Category Archives: Holy Spirit

Truth

truthWriters who post on WordPress receive an annual report on the progress of their blog including number of articles, readers and comments. It is personally satisfying to see good stats, but I decided early on that Messiah Gate would continue to publish as long as God permits, and even if it is read by only one person.

Articles are posted as I am inspired by the Holy Spirit. Before they are composed I say this prayer:

LORD, grant me the wisdom and strength to do this work. I am just the vessel — the Holy Spirit is the inspiration and author. May this article sow good seed, in good soil, to bear good fruit.

I usually devote one day to write a two thousand word post. It is exhausting labor, and my eyesight is failing. Outside work is very demanding, and my request to reduce hours has not been granted. Articles of shorter length may post less frequently, but my zeal for the LORD does not wane.

With age and dimming eyes I may become even more zealous like a man I admire greatly, J. Vernon McGee, who said:

My wife tells me that I should be nicer on the radio. Well, I don’t feel like being nice. You may want to turn me off. You may not like what I say, but I have to tell the truth. A fella said to me, ‘McGee, you think I’m going to hell because I play golf on Sunday.’ I told him, ‘You’re not going to hell for playing golf — you’re going to hell because you don’t believe in Jesus Christ.’ Friends, there are some people coming to church every week who’d be better off  going for a Sunday drive.

Of course, J. Vernon was referring to this passage in James:

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

There are a lot of people who go to church on Sunday, but live in the world the rest of the week. McGee recalled an elder in the church who had season tickets to the stadium, and one week the man invited him to attend a game. “Well,” McGee said, “I never saw a man behave like that elder. In church he acted like a saint, but at the game he was loud and profane.”

People, like that elder, live in condemnation for it would be better for them to not know the truth than to willfully sin as Jesus said to the Pharisees:

If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains (John 9:41).

People want to be popular. Sometimes I’ll read another blog where a one sentence post gets fifty likes and two dozen comments. I might have spent ten hours composing a 2500 word draft that goes completely unnoticed. Doubt starts to arise as to whether my effort is being wasted, but I know those thoughts are from the enemy. And I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that I don’t write to be popular, but to serve the LORD. If just one person reads Messiah Gate (and is blessed) then my toil will not have been in vain.

What is the purpose of life, really? To figure out what your talent is and use it to glorify the LORD. Albert Barnes commented if you don’t use your talent because you dread a loss of popularity then you are guilty of sin before God.

The prophets of the LORD were hated by men because they told the truth. The truth is not ugly — only the sin it reveals. People want the pastor to tickle their ears, and make them feel good about themselves. If that is all you are seeking then you might do just as well going for that Sunday drive, or playing golf.

So I will continue to write as the LORD has gifted me, and will do so with the zeal of J. Vernon McGee. The truth will not be restrained even though stats reveal that writing the truth is not very popular. But, then again, Messiah Gate does not exist to please men, but to glorify God.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

I am Elijah

elijah-cave1a

Are you Elijah? The underlying theme of Scripture is that God will keep for Himself an elect remnant. Elijah, when he feared that all had forsaken the LORD, fled to the shelter of a cave to escape the enemies who sought to kill him.

Jehovah told Elijah that there were 7,000 faithful who had not bowed down to the false god. And so it will be on the last day when the winnowing fork of the Lord separates the chaff from the wheat. He has allowed the weeds to grow with the grain until the harvest is gathered (Matthew 13:24-30).

Weeds can choke a healthy plant, and absorb the nutrients needed to produce good fruit. The church of Jesus Christ is like a field of wheat. Apostasy and false teaching are tares that were sown even before the death of the last apostle.

There are two schools of thought as to how this unfolds. Either things will get better due to the influence of the church, or conditions will deteriorate as the body of Christ becomes marginalized by an increasing secularization.

If we don’t understand that Revelation is unfolding in this age then it will only embolden the Satanic assault that seeks to take advantage of a church that is not fully dressed in the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

I am utterly stunned at the outpouring of support within the church for social changes that are inconsistent with a Christian worldview. I am told that I must be reeducated or rehabilitated — that my thinking is wrong and I don’t possess the love of Christ. I will restate once more: Christian love is corrective — not permissive. Yes, Jesus loved sinners. But He exposed their sin with the admonition to go and sin no more (John 8:11).

After 2,000 years liberalism has become deeply rooted in the church. People don’t like to be admonished. So the church — in a vain effort to stay relevant — has conformed to the world. No one wants to sit and listen to a fiery condemnation and then be hustled for a donation. That’s why upwards of 7,000 churches close their doors every year.

A prominent Midwest pastor who was defrocked for moral failings was asked if he ever went to church. “No,” he said. “I don’t need to go and be told that I’m a sinner. I already know that.” He added that he watched Robert H. Schuller because his sermons made him feel good. Schuller authored the Ten Commandments of Possibility Thinking which was a hodgepodge of motivational, humanistic, metaphysical, New Age concepts that entranced the laity and pulpit. Think Fulton Sheen and Norman Vincent Peale. Where is the Crystal Cathedral today? So we simply anoint new faces who will tickle our ears and make us feel good (2 Timothy 4:3).

Of course, the genesis of our devolution began in the Garden of Eden. The serpent was the first liberal, but evil suffered a monumental defeat at the Cross; and Satan knows his time is measured. This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ for those who have ears to understand. The papacy has given ground in the midst of ongoing spiritual warfare, but the church in Rome remains a steadfast defender of the sacrament of marriage and the sanctity of life.

The fruit of Reformation has been pornography, divorce, drugs, abortion and gay marriage. At the heart of the Reform movement was a liberal rejection of Rome’s conservative tenets. Granted, some of these were extra-Biblical (or based on tradition), but they were the cohesive glue that maintained unity. Understand that only the Spirit of God can keep the church together, and even then only a remnant will be saved. Some Catholic, some Protestant, but not all. It has always been about a remnant, or the elect few.

In his article, Why the Gay Marriage Debate was Over in 1950, Joel Miller suggests that psychotherapy supplanted religion. The 50’s generation that grew up with Freud and Spock (not the Vulcan) were essentially taught that they could obtain joy and peace without the Bible. This may offend you but until 1974 the American Psychiatric Association (as codified in DSM-11 — Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. At the APA convention in San Francisco (1974) gay advocates were able to overthrow the classification. Homosexuality was deemed “normal” behavior by politics — not medicine.

And the church has bought into this “new religion” that love overrides all else. This is the crux of the matter. If love is the greatest commandment then the church must be tolerant of abortion and gay marriage. My friends, God does not tolerate sin. Indeed, unrepentant sin will be judged.

Calvin and Luther were branded heretics because they both denied that marriage was a holy sacrament as defined by the Council of Trent. Okay, so the Catholic Church does translate the Greek word mystērion (μυστήριον) — as used by Paul in Ephesians 5:32 — to mean sacrament rather than mystery; but this doesn’t alter the doctrine that God, not men, invented marriage as a typology of the sacramental relationship between Christ and His church.

Calvin went so far as to equate marriage with agriculture, architecture, shoemaking and hair-cutting. [1]

Luther could have written the Court’s majority opinion:

No one can deny that marriage is an external, worldly, matter, like clothing and food, house and property, subject to temporal authority, as the many imperial laws enacted on the subject prove. [2]

Marriage is a civic matter. It is really not, together with all its circumstances, the business of the church. [3]

… marriage is outside the church, is a civil matter, and therefore should belong to the government … [4]

I feel that judgments about marriages belong to the jurists. Since they make judgments concerning fathers, mothers, children, and servants, why shouldn’t they also make decisions about the life of married people? [5]

God is the ultimate judge — isn’t He. Where are the 7,000, as Elijah, who will stand with me in defense of God’s truth?

Editor: The tone of this article is in no way a blanket defense of Catholicism, but an indictment of the Protestant church for its liberal interpretation of essential Christian doctrine which has sown division, and deviancy from the true Word of God. The seed of the Reformation has produced the fruit of so much of the false teaching that is preached today. Prosperity gospel?

Notes:

1. Institutions, John Calvin, IV, xix, 34.

2. What Luther Says, CPH 1959, Vol. 46, page 265.

3. Ibid, Vol. II, page 885.

4. Ibid, Vol. 54, page 363.

5. Ibid, Vol. 54, page 66.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Love Wins

agape

Love Wins is a headline proclaimed across the nation following a recent Supreme Court decision that judicially alters the fundamental precept of marriage. (See our post, Marriage.)

Frankly, I am stunned — even disoriented — at the course of events that have transpired in our generation. God has been expelled from our public schools … millions of babies have been sacrificed upon the altar of choice … and, now, the bedrock of our society — marriage and family — has been discarded or, at least, redefined. I submit that mortal man, while he has the right to choose this course of action, will do so under condemnation and judgement.

So, the man who was elected will say that ours is not a Christian nation; and (because of the Court ruling on marriage) that we have become a more perfect union. Well, I would agree in the one sense we are not a Christian nation, but there are a present remnant as the LORD spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:18).

In that vein please allow me one other digression. 1 Samuel 8 is an interesting study how man attempts to exert his will over God. The prophet was aged, and the people clamored for a king to rule over them. I won’t spoil your study except to say that sometimes God releases you to the desires of your own self-will even to your unintended detriment.

If this were a truly Christian nation would it not reflect the will of God?

Today, people are celebrating the victory of love. But the love they are confessing is a romantic or desirous kind of love — eros as it was understood by the ancient Greeks. Biblical love, however, is expressed by these Greek words — agapē (ἀγάπη), a Godly love; and philadelphia (φιλαδελφίᾳ), a brotherly love.

It is critical to understand that Biblical love is not a sentiment or a feeling, but an action. (It is not the clammy hands of a teenager on her first date.) The action taken is a selfless act done for the benefit of another.

In Mark Dever’s acclaimed study The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept the author states that, more than an action, love is a disposition of the heart toward God and others which then shows itself in our actions. [1]

Dever then characterizes Biblical love with some of the most treasured words in Scripture — from Paul’s letter to the assembly at Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is the missionary doctor who flies to Africa to help save those who are suffering and dying from Ebola. Love is not marching in a colorful parade loudly proclaiming the fruit of  flamboyant, self-willed pride.

Dever queries his readers:

Could this be more clear? Love is not self-seeking.

John MacArthur expounds on this distinction between the Biblical and worldview of love:

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians may be, from a literary viewpoint, the greatest passage Paul ever penned.

Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape.

The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire.

Self–giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is as rare in much of the church today as it was in Corinth. The reason, of course, is that agape love is so unnatural to human nature. Our world has defined love as “romantic feeling” or “attraction,” which has nothing to do with true love in God’s terms.

The supreme measure and example of agape love is God’s love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Love is above all sacrificial. It is sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who may care nothing at all for us and who may even hate us. It is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self–giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own. It leaves no place for pride, vanity, arrogance, self–seeking, or self–glory. It is an act of choice we are commanded to exercise even in behalf of our enemies: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). If God so loved us that, even “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:4–7), how much more should we love those who are our enemies. [2]

The Holy Spirit has been pressing me to love more like Christ. If I say, love is … the Spirit replies, love does … 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Notes:

1. The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept, by Mark Dever, Crossway Publishing, (November 16, 2005).

2. Is Biblical Love a Feeling or an Action?, COPYRIGHT ©2015 Grace to You, All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Credits:

Scripture — New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995. Used by permission.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Hope

isaiah_40_31_niv2

[Editor’s Note: If you received the email version of our last post you probably missed Joey and Rory singing Leave it There since videos do not appear in the electronic post. However, you can watch it on our blog.]

For my mother whose middle name was Hope. She passed away last Christmas almost four years to the day of my father’s passing. I miss them very much.

When I was taken to the emergency room I had hope. When I lost a job I had hope. When I was on the verge of homelessness I had hope. When my bank account was bankrupt I had hope. When I couldn’t pay my rent I had hope. When I was housebound four years because of acute panic disorder I still had hope.

Hope (in God) kept me alive and preserved my soul.

Christians know all about faith and love, but there are three fruits of the Spirit that remain (1 Corinthians 13:13), and hope seems to be an afterthought in today’s church. We know that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but did you know that Paul told the Romans that we are saved by hope? We’ll address that later.

Readers of Messiah Gate know that I occasionally engage [in] lengthy discourse over the more complex issues of theology, but that makes me somewhat like the Pharisees who knew the letter of the Law, but not its practice. John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers (Matthew 3:7)  — echoed by Jesus (Matthew 12:34) who also condemned them as hypocrites (Matthew 23:13).

Joel Osteen has been, at times, a target of my criticism as I have suggested that watching his sermons is like eating a candy bar — empty calories with a sugar rush. He tickles my ears (2 Timothy 4:3).

But when my days were darkest I found myself listening to him because his words made me feel good. TBN recently broadcast Night of Hope in Jerusalem with the Osteens which originally aired in 2011. To be expected there were the circuit preachers bellowing their motivational mantra sounding much like the used-car salesmen who pitch their inventory on late-night television:

I declare your suffering has ended … I proclaim your deliverance from poverty … I declare that your storehouse will be filled … I proclaim this day of healing … You will get that job … You will prevail … You will overcome … and so on.

Yes, Osteen is light on theology so what is it about his message that inspires so many people?

May I suggest that it is a message of hope. That’s what Joel Osteen preaches — hope. Now, I still have theological differences with him, but I can’t deny that my hope meter charts full, and my spirit is lifted, when I watch him.

The Night of Hope in Jerusalem was near the anniversary of the death of Osteen’s father. Osteen buried his head in his hands and sobbed as he reminisced about his dad, John — how his father encouraged him to pastor the congregation even though Joel had no training in seminary, or confidence that he could assume such a role. At that moment you could sense an outpouring of love and hope, and the very real presence of the Holy Spirit.

It was an awesome night … Jesus was preached … and our God was glorified.

I’m sure that I am wrong about some things as well, but my hope is that one day we will sit together at the feet of the Master who will teach us the great and hidden truths of His heavenly kingdom.

Now, what about Paul’s statement that we are saved by hope? Your King James Bible reads:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it  (Romans 8:24-25).

The translation does not convey all that Paul is saying. The Aramaic version is worded … Because we live in that hope … or the English Standard Version that reads … For in this hope we were saved

So, if we compare Paul’s writings we learn that we are saved through faith, and in hope. But for what are we hopeful? Paul reveals that in the previous verse:

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us (Romans 8:23).

The apostle was not immune to suffering as he wrote to the assembly at Corinth:

[Of the apostles] Are they servants of Christ? — I speak as if insane — I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure  (2 Corinthians 11:3-27). 

Might the circuit preachers declare Paul’s deliverance from all of these hardships? Our Lord said that, in this life, we will suffer:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Ellicott summarizes:

Because hope in the future is of the very essence of the Christian’s life. It was [in] hope that he was saved. Hope, at the time when he first believed, made him realise (sp) his salvation, though it is still in the future. This is, indeed, implied in the very nature of hope. Its proper object is that which is future and unseen. [1]

Benson wrote that our hope is in a salvation not fully possessed. [2]

And Barnes surmises:

[As to saved by hope] perhaps the word “saved” may mean here simply, we are kept, preserved, sustained in our trials, by hope. Our trials are so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. [3]

Consider, finally, that the underpinning of hope is love, of course, but also patience.

This message is not heard but from a few pulpits. Maybe that is why people listen to Joel Osteen. Certainly, my own testimony confirms that in my darkest days, hope — I’m speaking from the Spirit — was the sustaining power in my life.

To Him be the glory.

usa-1237096-01-a-01_01-01momandbabydavid
Baby David and Mom

Notes:

1. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers VIII, by Ellicott, Charles J., Cassell and Company, 1905.

2. Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Benson, Joseph, 1811–18, 5 vols.

3. Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes, 1834.

Mom’s Poetry

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Birth of the Church

pentecostimage1

You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering (First Fruits); there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath … (Leviticus 23:15-16

Shavuot (Weeks) is a Jewish celebration of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. It was one of the three pilgrimage festivals — Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Booths) — which required Jewish males to gather in Jerusalem for national worship.

Shavuot (known as Pentecost in the B’rit Chadashah, or New Testament) is counted fifty days from the Feast of First Fruits — the day Yeshua HaMashiach rose from the dead. As the Feast of Weeks celebrates the writing of the Law upon stone tablets, Pentecost celebrates the writing of the Law upon people’s hearts:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their G-d, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33

After His resurrection, Yeshua told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit):

And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:4-5

This was, as Kephas declared, to fulfill the prophecy of Joel:

Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ G-d says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS … ’ (Acts 2:14-17

Pentecost fulfilled the promise of our Lord :

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26

And so it was …

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of G-d.” (Acts 2:1-11

To my Dispensational brethren who believe that the prophecy of Joel is yet to be fulfilled at some future date, may I kindly stand with our brother Kephas (Peter) in affirming the prophetic fulfillment of Pentecost. And to my Pentecostal brothers who associate tongues with salvation, may I allude to Rabbi Sha’ul’s letter to the assembly at Corinth:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same G-d who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Not all Christians possess all of these gifts. Yes, some have the gift of tongues — others the gift of healing. You may be an arm — someone else a leg — but we are all members of the same body each performing a unique function. Note, also, that on the day of Pentecost the disciples were not speaking gibberish, or some unknown tongue. They spoke in the languages of the various distinct groups who had come from regions afar to worship at the Temple as they were so commanded in the Torah.

To build doctrine on a particular gift is to risk idolatry. We do well to heed Sha’ul’s admonition:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease … (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And G-d has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. [1]

[Note that tongues is at the bottom of the Apostle’s list.]

All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31

While the gifts of the Spirit are sensational, we must not error in confusing them with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23); of which love is the greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:34-40)

That is a lesson to remember not just on Pentecost, but always in our Christian walk. Indeed, the Holy Spirit presses me more everyday — not to speak in tongues — but to love like Christ.

Notes:

1. tongues ( γλωσσῶν, glōssōn; γλώσσαις, glōssais — from which glossary is derived).

Ability to speak languages which they had not learned. This gift was one of the primary causes of the growth of Christianity. For by it the preachers of the gospel were able, immediately on their coming into any country, to declare the wonderful things of G-d, without waiting till, in the ordinary course, they learned the language of the country. The persons who were endowed with this faculty, had not the knowledge of all languages communicated to them, but of such only as they had occasion for. This appears from 1 Corinthians 14:18, where the apostle told the Corinthians that he spake more foreign tongues than they all did. (Joseph Benson,  Benson CommentaryPublished By T. Carlton & J. Porter, 200 Mulberry Street. New York, 1857).

(Yeshua) These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues … (Mark 16:17)

… they shall speak with new tongues: or languages, not such as were new made, and had never been heard and known before; but foreign languages, such as they had never learned, or were able to speak, or understood before; and this not only did the apostles on the day of Pentecost, but even common believers at other times … (John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, 1746-8).

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Do You Speak in Tongues?

From the Book of Acts:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. [Acts 2:1-4]

What would you say if we told you that speaking in tongues was necessary for your eternal salvation? Many of you would be trembling in fear because you have never spoken in tongues. Yet there are members of the Pentecostal church who insist that you are not sealed by the Spirit of God unless you speak in tongues. In other words, speaking in tongues is the outward sign of your redemption and salvation.

Before we continue please note that this post was written during the week of Shavu’ot, or Pentecost. The LORD commanded Moses that the sons of Israel were to celebrate annual feasts which were to be proclaimed as holy convocations (Lv 23:1-2). If you were living in ancient times you could essentially know the calendar by keeping these appointed festivals.

There were three major feasts that the nation of Israel had to celebrate: Pesach (Passover), or Unleavened Bread; Shavu’ot, or Pentecost (also known as the Feast of Weeks, or Feast of Harvest); and Booths (also known as the Feast of Tabernacle, or Ingathering).

Passover commemorated the exodus from Egypt; Shavu’ot commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai; and Booths was remembrance of how the children of Israel were housed by the LORD during their wilderness trek out of the land of Egypt.

It is our mission to teach Christianity through the structure of Judaism for we are all one in Christ Jesus, understanding that Yeshua was not a Christian but a Jew (from the tribe of Judah) even as the Apostle Paul who wrote:

I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. [Ro 11:1]

Having said that please understand we do not concur with the legalists within the Hebrew Roots movement who expect Gentiles to be circumcised and live by the statutes of the Torah. Paul wrote that the law can save no one (Ro 3:20). [See our post Why Christ Died.] Nor do we command Gentiles to keep the feasts which were given specifically to the children of Israel by YHWH as a remembrance of all that He had done for them within the context of the Old Covenant. All of these things were resolved at the Jerusalem Council (as recorded in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts) where the apostles vetoed the demands of the men of circumcision who wanted to impose the legalism and ritualism of Torah upon the Gentile converts.

But it is important to recognize that (while our Gentile brothers and sisters enjoy the favors of Christian liberty) Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the feasts of Israel. He is our Passover Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.

So, then, the children of Israel were commanded by the LORD to count 50 days (seven full weeks) from the Passover sabbath (Lv 23:16) at which time they would celebrate Shavu’ot (weeks), or Feast of Weeks in commemoration of the Spring harvest and the giving of the Law unto Moses at Mt. Sinai.

Fifty (cha·mi·shim) is translated pentecost from the Greek. Because the Christian, or Gregorian calendar is not in sync with the Hebrew calendar these holy days are not observed concurrently. For example, Passover was celebrated on March 26 of this year (2013) while Easter was celebrated on March 31. Keep in mind that our Savior was crucified on Passover, and resurrected on the third day, or the Feast of First Fruits.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider that Messiah was raised from the dead on First Fruits, and His bodily resurrection was so commemorated by the first century assembly of Jewish believers. Later, the “church” changed the date and name of the celebration to either make it less Jewish, or more pagan in its appeal to non-believers.

Similarly, Shavu’ot was celebrated on May 15 of this year while Pentecost (counting 50 days from Easter) fell on May 19. While the Feast of Weeks commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses, Pentecost recognizes the writing of the Law upon our hearts as it is written:

“For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says ADONAI. “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people (and) I will forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more.” [Jer 31:33]

Before He ascended, our Lord told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and await the promise of My Father (speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit), or power from on high (Lk 24:49). He told the eleven (for Judas the betrayer had committed suicide) that they would be empowered to perform miracles as a sign, or affirmation of their holy witness and testimony. Mark wrote that these signs included casting out demons, raising the dead, speaking in tongues, laying on of hands (Mk 16:17-18); and surviving snake bites as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:6).

This power was given to the appointed men of Christ. The apostles have long since died so who are these false prophets on Christian television who are healing people through their TV’s?

Well, we do know that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to all believers, but not the same gifts. In his first letter to the assembly at Corinth (chapter 12), the apostle Paul noted the various gifts of the Spirit including wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and tongues. In the Bible tongues means language and not gibberish which is so often heard by the false teachers of the word of faith gospel.

When the Ruach Hako’desh (Holy Spirit) baptized the apostles on the Day of Pentecost they began speaking in languages (tongues) that were understood by the Jews of many nations who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast days. Luke wrote in the Book of Acts:

They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear [them] in our own language to which we were born?” [Acts 2:7-8]

Tongues are not an unknown language. The apostles were speaking in the ancient languages of the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Persians, Libyans and Arabs. That is how the Gospel was spread throughout the known world as the New Testament was not yet written.

Paul thought that tongues was the least of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and he encouraged believers to earnestly seek the greater gifts which he details in chapters 13-14 of the Corinthian epistle (1Co 12:30-31).

Not everyone speaks in tongues, noted Paul, for the Holy Spirit determines your gift. We are all members of the body of Christ, but with different functions. Some are called to be apostles. Others are called to be prophets. There are teachers, healers, miracle-workers, administrators and, lastly, speaking in tongues. Tongues do not edify men unless there is someone with the gift of interpretation who can reveal the prophecy that is spoken (1Co 14:2).

Paul said that he spoke more tongues than any (which served him well on his missionary journeys), but he would rather speak five words that were understood than ten thousand words in a tongue. He cautioned that if a stranger walked into the assembly and heard all these different tongues he would think everyone was mad (1Co 14:18-19, 1Co 14:23).

Obviously, then, speaking in tongues is not a sign of your salvation, nor is it even a more desired gift. We know of a man who attended a Pentecostal church on Pentecost, and he started speaking gibberish. He wasn’t surprised when another man leaped up and began interpreting what the man had said. When the first man revealed that he was just speaking gibberish he was invited to leave the church and never come back.

Certainly, in this case, love is the greater gift.

From the Editor: 

Hello, my brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is David, and I am the editor of Messiah Gate. I hope this website has been a source of joy and comfort to you. There are so many wonderful resources here that I hope you keep coming back to be edified, inspired and encouraged.

I wanted to give a personal testimony on this subject of speaking in tongues. When I was baptized, years ago, in the waters of Mission Bay (San Diego), I did not experience anything miraculous. That is, to say, a white dove did not descend upon me, nor did I speak in tongues, or hear a voice from heaven.

It wasn’t until many years later, about a month before my earthly father passed away, that I felt the physical sensation of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You know how it feels when you drink a glass of water on a hot and dry day—how it sort of quenches your thirst? Well, that’s kind of how I felt—a quenching of my soul, if you will.

My father’s passing was unexpected. He suffered a stroke at Thanksgiving and died at Christmas. The month before his illness I started speaking in tongues. The Spirit would just seem to take over my prayers and begin speaking in a different language. Paul said if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful (1Co 14:14). 

I can’t explain it, and don’t understand it, other than to say that this whole experience of tongue speaking gave me the strength and comfort to endure my father’s passing. 

The tongues ceased after my Dad was buried.

Paul wrote that all of these things (prophecy and tongues) will cease, and he urges us to seek the greater gifts of faith, hope and love. If we speak in tongues and have not love it profits us nothing:

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. [1Co 13:13]

Speaking in tongues is not a good measure of the spiritual growth of your assembly. The question is not: Do you speak in tongues? The question is: Do you love the brethren?

May the LORD bless you and keep you.

Visit us at: Blogspot