I am one blessed person. I was raised (and reared … but that is for a different blog post) in a Christian home by two Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled parents who knew the importance of continually being in church services (again … another possible future blog post) where the Holy Spirit was a resident and not a guest (another possible future blog post). Because of constantly being in an environment where the Holy Spirit was free to speak and demonstrate His presence, I know what the New Testament “norm” is for Church. Speaking and worshiping God in tongues in a church service for personal edification? It’s the norm. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues during a worship service for the benefit of the Church? It’s the norm. The gift of prophecy? It’s the norm. The gift of … I could go on and on and answer with the same answer. It’s the norm. This constant exposure forever sealed in my spirit how Church should be done.
Is this happening in your services? If your answer is no, I can probably guess what your reason might be … a fear that the people and especially the visitors won’t understand the movement of the Spirit. I fully understand your concern. After all, this is a supernatural manifestation of God’s presence and power and, with many people unaccustomed to this, you have a fear of them quickly looking for the exit door. Am I right? Because of this, few leaders today desire and/or allow the New Testament norm to be their norm.
How do we address this situation? The answer is quite simple. The Bible demonstrates that the supernatural workings of God always needs to be followed with an explanation. We see this in Acts 2 when Peter answered the “What meaneth this” question. In Acts 4, Peter had to explain the supernatural power of God (the gifts of healings and the working of miracles) to the Sadducees. In Acts 11, Peter had to explain to the leaders of the Church about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are both an explanation and correction about working together with the Holy Spirit.
I’ll admit up front that this was taught and demonstrated throughout my upbringing. After there was a manifestation of one of the gifts of the Spirit, my pastor B.B. Hankins would always (and I do mean always) give a brief biblical explanation for what had just transpired. For example, if there was a message in tongues followed by the interpretation, Brother Hankins would immediately follow with an explanation to the effect of, “For the sake of those who might be visiting our service today, allow me to explain what just transpired. From God’s Word, we see that Jesus told His followers just before His return to heaven that the Father would be sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) to help and strengthen and encourage God’s children. We read in I Corinthians 12 and 14 that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit supernaturally comes to our aid is by His speaking directly to us through supernatural utterances.” Or, Brother Hankins might say, “For the sake of our guests today, let me explain what just transpired. The Bible show us in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 that our supernatural God uses supernatural means to care for His children. What you’ve just seen and heard isn’t something new. The apostle Paul wrote that God would use these gifts to edify, exhort, and bring comfort. And, from the message that just came after the utterance in the heavenly language, you can easily see that God did speak to us.” It was never a lengthy sermon but rather a simple, short, helpful explanation.
Let’s be New Testament. We have no reason to hold back on the Pentecostal expression of worship. Our bold embrace of singing in the Spirit or praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15) in a corporate gathering will show what should be experienced in private at home. Our freedom to allow the gifts of the Spirit to operate in a public gathering shows what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your congregant’s workplace. But remember, an explanation is of the utmost importance.
One more note … what I’ve shared must be the practice THROUGHOUT the Church … children, youth, AND adults. Children’s Pastors/Student Ministry Pastors, make the New Testament norm your norm. It’s not “weird” to be filled with the Spirit and pray in a heavenly prayer language. (1 Corinthians 14:2,4,14). It’s not “weird” to sing in the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:15). It’s not “weird” for God’s gifts to be seen in your service. ( 1 Corinthians 14:26). It will cause both your people to grow spiritually and your congregation to grow numerically. Example … Acts 2 – 3,000 people added to the Kingdom … Acts 3 and 4 – 5,000 added to the Kingdom. The gifts with the explanation will ALWAYS produce growth.
I apologize for the length of this blog post. But, I am convinced that this is one of the most important blogs that I have written. It is both needed and timely for today’s Church. I’ll look forward to reading your response.