Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Manifestations of the Holy Spirit II

We continue our discussion on the list of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit...

THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT II

Prophecy: a public discourse emanating from the Holy Spirit, spoken for the strengthening, encouragement, and comfort of the body. This is NOT prognostication nor handicapping the Spirit's move! The kingdom is not the stock market nor a horse race, and that kind of behavior is just out of order and illegitimate. I wish national ministry figures, like Pat Robertson, would stop fomenting that awful error! There is no need for prophecy to even mention the future, although it may. There is no NT precedent for prophetic words spoken privately, that would go against the stated purpose of manifestations profiting withal. Personal "words" spoken in private are out of order out of hand.

Prophecy is not to be taken as authoritative. Prophecies can never stand against Apostolic witness (the NT) and are subject to the scrutiny of the body to determine whether or not they are legitimate. If they don't measure up, they should be tossed aside as easily as a preacher would toss the rough draft of a sermon in the round can file. If a speaker is found to have spoken apart from the Holy Ghost, that does not mean he or she should be taken out and stoned! That's OT, and a different dynamic in prophecy. Correct the error, shrug it off, and move along.

Personally, I don't believe prophecies should be prepared in advance of delivery (note the exception below), recorded for posterity, nor vetted by the few, the proud, the ordained. Other prophets can judge prophecies without cloistering them for deliberations like the college of cardinals, and making the speaker or the congregation wait with baited breath to see what color smoke rises from the chimney. Even if something is really foul, we can always call fire down from heaven, or inspired by Ananias and Sapphira, call for the offenders to be slain in the Spirit. That certainly would produce an edifying, howbeit chilling, affect withal! ;-o

I could see one who is gifted as a prophet speaking prophetically without necessarily manifesting prophecy. At its root, prophecy is fundamentally public speaking; spiritually, the assumption is that the speech is inspired divinely. Since a prophet has an ongoing ministry of speaking prophetically, he or she may be inspired at times other than at the moment of speaking, and may in fact be prepared to speak in advance of delivery. For the non-prophet, however, I would anticipate prophesying to occur in the moment of inspiration-- shine on, shine off. (Acts 4:8-12)

Discernings of Spirits: discriminating what spirits are active [in people] to benefit the church. How do we tell whether or not a manifestation is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, or an unholy spirit? How do we know that someone is demonized? If we don't see the obvious, we won't, and cannot with certainty, without God revealing it.

This is not psychic ability, there are no mind-readers or heart-sifters in the Kingdom of God-- no freaky Rasputins that have the ability to stare into your soul. This is not sharp insight or perceptive wisdom-- it is discerning of spirits, not discernment alone! It is an instant distillation of Holy Spirit acuity into what spirit is acting in a person, condensed in the consciousness of the recipient, for the moment it's needed for the good of the body. Shine on, shine off.

Plurals are present in the phrase for this manifestation too, for similar reasons, I think, that they are present in the gifts of healings. Since this will often be a companion miracle to casting out devils (one sort of healing), its manifestation is a prerequisite to, and must synchronize with those instances of healing that involve demons. (Acts 16:17-18)

Kinds of Tongues: an utterance in an unknown language. Whereas there are occasions when some hearer of the utterance will know the language, the speaker never does. This is always manifested when a believer is baptized in the Holy Ghost, and is volitional for the believer thereafter, but that does not translate into any believer speaking tongues at any time for public consumption. That is the error Paul was trying to correct at Corinth. To speak in tongues publicly, the Holy Spirit must inspire the speaker to do so specifically in that moment.

The use of the plural for kinds and tongues signifies that a person manifesting tongues need not speak in the same unknown language he or she has spoken in before. The speaker does not even need to end an utterance in the same language that he or she began it in! Another level of mystery and marvel is added to this remarkable sign when we consider that kinds includes tongues that are not human language!

It is disrespectful and incredibly arrogant to label tongues as the mindless babbling of the ecstatically overwrought-- instead, we should see it as a miracle wrought by God. Any church that despises prophesying or prohibits tongues is clearly out of order and operating against the command of God. Any church doing so, and any purported teacher teaching so, is in rebellion and needs to repent.

Interpreting Tongues: giving the meaning of an utterance of tongues to bless the church. This is not literal translation (the interpreter is not given the power to parse the tongue), but a revelation of the meaning conveyed. The interpreter has no more understanding of the tongue spoken than the speaker! The plural in this phrase is limited to the word tongues, i.e. not the interpretations of tongues, which means there is but one meaning for an utterance, not a selection of possibilities. There may be more than one language spoken, but there is only one message.

The interpretation is always in a language known to the interpreter. When a tongue is spoken for public consumption (as opposed to personal blessing at a reduced volume), it must be interpreted. (Acts 2:14-28)

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There you have it, the list of signs and wonders that make up the toolbox of the gifted. Any of the gifted may be inspired to use any of these tools in his or her ministry, but some gifts revolve around the consistent, repeated manifestation of certain of these signs. When the Holy Spirit decides it is time for one of the gifted to pick up one of these tools, the lights come on; when that instance of use is over, the lights go out. The tool is taken out, the tool is put back in the box. When practicing the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, we always need to remember (a la the Karate Kid) this simple watchword: "shine on, shine off."