieth century, there was a dramatic birthing and growth of most today’s large Pentecostal denominations. Accompanying this was the associated manifestation of various gifts of the Holy Spirit. Then in the early parts of the twentieth century, there came a revival of biblical practice and teaching started.
From this revival and other places of spiritual renewals came many of today’s leading Pentecostal denominations. Movements in which speaking in tongues and the Gifts of the Spirit were prominent features included the Latter Rain revival, the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, and the Charismatic Renewal. The Charismatic Movement led millions more Christians in non-Pentecostal denominations to embrace the present-day validity of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Spiritual gifts.
It is today as in the days of the early church, of vital importance that our preaching of the Gospel be accompanied with a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” Such demonstrations in Paul’s ministry included healings and miracles, along with other gifts of the Holy Spirit. The principle still applies today. The faith of those we lead to Jesus Christ must not rest solely on the skill and wisdom of our words, but on the Word of God confirmed with genuine manifestations “of the Spirit’s power.”
In other words, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit provide Christians in every century with powerful testimony to the reality of the “good news” we preach. In the gospel of John, it declares – “John 14:11-12” – ”at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”
It is vitally important that we 21st century Christians understand that Jesus intended the Great Commission to be pursued throughout the Church Age as He originally established it — that is, WITH accompanying supernatural signs.
It is my opinion that sadly, the Church for too much of history has been content to try to reach the world with the preached word only. In addition, it the Church has moved away from corporate declarations of the Gospel into a “One to One” concept of witnessing. The “One to One” is of vital importance and I wholeheartedly support the concept, however if we are not careful we avoid a overt declaration for whatever reason that might be and thereby violate the Apostle Paul’s great declaration in “1 Thessalonians 1:5” – “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction”
Speaking in Tongues, Prophecies, Healings, Discerning of spirits, these and other supernatural signs and spiritual gifts were commonplace occurrences in the early Church. On that, the Bible record is clear.
The gifts, also in addition to revealing the power of a living Christ express the essential characteristics of God such as:
- The Diffusion of the Divine Light
- The Demonstration of the Divine Life
- The Demonstration of Divine Love
Through these gifts, God makes Himself real. If this is true, and I believe it to be so then it is self evident that these gifts are an absolute necessity for the church today. Should we expect such spiritual gifts in our churches today? My belief is yes.
In the manifestation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit we see in no uncertain terms the reality of the unmerited favour of God at work: –
- Only via the outworking of grace will the exercise of them be profitable – “Romans 12: 6” – “Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith” Amplified Version.
- Grace (the favour of God) is the net result both to the operator of the Gift and the receiver – “1 Peter 4:10” – “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favour” Amplified Version
It is extremely difficult to carry out some tasks if you do not have the right tool for the job. Imagine how difficult it would be to view a blood cell with a magnifying glass or solder a joint with a box of matches as the heat source.
Spiritual gifts are God’s toolbox and He has given them to us the Church to enable us to be more effective in accomplishing the task of working with Him to build His Church. They are not an optional extra for the specially gifted or highly favoured, but a gift to all Spirit filled believers who dare to open themselves up to the power of God working through them.
As an additional thought, and before we look at defining spiritual gifts, let me turn your attention to two portions of scripture that found in the book of Galatians.
“Galatians 3:2-3” – “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
“Galatians 6:8” – “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting”
Paul is very clear in urging us to seek after spiritual gifts, and the reason for that we have already looked at, and it is interesting that to the Galatians, and thus also to us he enquires of them about the reception of the Holy Spirit into their lives. He challenges them first to consider through which medium they received their baptism, and then initiates a reflection in their thinking about why they had exchanged the power of the Spirit for human works and endeavours. It is a fact that we can easily fall into this same trap and fail to recognise how important the “tool box” God as the Master Builder has given to us.
Paul continues to remind the Galatians that if they sow to the flesh that the only result will be that of corruption. The whole tenor of Pauls words is that of doing “Seek earnestly” – “1 Corinthians 12: 31” is what he says. Seeking indicates “activity, striving and affirmative action” they are all expressions of life.
The gifts, when in operation are expressions of life, life that imparts power and energy, to the individual and to the Church. In remembering the importance of the toolbox, we are thus “Sowing to the Spirit”; the result therefore will be life. The contrary however is also true, that by sowing to the flesh i.e. having a reliance on natural wisdom, knowledge, strength etc the real gifts are corrupted & distorted and lead to death.
The idea that Jesus had was to birth His Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is continuing to bring the Church to maturity and He will complete its growth and maturity in the same power of the Holy Spirit, not by the flesh. The early Church was born of the Spirit and Baptised in the Spirit. They ministered in the power of the Spirit and manifested the Gifts of the Spirit. Nevertheless, as we saw in Galatians even in the first century there began to drift away from living and ministering in the Spirit to living and ministering in the flesh and by man’s human abilities.
Aaron Linford in his book Spiritual Gifts (page 9) says, “Gifts of the Spirit are supernatural in that they are not merely quickened natural faculties, but manifestations of the power of God”.
Paul said in “1 Corinthians 2:4-5” – “my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” the ideal of this has never changed.
If we wish to be walking in line with the will of God, and I appreciate that His will covers a multitude of areas, but in the context of Spiritual Gifts then we should heed the Apostle Paul’s instruction in “1 Corinthians 14:1” – “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy”
My desire in bringing this teaching to us, is to encourage us claim our “Inheritance, and Heritage” and I hope to bring some instruction to help us understand what the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are, there practical operation and their purpose.
Gift of the Holy Spirit – Defining Spiritual Gifts
There are five terms used interchangeably and/or explicitly in Scripture to identify spiritual gifts. The five terms occur in the introduction to the discussion of spiritual gifts in “1 Corinthians 12: 1-7”
Understanding the terms give an insight into spiritual gifts and will help in the provision of a workable definition of them: –
- Pneumatikon (plural) Spirituals – “1 Corinthians 12:1”
- Charismata (plural) Gifts – “1 Corinthians 12:4”
- Diakonia – Ministry – “1 Corinthians 12:5”
- Energema – Working – “1 Corinthians 12:6”
- Phanerosis – Manifest – “1 Corinthians 12:7”
- Pneumatikon – Spirituals
Paul advises the Christians in Corinth, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” – “1 Corinthians 12:1”. The word gifts are not in the original text but is supplied in the English translation, perhaps because the term appears in verse 4.
The word pneumatika is discovered again in “1 Corinthians 14:1” and again the word gifts are added to spiritual, the reason is that the context of the verse would indicate this. Without the word gift, the term simply means, “the spirituals.”
2. Charismata – Gifts
The word is utilised in “1 Corinthians 12:1” where it is translated “spiritual gifts.” The root of the word comes from charis, which is grace. Of course, grace is given freely in salvation “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” – “Ephesians 2:8-9”, and when charis is used with spiritual gifts it implies a “gift” (freely and graciously given) as in salvation.
- Diakonia – Ministry
In “1 Corinthians 12:5”, it is translated “ministries” or “administrations,” but is referring to spiritual gifts. “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord” – “1 Corinthians 12:5”. We are led therefore to understand that, a gift is a distinct ministry that is given by the Lord. When the word diakonia is used in the context of spiritual gifts, it is informing us that spiritual gifts are spiritual ministries that we are honoured with.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit therefore are for a purpose, that purpose is one of ministry. Diakoneo in its verb form provides the meaning of a servant, someone who serves or waits upon others, such as serving food to guests.
Therefore, if you have received or are desirous of receiving spiritual gifts then recognition should be understood that it is with the purpose of serving other people. Spiritual gifts are not given to minister primarily to oneself a spiritual gift is given to serve others.
The Apostle Peter tells us in “Peter 4:10” – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms“ the Amplified Bible puts it in this way “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another”
I want to continue to emphasise here that the Gifts of the Spirit are for ministering to others. There is a mindset I guess that should be at work at all times and it is conveyed very graphically through Peter & Paul in the incident that occurred at the Gate Beautiful, we read in “Acts 3:2 & 6 (3)” – “Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts …. (6) Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”
The Mind Set I am referring to is seen in the words “What I have” & “I give to you”. We each have spiritual gifts along with callings, gifting and ministries and our aim should be to recognise that God has given them to us and desire to give them away.
If we lack this proper, other-centred motive, the whole process of spiritual gifts and ministries breaks down. God gives spiritual gifts to us so that we may minister them for the benefit of others.
- Energema – Working
“1 Corinthians 12:6” utilises the word as “operations”. The Apostle says, “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all”
When Paul uses the word energema, and it is from this word that our English word of energy comes from he is doing so to indicate that the gifts are to supply us in His service. The word is a word indicating activity something that is moving around. It also indicates that via and from the gift activity is also created. It is clear therefore that a spiritual gift is not natural ability at work but is a ministry empowered by God.
- Phanerosis – Manifestation
“1 Corinthians 12:7“ – “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” We conclude from this that spiritual gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work. The word phanerosis comes from the verb phaneroo meaning to make visible or to make clear. The wonderful concept for us to recognise here is that when a spiritual gift is outworked through us it is a clear and visible manifestation of the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through us.
It has been suggested in the past that God gives his gifts without partiality, this is true, and that every person has the potential of developing every spiritual gift, again true.
However, it has been taken that one-step to far to indicate that every believer has the spiritual ability and as such, a believer has the responsibility to develop the gifts, he has and to take the initiative to develop them. Where this is taken to far is that whilst every believer has the opportunity, only those baptised in the Holy Spirit can begin the journey.
“A spiritual gift is spiritual in character (pneumatikon), given out of the sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit (charismata), to minister to others (diakonia), in the power of God (energema), with an evident manifestation of the Holy Spirit through the Christian as he serves God (phanerosis)”
Therefore, what do we learn in defining the gifts?
- The word gifts are plural, suggesting to us that a Spirit filled Christian can get more than one gift.
- The implication is that there will be faithfulness in seeking the gifts.
- The exercising of a gift will lead to a greater number of gifts or a greater manifestation of one’s gift.
- It is a responsibility on our part to desire and thus achieve the gifting from the Lord of gifts of the Spirit.
- When properly exercised toward the proper goals, the Christian will grow, and I believe receive more in number and be more effective in the use of the gifts.
“Matthew 25:14-30” tells of the parable of the talents and it is of special importance in respect of the Gifts of the Spirit and worthy of some study at some time.
Setting the Right Tone
The Scriptures very clearly set the tone for the Gifts in “1 Corinthians: 13:1 to 13” let’s take a moment to read the verses together –
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth, but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now, we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face, now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”
In setting the tone for the Gifts of the Spirit, it causes us as we reflect on them to consider the following:
- Why we want them – To Build Up the Church
- Why they are utilised overall – To Be A Witness for Jesus
- How we are to operate in them – In Faith and Humility
The Gifts of the Spirit does not make us elitist, it is not a clique forming work of the Holy Spirit in fact it is quite the opposite. As we practise and use the gifts, we will grow from level to level in the effective work of each gift. The whole body of the church should be being involved.
The scriptures show us the activity of the entire Godhead in these spiritual manifestations.
- The Father energises all operations
- The Son controls the administrations He is (Head of the Church)
- The Holy Spirit is the medium whereby the manifestations are distributed
There are 3 reasons amongst other for them.
- For Building Up the Church
- “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” – “1 Corinthians 14:12”
2. To Be A Witness for Jesus By Proving Evidence That He Is Alive
- “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers’ miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” – “Hebrews 2:4”
- To Meet the Needs of individual People
- ”As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” – “1 Peter 4:10”
Donald Gee sometimes called “The Apostle of Balance” once said – “Nothing more surely defeats the purpose of any love gift than for the recipient of it to put the gift before the giver. Yet such a danger is decidedly real where spiritual gifts are concerned. There can easily arise a morbid ‘gift-consciousness’ that dwells upon either the real or the fancied possession of some spiritual gift far more than upon the life of fellowship with the Giver. There have been believers who have become so taken up with gifts and offices that the whole subject has become nauseous. Only the divine Giver can satisfy the soul—never His gifts.” (Concerning, pp. 78-79)
So many today seek the Gifts without first acquiring the Fruit in their life. We must have and be seeking the Fruit of the Spirit at work if we want God to entrust us with the Gifts of the Spirit.
One thing is very clear, and that is that the Holy Spirit is both sovereign in the outworking and operation of the Gifts and likewise sovereign in His distribution of them.
“1 Corinthians 12:11” tells us “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” Likewise, He the Holy Spirit divides or distributes them in order that ALL may profit, “1 Corinthians: 12:7” says to us “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal”.
This being true then it naturally is understood, but I will in any case state the obvious that we should covet earnestly the best gifts. The Apostle Paul says in “Verse 31 covet earnestly the best gifts”. What constitutes the best gifts, well I believe that the Holy Spirit will show us this; but because situations and circumstances are changing continually, all are best.
“1 Corinthians 14:1” further goes on to say that we are to desire spiritual gifts “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts” and in “Verse 12” we are to seek to excel in edifying “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”.
Don’t let us forget also that because we are being encouraged to covet them, and to do so earnestly that we are desiring what is the “Will of God” and He tells us “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” – “1 John 5:14“
In “1 Corinthians 12:31” two significant words are utilised in respect of our aspiration concerning the Gifts of the Spirit, these are: – Covet Earnestly – It will not harm us to examine these two words briefly and to tease out there finer meaning and implications.
Covet – Meaning – Greek (zhlow, zeloo) – Pronunciation – dzay-lo’-o“
- “Aspire after, begrudge, cast envious eyes, choose, crave, crave after, crawl after, desiderate, envy, grudge, hanker after, hunger after, lust after, pant after, run mad after, thirst after, want, wish”
The word “covet” is utilised 12 times in the New Testament and always applicable to spiritual gifts. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” – “Matthew 5:6” and the “hunger / thirst” conveys the sense of having a warmth of feeling towards something.
Earnestly – Meaning – Greek (Zelos)
- “Eager, Rivalry, Strong, Passion for a thing”. To burn with zeal. To be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger. To be zealous in the pursuit of good. To desire earnestly, pursue. To strive after”
The same word Zelos is used in “Acts 5:17” where it says, “Then the high priest rose up, and all that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation”. It is the word indignation that utilises the Greek word Zelos. In the context, it reveals to us the passion, the strong passion that they had in respect of the Apostles.
Of course, the two words can have both Negative & Positive connotations to them, but in the context of what we are examining we naturally are looking at the positive. However, I’m sure that it is clear that there is an enthusiasm that is revealed in the encouragement of the Apostle Paul.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church should be seen and, are expressions of the Divine mind flowing through human channels. In the New Testament and in reading particularly the Acts of the Apostles we can see how the Gifts of the Spirit fortified, guarded, and edified the early church in the absence of the revealed New Testament.
They enjoyed “miraculous knowledge” and the “wisdom” to apply it with understanding. They had “faith” that could remove mountains and “gifts of healing”. They could confirm the spoken word with “working of miracles” and miraculously teach and foretell the future with the “gift of prophecy”. They could determine a true and false teacher in the absence of total revealed truth by the “discerning of spirits”. They were able to converse, teach, and have the language understood to all present in languages unknown to them because of the “gift of tongues” and the “interpretation of tongues”.
- It was not a theological claim that stopped in there tracks the devout Jews and caused their “Ears to be pricked” on the day of Pentecost, but a manifestation of divine wisdom and power in the speaking of miraculous tongues “Acts 2: 1–37” by unlearned followers of the Lord Jesus.
- It was not the letter of the Law that set the envious priests on their ears some time later, but a mighty and immediate operation of the Gifts of the Spirit in a lame-born man “Acts 3: 1–11” by two children of God, namely Peter and John.
- Was it the holiness of Paul that caused the astounded Lycaonians and the Maltese barbarians to declare him to be of divine origin and rank? No! It was a display of divine power through the Gifts of the Spirit in miracle after miracle of human deliverance. “Acts 14:11” – “Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” and in “Acts 28:6” – “Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly. But after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god”
My belief is that albeit we have the revealed New Testament, and the truths contained within it and the Old Testament the need of the Gifts will never be superseded or removed or up-graded by earthly / fleshly intervention. The requirement and indeed the necessity of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are just as essential now as in the “Early Church” days.
There is it is true to say much ignorance in the Body of Christ concerning the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and their operation. Unfortunately, even in the “Historical Pentecostal Movement” realms of the charismatic church, inclusive of AOG and the Elim Pentecostal Movements this is true. It has been many years since I personally heard anyone expound in Bible Study on them. The Apostle Paul however says to us in “1 Corinthians 12:1” – “Now concerning Spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” My opinion is that the Pentecostal Church Movement is impovorised by the on-going ignorance and the replacement of In-Depth Bible Study Sunday diluted Teaching Sermons.
R. Jones in his chapter “The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit” from the book “Pentecostal Doctrine”, states the following: –
“Those Corinthian Christians were certainly not ignorant regarding the existence of the gifts, for they were very much to the fore in their worship. Their ignorance concerned such things as the real purposes of the gifts, the relative value of the gifts, and the true relationship of the gifts of the Body of Christ, which is His Church “Ephesians 1:22-23”
God, I believe, is still longing for a people who will come forward, developed in the gifts, and thus lift up a standard in His Church, His Body, and the World. “Isaiah 59:19” states, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him“ The Gifts of the Holy Spirit portray an outward manifestation of the Spirit’s desire, which is to produce expressions of the Divine mind and attitudes flowing through human channels.
Harold Horton “1881-1969”
One of the early Assemblies of God leaders and pioneers said: – “As children of God we are partakers now, of His mighty, miraculous super-nature”. The Bible is very clear when it says in “2 Peter 1:4” – “whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” We have become partakers of the divine nature through our experience of salvation. Paul’s reference to this divine nature is derived from paganism, but his meaning is very clearly Christian.
He does not mean apotheosis (man becoming a god) in the pagan sense, but rather that believers have an organic connection with God. I like to call it sharing His DNA, because when so connected, God can truly be called our Father.
In “1 John 3:2” it says to us “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. The message of the whole scripture is that this miraculous super-nature of God should be manifest in His children. Like Father, like Son. God has made full provision for the manifestation of that super-nature in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are sons and daughters of Omniscience and Omnipotence and recipients of Infinite Holiness and Endless life.
So, what greater standard can the Holy Spirit have to defeat the enemy than to take “lost sinners” who have been found, cleansed, made anew, brought to a place of sight and to utilise them in all of there natural weakness to show Christ as victor once again. How else can the Spirit work than through man? God’s perfect plan is for the Church to be His Divine instrument to cry “halt” to the devils works.
There is another aspect to this also, revealed to us in “Ephesians 3:10” which is equally wonderful, and that is that not only is the enemy set at nought, but also that through the outworking of spiritual gifts principalities and powers in heavenly places might also discover God’s majestic plan at work. It says in the verse “To the intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God”.
We can therefore conclude that in the flowing of the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit God is not only edifying, encouraging and comforting the Church of Jesus, He also is manifesting His great wisdom at work. Is it any surprise therefore that we are encouraged to covet earnestly these gifts?
The use of the gifts, however imperfectly they are used, brings a flood of Divine Revelation and He the living WORD becomes more of a reality to us. The Spirit helped stabilise the early church during its infancy by providing certain miraculous gifts.
The Gifts of the Spirit are found in “1 Corinthians 12: 8-10” and there are nine of them.
Exactly what were these gifts?
The 9 Gifts of the Spirit fall into 3 neat categories and they are:
THE ORAL GIFTS
- The Gift of Diverse Kinds of Tongues
- The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues
- The Gift of Prophecy
THE POWER GIFTS
- The Gift of Faith
- The Working of Miracles
- The Gifts of Healing
THE REVELATION GIFTS
- The Word of Wisdom
- The Word of Knowledge
- The Discerning of Spirits
Let’s now look at the Gifts commencing with the “Verbal / Oral” Group of : –
- Interpretation of Tongues
Tongues (Greek: glossai)
The Gift of Tongues is the Initial Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is a “Fundamental Truth” once held by the Assemblies of God and firmly believed by myself and I quote “The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance” “Acts 2:4” – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”
The real evidence however ongoing is power, but when a person is baptised in the Holy Ghost they will speak in other tongues. This truth was always held up until the “charismatic movement” arose and then it was watered down and explained in other ways.
Tongues are used to praise the Lord in speaking or singing. They enable one to enter into an exciting, dynamic and unlimited realm of prayer.
It was Howard Carter, “1891-1971” the General Superintendant of the Assemblies of God of Great Britain for 19 years and the founder of the oldest Pentecostal Bible school in the world who said – “We must not forget that speaking with other tongues is not only the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, it is the continual experience for the rest of one’s life”.
So Why Tongues?
I am now going to quote from “Spiritual Dynamics” Written by G. Raymond Carlson –
“Why did God choose tongues as the evidence? Speech is the distinctive characteristic manifestation of human personality. In the whole creative order, it is a uniquely human faculty. Thurneysen underscores it with perception, “The mystery of speech is identical with the mystery of personality, with the image of God in man.”
But what’s so good about other tongues? unnecessary… ridiculous… irrational… far out? No, it’s Biblical. But why not our own languages? The answer is found in the asking. When I speak English, I’m speaking words that are in my own mind that manifest my personality. When I speak in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance, I speak words that are in the mind of the Spirit, words that manifest His personality, words uncensored by my mind, words that are beautiful self-manifestations of the Spirit.
The two last faculties to be surrendered are man’s mind and his tongue. In speaking in an unknown tongue, the mind and tongue are completely given over to the Spirit. As in water baptism, the candidate yields to the baptiser until completely immersed in water, so in the Spirit baptism the seeker yields to Christ until completely given over to the Spirit.
While there are other evidences of the baptism in the Holy Spirit besides speaking in an unknown tongue, we must admit that this one sign was chosen in divine wisdom. No other evidence so sufficiently and conclusively satisfies the recipient and the witnesses present, as does this initial evidence.
I reemphasise the truth that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was the normal experience of the Apostolic Church. All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek for the “promise of the Father.” It is important that all receive be able to describe the experience, and pointing back to the Day of Pentecost say, “This is that!”
The individual is no longer limited to human language or lack of understanding; instead, there is a recognition and understanding of coming into a more perfect oneness with God. In addition to it should be recognised that the “conscious mind” is by-passed, that is why in “1 Corinthians 14:14” it says, “the understanding is unfruitful” and why also so many people are unable to come through into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit; their intellect and self-consciousness provide an impediment.
A Professor Findlay in his Expositor’s Greek Testament in this respect said – “Religious feelings and activities – prayer in chief – take their rise in the spirit; normally they pass upwards into conception and expression through the intellect”.
Aaron Linford (Spiritual Gifts) says of this “In speaking with tongues, however, inspired expression is given to these spiritual ebullitions boiling up or emotional outbursts before they reach the higher mental processes”.
It is the understanding of those that study the mind and its workings that there is a vast area of mental life that is submerged beneath the conscious mind, a bit like an iceberg, we see the top not what is underneath and it is this sphere of operation that affects how we live our lives. It is in this area that we see the Holy Spirit at work.
Aaron Linford speaking about this aspect reminds us of the verse of scripture that says, “Howbeit in the Spirit he speaks mysteries” – “1 Corinthians 14: 2” in the Apocrypha the word mysteries is spoken of as “the secrets of private life, especially between friends” (Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek. Page 50. Who can tell therefore what secrets are whispered into the ear of God when we speak in tongues!
“A good definition of the gift of tongues is that it is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit enabling one to speak, as the Spirit gives utterance, in languages unknown to the one possessing the gift, that is, languages unknown either before or after the time of utterance.”
“It would seem from Scripture and the study of the worship of the Early Church that this was the most liberally distributed of all the gifts, hence the need for the very full instructions relative to its use given by the apostle Paul” W.R. Jones Pentecostal Doctrine ‘The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit’
“It [the manifestation of tongues] is God’s unique sign gift, reserved for this present dispensation in which we live. Is it any wonder, therefore, that we stand unflinchingly for its continuance until that which is perfect is come in the new age when we shall see Him ‘face to face’?” (Concerning Spiritual Gifts, p.68)
THE ORAL GIFTS
|Public Gift of Tongues||Personal Prayer Language|
|Utilised with Interpretation
“1 Corinthians 14:5”
|Spoken Privately to God“1 Corinthians 14:2”|
|Should be Interpreted
“1 Corinthians 14:5”
|No Interpretation is Needed“1 Corinthians 14:28”|
|Edifies the Church“1 Corinthians 14:4-5”||Edifies the Believer“1 Corinthians 14:4”|
|A Sign to Unbelievers“1 Corinthians 14:22”||Manifest when No Unbelievers are Around“Acts 10:46 & 19:6”|
|Not Given to all Believers“1 Corinthians 12:30”||Should Be Desired & Practiced by all Believers“Mark 16:17 – 1 Corinthians 14:5 – Ephesians 6:18 – Jude:20”|
Let’s ask ourselves a couple of pertinent questions in respect of speaking in tongues.
- Why Should I Do So?
- In What Way Will It Benefit My Christian Journey?
The Bible gives several reasons why every Christian should pray in tongues, and many ways that praying in tongues will tremendously benefit any Christian who practices it.
- Praying in other tongues will edify you “1 Corinthians 14:4” – “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself”. To edify means to build up, strengthen, recharge.
- Praying in other tongues is evidence that the Holy Spirit resides in you “Acts 10:45-46” – “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. For they heard them speak with tongues”
- Praying in tongues builds up your faith, and helps you trust God more fully “Jude 20” – “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost”
- Praying in tongues is a great way to give thanks to God “1 Corinthians 14:15-17” – “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also, I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else, when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified”
- Praying in tongues helps us to yield our tongues, as well as the rest of our bodies, to the control of the Holy Spirit “James 3:8” – “but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”
- Praying in tongues helps us to pray God’s perfect will, even when we do not know what or how to pray “Romans 8:26” – “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”
- Praying in tongues helps us to take the Sword of the Spirit, and to use it “Ephesians 6:17-18” – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”
It is true to say that in some areas the “Oral Gifts” are not always received particularly well, especially the gift of messages in tongues. I guess it is to the natural mind a phenomenon that contradicts our natural pathways of thought and consciousness. It strikes at the very heart of “Logic”, how can a person who has not learned a language speak it etc.
Diverse Kinds of Tongues
Diverse kinds of tongues supernatural utterances in an unknown tongue. Speaking in tongues is the gateway into the supernatural heavenly realm.
They are languages –
- Never learned by the speaker
- Nor understood by the speaker
- Nor understood by the hearer
The Gift of tongues has a variety of expressions to explain it – In particular they are unique Jesus said in “Mark 16:17” – “and these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues”. All the other manifestations that we call the Gifts of the Spirit are contained within the Old Testament, except for this gift with its accompanying Interpretation of tongues.
We may like to ask ourselves Why this should be the case, Well! We are dwelling in what is defined as the Dispensation of Grace; it is a dispensation in which God through Jesus Christ is presenting Himself in a unique way. It is a dispensation in which the Church plays a significantly prominent role and the special blessing to the Church is the Baptism in the Spirit. Jesus emphasised this by commanding His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem in “Luke 24: 49” – “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”.
They have nothing at all to do with linguistic ability, with the mind or the intellect of man. The Bible tells us in “1 Corinthians 13:1” – “they are the tongues of men and of Angels”. Tongues were definite languages.
When the apostles were baptised in the Holy Spirit it was the fullest supernatural empowerment that could have been given, Jesus received the experience in, “John:3: 34” – “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him”.
The 120 “spoke with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance – “Acts 2: 4” We then read “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language” – “Acts 2: 6”. They were called “unknown tongues” only in the climate of the hearer not knowing the language. The phenomenon of that was seen i.e. tongues allowed the 120 who were baptised in the Holy Spirit the ability to gain the attention of the crowds who were thronging the streets of Jerusalem and to impress upon the hearer that something supernatural was present “Acts 2: 1-1-13”.
Greek was the cosmopolitan language spoken by many, however there were many languages and dialects still being spoken as seen in “Acts 2:8-11”, the Gift of Tongues provided them with the capability of conversing with others in their own tongue without having studied the language.
Now, we may ask the question why we do not speak languages when baptised in the Holy Spirit that are known and recognised. Well! We should take note of the fact that Scripture tells us that they are the tongues of both men and of Angels. We don’t know what angelic languages sound like. I addition to this there are many Languages of Men that we may not have personally have heard, that have also died out and which may only be spoken perhaps by one tribe or group of people.
An example, and there are many of a known language being spoken by one who had not learned it is found in a book called “Spirit Filled, Taught & Led” by Stanley Frodsham (1882-1969) in it he recounts – “A missionary was home from India on furlough. She was very sick in body and she was staying in Mrs. Carrie Judd Montgomery’s Home Oakland, California. Mrs. Montgomery saw how week and emaciated the missionary looked, and her heart was filled with compassion for her. She went over to the sick one, and, laying hands on her, prayed for her. As she did, she began to speak with other tongues. The missionary looked in surprise and said, “Why, your speaking in Hindustani (a language of which Mrs. Montgomery did not know a word), and you are saying, take, my beloved, take.” From that time, the missionary began to take the life more abundant that our Lover-Lord so freely bestows. Two months later the writer saw this missionary in Los Angeles and heard her testify that she began to take from the Lord had told her to do so, and as a result was perfectly whole.”
There are many more instances of this type of miraculous manifestation taking place.
World Population Saturday 20th September 2008 6,724,760,976
How many languages are spoken in the world?
Ethnologue lists 6,912 living languages in the world today. Keep in mind, however, that the number of languages may never be determined exactly. Languages are not always easily treated as discrete entities with clearly defined boundaries because they represent a continuum of features extending across geographic, political and social boundaries. Not all scholars agree on the criteria that clearly distinguish “language” from “dialect”. At the same time, estimates of how many people speak a given language can vary considerably. Some surveys include only first language (native) speakers, others include both first and second language speakers (i.e., those who use the language in daily life but are not native speakers of it).
As a result of such indeterminacy, some mutually intelligible varieties such as German and Dutch are considered to be separate languages because they are spoken in different countries (political considerations), while mutually unintelligible Mandarin and Cantonese are considered to be varieties of Chinese because they are spoken in one country, share a common writing system of great antiquity, and are perceived to be one language by speakers of distinct varieties (historical, political and social considerations). In addition, some languages are poorly studied. As a result, it has not been possible to establish whether they are separate languages or dialects of other languages.
Breakdown of languages by world area
It is thought that there are 6,912 living languages in the World today. The table below reveals a striking difference between the median and the mean sizes of languages in different parts of the world.
“Median – The Middle Point in frequency distribution”
Africa has the second largest number of languages after Asia, but it accounts for only 11.8 % of all language speakers in the world.
The Americas are rich in languages with small numbers of speakers.
Asia has the largest number of languages and the largest number of speakers, accounting for 61% of all language speakers in the world. There is a striking difference between median and mean number of speakers.
Europe has the smallest number of languages and the second-largest number of speakers after Asia, accounting for 26.4% of all language speakers in the world. Unlike Asia, the majority of Europe’s languages have a substantial number of speakers. As a result, Europe has the largest median and mean of all world areas.
The Pacific accounts for 0.1% of all language speakers in the world and has the lowest median number of speakers of all world areas.
The most spoken Languages of the world
The table below lists 30 languages spoken by close to 5 billion people, or by approximately 77% of the current world population of 6.5 billion people. Keep in mind that these numbers are sometimes based on old census data, and in some cases, there is no reliable census data for certain languages. The information about the number of second-language speakers is often extremely difficult to establish exactly, so the breakdown between the number of 1st and 2nd language speakers is not always possible.
These languages are spoken by over 4,041,000,000 people, or 61% of the current world population
|Languages with over 100 million speakers|
|Languages||Speakers (in millions)|
|1st language||2nd language||Total|
|Arabic (all varieties)||206||246||452|
|Languages with 20 – 99 million speakers|
|Languages||Speakers (in millions)|
|.||1st language||2nd language||Total|
|These languages are spoken by another 1,034,000,000 people, or by close 16% of the current world population|
Countries with the greatest number of languages
Most countries in the world have more than one spoken language. With 311 languages, the United States is the fifth most linguistically diverse country in the world. Its diversity comes from both indigenous and immigrant sources: the 311 languages spoken in the United States are divided between 162 indigenous and 149 immigrant languages. On the other hand, Papua New Guinea’s 820 languages are all indigenous.
The table below lists countries with over 50 different languages. Click on the name of the country to get a listing of the languages spoken in it.
|Country||Number of languages|
|Papua New Guinea||820|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||216|
|Central African Republic||79|
So then, what do we derive from the things we have seen and deliberated on, well we recognise that speaking in other tongues is an essential for real growth in the way that God wants it. Sure, we all mature, and we grow in the things of God but without this wonderful gift, we are diminished in both opportunity and ability. In addition, it is a pathway to enhanced worship and praise, plus being a “sign” to unbelievers.
We need to also recognise that the tongues that are at work in our lives, are also of benefit to the Church when they are by the Holy Spirit outworked in public use.
Interpretation of Tongues
To accompany “Divers Tongues” i.e. the tongues we utilise in our “Private Devotions”, there is the accompanying gift of “Messages in Tongues” when the Holy Spirit wishes to convey the mind of either Father or Jesus to the Church, or alternatively an individual or group of individuals.
Interpretation (Greek: hermeneis)
- The spiritual ability to translate the foreign language of the person speaking to the audience listening. The one who does the translation of that foreign tongue would be able, by the spirit, to interpret without learning the language beforehand “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret” – “1 Corinthians: 14:27”
The gift utilises the same language usually as we use in our private prayer and devotions but for the purpose of edifying and encouraging, and sometimes revealing matters to a group of people. The purpose of the gift is to provide the hearers with an understanding of tongues in order that the whole congregation may be edified. Tongues may be short, but the interpretation may be long, to give a clear understanding of what God is saying.
As is the case with the other groups of Spiritual Gifts this gift is the dependent upon another gift – that of “diverse kinds of tongues” — to operate it is obvious that without the message there is nothing to interpret.
Private use of the gift of tongues is that of “speaking Man to God” in this gift it is “God to Man”. It is a gift that is considered equivalent to Prophecy because it is designed to achieve the same end. Messages in Tongues with Interpretation provide in the same manner the key principles of operation i.e. those of Edification, Exhortation & Comfort.
One of the three “key principles” involved in the use of any of the Gifts of the Spirit, but in particular the Oral Gifts of Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues and Prophecy are those of Edification, Exhortation & Comfort and it would serve us well to take a look at the meaning of the three terms and then to see how these relate to the practical outworking of the gifts.
It is interesting to note that the Corinthian were all eager to get the gift of tongues because it was spectacular, and then they could assume they were spiritual. In reality, the worst believers in the Bible are described as having the gift of tongues.
“1 Corinthians 14:3“ – “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort“
Edification what does it mean –
- Definition Edification – “oikodome”
The word is utilised to denote and describe Christian growth. In general, “Christian Walk” terms it is the process of spiritual growth in a Christian who is living according to the plan of God and who is fulfilling the command to “But grow in the grace and knowledgeof our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” – “2 Peter 3:18”
The Greek word, which is translated “edification”, is “oikodome”, a noun found in several New Testament passages: “Romans 14:19; 2 Corinthians 10:8 & 13:10; Ephesians 4:12, 16 to 19 & 2 Corinthians 14:5 & 12” In all these passages, edification has two meanings.
- Collectively it refers to the building up of the body of Christ. In “Ephesians 4:16” – “For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love” you can see that the edification of individuals results in the building up of the church. When the collective connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “construction, building up,” or “building process.”
- Individually edification refers to the spiritual growth and momentum in the Christian way of life, resulting in the glorification of God. When the individual connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “edification.” To grow in Christ, a Christian must be consistent on a daily basis in staying in fellowship with the Lord through confession of sin and learning and applying Bible teaching. Edification is the means of advancement and productivity in the Christian way of life. Doctrine that is learned must feed both the human spirit and the human soul for capacity for both human and eternal life. Edification of the soul is the result.
Exhortation what does it mean –
- Definition Exhortation – “parakaleo” – Pronunciation “par-ak-al-eh’-o”
Verb (Gr. – parakaleo), exhort, urge, beseech, intreat –
Noun (Gr. – paraklesis), exhortation, admonishment – comfort, consolation.
The word translated “exhort/exhortation” in the King James Bible is usually parakaleo which is a verb, and its corresponding noun form paraklesis. The two parts of this word are para – a prefix meaning “alongside,” “with,” or “near” and kaleo/klesis meaning “call.” The literal expanded meaning then would be something like “drawing near to summon,” or “calling to one’s side.”
There are numerous ways in which it could be utilised such as: –
- To call to one’s side, call for, summon
- To address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
- To admonish, exhort
- To beg, entreat, beseech
- To strive to appease by entreaty
- To console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation
- To comfort
- To receive consolation, be comforted
- To encourage, strengthen
- Exhorting and comforting and encouraging
- To instruct, teach
One common denominator that calling has in its use within exhortation is that it has a moving force to it. It’s used with the intent to move a person – to change their position. This can be a plea for someone to come toward us – to come to our aid, or a push – to get someone to move to a new and improved condition.
Comfort what does it mean –
- Definition Comfort – Greek Word “paramuthia” – Pronounced par-am-oo-thee’-ah derived from the word “paramuqevomai” Pronounced par-am-oo-theh’-om-ahee
Meaning – to speak to, address one, whether by way of admonition and incentive, or to calm and console to encourage, console
We therefore derive from this that in addition to encouragement and consoling, there is also the aspect of providing incentive and admonishment involved.
We need therefore to remember that in the expression of the Oral Gifts of the Spirit all the 3 Key Principles should be in play, and when the scripture exhorts us to judge “1 Corinthians 14:29” – “Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge” then our judgement should be in light of these three principles. It is a judging to approve if possible and not to disapprove. In other words, it is constructive and not destructive, positive not negative.
Likewise, as we shall see when we look at the Gift of Prophecy part of the judging should be to ensure that the interpretation is in accordance with known, revealed and accepted doctrine. Irving “August 4, 1792 – December 7, 1832” an early charismatic leader said – “nothing contrary to sound doctrine and every utterance that does not further the faith or enlarge the spirits of the saints is short of the Scriptural ideal of Prophecy”
The Gift of Interpretation manifests itself in various ways, and the ways are probably as numerous as the ways in which the interpretations are received. I have known times when I have thought that God via the Holy Spirit has given me a Prophecy to share with a fellowship, this has been on a Bus, Driving to the particular meeting and even when in my private devotions. I have arrived, a message in tongues has been given, and the unction and impulse of the Holy Spirit has been to give what I have received at that time. I have therefore thought I had a Prophecy but in fact it was an Interpretation of Tongues, however we should understand that they are like “Siamese twins” in their operation.
In respect of the Interpretation, there is also a variety of outworking, in some the entire interpretation is received, for others it is a sentence or two and by faith they launch out and yet again some receive only a word or two. Sometimes people have been known to criticise Interpretation because the interpretation itself is either shorter or longer than the message itself, this however is quite common.
An example of this is discovered in “Daniel 5:25 to 28” – “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians”
The Interpretation was significantly longer than the utterance. In addition, the method of delivery alters from person to person and circumstance to circumstance.
We should never forget the human element in any moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are all different and it is this rich diversity that brings depth, colour and richness to our gatherings, and likewise the Holy Spirit “The Perfect Gentleman” recognises our individuality.
Some of us are bold, others timid. Some are wordy others are not and thus the Holy Spirit when utilising us to Interpret knows this and whilst there is the Divine Unction of the Spirit upon us, the miracle is that the unction utilises and enhances who and what we are to the enrichment of the hearer and the Church.
When the word Interpretation is utilised in the New Testament for the most part the Greek work that is utilised is hermeneuo and it means to fully explain something. In the well-known story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus with the disciples, it is translated as “expounded” as He opened up to them the Scriptures. In “Luke 24:27” – “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” King James Version – “Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself” Amplified Version
The Interpretation of Tongues should be recognised by both the Speaker in Tongues and the Interpreter as miraculous. Interpretation should not simply be considered an utterance urged into being by inspiration. It is a miracle in action; in fact, it is a miraculous answer to another miracle.
In unique circumstances, the Message in Tongues is a known language to the listener, who then can interpret what they have heard.
In the early church there were those who could miraculously speak another language, and likewise those who could interpret. Not all hearers in an audience could always understand a language; hence, the need for miraculous interpretation. Unintelligible gibberish was of no use, the speaker had to be understood so the meaning could instruct and benefit “1 Corinthians 14: 5-19” – “I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore, if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue”
Guidelines for Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues
When bringing forth tongues in a meeting we should desire to interpret. “1 Corinthians 14: 13 to 15” – “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if, I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” Interpretation of tongues is the companion gift to “messages in tongues”.
Interpretation of Tongues is equal in its edifying value as Prophecy “1 Corinthians 14:5” – “I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying“.
The Holy Spirit should give us the unction to bring forth tongues in a public meeting. tongues are for a sign to the unbelievers. “1 Corinthians 14: 22” – “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe”
In brief the Interpretation of Tongues is a supernatural revelation of that which has been spoken by a believer in an unknown tongue. It is important to recognise that it is not a translation of tongues such as you would see perhaps in a United Nations gathering, but an Interpretation of Message in Tongues that is given. Therefore, the Interpretation may not be either as long or short as the message.
Example: – Eleanor Crisp – (1856-1923)
A woman by the name of Mrs Eleanor Crisp, she was one of the Early Pentecostal Leaders, she interpreted a Message in Tongues and it was stated “the style was loftier and the language more beautiful than a literal translation of the language would have been”
The incident is as follows: – At the 1913 Sunderland Convention a remarkable incident happened which was a small confirmation of the supernatural element in speaking in tongues.
A certain Brother in the meeting gave a loud message in tongues; it was a distinct, clear unknown tongue. Miss Doering who spoke English, German, Swedish and several African languages was on the platform to translate for the German brethren. She quietly informed them that this was a real language and went on to interpret a part of it. To start with it sounded like “Ding-a-la, ding-a-la” then proceeded into sentences.
It was Mrs Crisp sitting further back in the congregation who gave the interpretation. Then Miss Doering, a missionary with the Congo Inland Mission quickly and publicly bore witness to its accuracy. She said it was the language of the Kifioti tribe among whom she was labouring, and that Mrs Crisp had given an excellent interpretation of the message. She went on to say that in the Congo, sentries are stationed at intervals to pass messages quickly. They first give a call to pay attention before giving the message. This call is “Ding-a-la, ding-a-la.”
The Bible says: – “1 Corinthians 14:39-40” – “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order” it is therefore no surprise that specific instruction were given to the church at Corinth regarding tongues“
So what guidelines are we given?
- A Message in Tongues needs to be Interpreted by Oneself or Another
As we step out in faith and begin to speak, we should be filled with an expectation that God by the same Holy Spirit who invoked the Message in Tongues will also fill our mouths with the interpretation. The Bible says in “1 Corinthians 14:13” – “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret”. On a personal level, I make it a matter of principle that on ceasing to give the message I immediately pray that God will cause someone to interpret or provide me with it. If I know that in a meeting there is no one who has the gift of Interpretation, and I know there is a Message in Tongues to be given I ask the Lord to allow me to Prophecy instead.
- The Number of Messages in Tongues Should Be Limited.
One of the major problems that were being encountered by the Church at Corinth was the lack of order and the undisciplined nature of the conduct of spiritual gifts in the Church. Paul therefore provides his instructions in respect of the number of Messages in Tongues that should be allowed in any one gathering, he says “1 Corinthians 14:27” – “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three” he also goes on to add “and that by course” the reason being that if everyone is talking in tongues it would amount to “babble”, there would not be adequate time to understand and peculate in the spirit what had been said.
Paul goes on to say, “and let one interpret”. This statement has had several ways in which it has been understood.
There may be more than one interpreter but not more than three
- Interpretations Should Be Subject to Judging
“1 Corinthians 14:29” – “Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge” Judging whether it is a true and accurate message from God is the principle at work here. It is a judging to approve if possible and not to disapprove. In other words, it is constructive and not destructive, positive not negative.
So now let’s look at our final gift of the Holy Spirit in the section termed The Oral Gift, that of the Gift of Prophecy.
Prophecy is speaking on God’s behalf what He has to say. Prophecy discloses the secrets of men’s hearts so they may recognise God’s presence and worship Him – “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” – “1 Corinthians 14: 24-25”.
The one prophesying does not fully understand what he is saying, because the words are not ultimately his own, and often are not even intended for him – “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” – “1 Peter 1:10-12”
“1 Corinthians 14: 1”– “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy”
Prophecy, along with Tongues and Interpretation are miracles in every sense of the word and are no less a miracle than a blind man at the gate being healed is. It was Aaron Linford who said, “Prophecy is more than utterance, it is super-natural utterance” and the statement says for itself exactly the situation in respect of the Prophetic Gift.
If we are involved in any form of public ministry where we are either providing in-depth study into the Scriptures or we are in a preaching situation, all that will come out of our mouths are those things that a pre-meditated, and this is the case even when we move off our notes into other areas that had not been prepared ahead of time. This is totally the opposite of Prophecy. Prophecy is immediate and spontaneous.
Again, as in the case of Interpretation of Tongues, Prophecy will always fulfill the following characteristics: –
- It will not convey anything that is not deemed to be “sound doctrine”
- It will be for the Edification, Exhortation and Comfort of the Hearers
- It will always be packaged in a loving expression in its practical outworking
- I recall in a book I read recently an example being given of a young man who had recently started to be utilised in the Gift of Prophecy, but unfortunately allowed pride to get a grip. He prophesied with great boldness “Thus saith the Lord, ye stiff-necked, rebellious people, the Lord is here to rebuke and set in order. If you will not respond, the earth will open up and swallow you as He did with Korah!” of course it did not happen, and the lack of loving expression did not engender any additional affection.
- It will not be “thought out common sense” Scripture says – “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” – “2 Peter 1:20”
- The content of Prophecy will be Spirit Inspired and not cunningly devised fables “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” – “2 Peter 1:16”
From what we read in “1 Corinthians 14:1” we are led to conclude that in our zealousness for Spiritual Gifts, the one that should come at the top of our listing in desire should be that of Prophecy. In order to encourage us the Lord has already told us that it is His express desire and the object of the Spirit’s indwelling through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit it says in “Joel 2:8” and quoted latterly by Peter in “Acts 2:17” – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions”. If you look closely you will notice that there is a slight change in the quotation made by Peter because he adds the words “they shall prophesy” providing for us the emphasis on the fact that the Gift is for all and looking forward to the fulfilment of an Old Testament Scripture which declared – “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them” – “Numbers 11:29”
Charles Wesley commenting on “Numbers: 11:29” said – “Moses, the minister of God, rebukes our partial love. Who envy at the gifts bestowed on those we disapprove. We do not our own spirit know, who wish to see suppressed, the men that Jesus’ spirit show, the men whom God hath blest”.
It is interesting for us to further recognise that when Prophecy is being deemed to be the most important gift, it is for a specific and understandable set of reasons. We have been considering Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues, and don’t get me wrong these are vital and important gifts, but Prophecy has the edge over them for the following reasons: –
“1: Corinthians: 14” is very largely focused upon comparing Tongues and Prophecy and the comparison between the two gifts.
We are told: –
|Prophecy & Tongues Compared|
|Prophecy is Greater than Tongues||Verse 5|
|Prophecy is more Profitable than Tongues||Verse 6|
|Prophecy is more Edifying than Tongues||Verse 12|
|Prophecy is more Effective than Tongues||Verses 24 & 25|
|Prophecy provides Direct Edification Tongues requires Interpretation|
|Prophecy provides a Channel for other gifts|
Naturally, if an Interpretation of the Tongues is given then most of the negatives above are removed.
Aaron Linford said –
- “As a river carries a boat on its bosom, so may Prophecy bear in its flow some greater gift”.
Prophecy and its Conduct
Prophecy will be Orderly in its operation
1 Corinthians 14:29 & 31
Prophecy will operate in an atmosphere of Self Control
1 Corinthians 14:32
Prophecy will be Shrouded & operated Reverently
1 Corinthians 11:4 & 5
Prophecy will be subject to Judging
1 Corinthians 14:29
Prophecy will be carried out with Moderation
1 Corinthians 14:31
Prophecy will always Agree Scripture
Prophecy will Produce Fruits of the spirit in the believer’s life
Matthew 7:15 & 16
Prophecy will Glorify God
John 16:13-14 & Rev 19:10
Prophecy will Lead to God not away from God
Prophecy will bring people into Freedom from Bondage
Prophecy will have an Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit
1 John 2:20
Let’s look more closely at the above: –
- Prophecy (Greek: propheteia) – The spiritual ability to speak forth the mind and counsel of God. Prophecy is supernatural utterance in a known tongue unlike Tongues which is a supernatural utterance in an unknown tongue. The New Testament has only one word for prophet and it is prohetes and it is derived from the root phemi meaning to speak before and in front of, basically the Prophet in respect of the Gift of Prophecy is a forthteller and not a foreteller as is the case in the Old Testament Office of the Prophet and the New Testament Gift in “Ephesians 4: 11” – “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets…..” of the Man/Women who is a Prophet given to the Church of Jesus.
Agabus was a Prophet in respect of his Office and he foretold of a great dearth and certain consequent preparation was made as a result “Acts 11: 28-30” – “And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea. Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul”
The Ephesians Ministry Gift to the Church Universal of the Prophet should be considered to be vessels through whom Christ as Head of the Church chooses to function constantly and accurately in the realm of the Gifts of the Spirit and predominantly in The Word of Knowledge, The Word of Wisdom, The Discernment of Spirits and these areas will produce confirmation, revelation, illumination. The Prophetic utterances from these Gift Men / Women will give predications, visions, corrections and provide where appropriate ministry confirmation.
I remember on a personal level in Rev Colin Blackmans flat in the Old Glad Tidings Hall in Tunbridge Wells a Prophet by the name of Tom Woods was visiting. I don’t recall him coming to preach but he was visiting Colin. I was in the room enjoying the fellowship when suddenly and out of the blue Tom Woods (a recognised Prophet in AOG) told me that I would be an Evangelist and would fulfil that ministry. This confirmed my recognition of calling and was a wonderful confirmation as Tom Woods knew nothing of or about me.
The Hebrew “to prophesy” is to flow forth, to bubble forth like a fountain, to let drop, to lift up, to tumble forth, and to spring forth. The Greek word “prophesy” means to speak for another. We are told to desire to prophesy “1 Corinthians 14: 1 & 39” – “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy” – “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues”
Prophets in the Old Testament were used by God to speak to Israel about current and future events. Jesus was the prophet to come “Deuteronomy 1:8-18; Acts: 2:22-23”
The prophets in the body of Christ whether these are in respect of the “Person Gifting” in an Ephesians 4 Ministry Gift or the Spiritual Gift are called to: –
- Speak forth the word of God about present and future events “Acts 11:27-28” – “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar”
- Equip the saints for ministry “Ephesians 4:11-12” – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”
- Edify, comfort and encourage believers within the body of Christ plus Reveal the secrets of men’s hearts “1 Corinthians 14:3” – “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” – “1 Corinthians: 23-25” – “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all, and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth”
In speaking about Prophecy, it is impossible to divide correctly between the Old Testament Office of the Prophet and the re-focused Office of the New Testament Prophet and the Gift of Prophecy without an understanding of where the words Prophet and Prophecy are derived from, and so let’s take a few moments to consider this.
Three Hebrew words are discovered in the Old Testament scriptures and it is from these that our understanding finds its foundation.
The three words are: –
It will serve us well to look at these words together but let’s remember in doing so that derived from them we discover the following –
- Divine Content
- Dynamic Communication
- Deep Consequences
Chozeh – to gaze at; mentally, to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of, behold, look, prophesy, provide, see.
An example of the usage of the word is found in “Isaiah 30: 10” – “Who say to the seers “chozeh” Do not see, and to the prophets “chozeh” do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits”.
We understand therefore that in this realm the Prophet (Old Testament) would be one who from divine inspiration would instruct and bring enlightenment to the hearer.
Nabi – to bubble up or pour forth
It is utilised in respect of the term Prophet some 314 times. Its meaning is that of one who listens to the voice of God and then as inspiration follows pours forth the will and meaning of the will of God. In “1 Samuel 9:15” We find this beautifully described when it says – “Now the day before Saul arrived, the Lord had told Samuel” What this really means is“Now the Lord had uncovered the ear of Samuel – literally meaning He pushed aside the locks in order to whisper in his ear”.
In “Jeremiah 20:9” it says – “But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” Jeremiah here was bubbling up and ready to burst forth.
Nataph – to cause to drop, distil
In the following passages amongst others the word Nataph is used: –
- “Song of Songs 5:5” – “I rose up to open to my beloved and my hands dropped (Nataph) with myrrh and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh upon the handles of the lock”
- “Song of Songs 5:13” – “His cheeks are like garden beds full of balsam treesyielding His lips are like lilies dripping (Nataph) with drops of myrrh”
- “Job 29:22” – “After I had spoken, they did not respond; my words fell on them drop (Nataph) by drop”
There are two distinct things that go together and form the Prophet of the New Testament according to Bible expositor Vincent and they are: –
- An insight granted by God into the divine secrets or mysteries.
- A communication of these to others – “2 Peter: 1:21” – “Prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.
These two are essentials – Prophecy either in the Old Testament Prophet guise or the New Testament Ministry guise or in the guise of the Prophetic Gift of the Spirit is the power to speak by the Spirit spontaneously and without pre-meditation, things revealed by God, to the edification of His people.
How do we see Prophecy in action? Well there are many ways and at times we are listening to them and perhaps do not recognise them in action – For instance: –
Agabus “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, thus saith the Holy Ghost, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” – “Acts 21:10-11”
The four daughters of Philip the evangelist “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy and they, were given the gift of prophecy among so many” – “Acts 21:9”
Prophecy or prophetic utterances can also take several other forms, other than simply what we generally recognise and understand, and it is important that we do recognise these expressions. Unfortunately, many an AOG / Classical Pentecostal Church has lost its edge and over the years both diminished and diluted the gift of prophecy and, I might add the manifestation of the other 8 gifts of the Holy Spirit – We are the diminished and the weaker for it.
Why this has occurred I guess has many reasons: –
- Post Modern Concerns.
- Fear of Ridicule.
- Intellectual Bias.
- Lack of Teaching.
- A Desire to be All things to All Men.
Prophetic utterance can be seen in Praise/Worship/Spiritual Songs, Prayer, and at times Preaching.
In “Ephesians 5:18-19” we read “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”.
Likewise, in “Colossians 3:16” – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with gracein your hearts to God”
The Apostle Paul was the one who directed and recommended to the Ephesians Church that they should not only be filled with the Spirit but also that they should via that infilling worship and praise the Lord via spiritual songs If you are filled with the Spirit and are Walking in the Spirit the life will be melodious in its outworking and the scripture in Colossians indicated this to us. The life of David is typified by the name The Psalmist David, and this was because as he was described as a man after the heart of God the melodies sprung forth from him and these were ofttimes prophetic in their content.
We are confronted constantly by the beauty and majesty of the Lord and filled with wonderment at the expression of His love towards us is it therefore surprising that we would break forth into song and those songs being lifted by the Spirit become prophetic in their content.
Spiritual Prophetic Songs will often bring with them other benefits also, amongst these being: –
Spiritual Victories – Spiritual Freedom
In “Psalm 68:25” it says “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels” without a doubt as they went ahead, and the Spirit of God was upon them they prophesied of the victory. It was the custom that damsels would go in front shaking tambourines as part of the proclamation of victory.
In “2 Chronicles 20: 20-22” singers were appointed by the King and they went out before the armies and great victories were found as a result – “Early the next morning they marched out to the Desert of Tekoa. When they were ready to march, Jehoshaphat stood up and said: “Listen to me, you people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe! Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.” He met with the people and appointed musicians to play before the Lord and praise his majestic splendour. As they marched ahead of the warriors they said: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his loyal love endures.” When they began to shout and praise, the Lord suddenly attackedthe Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated”
In “Judges 5:12“ a woman and prophetess was called to awake and sing and she did in the words “Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song! Get up, Barak! Capture your prisoners of war, son of Abinoam!” The result of her prophetic singing was the release of captives. It breaks the power of the enemy it sets hostages free.
It is Satan who is the author of bondage and captivity David knew this and likewise he knew that music accompanied with Divine Unction upon it will drive him away an example of this is found in “1 Samuel 16:23“ – “So whenever the spirit from God would come upon Saul, David would take his lyre and play it. This would bring relief to Saul and make him feel better. Then the evil spirit would leave him alone”
There is a phrase utilised in the Word of God and it is The Spirit of Prophecy and it is found in “Revelation 19:10” – “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.
The phrase is an important one in our considerations because it carries with it a lot of implications in respect to the outworking of both the Office of the Prophet and the Gift of Prophecy. The spirit of prophecy is better defined for our purposes now as the quickening or the anointing and the reason why I say this is that Paul tells us that all may prophesy. The spirit of prophecy is if you like the Holy Spirit’s mantle of prophetic anointing given from time to time to a believer or in fact to a congregation of believers who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and it results in a speaking or singing forth of the word of the Lord.
In “Numbers 11:24 to 30” the seventy elders who were the assistants of Moses the Prophet found that the Spirit of Prophecy came upon them and they all began to prophesy.
You will I hope recall that I said earlier Aaron Linford said – “As a river carries a boat on its bosom, so may Prophecy bear in its flow some greater gift” in “Numbers 21:16-17” we see the Gift of Faith at work in prophetic song – “And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. Then Israel sang this song, spring up, O well; sing ye unto it”
We now come to the thornier side of the Gift of Prophecy and the two areas of its Regulation and its Judging. I call them thornier because of the reaction to judging and regulation that believers have, and it is quite often reactions that do not have a foundation in logic.
Everything that occurs in the Church of Christ must be done decently and in order this is an admonition of Scripture and cannot be by-passed. The reason for it is that it is the Spirit of God’s desire that all may be blessed to the highest degree and only when we walk in the Spirit can this be the case.
The Bible tells us in “1 Corinthians 14:29” – “Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge”. Now what does this mean in its practical outworking? Well! Let me firstly give the New International Version rendering of the verse – “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said”.
The Greek word that is utilised and translated as Judge is diakrino – Pronounced dee-ak-ree’-no. In the Authorised Version it is utilised as “judge 88, determine 7, condemn 5, go to law 2, judge 88, determine 7, condemn 5, call in question 2, esteem 2, misc 8”.
The following versions translate “1 Corinthians 14:29” as: –
|NIV||Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.|
|NASB||Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.|
|NLT||Let two or three prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.|
|MSG||And no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart.|
|BBE||And let the prophets give their words, but not more than two or three, and let the others be judges of what they say.|
|NRSV||Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.|
|NKJV||Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.|
So, what do we see, well one thing is very apparent and that is that because we are called upon to judge prophetic utterances it shows that words of prophecy have their limitations.
- Prophecy for instance will always and without exception follow the pathway of edification, exhortation and comfort.
- Prophecy will always and without exception glorify Christ.
- Prophecy will always and without exception be biblically sound and not contradict the Word of God.
- Prophecy will always and without exception bring clarity and not confusion – “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” – “1 Corinthians 14:33”
- Prophecy will always and without exception enhance our understanding of the attributes of God.
- Prophecy should always bring with it a confirmation in the spirit of others of its validity – “the Sprit itself beareth witness with our spirit” – “Romans 8:16”
The essence of the judging is that of proving, not in a critically destructive manner, but quite the opposite. We have seen already that there will always be a mixture of the Human and the Divine in the manifestation of Spiritual Gifts. The mixture is part of the wonderment of the grace of God at work through us, however in equally the same measure attitudes and straights of character can influence and colour the prophetic utterances. You will I hope recall that we looked at the Hebrew word naba earlier and it spoke of the “flowing, bubbling, poring forth and boiling” all of these are at work in the human personality when prophesying.
Unfortunately, we see in the Gift of Discerning of Spirits this very much at work. It is very easy for an individual with the very best of intentions to confuse how he/she is feeling with discernment about others.
The testing is there in order that we might “reject the bad content and retain the good or eat the meat and spit out the bones”.
Aaron Linford, who I have mentioned earlier, gave some principles to govern the exercise of the Gift of Prophecy, these being: –
|The 5 Principles to Regulate Prophecy|
|1||The Principle of Orderliness||1 Corinthians 14: 29-31|
|2||The Principle of Self Control||1 Corinthians 14: 32|
|3||The Principle of Reverence||1 Corinthians 11: 4-5|
|4||The Principle of Moderation||1 Corinthians 14:31|
The Principle of Orderliness
“1 Corinthians 14: 29 to 31” – “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” The finer meaning of this verse is that of plurality, i.e. the functioning of more than one person in the congregation. The Holy Spirit’s desire is that the Body of Christ functions as a whole and that not one part has a negatively dominant role over another. In the sphere of prophecy no one will should dominate the whole.
The word sigato which is utilised in the original Greek for “hold his peace” indicates for us the sense that one prophet would be sensitive to another’s spirit recognising that they have something to bring forth to the congregation. The speaking two or three also indicates that one would not interrupt another; this would simply lead to confusion, of the God is not the author.
The Principle of Self Control
“1 Corinthians 14: 32” – “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”. The anointing of the Spirit, the Spirit of Prophecy which we spoke of earlier does not remove from the individual his / her own personal will. The divine gift is always under the control and responsibility of the gift holder. It may be exercised with the holder’s discretion and always with brotherly love.
In addition to this the self control will be recognised in orderliness, there will not be the frenzy and the shrieking that Elijah found on Mount Carmel.
The Principle of Reverence
“1 Corinthians 11: 4 & 5” – “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven”.
I am not utilising this verse to indicate that women should wear hats in church but to bring the real meaning and that of reverence. Reverence to the Lord will always be manifest in submission to His will in our lives and in the ministration of His gifts in our lives.
The Principle of Moderation
“1 Corinthians 14: 31” – “For ye may all prophesy one by one”. Moderation is the key word in this verse. The language suggests that those who are eager should restrain themselves in order that the less experienced and less aggressive might be provided with the opportunity to share with there fellow believers.
In all the above, there is one thing that all of us have a responsibility to do and it is found in the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in “1 Thessalonians 5: 20-21” – “Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”
The NIV puts the verse in the following way – “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt”. If the Lord Himself will not “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth” – “Isaiah 42: 3” then who are we to do so.
It is my earnest desire that we will collectively find gifts bestowed upon us, they are there for the taking, and His hands are open to provide them. We have a Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children.
There is the old saying “Don’t ask – Don’t Get” this is totally true of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, what do we do to receive them, well let me proffer a little help.
|How to increase in spiritual gifts|
“Hebrews 2:4” – “God also testified to [our great salvation] by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will”
“James 1:17” – “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who DOES NOT CHANGE like shifting shadows”
God the Father does not change, including in His giving of spiritual gifts. He confirmed the preached Gospel in the first century with “signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.” And He who “does not change” confirms the same Gospel in the 21st century with the same supernatural manifestations.
“Hebrews 13:8” – “Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and TODAY and forever”
Jesus ministered in power, signs, wonders, and miracles in the first century. And the Bible clearly records Him empowering the early Church to minister with supernatural manifestations and gifts. Well, Jesus is the “same…today.” Jesus has not changed. As in the early Church, so today He empowers His followers to minister in the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I guess I do not have to say that we should, if already in possession of Spiritual Gifts be desirous to excel even further to edifying the Body of Christ through those already in use and by obtaining other.
Here are some nine areas to assist us: –
- Do not become neglectful of your spiritual gift(s) and operate in the Spiritual Gifts God has given to you and will do so – “1 Timothy 4:14” – “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” In context, it relates to the Gift of Ephesians 5 Ministry, but it has an equal encouragement in respect of Spiritual Gifts. It is possible for us to have a natural mindset in respect of the Gifts.
- Covet, and eagerly desire to be used in the Gifts of the Spirit. Aggressively pursue these gifts and stir them up. Fan them into flame – “1 Corinthians 12:31” – “Covet earnestly the best gifts”
- Understand that God desires to use you – “1 Corinthians 12:7” – “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal”
- Seek to excel in spiritual gifts to build up the church – “1 Corinthians 14:12” – “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”
- Cultivate a daily, Spirit-filled walk. “Galatians 5:16” – “This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
- Notice the “flow” of the gifts. It is the full Trinity in action – “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord” – “1 Corinthians 12:5” – “Luke 24: 49” – “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”.
- Spiritual gifts flow from a heart of love – “1 Corinthians 14:1” – “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts” Love for the sick who need healing – Love for the person who is hurting person and in need of mercy – Love especially for the lost in our society and who we are in contact with daily needing our witness.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit-given rivers of living water that Jesus promised to flow from within you – “John 4:14” – “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” – “John 7:37-39” – “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified”
- Seek to increase your faith levels. Faith comes via the hearing outwardly and inwardly the Word of God. Spiritual gifts are linked to our faith levels and thus we ought to be doing all we can to increase our faith – “Romans 12:6” – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith”
Howard Carter (1891-1971)
Howard Carter was born in Birmingham into an unsaved but religious Anglican home. He had one younger brother called John. From an early stage he was marked by a speech impediment which brought ridicule at school. Their godly mother took them to church, but it was not until he was nearly 20 that he began a real heart search for God and truth. He attended a service in a simple and humble Church of Christ building along with his brother. They were much touched by these people, soon they both received Christ as saviour and were baptised in water. A member of this congregation soon had these two brothers helping out with the YMCA who went out preaching to the poor, reading the scriptures, singing and witnessing. This was their training ground. This same man took them to Friday night meetings where they were taught about being filled with the Spirit and of Gods power to heal. Soon they saw their mother healed from kidney trouble and crippling arthritis. One man from this fellowship was the first Pentecostal they had met. He deeply affected them with his fervent spirit, his inspirational preaching and his continual praising of Christ. Soon they attended their first Pentecostal meeting where believers spoke in tongues, all this they readily received as in accordance with the New Testament. They accompanied these new friends in 1912 to the Sunderland Whitsuntide Convention where Boddy, Wigglesworth, Barratt and others ministered. They were in awe of the clear powerful preaching and the beautiful singing in tongues. After trying to bring this great blessing back to the Church of Christ they were quickly struck off membership. The next two years they attended this conference hearing speakers from Germany, Holland, Norway, Switzerland, America and Britain. Many laid hands upon them to receive the Baptism but still they did not receive, Howard was holding unto strong views that you didn’t need to speak in tongues to be baptised. In 1915 they attended a convention in Bedford, while kneeling to pray he was mightily caught up in the Lord and without realising, was making a great noise and disturbing the meeting. The Pastor asked an elder to take this noisy brother to the vestry. As he crossed the threshold he broke forth in tongues for the first time. The cross and the atonement seemed so much more wonderful and a deep consciousness of the Lords presence was his from then on. It was not long before he was left with responsibility of pastoring this small flock in Birmingham which soon started to grow. Feeling the call of God, he moved to part time work and gave himself to the study of Gods word. When approached by a brother who would pay his way at a Bible college he turned down this offer feeling he must trust the Lord totally. He then resigned work altogether just leaving a box at the back of the church for offerings. When war came in 1916 he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in Wormwood Scrubs, London and later at Dartmoor. He was fed on bread and water; his hair cropped off, was made to ware prison cloths and locked in a cell by himself. It was at this time that he became absorbed in studying the nine gifts of the Holy Ghost. It was during secluded times of prayer and study that God opened to him a beautiful revelation of these nine distinct gifts which he would later teach across the world. In 1918 at the end of the war he returned to Pastor the Church in Birmingham. From this time forward he was greatly used in the gifts of interpretation of tongues, prophesy and the word of wisdom.
Reluctantly after much wrestling he answered a call to London and stepped out with a word from the Lord which was “Gather my people together and build for me. A great company shall come and ye shall build for me. And there shall be heaps of money…” He started by purchasing a building in London and held an opening campaign with George Jeffrey’s as the speaker. Out of this a strong work was established. He was then approached by a Mr. Mundell who believed he was to be the new principle of the PMU Bible School now in Hampstead. Howard felt he was mistaken, but after an hour of persuasion he finally consented to fill the gap for a couple of months until a suitable man was found. In February 1921 at the age of thirty he took this responsibility. Just 18 months later the PMU informed him that due to lack of funds they were going to close this school. Howard and the students prayed fervently then he offered to take on the full responsibility of the work and finances. Progressively other gifted teachers were added such as C.L. Parker and Harold Horton. By 1925 there were 40 staff and students and those students had come from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Holland and Switzerland. In 1924 Harold was one of the 13 founding members of AOG and soon one of seven elected members. The School although remaining independent did become a recognised part of AOG. In 25 he was invited on the missionary council and took over the running of the Friday night rallies at Sion College from Polhil. During this time, he exercised great faith to see the financial needs met. In 26 he started the School Evangelistic society pushing the students out to start new works. He purchased buildings around the country where these labourers could minister. Next came a women’s Bible School, then a Bible Correspondence Course. From this Bible School missionaries went forth to China, Japan, Korea, Ceylon, Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Russia and many other nations. In Great Britain over 140 evangelists and pastors were now labouring and the correspondence course had students in five continents. In 1934 the call came to go minister in America which led into his first world tour starting with just 5 pounds in his pocket. In America Lester Sumrall who was half his age became his travelling companion. Over the next two years they travelled 150’000 miles through about 30 different countries, visiting every British AOG missionary and many others. They faced death, danger and hardship in every manner, but saw multitudes saved, healed and baptised in the Holy Ghost, including 19 missionaries. This was the first of three such trips which came to an end at the beginning of the war in 1939.
Harold Horton (1881-1969)
Harold Horton was born in Wrexham, North Wales to parents who were godly Methodists. At the age of 20 Harold surrendered his life and future to Christ. It was not very long before he felt a call to be involved in the ministry. He passed the denominational exams aged 21 and became a local preacher with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. This meant he travelled the local circuit of churches in North Wales preaching and ministering. He ministered for 20 years with the Methodists. In later years he worked in John Duxbury’s School of Elocution in West London. Among those to whom he gave elocution lessons, were Members of Parliament, actors and Ministers.
Many of Horton’s fellow ministers were being deeply affected by Modernism and Horton did not escape the influence from these new movements in Methodism. Many of his contemporaries were setting their sails and allowing these new winds of doctrine to carry them unto rocks of heresy. There were those in this movement who felt they had come of age, grown up and moved on from old fashioned and traditional Methodist beliefs. Everything was being challenged and cast aside. The doctrine of man’s absolute depravity; the absolute authority of God’s written Word; the absolute necessity for a sinner to be washed in the Blood; an eternal place of suffering for Christ rejecters; were all being cunningly undermined. New intelligent, articulate and elegant leaders rose up. Higher criticism and modernism denied the supernatural and intellect explained everything away.
Although Horton was gifted, educated and eloquent, yet he was far from God. He had been suffering from a double rupture for about two years which caused great suffering in his body. This opened him up to the teachings of Christian Science which was the brain child of Mary Baker Eddy. When one of his pupils invited him to hear a Preacher called Smith Wigglesworth he willingly went. The supernatural gifts were in operation and the gathered host of nearly 2,000 people listened to the preacher in an ordered earnest manner. It was the plumber from Bradford. No education and no natural eloquence, but what he did have was the Word of God in his mouth and an enduement of power from on high. He preached simply, clearly and powerfully. That night Horton turned his heart again to Christ and believed the simple words of the Gospel. Also, he was instantly healed in his body and filled with the Holy Spirit speaking in a new tongue as the Spirit gave him utterance.
As he began a fresh in Christ he preached the gospel in pure simplicity and power seeing individuals saved and healed. Through the meetings in Sion College Howard Carter got to know Harold and so invited him to be a tutor at the Hampstead Bible School lecturing in French, English and various Bible studies. In March 1927 his first message was published in Redemption Tidings from the book of Jude called ‘Stand Fast’ – a warning to stand fast amidst apostasy and coming false teachers. From then on there was an increasing stream of articles printed in Redemption Tidings.
Then in June 1927, Stephen Jeffrey’s conducted a great campaign in Louth where many sinners wept their way to Calvary and out of which a church was birthed. Furthermore, Howard Carter organised a four-month Bible School which led to the founding of the women’s Bible College in Louth. The following year, Harold went to Pastor the Louth church in conjunction with the Bible School Evangelistic Society and assisted John Carter at the women’s Bible School. John Carter was often on the move, so the daily running of the School was left in Harold’s hands. His ministry became known further afield leading to many open doors. In late 1928 The Louth Bible School moved to new premises in Scarborough and Harold went as Principal and to Pastor the local church there. He spread his wings and began to visit other churches to hold campaigns with other speakers like Howard Carter, C.L. Parker and Donald Gee.
Early in 1932 they moved to Bristol where they carried forward the work with great joy. Then in Nov 1933 the call to Luton came. The church was almost about to close the door due to liabilities. Within two weeks of Harold in the pulpit, large offerings were taken to cover bills and the Word was ministered with real anointing. He led his church forward in a real Pentecost. As he entered 1934 things were stirring. There were monthly meetings of the London District Presbytery of AOG to which he added his own note of scriptural clarity. For a few years he served on the Executive Presbytery of AOG.
At the end of 1934 he published his classic ‘The Gifts of the Spirit.’ The first time he was challenged concerning this scriptural doctrine was by Howard Carter. Howard would walk and talk with him in earlier years learning all he could. He borrowed Howard Carter’s teaching notes and built this book out of them. He had ‘hammered’ these messages out in study and experience over several years at the Woman’s Bible School in Louth as well as in Pastoral ministry in churches. But not only in teaching but also in practical experience he had seen them manifest. The book was soon used in Pentecostal Bible schools in America, Canada and the British Isles as a text book. It is still a classic and is still read widely.
Harold loved to talk about being 100% Pentecostal. He was uncompromising on truths like the New birth, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as separate from regeneration, healing in the atonement and tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism. In his writings he gave a clarion call for a forward movement in AOG and not a looking back to the ‘good old days.’ There were now about 300 AOG churches in the land. He defended the teaching of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the operation of tongues thoroughly. (His booklet ‘What is the good of speaking in tongues’ was another classic.) He believed the Pentecostal’s strongest argument for such was scripture. He never argued from experience or cut people off who disagreed or had doubts, he always dealt with them graciously and patiently. He invited honest enquiry, but always brought the enquirer to the written scripture. Because of his stance many came against him strongly but despite what must be hurtful, he never changed, never got angry and never grew bitter. When he ministered at conventions faith came into people’s hearts and they received the baptism and healing.
He wrote clearly and Biblically on issues such as preachers not having unscriptural titles like ‘Reverend’ – a title reserved for Christ alone. He warned against the wearing of special ministerial garb. He called women to dress modestly. He warned strongest of all about worldly methods of entertainment coming into the church. He had no time for worldly entertainment being brought into the church in order to draw in the unsaved. One of his clearest and most prophetic messages was ‘The Naked Splendour of the Cross’ which he preached at the annual AOG convention, it sent a shock wave across the movement and is still remembered today.
In September 1938 he resigned from the Luton church, moved to Hampstead and lived on the same road as the Bible School, from where he operated an itinerant ministry and a writing ministry, as well as helping at the School. After the war he departed to the United States where he remained for about five years to minister. During that time his book ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ was republished twice (1949 and 1953). At this time America was experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and new healing Evangelists were being raised up anointed of the Holy Spirit and thrust forth touching the masses. Harold sat in a number of these meetings and heard these various men. Harold fully acknowledged that this revival was a true Book of Acts Revival just like the one in which he had been transformed. “Bible days are here again.” When Harold returned to Britain in his 60’s he spoke as powerfully and clearly as ever.
After 44 years of walking with Christ in true Pentecost, Harold Horton passed away in 1969, and went to meet his King.
Donald Gee (1891-1966)
Donald Gee was born in London in 1891 and from his youth tended to be a good student. His father died of tuberculosis when he was nine years old.…
In October 1905, Seth Joshua, the Welsh revival preacher was invited to Donald’s church to hold a mission. Seth Joshua had a great influence upon the young Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival, at this time God was still mightily moving in that land. But that mission in London by this fiery Welsh man seemed a let down, only three were saved, Donald Gee being one of them. He then became a member of the same Congregational church. Not long after his conversion a smiling missionary lady who was staying with his mother very pointedly asked him, “And will you be a missionary when you grow up?” this confronted him with the struggle of total surrender in his own heart. As the years past he was worldly but certainly had a heart for spiritual things. One morning while taking the bread and wine at communion he found his thoughts full of the things of this world which suddenly shocked him. His mother was earnestly seeking God she was soon baptised in water and joined the Baptist church…
At Pentecostal prayer meetings he met a Baptist minister who was Pastoring a divided church. Half wanted to go the way of Pentecost and half resisted this strongly. When the organist resigned hoping to cause problems Donald offered his services and so joined this divided church. Soon those loyal to a Pentecostal experience followed Pastor Saxby out into a new Church. Of this man’s ministry Gee says, “the first seven years of my Pentecostal experience were spent under the powerful influence of a pastor who was a shining example of his office.” It was under this ministry that he stepped out in his first attempts at testifying and preaching. The 1st world war had started in 1914 but in 1916 conscription was introduced. Gee registered immediately as a ‘conscientious objector’ and so went to work on a dairy-farm in Bucks. He later saw it was the hand of providence as these next three years became God’s school of preparation for ministry. He was a social outcast, most often he worked to the point of utter physical exhaustion and they continued tithing with little to live on. After a year they moved to a second farm where the farmer was a believer who was soon led into the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Nearby was a small mission hall with simple earnest believers. The Gee’s joined themselves to this group with Donald often preaching on Sunday nights concerning the coming of the Lord and Pentecostal experience. Their home was used for ‘Tarrying’ meetings where believers sought and received the Baptism. When the War ended in 1918, now 27 years old, he returned to London with his wife and two kids.
The odd time he had opportunities to preach in some Pentecostal fellowship in London, sometimes cycling 10 miles. One such weekend Saxby asked him if he would consider going to preach in Edinburgh as a church was seeking a Pastor. In June 1920 he made his first journey there. At the first service a dozen troubled believers gathered, he would spend the next twelve years as Pastor of this church. In 21 he attended the international Pentecostal convention in Amsterdam. Also, he played the organ while Stephen Jeffrey’s preached at the Kingsway Convention. That same year at the Swanwick convention it came to light that his old Pastor, Saxby had taken hold of the ‘ultimate reconciliation’ teaching, that hell would but last a short time and that finally all would be saved even Judas. Elim’s statement of faith read “We believe in the…eternal conscious punishment of all Christ rejecters” later AOG’s statement said, “The everlasting punishment of all who are not written in the Book of Life.” Gee published articles in the magazines of both groups concerning the scriptural teaching on ‘Eternal Punishment.’
After his first anniversary the conditions and pressures against him in the fellowship and outside were so great that he ran off to London in despair. After two weeks he returned ready to battle through. Next came the shocking news that the biggest financial giver in the church was moving to Australia, but God provided, and they again continued. In 22 the church bought a new building called ‘Bonnington Toll Hall’ over the next year’s men like Jeffrey’s, Burton, Carter and Wigglesworth ministered here. Gee brought correction to the abuses of the gifts and systematically taught the people the Word. During these years he gave himself to study and personal writing. In 23 he considered joining Elim but finally decided not to as he would have to hand over the deeds of the building. In 24 Gee was one of 14/5 who met together to bring about the formation of AOG in Britain and Ireland. From 1925 to 1963 he sat on the executive presbytery, his calmness and wisdom were always valued.
His ministry in Edinburgh prospered and he was set in heart for a life long ministry in this church. But in 1928 he received a telegram from Australia inviting him for a period of ministry. With his wife they fell on their knees in prayer and received the witness that this was of the Lord. The night before he left he had a dream that he was onboard a big ocean liner, he was all alone stocking…This trip turned out to last 10 months including New Zealand, America and Canada. On the journey to Australia he wrote his first book ‘concerning spiritual gifts’ which had a great effect across many nations. It was in 29 that he resigned from ‘Bonnington Toll Hall’ and now used it as a base. This was the beginning of 23 years of international ministry trips covering all five continents. His eyes were opened to the need of teaching across the Pentecostal Movement worldwide. Now invitations poured in from across the world to this vessel who was prepared in years of quite study. He ministered much into a Bible School in Danzig Russia and helped their publishing. The years 31-33 saw him travel to 12 countries annually. Then he took on to be joint editor of the magazine Redemption Tidings. This had been a critical time in the whole movement, the 20’s had seen the fiery ministry of travelling Evangelist’s, but the 30’s needed the steadying ministry of the Teacher to keep things on course.
In 39 at the outbreak of war he gave himself to constant travel in Britain encouraging the fellowships. After the war at the Pentecostal world Convention in Zurich in 1947, Gee was chosen to become the editor of the magazine World Pentecost of which he produced 76 issues himself. Again, he continued his international travels over these years keeping abreast of the Pentecostal Movement worldwide. In 49 he updated and published his book the Pentecostal Movement later called Wind and Flame which is a true classic which no other man could have compiled first hand. In 51 he was approached by the board of Governors for the newly acquired AOG College at Kenley to become Principle, he accepted. After years of travel and now 60 years old he settled down to this task for the next 13 years, during which he took no salary. Amazingly he had always thought there was no need for Bible school training but now here he was. He was able to leave a mark upon the students who were setting out to serve God drawing on years of Pastoring and travel. No doubt several students must have been drawn because of such a man at the helm. In 62 he retired from all his positions and responsibilities but continued writing for magazines. Over the years he had written over 20 books and numberless articles. He had done much in getting recognition for and establishing the ministry gift of Teacher amongst Pentecostals. In 64 while travelling in a taxi this ‘Apostle of Balance’ took a heart attack and finished his long journey.
John Carter, his friend for over 40 years said the following at the funeral, “A gifted writer has laid down his pen. An eminent Bible expositor will teach no more. A distinguished editor has vacated his chair. A renowned author has concluded his last volume. A veteran leader has left our ranks. A great warrior has fought his last battle. Our friend Donald Gee has fallen asleep.”
At the time of Stanley Frodsham’s birth in 1882 in Bournemouth England, many women were losing their lives in childbirth, so his mother who walked with God gave herself unto prayer dedicating him to the Lord while he was yet in the womb. As he grew she would read to him from the Bible and often as she did tears would flow from her eyes. His father was also a godly man and known for his strict integrity. He always carried a copy of the book of proverbs with him and read a chapter a day by which he governed his life. Young Stanley was well educated as he grew, even beginning to learn French and Latin at the age of seven. From a young age he had a deep desire to be a writer. He was an avid reader and studied hard the English language but came to see that the simpler he wrote the better people understood him.
He was raised in a congregational church where the greatest visiting speakers were always the simplest. One day he read the life story of Hudson Taylor the founder of the China Inland Mission, he was challenged to the core by the reality of this man of God and by his life of faith. He now hungered to know God just as Taylor had known him. As he sought God he had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ, the old sins of swearing and smoking fell off immediately. Along with his brother he started a business, God blessed them greatly and they were enabled to give large sums of money to Gods work. Against all pressure they refused to work or open on Sundays. All his days he gave up and shunned immediately anything he felt did not glorify God or that hinted of worldliness.
In the winter of 1906 over into 1907 he visited Canada to explore the possibility of business investment. While there he began to hear about a spiritual revival of New Testament Christianity which was coming to the church across the world. When he returned to Britain he travelled to Sunderland in England in October 1908. It was there in the home of A.A. Boddy that Mrs Boddy laid hands on him and prayed, the Spirit of God filled him and “torrents of tongues poured from his lips.” In 1909 Stanley began his publishing ministry by writing a Pentecostal paper called Victory. The second issue was distributed at the Sunderland Whitsuntide convention and so spread across the land. He joined the first Pentecostal church in Bournemouth called the Apostolic Faith, it was run by a very strong character leader who made a big emphasis on prophesy as well as the restoration of the ministry of Apostle and prophet. This leader accused him of something of which he was totally innocent, this threw him into a time of great heart ache and distress of soul, but he cried unto the lord. This led him to leave this church seeing that they had moved into err. Soon others left, and Stanley became their pastor even though he had no such formal training. The first time he saw someone healed was when he was called to pray for a man who was crippled with rheumatism, he anointed him with oil and prayed, the pain left, and the man was healed. This was the first of many such healings. He was married to Alice Rowlands; the service was conducted by Smith Wigglesworth. In 1912 he attended the Sunderland convention again, two of the speakers were Wigglesworth and Barratt, and it was here that he also met the Carter brothers for the first time. Stepping out into a life of living by faith they moved to America.
Their views on money were strong; they trusted God alone, did not make known their needs and lived a very simple life which allowed them to give much to God’s work. While pastoring a church there they took a break, when they returned they found that false stories had been circulated about them and the people turned on them. So, they felt it best in the will of God to resign. At that very time J.W. Welch wrote to him thanking him for writing articles for the Pentecostal Evangel (the Assemblies of God magazine). At that time Welch was the magazine editor but felt out of place with it. He told Frodsham “We are praying for God’s man; are you the man?” He invited him to attend the 1916 General Council of the AOG. Here he was immediately elected as general secretary and appointed as a member of the committee to prepare the statement of fundamental truths. At the same time, he was assistant editor of the Evangel. As the missionary treasurer he greatly raised missions giving through his written articles. They met in a church building with wooden benches and sawdust floor. Later this would become a central church where the Word would sound out of. In 1920 he became the editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. He would rise every morning at 4.30 to pray and study the Word before going to his writings. He knew that he could only give out to believers as he received from God. In 22 a Bible School was started in the basement of the church. In 26 he compiled his first book on the Pentecostal Revival which is still a classic called With Signs Following. He would eventually write 15 books which would soon be published into Russian, Spanish, Chinese and eventually Indian and other languages. Two other classics he wrote and compiled was Wigglesworth’s testimony called Apostle of Faith and his sermons. Also, in 26 A.W. Ward came as pastor to the local church and became great friends with Frodsham who regularly published his sermons in the magazine.
In 49 he heard of a new and fresh outpouring of the Holy Ghost which initially brought a great unity amongst Pentecostals. From the beginning Frodsham accepted this as a move of God and recognised its similarity to that at the beginning of the century. Over the next years it would sweep the nation. Again, the gifts were operating and not just a theological concept amongst Pentecostals. But there was soon opposition from some groups because of extremes. Stanley always stood for testing all things by scripture and always dealt with what was not so. But he had a real reviving during this outpouring. Some in the General Council made a strong stand against what they saw as the extremes in this move, and there were undoubtedly extremes and fanatics within it. After much prayer he sadly resigned as editor of the Evangel, then from the council and finally handed in his ministerial credentials. This cost him his reputation, but he kept his conscience intact. It was a very sore time, but he wanted to be free to minister amongst all believers and Pentecostal churches. He left on good terms in a spirit of love with his friends on the council feeling it was too small an issue for him to take such drastic actions, they disagreed with him but at the same time respected him. His stance was “Our differences are temporal; our unity is eternal.”
As he moved into a new wide faze of ministry amongst independent Pentecostals his ministry was totally Christ-centred, and he was bold in dealing with error when he came across it. When he came across groups that were ‘way out’ if they did not hearken to the clarity of Scripture then he departed and avoided them. He gave himself afresh in a new way to the Word of God and prayer. Out of a deep hunger for God he was moved more than ever to give his early mornings and all nights to God in prayer. He said “We should be on our faces before him from dawn to dusk, and then long into the night. I’m sure God has much for us who will get desperate and spend much time waiting on Him.”
For the next 13 years he travelled constantly with his wife having no permanent home or base. It was a life lived out of a suitcase. So many invitations came that it was hard to follow them all up. In 64 the Spirit of God started to continually bring solemn prophetic warnings to him of coming delusion and error that would come to the churches (one such prophesy that was given to Frodsham is recorded under Warning on this site). He warned of a spirit of deception coming to those who did not hold fast to the Truth of the Bible and walk in holiness and righteousness. He could see afar off what was going to come in amongst Pentecostals and Charismatic’s. Looking back over forty years it is easy to see that he was truly hearing and warning from God. One fellow labourer and friend noted his characteristics, “his gentleness, his forgiving spirit to all who offended him, his abounding and unfailing generosity, the precious gift of prophesy, and his indomitable faith.”
In 69 in the middle of the night he finished his pilgrimage and so God’s Penman went to be with his Lord. On the grave marker was engraved an open book with AMEN HALLELUJAH GLORY on it. The last letter written to his only daughter finished with these apt lines, “Make much of the Word of God, make much of the Blood, and make much of the shortness of time.”
Mrs Crisp – (1856-1923)
Eleanor Searle was born in Devonshire in 1856 she moved with her family to London when she was 11 years old, where she was converted one year later. From the beginning, she determined to follow the Lord at any cost. For many years, she was the only one saved in her family. She was yet young when she began to serve the Lord in Sunday school and Bible classes, which soon began to grow and know the blessing of God. While in her youth she developed rheumatism, she was so badly affected by it that she soon became a helpless cripple, not even being able to turn the pages of her bible.
A woman came to her and spoke of Gods healing power, but without making much impression. However, this prompted her to study the Bible concerning sickness and healing. As she did, it was revealed to her that it was Gods purpose to heal. A minister from a Church in Hackney came and anointed her with oil, which resulted in her being totally delivered, she then joined the Church where Gods healing power was being mightily manifest. Her testimony appeared in the Christian herald and for a season many corresponded with her by letter. It was unusual to receive as many as 200 letters a week asking for prayer. She would pray for all; many great testimonies came from out of this time of healing from every disease and deliverance from every trouble. She started the YMCA in Hackney, which quickly grew from 6 to three hundred with great blessing upon many lives.
She married William Crisp in 1877 to whom she bore seven children. Sadly, we know little about her husband or their marriage, but he probably died before the end of the century. It was by the name Mrs Crisp that she later became so well known in Christian and Pentecostal circles. When the first testimonies of a Pentecostal revival reached Britain she readily received the Pentecostal Baptism as seen in the Book of Acts. She had been prepared, forged and matured in holiness circles for the task she now took up.
When the Pentecostal Missionary Union (PMU) started, they asked her if she would take responsibility for the Training Home of the women. This home was started in January 1910 with the object of testing and training young women who had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and felt the call to the foreign Mission field. The staff lived by faith trusting God to meet their every need. The PMU Council made it clear that it would not be carrying the financial responsibilities, but each student must trust God for her training and later also on the mission field. Her teaching to the women involved a comprehensive instruction of the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation in sequence. Individual attention was also given to each student in the important issue of the training and development of character. All who were able were encouraged to learn an instrument. Lessons on English, Geography and the people and religions of the world were also given. At the 1912 Sunderland Convention, she did state her hope that God would give the gift of languages to those going to the mission field or at least help in them easily learning the language. Two maps hung in the School; one was a world map that filled a whole wall. The other was a map of India. These helped in instruction as well as intercession. A considerable amount of time daily was allotted to intercessory prayer for the nations. About 40 letters with prayer requests would arrive weekly. Students went out from here to India, China, Africa and Japan.
At the 1913 Sunderland Convention a remarkable incident happened which was a small confirmation of the supernatural element in speaking in tongues. A certain Brother in the meeting gave a loud message in tongues; it was a distinct, clear unknown tongue. Miss Doering who spoke English, German, Swedish and several African languages was on the platform to translate for the German brethren. She quietly informed them that this was a real language and went on to interpret a part of it. To start with it sounded like “Ding-a-la, ding-a-la” then proceeded into sentences. It was Mrs Crisp sitting further back in the congregation who gave the interpretation. Then Miss Doering, a missionary with the Congo Inland Mission quickly and publicly bore witness to its accuracy. She said it was the language of the Kifioti tribe among whom she was labouring, and that Mrs Crisp had given an excellent interpretation of the message. She went on to say that in the Congo, sentries are stationed at intervals to pass messages quickly. They first give a call to pay attention before giving the message. This call is “Ding-a-la, ding-a-la.”
Eleanor Crisp became well known as a conference speaker, often ministering alongside men like Boddy, Polhill, Wigglesworth and others. It was in 1923 that her strength began to fail. Nevertheless, even while confined to bed she was giving wise direct advice to all who came to her. She went to be with the Lord on the 16th of October. A group of young people were still meeting and ministering in Hackney where she had started, but they were without a permanent building. The suggestion was made that offerings be taken up out of appreciation to Mrs. Crisp to erect a hall where the full Gospel could be preached. Truly, she was a Mother in Israel.
The Pentecostal Gold Standard
After 50 years in ministry, Jack Hayford continues to confound stereotypes – all to the good.
In 1969, 35-year-old Jack Hayford pulled up to a traffic light in front of First Baptist Church of Van Nuys. Like any other pastor in Southern California, he knew of the Baptist congregation. It was growing like a weed, drawing nationwide publicity under the leadership of Pastor Harold Fickett.
Hayford’s church, a few blocks down Sherman Way, was an aging foursquare congregation with just 18 members. Two weeks before, Hayford had taken on the church temporarily while serving as dean of students at L.I.F.E. Bible College (now Life Pacific College), an institution of his Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
Parked at the light, Hayford felt a burning sensation on his face, a startlingly physical sense of the church’s intimidating presence. Through an inner voice God spoke to him, reprovingly: “You could at least begin by looking at the building.” He turned and saw nothing but a modern brick structure. “What now?” Hayford asked. “I want you to pray for that church,” God said. “What I am doing there is so great; there is no way the pastoral staff can keep up with it. Pray for them.”
As Hayford began to pray, he felt an overflow of love for Van Nuys Baptist. It seemed to take no effort. Through the days to come, the same sensation came to him every time he passed by a church—any church. “I felt an overwhelming love for the church of Jesus Christ. I realized I had them in pigeonholes.”
A few days later, he approached a large Catholic church. Having been raised to take strong exception to Catholic doctrine, he wondered whether he would have the same feelings. He did, and heard another message from God: “Why would I not be happy with a place where every morning the testimony of the blood of my Son is raised from the altar?” “I didn’t hear God say that the Catholics are right about everything,” Hayford says now, remembering the experience that changed his ministry. “For that matter, I didn’t hear him saying the Baptists are right about everything, nor the Foursquare.”
The message was simply that people at those churches cared about God. These were sites dedicated to Jesus’ name. And he, Hayford, was supposed to love and pray for them.
Hayford turned 71 in June. Gravity has pulled his face downwards, his hair has disappeared, and he wears a sombre, eagle-beaked visage. Occasionally his wry sense of humour appears without warning, cracking his face into a sudden toothy smile. More often, though, his face falls into solemnity.
According to Steve Strang, publisher of charismatic magazines Charisma and Ministries Today, Hayford has emerged as Pentecostals’ and charismatic’s’ gold standard. “Pastor Jack would fall into a category of statesman almost without peer,” Strang says. “His integrity and theological depth are so well known that he can draw together all kinds of factions.”
In Southern California, he is known as founding pastor of the Church on the Way, a congregation of 10,000 that he built from that struggling 18 – member start in Van Nuys. Its one-time Anglo suburban neighbourhood has become gritty Latino turf, but the church has not moved. Hayford has a strongly physical sense of God’s work, and he believes that the Church on the Way was called to that very location. Spanish-language services have become the leading edge of the church, averaging 6,000 in weekly attendance.
Having reached an age when it would be reasonable to retire into statesmanship, Hayford has taken on more challenges. Last fall he was elected president of the Foursquare denomination, replacing a predecessor who resigned after the church lost $15 million in a phony investment scheme. Seven years before that, his predecessor resigned under similar circumstances. Intensely loyal to his denomination, Hayford intends to reinvigorate a discouraged institution.
He only recently completed another emergency assignment, coming out of retirement when Scott Bauer, his son-in-law and successor at Church on the Way, died unexpectedly. Hayford steered the church through that crisis, while continuing his leading role at the seminary and Bible College he founded— King’s College and Seminary, ironically located on the former campus of Van Nuys Baptist. In addition, one week of every month he leads the Jack W. Hayford School of Pastoral Nurture, a five-day seminar for pastors at which he speaks for six to eight hours a day on his philosophy of ministry.
Hayford continues to write, teach on radio and TV, and speak all over the world. His latest of some 40 books has just been released: Manifest Presence: Expecting a Visitation of God’s Grace Through Worship.
Hayford brings Pentecostals together with other evangelicals. He has done this less through grand strategy than by patient outreach, one person at a time. In his public speaking, he makes frequent, appreciative references to Non-Pentecostal influences, from C. S. Lewis to Richard Foster. He reaches out to other L.A.-area pastors. John MacArthur counts him as a friend despite their many theological differences. Presbyterian pastor and former Senate chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie consider him one of his oldest and dearest prayer partners.
Likewise, there is hardly an evangelical leader Hayford does not know and speak well of. He is reliably involved as a leader in interdenominational activities, from mayoral prayer breakfasts to the recent Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade (which he co-chaired). A prominent speaker at Promise Keepers rallies, he has been heavily involved in efforts at racial reconciliation. He does all this without toning down his Pentecostalism one decibel. He is, in fact, aggressive about his beliefs, though he presents them graciously, in a way that explains and persuades.
Leadership editor Marshall Shelley recalls hearing Hayford at a prayer summit at Multnomah Bible College. Most of the gathered pastors were conservative non-Pentecostals. “By the time he was done, he had most of those pastors lifting their hands in praise,” Shelley says. “He did it by explaining why it was biblical and why it mattered. He made sense. He brought rationality to spiritual expressiveness.”
Hayford does not always get the same respectful treatment in return. One reason he is sensitive to racial injustice, he says, is because he experienced parallel mistreatment as a young Pentecostal. Prejudice is fading, he believes, but it still galls him that some bookstores won’t stock his books, and that certain radio networks exclude him. “I made a very distinct choice [to be a full-strength Pentecostal],” he says. “I could have been more reserved, silent on things that were my true conviction, but you don’t make headway against prejudice by compromise.”
He can be sharply critical of non-Pentecostal positions, such as what he sees as the temptation of Reformed thinking to fall into fatalism. “Reformed theology has … ended up creating a monster of theology that dampens the place of our passion and partnership with God.”
He is quite willing to critique fellow Pentecostals too, and admits that charismatic televangelists can be extremely imprecise in their theological utterances. He tends to excuse them, though, as well meaning and excitable. If you are choosing up teams, there is no doubt where his sympathies lie. That makes it more remarkable how far he extends himself outside of Pentecostal circles.
David Moore, a Ph.D. candidate at Regent University who is writing his thesis on Hayford, notes that Hayford’s Lausanne II address, given in Manila, was entitled “Passion for Fullness.” In Hayford’s vocabulary, “genuine spiritual fullness is bridge building. To be fully Pentecostal means being open to the fullness and breadth of the church. If you have a commitment to building the kingdom of God, you have to be committed to the church beyond the sector you’re in.” Hayford conveys remarkable graciousness toward those who disagree with him, as well as to those who have fallen from grace. Thus, he has invited both John MacArthur and Jim Baker to preach in his church.
Hayford likes to note the cornerstone of the Angelus Temple, from which founder Aimee Semple McPherson built the Foursquare denomination. It reads, “Dedicated unto the cause of Inter-denominational and World-Wide Evangelism.” Like McPherson, Hayford works within a church and a denomination, but his eyes look outward.
The Lord’s Voice
Hayford tells many stories that feature the Lord’s voice. He doesn’t hear audible sounds, he says, but receives strong mental impressions, sometimes so clear that he feels he could almost say, “The Lord told me, and I quote.” Though always mindful to assert that the ultimate voice of God is found in the Scriptures, he describes guidance aided by vivid mental pictures and dreams. Many of his most pivotal moments came because of such experiences. “I’m not glib about that,” he says. “The Lord and I don’t have an ongoing conversation. We do have an ongoing relationship.” A daily, attentive, childlike relationship with God is at the heart of Pentecostal belief, Hayford thinks, and he wishes it for every Christian.
Not surprisingly, it was divine guidance that first prompted him to take on the pastorate of a tiny, aging congregation in Van Nuys. Hayford had already turned down one of the most prestigious pulpits in the denomination. Young and rising in reputation, he agreed to take a six-month interim in Van Nuys only because he would be free to go to a more significant church when fall rolled around.
He was in the denomination’s downtown L.A. offices, conversing with Rolf McPherson, head of Foursquare and son of founder Aimee Semple McPherson, when quite apart from the conversation “there descended on me an awareness that I was to stay at the church. It was not a delightful realisation.” His first congregational meeting had 16 of the 18 members in attendance. The average age was more than 65. He remembers their faces shining with joy—not because they grasped what he said about his goals in ministry, but because he was young. They saw a young, dynamic pastor, his wife and children, and they felt hope.
Hayford says he had two main pastoral ideas in mind when he began in Van Nuys. One was an emphasis on the ministry of all believers. The pastor’s job, described in Ephesians 4:11-12, was to equip the congregation for ministry, not to do the ministry himself. The second idea was the priority of worship, coming before evangelism and mission in the life of the church.
Neither idea was unique. In northern California, a Bible-church Pastor named Ray Stedman was gaining national attention preaching about “body life” using the same passage in Ephesians. Meanwhile the Jesus movement had brought an upsurge in contemporary music that would lead to vastly increased appreciation for worship all over.
Hayford, however, integrated these ideas with a strong, practical, and Pentecostal theology of the kingdom of God. “His motivation is to get theology into people, to get it lived out,” says Pastor Jim Tolle, who attended the church in its early days after coming home from Vietnam. (After years heading the church’s Hispanic ministry, Tolle has become its senior pastor.)
If Pentecostals are not stereotypically theological thinkers, Hayford breaks the stereotype. “What an outstanding intellectual Jack is,” Lloyd Ogilvie notes. “He is a deeply rooted scholar in the biblical tradition.”
On a Saturday night, Hayford was praying through his church sanctuary. He likes to do this every Saturday night—to go through the room laying hands on each seat, praying for God’s blessing on the people who will sit in them Sunday morning. It’s typical that his view of God’s working in the congregation is so physically rooted, right down to the actual seats in the actual room. This is his preparation for Sunday worship: praying over the place.
On this occasion, he was with two other staff members when a college member knocked on the door. She had noticed some activity and came over to see whether she could join in. Hayford felt led to direct them into the four corners of the sanctuary, where they raised their hands up and over the space between them, as though extending a canopy. For some time, they sang spontaneously before the Lord.
When they were done, they felt deeply moved, for reasons they could not quite explain. The youth pastor, Paul Charter, made a suggestion. “The Lord impressed on me that the reason the experience seemed so profound was that we were standing with angels, blending with them in worship.” Hayford thought no more of it until the next Tuesday, when he attended the early morning men’s prayer meeting. He was “feeling tired … as spiritual as a toad.” Despite that, the Lord spoke to him during the meeting. “The angelic creatures I showed Paul are the four living creatures of Revelation 4.” “I’m thinking, ‘Of course,'” Hayford says sardonically. “‘Where else but in Van Nuys.’ I’m thinking, this is the way kooks start. Entire cults began with less than this.” Nevertheless, he got up on the platform and read to himself the passage from the pulpit Bible—John’s vision of ecstatic worship around the throne of God.
Ten days later, Hayford says, in the church parking lot, he suddenly caught a mental picture so vivid that he understood God’s message. What he saw was an alignment between the throne of God described by John, and the church he pastored on Sherman Way in Van Nuys. One seemed to blend into the other: vast multitudes of praising creatures in John’s vision overlapping with the praising people of the Church on the Way. As Hayford saw it, the entire San Fernando Valley, ten miles wide, became an amphitheatre of praise surrounding God’s throne.
Reality, as Hayford came to grasp it, is that God works simultaneously in the visible and the invisible, in the physical and the spiritual. The worshiping church stands at the heart of his reign. Thus, the church Hayford pastored (and any church, potentially) was more than a gathering of people dedicated to a far-off spiritual kingdom and to somewhat abstract principles. The church at worship became an expression of the power of the kingdom of God, with the literal presence of God in the middle of its sanctuary.
David Moore says Hayford’s theology of the kingdom of God is strikingly like George Eldon Ladd’s. The difference, Moore says, is that “Ladd doesn’t make the application. He says a lot of the same things, but he doesn’t apply them with the same dynamism.”
Hayford’s passion is the kingdom of God operating in the here and now, with power, through the church—any church, big or small. Though he grew a megachurch, Hayford cares little for techniques of church growth.
His idea of spiritual warfare centres on a worshiping congregation. That is why classically Pentecostal forms of worship matter. He believes in pushing people out of their comfort zone into the free exercise of congregational singing, of praise, of shouting before the Lord. Such worship liberates people to live out the kingdom of God. Therefore, people’s self-awareness, their reluctance to let themselves go in praise, is an obstacle pastors must forcefully confront. “It is infinitely easier,” Hayford says, “to cultivate a congregation that will listen to the Word of God than to cultivate a people who will worship God.” He believes lifting hands to God is more than an option, it is a timeless demand suited to our bodies. Music, too, taps in to God’s power.
Hayford is a musician who has written more than 400 songs, including the well-known Majesty.” He understands congregational singing as a God mandated form for praise.
While Hayford subscribes to Pentecostal doctrine that tongues are a “sign gift,” indicating the baptism of the Spirit, he doesn’t think the point can be conclusively proved one way or the other from Scripture. Instead he emphasises that tongues are a useful gift—useful to the worshiper in prayer, and thus useful to the kingdom of God, which works through praying believers. “I have a passion to move every Christian to the free exercise of tongues,” Hayford says, “not as a proof of spirituality but as a privilege for worship and intercession.”
He thinks the obstacle to speaking in tongues is less theological than personal—people’s fear of the unknown. Here too pastoral leadership is needed, he says, because tongues enable God’s people to pray effectively even when they don’t know how to pray.
Intercessory prayer, like worship, is a hallmark of Hayford’s practical theology. Early on he instituted “prayer circles” at morning worship. The congregation breaks into small groups to pray for each other, for their community, and for the world. Prayer circles apprentice people in the service of prayer. “If you expect them to do it at home,” Pastor Jim Tolle says, “you have to walk through it in the service. We practice praying. We live it out in each of our services. And to tell you the truth, it’s really not convenient. It’s a turnoff for new people, who don’t know what to do. It can get old.
People can get ritualized in it. But we keep on.” Hayford takes prayer as a heavy responsibility. “If I don’t pray for [my wife], Anna, there’s a gaping hole of vulnerability.” Prayer embraces much more than family and church matters.
The fence in front of Hayford’s home has 11 pillars, which he uses to remind him of 11 areas of responsibility that demand his prayer. One column is for his city. His vision of the physical-spiritual alignment tells him that the church’s location in Los Angeles is no accident. He sees God’s people going out from worship to affect every aspect of L.A.—from its ethnic diversity to its Hollywood glitz. He chokes up describing his “great affection in terms of mission to my city.” The church, he believes, should avoid any hint of political partisanship or Christian self-righteousness. He rejects triumphalism that only sees triumph in getting exactly what you asked for.” “I don’t think we’re called to silence, but we are called to sensitivity. We’re not good at that.” He does, however, believe in the church’s call to make a difference on Earth, not merely to redeem people for a future in heaven.
‘Tell the Truth, Jack’
Hayford was born in Los Angeles and dedicated in a Foursquare church in Long Beach. Most of his childhood, however, was spent in Oakland. His father was a switchman for the Southern Pacific railroad; his mother was a Bible teacher who spoke widely in interdenominational women’s classes and in Women’s Aglow Fellowship (now Aglow International). Neither parent graduated from high school, but they were outward looking and “a talkative family,” says Hayford’s wife, Anna. “They had wild discussions.”
Hayford admired both his parents, but “he is exactly like his mother,” Anna says. Like Jack, his mother “could be very demanding.” But she was a compassionate woman, “always championing the cause of someone not so lovable.” “The first time I interviewed [his mother], Delores, I was just taken aback,” says David Moore. “I thought, ‘I’m meeting Jack Hayford.”
Moore mentions her quick wit, her precision, and her broad awareness. From his mother, Hayford got his intellectual curiosity (lately he is reading on string theory), and his strong sense of accountability before God. He remembers her saying, “Tell me the truth, Jack, in the presence of Jesus.” He never took this as manipulative: The sense was that since Jesus knew the truth, Jack couldn’t gain much by concealing it.
For 10 years, until Jack was 14, his father refused to go to church, where his smoking and occasional lapses into drinking would be looked down on. Out of loyalty to her husband, Hayford’s mother stayed home too, sending her children off to church without her. “He once beat me up,” Hayford says of his father, “and Mother threw herself over me.” She protected her 10-year-old cub and warned off her husband in no uncertain terms.
Hayford grew up with a keen religious awareness. “He probably has the healthiest sense of the fear of God of anyone that I’ve ever met,” says Jack Hamilton, his long-time colleague in ministry. In college, Hayford noted the angel Gabriel’s words in Luke 1:19: “I am Gabriel, and I stand in the presence of God.” In the margins of his Bible, Hayford wrote, “May this always be true of me.” He has endeavoured to live in that kind of God consciousness. His “fear of the Lord” embraces his obedience to God’s daily leading.
For example, Hayford doesn’t believe that the Scriptures require teetotalism, but he says that many years ago the Lord impressed on him that he personally ought not to drink wine. Then, “Seventeen years ago, in my kitchen, the Lord spoke to me: “Chocolate shall be to you as wine. “Hayford understands that as a private but absolute mandate not to touch chocolate. “I believe that the Lord knows my body, and knows what is good for me. And I fear the Lord. I would not dare disobey. It’s about as righteous as that I’m not going to step off the edge of a five-story building.”
He studies Scripture with the same spirit. Every day he reads on his knees. It’s a physical discipline reminding him that every word addresses him, so he must constantly ask, “What does this have to do with me?”
While Hayford encourages accountability groups and structures, he warns pastors that only accountability to God can protect them. “Ultimately it’s the only thing that will make me accountable to anyone else—my wife, my congregation, even myself.”
Always, not far from his mind is the heavenly assembly, praising God around his throne. The kingdom of God is present in Van Nuys, California, even while creation waits for “the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). And always somewhere within Hayford’s awareness are the words, “Tell me the truth, Jack, in the presence of Jesus.”