cessationism

Balance – The Other Side Of Freedom

Balance. That’s not a popular word amongst some Charismatics. A real popular word amongst non-Charismatics and when I say Charismatics I mean those who don’t believe in cessationism. Charismatics, generally speaking, take the word “balance” as limiting and binding. There was an article written a couple of years ago by Anthony Bradley entitled, “The ‘new legalism’: How the push to be ‘radical’ and ‘missional’ discourages ordinary people in ordinary places from doing ordinary things to the glory of God.” You can Google the article if you want. This blog isn’t geared necessarily towards anything he did or didn’t say but the article brought up some things I’ve been thinking about and haven’t thought about for a couple of years.

I’m speaking from a guy who was raised in the Charismatic(if you like labels) church. Though I was raised in the Charismatic church, I did my own thing for several years and when I was 20 years old made my own decision to follow the Lord. I then went back to the Charismatic church. I also had a couple spurts in a Methodist and AG church, which had wonderful believers in them. Some of the things I’ve experienced were completely amazing and life changing yet at the same time I went through a lot of shame, rejection, and not being able to quite measure up to others around me. And this had nothing to do with sin but with Charismatic performance.

Due to the lack of freedom in many evangelical churches where you can neither dance nor raise your hands during worship, much less show any type of emotional responses or even read the Scripture for yourself, believers have been so hungry for more. Like the ability to express one’s own love for the Lord in ways that they feel comfortable like flag waving, dancing, lifting hands, prophetic art, clapping, shofar blowing etc. But now these actions have become performing, not to say the people themselves are performing to please God because that’s between them and the Lord. With these new sets of standards it opens the possibility that if you don’t do these things then you are labeled nominal or cold or lukewarm or quenching the Spirit. For example, when everyone stands up in church to sing the songs on the projector and you remained seated you may get a look or a “gentle” nudging from another to stand up and get excited about Jesus and you succumb to the pressure to perform all the while it could be the opposite of how your spirit connects with God.

Personally I connect better while sitting and being still. I love reading while laying down as opposed to sitting. Our spirits are Hand-crafted and designed on purpose and for purpose. We are living stones being fitted together. We have to let one stone be different from all others otherwise there might be a chink in the armor of the whole. We have so desired freedom that it’s become a bigger box than we were in before…but it’s still a box if you let it define what’s new and acceptable.

We’ve erred on the side where freedom becomes an activity instead of a rest from activity. Freedom means to dance…it also means not to dance. Freedom means to shout…it also means not to shout. Freedom means laying prostrate in front of the altar…it also means not laying prostrate in front of the altar. Freedom means me being me…it also means giving the Spirit permission to push me a little. Freedom means I can get slain in the spirit…it also means I don’t need to get slain in the spirit. Freedom means I can stand up and raise my hands…it also means I don’t have to. Freedom means I shake & bake by manifesting…it also means I don’t have to. Freedom means I can speak in tongues…it also means I don’t have to. Freedom means I can get drunk in the spirit…it also means I don’t have to. Freedom means I can live in Truth without conforming to someone else’s standards. Freedom means I can walk in my design without fitting into someone else’s design.

If a person knows what they know and knows what they don’t know and is secure in that and can allow someone else to know what they don’t know and can lean into that then maturity and balance can come. In order for balance to occur there must be two sides having equal force all hinging on a higher Truth that keeps both afloat. Jesus had a great nugget that I don’t think I’ve ever heard mentioned in a sermon and it’s in Matthew 13:52 and says,

He said to them, Therefore every teacher and interpreter of the Sacred Writings who has been instructed about and trained for the kingdom of heaven and has become a disciple is like a householder who brings forth out of his storehouse treasure that is new and [treasure that is] old [the fresh as well as the familiar].

There is nothing wrong with liturgy and there is nothing wrong with spontaneity. There is nothing wrong with hymns and there is nothing wrong with prophetic singing. It was for freedom that Christ set us free.

Several years back where I sat like a bump on a log in midst of others feeling overflowing joy and laughter and His Presence. They would shake & bake and feel great all the while I felt the sensitivity of a gnat. I felt somewhat devastated inside. If this is what freedom was then I wanted in and no matter what I did by mimicking, or getting prayer, or even doing a little fake it till you make it, I just didn’t get it. It was sin because I knew others had sin. What was it? It was even worse when it came for a prayer line when those who were shaking & baking would get more and more prayer and I would stand there in “receiving mode” and get a quick 5 second prayer. A common remark I’d hear about those “experiencing more” than me would be, “The Spirit’s all over him,” and then they would point their finger and the person would flail even more. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those “strange fire” people. I have physically experienced God on several occasions and I fully believe God touches His children in amazing ways. I’ve been healed twice of sinus infections. It’s the box. It’s the “Freedom” box that I don’t care for.

We cannot set aside one set of rules in exchange for another set  rules. We need freedom to and freedom not to. The Holy Spirit is wind and blows one way and you don’t see it and it blows another. You don’t know where it’s coming or where it’s going. So are those born of the Spirit. We are ingrafted into this wind and we must leave behind our belongings and step into sonship where you can do what He wants for you and not what others want for you. God’s wants for another may not be the same as His wants for you. His wants for me won’t be the same and His wants for you.

Oneness comes with diversity. In our soul this doesn’t make sense. By our spirit knows. Adam left sonship behind for his own belongings. And until we leave our belongings at the foot of Him we won’t have oneness but a certain longing for unity out of our grasp. I must leave my belongings, the things I use to belong, at His feet and enter into sonship with the One True King.

On a side note. One thing that has set me free from being fascinated by externals is Psalm 103:7 which says,

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.

For me personally, knowing His ways is tops. His acts are cool but I never want them to be a distraction. If my wife lauded my gifts and not my heart then I would feel…well used. I don’t get the ecstatic reactions to gems, glory clouds, or angel feathers. Whether they are real or not. It’s not my focus. Because for me, if it was my focus, I would not feel legitimate unless I was able to receive the same exact things. Unless I got a gem stone, unless I got an angel feather(though I joke I do get them when my goose down pillows expel them), unless a glory cloud fills my room I won’t feel up to par. All these things are great, fantastic, and utterly amazing acts of God. But for me, which won’t be for you too, I love His ways. I want to know Him.

Please mind my rant in the midst of the case I’m presenting. I wanted to provide the other side of freedom. The balance. The true freedom where my design can flourish in the midst of a person’s completely different design. Where both designs can be honored, legitimized, and celebrated. So here’s a blessing.

Spirit of _____ I bless you and call you forward and to attention. I bless you spirit with God’s completely different, one-of-a-kind, mold-breaking design. I bless you with the freedom to and the freedom to not to. Be free to be led by the Spirit into freedom. Not chaos but freedom where you can be you and another can be another.  Spirit of ____ listen to God’s word for you in Psalms 103:7 which says, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” Throughout the time Israel was in the wilderness there was a special thing Moses and God had going…something different that Israel’s status quo and box. I bless you spirit with knowing God’s ways without needing His acts as a legitimacy crutch. Be blessed and astounded and amazed by His acts but when they aren’t present know your Father has never left you. Absence of His acts never proves the absence of His Presence though His Presence may be known by His acts. Spirit I bless with you the balance of 100% Scripture and 100% Holy Spirit. I bless you with the freedom to have the soul or body touched by God and I bless you with not needing the soul and body touched. Spirit, all you need to do is go to the face of the Father in all situations, circumstances, problems, provisions, and applications and receive all you need from God. Receive all your directions from the Father’s face. May the Father’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May you shine, spirit. May you exude all the reflections, colors, rhythms, wavelengths, sounds, freedom to and freedom not tos that God has placed within you. May you walk in oneness with diversity. May all portions of you be blessed, healed, celebrated and rejoiced. You weren’t wrong in your design, in your feelings, or in your ways of connecting with God. God made you to connect with Him in certain ways and at certain times. There is no box over you spirit! You are free to go to the face of the Father so He may unpack all of your special and unique design features. He will unlock, in His timing, every He has place in you from the foundations. Be blessed spirit to ride the wind, be united to the wind, and to be excited for the wind.

I hope you get the gist of what my spirit was feeling and I hope your spirit caught it. The soul can get pretty wrapped up with a lot of things. One day our spirits will rule and reign in the rightful place it was designed for.

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Wisdom, Knowledge, and Prophecy – The Same Or Different?

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit…to another prophecy. 1 Cor. 12:7,10

Here we see three different gifts or charisma of the Holy Spirit. Root word is charizomai which means give or forgive as well as to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to, gratify. The other word is charis which is the word grace which means that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.

From what I’ve seen in the body of Christ is confusion or misinterpretation of these three gifts: Knowledge, Wisdom, and Prophecy. I would add interpretation of tongues but I’ve rarely heard corporate tongues and interpretation of tongues in Church. It may be a more Pentecostal thing but not so much so in Charismatic churches. Also discerning of spirits could be thrown in the mix too but I’ll focus on the three. On a side note, I would love to bring attention to the fact that the Apostle Paul saw that the gifts were being abused or misinterpreted and wrote this passage in the epistle to teach the Church…the Church and not the apostles. So in other words, the gifts weren’t given to prove the Apostles office or the confirm the canon or whatever opinion some believe. The gifts were given for the common good of the Church as a whole. Especially considering 1 Corinthians 14:5 which indicate Paul wanted the Church as a whole to speak in tongues and prophesy even more. And yes there are different tongues, not really different but tongues as a whole has different applications but that may be for another blog.

In my opinion based on what I’ve learned and been taught, is that the gift of knowledge tends to be more diagnostic or it gives a diagnosis which means the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. Word of knowledge coincides with the fruit of joy. Knowledge in Greek is gnōsis which means  knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding. So God gives a word of knowledge, then what do we do? Immediately deliver it? Yes and no. While I firmly believe in the saying, “deliver the mail don’t interpret it,” there are times when we should sit back with this diagnostic word of knowledge and ask God to show us what to do with it. Let Him direct you with the word without you trying to understand the word. He may say to release it. For instance, I don’t remember who it was, a speaker got a word of knowledge and it was simply “macaroni & cheese.” ??? Really? So this person just spoke it out in faith without reading it and “macaroni & cheese” meant the world to an individual in the seats. This woman was praying for someone’s salvation or something like that and the person being prayed for drove a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese truck. This was the confirmation that woman needed to encourage her. More on confirmation later. But on the other side I recall a story from Graham Cooke where a man came up for prayer and Graham immediately saw a spirit of lust all over the man (this knowledge came from discerning of spirit mixed with word of knowledge). Graham didn’t release it but stepped back into his spirit and asked God what to do. In this instance releasing it could have cause a lot of damage, heartache, etc. What did God say? To proclaim the opposite (which would be prophecy) and to release what was needed to set the man free. Graham released something like this, “I see an incredible amount of purity coming upon your life. I see you loving you wife and cherishing her.” The man broke down in tears…beautiful healing and life-giving tears. There are some who probably would have said, “Thus saith the Lord God Almighty. You have lust all over you and you will burn for it unless you repent.” Not really life-giving nor seasoned with salt. Again God may have you say something like this to the person not using a microphone, “God showed me a spirit of lust operating in your life. You need to stop it otherwise your life will be in shambles. God is not into public shaming but public redeeming! They only public shaming Jesus did was against religion and the religious structure that promoted public shaming. So we receive a word of knowledge and step back into our spirit and ask God what to do with it. Next will come either a word of wisdom or the gift of prophecy may manifest.

The gift of prophecy is probably the most controversial amongst the three. The gift of prophecy coincides with the fruit of goodness. Prophecy in Greek is prophēteia which means a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events. Most people when you say the word “prophecy” they only think of prophecy in the Scripture foretelling Christ or other events. But of course in New Testament there is both as we see in many epistle, gospels, and the book of acts. We also see prophecy in regards to day-to-day things like in Acts 21:11 which says,

 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Funny thing is the word of knowledge/prophecy pointed to a negative thing but the recipient, Paul, knew full well what would happen and accepted it. Almost like another confirmation for Paul. Personal prophecy is a beautiful thing. Truly beautiful. I call personal prophecy in a meeting a “public honoring.” God points you out and highlights you. He confirms in open what He has spoken to you in private. Beautiful! I love personal prophecy. It is a great thing. I would also like to note that personal prophecy is, generally speaking, conditional. 1 Corinthians 14:29 says

But let two or three Prophets speak and the others discern.

Even a large amount of Old Testament prophecy was conditional in regards to current day-to-day things. Do this and that will happen. Do this and that won’t happen. Some get a prophetic word and run with it. Some rely on prophetic words to know what to do. Both are imbalanced in my opinion. Yet some get a prophetic word that makes no sense and they toss it out which is also not a good thing to do. You won’t lose your calling or destiny by throwing out a word that doesn’t make sense but it may cause delay because there was a nugget in there you needed to get to the next step. There are some who have receive prophetic words 5-30 or more years ago that are just now coming to fruition. Personal prophecy is personal promise with conditional and relational involvement. When Scripture says we are co-laborers then we are co…laborers. We are saved by grace through faith yes, but our growth is determined by our plow.

So the gift of prophecy provides an expected end or expected signpost. A glimpse into the future you and the future space around you. I love Graham Cooke’s teaching “Bringing the future into today” which basically means you take your prophetic word and see the character that is needed to walk in it and start acting in that character now. Prophecy speaks the potential and possibilities. It will provide a future and a hope. It can also provided the prognosis of the diagnosis. Prognosis means a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation. I said it before, “do this and that will happen.” So what happens from word of knowledge to prophecy….?

A word of wisdom. This coincides with love. Wisdom in Greek is sophia which means wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters and the intelligence evinced in discovering the meaning of some mysterious number or vision. When I think of the word of wisdom I think of how to get from point A to point B and possible pitfalls in the middle. You get a word of knowledge to diagnose something then receive the prognosis by prophecy but now you need a word of wisdom in order to walk through it all. The word of wisdom can give you a course of action. The remedy for a situation. Supernatural wisdom they may defy logical action. Jesus told different people different things in order to get healed. He didn’t just say you have “this” or you have “that” but said go wash over here or here is some mud…put that in your eyes to help you see. I would say a lot of dream interpretation comes from the word of wisdom as well or even dreams are a word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and/or prophecy. Words of wisdom offer the prescription to get you from the word of knowledge to the prophecy.

I do hope this all makes some sort of sense. Biggest issue I have is getting what is jostling in my brain into something coherent. The illustrations I used hopefully explained the differences and similarities of the three gifts. Three manifestations or diversities of gifts but the same Spirit work in all. There can be much more taught, discussed, and experienced with these three gifts. Let all be done decently and in order, thinking of others before ourselves or platforms. Regarding one another more highly than ourselves. The fruit is always the foundation for the gifts.

Be blessed this Resurrection Sunday for without the resurrection we would still be in our sins and new life wouldn’t be possible. Check out my blog from last year about Great Friday!

 

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