THE CONCEPT AND OPERATION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
THE CONCEPT AND OPERATION OF THE BODY OF CHRISTCopyright Š 2011 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONŽ, NIVŽ Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (I Corinthians 12:12,13)
I think most of what I will have to say in this essay has already been stated in the twelfth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians.
Our physical body, although made up of many different parts, is one whole. From the head to the feet, it is one body. It is seldom that we emphasize one part, such as a finger, to the exclusion of the remainder of the body.
The term "Body of Christ" is of interest. It portrays the fact that the work of Christ is shared by those who also share in the anointing of the Spirit of God, the "Christians," we might say. Jesus is the exalted Head, the one from the beginning with God. We who have been baptized by the Spirit of God also are of Christ.
It is interesting that God called Adam and Eve, "Adam." This is because Eve came from Adam and was an inseparable part of Adam. In like manner, we can be termed the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who is to appear to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We do not diminish Jesus in any manner by viewing ourselves as part of Christ, part of Messiah. Rather we enlarge Him, and this is what God intends. Ultimately all of the creation will reflect the One who was totally obedient to the Father in the most difficult of circumstances.
Jesus made Himself of no reputation, regarding His being the very Son of God not something to be grasped. So it is true that we are to regard ourselves of no reputation, counting our oneness with Jesus Christ not a thing to be grasped. If we are willing to humble ourselves today, we will be exalted in due time just as Jesus, after humbling Himself, has been exalted above all other personages.
I say this because we American Christians, having been accustomed to a democratic system in which people vote in and vote out their leaders, are apt to feel we have been called to govern America. That is not our calling. Our calling is to bear witness of a Kingdom that will be installed upon the earth when our Lord returns.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (I Corinthians 12:13)
The name "Christ" is not Jesus' last name. "Christ" is referring to the fact that God anointed Jesus with the Spirit of God. that He might perform the work of the Kingdom of God. We Christ-ians also have been baptized by that same Spirit that we might work with Jesus when He appears to set up the Kingdom.
One cannot but be amazed at the existence of the numerous Christian denominations and sects. They reveal how much of the Christian religion is manmade. The one Body of Christ worldwide, consisting of all races of humans, is divided into various organizations. No matter what explanation is made for these denominations and sects, the fact remains their existence certainly was not God's idea.
The Christian organizations may seek to do God's as well as they understand it, but the concept of the Body of Christ. is hidden to them. The organizations are well intentioned and consist of honorable people. They sometimes employ the term "local body," meaning a local church. There is no such thing.
There are local congregations. But the Body of Christ is universal, and the ministries and gifts of the Spirit, while some of them may be required in a local congregation, such as a gift of knowledge or of wisdom, nonetheless are universal and will operate wherever the gifted believer is.
Once we understand that there is only one Body of Christ, with a minority of its members on earth at any given time and the majority in the spirit world, we can perceive that as God is bringing the Body toward blameless perfection on the earth, the same works of redemption are occurring in the spirit world. It is one Body in Heaven and on the earth.
Does this mean we are to flee from the local congregations and organizations? By no means. By doing so we would do nothing more than create another babylon. Each true Christian, true saint, is to follow the Lord Jesus closely.
When the time arrives for the Body to reveal its oneness, the Lord will show us and direct every detail of the procedures. The time is not yet, to the best of my knowledge!
It is helpful for each of us Christians, I believe, to keep ourselves aware of the oneness of the universal Body of Christ. Then we may have a better rapport with our fellow believers of different persuasions. Also we will not be found fighting another denomination or hindering its work in any manner.
I heard of one instance where the graduates of a Bible school were forbidden to assist a different denomination in its efforts to spread the Gospel. Can you imagine such an unscriptural requirement?
So we are members of the one Body in Heaven and upon the earth. We have been anointed with the Spirit of God that we may do the work of Christ, of Messiah.
The sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah describes the various tasks the Holy Spirit will help us with, guiding us and enabling us to meet the needs at hand. Verses one through three speak of the need for building up the members of the Body.
The members of Christ's body are scattered as so many lost sheep; as so many dry bones. If my understanding is correct, we need to employ our unique gifts so our brothers and sisters may be strengthened in preparation for their work in bringing justice to the nations.
Perhaps the Spirit will help us do a bit of this work now; but according to the Scriptures the major part of bringing justice to the nations will take place when Christ, Head and Body, appears from Heaven.
The ministries and gifts given to each member of the Body are for the purpose of building up the Body itself. Even the ministry of evangelism has as its task the adding of members to the Body. We are in the Christian Era at the present time, and the purpose for these two thousand years is to call out and build up the saints, the holy ones, the members of the Body of Christ, the holy priesthood.
The fact that during the Christian Era the task of the evangelist is to call out those who are to be the members of the Body, can be seen in the following two verses:
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10)
I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)
There will come a time, when the Body has been prepared, to bring in the members of the nations who are to be saved. This massive earth-wide revival is described in the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Our immediate task is to make disciples, that is, believers who will deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus diligently.
The work of making disciples, instead of mere church-attenders, depends on each of us finding and operating our unique gifts and ministries. In order to find the will of God concerning our unique service to the Body we have to present our body a living sacrifice. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind so we can prove and do the will of God.
Perhaps this necessity for renewing our mind accounts for the unprecedented communication devices that are being developed in our day. There are the social networking programs operating by means of the Internet and electronic tablets. It seems not a month goes by without an improved device being offered in the marketplace.
We may view these fascinating programs and devices as being innocent. They are anything but that! They are renewing our minds according to the thinking of Satan. They are a major obstacle to our walking close enough to the Lord Jesus that we can find our unique ministries and gifts and operate them.
The dedicated Christian, young or old, will pray to Christ to break any chains that may bind him or her to the vast trunk lines of moral sewage that spew forth from various sources every moment of every day and night.
Electronic communication devices can be a means of bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God to the farthest reaches of the earth. But no sincere Christians ever should use such devices for entertainment. We have been commanded to redeem the time, and that means to put each flying moment to the best possible use in assisting the Lord Jesus as He directs us in the work of Christ, Head and Body.
I said previously that verses one through three of Isaiah, Chapter Sixty-one tell of the role of Christ, Head and Body, in building up the Body of Christ. Verses four through the end of Chapter Sixty-one of Isaiah described the work of the Head and Body of Christ, once each member has been made an oak of righteousness.
It appears the Christian people of today for the most part are nowhere near ready to be raised from the dead and ascend to meet their Head in the air, and then descend with Him that they may do the work described in Isaiah.
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)
Christ, Head and Body, is the Servant of the Lord whom God upholds.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:27,28)
The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians mentions five ministries: the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Actually I believe the pastor-teacher composes one ministry, since it is a pastor's responsibility to feed the sheep.
I think four ministries are portrayed in the Old Testament, in that the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is the fourth of the holy furnishings. The Lampstand, being lighted by means of oil, symbolizes Christ, the One anointed with oil.
Also, there were four bars that held together the Tabernacle tent. I think the fifth bar, that went all the way around, typifies the Lord Jesus. There is no doubt in my mind in that the number four symbolizes the communication of the Spirit of God. The number five symbolizes the coming of the Kingdom of God, in that the Blowing of Trumpets is the fifth of the seven Levitical observances.
Be all this as it may, I am not one to emphasize the five (or four) ministries of the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians. Let me ask you a question: When you have to walk somewhere, which are more necessary, your hands or your feet? So it is with the Body of Christ. The most important gift is the one that is needed right now. Do you agree with that?
Neither the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians nor the fourth chapter of Ephesians, or the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans mentions all of the gifts and ministries. Rather the endowments that are listed are examples of the enablements that the Spirit of God gives to the members of the Body of Messiah. God is free to provide any kind of resource that He deems appropriate at a given time!
Let me stress that it is of primary importance in our day that each individual who claims to be a Christian begin to seek earnestly for his or her ministry in the universal Body of Christ. Then, upon discovering it, to give it the highest priority of his or her life.
Remember the parable of the talents. It is not often that Jesus refers to His people as wicked, lazy servants. But He does to each believer who does not use the talents given to him or her. Every Christian without exception has been given one or more gifts of the Spirit. There is no "dead wood" in the Body of the Anointed One.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7)
If you do not know what your gifts and ministries are, it is of the greatest imporance at this time that you get busy and ask God what He has given you. Keep asking until He gives you the answer, or else tells you that you are different from all other members of the Body because the Spirit has not given you any gift with which to build up your fellow members of the Body.
Think of your own body. There are many parts that are visible and many parts that are invisible. Some are large and some are extremely small. But let one of the tiny glands cease to function and you are going to find out about it, even if you are six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.
You may be under the impression that Jesus and God can get along without you. Please do not be mistaken along this line. When you die you are going to facing an angry Christ and called a wicked, lazy servant. Also, Jesus will take away your gifts and ministries and give them to someone who has been faithful.
You may think our loving Jesus does not say such things to nice people like you. But the Bible says He will, so get busy and find out what you are supposed to be doing.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)
Have you done this yet? If not, why not? Are you ready to face a disappointed Jesus? King Jesus has needs right now, in terms of His Bride and His Kingdom. He is a true King, and He will remember those who assisted Him in His hour of need. Make sure you are one of them.
If you are a young person, avoid as much as possible the social networking sites and the electronic games. That is a sacrifice you can offer, and Jesus will be pleased with it.
Do not be conformed to the world. Right at this moment, in the twenty-first century, God is moving us forward in the plan of redemption. The spiritual fulfillments of the last three of the Levitical observances are available to you now: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles. Today they are available to you, but this will not always the the case. Be sure you do not miss the day of your visitation.
You simply cannot amuse yourself with the electronic toys and at the same time cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He endeavors to move you, and those around you, to a higher place in the plan of redemption.
The choice is yours today. Your eternal destiny depends on the choices you are making right now. Please do not wait to the end of your life to see if I know what I am talking about.
"Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship." Going to a Christian rock concert is not a spiritual act of worship. Worship occurs when, in order to please God, you deny yourself the fun things the other kids are doing.
Why do I find myself addressing young people? Probably because they will be the ones who will be going through the chaos that is ahead in our country. They must learn now to stand and to help others to stand. They may even be alive when Christ calls His Body out of the organizations, and they want to be prepared for that. Remember Lot's wife!
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." The social networking sites, such as Facebook, strongly conform us to the pattern of this world. They are not wholesome; they are a waste of your valuable time; it is entirely possible to live without them. Remember, mankind has survived for 6,000 years without Facebook!
The electronic games often emphasize violence and witchcraft. Tell me the truth. Should a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ spend time interacting with violence and witchcraft?
It is up to you. I was on Facebook for two days. When I saw how much was entailed I immediately left that big waste of time. I use the computer each day to contribute to others the insight into His Word God has given me. Yet, for all the years I have been using the computer, I never once have played a game on itand hopefully never will. I have spent the time using the gift Christ has given me to accomplish His will for me.
"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Our culture today contains millions of things that renew our mind. It is up to us to make certain our mind is being renewed in the will of God for us.
"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will." It is not easy to find God's will for ourselves. We have to keep seeking; keep praying; keep asking. He wants to know if you really care about God, or are like the remainder of makind.
You have to test to see if you actually are performing God's will, by doing what you believe to be God's will, and then carefully watching the results; and also continually listening for guidance from Christ. It is easy to make mistakes. It is easy to be deceivedeven when you are reading your Bible and praying each day.
When you discover you are in error, tell the Lord about it; turn away from the error; and press on in Christ. That is how you learn to live in the Spirit of God.
We have many "kings" of wickedness in our personality. God has ways of drawing them out so they expose themselves. When you see there has been a wicked way in you, confess it to God and ask His help in turning away from it. God is faithful and righteous to enable you to do just that.
God does not have three wills, a good will, a pleasing will, and a perfect will. God has one will for you and me, and it is good, pleasing, and perfect. I have heard people say God has a permissive will. This is absolute nonsense. Either we do what God wants us to do, or else we don't. It is just that simple.
Perhaps people mean that it was God's permissive will for Balaam finally to go to the king of Moab. If that is God's permissive will, may He deliver you and me from it.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)
Because of today's spiritual schizophrenia induced by the teaching of grace and imputed righteousness, Christians often imagine they are stalwart saints following in the bloodstained footprints of the heroes of faith of ancient times.
However, their neighbors know better. It is best that we humble ourselves and count ourselves as nothing. Paul said the apostles were the filth of the world.
God gives to different believers varying amounts of faith. During my Bible-school days I prayed magnificent prayers over people, most of which were not answered. I learned after a while that I do not have the gifts of healing. I had a friend who, although sincere, thought whatever he said and believed would come to pass. I guess the "faith" practice was in vogue for a season.
Faith is not saying "I believe I believe" over and over. Faith is a gift from God. I know what true faith is like because I have had two remarkable healings. I know when I have it and I know when I don't have it. But that takes experience. So we are to think soberly according to the degree of faith God has given us, and not press beyond that into presumption.
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4,5)
"Each member belongs to all the others." I never noticed that before. That is quite a concept, isn't it? We all, in Heaven and upon the earth, form one Body. Our membership in the Body does not cease when we die.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (Romans 12:6)
Being a Pentecostal pastor, I am familiar with prophesying in the church. I have heard the real thing, and then I have heard people speak out whatever was on their mind at the time. There are many voices speaking to us in these days, and they are not all of God!
As far as giving personal prophecies in the local congregation, it is best that these be spoken in the presence of one or more elders. They can judge whether or not the prophecy is coming from the Spirit of God. Sometimes people who make a practice of giving prophecies to others prefer no one else be around.
This is not a good idea. The person giving the prophecies is likely to fall into spiritual pride, and the person receiving the prophecies should be presenting his or her body a living sacrifice and finding God's will in that manner.
We do, in our church, bring people up to the front and pray over them. We call up the pastors and Council members. This may be for the healing of the sick, or members who are leaving, or for special ministry. At this time there may be some who feel a stirring and will give a prophecy. This is safe because there are several elders who can step in if something harmful is being presented.
If a congregation is spiritually healthy, a believe may begin to learn to prophecy by speaking a few words. We do not start out like Isaiah. Then too there are some believers who have unusual faith and who are recognized as being unusually accurate. However, all may prophesy. The very testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
"Let him use it in proportion to his faith." We can see from this that while the prophecy is of the Holy Spirit, the believer has to "use it." It does take a while to learn how to use our gifts and ministries, not being behind or going ahead of the Spirit, but walking in step with the Spirit. I have a gift of teaching, we might say, but it took years for me to learn how to stir up my gift; when to speak out and when to hold my peace.
It is easy to do nothing. It is easy also to speak out at the wrong time or to just say what is in our mind at the time. We have to learn how and when to prophesy. In our own congregation, unless a person is recognized as having a gift of prophecy, the individual will ask me or my wife if it is proper to give a prophecy. Sometimes we will ask what it is about.
If an assembly is healthy and love is present, people are glad to respond decently and in order, as Paul says. In those very rare instances when things are getting out of hand, I step in, but I always remember that the feelings of the offending member are exposed. If the presiding minister is too harsh, he never will have to worry about such believers attempting to prophesy again. They won't!
If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:7,8)
If we are serving in some manner, such as watering the plants, or teaching children, or encouraging people, or contributing to the needs of others, or governing in some manner, we probably will not think of this as ministering on a level with the pastor or evangelist.
But again we are brought back to the fact that such gifts and ministries, while they may not be acclaimed publicly, are like the hidden functions in the human body. We do not see them or think about them until they are not fulfilling their role in our strength and energy.
It was the man with only one talent that was condemned for his laziness. So it is true that people with less prominent ministries are the ones who devote their time and attention to succeeding in the world and neglect to find or diligently use the Kingdom resources they have been given. Like the man who did not use his talent, they shall experience the wrath of the Lord.
In America we have any number of attractive things and experiences that distract us and demand our time. For this reason we are in a more dangerous situation than a missionary in a foreign land. We tend to neglect our salvation, and this is as bad as or worse than sins of the flesh that we would regard with horror.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (I Corinthians 12:4-6)
We see from above that it is the Spirit who gives us the gifts; it is the Lord Jesus who administrates the gifts; it is the Father who empowers the gifts.
As the operation of gifts and ministries become more familiar to us, there are ministers who attempt to administrate the gifts. They do not wait on the Lord Jesus for His administrative directions, and so the Presence of God is not with them.
There only is one Administrator of the Kingdom of God, and that is the Lord Jesus; unless He delegates responsibility to someone. We fervently should desire gifts and ministries, and pray for them; but we do not have them until Christ gives them to us. I say this because there are some who advocate "stepping out in faith." This is just another name for presumption, like the Lord being challenged to jump from the roof of the Temple.
It is one matter to talk about faith and attempt to have and use faith. It is quite a different experience for God to actually give us faith for some sort of action. Genuine faith is almost tangible it is so real and solid. We do not have to work it up.
Those of us who pray a lot have learned what it means to "pray through." We pray until we can feel the assurance that God has heard us. After that we can't really pray, only praise the Lord. Sure enough. When the time comes, there is the answer. But "speaking the word of faith," and other current practices, are foreign to me.
When we have a need I do not believe we are to try to speak the answer into existence. Rather we are to call on the Lord until He answers. I notice that the Apostle Paul, when he was afflicted, did not "rebuke the demon." He prayed to the Lord until the Lord answered him.
Rebuking demons is a common practice among Pentecostal people. I do not see this practice in the Scriptures. Rather, we are to "resist the devil." Sometimes I think the demons want the attention and are pleased when we rebuke them.
There are only four persons I know of whom Satan fears: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the believer who sets aside his own life that Christ might think, speak, and act through him.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (I Corinthians 12:7-11)
There are some who teach that any Christian at any time can be used of the Lord to manifest one or more of these enablements. This has not been my experience. I do not say Christ could not administrate the gifts of the Spirit in any manner He desires.
But I tend to believe that one believer is given one gift and another believer another gift, just as the human body operates. Some gymnasts can stand on their hands, but they have been given feet to walk on.
I have prayed sometimes for a gift of healing, or miracles, or something of this sort. God as yet has not answered my prayer. But as I said previously He has given me insight into the Scriptures, and I have sought to be diligent and faithful with this gift. People have reported to me that they have been blessed by my teaching. If this is my ministry, then that is fine with me.
I have been in two of William Branham's healing services. It is evident that he had a true gift of miracles. But I was not impressed with his teaching. Also I saw miracles performed in a Kathryn Kuhlmann meeting, but I thought her preaching was not outstanding.
So to one is given one gift and to one another.
I feel to emphasize in this present essay that it is time now for God's people to desire and pray for a gift and ministry until he or she breaks through. Then the individual is, as I said before, to make the operation of that ability of prime importance, shaping his life around it. If he will do this, the gift will grow in fruitfulness and other abilities will be added.
However if the believer says to himself, "If God wants to give me a gift He will, or the talent I have is not important and I will devote myself to my family and making a living," and does not present his body a living sacrifice, testing and proving what may be a spiritual calling, he surely will suffer in the Day of the Lord, and perhaps in the present day. He may end up, after he dies, as a resident in the Land of Darkness.
I have seen two or three instances of what has happened to people who have neglected to use their gifts as they were supposed to, and it was not a pleasant sight. The Bible means exactly what it states.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:27,28)
The above distribution of supernatural enablements certainly is not common among us. But I think the time has come when we will see a move in this direction. It appears that the persecution of Christians is near at hand in the United States, and we may be forced to go into hiding in order to conduct our worship services.
If this does take place, the casual Christians will be removed from us and those who persevere in the midst of difficulties may find themselves ministering in miraculous ways.
Notice the objective of the various gifts and ministries:
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
Since few believers appear to reach this high standard, it is evident to me that the work of building up the saints must continue in the spirit world after they die. And why not? Is the Body of Christ disbanded because we die? I do not believe so.
Paul leaves no doubt that the work of building up the saints will continue until the members of the Body of Christ have been brought to perfection. Then, when Christ appears, they also will appear with Him. They will be raised from the dead. They will have a time of fellowship on the earth. Then they together will arise to meet Jesus in the air, and mount the white war stallions.
The trumpets of God will sound; the command to "advance" will be sounded; and the host of angels and saints will descend through the clouds to establish the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.
Each one of us is responsible to build up this army of judges to the fullness of maturity. The army of judges, the saints, will express the Word of God while Michael and his warrior attack and drive from the earth all the forces of wickedness.
There is quite a work yet to be done, isn't there? But God Almighty has decreed that it shall be done perfectly and completely; and what God decrees always happens! There is no authority or power that can withstand the Father. The works were finished from the beginning of the world.
And as to the building up of the saints:
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. (I Corinthians 14:5)
Notice the adjective "greater." This reminds us of Paul's exhortation in Chapter Twelve to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." Apparently prophecy is a "greater gift." There may be others that are even greater; but, as I said before, when you want to walk, your feet are the "greater gift." This is not true when it comes to playing the piano, is it?
Be that as it may, Paul exhorted us to prophesy, unless we interpret the tongues we have uttered.
It has been my experience in Pentecost that there are two kinds of utterances in tongues. One is our prayer language. Every Pentecostal believer knows what it is to express the burden on his soul by speaking in tongues, although there is no one else around to hear him.
Then there is the speaking in known languages that occurred on the original Day of Pentecost, as recorded in the Book of Acts. I have read that in the early days of the latter rain, at the beginning of the twentieth century, missionaries spoke to their listeners in languages the missionary had never learned.
So there is the prayer language of tongues, and then there is what we might term "missionary" speaking in known languages. This sort of thing may reappear in the closing days of the Church Age. I rather believe it will.
It is my point of view that we enter the rest of God by speaking in tongues in our prayer language. Notice this in Isaiah:
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose" (Isaiah 28:11,12)
The "rest of God," which is emphasized in the Book of Hebrews, is that state of being in which we cease from our own works and endeavor to enter that which God spoke concerning us on the seventh day of creation.
I have found, to my own satisfaction, that speaking in tongues builds me up such that I am more able to rest in God so that He is influencing my thinking, my speaking, and my acting.
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little thereso that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13)
If this isn't a perfect picture of a saint entering the rest of God, I do not know what would be. Little by little the Word of God replaces our fleshly life so that we are the flesh becoming the Word. Little by little, rule on rule, a lttle here, a little there, until that which cannot survive the fire of God is burned out of us.
We fall backward. We are injured, like Jacob. We are snared by the Spirit of God. We are captured. We no longer are adamic human beings. We still are human, but transcendentally so. It is a higher form of humanity.
Such is the purpose of speaking often to ourselves in tongues as we go about our daily business.
As to speaking in tongues or prophesying during the assembling of believers, all must be done with the purpose in mind of building up the saints. If any activity is done to access with no purpose other than to call attention to the one who is active, then it is the responsibility of the elders to politely request that he or she cease so that others may contribute.
There are no hard and fast rules here. All that is done must be decent and in order and must build up those in attendance. As I said, it is the responsibility of the elders to insure that such is the case.
In many of our current assemblings in America, there are few or no manifestations of the Spirit. Ordinarily we use music to fill in the gap.
However, it is very seldom that any kind of music, choir or other, although inspiring and pleasing to the ear, builds up Christ in the members of the congregation. It is entertaining, and that is all.
Also, the preaching must be done by someone who is waiting on the Lord and knows the present burden of the Spirit. If we have a minister who is preaching skillfully from his notes, and beautiful music, we are accomplishing little or nothing in the Kingdom of God. It is a social eventnothing more.
So there we have it. The Body of Christ in our day is as a valley of dry bones. There is enough prophecies in the Old Testament to assure us that in the last days the Spirit of God will move in unprecedented power. The saints who are living in victory in Christ will receive a double portion of power so they may bring the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation on earth.
I believe that during this latter-rain revival there will be many instances of the saints speaking in known languages to their listeners.
While this testimony is taking place, Christ will be being formed in the believers. Michael and his angels will drive Satan and his forces from Heaven. Many who had been at the right hand of God in Christ shall be shaken and driven from the Presence of God because they never have been delivered from self-will. We have seen this happen already as notable ministers have fallen from their high place in God.
When spiritual darkness covers the earth, then we know the appearing of Christ and His saints is near at hand. The true saints shall be gathered together in hiding. There shall be deliverance in Zion and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
But those who are living in the Antichrist system will not be able to pray. Antichrist shall be given authority to ascend into the heavens and block their prayers. The Holy Spirit will not be available to them with the result they will not be able to repent and receive Christ.
Many who are last in time will be among the first to ascend to the thrones in the air that govern the spiritual environment of the earth.
Great things are at hand. Satan will use every device possible to keep us distracted so that we will miss the day of our visitation. The hardiest among us will press forward in Christ and receive the spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the celebration of Tabernacles.
The holy will remain holy and the filthy will remain filthy so that the way of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be made straight.
Let's you and I press into Christ as never before. If we will listen to Christ and obey Him diligently, we will save ourselves and our loved ones. We now are living at the beginning of the greatest days of all. Sin shall abound but Divine grace shall much more abound. If we fail to stand in the hour of testing it will be because we have chosen to trust in man instead of Christ.