Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword Part 1
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Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword.
by Andrew Wommack.
I have been teaching the message of G.o.d's unconditional love and grace for over four decades. In that time, I have literally created a library of teaching materials. For many, when they realize how much there is to learn and study, it must seem overwhelming. That's why I have written this book and believe it may become my bestseller.
Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword is a compilation and summary of sixteen of the most important revelations G.o.d has given me. Many have even called this the "Cliff Notes" of my messages. Each chapter addresses a specific topic in an abbreviated form, making it much easier to see how these truths are related and dependent upon one another. For example, if you understand the message of grace but have not balanced it with faith, neither of them will effectively work for you. That is why I wrote the book is a compilation and summary of sixteen of the most important revelations G.o.d has given me. Many have even called this the "Cliff Notes" of my messages. Each chapter addresses a specific topic in an abbreviated form, making it much easier to see how these truths are related and dependent upon one another. For example, if you understand the message of grace but have not balanced it with faith, neither of them will effectively work for you. That is why I wrote the book Living Living in the Balance of Grace and Faith. in the Balance of Grace and Faith. The same is true about many other principles and truths. Any one of them could be misunderstood and possibly taken to an extreme if they are not viewed in the light of the others. The same is true about many other principles and truths. Any one of them could be misunderstood and possibly taken to an extreme if they are not viewed in the light of the others.
As you read this book, you will get an overview that will help you put each topic in its proper perspective. You can study each chapter topic in depth by reading the full teaching of each topic, which can be found in my books bearing the same names as each chapter t.i.tle. In addition, I have created an accompanying Study Guide for this book, as I do with all my books. It is designed to be used in conjunction with a short DVD teaching (as seen on TV) on each of the sixteen subjects. You can order the Study Guide and DVD set by going to our website at www.awmi.net, or by calling our Helpline at 719-6351111. or by calling our Helpline at 719-6351111.
The Word says, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). But it's only the truth you know that sets you free. Each of the sixteen subjects covered in these chapters is foundational to renewing your mind. These insights will help you gain a better understanding of who G.o.d is, what He has done for you, and who you are in Christ Jesus. By establis.h.i.+ng these truths in your heart, you will create a firm foundation to grow in your relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d, and in that relations.h.i.+p, you will find freedom.
My prayer is that the things G.o.d has shown me and that I teach here will help you discover that G.o.d has given us everything we need that pertains to life and G.o.dliness through the knowledge of Christ. Through that knowledge, we are given exceedingly great and precious promises, which make us partakers of G.o.d's divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Christ lives in us, and nothing is impossible if we only believe.
During the war in Vietnam, I met a lot of men who claimed to be atheists. But the philosophies they were so sure of during times of safely quickly evaporated when danger approached. As soon as the bombs started dropping and the bullets were flying, those same people were crying out to G.o.d at the top of their lungs. The reason people facing death call on G.o.d, instead of just giving up, is that they intuitively know He is real-they also know He can save them.
It doesn't matter what intellectual arguments a person gives. At the heart level, everyone knows there is a G.o.d.
Of course, some will claim that they are atheist or agnostic and say they don't believe in G.o.d, but it's just a mind game. It's a convenient thing for them to say in order to justify the way they live or to get attention, but in their hearts they know better. At some point in their lives, everyone has known that G.o.d exists. It is possible to harden your heart so that you are no longer sensitive to the presence of G.o.d, but G.o.d has revealed himself to everyone who has ever been born (Romans 1:18-20). It's like there is a homing device on the inside of every person that is constantly revealing the reality of G.o.d. and drawing them toward relations.h.i.+p with Him.
Still, crying out to G.o.d in a moment of stress doesn't mean you have a relations.h.i.+p with Him. A true relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d is more than just mentally acknowledging that He exists. Jesus said that not all who say unto Him, "Lord, Lord" are going to enter the kingdom of heaven. Many are going to say, "Lord, haven't we cast out demons in your name? Haven't we prophesied in your name and in your name done many mighty works?" But Jesus will say to them, "I never knew you, depart from me" (Matthew 7:21-23). These people claimed to know G.o.d, but they didn't have a relations.h.i.+p with Him. Notice that Jesus didn't say He knew them at one time, but they lost relations.h.i.+p with Him or fell away. No, He said, "I never knew you."The people crying out to G.o.d in that parable were only religious. They didn't have a true relations.h.i.+p with Him.
The scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus' day lived very holy lives. They lived up to a rigorous standard of outward behaviors, but it was just religion. They dressed a certain way. They blew trumpets before them when they gave away their alms. They prayed on the street corner where everyone could see them. They did all of these rituals, but they didn't know the Lord. Jesus called them hypocrites and white washed tombs that looked good from the outside but were full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27). Obviously, not every person who acknowledges that G.o.d is real has a relations.h.i.+p with Him.
Scripture makes this clear in the book of James, which says, "Thou believest that there is one G.o.d; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). That is one of the most sarcastic statements in the entire Bible. It says you believe that there's one G.o.d, good job, but you haven't done anything that the devil hasn't done. Satan believes in G.o.d, yet we know he isn't in right standing with Him. Satan isn't saved; he's going to spend eternity in the lake of fire that was prepared for him and his angels where they will be tormented day and night forever (Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10).The devil believes in G.o.d, but his entire life and everything he does is in rebellion against G.o.d. So, just believing G.o.d exists doesn't put you in right standing.
To be in right relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d you have yield to Him. You have to submit yourself to Him in order to receive relations.h.i.+p.
One night, a religious leader named Nicodemus went to see Jesus to ask Him some questions about the things He was teaching. Nicodemus didn't want to speak with Jesus openly during the day because of the criticism he would suffer, but his heart was sincere enough that he sought Jesus out at night. He was in conflict because he saw the anointing of G.o.d in the miracles Jesus was doing, but Jesus himself was contrary to everything that the religious system of his day was educating people to believe. After Nicodemus questioned Jesus, He replied, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of G.o.d.
John 3:3 This is an amazing statement, and Nicodemus was overwhelmed. He asked Jesus, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (John 3:4). Nicodemus was thinking about a physical birth, but Jesus went on to say, Verify, verify, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of G.o.d.
John 3:5 Some debate the meaning of being "born of water,"but I believe it is simply a reference to natural birth. A woman about to give birth is said to have her "water break," meaning that the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb has dispersed in preparation for childbirth. This scripture is saying that unless you have a natural birth-when you were born in water-and then the second birth when you are born of the Spirit of G.o.d, you cannot enter into the kingdom of G.o.d. The second birth is what we call being "born again." So, just as surely as people have to be born physically to exist in this world, you have to be born again of the Spirit to enter into the kingdom of G.o.d. In fact, some Bible translations actually render this verse "born from above" or "born of G.o.d."
When G.o.d created Adam, He made his body and then He breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). The same Hebrew word that is translated "breath" is the word that was used for "spirit" all the way through the Old Testament. In other words, when G.o.d breathed into man, He literally put His Spirit into him. I'm sure that if we could have looked at Adam's physical body before G.o.d blew the breath of life into him, it would have looked just like our physical body looks. But there was no life in it until G.o.d put His Spirit in him.
Your spirit is the life-giving part of you. The New Testament confirms this fact when it says that it is the spirit that gives life to the body (James 2:26).
Most of society is missing out on what life is all about because they are focused on the wrong thing. They give all of their attention to the body by indulging and attempting to satisfy every appet.i.te and emotion that comes along. The body is not the most important part of life. The spirit is the real, life-giving part of a person-that's the reason someone can have all of the money, fame, and possessions imaginable and still be miserable. It's why people tarn to drugs and other addictions. They are trying to find life and happiness in the flesh, not realizing that what they are seeking only comes through the spirit.
When man was created, his spirit was alive because it was born of G.o.d, but the spirit of man died when he sinned. The Lord told Adam that in the day he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Yet Adam and Eve lived for hundreds of years after they ate of the tree, so it wasn't physical death G.o.d was talking about. They died spiritually when they sinned, not physically.
The word "death" has come to mean a variety of things to different people. Some people interpret death to mean that you cease to exist, but in reality you never cease to exist. Although the physical body dies and ultimately decays, our spirit and our soul go on to exist eternally somewhere - for those who have been born again, we will be with the Lord. We also have a promise that G.o.d will one day resurrect our bodies, and our bodies will be reunited with our spirit and our soul (1 Corinthians 15). The natural mind thinks of death as the end, but the Bible teaches that there is no end.
Scripturally, death means separation. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually. His spirit didn't cease to exist, but it was separated from G.o.d. He no longer had the life of G.o.d inside of him. Originally, humans were created to be G.o.d dependent (Jeremiah 10:23). We were in union with Him. Sin, however, caused a separation, and the spirit that was within us died. After sin entered the world, we were abandoned to our own wisdom. The very nature of man became dominated and controlled by the devil. It became l.u.s.tful, selfish, and full of hatred and misery. The sin nature present in man means that hurt, pain, and negative influences don't originate from an outside source; they come from the inside.
After Adam and Eve sinned, they began to produce children and they pa.s.sed on their sin nature to every person who has ever been born of the flesh -which excludes Jesus. Since Jesus was born of a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:26-38), He is excluded from this sin nature. He didn't get His life through man. He received a physical body through a woman, but His life came directly from G.o.d. So, with the exception of Jesus, every person who has ever been born on this earth has been born into sin with a nature that is separated from G.o.d and corrupted.
This explains why Jesus said you must be "born again," because the spirit of every person who has not accepted Jesus as their Lord is still dead.
Man's separation from G.o.d isn't about individual actions, or sins; your actions of sin are a result of your sin nature. You don't have to teach a child to do evil; he or she will do it naturally. The sins we commit don't give us a sin nature. It's the other way around: the sin nature we were born with makes us sin. The Apostle Paul wrote, Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death pa.s.sed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
Romans 5:12 True Christianity is not behavioral modification. It isn't merely learning to control your actions. It isn't possible to behave perfectly, and G.o.d doesn't grade on a curve, so you can't just live better than somebody else and earn salvation. You either have to be perfect, or you have to trust a Savior who was perfect for you. There is no other option. Even if you could behave perfectly from this moment on, it wouldn't change the fact that you sinned in the past. Most people think that G.o.d has a scale on which He will weigh their good actions against their bad actions, and if the good actions outweigh the bad, then they'll be accepted. That isn't what Scripture teaches. Salvation is not the result of doing the right things or living a good life.
The Bible says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of G.o.d" (Romans 3:23). G.o.d isn't asking us to meet some minimum standard of holiness. He created man to be perfect, and all of us have sinned and fallen short of that standard. Jesus is the perfect representation of the perfect standard of G.o.d, and none of us meets that standard. The payment for the sin we've committed is death. Somebody has to pay, and you can't pay for your own sins, so G.o.d sent us a Savior.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of G.o.d is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 This is where true Christianity and religious Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, diverge. The majority of religions teach that there is a supreme being who created all things, and he is an angry G.o.d. To appease this angry G.o.d and overcome his wrath at you for your sins, you must promise to behave rightly and deny yourself. In a sense, these religions put the burden of salvation on your back; it's all up to you whether or not you can live holy enough to earn salvation.
Every other major religion, and even a large portion of what is called Christianity, is preaching that you have to earn relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d by being good. I'm making a distinction here because not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a true Christian. True Christianity teaches that we could never pay the debt we owe for sin, so G.o.d himself became a man and paid the debt for us.
Jesus Christ was G.o.d in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and He lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:21-22). He earned relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d through His own goodness. Although Jesus had done no wrong, He was killed on the cross and suffered for our sins. He took our punishment. He sacrificed himself for us. G.o.d's anger against sin fell upon Jesus, and He forever satisfied the wrath of G.o.d against the sin of the human race. Jesus has paid for all sin for all time, and because of that, you and I can have eternal life. Not by being good, not by earning it ourselves, but by receiving the salvation paid for by Jesus. Scripture says, For G.o.d so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 Jesus has already paid for your sins. The extent of your sin or how good you've been are not the issue. There is only one sin that separates you from G.o.d, and that is failing to believe in Jesus (John 16:9).
Salvation comes down to one thing: will you accept what Jesus has done for you?
False Christianity and false religions teach that you have to try to maintain your own goodness and somehow earn relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d, but it can't be done. Imagine the time when you will stand before G.o.d. If He asks, "Why should I accept you into heaven instead of banis.h.i.+ng you to an eternity in h.e.l.l," what are you going to say? I was a good person? I wore a saffron robe? I went to church and paid my t.i.thes? I read the Bible and tried to be as holy as I could? Any of those answers will cause you to be rejected and sent to h.e.l.l. The only correct answer is, "I put my faith in Jesus." You might have lived a good life, but without Jesus you can't be saved. And who wants to be the best sinner that ever went to h.e.l.l?
If you try to stand before G.o.d in your own goodness, you are going to come up short. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of G.o.d. The only thing that will make you worthy to enter heaven is that Jesus paid for your sins, and you have claimed Him to be your Lord and Savior. You have to put your faith in the goodness of G.o.d through Jesus. Everyone who trusts in Jesus will be made in right standing with G.o.d. Anyone attempting to trust in their own goodness will never be able to live up to G.o.d's standard of perfection. The only way to have relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d is to have it through faith in Jesus.
Relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d is something you receive; it isn't something you earn. When you accept Jesus, you get changed on the inside-you are born again from above. Now, true Christianity does preach that you should live a good life, but a good life isn't the root of your relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d-it's the fruit of relations.h.i.+p with Him. You start living holy as a result of having a relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d, not as a means of obtaining it. Those are subtle distinctions, but the difference is profound, and it is what divides true Christianity from every other religion in this world.
Salvation and eternal life are all about Jesus.
Some people try to say that Jesus was a great example of love, but that He is only one way to G.o.d. Jesus isn't a way; He is the only way to the Father. The Bible says, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Acts 4:12 Jesus said of himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Jesus proclaimed that He was absolutely the only way, so either He is who He claimed to be, or He was a deceiver and a charlatan. There are no other options. You can't merely look at Jesus as a good man. Either He is G.o.d, or He was a liar.
My testimony, and the testimony of countless others, is that Jesus is Lord. He is exactly who He said He was: the Son of G.o.d. The miracles He performed, the prophecies He fulfilled, and the testimony of G.o.d the Father all prove that Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is real, and He is alive. He changed my life, and He can change yours. You can know Jesus as your personal Savior and be born again today.
The Word says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that G.o.d raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Notice that it has to be more than an internal decision. Jesus said that whoever confesses Him before men, He will confess before the Father. But whoever denies Him before men, He will deny before the Father (Matthew 10:32-33). Receiving salvation has to be real enough that you live it and share it with other people.
Choosing to receive Jesus as your Savior and be born again from above is the most important decision you will ever make. Everything that is seen in this world is going to pa.s.s away, but those who know Jesus as Lord will never die (John 11:25-26). If you have come to realize what true salvation is and you're ready to receive it, then say this prayer out loud and you will be born again. It's that simple.
Father, I'm sorry for my sins. I believe Jesus died to forgive my sin, and I receive that forgiveness.
Jesus, I make You my Lord. I believe that You are alive and that You now live in me. I am saved. I am forgiven. Thank You, Jesus!
If you said that prayer and believed it in your heart, then you are born again! You might look the same on the outside, but you are a whole new person. Your spirit is now alive with the life of G.o.d. You have been set free from the powers of darkness, and delivered into the kingdom of G.o.d's dear Son.
Being born again is about more than just getting into heaven when you die. Jesus died to give you eternal life, and eternal life is relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d -relations.h.i.+p that begins the moment you are born again (John 17:3). Now that you are born again, it is essential that you learn your new ident.i.ty in Christ so that you can walk in victory and fulfill the plans G.o.d has for your life. G.o.d desires to pour out His blessings upon you, but you have to know how to cooperate with Him to receive all that He has for you. So, don't stop here; there is a lot more to learn. In the meantime, go tell someone about the decision you have made.
If you have made the decision to receive Jesus, or if you have any questions, we would like to hear from you.
Give us a call on our Helpline in Colorado at (719) 6351111, Monday through Friday from 4:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
Additional Resources: l. The New You is a two-part audio teaching available to listen to or download for free at http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1039 2. The New You &the Holy Spirit is a book by Andrew Wommack that covers what happened when you received Jesus as your Savior, and details how the Holy Spirit is the key to living the abundant life that Jesus provided through His death and resurrection. It is available through the online store at http://www.awmi.net/store/usa/books/323 3. "Eternal Life" is an audio teaching available to listen to or download for free at http:// www.awmi.net/extra/audio/k60 4.Effortless Change is a book by Andrew Wommack which reveals how the power of G.o.d's Word effects effortless change. It is available through the online store at http://www.awmi.net/store/usa/books/331 5.A Sure Foundation is a summary of the first four teachings Andrew gives at Charis Bible College in Colorado. It is a four-part audio teaching available to listen to or download for free at http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1034
The Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not a ghost, but He frequently goes unnoticed in churches today. All too often, He is left out of church teaching altogether-as if only people who want to become really mature believers need to know Him. We need to recognize that the Holy Spirit is a foundational part of our lives as Christians. Jesus told His disciples not to go anywhere or say anything until the Holy Spirit came (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5). Think about that. Jesus' death and resurrection was the greatest news the world had ever known, but He told the disciples not to tell anyone until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us to live the Christian life. We cant live the Christian life without Him, and we shouldn't try to.
Jesus didn't begin His public ministry until He received an anointing from the Holy Spirit, even though Jesus was G.o.d from birth. The angels sang "Glory to G.o.d in the highest" and they called Jesus "Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11,14). Jesus didn't somehow become G.o.d through a process of maturation. He was born G.o.d. Yet Jesus didn't begin His earthly ministry until He had received the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17), and the Bible doesn't mention Him performing a single miracle until after that time. If Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit before He began to minister, and if He told His disciples not to minister without the power of the Holy Spirit, then how arrogant is it for us to believe that we can accomplish anything in our own power?
We need the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, inspiring us, and anointing the words we speak. Yet mult.i.tudes of people today who call themselves Christians have relegated the power of the Holy Spirit to a secondary issue. They have put the Holy Spirit aside and decided that He isn't important. They don't even want to talk about Him. The reason we have so many people sharing words from the Bible but not seeing results, is that they don't have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of them. They haven't received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
After His resurrection Jesus commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). His last instruction to them before He was received up into heaven is recorded in Acts 1:4-5: And, being a.s.sembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
After Jesus spoke to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, the heavens opened up and received Him out of their sight. Simply realizing that these were Jesus' last words puts tremendous importance on them.
We value a person's last words because it is the last opportunity for him or her to say something important.
This is why people pay special attention to the last words of men and women in leaders.h.i.+p positions, such as ministers, businessmen, and politicians.
Jesus was about to turn over the future of His kingdom to the disciples. They were going to be responsible for telling the world the Good News and presenting G.o.d's plan of salvation. He was about to put everything He had worked and suffered for into their hands. Jesus' last words to them were certainly important. He said, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 1:8 The fulfillment of the promise to receive the power of the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. On that day, "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). We would call what they were doing speaking, or praying, in tongues. Speaking in tongues has become a divisive issue, and there are a lot of misconceptions. Specifically, some people argue that the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues isn't a gift that G.o.d gives believers today. They think it was something G.o.d only gave to the believers in the early Church. I disagree, and I think that putting Jesus' last words into context will show that speaking in tongues is a gift for us today.
Following His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on several occasions. The first time He appeared to them, one of the disciples, Thomas, was not present. The other disciples told Thomas that Jesus had risen from the dead, but Thomas didn't believe them. He said, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).
Eight days later, all of the disciples were gathered together and Thomas was with them. Jesus appeared in the midst of them and said to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27). Upon hearing this, Thomas answered Jesus and said, "My Lord and my G.o.d." Jesus then commented that Thomas believed because he saw, but blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe (John 20:28-29).
We know from Scripture that all it takes to be born again is to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that G.o.d raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). Thomas confessed that Jesus is Lord, and Jesus commented that he believed it, so we can conclude that Thomas must have been born again. Yet Thomas was one of the eleven disciples that Jesus told to wait until the Holy Spirit was given, so being born again and receiving the Holy Spirit can't be the same experience.
I have heard people try to get around these Scriptures by claiming that this was a special circ.u.mstance because the Holy Spirit hadn't been given to anyone yet. Now, they contend, every person gets all of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit they can get when they are born again. But the book of Acts is full of examples showing that being born again and the baptism of the Holy Spirit remained separate experiences long after the day of Pentecost.
In one instance, Philip preached in the city of Samaria and the entire city believed in Jesus (Acts 8:4-8). During that time, Philip performed many miracles, and there was great revival in that city. But then it says, Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of G.o.d, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Acts 8:14-17 This scripture makes it clear that the Samaritans were born again. They were also baptized in water, which Scripture says you only do after being saved (Acts 8:36-37). Philip wouldn't have baptized them unless they had already believed and were converted. Clearly, these people were born again. So, they were already Christians, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. The apostles went down to their city and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit after their initial born again experience.
This same thing is recorded when the Apostle Paul found some people who were already disciples but were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-10). When Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed they said, "We haven't even heard there is a Holy Spirit." There are people in denominations all across the world today who could say the same thing. Paul prayed for those men and they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation. It is a second encounter with G.o.d when you receive power from on high. There are about a dozen instances recorded in the book of Acts where people received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and in every instance, they spoke in tongues. They didn't speak in tongues some of the time or most of the time; they spoke in tongues every time.
Speaking in tongues is a valid gift for today, and it accompanies receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you don't speak in tongues, then either your beliefs are preventing you from doing so, or you haven't received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I received the Holy Spirit about ten years after I was born again, but it took me another three years to speak in tongues. I wanted to speak in tongues and I prayed for the ability to do so, but I had been taught so much against speaking in tongues that I couldn't do it. I had too much fear and unbelief built up in me. It took a while to get my mind renewed by the Word of G.o.d to get rid of the unbelief.
I'm mentioning my personal experience to show that it is possible to be born again and to have had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, yet not speak in tongues. If you have had an encounter with the Holy Spirit but you don't speak in tongues, it's because you've been taught something that is hindering you. The ability to pray in tongues is important in the life of believers, and it is a gift from G.o.d we need today.
Another common misconception is that all miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, ceased when the last apostle died. This argument claims that G.o.d only used miracles to confirm His Word until the Bible was complete, but now that we have the Bible, we don't need miracles or baptism of the Holy Spirit anymore. This misunderstanding stems from a wrong interpretation of something the Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 These verses state that there will come a time when prophecies will cease, tongues will cease, and knowledge will vanish away. Certainly, that time will certainly come-but when? Opponents of speaking in tongues believe it has already come. They cite the verse that says "when that which is perfect is come" and believe that the Bible is what is being spoken of. Therefore, they conclude, prophecies and tongues have pa.s.sed away.
The Bible is perfect, but I don't believe the Apostle Paul is talking about the Bible in this pa.s.sage of Scripture. The same pa.s.sage also says that when tongues and prophecies cease, knowledge will vanish away-but knowledge hasn't vanished away. As a matter of fact, there is a prophecy in the Old Testament that says that knowledge will increase in the end times (Daniel 12:4). Today, you can look around and see that there is an exponential increase of knowledge in the world. The c.u.mulative knowledge of mankind regarding the universe, biology, and technology is growing at a tremendous pace, so clearly knowledge hasn't ceased yet.
Not only does this scripture from 1 Corinthians say that knowledge will cease after that "which is perfect" has come, it also says that we will see G.o.d face to face: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a gla.s.s, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also lam known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12 Now we see dimly, as through a dark gla.s.s, but then (when that which is perfect has come) we will see clearly, face to face. Obviously, we have not come to see G.o.d face to face yet. I'm not saying that G.o.d couldn't appear to someone, but this is a blanket statement that applies to everyone seeing Him face to face. It's talking about the second return of the Lord, or our gathering together unto Him. When we see the Lord face to face is when "that which is perfect is come."
The Scripture also says that when "that which is perfect" has come, we shall know even as we are known. G.o.d knows us perfectly, but we certainly don't know everything perfectly right now.
The things that these verses state will happen at the same time that prophecies and tongues vanish haven't happened yet. Knowledge hasn't pa.s.sed away, we haven't seen G.o.d face to face, and we don't know everything perfectly the way we will in eternity. You can't just use these verses to say that speaking in tongues has pa.s.sed away and ignore everything else that is supposed to happen at the same time. It is obvious that the "that which is perfect"which is being spoken of here has not yet come to pa.s.s.
I believe the "that which is perfect" being referred to is our glorified body. Praying in tongues helps us only as long as we are in this physical body and have the limitation of a mind that is not completely renewed. Your spirit is praying when you speak in tongues, and the Holy Spirit can pray through you (Romans 8:26). You are speaking mysteries in the spirit and edifying yourself (1 Corinthians 14:2, 4). Speaking in tongues bypa.s.ses the unbelief that is in your brain, and allows you to talk directly to G.o.d. It is powerful, but it's only for this life.
When we receive our glorified bodies, we won't have the infirmity of not knowing. At that time, we will know all things, even as we are known. We will know how to pray perfectly. We will see G.o.d face to face, and we won't need to speak in tongues anymore. But until our glorified bodies come and our minds are completely renewed, we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, specifically the power of speaking in tongues.
Anyone who has been born again but doesn't have the power of the Holy Spirit needs to receive it. You can't live the life that G.o.d intends for you to live without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues; this is the power to live the Christian life. There is a lot about praying in tongues that I can't cover in this short synopsis, but I guarantee that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues will produce a radical change in your relations.h.i.+p with G.o.d. The Word of G.o.d will come alive, and you will begin to see and understand things you never noticed before. You need this ability.
The good news is that G.o.d wants you to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues even more than you want it. Jesus said, If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Luke 11:11-13 Some people teach that you can't have any sin in your life or G.o.d won't fill you with the Holy Spirit. They think that G.o.d won't fill a dirty vessel. I want you to know that G.o.d doesn't have any other kind of vessel to fill! If we could be perfect without the Holy Spirit, we wouldn't need Him. The very fact that you aren't perfect makes you a candidate to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is G.o.d's will for every born-again believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues. He created you to fill with His Spirit, so there is no way He isn't going to do it when you ask. The only requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit is to be born again. Jesus is the one who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, so if you haven't received the Giver, you can't receive the Gift.
One of the things that kept me from speaking in tongues right away when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit was that I didn't understand that I had to do the speaking. The Holy Spirit inspires you, but you have to do the talking: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:4 Just as G.o.d doesn't make people receive salvation, He isn't going to make you speak in tongues. G.o.d doesn't take over people's bodies, so you're going to have to initiate the use of your voice to start and stop speaking. You can't just open your mouth and wait for sound to come out.
As you begin to utter the words the Holy Spirit is inspiring you to speak, the words will come more and more easily. You won't understand what you are saying because the natural mind can't understand the things of the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14), but you can pray for an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:13). Receiving an interpretation doesn't mean that you'll get a word-for-word translation of everything you have said in tongues. It could mean that you'll pray in tongues today, and sometime in the near future G.o.d will give you a word of knowledge or wisdom. The only time that an interpretation is required immediately is when someone speaks in tongues during a church service. It isn't necessary when you are praying in tongues privately.
Speaking in tongues builds up your faith and draws out the power and knowledge that is in your spirit. If you recognize that you need this gift and you have already been born again, all you have to do is ask G.o.d and He will give it to you: Father, I thank You that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, I welcome You to fill me right now. Thank You for filling me with Your presence.
Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword Part 1
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Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword Part 1 summary
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