Sunday, 16 August 2020

Rightly Using the Gifts


Now that we have looked at all nine manifestation gifts I would like to talk about the correct use of these gifts, especially the spoken gifts. I will start with the seven tests for any spoken word that is claimed to be from God as implicit in each test is the correct usage of these gifts.

Seven Tests for any word.

Paul says in 1Thessalonians 5:19-21,19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

We are not to quench the moving of the Spirit through us by despising and avoiding prophecy. However, we are to test prophecies and make sure they align with God’s standards, holding on to the good ones. The seven tests are:

1.   Does it agree with Scripture?

In Galatians 1:8 the Apostle Paul writes, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

The word spoken forth must agree with the whole counsel of the Word of God. For example, if someone stands up and “prophesies” that God has said He wants us to be rich by robbing a bank tonight then we can categorically say this is wrong as it is against God’s command in the Bible “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). 

2.   What are the fruits in the person’s life?

In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Look at the character of the person prophesying and determine if they are displaying the fruit of the Spirit or strange, false fruits.

 There was once a self-proclaimed prophetess who came to speak at a church I was assigned to whilst in Bible School. She was teaching very strange things like saying a comet that was then approaching the Earth (Hale-Bopp) was actually the New Jerusalem. Then, in the middle of her preaching a baby started crying and she pointed at the baby and said, “I rebuke you in the name of the Lord!” She had strange fruit that was manifesting in her life and was clearly not a true prophetess as she claimed.

3.   What is the prophetic track record in the person’s life?

Deuteronomy 18:22 says,  “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

If a person comes to prophesy whose previous utterances have not come to pass, then this person’s ministry should be looked upon with great caution. A true prophetic ministry will have testimonies of people being blessed and encouraged and a track record of predictive prophecies that came to pass and were in accordance with the Word of God.

4.   Does their ministry glorify Christ?

In John 16:13-14 Jesus says,  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

In Revelation 19:10 the Apostle John records: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

The main ministry of the Holy Spirit is called the ‘spotlight ministry’ by J.I. Packer in his book “Keep in Step with the Spirit” as He shines the spotlight on Jesus, glorifying Him and Him alone.

The Holy Spirit is not in the business of drawing attention to Himself by miraculous signs and spiritual gifts but drawing attention to Christ. The Holy Spirit is constantly putting the spotlight on Christ for Christians to see, love, and serve Him.

This should be the same for those who minister these gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit. They should not draw attention to themselves but give all glory to the Lord. A true prophecy will make God look good and not the one who speaks it.

5.   Does the prophecy lead towards God?

In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 we read, “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Prophecy and Interpretation of Tongues should always lead people into a deeper relationship and understanding of God, not away from Him to other gods. According to the Scripture above false prophets can even perform signs and wonders, but they are ‘lying signs and wonders’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

Even signs and wonders can become a ‘god’ if the people focus on them and adore them instead of God Himself. That is exactly what I witnessed in 1995 when I experienced a very real touch from the Lord that was part of the ‘Toronto Blessing’. I was teaching a course in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but was feeling dry spiritually. The group I was teaching were from England and had just come from there and experienced a touch of the Lord in the form of Holy Laughter. They prayed for me to have a time of refreshing from the Lord and I was suddenly overwhelmed by Father God’s love, imparted by the Spirit. I fell to the floor and cried for almost an hour receiving His love. Then for another hour I was laughing in the Spirit for the simple joy of being loved by the Father. All the others were being ministered to by the Lord in similar ways.

When I went back to Singapore the Lord led me and another Pastor to have regular Thursday ‘receiving meetings’ where people would come and be touched dramatically by the Lord and many signs and wonders were seen. This was glorious for about three months, but the meetings began to change. People started to come for the signs and wonders, literally worshipping them instead of God.

After realizing this we closed the meetings down and never started them again. Instead of leading people to God these so-called ‘prophetic’ meetings were leading people away from Him to seek experiences and not seek His face.

6.   Does the word bring liberty?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

And in Romans 8:15 he writes, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

If a prophecy or Interpretation of Tongues leaves the people feeling condemned or in bondage, then that word is not from the Lord or the way it is being delivered in not in His Spirit.

One time I had to step forward in my Church to correct a sister who had come forward with a condemning word that was not edifying, exhorting or comforting and brought fear and bondage. Many people said they felt dragged down and condemned by the word. It was seemingly scriptural but came forth from her hurt spirit rather than from the Spirit of God.

True prophecy will set people free, dispelling bondages and fear and building the people up for the ministry. 

7.   Is there an inner witness?

In 1 John 2:20 the Apostle John says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”

In 1 John 2:27 he further says, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

In Ephesians 1:17-19 the Apostle Paul says, “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, 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, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

True Spirit-filled believers have an anointing from God to discern when a word is from Him or not. This could be linked with the gift of Discerning Spirits, available to all Spirit baptized Christians. When a word is spoken in Church, most believers, especially the leadership, should discern if it is from God or not. Generally, if it is from God, there will be a corporate witness and a ripple of agreement is sensed.

Instructions for using the Vocal gifts.

1.   The person should be in control.

1 Corinthians 14:32 tells us, “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”

A person who prophesies will not be so out of control that they go into a frenzy and start speaking words they are not aware they are saying, like in some other religions. They will speak in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40).

2.   They should use their natural voice and not some spooky spiritual voice.

3.   They should speak in contemporary language, not King James English that many cannot really understand.

4.   It should not be delivered with extreme emotions that distract from the people clearly hearing what is spoken.

This happened in 1 Kings 18:26; “So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.”

I once saw a woman shaking all over and violently moving her head from side to side screaming out a so-called ‘prophecy’. She then leapt around like the prophets of Baal. The problem was no one could understand her prophecy.

Moving in these gifts does not mean we become creepy ‘spiritual types’. We will still be a normal human being, speaking in a normal manner with no fancy language or crazy antics that actually hinder the message, if it is from the Lord at all.

5.   They should refrain from nervous repetitions.

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Often nervous repetitions come due to a person moving in their own spirits not in the Holy Spirit. One may start a prophecy in the Spirit but then continue in the flesh. Once you are aware the flow of anointing has stopped you should cease prophesying instead of continuing in the flesh.

I once heard of a lady who prophesied saying something like, “Just as I preserved Moses and his family from the flood in an Ark, so I will preserve you. Oh, oh…sorry. The Lord says he meant Noah!” – don’t assign to the Lord what is actually from the flesh.

I believe the best way to prophesy is to start by saying “I believe the Lord is saying…” and just speak out what God clearly gives, adding nothing and taking nothing away.

6.   They should not go beyond what is given.

When a person speaks forth a prophetic word or gives an interpretation of Tongues there can be a temptation to add in their own thoughts. They should only speak out what they really feel God is saying and no more.

7.   They should not use the name of the Lord in vain.

Avoid using “Thus says the Lord”. Only one moving at the level of a real Prophet has the authority to say this. Many times, we use this formula to “name drop”, showing off that we have had a private audience with the greatest celebrity of all time. It is better to say something like, “I feel that the Lord is saying this” or “I have a word for you…” to avoid throwing out God’s name with a hidden agenda of making yourself look good. The truth is that all of us can hear wrongly and get it wrong sometimes, allocating to God a word that is not from Him and thus we bring His name into disrepute.

Instructions for responding to the Vocal gifts.

1.   Test with the seven tests as given above.

2.   If the utterance passes the tests, do not leave it on the shelf but pray it through until fulfillment. Paul told Timothy that “according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). He encouraged Timothy to take the prophecies spoken over him into spiritual warfare, praying them through to their fulfillment by faith.

3.   If the prophecy or interpretation fails the tests then the Church leaders need to act accordingly, approaching the person to lovingly correct them. 

9 Guidelines for receiving and moving in these nine gifts:

i.             Enter into the supernatural realm through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Stay in that realm by praying in tongues daily and continually seeking to drink from the rivers of living water.

ii.            Desire and seek the gifts, waiting on the Lord in prayer and desiring to be used to minister in the Body and outside the walls of the church (1 Corinthians 12:1).

iii.          Search the Word to know and understand how the gifts operate. There is no virtue in ignorance .

iv.          Believe! Have faith that God will answer your prayer and believe what the Word says that the gifts are for all believers.

v.           Have an attitude of expectancy. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit and be ready to receive whatever He would bring to you.

vi.          Seek further help and understanding as to when and how to move from the leaders. Be teachable and learn when and how to move and how to test what you receive. If any inspiration involves ministering to others and you are not a recognized minister in the Body, share what you have received quietly with the leaders and allow them to direct you.

vii.         Never be discouraged by guidance and correction from the leaders. Keep trying; it is the only way to grow.

viii.       Do not quench the Spirit. When the anointing and inspiration come, move in faith. If in prophecy and tongues you only have the first word and feel the anointing, step out in faith and believe God to receive more as you speak. If you have a word, a picture or the general sense of what the Lord desires to say, step out in faith, believing for the words to express it.

ix.          Give the glory to God. Keep a balance between resisting and traces of pride that may try to creep in and a false humility which is an attempt to avoid pride and can prevent us from doing anything.

More Lord!

Why don't we see these gifts more in the Body of Christ? Because we do not earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1)! If someone desires something, he is going to make an effort in that direction in order to see what he desires comes to pass. The word 'covet' means earnestly desire. Many are not very earnest about making sure their desires are fulfilled. Start praying for the fullness of these spiritual gifts to be manifest in and through your life and you will find God is only too willing, and has even been waiting, to pour out these gifts to accomplish His will.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

The Vocal Gifts


The Vocal Gifts

There are three vocal gifts. These are the speaking gifts of ‘all utterance’ (1 Corinthians 1:5) where we ‘speak as the oracles of God’ (1 Peter 4:11). The Vocal gifts are Spiritual gifts that say something. They are:

1)   The gift of Prophecy

2)   The gift of Diverse kinds of Tongues

3)   The gift of Interpretation of Tongues

These gifts are not very well received in some congregations but bring wonderful blessings if used properly. The gift of prophecy, if used properly in the congregation, brings edification, encouragement, and comfort to the Body of Christ.

The Gift of Prophecy

Prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known tongue. It is the speaking for or on behalf of God by the direct inspiration of His Spirit.

The Hebrew of "to prophesy" means “to flow forth, to bubble forth like a fountain, to let drop, to lift up, to tumble forth, and to spring forth”. The Greek word means “to speak for another”. We are told to desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14: 1, 39) because, in congregational settings, it provides a refreshing flow of God’s healing and restoring words to others.

Prophecy is for today (Joel 2:28; 2 Peter 1:19; Acts 2:16-18) and every believer is able to move in the Manifestation gift of prophecy, but not all who prophesy have the ministry of prophecy (the Motivational gift) or operate in the office of Prophet. 

Prophecy can be spoken (Jeremiah 32:6-8), sung (Ephesians 5:18-19), with musical accompaniment (2 Kings 3:15), prophesying on an instrument itself (1 Chronicles 25:1), written (Habakkuk 2:2), expressed in dance and other creative mediums (Exodus 15:20) or come in the form of a dream or a vision (Numbers 12:6). This gift is highly commended by Paul as it is understandable and immediately builds up and comforts those listening to it if used properly (1 Corinthians 14:1, 5). The anointing to prophecy is frequently quite powerful but is still under the control of the believer (1 Corinthians 14:32).

A prophecy can be for a particular group of people (or person) at a particular time. All prophecies must be judged by the witness that is felt by the body of believers or the individual it is spoken to (it must agree with the Bible, confirm what the Spirit is already saying and bring comfort and edification). Next week I will be speaking more about how to rightly judge prophecy in the church.

Where the witness is strong hearts may be greatly stirred and a sense of excitement can grip a whole congregation as all sense the presence of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:29-33, 40). We need to be very careful about personal prophecies; lives can be ruined through the misuse of this gift. That is why there is a need to practice discernment and correction in the Body.

There was one time in Sarawak that I prophesied over a teenager that she should get her house in order and then revival will come into her life. Later I was summoned to her house because she had taken my word too literally and started to move things around the house to the anger of her parents. There was a tense atmosphere in the house, and I had to explain that the prophecy meant she should sort out her own life by coming to the Lord in repentance. The house the prophecy referred to was her life not her family home! Thank God she responded positively, and things were sorted out. If I had not gone there to correct the delivery of my prophecy things could have been pretty bad for that girl and for that family.

Personal prophecies usually confirm what the person has already been gleaning from the Lord. Often prophecy will confirm a person’s ministry and act as part of setting that person apart for or on the right track to the ministry (Acts 13:1-4). While I was in Bible School I had many prophecies that agreed with my inner witness that I was to be polisher or trainer of Bright Arrows to be sent out of fire and on fire for Him. This is what I see my ministry being today.

If the person prophesying does not have the ministry of prophecy and is not a Prophet then the prophecy will usually be very general and be purely one of comfort, edification, and encouragement. Those called to a prophetic ministry will minister more specific words and even directional or corrective prophecies, but with God’s wisdom and compassion so that ultimately, they lead to comfort, edification, and encouragement.

Levels of Prophecy

The following diagram shows the four levels of Prophecy.


The most basic level is the operation of the Manifestation Gift of Prophecy, which we are looking at here. Any Spirit-filled believer can move in this gift as the Spirit wills and it will be a basic message of encouragement, exhortation or comfort. At this level it will not usually contain a warning or a message about the future and will be more general in content, speaking forth scripturally sound words to build up the hearers.

Next comes the Motivational Gift of Prophecy which is a person’s ministry of prophecy that will be deeper and richer that the first level. Not all move in this level of prophecy and a person who does may speak, sing or demonstrate more specific prophecies to individuals or groups. Prophetic ministries vary from those who simply stand and speak the oracles of God to those who are prophetic worship leaders, prophetic singers or instrument players, prophetic dancers or prophetic creative arts ministers.

The penultimate level would be the Ministerial Gift of Prophet. All Christians can prophecy, not all will have a prophetic ministry, and even fewer will move as Prophets. The Prophet speaks forth the deepest form of Prophecy and can speak more powerfully, specifically and to a larger audience, even to nations but they have the greatest responsibility and judgment if they get it wrong! Agabus is an example of a New Testament Prophet who bound Paul with his own belt and prophesied, “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who own this belt” (Acts 21:11).

However, even the Prophet cannot speak revelation that goes beyond the top level of Prophecy, the Word of God, Scripture itself. All other levels of prophecy must come under the authority and scrutiny of the Word of God.

The Gift of Diverse Kinds of Tongues

Speaking in diverse kinds of tongues is the public supernatural utterance in an unknown tongue.

These are languages that have never been learnt by the speaker, nor understood by the speaker, nor understood by the hearer (unless the tongue is in their language so that they are the automatic interpreters of that tongue). It has nothing at all to do with linguistic ability, with the mind or the intellect of person speaking but is given supernaturally by the Spirit.

There are two types of tongues:

1.   Private tongues for personal edification, devotion, prayer and so forth (1 Corinthians 14:18-19 – “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 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.”). Private tongues can be used in corporate settings where all join with their private tongues to prepare and build up the spiritual atmosphere (speaking or singing in tongues). However, this must be something the church leadership and members agree with. 

2.   Public tongues that need to be interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:5) – this refers to the Manifestation gift of Diverse Kinds of Tongues that I am looking at here. 

This Manifestation gift is referring to the public tongues that must operate with Interpretation of tongues to be edifying to others. It is especially a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22-23) as it was in Acts 2:6. (“And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.”)

It may be in a human language that the speaker does not know but some of the listeners understand, just as it happened at Pentecost (Acts 2). One of our teachers at Bible School, Les Garrett, testified how once he had one couple from Papua New Guinea come towards him at an altar call. He started praying in tongues aloud as they approached as he was not sure how to pray for them. Suddenly the couple fell to their knees weeping. Les found out that he had spoken in their language, which he did not know at all, and was praising God and glorifying His name. They were not believers and this gift caused them to really cry out to the Lord and give their lives to Him.

More frequently it is in an angelic language that needs someone to vocally interpret in the common language of the gathering. In the above story it was a human language that the speaker had not learnt. This was the case in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost where the disciples spoke in real human languages they did not naturally know.

When bringing forth angelic tongues in a meeting we should desire to interpret as we read in 1 Corinthians 14: 13 – 15, “Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”

 If others do not interpret the tongue, we should be willing to do so ourselves. The Holy Spirit should give us the unction to bring forth tongues in a public meeting but it must be exercised in an orderly way, no more than three utterances being given in one meeting (1 Corinthians 14:12-13, 27-40).

There are at least four kinds of tongues. They are worshipping, warring, praying and prophetic tongues. Worshipping tongues will be proclaiming the praises and glories of God, warring tongues will be declaring victory over spiritual enemies, praying tongues will be interceding for a particular situation and prophetic tongues will speak prophetically over a group of people or a person.

The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues

The interpretation of tongues is a supernatural speaking forth in an understandable language of that which has been said in an unknown tongue.

This is not the translation of tongues; it is the interpretation of tongues, giving the sense of what was uttered in the unknown language. Tongues may be short, but the interpretation may be long (or vice versa), to give a clear understanding of what God is saying.

The interpretation often comes across as a prophecy, but the exact words will be directed to God rather than from God:

“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 Corinthians 14:2

On the day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in other human tongues concerning the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). These were worshipping tongue.

Once on a mission trip to Malaysia, I was ministering in a church and praying for people at the altar call. One church worker was ministering with me. This worker was praying for a sister in her own language (Malay) that I did not understand. Immediately after she prayed for the sister, I prayed over her with the church worker still there. I prayed first in Tongues and then interpreted this tongue into English. The church worker’s eyes were getting wider and wider as I spoke, and she looked genuinely surprised. It turned out that my prayer in English was exactly the same as her prayer in Malay. It was a prophetic prayer encouraging the sister to open up as a beautiful flower and release the fragrance of the Lord and glorify God in her life. This was a prophetic tongue.

The purpose of this gift is to render understanding of tongues to the hearers so that the whole congregation or an individual may be edified. 

Comparing Tongues and Prophecy.

In 1 Corinthians 14:2-5 Paul writes, 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. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish 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.”

Later in 1 Corinthians 14:39 Paul writes,Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”

From these passages we can conclude that:

1.   Prophecy is from God to man whereas the Interpretation of Tongues is in the form of man to God (v2).

2.   When one speaks in tongues, they speak the mysteries of God (v2)

3.   One who prophecies speaks edification to man (v3).

4.   Speaking in tongues builds up, or edifies the person speaking and, with interpretation, edifies the people listening whereas the gift of prophecy directly builds up those listening (v4).

5.   Prophecy is greater in a public setting because it directly edifies the Church without need of interpretation (v5).

6.   Do not forbid anyone to speak in tongues. However, it is better to desire prophecy in Church meetings (v39).

10 reasons for Tongues:

1.   It is Scriptural (1 Cor 14:5,39).

2.   It is Promised by Jesus (Mark 16:17)

3.   God speaks supernaturally to men (1 Cor 14:21)

4.   Men speak supernaturally to God (1 Cor 14:2)

5.   Allows us to magnify God (Acts 10:46)

6.   It edifies us (1 Cor 14:4)

7.   With interpretation it edifies the Church.

8.   Allows spirit to pray to Spirit (1 Cor 14:14-15)

9.   To by-pass the intellect in praise (1 Cor 14:21)

10. As a sign to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22)


Let us pray now for the release of the vocal gifts in our lives.

Rightly Using the Gifts

  Now that we have looked at all nine manifestation gifts I would like to talk about the correct use of these gifts, especially the spoken g...