God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity seems to be controversial. Large groups of Christians, even whole denominations dont want Him to attend their services. He is mysterious and He does things that arent on the Order of Service. He can be disruptive to the way we would like to do things. It is as though He thinks the church belongs to Him or something. He does stuff and if we arent careful to control Him He may actually speak to us or through us.
But we are Pentecostals. We are open to the Spirit, right? So, why would we need a sermon about tongues? First, we have a default setting. The setting is called the flesh. Second, we have an environment. It is called the world. Third, we have an enemya personal, spiritual adversary called Satan. Each of these is like spiritual gravity, always pulling us down. Therefore, if we are to lay hold of all that God has for us, then we must fight for the things of the Spirit. We need not only the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need His continual infilling and refreshing. Today we will look to Paul in the Book of Acts for an example of contending for the work of the Spirit and move to 1 Corinthians to learn of the benefits of speaking in tongues.
1) Contend for the supernatural (1Co 14:1).
Read Acts 18:24-19:6. Paul knew they needed the Spirit. Paul did not say, Well great, you have all the pertinent information, live well.
- It doesnt say how Paul knew they lacked the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, perhaps he prayed with them and just began to pray in the Spirit and realized everyone was looking at him.
- Or the Holy Spirit simply told him. I have had this experience. I am praying over a person for healing or something and I get a nudge Ask them if they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. This sometimes causes a quizzical or even fearful expression to come on a persons face.
The Apostle Paul believes the Baptism of the Spirit is essential. God has come close to us in Jesus Christ and literally into us through the Holy Spirit (Ac 19:2-6).
The Spirit is to be experienced not merely known about. Paul does not give them a theological treatise on the Spirit he gives a brief explanation and he lays his hands on them! (v 6)
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for empowerment. He equips us for spiritual warfare (v 6) (Boyd, G. God at War).
Christianity is not a philosophy. A philosophy has the goal of a happy life, a good earthly life. It is a system.
We are invited into a relationship with God, experiential knowledge of Him, as the Holy Spirit fills our hearts and we are allowed to further that relationship through cooperation with Him and His manifestations (Lk 24:45-49; Ac 1:7, 8; Mt 6:9-15) (Fee, G. Paul, The Spirit, and the People of God, p.168-177).
God is supernatural.
- He is God. He can do whatever He wants theologically that is a true statement. However, in practice He longs to cooperate with us in ministry. So, He will in fact allow us to ignore Him.
- God has not stopped being supernatural. The gifts are for today (1Co 12-14; 14:39; 13:9, 10).
2) Edify yourself (1Co 14:4).
Tongues is very helpful in communing/resting with God.
Some have argued that self edification is selfish.
Paul thought tongues was a good idea (v 18).
3) Prophecy (1Co 14:1, 5, 13, 26-29; 12:7).
Tongues with interpretation can bring edification to the body (vs 26-29).
Practice is a factor in public tongues.
4) Sign to the unbeliever (1Co 14:22-26).
Paul is directing edification of all including the unbeliever (vs 22-26). I believe Pauls point to be very plain. He wants people to be edified in church not confused.
5) Praise and worship (Ac 2:11; 1Co 14:15).
Tongues is for praise as well. Note what the unsaved people heard in Acts 2praise!
I will pray in the Spirit
I will sing in the Spirit (1Co 14:15).
We dont need to choose the mind over the Spirit or the Spirit in opposition to the mind. God has given us both and we can rightly employ both.
6) Intercession (1Co 14:2; Ro 8:26, 27).
The one praying speaks mysteries to God. The Spirit prays through me (v 2).
The Spirit aids our intercession (Ro 8:26, 27).
God wants you to be in relationship with Him. Relationship means an experiential knowledge of another person. You dont just know about that person, like you know George Washington; rather you actually have an ongoing interchange with that person. Through Jesus Christ you have access to God the Father. He has chosen to pour out His Spirit and the way He commonly, initially manifests this reality is tongues or spiritual language. I have described the benefits of this gift. Now it is for you to step out and experience. Next weekend we will have our Baptism in the Holy Spirit service. Come taste and see that the Lord is good. We will not press you or push you. Lets pray. Would you right now where you are just say yes to Jesus? Take a step of faith and allow Him to tell you what He wants you to do.