In my previous letter we spoke about how the gifts of the Holy Spirit communicate the culture of heaven here on earth. When they operate in our lives they actually give us a taste of how things are in heaven. They are a real demonstration of the supernatural presence and power of God touching our lives! I suppose you could say the gifts of the Holy Spirit are God’s way of communicating with us in a way that is unmistakable and undeniable.
This is what marks our God as the only true God! Look at what Habakkuk 2:18-20 says: “What profit is the graven image when its maker has formed it? It is only a molten image and a teacher of lies. For the maker trusts in his own creations [as his gods] when he makes dumb idols. Woe to him who says to the wooden image, Awake! and to the dumb stone, Arise, teach! [Yet, it cannot, for] behold, it is laid over with gold and silver and there is no breath at all inside it! But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.”
In the Old Testament, the Lord dwelt in the confines of His temple which was a rigid structure; but in the New Testament, His temple is a living, breathing vessel called the human spirit. He lives within every born again child of God and is never asleep - nor is He silent!
The truth is: the Holy Spirit is continuously active in our lives when we choose to yield to Him. Operating in His gifts becomes a part of our nature when we learn how to work with Him in perfect harmony. We can reach the place where we have so allowed His Spirit to influence us that we see as He sees, speak as He speaks, and act in love and power as He does! That’s what operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit is all about.
Besides Jesus, when He walked on earth, Paul is an excellent example of this beautiful partnership we can enjoy with the Holy Spirit. Did you notice how the disciples and apostles learnt from Jesus, as they personally knew Him while He was here? Paul, however, didn’t have Jesus in the flesh to teach him all he knew about the relationship we can have with the Holy Spirit and all the fruit and gifts that we can enjoy and develop in our lives. Paul learnt all he knew and experienced by the Holy Spirit Himself being his Teacher. If Paul could do it, we can too!
Now we have pretty much reached the final part of our study on the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and today we are going to carry on discussing the gift of interpretation of tongues and then bring in the gift of prophecy. It’s remarkable at how these gifts work together and interact with each other.
We saw how the gift of interpretation of tongues can operate when we are praying in our own heavenly prayer language. Today we are going to see how it works alongside the gift of speaking in a sign tongue (a heavenly tongue purposed to benefit others and is used as a sign to unbelievers). To begin with, we must understand an interpretation is not a word for word translation; rather, it’s revealing and verbally communicating what is on the heart of God for a particular person or circumstance.
That’s why it’s so important to have the interpretation of a sign tongue; because its purpose, as mentioned earlier, is to benefit others and specifically used as a sign to display the power of God to the unsaved. This usually takes place in a gathering of believers, where unsaved people are also present. Now the person who feels the unction of the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues during the meeting can have the interpretation of that tongue too. In 1 Corinthians 14:13, Paul says, “…the person who speaks in an [unknown] tongue should pray [for the power] to interpret and explain what he says.” That’s when we do what he says to do in verse 15: “... I will pray with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will sing [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also.” I explained this concept a little earlier. Our minds get on board with our spirits that are taking the lead in this process.
It is possible and common for someone who is speaking in a sign tongue to not have the interpretation of that tongue but instead someone else in the gathering will receive the interpretation for it. For many, they begin with the unction or tug to speak, even if it’s only one word; but as thy step out in faith, as they open their mouths to speak that word, the rest of the interpretation just flows right out. It’s important to remember that this is an interpretation, not a translation; so while the tongue may be length or short, the interpretation doesn’t necessarily equal the length or duration of time of the tongue it’s interpreting. But those who are present and are filled with - and sensitive to - the Holy Spirit will be able to discern whether the tongue and interpretation is inspired by the Holy Spirit…what a beautiful, holy moment that is for the church! This is a very precious privilege we are able to enjoy together, receiving a spontaneous message directly from the heart of God for His people. That inspired word could either be direct to everyone present or just one particular person, depending on what the Holy Spirit desires for that moment.
Now, in 1Corinthians 14:26-27, Paul was addressing the very enthusiastic church of Corinth. They had so eagerly embraced the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to the point where their enthusiasm was proving to be a bit of a distraction and disruption in their church services. Instead of flowing with the pastor in charge of the service and submitting to his leadership in the flow of the service, they were just shouting out a tongue whenever they felt the unction of the Holy Spirit – without being sensitive to the appropriate time it should be released. You can well imagine this brought absolute chaos and frustration, not benefitting anyone. So Paul taught the believers to do things properly and in order by adhering to the leadership of the pastor and being sensitive to the timing and use of the gifts so that they will benefit all.
Let’s summarise what we’ve learnt from the gifts of a sign tongue and the interpretation of that tongue working together: they communicate what is on the heart of God at that specific moment for either a group of people or an individual person. At the very same time this is a powerful witnessing tool for the unbeliever to see God communicating His heart of love with people.
That, in essence, is what the gift of prophecy is. It really is the equivalent to an unknown tongue and interpretation of that tongue, with the exception that the gift of prophecy is specifically purposed to exhort or build up; edify or lift up; and comfort the believer. Paul said he would love it if every believer embraced the gift of praying in tongues because of the power it holds and carries. But, even more than that, he earnestly encouraged believers to operate in the gift of prophecy because of the way it empowers and enables us to encourage and strengthen each other by the Spirit of God.
It’s really important to understand that the gift of prophecy is not the same as operating in the office of a prophet. A prophet is one of the positions or offices of the fivefold ministry. Those called to this office certainly operate in the gift of prophecy, as well as the other gifts; however, operating in the gift of prophecy certainly does not qualify someone to be a prophet. Rather, this gift is available to every believer to operate in and be used of the Lord to encourage, comfort and build up other believers. It is never used to rebuke or criticise.
Remember we are taught to test all things by being sure that they line up appropriately with the written word of God and His character, with the inner witness of the Holy Spirit within us.
The beauty of this gift of prophecy is that any believer who is walking in close fellowship with the Lord flows very easily in this gift. Anytime you speak or communicate to someone from the outflow of what the Spirit of God is causing you to feel in your heart towards them – that causes you to either build them up, lift their spirit or comfort them – you are operating in the gift of prophecy. You are being an extension of God’s heart to them. This is what Paul was speaking about being the most beneficial gift to operate within the body of Christ!
To end off this powerful series, I’ll leave you with this word from 1 Corinthians 14:1:
“EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).”
All my love,