Tuesdays are the day our afternoon Bible study meets. I was to be taking it over, so to speak, about a month ago, but that did not happen. The man that had been leading and was supposed to take a job in Texas is still here, and may not leave at all. We tried to tag team for a short time, alternating weeks, but our styles are drastically different and therefore incompatible. In other words, he is a sprinter, and I am more of a marathon runner. I do not care how fast I go; I just want to make sure I have covered all the ground possible without tedious boredom.
We finished Genesis, and because he lead us on short sprints through the remaining chapters, we missed a world of detail on which to focus. How did I handle that, you ask? Whether you asked or not, I am going to tell you. I made a verse by verse commentary on approximately the last ten chapters of Genesis. This commentary would have been my teaching notes. Should you be interested, they can be found at https://tuesdaybiblebites.wordpress.com/
Since we had finished Genesis the leader's goal, and I am not sure why was to do a two-week teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When the subject of the Holy Spirit and the corresponding gifts would be brought up, questions would be asked that indicated many at the study had no clue, and several are simply afraid of it. These responses are nothing new; I find them everywhere I go. And, thanks to men like The Bible Answer Man, Hank Hannegraf, or Pastor, John MacArthur, many are convinced that the working of the Holy Spirit is out of completely out of control and not for today. If you feel that way, then I suggest you read the prophecy that comprises the book of Joel. The primary function of the book is to serve as a prophetic word about end times, yet, right in the middle of the horror and destruction comes this:
Joel 2:28-32 NASB "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29) "Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30) "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31) "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32) "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
The Apostle Peter quoted this excerpt saying,
Acts 2:14-21 NASB But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15) "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17) 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God 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; 18) EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. 19) 'AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20) 'THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. 21) 'AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'
The oddity of Peter's oration is that he pulled a portion out of the whole and decreed it fulfilled that day. If this was wrong on Peter's part then why include it in the Bible? But, it wasn't wrong or ill conceived. Peter's statement was appropriate and indicated God's intent, plans, and character. What the Holy Spirit did in that moment of time was to kick open the door to an exciting way of living; a way of living filled with the emotion and life of God. Do we do that? Oh no, we preach against the incredible power of the Holy Spirit and fear it when it shows up. While every generation believed that the end was near for them, it is evident that the end was a long way off, like about two thousand years off from the day Peter declared this aspect of the prophecy fulfilled.
There is no denying that the end is not here yet. How would I know that?
- We know that the end will come with the signing of a “seven-year” peace treaty. This will be done by a significant world leader which scripture calls the Antichrist. Scripture does not say that the agreement will be exclusive to Israel, nor does it say that Israel will be a signatory to that treaty, but I believe Israel will be the target of all concerned.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:3 NASB 3) While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
- Daniel 9:27 NASB "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
- There are signs associated with the end:
- This was the question the Jewish disciples asked Jesus. Matthew 24 is His response. But we in the church have a problem because the answer Jesus gave was directed specifically at a Jewish audience; an audience whose idea of the end is entirely different from what we think about in the church. The church is looking for the Messiah to come in the clouds and snatch us away, but the Jew is looking for Him to come as the Kingdom ruling Messiah they longed for.
- The church is snatched away from the earth; we call this the rapture.We find one of the references for this event in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NASB “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8) Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;”The term rapture causes many people grief because you cannot find the word in Bible versions like the King James. Do your homework though and you will find the idea of a great snatching away. This concept is drawn from the Greek word Harpazo and means a catching away. Look at these verses where they used the word caught.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB 16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
The Greek word for caught is Harpazo and implies a violent, quick removal.
The word rapture is derived from the Latin word rapio only found in the Latin Vulgate translation, and also means a catching away. Therefore it is a valid word to explain what is to come.
- Other signs can be seen in Joel's prophecy, as well as others, and they are described in multiple locations in scripture:
- WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW
- VAPOR OF SMOKE.
- THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND
- THE MOON INTO BLOOD
Have we seen or heard of anything like this? Certainly, we have as Pastor Mark Biltz, and Messianic Rabbi Johnathon Cahn wrote rather convincing books describing events associated with the end of time. While the moon did not in actuality turn to blood, it was impressive on many levels and got our attention. We also found out that the rare astronomical event, called the blood moon, has amazingly been associated with terrible events tied to Israel. Rabbi Johnathon Cahn demonstrated that monetary patterns had been related to Israel and were an aspect of God's punishment, as laid out in scripture. Even if these were not the specific markers we were looking for, there are others, some of which seem so commonplace and explainable, such as volcanic activity, or the waters being turned to blood. Perhaps some pictures may help.
And though many will disregard this last one, perhaps this meets God's qualifications for vapor of smoke.
Well, so much for my introduction, let's get on to the topic at hand, gifts from God, meant to benefit the body – the Church.
1 Corinthians 12:1 NASB 1) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.
The Bible in Basic English says it this way, “But about the things of the spirit, my brothers, it is not right for you to be without teaching."Some translations end this sentence by saying, I do not want you to be ignorant. That seems a little harsh, but then I have sat with people who have spent their entire lives inside religion, and they still do not understand, nor do they see the freedom or purpose in these "gifts."
Let's take this apart verse by verse. The first thing I notice is that the NASB wisely uses the word gifts in a faded italic. Presented in this manner, you are instructed to understand that the word is NOT found in original documentation and is added for the sake of clarity. Does the word "gifts" add clarity or confusion? When using the word gift, one expects to see items lying on the table. Supposing you only, as some presume, get to pick one (as though you would never have enough time or energy to have many or all of these attributes working in your life.) Let me just say that the following scripture 1 Corinthians 14:1 was not included in the “study” this day.
1 Corinthians 14:1 NASB 1) Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to "desire earnestly." This is the Greek/Holy Spirits way of emphasizing something by the usage of the same word twice. The word used is zēloō, pronounced phonetically dzay-lo'-o. It means to have warmth of feeling for or against: - affect, covet (earnestly), (have) desire, (move with) envy, be jealous over, (be) zealous (-ly affect).
As you can see from the context of 1 Corinthians 14:1 that the thought conveyed is to have a strong desire for something. And yet, prophecy and the “gifts” of the Spirit, are the most feared and misunderstood aspects of this spiritual life we live.
In attempting to understand and therefore not evoke fear in you, let me try one more translation.
1 Corinthians 14:1 (From the Complete Jewish Bible)
Pursue love! However, keep on eagerly seeking the things of the Spirit; and especially seek to be able to prophesy.
So instead of selfishly pursuing some hidden item wrapped inside a gift box, I am pursuing the things of the Spirit – things that seem to be an aspect of my everyday life as a believer. Because I see that the Holy Spirit has put an emphasis on that scary word prophecy, then maybe I need to understand it and find out what it is to prophesy.
The Greek word for prophecy is prophēteuō, phonetically pronounced prof-ate-yoo'-o. From G4396; to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: - prophesy. Informed that the word prophēteuō is a derivative of a base word, what is that? G4396 is the word prophētēs, pronounced prof-ay'-tace and means a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy an inspired speaker.
Well, that seems simple enough for an inspired speaker could easily be a preacher. But that is certainly not the only definition as it ranges from those who foretell events, speak under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and, those that exercise the prophetic office. To be perfectly honest, this last one scares me the most because there is the assumption that others, seeing this quality in them, have given them the green light to run around the country speaking into the lives of church leaders and the body and do so without challenge or question. Dear Lord, I hope not. Typically, when I see people like this they try to walk around as though they have some aura around them, and that is not the case (unless they have not bathed in quite a while.)
Being a person prone to anger and judgment (I was trained by the best,) I have to be especially careful because sometimes what I think I hear is merely my broken human nature wanting to reign down judgment upon someone. This problem is easy enough to sort out if I am willing to do so, and this is how:
- I ask some questions of the thoughts or impressions I am getting.
- Like, am I angry?That may easily be the case as virtually everywhere I go I hear false teaching. This is not the kind of stuff that sends people to hell; it's subtle and often cloaked in so-called maturity, opinion, and tradition. Sadly, it is the same junk we have been nodding our agreement to for years.How can you tell if it is false teaching? The message or the messenger will not align themselves with God's word. You ought to be able to ask yourself some questions about what is being said: Does it comply with God's word? Is it opinion over God's word? Who is getting the attention here? Does what they say to their audience convey the nature and character of God? This last one, means you need to understand the nature and character of God. I can tell you that contrary to the idea that only wants to kill people, He is more merciful and compassionate than you can imagine. But, you don't just learn that from listening to mindless sermons, you have to experience it, like I did.One more thing under this category. You cannot remove the broken human from the equation, but there is good news, God knew that and the prophet Jonah is a prime example, for he wanted the Ninevehites dead. God's plan, however, was to give them mercy and compassion once they repented.
- If I can eliminate my human emotions then perhaps what I have left is some Godly form of message.The problem with that logic is that I will never be able to avoid who I am. I can, however, work wholeheartedly at focusing on God and what He wants to convey in hopes that I can keep the damage inside of me out of the picture.Having given messages to the body/church on several occasions, I heard myself often lamenting that life would be so much easier if the Holy Spirit gave something more than, "And the." I was always reminded that my job was to trust Him. Having done that, and been told, sorry, but no more; the pastor who met me at the door said, I cannot find one fallible word in what you said. It was all very scriptural, but some members of the church complained and said that you made God sound angry.You see what happened there. I conveyed what I saw and felt in my spirit. I suppose that is what we do. To do otherwise would make us all sound and act like Fred Rogers, of the Mister Rogers show. While there is nothing wrong with Mr. Rogers it would be a very boring, bland world without color in it, and emotion tends to add color. Besides that, God made emotion and therefore it must be useful somehow. I know I love emotion when I worship. It makes me feel alive.
A person who foretells is one who predicts events that are to come. Here again having a solid background in end times events you could easily be telling people future events merely by integrating scripture in your conversation. What makes this work is Revelation 19:10 where it says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The word, testimony is the Greek word marturia and means simply evidence given. Where do we find anything like that? The four gospels, for that, is precisely what they are, a testimony of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the act of sharing the life of Christ then becomes prophetic and falls under the category of an inspired speaker, to say the least.
If most of this has passed you by with no understanding on your part, that is because you are lacking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is easily resolvable by asking Him to come into your life and make His home there. He will, and, He will never leave you or forsake you.