Ultimate Intention of the Holy Spirit
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Ultimate Intention of the Holy Spirit
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Lord Jesus, we trust you to explain these things to us yourself so that we can believe them with all certainty and so that we can enter into all that you have provided through your counselor, the Holy Spirit for us. We ask this in your name and for your glory, Amen.
It’s good dear ones, to see what God’s ultimate intention for us is. And I think you can find that in Ephesians 1 there and reading just Verse 9 and Verse 11. Even Verse 9 and 10 reveals it clearly. Ephesians 1:9-10, “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.”
It is dear ones, God’s will for us to become conformed completely to the image of his son Jesus so that there will rise up on the earth here a great body of his sons. And all of us, you see, will be different limbs of his body so that Jesus will look down upon the earth and will see another reflection of himself rising up in the earth. And that this reflection of himself will be exactly like him. And that eventually this great body of sons, this great body of brothers and sisters to our Lord Jesus, will rise up and bring glory to the Father the same as the original son brought glory to him. And that in its turn, that revelation of the sons of God that we talk about, in its turn, is to bring us into the very family of the father heart of God.
I think we should be careful; some of us dear ones talk about the revelation of the sons of God as if that was an end in itself. Well it’s not. That in its turn is only a step on the way to our entering into the trinity love that the trinity family share with one another, until we enter into the very Father heart of God and become a part of that dear blessed family. And so we will reflect the glory of God among ourselves and up to him and he will reflect it back down to us. So it is God’s will that we’ll become completely like Jesus.
You remember God made two provisions for that, they’re in Acts 2:38. It’s the first Christian sermon that was ever preached, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” That’s the first provision that he made, that we could be restored into the favor of God. And then the second provision is, “And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And that’s the second provision that we might be restored into the very image of God and into the very image of his son.
Now last night we talked about the inward work that the gift of the Holy Spirit accomplishes in our hearts. That’s the inward work, dear ones of, if you like, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now, dear ones, if you rebel against that and shout out a Pentecostal shout and say, “Ah, no that isn’t a baptism with the Holy Spirit.” You must remember that Peter looked back on the day of Pentecost you remember in Acts 15:9, and he looked back on that day when we believe the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
And he did not look back and say, “Well, on that day we received the gift of tongues.” But he looked back and said, in Acts 15:8-9, “And God who knows the heart bore witness to them,” these gentiles, “Giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us,” in parenthesis, on the day of
Pentecost, “And he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith.” And so Peter says that one of the things that happened with the baptism of the Holy Spirit was an inward cleansing of our hearts so that we could be renewed in the image of Jesus. And that inward cleansing of the Holy Spirit begets in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Now dear ones, it is important to see that the baptism of the Holy Spirit had an outward effect on their lives in regard to their service. So you see there are two sides to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is an inward cleansing through the Holy Spirit applying the work of the cross to our own lives and the death to self. But there is an outward baptism with the Holy Spirit by which the Holy Spirit gives us gifts and power for service. And I think it’s necessary to see both of those.
In other words, it’s necessary to see that Jesus would have put forth a very poor revelation of his Father if he had not been able to perform miracles. The ability to perform miracles in Jesus’ life was a vital part of the revelation of God. You can find that in Acts 2:22. It’s referred to there by Peter. It was a necessary part of the proof that Jesus was the son of God and it was what Peter used on that Pentecost sermon. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” Jesus would not have been the revelation of God if he had not been able to do many might works, and wonders, and signs.
And it was so with the group of people that were called his body. They were the body of Christ not only because they shared the very inner pure cleansed heart of Christ but because they also were able to do the same many might works, and wonders, and signs. So would you look at one of the members of the body doing this in Acts 3:12? Peter was asked for alms and the Holy Spirit had baptized him with power and so he stretched forth his hand and said, “Silver and gold have I none but what I have…” (“I know I have because the Holy Spirit has baptized me with this power.”) “…and what I have I give to thee.” And in Verse 12, Peter says, when Peter saw that the people were moved and they clung to him, “He addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.” And he says, “It was by Jesus’ power that this man was raised up.”
In other words, the early church had the same power and the same gifts as Jesus himself had otherwise the early church could not have been called his body. And dear ones, the early church had the power to stop believers in their track with a mighty sign so that they stopped and thought. Now throughout our world today there are many churches who are trying to be the body of Jesus and the non-believers know that they are not the body of Jesus because the only power they have is the power of ministers who are trained in pastoral psychology. The only power they have is the power of the doctors whom the churches send out to the mission fields. But it is human, fleshly power. And they do not manifest the power that the Lord Jesus had. And so the believer respects these churches, and goes to them, and uses them for his own convenience but does not believe that they are the body of Christ.
And it is not God’s will that a church should work in such powerlessness. It is God’s will that the body, the church, the body of Christ, should glorify him by a pure heart and power and service. And so dear ones, the Holy Spirit gives us the power for serving God in his way by bestowing on us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now we do violence to the Holy Spirit if we enter into the death to self and then say to him, “Not the gifts, Holy Spirit. We do not want the gifts.” It’s the same as the Pentecostals saying, “We want the tongues, Holy Spirit, but we do not want the purity.” Each of those attitudes is a reaction against the Holy Spirit and they grieve the Holy Spirit. And therefore, he begins to withdraw from the life.
So dear ones, you know what has happened, many of us have entered into an experience of sanctification or deliverance from inward sin and we have refused to go on into what the Holy Spirit had to give us in gifts. And so we know we have sunk back into legalism. So it wasn’t long after the Holy Spirit graciously cleansed my heart that he began to ask me to do things that I was not able to do with the natural power that I had and so I was not able to obey him. And I knew that if I could not obey him then he would withdraw from my heart. So I then began to seek him and say, “Holy Spirit if you’ve told me to do these things you must be able to give me the power to do them.” And so it wasn’t long after that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that he was able to give me the gifts of the spirit.
And so dear ones, it’s almost – well, I think it’s essential after you’ve entered into the inward cleansing of the heart through the Holy Spirit that you show your willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit on into the gifts of the spirit. And you see the holiness groups on one side and the Pentecostal groups on the other side have both grieved the Holy Spirit in many ways. The holiness groups have said, “We won’t have the gifts. We don’t want anything to do with them because of their fleshly administration we’ve seen in them.” And the Pentecostals say, “We don’t want holiness because you say that the cleansing of the heart is what the baptism of the spirit is and that alone and we believe that it gives power.” And it is God’s will for us to know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an inward cleansing of the heart from sin so that we will obey God continually and then it is an outward bestowal of power through the gifts of the spirit. But dear ones, we grieve the spirit if we refuse to enter into one or the other.
Now, I think it is important to see that Paul says clearly – well, you could look at 1 Corinthians 13 dear ones, if you like. Paul does state clearly dear ones, what is essential and what will last and I think we have to be wise about this. 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love,” which is the bestowal of the Holy Spirit and the cleansing of the heart through the death to self, “Love never ends.” So in heaven, heaven will be full of love. There will be a great rising and pouring out of love to God, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit and a great pouring down of life and love into our hearts from them. And love will never end. Love will involve all of us and will bathe us round as we were bathed in our mother’s womb when we were babies. So love will bathe us all around.
“Love never ends; as for prophecies,” gifts of the spirit, “They will pass away,” because there will be no need for them. “As for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect, but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.” It’s important to see that the precious thing that the Holy Spirit does is to make us holy.
Now there’s a reason why God did not call it the gift spirit, he called it the Holy Spirit. And it is important to see that the precious permanent work that the Holy Spirit does in us is the cleansing of the heart. But it is vital to see dear ones, that we live at the moment in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has gifts to give us for service and if we refuse these gifts we are unable to enter into the service that he calls us to. And so we grieve him in disobedience and he withdraws even from the cleansing heart experience. But it is vital, I
think, to see that the precious thing that he brings is holiness to our lives.
Could I say just one more thing about that? You see, the terrible weakness and the terrible work that the devil has done through many dear ones entering into a baptism of power with the Holy Spirit and not entering into the cleansing inward experience of the Holy Spirit. So you have dear Pentecostal ministers and others among us who know how to heal and have experienced the gift of healing but in their home they are impure. And they lose their temper. And they’re irritable. And they’re impatient. And pride surges up in their hearts. And they do many of these things at times for a wrong motive. And so eventually the Devil begins to take over and they begin to minister these things in the flesh.
It is vital in other words to take it in the order in which God has led us along this week. Dear ones, first we are reborn by the spirit. Secondly, we are cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Then, we are baptized with power by the Holy Spirit. And I know. I’m sure they could all take place at once. And I am sure they could take place in strange order so that God will show us that he is sovereign. But it is good, dear ones, it is good to see the good reason for them taking place in that order and the good reason for seeking them in that way. So that when you’re baptized with the Holy Spirit make sure, dear ones, that you’re ready to die to self. Make sure that you’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse your heart as well as to give you these outwards gifts.
So now, could we go on to the outward gifts, because if you’re like me and maybe you aren’t, I came through the holiness witness of this. And so I learned that Bethany taught three works of grace. You see, so I thought you were all heretics. And so I had a reaction and I’m sure brother Dick feels the same way. I was brought up a Methodist, not a John Wesley Methodist, though I was in my heart. But I was brought up a formal Methodist and I felt that the tongues and all those things were of the Devil and that they were fleshly imitations, as I think many of them were that I observed.
So I had a great feeling against the gifts. And if you’re like me, maybe you have some of that. So let’s deal with that dear ones. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:31. And let’s look at the usual interpretation we place upon that. See Paul says, he gives the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and then in the last verse of the chapter he says, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” And many of us feel, “Well that’s good, the tongues and the prophecies, yeah they’re lower gifts. Let’s desire the higher gifts. I’m glad he’s getting onto some good holiness doctrine.” And then we read the next half of the Verse and say, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.” And we tend to say, “Ah, I’m glad Paul understands what God wants and that he sees that there is a still more excellent way besides gifts. Gifts is a lower way and he’s going to show us a more excellent way.”
And then we say to ourselves, “Ah yes, you ought to covet the best gifts. And the best gift of all is love.” And so, many of us get ourselves into a corner. We say, “Paul has outlined the gifts and obviously he thinks there are gifts, but he obviously means us to covet the best gifts. And the best gift of all is love. So we’ll go straight for love and we’ll ignore these things, lest we fall into danger.”
Now dear ones, this isn’t the interpretation. Would you like to look at the verses 14-16 in that 1 Corinthians 12? And you see there that Paul says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.” And he goes on and
says towards the end of the Chapter in Verse 29, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?” And he’s saying there is some need for cooperation between those who have different gifts and he’s pointing out there is a difficulty here.
There is a tendency for some of us to say, “Ah, we have the most precious gift, what need have we for the other gifts in the body?” And it’s in the light of that that he says, “Now I’m going to show you a more excellent way to exercise these gifts.” He’s saying, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love I am a noising gong or clanging symbol.” He’s not saying, “Don’t speak in the tongues of men and angels,” but he’s saying, “If I do that and don’t have love then I’ll constantly be in conflict with ones who have other gifts.” And in other words, in 1 Corinthians 13 he’s saying, “Not I give you a greater gift,” but, “I’m showing you how to exercise the gifts you have received. You exercise them in love.”
In other words it’s important to see dear ones, that Paul is not saying, “You don’t need gifts.” He’s saying, “These are the gifts but to exercise them properly in harmony you need the fruit of the spirit which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” And so he’s not saying, “Don’t bother with the gifts.” He’s saying, “Exercise the gifts in the spirit of the fruit of love that the Holy Spirit sheds in your heart.” So he’s not saying, dear ones, “Don’t have gifts.”
If we argue against gifts we’re left with a powerless church that is pastor dominated. We’re left with a powerless church which does not minister as a body but where the pastor alone ministers. And he becomes – he takes the place of the Holy Spirit among us. But where the Holy Spirit is allowed to shed abroad the gifts of the spirit among us there’s a ministry of the body. And when everyone comes together they have a special gift by which they can minister.
So I think it’s good to see that the Devil has held us there and has held us back strongly from the gifts. I think, as we’ll see later on he has held us back also on the tongues. But I think it’s important dear ones, to see that we’re living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and that it is his will that we should be able to minister through his power the gifts of his spirit.
You may say, “Well, were the gifts not always in the Church?” Well they were in the church for the first 300 years. For the first 300 years the gifts were ministered freely in the church. Some of us say you see – and look back on church history and some of us liberal theologians look back and we see, “Ah well, from the year 300 I mean, there was nothing so obviously, it’s not meant to be today.” But you know what happened around the year 300? Constantine legalized Christianity. And he endowed the church with money. And he endowed it with great power and prestige. And as soon as he did that the church began to depend on its power and prestige and its position of influence and so it began to withdraw its dependence on the Holy Spirit. And so the Holy Spirit withdrew the gifts from the church. And the church was left to get on without them.
Dear ones, wherever a church begins to depend on its own wealth, or its prestige, or its own methods then the Holy Spirit withdraws the precious gifts from that church. And so I don’t know, but you have a great temptation obviously in Bethany because you have a great going concern in the camping trailers. And you have a going concern in the other things that you manufacture. And there will always be a temptation for you to begin to depend on the power of the flesh that you have available there and to depend on the wealth that God has given you, and the ability that God has given you.
You see, the Holy Spirit will only be active in a church that cannot do without him. And so it’s
vital for dear ones in their churches to constantly hang on the Holy Spirit and depend on him. Otherwise, he withdraws the gifts and eventually the fruit of the spirit from their midst.
Now dear ones, will you look more closely with me then at 1 Corinthians 12 and just let’s receive God’s teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look first at the verses which deal with the problem the Devil brings up. The Devil says, “Ah well, he gives the gifts but only to some.” So let’s look at the verses that deal with that. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” And the Devil wants us to read there, “To the pastor is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” But God’s word cannot be changed dear ones, and we need to read it as it is.
“To each,” that’s to each dear Christian who is ready to be cleansed and baptized with the Holy Spirit, to each of them, “Is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” And then in Verse 11 again, “All these,” and we want to read the pastor, or a few chosen ones. But in Verse 11, “All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to,” the pastor and a few chosen ones. “Who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” And it’s good to look at 13 and 14, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member,” the pastor, “But of many.” In other words, the emphasis in the teaching on gifts if that the Holy Spirit wants to give each one of us gifts as we need them. He does not want to give them just to a few.
So dear ones, many of us sin against God in the sanctified life because we do not read these verses sincerely and we are not prepared to enter into any gifts. We just assume that they’re for the pastor, or they’re for a few chosen ones and so we’re not able to be used by the Holy Spirit. We need to see that the Holy Spirit is willing to give to all of us the gifts that we need for ministry.
I think some of us say, “Well, how do we know?” Well you see it in Chapter 14:1. You may say, “Well, how do you know what gift you are going to be given?” Well, 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” I think we need to do that, just to earnestly desire. To be hungering after the Holy Spirit day, after day. To be drinking the Holy Spirit in day, after day and saying, “Holy Spirit, manifest more of the power of the life of Jesus within me.” And be earnestly desiring the gifts. Not ask for one gift but earnestly desire the gift that the Holy Spirit wants to give you. But we have a responsibility to earnestly desire them, dear ones.
Now, could we look then at some more teaching on the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Look at Verse 4 first of all, “Now there are varieties of gifts,” and I think it just says diversities of gifts in King James. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” Well, you can see the varieties of gifts if you look down at the nine of them that are listed. Notice there are nine fruits of the spirit though it’s really only fruit of the spirit, isn’t it? But there are nine manifestations of the fruit of the spirit and there are nine gifts of the spirit through which he manifests himself.
In Verse 8 and the following verses, “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom.” That’s a gift. “And to another the utterance of knowledge.” That’s a gift. “To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” So that’s what Verse 4 means, you see, there are varieties of gifts and the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to each one. Of course, it takes
away all pride, you see. Because anyone who is responsible, it seems, for the healing of a dear one at the altar, all the others know, “Thank you Holy Spirit for manifesting the gift of healing through that dear one.” And it’s precious that at times then, he withdraws the healing from that dear one, the gift of healing, and gives them some other gift as they need it.
It’s precious that the Holy Spirit has the right to give the gift when he is pleased to give it. And so the glory always goes to the Holy Spirit. And no one feels you see, “Oh, I wish I had his gift.” Because if the Holy Spirit gives you one gift you thank him for it and you say, “Holy Spirit, I’m glad you’re willing to use me as a little finger of the body. And I’m glad you’re willing to use him as an eye of the body.” And there’s just a joy you see, in the exercise of the gifts that is free from selfish pride if the old self is on the cross. Otherwise, the Devil works mischief among us. But there are varieties of gifts.
Then will you look dear ones, at Verse 5 because I think these are important verses, “And there are varieties of service, but the same Lord.” Now with the varieties of service the word is “diakonion” and it means the same as deacon you know. It means, different kinds, different ministries. And it means different ministries in the one body of the same Lord Jesus. And you see those different ministries over there that God gives to the Lord Jesus in his body, over in the Verses 28 and the following verses of 1 Corinthians 12. Here are the different ministries or the different forms of service, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
Well, there are different ministries and that’s why it’s a joy to be able to sit down there and say, “Lord, you have given me the ministry of taking care of this auditorium and that brother has been given the ministry of speaking today. And I’m glad Holy Spirit that the moment you withdraw your power from me I have no ability to take care of this auditorium in the gracious way that you want the life of Jesus to pour through me in doing it. And I’m glad, Holy Spirit, that the moment you withdraw your power from that dear one at the desk, that moment he ceases to be able to be used to pour forth the life of Jesus in his words.” It is a great sense everyone has that no one is more important than the other because all of us owe our ministries to the Holy Spirit and to the Lord Jesus himself who appoints some of us a finger, some of us a leg, some of us a foot. So there are varieties of ministries. Now it’s important then dear ones – it’s important therefore not to covet somebody else’s ministry you see, because that grieves the Holy Spirit.
And then in Verse 6, could I say that the preacher always has to be ready to take care of the auditorium? See? If he ever gets to the place where he’s not willing for God to withdraw all his power from him so that he can only clean the auditorium then he is not in the right place in the body. So always keep your ministry – sit loosely by your ministry, won’t you? It’s given to you by Jesus and just for as long as he pleases.
Now would you look dear ones, at Verse 6 because I think this is even more important in a sense, “And there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.” And that’s “energaematon”, working. And there are varieties of working. And in King James isn’t it, “operations?” There are varieties of operations. God operates in different ways through different ministries at different times. So it’s important to see that a dear brother can be given the gift of healing and God can have a different way of operating that gift through him. So that Oral Roberts (Granville “Oral” Roberts was an American Methodist-Pentecostal televangelist and a
Christian charismatic.(cid:160)1918-2009) asks me to touch my radio set and if I’m in tune with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not say through me, “Ah, be careful of that man he asked you to touch your radio set.” He does not say to me, “Now, look at Christopher Woodard, a Harley Street specialist in London who practices the gift of healing in a different way.” He says, “You must come to a harmony of your own spirit and then the harmony of your own spirit which God is able to bring through my ministry to you, the harmony of your own spirit will spread to your body and make it healthy and holy too.”
And the Holy Spirit does not say inside me, “Now that’s the way that healing gift should be operating, the way Woodard does it in London, a much more cultured way, a much more sane way it seems to this mind.” The Holy Spirit does not say that. The Holy Spirit if he’s in charge of you says, “Thank God for Oral Roberts. Thank God for Christopher Woodard. Thank God that he works and operates in different ways through different ministries through different gifts.” And dear ones, then none of us is able to judge another.
And oh I wish we could see this – you know, if we really see the hordes of the enemy that are marching against us, I don’t turn around as the Germans attack us and say, “Listen brother you’re not firing your gun properly. You’d better fire it like me.” You don’t say that. If you’re fighting against the hordes of the heathen you don’t turn around to a brother and say, “You’re not using the gift the way I use it.” You say, “Thank God for you, brother. We need all of us. Let’s go forward.” And you minister the life of Jesus to him. And the life of Jesus will fix him up if he’s not fixed up. You see? But we don’t need to start repairing him. We just need to minister our gift and keep our eyes off everybody else because there are varieties of working in these gifts.
Now dear ones, could we go on just briefly then to the gifts themselves. And we won’t be able really to say too much about them. But would you like to look at the first on there that is given in Verse 8, “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom.” Now the world is full of books dear ones, and the world is full of Stanley Jones’s and T.A. Hegre’s [founder of Bethany Fellowship and author]. And the world is full of dear ones who have been given revelations by God. And those are found in the precious books that these brothers have been inspired to write.
But there is a holy wisdom that the Holy Spirit is also able to give you at special times. There is a wisdom that comes not from books but comes directly from the Holy Spirit himself. There is an inner wisdom in doing things that only the Holy Spirit can give you, you see. And there are moments when you need the real gift of wisdom. The preacher needs the real gift of wisdom so that he will not reap when he should be sowing and so that he will not sow when he should be reaping; so that he should not preach holiness when they’re not even half committed or converted and so that he will not keep preaching salvation when they are walking in the light that they’ve been given. So you need wisdom in dealing with souls as brother Elmer has said again and again this week. You need at times the gift of wisdom to be able to interpret God’s supernatural wisdom to dear ones. You need wisdom for understanding the things that are happening in your own life.
Now the Bible says plainly, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives liberally and doesn’t question you as long as you ask in faith nothing doubting.” There is need for wisdom that you cannot get from books. I remember a dear brother, and I think I’ve told you this before, who was preaching with me at a camp meeting, a holiness camp meeting. And the dear brother was about 75 and had lovely white hair and I remember him saying once, “Now Brother O’Neil,” it’s the first time I ever heard it, “Brother O’Neil is a man of books but I’m a man of one book, the Bible.” And that’s right he had very little education, you know, and he had maybe got to–I don’t know–eighth
grade or something and then had left school. But God had given him the gift of wisdom.
I had been trying–I think I told you–for days to get over to dear ones that we needed to trust the Holy Spirit even when we could not see where he was leading us. Even when we were going blind we needed to trust him and obey what he told us. But this dear brother just in a moment did what I tried to do with two or three sermons. He said, “You know, if the Holy Spirit tells you to jump through that wall, you jump and he’ll make the hole.” That, I think, was a word of wisdom that the Holy Spirit had given to him, and that came over clearly to all our hearts. So the Holy Spirit wants at times to give you the word of wisdom.
Then would you look at the second word there in Verse 8, “To another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” And there come times you see, when you need insight into another’s heart. And so there is a dear one at the altar and something is holding them back. And you need the word of knowledge of their spiritual condition. So you’re kneeling there, and if you’re depending on your own power or even your own ability to worship, then you’re lost. You need to be ready to receive the gift of knowledge at any moment and say, “Holy Spirit, will you reveal to me what you want to reveal?”
And so I remember one dear brother was dealing with another one at the altar and they couldn’t get through and it was an hour and they’d been on their knees. And then there came to the brother who was dealing with him the gift of knowledge. And he saw a great white hen, and he told the brother what he saw. And of course the brother had stolen this great white hen two years before from a neighbor. And what was holding him back from being cleansed by the Holy Spirit, his refusal not only to look at that but to make restitution. So again and again we need the gift of knowledge of the other’s condition.
Then would you like to look at faith. I think it’s the next gift, “To another faith by the same Spirit.” And faith is working faith. So Carvaso [William Carvaso, of Cornwall, England, 1749-1834] would get into a carriage and would drive two miles and there were 12 people in the carriage and when he got out they were all converted.” Well that wasn’t because he explained the four spiritual laws quickly, or because he had brother Hegre’s book and was able to read it fast to them. But that was a miracle of working faith you see.
And there are miracles like that dear ones, whereby God can use you mightily to bring about the conversion of many. So Finney [Charles Grandison Finney 1792-1875] you remember walked into the factory. A little girl began to titter and he looked at her and then she felt condemnation in her heart. And the thread broke in the loom and tears began to trickle down her eyes. And he went over to her and spoke to her about Jesus. And then bit-by-bit the other members in the factory fell down on their knees until everybody was on their knees. Then the owner of the factory closed the factory and had a revival meeting. He was not a Christian but he closed the factory and many, many dear ones were converted. That was a miracle of working faith, you see and that can happen. That can happen, dear ones, if you’re given the gift of working faith. Not saving faith or sanctifying faith but the gift of working faith.
So it goes on, dear ones, into others. Could we just look very briefly at the Devil’s instrument? And there it is peeping out in 1 Corinthians 14:18. It’s ridiculous of Paul to say this kind of thing when he knows the theology so thoroughly. He is daring enough to say, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all.” Then in Verse 39 he says, “So, my brethren, earnestly desires to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” And I think Paul really was just deviating
from true pure holiness theology there. And I’m glad we can correct him.
Dear ones, do you see that that’s the Devil’s instrument? It is the ninth gift and because many dear ones have made it the first gift, or have supplanted the need for the cleansed heart with an outwards expression of tongues, and because so many dear ones have ministered tongues in the flesh, the Devil has used tongues to turn us from all the gifts. Now you can see how illogical that is, you see. We’ve looked at tongues and we’ve said, “Oh, no I’m not having anything to do with that wild stuff.”
But you see there is a real message in the gift of tongues because the Holy Spirit wants complete control of us and the last thing of course that we’re really ready to render is our tongue. It’s a little thing you know, but a very strong member. It can guide a huge boat–the rudder–and the tongue can set passions on fire. And so the Holy Spirit wants control of our tongues and it seems to me that’s the message of this gift of tongues. That the Holy Spirit wants to control your tongue not only when you’re speaking an unknown tongue but especially when you’re speaking a known tongue.
It is important then to see that this is one of the gifts of the spirit. And it is important to see that the Devil has taken advantage of it and has said, “Look at tongues, that’s all you get when you deal with gifts.” It’s important for us to see that’s silly. It’s the ninth gift of the spirit. It’s one of the gifts. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s not throw everything out. And you see that is what has happened, dear ones. The Holy Spirit has come into many dear hearts in the cleansed experience and then the Holy Spirit has led them on to see the need for gifts. And then someone has brought up, “Look at those wild people that minister tongues in the flesh.” And so we look at them and we say, “Yes, that must be tongues. That can’t be God’s will.”
It’s not God’s will to minister any gift in the flesh, but it is his will to minister the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And it is therefore necessary to look at those two verses where the apostle Paul who was given the very presence of Jesus on the Damascus Road says in 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all.” And he says in Verse 39, “So, my brethren, earnestly desires to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” So it’s important to see that.
Now, what’s the meaning of tongues? Well would you like to look at the meaning as it’s outlined in 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” So obviously when you speak in a tongue the Holy Spirit works directly bypassing your mind and speaks directly with your tongue to God. And in Verse 4, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” Well now, it’s true that there is a great sense of up building in times in private prayer when the Holy Spirit gives you freedom in utterance in a tongue. Then in Verse 14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.” Now in other words the tongue can be used to build you up spiritually.
It seems that the Bible puts the emphasis on private prayer. It doesn’t say, “You can’t use it in public.” But it does seem to put the emphasis on private prayer. And what’s the meaning, dear ones? When the Holy Spirit fills you with a great spirit of praise for Jesus and you see him in all his glory at the right hand of God, then there surges up in your heart a great desire to praise him. And you say, “Mighty God, Ruler of all things, Lord Jesus my Savior, my Dear One, I love you.” And the words are not sufficient. And the Holy Spirit takes your tongue and utters an unknown tongue, the praise. So that the very spirit of your self seems to rise out of your heart and you
seem to lift off from your body and rise into the very heavenlies.
That’s the purpose of a tongue and it’s a precious purpose. And the Holy Spirit has given us the tongues for that. We should not be concerned if we haven’t tongues. We shouldn’t say to the Holy Spirit, “Give me a tongue.” The Holy Spirit gives you what you need and will give you what you need at the time you need it. So we should not say, “I want a tongue.” We should say, “Thank you Holy Spirit for what you’ve given me and I’ll minister that in the fullness. And if I minister that in the fullness you’ll give me other things that I need.” But, if he gives you a tongue it’s a precious thing and a dear one should use it.
Though dear ones, the Bible emphasizes private prayer. You can see this in a few other verses just before we finish. In 1 Corinthians 14:5, “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.” That’s to speak the word of God in the right way, at the right time, to the right person. “He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless some one interprets, so that the church may be edified.” So on the whole God guides us through Paul to speak in tongues in public only when there’s someone there to interpret.
Now dear ones, I think we need more obedience in that. I think we grieve the Holy Spirit often because we speak in tongues when there’s no interpreter and the Devil can always get in in the flesh unless we obey the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We cannot afford you see, to grieve the Holy Spirit in any way in the life in the spirit. And then if you look again in Verse 9-13 Paul gives this emphasis again about the public use of tongues, “So with yourselves; if you in a tongue utter speech that is not intelligible, how will any one know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves; since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” And that seems like good logical, spiritual common sense doesn’t it?
And I think it’s important to – the higher you get, the closer you must be to the obedience of the Holy Spirit. You see, the higher you get the closer you must be and the finer must be your obedience.
And last of all dear ones, in Verse 16 and 19 there, in Verse 16 Paul says, “Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit how can any one in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?” And then in Verse 19 last of all, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In other words it’s important to minister the gifts according to the obedience of the Holy Spirit and according to the words that God has given us.
Well dear ones, have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Now maybe you’re saying, “Well, I was cleansed last night.” Well then the Holy Spirit is filling you, all you need to do is open your heart to him and say, “Holy Spirit, I am willing to receive whatever gifts you want to give me and I am willing to walk into whatever avenues of service you have equipped me for.” And the Holy Spirit will give you the gifts as you need them so that you can walk fearlessly into the lion’s den, fearlessly into the ward in the hospital, fearlessly in to the better educated person than you are and you know that the Holy Spirit will give you the necessary gifts and will enable you to reflect the very image of Jesus, not only purity but power. Let us pray.