There is nothing more natural for a man, even a religious man, than to have a spirit of fear and even fatalism when he sees an eminent danger, or when he has been diagnosed with a life-ending disease. He may believe in God, and yet find himself predominantly tied to his senses and therefore his fearful sense-apprehension of things.
Fear is not of God! We read in I Timothy 1:7,
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love
and of a sound mind.
Fear not only trembles at shadows, it lengthens them. It weakens us and robs us of sound thinking. It causes irrationality! Yet, innate fears are not easily conquered.Come now, let’s admit it! How common is this even for believers! I see it all the time, and recognize that very thing at times within myself.
However, Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit’s gift of supreme faith in the midst of extreme circumstances. Being able to believe for the supernatural when everything appears to be a disaster and even fatal in the natural. Faith in God for the supernatural in the midst of the naturally opposite extreme, whether for yourself or for others!
“WHERE THE FINAL END SEEMS INEVITABLE IS WHERE THIS ABSOLUTELY
CONFIDENT FAITH-GIFT BEGINS
If you will, this gift of supernatural faith works like this:
“THE HOLY SPIRITS GIFT OF FAITH ENABLES A PERSON TO BELIEVE THAT GOD
HAS INFINITELY MORE POWER AND WAYS TO HEAL US OF DISEASE
THAN THERE ARE DISEASES TO BE HEALED FROM
Doctors or no doctors, it is all the same to God. People with this gift of faith have not only a faith that is living but lively in the midst of that which appears deadly. Their spirit is at its brightest when circumstances appear at their darkest.
We all have met or seen people with this gift, and our tendency in the flesh is to call them fanatics, extremists and out of touch with reality. No they are not! They are supernaturally gifted and intimately in touch with Almighty God! It was this very faith that Jesus saw in the Roman centurion who believed Christ for the healing of his paralyzed and greatly distressed servant back home. Jesus said to the centurion in Matthew 8:10,
“…TRULY I SAY TO YOU, I HAVE NOT FOUND SUCH GREAT FAITH
WITH ANYONE ISRAEL.”
Catherine Marshall, seen above, is the author of many fine books, including her best seller Christy. She was also the wife and then widow of the well-known pastor Peter Marshall. She was told during a routine physical checkup on March 20, 1943, that she was severely and dangerously infected with life-threatening tuberculosis. It was a devastating blow. The doctors ordered her to bed 24 hours a day. There she waited and waited and waited some more. At first and at times waiting to die.
In her book Beyond Our Selves, Catherine notes that fifteen months later she had gained some fifteen pounds. Otherwise nothing had changed. The area of infection was just as widespread if not more so than at the beginning of the diagnosis of the disease. Other specialists were consulted. They had no answers, and could only recommend more bed rest.
When Catherine and her husband asked the doctors how long, the doctors told them that they had no idea. Writing in retrospect, Catherine described this time as three weary, endless years. Over and over she asked the question, “Why, oh why do I have to lie here month after month. Why can’t the doctors do something?”
Yet it was during that time that Catherine Marshall learned many important lessons. She became keenly aware that there were no shortcuts. God alone was in charge. His absolute, unquestionable dominion and sovereignty over all things! He alone has all authority and power! In short:
“YOU CANNOT GO ANY HIGHER WHEN YOU GO TO GOD.”
She also learned to deal ruthlessly and fully with sin in her life. She committed her life completely to Jesus Christ as Lord during that time.
But what is so remarkable is this. During those long years of suffering in which she was told that there was no progress, and the tests confirmed that morbid and discouraging fact, something miraculous was happening deeper inside her. In what seemed to be an inescapable valley of the shadow of death, she was given by the Holy Spirit an increasingly strong faith in God’s supernatural ability to heal her. The Gift of Faith!
At her lowest, her faith rose the highest, and her prayers became the strongest. Then miraculously the x-rays began little by little to show progress. Finally she was pronounced completely well by the doctors. She was totally healed!
The seeds of her ministry of writing were also planted during those days of sinking illness and rising faith. It proved to be a ministry that would touch thousands of lives. Catherine Marshall was able to reach out with word and pen and encourage countless others in their walk of faith.
“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”
2. THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE (I Corinthians 12:8)
A “Word of Supernatural Knowledge
” given to man by the Holy Spirit, which when spoken into the situation releases the miracle of God that no mere human knowledge when spoken could ever discover or release. It can be spoken in a learned language or an unknown tongue and interpretation as we shall see below.
However the gift of the word of knowledge comes to man by the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with the cognizance of human understanding or learning. Frankly, human knowledge, even when spoken, does not alter the condition of things, but only represents them as it finds them.
The supernatural Gift of the Word of Knowledge is something altogether different. It may be put in this way:
“THE GIFT OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE ALLOWS THE SUPERNATURALLY-
GIFTED PERSON IN ANY DIVINELY DETERMINED MOMENT TO PARTICIPATE
IN THE DIVINE PREROGATIVE OF GOD’S OMNISCIENCE WHICH
WHEN SPOKEN PRODUCES SUPER-NATURAL RESULTS
Jesus displayed this gift over and over again, as in the case with the woman at the well, when He said to her in John 4:18,
“…for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not
your husband; this you have said truly.”
And of course as we well know, this led to the woman witnessing about Christ to her fellow Samaritans and many believed on Jesus as their Savior.
In his book Signs And Wonders Today, Dr. Peter Wagner recounts the true story of a severe drought in the city of Santa Rosa, Guatemala in Central America. It was 1965. People were leaving the city. Businesses were going bankrupt. Crops were dying. Animals were perishing. Special efforts were made to bring water in, but it was scarce everywhere. Catholics were holding special masses. Evangelicals were holding prayer meetings. There was simply no rain and no water.
Then it happened. In a small Pentecostal meeting, where some believers from the Principe de Paz churches had assembled for the regular worship service, the Spirit of God moved in a mighty way. There was a message in tongues followed a few moments later by an interpretation of tongues. Here we see the overlapping and interconnectedness of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit all working in harmony. The interpretation of tongues was also a word of knowledge which interpreted said, “Dig a well in the pastor’s backyard. There you will find water.”
There was much opposition from other churches as the deacons, elders, and pastor began to dig for water in the pastor’s backyard. They thought that these people were fanatics and/or were hallucinating – especially when they saw that the pastor’s backyard was on a hill. A well would never be dug on a hill, as the water runs low. But the pastor, deacons and elders all continued to dig.
Soon, even one of the deacons himself became upset and asked, “Why is it in the pastor’s backyard? Why couldn’t it be in mine?” Another elder thought that maybe the message in tongues and the interpretation/word of knowledge was biased. One deacon then gave up. Then another elder voiced negativism and left. But there still remained a group of loyalists ready to press on and dig deeper.
Because of the drought the land was very hard, so that the digging progressed very slowly. On the fourth day they encountered a big boulder. It was so large that they thought that they had hit solid rock. But they kept digging around the boulder until finally after two days they were able to remove it. When they did, a mighty gush of water came forth. The water flow was rich and plenteous, and people began to drink and drink.
The city of Santa Rosa and its inhabitants were miraculously watered by the hand of omnipotence through a supernatural word of knowledge. The power of God was at hand, and in this emergent and emergency situation it was released by a Divine word of knowledge. And yes, sometimes the mountain/boulder is removed with picks and shovels.
For many in that community, it was a remarkable sign of God’s favor. What the miracle of the well did to the growth of that church carried on for years and years. The number of conversions to Christ was staggering. Church membership grew from a few dozen to close to one thousand within that same year. Christ said:
“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”
3. THE WORD OF WISDOM (I Corinthians 12:8)
Many times the Holy Spirit uses God’s people in His gifts when they don’t even realize
that it is happening. Those are the purest moments in the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are not scheduled by or manipulated by man. He simply becomes the conduit for them to do their supernatural work.
The Word of Wisdom is that gift which is imparted by the Holy Spirit to and through man, as man speaks the wisdom of God in any given situation which alone can accomplish that which no other word wisdom could. Supernaturally the wisest word that could ever be spoken in season! Heaven-sent wisdom which when spoken powerfully impacts earth and earthlings!
Before illustrating this gift in action, let it be stated that all reasonable men have a greater or lesser degree of human wisdom. However, it is carnal, human wisdom and therefore very imperfect at best. But only God is perfect wisdom itself. God is so infinitely wise mind you, that the Bible tells us that He charges His angels with folly. (Job 4:18 KJV) Listen:
“HE WHO IS ALL WISDOM AND TOTALLY WISE CANNOT AND NEVER WILL
A SPEAK OR ACT UNWISELY.”
You might be somewhat like a Solomon who was the wisest man that ever lived, yet neither Solomon, you nor I will ever be wisdom itself.
The Word of Wisdom allows man to participate in and speak God’s perfect wisdom in a moment of Divine destiny in human lives. During the Christmas season of 1897, a newspaper reporter in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of them was blind. Coming closer, he heard the other two trying to describe the playthings in the store window to their sightless friend.
He later said that he never before had thought about how difficult it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who has never been able to see. That incident for the reporter became the basis for a newspaper story that the reporter would soon write and for which he would receive much acclaim.
Two weeks later this same reporter incognito attended a meeting being conducted by the famous evangelist and preacher Dwight L. Moody. (Seen Above) The unbelieving reporter’s purpose for going to hear this renowned preacher and evangelist was nasty, as he intended to try to catch Moody in some inconsistency and expose him via the press.
This reminds me of the time when I and one of my elders tried to sneak into a midweek service in a Holy Spirit renewed church to find some loony-tune stuff and use it against the Holy Spirit and the tongue speakers.
Dwight L. Moody had no idea that the reporter was seated out there in the audience. The reporter was taken back when the evangelist used the reporter’s own newspaper story of the three children to illustrate a powerful spiritual point. Moody said in his message, “Just as the blind girl couldn’t visualize the toys, so an unsaved person cannot see Christ in all of His glory.” Moody then went on to say that God opens the eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sin and accepts the Savior in humble faith.
The newspaper reporter was so deeply touched and convicted by Moody’s words, that he saw for the first time in his life that he too was blind and needed Christ’s saving and healing touch. He accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior that day, and an enemy of the cross of Jesus Christ was saved at that very cross. Listen:
“WHILE A WORD OF CARNAL WISDOM ALWAYS OBSTRUCTS GOD’S GRACE,
A WORD OF GOD’S WISDOM ALWAYS CONVEYS GOD’S
GRACE TO THE HEARER
It was that very Word of Wisdom spoken through and by Dwight L. Moody that could alone have done the gracious and powerful saving work of God in the reporter’s sin-hardened heart. Heaven’s wisdom spoken in a moment of eternal destiny! Christ said:
“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”
Oh, by the way, when my elder and I attempted to sneak into the meeting, our cover was blown for they were all seated in widening circles and many of them saw us come in. There was praise like I had never heard in my life. Then suddenly someone spoke in a tongue and there were three different people who all essentially gave the same interpretation from different places in the room. They all said that the church had to do a far better job in ministering to widows and orphans.
I was blown away. How could they all get that same emphasis out of an unknown tongue? The elder and I returned home in silence without any tunes on our loony recorder, for we secretly, so we thought, had recorded the whole thing. I really don’t think we got away with anything, and we came away with nothing but awe and appreciation.
4. THE EFFECTING OF MIRACLES (I Corinthians 12:10)
It speaks for itself, as God uses His servants to effect miracles in ways that surpass human power and knowledge. (See WHOLE TRUTH HELPS November 2008 “The Miracle God” Pt. I and II) I for one believe that miracles are taking place on a constant basis. That is because it is God’s nature, His very essence to work miracles. That is why when Jesus Christ on earth manifested God in the flesh, we read this statement about His miracles in John 21:25,
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written
in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain
the books which were written
Most of you know the name Corrie ten Boom
whose story The Hiding Place
has inspired millions and saved countless souls. In 1987 my dear wife Ruth and I were on a weekend excursion to the Netherlands from Brussels, Belgium where we were doing a guest lectureship at Continental Theological Seminary.
Our first destination was to the heart of Amsterdam. No easy task, as we could not read the Dutch language even though our ancestors came from the Netherlands. We followed the “Centrum
” signs rightly deducing that this would take us to the heart (center) of Amsterdam. Somehow by God’s guidance we found the “Holiday Day Inn” in downtown Amsterdam and made that our Friday night stay. We splurged by staying there, but it was kind of a home away from home. It was the only thing recognizable to us and we turned into it like long lost children.
After touring Amsterdam via the canals by boat as well as a very long walk through some of the infamous and shocking-to-us red light district, we turned in for the night. The next day we headed out of Amsterdam with our next intended destination being Haarlem to visit the Ten Boom home/jewelry store better know to us as “The Hiding Place.”
It was not long and we realized on our intended way out of Amsterdam to Haarlem that we were lost. I mean lost! We didn’t have a clue where we were in the deep labyrinth of Amsterdam. Whether it was that I perhaps in my disorientation was driving erratically, or whether it was the miracle intervention of the Holy Spirit (I suspect it was both), an Amsterdam policeman suddenly pulled up alongside of us at a traffic stop, motioned for my wife to roll down her window and he asked us in English if we were lost. We affirmed his suspicion and told him that we wanted to go to Haarlem, and he told us to follow him. He led us for quite a distance to the road sign pointing to Haarlem. He pointed us in the right direction, smiled and waved goodbye. We refer to him to this day as “God’s Miracle Amsterdam Angel.”
The Saturday adventure had just begun. Sure enough, we found our way to Haarlem and once again getting deeper into the city, we had no idea where we were going. You know how guys are, they don’t want to admit once that they are lost, let alone twice in the same day. Finally on another deep inner city street, we saw what looked like a hotel, and we stopped and went in. The first thing we asked was, “Where is Corrie ten Boom’s Hiding Place?” The man in broken English told us that it was only down a couple of city blocks. We were there having made totally what to us were guess turns before that. You’ve got to be kidding! Coincidence? Yah, sure! He had a nice room for us that Saturday night. The miracle trip continued.
Being yet early afternoon, after lunch we excitedly went on a brief walk to “The Hiding Place” which was to be the biggest miracle of all. It is, as they say, better felt than telt. We were taken on an “English Speaking Tour” that we will never forget. The presence of the Lord was so strong there, that we did not want to leave. If God, as He says in His Word, loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob, he loves “The Hiding Place” more than any dwelling in Haarlem. We worshipped much more than toured! The upper room hiding place for the Jews behind the wall of Corrie’s bedroom is a holy sanctuary. The miracle Shekinah Glory of the Lord’s presence filled that house from top to bottom. We lingered there as long as they would allow us.
The next morning (Sunday) we got up early, and before we had what we call in America a continental breakfast aptly named, we asked the desk clerk where was the nearest Protestant Church. He said it was the Church of Christ, and looked up the time of the service and drew out for us directions. We found it without difficulty, went inside, were welcomed, and as we sat down, there in the orchestra playing a guitar was one of our students from Continental Theological Seminary. He spotted us, nodded and smiled and we felt at home. Another coincidence? No, another miracle on our miraclized weekend.
After church, we took him out for Sunday dinner and had the most blessed visit with this dear young brother in the Lord. He graciously drew out for us the exact route home, Dutch road signs and all, and then led us on our way out of the city to the highway to Brussels. When we got to the dormitory where we were living with the students in our special guest apartment, we thanked the Lord for all those who He had gifted with miracles on our behalf. God’s gifts of miracles come in all sizes and shapes and in the most ordinary situations which He turns into extraordinary miraculous provisions. What and when was the last miracle He did for you? He does them all the time. He is the “Miracle God.”
It really comes down for us as preachers to the most revealing words that the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 2:4 ever wrote about his ministry. There we read:
“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but
in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Pneumatology is the study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of preaching. The New Testament church majored in Pneumatology, and minored in Hermeneutics. The contemporary church for the most part majors in Hermeneutics, and minors in Pneumatology. Paul would tells us that this is a great mistake.
The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that when he was among them, he was not a hermeneutical powerhouse. Hermeneutically speaking, Paul considered himself frankly to be sub-par. He was no George Whitefield or Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham. Certainly not a T.D. Jakes! In short, Paul was not a gifted preacher in his own eyes. Anything but! However, even if he was, which he says he wasn’t, Paul had his ministerial minor and major in proper focus! How?
“THE APOSTLE PAUL DID NOT RELY UPON HUMAN ELOQUENCE, BUT UPON
“THE APOSTLE PAUL DID NOT RELY UPON VERBAL PERSUASION BUT UPON
Paul preached with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation. If you will, supernaturally illustrated sermons! Preaching was the weakest part of his apostolic ministry. Night after night we preached the Gospel in an evangelistic tent crusade in Aruba, and night after night God fortified my impotent preaching with His omnipotent works. Every evening in the packed-to-overflowing tent we had testimony after testimony of healings and miracles. People were being saved through the blood of Jesus Christ in great numbers every evening. I didn’t ever want it to end, for I was not in control, the Holy Spirit was.
I have taken great courage and faith in the fact found in I Corinthians 2:4
“WHEN THE PREACHER FAITHFULLY EXERTS HIS IMPOTENCE, THE HOLY SPIRIT IS
THEN FAITHFUL TO EXERT HIS OMNIPOTENCE
I mean, it is awesome when the Holy Spirit compels you to preach against drunkenness, while the Holy Spirit saves and sobers up a slobbering drunk right in front of everyone’s eyes. And even more praise to God for the person who took the drunkard to the crusade to meet Jesus.
Above all, Jesus too based the credit and truth of His teaching and preaching upon His miracles. We read His words in John 10:25,
“…the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me.”
Or again John 14:11,
“…otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.”
Without the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit in action, the great proof of Christianity falls to the ground, and doesn’t have the necessary force and hold upon the minds of men. That is what Jesus and Paul are clearly and undeniably saying! Therefore:
“ONLY WHEN THE CHURCH IS USED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT ABOVE THE NATURAL,
WILL THE WORLD MASSIVELY COME TO RECKON WITH AND
BE OPEN TO THE SUPERNATURAL