Tongues edifies you: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” (1 Cor. 14:4). “Edifies” means “builds up.” Other translations put it thusly: “builds himself up;”(HCSB), “helps himself grow;”(GW),“is strengthened personally;”(NLT) “does good to himself;”(WEY); “improves himself” (Modern Language Trans.). Could any of you still “grow” more spiritually? Do you need to be “strengthened personally?” Could you “improve” yourself? (Or are you already perfected?) Tongues help accomplish these things in your life. Knox uses the word “strengthen.” You have inside you a spirit man. “Praying in the Spirit” helps that spirit man grow stronger. Some of you reading this probably don’t pray in the Spirit more than 20 seconds a day, if that! What if Arnold Schwarzenegger lifted weights only 20 seconds a day? I guarantee you he would not be a strong man. He would not have won the “Mr. Olympia” title 8 times. In his heyday, Arnold would literally lift weights until he passed out! Then, he’d get up off the floor and lift them until he passed out again! Like Paul who “spoke in tongues more than you all,” we could truly say of Arnold that he “lifted weights more than you all!” And, he got results too! He “edified” (strengthened) himself!
Christians who only read a quick verse or two in the morning before work; who pray a few minutes before bed; or who pray in tongues only 20 seconds a day likely have a very weak spirit man inside of them. In fact, if we could look with a spiritual x-ray machine into the bodies of most Christians, I believe we would see a spirit that looks less like Arnold Schwarzenegger and more like a midget! This past week, I had a day I was “too busy to pray” and went to bed very tired and very discouraged. But, I got up early the next morning and spent a significant amount of time praying in the Spirit. Before long, I was encouraged, excited and ready for the day; and what a better day it was: I was full of energy and ready to do the things I needed to do. You are building a spiritual legacy with your life. “Build yourself up” daily by praying in tongues.
Tongues increases your faith: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20). Jude says when we are “praying in the Holy spirit” we are “building” ourselves “up on” (our) “most holy faith.” It’s a simple formula: Prayer + Holy Spirit (tongues) = built up faith! Praying in tongues builds your faith because every time you pray in tongues you use your faith. To pray in a language your mind doesn’t understand; to pray in a language that so many make fun of; to pray in a language that the devil tells you again and again, “You are just making that up. You are just wasting your time;” to pray in a language even when you don’t feel like doing so: this takes faith! If you want a muscle to grow, you have to use it and stretch it out! If you want your faith to grow, you have to use it and stretch it! Every time you pray in tongues, you do just that! So, how much faith do you want? Just enough to barely get into heaven; with one foot in sin and the other on a banana peel? Or do you want the faith to heal little old ladies in pain; to pray long and hard and see results; or to witness with great confidence and authority? One sure way you can have this kind of faith is by praying often in the Spirit. The next time you seem up against a mountain and your faith is weak, stop everything and spend quality time praying in tongues. You will feel greater faith: you have my word on it and God’s Word on it!
Tongues helps you solve mysteries in your life: “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” (1 Cor. 14:2). Life is full of mysteries, isn’t it? How am I going to get rid of this pain in my body? What can I do to help my kid get off drugs? How can I overcome this sin? What should I do to pay this bill? How can we save this marriage? The Holy Spirit knows the answer to every mystery. He is the “Spirit of truth.” (John 15:13). “God has revealed them thus through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10). Your “eye has not seen” the solution to your “mystery.” The answer hasn’t “entered your heart” yet. But, God “has prepared” something for you. It is way too “deep” for your mind to comprehend. But, you have a “Helper” in the Holy Spirit. And, He “searches all things (He knows where to shine the searchlight of His knowledge on a darkened subject).” Thus, every time you pray in the Spirit, you are allowing the Holy Spirit to help you “search” out (research) the answer to your mysteries. One theory about “speaking mysteries” when you pray in tongues is that Satan cannot understand you when you are praying in tongues. Thus, you and the Holy Spirit can work together in the invisible (Hidden from and to the chagrin of the devil!) to accomplish things in your life. Spiritual things being “built” and Natural things being arranged for your “good” cannot be intercepted or hindered by the devil because it is all a mystery to him. This could be true, however there is one verse of Scripture that casts doubt on this theory.
Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” Because this is said in the context of so much explanation about praying in tongues in chapters 12 and 14, the obvious inference is that when we pray in tongues, we are praying in the language of angels. And, since Satan was once an angel, he should certainly be able to understand tongues if that is the case. On the other hand, just as God confused man’s languages at the Tower of Babel and men could no longer understand their native tongue, it is of course possible that the Lord confused Satan so that he no longer understands his native angelic tongue, nor our prayers in tongues. Interesting thought, but ither way the one thing we know clearly and definitively scripturally is that God reveals mysteries to us through the Holy Spirit. So, you can pray in faith, believing that God is doing all kinds of wonderful things invisibly through your prayers in the Spirit. And, you can pray in faith knowing that the Holy Spirit is both working on the solution to your problem and that He will either solve the mystery for you or give you the interpretation of the answer to the mystery.
As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 2:10: “The Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.” The Holy Spirit will help you research the deep, hidden answers to problems. Here’s a personal example: I spoke in a church back east. There was a woman there who asked for prayer. She was having difficulty in her marriage in the area of intimacy with her husband. I prayed for her but apparently didn’t help her much that night (I don’t have everybody’s answer!). I spoke one night on the importance of praying in tongues and encouraged them to pay in tongues on the way to work instead of listening to the radio. The above woman took me seriously. So, on her way to work that Monday, she turned off her radio and prayed in tongues. After about 15 minutes, a demon manifested! She began coughing and choking. She took authority over the demon and settled back down to drive to work. That same night, she had a dream. In the dream, the Lord revealed to her the root cause of the intimacy problem with her husband and she testified that He also delivered her from that problem! The answer to her problem was a deep mystery, hidden from her for many years. But the Spirit “searched it out” and revealed to her the answer! Praying in tongues 15 minutes on the way to work was part of the process. Your problem may be a mystery to you and hidden presently from your understanding, but remember, it is fully understood by the Spirit. So, partner with the Spirit in tongues and let Him search out the answer for you.
Tongues helps us pray most accurately: (Rom. 8:26-28) . . . V. 26a: “We do not know what we should pray for.” We may be burdened about our finances and praying earnestly about that. But, God may see that that is the least of our problems. So, He has given us a precious gift through the Holy Spirit enabling us to pray for the REAL pressing need: V. 26b” “But the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us.” Think of it! Every time you pray in tongues, you allow the Holy Spirit to take over your prayer life and intercede “for” you. V. 26c: “With groanings that cannot be uttered:” The real need “cannot be uttered” by you in your native speech, simply because you are unaware of the seriousness of that area of need. So the Holy Spirit carries the burden for you with “groanings.” You can’t groan about it, because you are ignorant of it. But the Spirit, full of love and compassion, uses your tongue as a tool to carry the need to the Father and He groans (representative of heart-felt, urgent cryings) for you! Many times when I have prayed, I have started out praying in tongues for a moment while making myself groan as I prayed. This helped reinforce to my spirit the truth of this verse and reminding myself that the Holy Spirit and I are praying about some weighty issues.What changes need to come to your life, your church’s life, your children’s life, your country’s life? You may be unaware of the urgency for changes to come, but the Spirit isn’t. He is waiting for you to in faith allow Him the privilege to “groan” through you in intercessory prayer to change the world around you. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
What a travesty of wisdom that God’s people don’t take greater advantage of this gift and pray in tongues more often! V. 27b: “He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God:” Pray for something in English for a while as best you know how, and then follow with a time of praying in tongues. Believe that the Holy Spirit is continuing to pray about what you have been praying about, but always “according to the will of God.” You are never praying more “on target” than when you pray in tongues. You have a nephew who is appearing before a judge next week. Pray for him in English as best you know how: “Oh Father, give him favor with the judge. He is doing so much better. Help him to avoid jail.” But then, allow the Holy Spirit to pray through you for awhile: but be aware that He may be actually saying to the Father: “Scratch that prayer Father: give him 60 days!” See the marvelous advantage for prayer warriors who use their prayer language? The Spirit who knows all things (I Cor. 2:10) will use your praying in tongues to freely intercede for needs as He deems best.
In the context of partnering with the Holy Spirit in intercessory prayer, we are then promised in v. 28: “All things work together for good.” This is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible, even by unsaved people. And it is probably the most misunderstood verse in the Bible as well. Let’s get something straight: All things DO NOT work together for good! People die every day and go to hell. All things certainly didn’t work ogether for good in their lives! “All things work together for good” is a promise for a select group of people: V. 28: “Those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” “Those who love God” are His saved and sanctified servants. If you are saved and sanctified (a “saint” or “holy one” through the blood) then you and you alone can claim this promise. “Called according to His purpose.” A vitally important part of our being “called” is to help “His purpose” be accomplished in this world. And, we never do this more effectively than when we partner with the Holy Spirit as Vss. 26 and 27 describe. “His purpose” surely includes the call to intercessory tongues, as this is the very context in which this v. 28 promise is given: in partnership with the Holy Spirit in prayer! Matthew 6:10 teaches us to pray: “Your kingdom come; Your will be done.” We pray for His will to be done on earth as best we know how in English. But, then, we often pray in the Spirit as well, to further do our part helping make “all things work together for good” (Perhaps stopping someone from backsliding, preventing a terrible accident, raising up workers in the kingdom: whatever the Spirit sees is the greatest need at that moment!). If you haven’t been allowing the Holy Spirit to “groan” through your prayers to help make all the upheaval around you be supernaturally brought into alignment with the will of God, start doing so today.
Tongues is a weapon of spiritual warfare: “. . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18). In Eph. 6, Paul began a teaching on spiritual warfare. He wrote in V. 12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Continuing in verses 13-17, he explained the various weapons of our warfare such as faith, the word of God, etc. Then, he completed this teaching with v. 18, “. . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Prayer is listed as one of the tools we use to defeat Satan! Notice Paul says to use “all prayer and supplication” (all forms or types of prayer) and then adds “in the Spirit.” It is argued that this is not referring to tongues but rather being “led by the Spirit” in your prayers. It could include this too, of course. But “rightly dividing the Word of truth” we have learned that praying in tongues is one way we pray “in the spirit.” (1 Cor. 14:15, Jude 20).
It’s easy to see how praying in tongues would be one of the most powerful weapons of warfare against the devil. When you pray in the Holy Spirit, you allow the Spirit (who sees exactly what the devil is up to in the invisible) help you pray against his attacks! What a team: you, your tongue, and the Holy Spirit!
I was pastoring in Nampa, Idaho. I had just finished the Sunday evening service and was shaking hands with people as they left the foyer; anxious to get over to the parsonage next door. On Sunday nights, my wife (who is an excellent cook) would make tacos for dinner after the service and we’d watch the “Mystery Movie” of the week (Old timers, remember the series? Old “Columbo” detective movies are still my favorites!). Suddenly, I felt a burden to pray. I told my wife to go to the parsonage without me and I would stay in the church awhile to pray. I didn’t know what I was praying about, but I felt such a sense of urgency. So, I prayed in tongues. I bound the devil and praised God for the victory (Whatever victory that was!). After a season of spiritual warfare, the burden lifted and I returned to the parsonage (too late now to watch the move, I went to my office to get into the Word.)
I received a phone call quite late at night. It was my assistant pastor. A woman (we’ll call Judith) had been coming to our church, along with her husband. They had called my assistant and he was over at their house. He reported that Judith was doing outrageous things and he needed my help. I immediately drove over to their home to hear this story: Judith and her husband were sitting in the living room when suddenly she told him, “I’m going back to the streets (I didn’t know it at the time, but she had previously been a prostitute!). He asked, “Why?” She said, “Because you don’t satisfy me like they do. You don’t beat me!” Suddenly another voice took over hers. Not knowing what to do, her husband called my assistant. By the time he had arrived she was holding a knife and cried, “We’re going to kill her!” (Notice the plural: “we’re!”). He thought she was just putting on an act, but then she fell and banged her head against the door jam. He later told me, that he knew she wasn’t acting when she hit her head so hard! I knew it was a demonic manifestation and began taking authority over them. It was quite an intense battle but at last, in her own voice, relaxed, she asked her husband, “Are they gone?” Hallelujah! I believe they were! And, subsequently, we never had another “event” like that with Judith again.
That night I learned several lessons:
1) We truly are “wrestling against” invisible evil forces. Those demons had remained hidden in the life of one of the women I was pastoring and I truly “did not know what to pray for as I should” (as yesterday’s devotional verse explained). Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit (aware of Judith’s plight) quickened to my spirit what was either going on or about to go on. I responded by allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede through me and for me. Demons that had been hidden for some time were revealed and brought out into the light and a wonderful deliverance resulted.
2) We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s call to prayer and quick to obey that call. What if I had simply dismissed the unrest in my spirit as the devil or some legalism trying to keep me from my tacos and TV program? Judith’s marriage might have been destroyed and she might still be in a horrible bondage.
3) Tongues is indeed a weapon of spiritual warfare! When you know where and when the devil is in action, take authority over him in Jesus name; claiming the promises and the power of the blood! But, when the devil is lurking in dark corners, be assured that every time you pray in tongues you’re helping the Holy Spirit unmask him! Prepare your heart to be ready at any time to stop whatever you are doing to partner with the Holy Spirit when He determines the need has arisen. Meanwhile, in between those special calls to prayer, keep on applying serious pressure on the kingdom of darkness through the gift of praying in tongues.
Tongues is a way to increase the Holy Spirit’s work in your life: I was pastoring in Lakeview, Oregon back in the 70’s. I was reading Gal. 6:7, 8 in my devotional reading one day when the Holy Spirit did something He had never done before: He put a period in the sentence! It read like this: “He who sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap.” (He put a period for me right after that word reap!). It totally changed the verse’s meaning for me and become a life-changing moment. Always before when I had read that verse, it seemed to be saying something like, “If you live a bad life, you’ll go to hell; but if you live a good life, you’ll go to heaven.” But, that special day, I saw something new and exciting in the verse! The Holy Spirit was telling me that the law of sowing and reaping works with Him also. If I wanted more of the things of the Spirit of God in my life, I would need to sow more to the Spirit.
Well, I certainly wanted more of the things of the Spirit in my life. I wanted His power; I wanted His gifts; I wanted His fruit. Now the Spirit was telling me that I would reap such things if I would but “sow to the Spirit.” I remember thinking to myself and the Lord, “But, how do I sow to the Spirit?” Then I saw it! How does one sow to the Spirit? Pray in the Spirit! What an obvious, simple thing I could do to help me sow to the Spirit: just pray in tongues! I was thrilled at this new revelation and I was motivated. So, I made a new commitment to pray in the Spirit (in tongues) for an hour a day. I would set my stop watch and begin praying in tongues. Sometimes I would find myself stopping the flow of tongues to pray, “Father God, I ask you to . . . oops;” I would catch myself. No, this was a time to only speak in tongues! Then, I would start praying in tongues again. I did this for several weeks faithfully before I quit (Back then, I couldn’t maintain any discipline for very long!).
Though I didn’t continue that special prayer hour; from then on, there have been times through the years that I have by the clock disciplined myself to pray faithfully in tongues. At one time, I prayed seven minutes a day in tongues daily for months. Another time, I did it for 14 minutes a day faithfully for months. Though I don’t pray in tongues “by the clock” much anymore, I now pray in tongues in my devotional life more than I pray in English. I “sow to the Spirit” often as I am driving down the street. I “sow to the Spirit” during my morning prayers. I “sow to the Spirit” before services to try to seek to be a person through whom God can move through more readily. I am convinced that much of the fruit of my ministry around America is because of receiving the Holy Spirit’s power and continuing to “reap” the time I spend “sowing to the Spirit.” Oh, how desperately those who don’t believe tongues are for today are missing such glorious benefits! If you want more of the Spirit in your life (His presence, His power, His guidance, His gifts, etc.), doesn’t it make Christian horse-sense to pray a lot “in the Spirit?” Start “sowing to the Spirit” today by increasing the time you spend in your prayer times partnering with the Holy Spirit, praying in tongues.
Tongues rests and refreshes your weary soul: “For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.” (Isaiah 28:11, 12). This Old Testament verse is prophetic of the gift of tongues. We know this for sure because Paul quotes this very verse in 1 Cor. 14:21 in his great, lengthy teaching on tongues. Notice that it says “stammering lips.” If you will listen to yourself (or someone else) speaking in tongues you will hear that they will often stammer or repeat a word or phrase several times (fulfillment of this prophecy). Then it says, “another tongue.” That “tongue” happens to be what thousands of years later we still refer to as “speaking in tongues.”
Often there will be a dual-application in Old Testament prophecies and this prophecy in Isa. 28:11, 12 has a dual application. If you’ll read it in context, you’ll see that the first application of this word is God referring to the coming judgment on rebellious Israel by the Assyrians. Under their iron rule, Israel would be chastened by God. Thus by the Assyrian language with its “stammering lips and another tongue”, God would as the rest of the verse says, “Speak to this people” (Israel).” By Israel being subjected to the heavy hand of the Assyrian armies, barking orders to them in “another tongue,” God would “speak” (both a judgment and a call to turn back to God) to Israel and get their attention. What a lovely picture of the love of God we have here that even during this time of judgment and hardship, the Lord nevertheless invites them to experience a time of grace as He adds: “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing.” God, in his foreknowledge, saw that the only thing that could bring His people to a time of spiritual “rest” and “refreshing” was to make them “weary” through severe trials. Many of you reading this are going through severe trials. You have been made weary by them, but the Lord allows you to go through such times because He loves you (Heb. 12:5, 6). God spanks his children to train them, just as we do our children. But, even during seasons of trial which weary us spiritually, God’s grace is there to help. And one tool that He has given us to help during such times is speaking in tongues. If you have never experienced the “rest” and “refreshing” that speaking in tongues can bring, next time you feel discouraged and sick and tired of trials, go into your prayer closet and pray in the Spirit. I have discovered that by doing this, sometimes within ten minutes I am back on top again!
This past weekend I made a physically grueling trip to Alexandria, LA (Up at 2:45 AM Friday, drove 58 miles to LAX, flew to Houston then ran through the airport to catch a tight connection to Alexandria: preached that night, prayed much Saturday, preached that night, up early for fasting and prayer Sunday AM, preached twice that day (Oh, and I also ran two days and lifted weights at the YMCA once!); and then woke up at 2:30 AM California time Monday AM to get to the airport. I am on a jet at about 35,000 feet as I write this).
During this past crusade I invested far more time praying in tongues than I normally do (Often there are many administrative duties or personal things I do). This weekend, however, not only did I pray far more in tongues, but I also felt more invigorated and less weary than I usually do with such a schedule. Do you think there was any connection between the significant investment of time I spent praying in the Spirit and how invigorated I felt? (After all, isn’t “rest” and “refreshing” promised to those who speak in tongues?). Try it for yourself and see! (But, know that sometimes it will be a warfare that will take far more than 10 minutes or even 10 days! However, there still will at last come the promised “rest” and “refreshing.”). One final note: Judgment, tongues, divinely provided rest and refreshing surely should have more than convinced Israel to turn back to God. But, it didn’t, as the end of our devotional verse states: “Yet they would not hear.” Paul put it this way in quoting this phrase in 1 Cor. 14:21: “And yet for all that they will not hear me.” Israel, as a nation, just didn’t get it and many of them as a result died in Assyrian captivity. There once was an Elvis Presley Album with these words on the front cover: “50,000,000 fans can’t be wrong!” There are many Christians who reject the gift of tongues or at least don’t seek it earnestly. To such I would say: “500,000,000 fanatics can’t be wrong!” Over half a billion Christians around the world, like me, have discovered the truth and the benefit of speaking in tongues. If you haven’t been diligently seeking the gift, begin doing so today! Others have had the gift of speaking in tongues for many years, yet rarely use it. If you are one of these, change that today. “Hear” what your Lord is saying to you through your present trials. Let your weariness drive you to your prayer closet and there, with the help of your “Helper,” the Holy Spirit, contend in tongues for the promised “rest” and “refreshing” of Isa. 28:11, 12.
Tongues helps open the floodgates for “rivers of living water.” John 7:37-39: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” V. 39 clearly shows us that Jesus is referring here to the baptism in the Holy Spirit: “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” This is important to note because the promise of the v. 38 “rivers of living water” is offered to those who “receive” the Holy Spirit. No wonder the first thing Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Paul believed this was very important for Christians! Also, the fact that He asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they got saved is also proof that you do not necessarily receive the Holy Spirit when you first believe in Christ. If this were so, then Paul asking “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed” would be as ridiculous as asking a new husband, “Did you get a wife when you got married?”
Jesus made the offer of the gift of the Holy Spirit to a very special group: those who “thirst:” “If any man thirst, let Him come to me and drink.” I was in a church recently where the pastor said, “Probably 90% of our people have not received the Holy Spirit.” Yet, when I offered to pray for those who had never received the Spirit after the service, not ONE PERSON STAYED! I think we can safely say that none of them had “thirst” for the Holy Spirit. And so, guess what? They didn’t receive! We have some glorious promises for those who “thirst” after the Holy Spirit: His presence, His power, and His gifts: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6). “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring.” (I have claimed this promise over my children virtually every day for years!). Two fabulous promises: but notice they are only offered to those who thirst!
Today’s church, by and large, does not thirst for righteousness or His Spirit. It is my studied opinion that this is why America is going to have to go through tribulation. In the midst of great famine and trial, when all the underpinnings of America’s liaise faire lifestyle has been decimated, God’s children will at last begin thirsting after Him. My advice to you? Don’t wait for tribulation! Seek the gift of the Holy Spirit NOW: You’ll desperately need it then! And, for those who do have the gift of tongues: use it often as both proof of your thirst and a tool to thirst after more of the Holy Spirit. We need to make a brief distinction.
Everyone who is saved has the Holy Spirit in them as a source of blessing and power. This is what Jesus referred to earlier in John when He spoke of a “well of living water.” “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14). This is the “well of salvation” spoken of by Isaiah the prophet: “Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3). If you are saved, you have a great resource within you. It is a “well of living water.” It guarantees your salvation. It is very satisfying. But, Jesus wants to make that well within you become a raging river! This happens through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! Jesus invites us to have this experience in v. 37: “Let him come to Me and drink.” This drink speaks of something beyond our salvation, even as Paul further differentiates: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13). We are “baptized into one body” when we are saved. Then, we have the privilege to “drink into one Spirit” through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then v. 38 promises to “He who believes in me (the Christian):” “Out of his heart.” The word translated “heart” here is translated in other versions “inmost being” or “inner most being.” The King James Version puts it this way: “Out of his belly.”
I’ll never forget the day I received the Holy Spirit as a 15 year old. There was an overwhelming sensation in the area of my belly that climaxed in a gushing forth of speaking in tongues! In the Greek, the word translated “belly, heart, inmost being or innermost being” actually means “hallow.” Every person reading this has a “hallow” place inside you. You can fill that hallow with junk food. You can fill it with entertainment. You can fill it with sin. Or, you can fill it with the Holy Spirit and let it become a “river of living water.”
Many Christians don’t have a river inside them. They have a cesspool! But, hallelujah, God has given us a glorious resource to change that. It is the Holy Spirit. Once we have received his Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, we can then experience as v. 38 says: “Rivers of living water.” The Word, obedience, prayer, praise, holy living all contribute to the flow of this river. But, it has been my experience that one of the most effective way to get this river flowing is to speak in tongues. So I spoke in tongues a lot Saturday! At the service that night, there was a lady who came in with a cane. She was in pain and, as if I recall right, needed a knee replacement.
The Benefits of Speaking in Tongues
I prayed for her and she began walking without her cane and 90% of the pain was gone. She was among a van full of people who “shouted all the way home.” A friend from her church reported the next day that she had come to the morning service without her cane and boasted that she had been “running all over the place.” I was so glad I had devoted myself to making sure my “hallow” was a reservoir for the river of the Holy Spirit. What’s filling your “hallow” today? It’s ok to eat that delicious meal, of course! It’s ok to watch some TV. But do take the opportunity to also “drink” at the fountain of the Holy Spirit. One sure way to do this is to open your mouth and pray in the Spirit.
Tongues is one effective way that we worship the Lord: 1 Corinthians 14:15-19: V. 15a: “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.” Some ignorantly believe that we who speak in tongues have no control over it; that God literally takes over your tongue and speaks through you. Paul dismisses this error very simply. He said “I will” pray in tongues and “I will” pray with the understanding (That is in Greek or Hebrew, languages Paul understood). The words “I will” shows that speaking in tongues, just like speaking in a native language, is but an act of the will. One chooses to speak and does so, whether in tongues or English. V. 15b: “I will sing with the spirit and I also will sing with the understanding.” Paul said at times he chose to “sing with the spirit.” This obviously means singing in tongues because he says this in contradistinction to singing “with the understanding.” Paul knew that He was singing to the Lord when he sang in tongues (I doubt very much that when we speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit inspires us to sing “Pop Goes the Weasel!”). That by an act of our will we can by faith lift our voices and add musical notes to our speaking in tongues to make it a song unto the Lord is at once interesting and a blessed reality. I have sung in the spirit many times: sometimes I sing to a known tune (for instance, maybe “Amazing Grace.”). Other times, I just make up a tune as I go along. I do this with the faith that in so doing the Spirit is using my voice to magnify and worship the Father. Most of you who speak in tongues have learned to do likewise I am sure.
Paul continues . . . V. 16: “If you bless with the spirit.” What does it mean by the phrase “bless with the spirit?” Paul defines what is meant: “How will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?” This verse proves that if Christians speak or sing in the Spirit (continuing the reasoning from verse 15), they are speaking or singing in tongues. This is why “He who occupies the place of the uninformed.” (any visitor or a person brand new to the faith) “does not understand what you say.” Notice also that it says when you sing or speak in tongues you are “giving thanks.” So, this plainly states that when we speak in tongues, especially in an atmosphere of worship and praise, we are very likely giving God thanksgiving, worshiping or praising Him with our “heavenly” language. In fact, Paul adds that when you do this “you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.” When you pray in tongues you “indeed give thanks well” because, as we learned earlier from Romans 8:26, 27 and 1 Cor. 14:2) we are praying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I am sure the Spirit “indeed” knows how to praise the Father best! But, then he adds something very important: “but the other is not edified.” Every tongue-talking Pentecostal believer must keep this paramount in mind: when we speak in tongues, we edify ourselves (1 Cor. 14:4) but anybody listening to us gets little or nothing out of it. One of my church members when I was pastoring in Idaho told me of one pastor he sat under that would sometimes speak in tongues from the pulpit for a half-hour straight! Astonished, I asked him: “You mean he spoke in tongues for half of an hour and expected you all to just sit there?” He replied, “Sit there? He expected us to stand there!” Now such a thing is absurd!
On the other hand, how much people should speak in tongues in a church is even today still highly debated. Paul gives us a wise guideline in V. 18: “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.” Paul spoke in tongues, unapologetically. But, Paul’s time of devotional tongues was primarily limited to his personal prayer closet for he added these words: V. 19: “Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Many have used the above verse to make it a capital offense to ever speak in tongues in the church. But, if you read all the above verses and in fact all of 1 Cor. 14, you will see that the “spirit” of Paul’s teaching is not (as some would intimate), “Keep a tight rein on anybody speaking in tongues, because if you don’t the devil will get in there quickly!” Rather, it is written as a guideline in order to accomplish what Paul says in wrapping up his teaching in V. 40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” But V. 19 is not given as a “do or die” yoke for God’s people any more than “Pray without ceasing” or “In everything give thanks” are meant to straddle us with some legalistic feeling of guilt if we aren’t perfectly walking in that.
Throughout the chapter, Paul gives encouragements for those who speak in tongues: “Edifies himself, let it be by two or three, pray, sing, bless in the spirit, etc.” Paul was not trying to clamp down on tongues. In fact, he balances his (what some call) “regulations” by clarifying: “Do not forbid to speak with tongues.” (1 Cor. 14:39). If we are going to be legalistic at all then we can’t make “regulations” that forbid people from speaking in tongues. But, of course, this “right” to pray in tongues should always be exercised with the Vss. 15-19 understanding that no one understands you or is blessed when you do so. When I preach, I don’t speak in tongues from the pulpit. When I pray for people in prayer lines, I rarely speak in tongues. When I sing at church, I rarely sing in tongues (unless the worship leaders instructs us all to do so). In fact, you might be around me at church for an entire weekend series and never hear me once speak in tongues. But if you followed me around at my devotional times at home, my motel room or car, you might hear me “speak with tongues more than you all.”
However, there are nevertheless thousands and thousands of Pentecostal churches around the world that allow varying degrees of liberties during church services to speak in tongues, such as: 1) Singing together in the Spirit (After the above teaching of Paul, it could be argued that this is only wrong when “uninformed” people are present). Couldn’t a Wednesday night prayer meeting with just the church family in attendance be a time for singing in the Spirit? 2) During prayer times before, during or after the service, you will often hear some using their Holy Spirit prayer language. If they are doing it rather quietly and not distracting others from their prayer times as well, how could this hurt anybody? 3) Also some prophetic people, when praying for others, will pray in tongues for a while to try to “stir up the gifts of the Spirit.” My sister does this at times (She is a prophet). I have done it. But, usually I prefer to spend good time at the motel or in the car on the way praying in the Spirit so that I can, like Paul in the church “teach others with five words” they understand. (As an evangelist, trying to win the lost, I probably am much more sensitive to what outsiders may think than most Christians).
But even if a church does “let it all hang out” and people burst into praying or singing in tongues at any moment of a service, is this really some great evil? It may not be the wisest way to build a church. But, remember, those who speak or sing in tongues do “give thanks well” and “edify” themselves. Though people visiting from other denominations may “think they are mad” (as Paul warns in V. 23) , I still remind you that Paul had to write a whole chapter of the Bible to try to help a young church understand the best usage of the gift. The fact was that the first century tongue talkers in Corinth valued the gift and made it a very important part of their life and the church life. That tongues is a good thing is not arguable! However, how that gift should best operate in the church is still argued vehemently after 2000 years. I do not claim to have found the perfect understanding of what the Holy Spirit (or Paul) had in mind for the gift. But, I do know this: most who use 1 Cor. 14 to carefully regulate tongues have done so so legalistically that virtually no one in their church dares speak in tongues anywhere near the church (and most of them never at home either!).
Other churches have so limited the gift that they have relegated speaking in tongues (along with other gifts of the Spirit) to a back prayer room where only a few old timers and “fanatics” ever benefit from them. This was not Paul’s intention! He encouraged speaking in tongues, but obviously felt this wasn’t intended to be an unlimited addition or interruption to every church service. My personal preference is to (in a spirit of love and liberty) limit the use of tongues during church services, especially if unsaved or visitors are present. Praying and singing in tongues can be reserved for special “believer meetings” or our own prayer closet. However, though that is my personal opinion, I have been in powerful churches with Pastors wiser and more anointed than I am who believe there should be great liberty during services to speak in tongues (though I am sure most of them would never allow excesses that grieved the Holy Spirit or subtracted from the preaching of the Word.) To say they are wrong and Baptist preachers and I are right is something I truly do not believe! I have to live the Word the way I see the Word, of course. But, If you or your church prefer the free usage of speaking in tongues and are convinced that it is within the limits of Paul’s guidelines in 1 Cor. 14, I am not here to set you straight. I can worship with you (even though I may feel you are not using wisdom in your approach to the matter). I can fellowship with you without being the slightest bit offended (who am I to change you?). And I am convinced the Holy Spirit will be with you just as much as He is with me.
Any denomination that believes speaking in tongues at any time in a church service is sinful, evil or demonic is wrong. I know that because I interpret 1 Cor. 14 in the context of Paul’s teaching on love in chapter 13 and am a Spirit-filled believer myself. I have learned after many years visiting many churches (I have likely been in more churches than anyone reading this). So, here’s my advice: 1/ Be considerate of others around you who will not understand what you are saying when you speak in tongues and will not be edified by your so doing; 2/ In your worship times with the Lord, remember that when you speak in tongues or sing in tongues you are “indeed giving thanks well.” So, be a good worshipper indeed by using your prayer language to worship the Father. In so doing, you are fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy in John 4:23, 24: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The Father is “seeking” those who will worship Him “in spirit.” Surely praying or singing in the Spirit is one sure way to do that well! Why not stop and worship Him in the Spirit right now?
Tongues is a pathway to being prophetic people: “Paul laid hands on them (The Ephesians), the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6). When the Ephesus church first received the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, they also did something else: they “prophesied.” There is a clear connection in Scripture between tongues and prophecy. In 1 Cor. 12:7-11 and in the entire chapter of 1 Cor. 14 tongues and prophecy are listed again and again in the same context. In I Cor. I4:39 Paul said, “Desire earnestly to prophesy.” Do you really desire to prophesy? If you do, 1 Cor. 14 shows us how and tongues is a big part of that! In 1 Cor. 12:7-11 and in the entire chapter of 1 Cor. 14 tongues and prophecy are listed again and again in the same context. There must be a reason for that and there is: tongues helps stir up the gift of prophecy (2 Tim. 1:6). In I4:5 Paul said, “I wish (This is the NKJ translators choice of words. In the Greek however, it can also mean “desire” or “pray.” Even if Paul did mean “wish” it was not a “When you wish upon a star” kind of unlikely hope.
Every Christian can speak in tongues, but this is another teaching.) you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.” Through a prophecy, the “church may receive edification.” So, prophecy is a good and needed gift that will bless and edify the whole church. But Paul also reveals another interesting truth in the above verse. He says that to prophesy is “greater” than speaking in tongues “unless” the one speaking in tongues interprets the tongue. So, an obvious corollary of this truth is this: Tongues + Interpretation = Prophecy. Tongues in themselves are prophetic, because when we speak in tongues we are speaking the “mind of the Spirit” (Romans 8:26, 27). But, without interpretation those words remain a mystery known only by the Spirit. But, if you add to tongues the interpretation then that brings the gift of prophecy into action. No wonder then that 1 Cor. 14:13 says, “Let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.” Believers who pray in tongues have a Scriptural right and expectation to interpret any publically spoken tongue that it may become V. 5 equivalent of prophecy! Thus, tongues is a pathway to becoming prophetic people.
Most Christians stop at tongues in their private devotions. Others exercise their tongue some in public gathers, but are ignorant that the Spirit longs to use that gift as an entry point into deeper revelation knowledge that will edify the church. Joel 2:28, 19: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” That this promise to “pour out my Spirit” is fulfilled by receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is obvious because after the first time the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, Peter explained the phenomenon by quoting this very verse from Joel ( Acts 2:17, 18). Notice what Joel (and Peter) both promised would happen to those who received the Holy Spirit: “sons and daughters shall prophesy.” I am someone’s son. Are you someone’s son or daughter? If so, and if you have received the Holy Spirit, you “shall (not might, or should or could) prophesy.” Prophecy is the promise and Scriptural right of every Spirit-filled believer!
Acts 19:6 gives us the pattern: “. . . the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. It is really quite simple: 1/ You receive the Holy Spirit; 2/ You speak in tongues; 3/ You prophesy. Pray for it. Expect it. Step out in faith and speak it. One more point: The more you speak in tongues the more you can expect to prophesy. I know a prophetess who prays an hour in tongues every day. She has found that this helps the gift of prophecy to operate more proficiently. I too have found in my own ministry as well that if I pray in tongues a lot, I seem to be more sensitive to the Spirit of revelation. Though there is not a Scripture we can point to that says, “Yea, verily, the more thou dost speak in tongues the more thou shalt prophecy,” the wealth of Scriptures relating to both the subject of tongues and prophecy (most of which we have been covering during this study) and personal testimony bears witness to this truth. When Paul wrote, “You can all prophesy” to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 14:31, he was writing to a church that spoke in tongues a lot. As we have seen above, there is a definite connection. Yes, you can prophesy because you speak in tongues. So speak in tongues; speak in tongues a lot; and start stepping out in faith to prophesy.
Tongues is a sure pathway to being a person through whom God can pour out His power to others: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Though tongues are the primary tool given to us by the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues is not its primary purpose. Just as the primary purpose of a tool, such as a hammer, is to enable one to do work; the primary purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues, as today’s devotional verse states, is for POWER to do things! Witnessing, prayer, effective personal ministry, anointing and the operation of the gifts of the Spirit are all the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as we have been learning over the past week and a half, tongues are a primary source of the Holy Spirit’s power.
Paul had led a young man named Timothy to Christ. Timothy was thus referred to more than once as his “son” in the faith (1 Tim. 1:2). Later, Timothy had become a pastor. At some point, Paul had likely laid hands on Timothy and he received the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. During Timothy’s pastorate, Paul wrote him two letters which the Holy Spirit later added to the cannon of Scripture. In one of those letters Paul challenged him to: “. . . stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6) Which gift was Paul referring to in v. 6? I am convinced he was referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit baptism. How was Paul suggesting that Timothy “Stir up” that gift? One primary way was by speaking in tongues. I believe this for 3 reasons: 1/ Paul ministered the baptism in the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands in Acts 19:1-6, so this was a method he used to confer the gift. Paul told Timothy to “stir up” the “gift” he had received by “the laying on of my hands.” The most logical conclusion in my mind would be that Paul was alluding that Timothy keep that Holy Spirit experience he had received through Paul’s ministry vital and active by praying in tongues. 2/ The very next verse goes on to say: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7).
When Paul wrote, “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” It is obvious he was implying the inverse truth that: “God has instead given us a Spirit of power.” That the words “spirit” and “power” are mentioned in the same verse further reinforces the truth of Acts 1:8 where God promises the “Spirit” and “power.” And, that tongues are an important part of the connection between the two isn’t hard to argue, because tongues were the attendant manifestation in the Acts 2:4 fulfillment of the Acts 1:8 promise. So, when Paul challenges Timothy (and all of us by extension), to “stir up the gift” what was he intimating that Timothy should do? Although he could of course be including other things (Such as prayer, fasting, staying in the Word and stepping out in faith, etc.), I am convinced after many years of experience and “rightly dividing the word of truth” as we have been doing, that Paul was encouraging Him to pray much in tongues. 3/ I know this from personal experience.
I was on my way to a series of meetings in central California, about three hours away from my home. As I drove in my car, I thought to myself, “I am going to pray in tongues for an hour.” So, I set my timer on my watch, and began doing so. After disciplining myself to pray in tongues for a solid hour, I soon thereafter arrived at the church in time for the first service, Sunday morning. There was a small crowd (If I remember right, maybe 20 or at the most 30). While I was preaching, I began quoting the first part of Acts 1:8. As I quoted that verse, I noticed an elderly lady sitting next to the isle, half-way back to my left. She had a walker leaned up beside her on the pew. As I looked at her, God gave me the faith for her healing. I stopped preaching, walked down to where she sat, laid hands on her and prayed, and asked her to try to walk. She began to do so without her walker! She walked all around that little Assembly of God church without her walker, lifting her hands and praising God! She came back two days later without her walker and testified that she had leaned her walker against the wall at home and hadn’t used it since. She testified that she had dislocated her hip, which she said was “The worst pain I have ever had. I have had children and surgery but this was the worse.” But she said, “When you prayed for me, I felt the love of God pour in and the pain go out.” Do you think it was but a coincidence that I had prayed in tongues for a solid hour that morning before such a glorious miracle of healing took place? I am convinced it wasn’t! I am convinced that I had done what Paul told Timothy to do. I had “stirred up the gift which was in me.” How? By praying in tongues! What if every Spirit-filled believer would pray for an hour in tongues before they went to church or before they went to work or school? I believe we would see one of the greatest manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit that we have ever seen.
One more interesting thing happened as a result of that meeting in Central California. I asked that pastor to send me a letter of recommendation for the meetings (I use these to help open doors among pastors who have never met me.). He wrote me a letter which said, “I can’t give you a letter of recommendation. Maybe it is because you are a King James preacher and I’m an NIV preacher.” Think of it! That woman had received a glorious healing. The pastor’s daughter received the Holy Spirit while I was in his church. A woman who had been backslidden 10 years visited the church and returned to Christ. The Holy Spirit had moved in power in his little church. Yet, he couldn’t give me a recommendation. Why? Because I preached from the KJV and not from the NIV! Where are his priorities? (Where are yours?).
No wonder so many pastors, churches and Christians today are powerless. They’re majoring on minors! They are worried about non-essentials; things like Paul warned Timothy about in 1 Tim. 1:4: “endless genealogies.” They’re concerned about having the best building, the best music, the best preaching and the best coffee in the foyer. But, they’re not very excited about the power. They may talk about it and even quote Acts 1:8. But, they aren’t trying to stir up that power (except by proudly carrying around their NIV Bibles maybe . . . and their coffee cup!). Many, I fear, are tragically fulfilling Paul’s warning to Timothy about the conditions of the last days in 2 Tim. 3:1-5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come . . . men will be . . . having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Most Christians today aren’t “denying . . . power” by sins of commission. Instead, they are “denying (themselves) power” by a tragic sin of omission: they are not doing something they could be doing (Something that would truly bring the power of the Holy Spirit into their lives. They are not stirring up the gift by praying in tongues!). Well, I for one, am someone who is very, very excited about the power of God! I have been pursuing the Acts 1:8 power of the Holy Spirit since I was a young man. I am seeking it even more diligently now! And, it is my conviction that, praying in tongues is one of the foremost tools to energize that power. You have received the Acts 1:8 power (It doesn’t matter if you got it out of the King James Translation or the NIV!). But, one thing you know: because of that power, you don’t have a spirit of fear. You instead have a spirit of power. So, stir it up today! Tongues are one of the simplest and surest ways you can do that. Try it for an hour . . . or even 5 minutes. But, don’t deny that power’s claim to your life any longer!
Tongues is a pathway to knowing the mind of the Spirit: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:11). I had set aside a few days to fast, pray and seek the Lord. I had a pastor friend in Cabazon, California who offered to let me park my motorhome that I owned at the time at the church and gave me a key so I can use the church to seek the Lord. I asked the Lord if He had anything to say to me about this time of seeking the Lord and quieted my spirit. I listened to see if He would whisper a book, chapter and verse to my heart. Today’s devotional verse, 1 Cor. 2:11 came to me. Not knowing that verse by heart, I looked it up. I knew I had revelation knowledge: knowledge I want to share with you. Few of you know much about Dea Warford; except what I reveal to you through my teaching or writing. There are many things in my spirit I know about myself that I haven’t shared (Though I do share far more than most writers are probably willing to share!). This is what the first part of the verse says: really something we all already know. But consider the second part of the verse: “Even so, no man knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” I saw it! For the first time in my life I realized the following truth: Everything we know and receive from God in this dispensation, we get it all from the Spirit of God!
Every truth we learn from the Bible is through words which were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every time we receive any revelation knowledge, it has been revealed by the Holy Spirit. Why is this such an important truth? Because, if it is the 3rd person of the trinity from which we receive these things, then we need to know how to access these things form the Spirit. The starting place is to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. That’s why the Lord gives this experience. The Baptism is but the doorway to so much more! They are not called “The gifts of the Holy Spirit” without reason. It is the Holy Spirit that dispenses and helps us operate these gifts in 1 Cor. 12:7-11: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” Six of the gifts have to do with revelation knowledge: tongues, interpretation, prophecy, discerning of Spirits, word of wisdom and word of knowledge. And, it is the Spirit of God that gifts us this knowledge as you read above in red. 1 Corinthians 2 is “The Grand Canyon dug by the Holy Spirit.” It is full of gobs of goodies that sitting here in a motel in El Paso, Texas not long before service starts I simply do not have time to expound upon. Read it yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things to you through it.
But, there are two verses I want to bring to your attention (1 Cor. 2:9-10): “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Many have quoted this verse through the years to say, “Yes, no one here on earth has any idea of what wonderful glorious things await us in heaven.” But, this is absolutely not what the verse is talking about; because the next verse goes on to explain: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” God has indeed prepared glorious things for us and we cannot see or hear them by the power of our own heart or intellect, as verse 9 states. However, God has already “revealed them to us.” In other words, they have been made available to us; they are our right and privilege; and the Lord intends for us to discover and enjoy them. How does He make these things known to us? “Through His Spirit.” Then it adds, “For the Spirit searches all things.”
One of the first truths I learned as a freshman in Bible College in our doctrinal class was that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent (is all knowing), omnipresent (is everywhere present) and omniscient (He knows all things). That the Spirit “searches all things” reveals that the Holy Spirit is continuously dipping into the stream of the knowledge of the infinite plans that the Father has prepared for us. He delights in discovering them and delights in revealing them. Then, v. 10 adds that the Spirit even searches “the deep things of God.” What are the deep things of God? I have no idea! They’re too deep for me and they are too deep for you. But, through revelation knowledge we have the privilege to discover them.
Thus Paul prayed for the Ephesians (Eph. 1:16-19): “(I) not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
Take special note of the underlined phrases above that Paul prayed for the Ephesians to experience:
1) “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” He’s not talking about just knowing “facts” about God, but to really know Him and His will and ways more intimately.
2) “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” There are things in the invisible realm you need to see that you can only see by the Holy Spirit.
3) “that you may know what is the hope of His calling” The Holy Spirit wants to reveal what your ministry and destiny is here on earth.
4) “what are the riches of the glory” This surely includes the revelation knowledge of how to gain riches and material possessions (or just how to get that house or car paid off!) for Paul uses the same phrase in Phil. 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.”
5) “what is the exceeding greatness of His power.”
Here is the goal of Acts 1:8: “POWER.” You have that power resident in you, but need the revelation knowledge of how to release it! (“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” – Eph. 3:20) Oh, don’t you want to know and experience more of these glorious things that are available to us? I remind that they are revealed by the Spirit. Paul ends his teaching in 1 Cor. 2 with verse 16: “For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’” This is obviously a rhetorical question: no man knows the mind of the Lord or teaches Him anything. But then Paul adds this glorious truth: “But we have the mind of Christ.” Everyone reading this has said and done and thought enough dumb things that they know this doesn’t mean that every thought is the same thought Christ would think. But what it does mean, in the context of all Paul’s other teaching in the chapter is this: We have the ability to think and know exactly what Christ is thinking about any situation we face or decision we must make.
And it is the Holy Spirit that can reveal this to our mind. He may do this through a prophecy, dream or vision. And, I remind you that these three types of revelation come to the church through the Holy Spirit baptism (See again Joel 2:28, 29 and Acts 2:17-19). The Baptism in the Holy Spirit puts us into the right relationship, position and access of revelation from God. But, such revelation knowledge doesn’t usually come automatically to Spirit filled believers. They have to do something. What do we have to do? Wise young Elihu gave us a clue in Job 32:8: “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” In the Hebrew, the word translated here “breath” could just as easily be translated “spirit.” As we reach out with our spirit to the Holy Spirit, He gives us understanding. David, the man after God’s own heart, gave a clue in Ps. 77:6: “I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.” David would stay awake at night, meditating and allowing his spirit (obviously with the help of the Holy Spirit) to search out knowledge from God. Solomon the wise man gave us a clue in Prov. 20:27: “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.”
When we reach out to God searching for truth, our spirit become the instrument of the Holy Spirit bringing revelation to the depths of our heart. Bible study, prayer and fasting are all proven ways to receive revelation from God. Such tools are verified again and again in Scripture. But, I am seeking to convince you in this: that a primary way we receive things from the Holy Spirit is by praying in tongues. That day in Cabazon when the Lord first revealed to me the above truth, I decided to partner with the Holy Spirit to, as v. 11 says, “know . . . the things of God.” So, I would look up a verse in my Bible on the Holy Spirit (I have marked them with a purple icon to the left of the verse). I would read it. Then I would pray it and ask God to make that aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit come to my life. Finally, I would walk completely around that little church praying in tongues. Then I would go to the next verse referring to the Holy Spirit (and his work, gifts, tongues, etc.). I would pray and ask God to make that come alive in me. Then, I would walk around that little church again praying in tongues (I would walk completely around the church to force my mind to not get distracted into reading further but to concentrate only on speaking in tongues.). I did that much of that day. It changed my life. I still pray the Word today.
And I still speak in tongues (often walking around a church or walking around in my motel room or around in a park, etc.). “Rightly dividing the Word of truth” and after the above lessons, I don’t think I have to “prove” to you that speaking in tongues is one sure way we allow the Holy Spirit to research the deep things of God on our behalf and then reveal them to us. Many of us are ankle deep in the river of God’s knowledge. But, there are waters to swim in. God isn’t going to pick you up by the nape of the neck and toss you into the river. You are going to have to put on your bathing suit (The baptism of the Holy Spirit clothing you-Luke 24:49). And dive in and start treading water. Tongues are one sure way to do that. So, are you satisfied with where you are in God today? Are you satisfied with the depth of your personal experience in God? Are you content with your knowledge of Him and will and plan for your life? If you answered no to any of the above, there is only one way you will ever change that: by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:11 says that well. So, get in His presence and yield your tongue to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to begin to research the deep things of God and reveal some of them to you even today!
Tongues is the Secret to Staying “Filled With the Spirit” “Be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18). Doesn’t it stand to reason that if the first time we were filled with the Holy Spirit, we spoke in tongues; then if we continue to speak in tongues it will help us stay full of the Holy Spirit? Paul exhorts us in Eph. 5:18 to, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Notice He didn’t say, “Try to allow a little more of the Spirit to operate in your life: if you get a chance; if you’re in the mood; if you aren’t too busy.” No! It is a command of Scripture: every believer in Jesus should ever seek to be a man or woman “filled with the Spirit.” Paul was certainly a man “filled with the Spirit.” One of God’s primary purposes for calling him was so that he would be such a man: “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17) Paul received the Holy Spirit and became “filled with the Holy Spirit” for the first time most likely when Ananias prayed for him. But it wasn’t just a one-time event for Paul. Years later, he was still experiencing being “filled with the Spirit:” “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:9)
You might be thinking: “Yes, but that was Paul. Some people are just more filled with the Holy Spirit than others. I don’t know why.” Was it just a sovereign dealing of God and Paul had nothing to do with being so “filled with the Holy Spirit?” Or, was it to a great extent a “cause and effect” kind of thing that is available to every Christian? Let’s learn from Paul himself. He gives us a clue in 1 Cor. 14:18: “I thank my God, I speak in tongues more than you all.” (Remember, he said that to a church that had a problem speaking in tongues too much!). Paul was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit.” And, Paul was a man who spoke in tongues a lot! Could there possibly be any connection. I am convinced there is! Live a Holy life, pray a lot and stay in the Word: all of these things will help you to daily be a man or woman “filled with the Holy Spirit.” But, also be a man or woman who “speaks in tongues more than” all the other people in your church. It is the God given simplest way to be a Spirit-filled believer!