Who are we in Christ?

We were created by God in his own image to be his own child, to do what He wants, when, where and how He wants, in order to get the results He wants.

And He made us with free will to choose to be and do that, or not.

Since starting this study, almost every day the Holy Spirit brings me another scripture with another facet of our identity in Christ to add to my notes. The following is in sort of a haphazard order, despite my attempts to make a logical step-by-step list.

I’m sure there are other descriptions and scriptures that could be added so I’m not going to publish this as “all inclusive.” Now and then He tells me, “It will ALL be helpful, you’ll see,” so I keep listening, keep studying, keep praying, and typing.

(If you get bored with this long list, just quit reading, but please don’t quit thinking about this subject, or asking the Lord for yourself: WHO AM I? He’ll find a way to answer you.)

How we live our daily lives, how we share God’s word, how we witness, even how we pray and intercede, are all related to that one essential question:

Who are we in Christ?

  • “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  • We are in Christ, everything else is derived from that truth. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28, John 14:20
  • We are also inhabited by God: (1) by the Father, (2) by Jesus, and (3) by the Holy Spirit, John 14:17-23. All the Trinity make their home inside us.
  • We were created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27
  • Chosen, (1) He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, Ephesians 1:4; (2) God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:13; (3) you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9
  • Forgiven of all sins, Colossians 2:13-14
  • Free, not condemned, Romans 8:1-2
  • Saved by grace, God’s free gift to us, Ephesians 2:8
  • … through faith, also a gift from God, Ephesians 2:8
  • … faith that comes by hearing and believing God’s word, Romans 10:17
  • … his own faith was offered by Jesus to the disciples and to us, Mark 11:22
  • We are now the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Made an entirely new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Sons of God, adopted; also led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
  • Heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17
  • Made one spirit with Him, I Corinthians Cor. 6:17
  • Friends of Jesus, John 15:13-15, also see 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23
  • Taught by the Holy Spirit, who will also bring back to our remembrance whatever Jesus taught us; He will also show us the future, John 14:26
  • God’s workmanship, Ephesians 2:10, also see verse 8
  • Being changed (metamorphosized) from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, also see Colossians 1:27
  • Unfinished; God began a good work in me and will continue to perform it, Philippians 1:6;
  • A life-long learner; I am continually learning and adding to what I have received and know, 2 Peter 1:3-8
  • God’s workers to do what he ordained for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
  • Co-laborers (co-workers) with God to do those things, 1 Corinthians 3:9; also see 2 Corinthians 6:1
  • As Jesus is, so are we in this world, I John 4:17
  • Imitators of God and of Christ, the word “followers” is literally translated imitators, Ephesians 5:1
  • Imitators of Paul as he imitates Christ, I Corinthians 4:16, 11:1
  • Seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6, also see 1:20-23
  • Spiritual warriors, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; in a war, whether we know it or not
  • Armed and armored, Ephesians 6:11-17
  • More than conquerors, Romans 8:37-39

What is our assignment?

  • Replenish planet earth, subdue it and have dominion over it, Genesis 1:26-28
  • Seek the kingdom of God, Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31-32, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17
  • Because “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:31-32
  • Reign with him on earth now, in this lifetime, Romans 5:17, Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6; 22:5
  • Do what Jesus did, i.e make disciples, teach them to observe what he commanded the first disciples: (1) preach the kingdom, (2) heal the sick, (3) cleanse the lepers, (4) raise the dead, and (5) cast out demons; Matthew 28:18-20
  • Do even greater works, i.e. deeds, than Jesus did, John 14:12-13
  • Do the works ordained by God for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
  • Be co-workers with him, I Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1
  • Be ambassadors for him, 2 Corinthians. 5:20
  • God is in us to will and to do his good pleasure; allow him to do that, Philippians 2:13
  • Do everything in love, I Corinthians 16:14 (agape, God-kind of love)
  • Walk (live, behave) in love, Ephesians 5:2
  • Give thanks in everything – no matter what happens around us, there are always things to be thankful for, I Thessalonians 5:18
  • Offer the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15
  • Pray without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5:17
  • Pray in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18
  • Pray with all prayer and supplication, Ephesians 6:18
  • Pray God’s will and then we know we have what we requested, I John 5:14-15
  • Receive answers to prayer, thus receiving fullness of joy, John 15:11, 16:24
  • Note: many scriptures instruct believers to pray. None say pray for the sick, however, except for James 5:14: a sick person should call for the elders of the church who will anoint him with oil and then they pray over him. Jesus commanded disciples to heal the sick, not pray for the sick.

How can we do that?

  • Know God and Jesus, John 17:3
  • Be led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
  • Receive faith, Mark 11:22, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 10:17
  • Live by faith, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 2:20
  • Receive the baptism (and thus God’s power – dunamis) of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:8
  • Be being filled with the Holy Spirit; this is a continuous verb, not a one-time event, Ephesians 5:18
  • Be a co-laborer with God, not a “lone ranger,” 1 Corinthians 3:9
  • Know who we are in Christ, know who God is and who the enemy is, John 10:10
  • Know our authority on the earth, Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, the same as the original disciples / apostles, Matthew 28:18-20
  • He gave them power and authority, Luke 9:1, 10:17-19, the 70 returned in joy; he gave them authority over all the power of the enemy; also applies to us
  • Fight the good fight of faith, 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Submit to God, then resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7
  • Resist the devil steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world, I Peter 5:9
  • Desire all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Corinthians 12-14
  • Covet the best spiritual gifts (i.e. most appropriate for the need) I Corinthians 12:31; especially covet to prophesy, I Corinthians 14:39
  • Expect Jesus to manifest himself to us, John 14:21
  • Abide in him, allow his word to abide in us; then we can ask and it is done, John 15:7
  • Be transformed (metamorphosized) by the renewing, i.e. renovation of the mind (Greek word nous, way of thinking and understanding), Romans 12:2
  • We have the mind of Christ, his way of thinking and understanding as he is in us, 1 Corinthians 2:16
  • Take advantage of the information, training and equipment available in God’s word, 2 Peter 1:3-8
  • Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, Ephesians 6:10
  • Be spiritually armed and armored with the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
  • Realize that we can do all things through Christ, Philippians 4:13
  • Allow the fruit of the spirit to grow and develop in our lives, Galatians 5:22-24
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, John 16:13
  • Live and walk (act, behave) in the spirit, Galatians 5:25
  • Continue living and acting by the spirit, not by keeping the law, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, 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 3:1-3
  • Be patient after doing the will of God, Hebrews 10:36
  • Let patience do its perfect work so we will lack nothing, James 1:4
  • Be patient with joyfulness, Colossians 1:11
  • Be anxious for nothing, Philippians 4:6
  • Do not be troubled or afraid, John 14:27, 1 John 4:18
  • Let the peace of God rule in our heart, Colossians 3:15
  • Be humble, 1 Peter 5:5-6
  • Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should, Romans 12:3

Also see:

Paul’s prayers, good examples to pray for ourselves and others:

  • Be enriched in utterance and knowledge, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8
  • Have the spirit of wisdom and revelation, understanding the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Christians), Ephesians 1:16-19
  • Be strengthened… comprehend… filled with the fullness of God; read entire passage, Ephesians 3:14-19
  • Know and understand God’s will, Colossians 1:9,
  • Be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, Ephesians 5:17

My prayer language

My Prayer Language

Time: 11:55 PM, April 15, 1974… That’s when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, with no any idea in the least what was happening.

I’d never even heard of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but whatever it was, it was exhilarating. Exciting. Terrifying. Challenging!

Somehow I knew it was the answer to my short prayer at bedtime — “Lord, help me.”
(see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/testimony-adventures-with-the-holy-spirit-part-i/) But I didn’t realize that among everything else that was happening, I was receiving a precious gift, a language with which my spirit could communicate directly with Father God.

It was the middle of the night! The house was quiet, my husband was sound asleep in the bed beside me, and I was hearing the most beautiful chorus singing songs of worship and adulation to the Father, inside my head. It didn’t occur to me that it was my own spirit; or that I could sing those lovely words out loud.

Years earlier I had taken voice lessons to help overcome a sore, scratchy throat that developed nearly every afternoon, following a day of teaching many Bible college classes. My vocal instructor gave me a book of familiar classic opera solos and sang along with me as we practiced them.

None were written in English; they were in Latin, French or Italian. All composed in a much higher pitch than my usual speaking voice, it soon became obvious that I wasn’t actually an alto, as I’d always thought. (And always sung, throughout six years of chorus and chorale in high school!) I was a soprano, singing those high register notes without a problem.

I was thrilled! Pretty soon the scratchiness at the end of a day was a thing of the past. I still have that book somewhere; it brings back many sweet memories of the teacher and our times singing together. Ave Maria. Un Bel Di. Jerusalem, the Lament of Christ. Such sweet songs in sweet languages I’d never learned, although I read the English translation printed beneath the foreign phrases so I could make sense of the pieces.

All that is to say, the beautiful melodies I was now hearing in my mind weren’t any of those languages. Not Greek or Hebrew, either, as I had gotten familiar with those while studying the Bible. So what was it?

I didn’t know, but that musical concert was so peaceful, even regenerating. I didn’t attempt to sing along; how could I? I didn’t know that language. Thankful for this special gift I just listened and enjoyed it.

A few weeks later I began reading Dennis Bennett’s book, The Holy Spirit and You, and came across a thought-provoking chapter about speaking in tongues, and praying in the spirit. I began thinking more about the lovely music I was hearing. Was that actually my own spirit singing? If it was, could I sing those words out loud?

I decided to find out one afternoon while preparing supper for my family. All alone in the house there was no-one to make fun, or criticize, or have to explain it to. Standing over my kitchen range, I began to sing out loud, not understanding the language but finding the words coming easily.

Whole phrases, sentences, and paragraphs came in an orderly fashion! It was amazing! I felt like I was singing a brand-new aria I’d never heard before.

Well, that was 1974. Continuing to study about the work of the Holy Spirit, I learned that this spiritual language — singing in the spirit — has two purposes.

  • One is to offer thanksgiving, praise and worship from my heart to Father God.
  • The other is to speak out a prayer God himself inspires, allowing him to perform something on earth that he wants to do: his will.

These expressions quickly became an integral part of who I am in the Lord. I still sing in the spirit (especially in groups of spirit-filled believers worshiping our Lord together), and I pray in the spirit as well as in English.

Sometimes I advise a friend with a thorny problem to solve to pray in tongues, i.e. in the spirit, whenever not praying or speaking in English. I believe the solution will come faster than it would have otherwise. That has certainly been the case in my own life over these years.

Here’s something else I’ve learned over the years: Not everyone receives a full-blown language to begin with. Sometimes they only receive a few words and because of that, they don’t truly believe they were given a spiritual language.

But if they speak the words they do have, more will come. It’s like a young child learning our complicated English language, their vocabulary starts out small but over time it grows, and grows.

(Here’s a helpful article about the difference between this and the gift of tongues for public meetings:  https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/tongues-prayer-language-vs-public-gift/)

Another spirit of fear: heights

Fear of people had seemed to be a lifelong problem for me. (See link below). Fear of heights, not so much.

As a grammar school kid spending summers with my grandparents, trees were just one of those big toys God put in their yard for me to play with, in, on, atop, you get the picture.

Chinaberry trees were wonderful habitats for imaginative boys and girls. Hide and seek? Cops and robbers? Cowboys and Indians? Spies and secret agents?

Leafy branches, hard green Chinaberries for slingshot ammunition, tobacco twine and empty tin cans for telephones — what more did you need? Clamber up the nearest branch, climb like monkeys to higher branches, crouch behind the trunk, await your “enemy” and let ’em have it! Play, play, play, having lots of fun all summer long.

There were sawdust piles to climb, the ladder to the hay loft in the barn, the roof top over the horse (really granddaddy’s mule) stable, oodles of climbing opportunities. None of them brought on even the slightest hint of fear to me, for quite a few fun-filled summers.

There was a church camp in the North Carolina Mountains that my whole family attended one summer. A late morning activity for the older kids (probably age 10 or so) was climbing one of the smaller hills to the very top, a well-marked trail, lots of handholds, twists and turns along the way with a helpful adult guide to lead us up.

No sweat! No problem! The view from the top was spectacular, the hills and mountains really were blue! Who knew! It was so beautiful, I would have done it again and again.

But the next summer, disaster struck. My grandparents took me with them on a vacation road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Remembering those lovely blue-shaded hills and mountains, the adventure seemed so inviting, I was thrilled they had asked me.

Then came our first stop, at a North Carolina overlook. Granddaddy pulled off the road onto a grassy area, pointing out the beautiful cliffs and valleys and peaks and trees and — no guard rails. “Look, see how pretty?” But I didn’t see pretty. What I saw was disaster. My head began spinning, my balance went off, and I felt compelled to run to the edge of the cliff and jump off.

Fear struck me like a shotgun blast. First I clung to the car door, then sunk onto the floorboards of the back seat, crouching with my knees to my chin, where I rode the rest of that trip. I shook, cried, and kept my eyes squeezed tightly shut. Mercifully my dumbfounded grandparents made the rest of the trip much shorter than planned.

Was that the beginning? No doubt. There was no more summer time tree-climbing fun for me. Even a step stool in the kitchen was too much, I was terrified to attempt getting something off a cabinet shelf. A full fledged panic attack would ensue, although no-one called it that in those days. I knew, I just knew, I would fall, break my neck and die.

As a teenager and young adult the fear was manageable, simply because I never climbed a kitchen step stool or anything else, for any reason. Making use of lower kitchen and bathroom shelves was reasonable; they were reachable. Upper shelves were either empty or used by others in my family. Never me. Front door and back door house steps or school staircases weren’t fun, but they had sturdy hand rails!

I got married in 1961, had two children, and one day in the 1970’s a huge WWII cargo plane flew into our local airport and the public was invited to come take a look inside. Of course, we had to go see it!

And of course, I discovered that to see inside the cockpit and cargo compartment, you had to ascend a very tall, tall ladder. I stared a long time at that plane, my excited kids raring to go. I got in line with them (and half of Florence, it seemed) and when it came our turn, I stepped up one rung — and froze.

Cold sweat. Pounding pulse. Shortness of breath. I just couldn’t do it.

I let my husband and the kids go ahead and I backed up. Way, way back, behind the crowd where I turned my back to the people, embarrassed for anyone to look at my face. Eventually my family found me, we went home and that was that.

Standing in my living room, my husband said mockingly, “How do you plan to get to heaven?” I couldn’t answer him. Tears running down my cheeks, I knew something had to give.

I had been a Christian for years. I’d re-dedicated my life to the Lord in 1972. I’d been delivered from one horrible fear that same year.  How could this be happening? I knew the scriptures (2 Timothy 1:7); I knew that believers just weren’t supposed to be afraid like this. And so that night I prayed. And prayed. I fell asleep praying.

When I awoke I really didn’t feel any different, but I took the Lord at his word and chose to believe that this tormenting, humiliating fear of heights was gone — just like the fear of their faces had gone, a year earlier.

A few days after that, a friend’s husband called — “Bette, I just got qualified on a larger plane, you want to come take a ride around Florence?” Bob, a member of the local CAP, was inviting several friends to take a short plane ride around town and wanted to include me. He knew nothing of my fear, didn’t know my spiritual teeth were gritted as I said, Sure, I’d love to. I was saying to God, we’re going to find out if prayer works or not!

I had no problem climbing into the plane, it was only ground level. Two friends climbed into rear seats, a dad and his little boy. Bob checked to be sure we were all buckled in tight, took the pilot’s seat and began the plane’s slow trek to the outer runway. The engine revved up, zoom down the runway we went and up, up into the air!

We weren’t far off the ground when my door popped open. I could see beautiful blue sky, but fear didn’t grip me! This is interesting, I thought – no fear! Bob just pushed the door further out, then slammed it shut good. We enjoyed ten or fifteen minutes touring around our town and the outskirts, Bob pointing out what we were looking at. Things look a lot different from overhead, we discovered. Nobody knew what I was thinking, thanking and praising the Lord — no nervous twinges, no nothing.

We were a bit sorry when it was time to come back to earth. Bob chatted with the control tower, got a few instructions and down to the runway we came. And bounced. The plane bounced up off the tarmac quite a few feet, and Bob headed the plane further up; we would have to circle the airport and try again.

My friend and his son in the back seat had become pretty quiet. Bob was talking with the control tower again and I was thinking, Wow, that was something. Wow! But no fear, no nervous twinges, I had only a bit of excitement at my own mental state — I had indeed been delivered of fear, once again!

The second try at landing was smooth and uneventful, we all thanked Bob profusely for the ride, the landing adventure, and especially we thanked the Lord for keeping us all safe!

Not long afterward my church asked me to chaperone a group of teenagers on a Carowinds trip. The excited, laughing teens wanted me to join them on all the tall rides and roller coasters — something I’d never, ever been able to do before. But I did it, over, and over that day. It was wonderful.

Since then, I’ve traveled in small private planes (locally), commuter planes (between Florence, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc.), larger passenger jets (to New York, Minneapolis, Boston), and international jets (to Iceland and Germany). There were quite a few adventures along the way on those trips, but fear wasn’t included.

Several years ago my brother Harold invited me to accompany him on a photography trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway, continuing onto the Shenandoah Parkway in Virginia.

For several days we traveled, stopped and took photographs, some from close to the edge of a drop-off. Here’s one I took.

There was no fear. No nervousness. No twinges! Just gratitude, praise and thanksgiving to my good, good God for his mercy and deliverance.

Are you fearful? Of speaking to people, of heights, anything else? Did you think you were just “born that way?” I truly doubt anyone is ever just born that way. But evil spirits are like fleas, or ticks. They find opportunities to attach themselves to people, even Christians, for purposes of harassment and prevention. Stealing your joy.

They prevent you from doing what Father God wants you to do, from participating in events He wants you to enjoy, stopping you from witnessing to his great power to deliver, helping get other people free. Don’t let the enemy get away with it!

If you would like me to pray with you, please just ask.

(See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/fear-of-their-faces-testimony-part-three/)

Childhood Salvation

Is there such a thing as childhood salvation?

Is there really an age of accountability? Some people think so, some people don’t. Some say it’s 8 years of age, others say it’s 12.

But have they ever lived with a strong-willed 3 year old? One who knows what it means to be “naughty?”

I think the article at this link explains the issue quite well. https://truthforkids.com/age-of-accountability

I don’t remember a time in my life, ever, that I didn’t know for sure that Jesus is the son of God, that he is God himself, and that he took my sin on himself and died on the cross to pay for MY sins.

“Jesus loves me, this I know.” And I do, actually. I was taught that simple song as a young child, and I believed it then just as I believe it now.

For God so loved the world, including me, that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus, and that whosoever (including me) believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I was taught that powerful verse as a young child too, and I believed it then just as I believe it now. It summarizes the gospel very well.

I have been trying to understand how I came to believe what I know to be true. Several things come to mind.

One:

My parents were both Christians who had been raised in Christian homes. (That really does make a difference.) We loved them and we trusted them. We trusted them to tell us truthful things, not to tell us lies.

They prayed for us and with us, my brother and me. We prayed over all our meals, prayed over both ordinary and special events, prayed at bedtime, and of course prayed in church. And we went to church as a family. We went to Sunday School and “preaching,” attended nearly every revival at our own church as well as other churches, plus tent revivals.

Even in the days when one or the other of my parents were far from perfect parents, far from perfect in their actions towards each other or towards themselves personally, they still turned to the Lord to help them. To deliver them. To restore them. And he always did.

I never knew my father’s parents; his dad died years before I was born and his mom died when I was about 3 years old. But they were church members (Baptist) and I can imagine them praying for their family and the families that would come in later years. That would include me. Many of the older Motte generations are buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Darlington, South Carolina.

My mother’s parents and most of their Powers siblings were members of Methodist churches. Many of their generation of that family are buried in the cemetery at Pine Grove Methodist Church between Timmonsville and Darlington, SC. My own parents are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Florence.

When I would see either set of relatives, Christmas Day, Easter, birthday celebrations, whatever the occasion, there was always a time of catching up with family news, and there was always prayer. Every meal where Da (my mother’s father) was at the table would begin with him saying grace – “Thank the Lord for Dinner.” (Or Breakfast, or Supper.) And he meant it, as short as it was. He was indeed thankful. So were we all.

I didn’t hear my great grandparents’ prayers, but I am convinced that they did know the Lord and that they did pray.

Two:

My brother and I were taught the Bible, as being the real, actual, word of the living God. Sometimes it was Mama and Daddy doing the teaching, sometimes a Sunday School teacher, and sometimes the pastor. The Bible was important to all of us, as important as eating food and drinking water.

Early days we were read Bible stories from a children’s book. We learned about Abraham and Sara, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, many others from the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

We also learned about Jesus — lots and lots of stories about Jesus. Who he was, why he came, what he did while on planet earth. We learned about sin and what it was, how it first got into existence, what God thinks about it, and what God did about it, for us, by sending Jesus.

We learned what grace is too, and that we didn’t deserve God’s grace but we got it anyway. We didn’t deserve God’s love, but we got it anyway.

We also learned that salvation isn’t automatic just because our parents were Christians, that we ourselves were responsible for that decision. I will never forget two little lessons we learned somewhere: “God has no grandchildren,” and “Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car!”

We were first taught these concepts in simple, easy to understand words. We learned that we have the ability to ask Jesus into our heart — meaning, to ask him to forgive us when we did wrong (i.e. naughty, bad things), ask him to be our “saver” and ask him to help us change our messy way of selfish thinking.

As a teenager I had occasions to think about all that once or twice, and each time I made a conscious decision and recommitment to that truth: Yes, Jesus was indeed my Saviour. As an adult living a troubled life years later, I made an expanded, deliberate decision that Yes, Jesus was both Saviour and Lord, and although I hadn’t really been acknowledging him as MY Lord, I wanted him to be.

And in an instant, he was. A lot changed that day… I changed a lot that day! See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/all-things-became-new/

I don’t have a specific date written down anywhere when I was born again. Some folks would say I wasn’t really born again, then. I wasn’t saved, I wasn’t really a Christian, as a child.

I have to disagree. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been my loving companions for too long, the Bible has been too precious to me for too long, and the Kingdom of God has been too real to me for too long.

But I have often wished I’d made Jesus both Saviour AND Lord of my life much earlier.

Unbelief can kill you

Hindrances to successful prayer

Living here and now, believers in Christ have God the Holy Spirit living inside of them, interested in their daily activities, their thoughts and wishes. Instructing, explaining, giving out assignments and directions, including what to pray.

If we are inhabited by God himself, and if we are praying what God desires for us to pray, then what might hinder us from getting those prayers answered?

Unbelief, which can come from (1) a willful refusal to believe, or (2) ignorance of who God is, his character, his love, his grace, and his will. The result is the same, a lack of active, energized faith. Faith and belief are from the same Greek word, pistis.

  • Matthew 13:58, Mark 6:5-6 – Jesus could do no mighty works in Nazareth because of unbelief.
  • Matthew 9:25, Mark 5:40 – Jesus put unbelievers out of the room (case of the ruler’s daughter).
  • Acts 9:40 – Peter also put unbelievers out of the room (case of Tabitha/Dorcas). Read the passage about Aeneas first, then this passage.

Peter put the unbelievers out of the room first, before praying. He prayed not for the dead woman, but to get God’s instructions on what to do about her. Then he turned and just spoke to her, as he had done to Aeneas, telling her to do something she could not do. And she did it. There was a good reason to put the unbelievers out, unbelief can kill you.

  • In Mark 9:23-24, the father of a demon-oppressed boy came to Jesus after the disciples couldn’t help him. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Honoring the small faith the boy’s father did have, Jesus helped his unbelief – he healed and delivered the boy. (Jesus told the disciples, this kind comes only by prayer and fasting.)

Misbelief, a mistaken belief, believing the wrong thing, such as:

  • Miracles ceased with the apostles, not for today – yet more miracles occur today than ever.
  • Healing is not in the atonement, it’s not always God’s will – but Jesus healed ALL that came to him. The word for healing is the same Greek word for salvation. You can’t parse this word, it’s the same, single word: Greek sozo, soteria.
  • “Whatever will be, will be” – but that’s from Eastern religion, it’s not a Christian principle.
  • You can’t really know God’s will for sure – but He wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. See Colossians 1:9.
  • You don’t deserve answers to prayer because of past sins, or not being good enough. But salvation is by grace, it’s not deserved, it is by accepted faith. So are answers to prayer.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Current sinful practices may hinder answers, but it’s not because you don’t deserve answers. You put up a barricade to receiving answers by believing the wrong things.

Doubt. Doubt may come before faith, and frequently does. Doubt simply means trying to decide between two things; the choice and decision is yours. This is usually from the Greek word diakrino, to examine in order to make a determination; to judge, discern, contend, waver, determine; doubt.

  • In Matthew 21:21, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”
  • In Mark 11:23, he said “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
  • James 1:6 translates this word as wavering, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

Doubt is not bad unless you remain there, never coming to a decision.

Note: Sometimes you have plenty of time, but sometimes you have to decide quickly. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God can you make the right decision when you don’t have much time…

  • In Matthew 14:26-32, Peter was headed to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. As the wind arose he looked at two things, Jesus and the boisterous waves. Doubting his own ability (and perhaps his survival), Peter had to make a quick decision. He made the right one. “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Belief problems can be solved. Hindrances to successful prayer, God-directed prayer, can be removed. Studying the scriptures and getting to know God’s character is essential to that, because active faith – belief – comes by hearing, present tense, the word of God (Romans 10:17).

(Notes adapted Class Notes, Principles of Intercessory Prayer.)

Weapons don’t wield themselves

GodsWeaponsMadeForYou“The worst thing the enemy can do to a believer in Jesus is to send him home to heaven early.”

Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?

It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.

Reminders of several basic facts:

  • War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
  • God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
  • It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
  • We are the conquerors!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)

God’s goal:

  • “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
  • God made a way for that to  happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The devil’s goal:

His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:

  • Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
  • Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
  • Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:

Learn how to fight the real enemy:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.

Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’

“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)

Weapons of war:

Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:

  • Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
  • Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
  • The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
  • Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
  • Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
  • Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.

Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.

  • Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
  • Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)

If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.

  • Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
  • Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

Weapons don’t wield themselves:

The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic –  that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.

It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself.  They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.

Also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/armored-front-and-back/

(Originally published in 2015 — still appropriate.)

Why a baby?

christ_childWhy did the Creator of the universe choose to become a baby?

“… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be a grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. ” (Phil. 2:6-7 NASB)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. ” (Heb. 4:15)

Babies can’t sin, I’ve heard people say. Surely they aren’t tempted like adults are – after all, they don’t even reach the age of accountability until 12 or so!

Have they ever been around little kids? Toddler tantrums? Terrible twos? Self-willed children? Full of selfishness, greediness, me-me-me-itis? Did you ever tell a little child No, No, over, and over, and over?

As young as they are, and as trusting of mom and dad that they are, children are indeed tempted to disobey. Determined to get that thing, do that thing, apt to stomp their foot, yell and break into angry tears when told No for the umpteenth time.

While those early behaviors may not qualify to some folks as sinful, they still need correcting. Training. Discipline. Guiding. Teaching. Lovingly, lovingly, firmly and consistently.

Children can be led astray. They are susceptible to being misled, mistreated, deceived, cheated, and abused. Susceptible to being lied to, and also lying to others.

They need to know the savior, the rescuer, the teacher, the guide and constant companion from an early age.They need to be taught right from wrong and how to tell the difference. They need to learn the word of God, and know the Word of God.

Children need to know that Jesus went through childhood himself with all its scrapes and bumps, all its hazards, and he knows what that’s like. And so he came as a baby.

Jesus loves children. When the disciples wanted to shoo the kids away, Jesus rebuked the disciples, not the children.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ” (Matt. 18:3)  “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Was it because the children were so innocent? So charming, so sweet, so trusting, so loving – so innocent? Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe there’s more to it.

Children are curious. They are always attracted to something “new and shiny,” something different and fun. They are full of energy, running, climbing, investigating everything. Wanting to do it themselves. “Me do it! Me do it!” Wanting to have it for themselves, no matter who it may belong to.

So, why did Jesus come to earth as a baby, and not a full grown man? In order to be tempted in all points as we are, he had to.

(Originally published on 12-22-15.)

 

Faith is also a grace

Thoughts about grace…

God’s essence and character are love.

Love is expressed to the object of love.

Grace (gift, favor) is an expression of God’s love.

You can’t truly separate out just one aspect of God’s character from all the others.

Consider a red delicious apple – color, shape, aroma, texture, juiciness, flavor, peeling, seeds. It takes all those to make that particular type of apple.

When God extends his word, which contains his creative life, to me – an act of his grace – all his character is wrapped up in that word. (Does he believe his own word? Does he have faith in his own word?)

God’s own faith comes too.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV)

 

Tongues: Prayer Language vs. Public Gift

The following is an easy-to-understand, helpful article from the website of Rev. Mel C. Montgomery. * (See Copyright notice below.)

Tongues: Prayer Language vs. Public Gift
By Rev. Mel C. Montgomery
www.brothermel.com

The most common question, or challenge, I receive from Christians who are unfamiliar with tongues, is to explain the term “prayer language,” and to prove its existence from Scripture. Somewhere in the last two thousand years, someone coined the term “Prayer Language” to differentiate private speaking in tongues from the public gift of speaking in tongues.

That there are two different kinds of tongues, private and public, is clear from the irreconcilable statements Paul writes about tongues. Paul first writes: For he [man] that speaketh in an unknown tongues speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him… I Cor 14:2.

But later in the same chapter Paul also writes: In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I [God] speak unto this people [men]… I Cor. 14:21. In verse two, Paul describes tongues as man speaking to God. In verse 21, Paul describes tongues as God speaking to man.

The type of tongues where men speak in prayer and worship to God, and no other man understands him, is what we have come to call the “prayer language.”

Paul left us written instructions in I and II Corinthians directed first to the Church at Corinth and also to us today, clarifying the purpose and identifying the proper way of accommodating speaking in tongues. Paul told us:

• Paul said that he used his ability to speak in tongues to pray, and to worship God. [verse 15].
• He was thankful to God for the ability to pray and worship God in other tongues [verse 18].
• He found this to be a deeply spiritual and edifying experience [vs. 4].
• Jude agrees with Paul’s assessment of the edifying power of praying in tongues [Jude 20].
• Paul urged all of us to speak, pray, and worship God in other tongues, “I would that ye all spake with tongues…” [vs. 5].
• Nowhere does Paul tell us that he ever identified the “other tongue” in which he spoke.
• Nor does he mention that he ever preached a sermon to anyone in other tongues.
• Nowhere does he state that we should try to identify the “other tongue” in which we are speaking, or to attempt to preach sermons to others in it.

But Paul also gave some common sense instructions concerning tongues – the prayer language. For example, if someone were to stand up in the public assembly, and speak out loudly to God for an hour in tongues – the prayer language – such an exercise would be entirely pointless and a waste of time. In exercises of the prayer language, “no man understandeth him.” So the congregation would understand not a single word, and be bored to tears.

Have you ever been to a concert where they sang in a language you didn’t know? I did recently. I went to a free zydeko – Cajun music – concert. I assumed that this concert would be in English, but was disappointed to find once I got there, that it was to be entirely in French/Cajun.

I enjoyed the lively music, but after two minutes, my attention wandered because I didn’t understand a word of what was being sung. By the end of an hour, I ranged from being nearly asleep, to almost climbing the walls and wondering when this concert would ever end.

Such would be the same reaction from people forced to sit and listen to uninterpreted tongues for an hour. Paul pointed out an example like this, and said that in Church he would rather speak 5 words that everyone could understand than 10,000 words in uninterpreted tongues that no one could benefit from. Referring back to the French concert I attended, I would have to say the same. I would rather go to a concert where they sang five words I understood, than ten thousand words I couldn’t make heads or tails out of.

So Paul gave the common sense instruction, that if someone felt they had something to say in other tongues to the entire congregation, let him do so. However, if he speaks for awhile, and no one seems to be able to interpret what is being said, then for Heaven’s sake [my words not his] have the poor brother sit back down, “and let him speak to himself, and to God,” and don’t have him bore everyone to tears. [vs. 28]. Note that Paul said, “…let him speak to himself, and to God,” thus explaining that such a manifestation is simply the person speaking in the prayer language “to God,” and not the full Gift of Tongues in which God speaks to men.

It is at this point in the narrative where we begin to see tongues used for something other than prayer and praise. When there is something to be said to the entire congregation in other tongues, this is not a manifestation of the prayer language. In prayer man speaks to God. And there is no need to interpret for the public the contents of our private prayers to God. If it is a public manifestation of tongues, then it is a manifestation of the actual Gift of Tongues – one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in Chapter 12.

In the case where the Gift of Tongues is manifested, the contents of the message will be a message from God to men [vs. 21]. In an instance of a message through the Gift of Tongues — from God to the congregation — Paul directed that such messages in tongues were to be allowed and accommodated in a public service, but the Holy Spirit directed him to set reasonable boundaries within which we are to stay.

Namely, realizing that it is possible that several people may simultaneously feel they have a message in tongues for the congregation, he limited the number of individuals allowed to participate to “two or at the most by three,” [vs. 27]. Paul added that one person should interpret [vs. 27]. The rules he laid down, like all of the instructions given in God’s Word, make perfect sense, and keep a service from getting off the track.

All Charismatics – currently numbering 537 Million Christians – have experienced the prayer language of speaking in tongues. All born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. However, there is a secondary experience that not all Christians have received. Indeed, many do not know that there even is another experience from God to be received.

Jesus called this experience that is to be received subsequent to [after] salvation, being “baptized with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 1:5. He called it the receiving of power, “…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” Acts 1:8. Note that He said “upon you” not “in you.” The believer in Christ already has the Holy Spirit within them. But the Lord desires for the presence of His Spirit to be within us, but also that the power of His Spirit be upon us.

As it was in the days of the Bible, so is it still true today: When the Holy Spirit fell upon the born-again Christians back in Bible times, they received the ability to speak or pray in other tongues. Acts 2:3, 4; 10:46; 19:6. Likewise today, when the Holy Spirit’s power falls upon a born-again Christian, the believer immediately receives the ability to speak or pray in other tongues.

All Charismatic Christians have experienced this prayer language. Far fewer have ever experienced the full Gift of Tongues enabling them to speak a message in tongues to a congregation that was then interpreted into English.

Concerning many Christians receiving the prayer language of tongues but very few receiving the Gift of Tongues that is to be exercised by giving and interpreting messages in public services, Kenneth Hagin, Sr. made an interesting comment. Drawing from his own experience in 60 years of ministry, he reported that by the early 1950’s he had laid hands on over 10,000 people and personally heard them speak in tongues.

But out of them all, he noted that only two received the full Gift of speaking in diverse tongues, who then went ahead giving messages publicly in their local congregation. The other 9,998 received simply the prayer language, and continued to pray and worship with it.

There is a considerable difference both in Scripture and in experience between tongues – the personal prayer language, and tongues – the public Gift. In my case, my pastor laid his hands on me and prayed for me to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I began to speak in tongues. I prayed in tongues, and worshiped God in other tongues. I never understood a single word of what I was speaking. Paul didn’t either. I Cor. 14:2, 14.

But not understanding what was being said in other tongues did not stop Paul or me from going ahead and praying in tongues and worshiping God in tongues. But this was all a private exercise of this ability. I never once was led to stand up in the congregation and speak out a message in tongues. I had received the prayer language, but not the full Gift of Diverse Kinds of Tongues.

Eight years later, I was preparing to leave Sister Goodwin’s house. (Alternate link: http://brothermel.com/thegoodwinsandme.aspx) She had been used for 60 years in speaking public messages in tongues and in interpreting them. She laid her hands on me, and prayed for God to use me in the Gifts of His Holy Spirit. I felt nothing imparted to me at that moment. But a few weeks later, the Gift of Speaking in tongues suddenly began to flow through me.

I would feel an urging rise up within me to speak in tongues. I would speak out under that urging for a few moments, and when the urging or the “unction” subsided, the English words of interpretation would arise within me, and I would speak out the interpretation. Since then, over the last 17 years, I’ve spoken hundreds of messages in tongues publicly, maybe more, and have interpreted just as many.

I can speak at will in my prayer language to God in prayer and worship, as can any other Charismatic. However, I cannot speak messages in tongues in public at will. Nor can I interpret messages in tongues at will. Speaking and interpreting in public is a manifestation of the two full-fledged Gifts of tongues and interpretation. Those Gifts operate only as the Holy Spirit wills. I Cor. 12:11.

I have ministered the baptism in the Holy Spirit to a number of born-again Christians over the years. All received the prayer language, meaning the ability to speak, pray, and worship in other tongues at will. None yet have received the full Gift of Speaking in Tongues. None have given public messages in tongues.

Yet there have been a number of times in which believers who pray in tongues but have never spoken a public message in tongues that was interpreted have suddenly begun manifesting the gift of tongues as they heard me teaching on spiritual gifts. As I taught, God imparted the Gift of Tongues to believers who had already prayed in tongues for years. To God be the glory for the great things He has done.

Refuting Counter-Arguments:

I have read every imaginable counter argument which tries to argue against there being two kinds or manifestations of tongues – private prayer, and public Gift. I haven’t found one yet that takes into account all of the words of Christ, all of the examples in the Book of Acts, and all of the instructions Paul gave us.

One common argument is that all manifestations of speaking in tongues are those of men speaking in prayer to God. That argument is silent though concerning I Cor. 14:21 which says, “With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people.” If tongues is always men speaking unto God, then surely God is not going to pray a prayer to Himself!

Others try to explain away this Scripture by claiming that it refers to a person standing up in a public assembly, praying to God in other tongues, and then someone else interpreting the prayer back to the congregation in the local language. But what possible purpose would there be in interpreting someone’s private prayers for the public to listen to? For that matter, why pray in tongues and have it interpreted into the language of the congregation? Why not just pray in the language everyone knows?

Any way you care to look at it, you have to admit that Paul indicated two different functions of speaking in tongues:

• Prayer from man to God.
• And messages from God to man.
• When man prays to God in tongues, “no man understandeth him.”
• When God speaks to man through other tongues, no man will necessarily understand the tongue, unless God simultaneously gives the interpretation to another.
• This same pattern of private prayer and public Gift is demonstrated in the New Testament, throughout the Early Church, resurfacing again and again during revivals over the course of centuries of Church History, and continuing among the 537 million born-again Christians who currently speak in tongues.

* Copyright 2006 Mel C. Montgomery. All rights reserved. Material may be copied and shared with others as long as it is done so without charge, in entirety, and if attribution is given. Source: www.brothermel.com.
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About the Author

The ministry of author, reformer, lecturer, entrepreneur, and revivalist preacher, Mel Montgomery is an example of God fulfilling a word of prophecy. Mel was mentored in ministry by Sister Goodwin. She and her late husband, the Rev. J.R. Goodwin had sat in meetings conducted by Smith Wigglesworth, Raymond T. Richey, and other early Pentecostals.

Then God had used the Goodwins as a bridge to the leaders of the Word of Faith move. The Goodwins taught John Osteen and Kenneth Hagin Sr. about the gifts of the Spirit. Kenneth Hagin patterned his prophetic ministry after the spiritual flow he had witnessed in the Goodwins.

Before her passing, Sister Goodwin laid her hands on Mel, asked God to use him in spiritual gifts, and prophesied that Mel would have “a strong ministry, and an anointed ministry, like some of the men of old.”

Years after Sister Goodwin’s passing, the Goodwin descendants and others asked Mel to host on his website rare audio recordings of early Pentecostal preachers that were recorded at the Goodwins’ church and elsewhere. Mel uploaded the recordings to his website, http://www.brothermel.com, making these treasures available to the world by download, for free.

Mel’s message and concept of ministry began to change as he listened to the recordings of the “men of old” like Howard Carter, Stanley Frodsham, F.F. Bosworth, the Goodwins, and others. He discovered that what the Pentecostal giants preached bears little resemblance to the extreme teachings common today in the Charismatic and Word of Faith branch of Christianity to which he belongs.

Sister Goodwin’s prophecy is fulfilled as Mel continues to speak in churches, preaching as did the “men of old,” the transforming power of the Cross and Pentecost. He authors articles and e-books, identifying which of our teachings are biblical and which ones are not. Brother Mel calls for a Reformation in Charismatic and Word of Faith circles.

Mel’s teachings have been well received, with some being translated and published in foreign countries. In 2007 and 2008, Mel’s website received over 723,000 hits from people in 78 countries. Mel’s monthly e-mail newsletter currently goes out to subscribers around the world.

Copyright Mel C. Montgomery. All rights reserved.

Keep on keeping on

Or, God’s timetable isn’t like ours…

Luke Chapter 1 tells the story of an old man named Zecharias. He was married to an old woman named Elizabeth who was a relative of the Virgin Mary. They lived in the hill country of Judah, exact location unknown.

Both were of the priestly line. They had no children – Elizabeth was barren, and in their culture barrenness was considered a punishment for sin. Yet both were righteous in God’s eyes, and to the best of their ability they continued to worship Him, keeping the law.

Zecharias (and no doubt Elizabeth) had long prayed for a son. But, he was old and she was barren, so it was now impossible. So, was he still praying? He was still faithful to do his job, in any case.

One supposedly ordinary day Zecharias was going about his business, doing his ordinary priestly job. This soon became an other than ordinary day for him, however…

“Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (Luke 1:8, 9)

It was his turn to minister before the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place, possibly for the first time in his priestly service. With so many priests serving in the Temple, entering the Holy Place and kindling the incense upon the golden altar was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, standing to the right of the altar of incense. The angel gave him an extraordinary message, on this extraordinary day. His prayers had been answered; he and Elizabeth would have a child. And not just an ordinary child, an extraordinary son. He was to give him the name John. Read the chapter for yourself.

Some thoughts about Zecharias:

  • He was old. So was his wife.
  • He was childless, thought by the culture to be a punishment for sin.
  • He was considered by God to be righteous, however. Blameless.
  • He had prayed for a son, starting in the days when having a child was still possible, biologically speaking.
  • He was faithful to his job, his calling, despite that disappointment.
  • He was granted favor, mercy, compassion; an answer to his prayer.
  • His prayer wasn’t answered in an ordinary way, in an ordinary location – an angel came to his job site, while he was doing his job; being faithful to do his job.
  • He was human; he doubted the angel’s message. Considering his age and the length of time he had been praying, that was a quite understandable response.
  • He was corrected but not condemned for his doubt.
  • He wasn’t removed from his ordinary job, or replaced in his extraordinary new job: being a parent. A very old parent!
  • He was granted a device to help him assuage his doubt: silence until the baby was born.

How long have we prayed the same prayer, over, and over, and over? How often have we decided to give up, quit doing this job, quit worshiping, quit praying, quit believing? Until it will take a supernatural, extraordinary miracle for it to happen?

But those do still happen. Zecharias and Elizabeth were just two of many people who received miraculous answers to prayer.

Never quit being faithful to your current assignment. Never quit praying. Never quit believing.