Archive for the 'SNAC Service' Category

Aug 12 2012

Sermon: Healing the whole person (SNAC)

Filed under SNAC Service

In Luke 2:52  we read that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

 

Its an interesting throw-away comment by Luke which comes at the end of the account of Jesus remaining behind at the Temple as a boy, and the announcement of John the Baptist that he has come to prepare the way of the Lord.

It is actually all we know about the life of Jesus from age 13 to 30; but it does tell us that Jesus had grown to full manhood in these years in four main areas:

He grew mentally (in wisdom),

He grew physically (in stature),

He grew spiritually (in favour with God), and

He grew socially (in favour with men).

 

In other places the Bible speaks of our tripartite nature: body, soul and spirit – our body (physical self), our spirit (the image of God in us) and our soul (our emotional nature). In a way our soul is a combination of our mental nature and our social connections.

 

The important point though is that we are compound creatures; one being with many parts. And when we talk about healing we must recognise that it is a healing of the whole person, in all parts.

 

Our physical well-being does has an impact on other parts of our nature: a headache can make me feel down emotionally, and far away from God, spiritually.

Similarly, an upsetting incident with a friend can cause me to have a headache, and strain my relationship with God as well.

Delving around in the occult, or even sin generally, can impact on a person physically and emotionally.

Adam’s sin, at the beginning of time, the so-called original sin, has dogged mankind throughout history and has led to every other sin, because of spiritual separation from God.

When Jesus died on the Cross, it was to redeem us from the sin (singular) of the world – our Lord dealt with the very source of our separation from God. His atoning death re-established our relationship with God, as it was in the beginning, and enables us to come, of our own, by faith, to seek forgiveness for our sins.

Christ does not have to be crucified over and over for every sin, no, He dealt with the origin, the source. But until, we accept this atoning sacrifice, by faith, sin will continue to have hold of us (I feel like I am paraphrasing from the Book of Romans – go read Romans 6-8).

Until we do this continued stranglehold of sin will impact upon us physically, mentally, emotionally and socially in varying degrees.

This is not a popular idea in these “enlightened” times where we want to blame everything under the sun, except our sin, for our dis-ease, but I believe that this is what the Bible teaches and what God wants us to know.

 

The word for healing in the NT is the same word used for salvation. Jesus came to save the world, and He came to heal the world. Same thing. He came to redeem mankind and to reestablish our relationship with Him.

His ministry was not just to go to the Cross, but to teach about the Kingdom of God (as you heard this morning), to heal the sick, to cast out the demons and to set the captives free.

 

Thus, when we pray for healing, we are not only praying for physical healing – indeed, this might the least important thing we need to pray for, even if it seems to be the most obvious.

And if physical healing does not come, it is not really all that important, as long as the other more important aspects of our lives are healed – our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.

 

Now its not always that easy to say all of these things to someone who asks for prayer for physical healing, and most often it is quite inappropriate to speak about sin at that point.

My experience has been that most times when people come for healing prayer, it has been best to pray aloud with all grace for the specific thing they have asked for; but, to speak with God also about other things which He might reveal by words of Knowledge or Wisdom and to pray about these things in private.

 

There is a difference between praying for a believer, and one who has yet to come to faith. The believer will accept the admonition from the Lord for sin. They are usually aware of it themselves but have buried it under heaps of denial. In those instances, the prophetic voice needs to speak clearly in order to remove the debris and rubbish.

 

The one who has yet to come to faith is usually different. Most times they will treat a challenge to their sinfulness as unjust, judgmental and interference in their personal life. The first step here is to encourage them to enter into a relationship with God; very often this will be sparked by a miraculous response to prayer.

You may have wondered why non-believers, or new Christians, get such amazing answers to prayer … this is the answer, it is God drawing them into relationship with Him.

You might think that this is so unfair but realise this, the greatest healing of all is a restored relationship with God; the next best is a healing of relationships with other people (Love the Lord your God; love your neighbour) and last comes physical healing. In the end, we don’t take our physical bodies with us to heaven. They grow old and weary and when they “give up the ghost”, our spirit goes to be with God.

 

That does not mean that we don’t need to pray for physical healing – of course we must. When we pray for healing we are ministering the whole of God’s redemptive love to the whole of the person’s being.

 

Let’s discuss some Biblical healings:

First David, after being confronted by Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba.

What did he pray?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

It might seem incredibly cruel, but the son born as a result of David’s transgression got sick. David prayed for the boy’s life, observed days of prayer and fasting, but still the boy died. The servants were afraid to tell David when he died because they thought he might do something desperate. Instead he got up, bathed and put on clean clothes and went to the Temple to worship God.

When questioned about it, David said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

And then he asked for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit and the restoration of the joy of his salvation (healing, remember).

 

Who was healed? What was healed?

In Mark 2, we read how four men brought their paralysed friend to Jesus and lowered him through the roof.

Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Everyone got pretty upset about that.

Eventually Jesus asked, “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?”

What do you think?

 

Jesus then goes on to say, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

 

The implication is that it is easier to deal with the physical than with the spiritual. We need to keep this in mind, and we must remember that the ultimate healing is not physical healing but the healing of the separation from God.

 

In John 5 we have the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda. The man is an invalid and he has been there for 38 years. Jesus asks him if he really wants to be well.

The man says that he needs some help, so Jesus says, “Pick up your mat and walk.”

And that’s what happens.

A little later, Jesus find the man in the Temple and he says to him, “See, you are well again. Now stop sinning.”

In response to those who then accuse Jesus of healing on the Sabbath, He says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

 

In each case sin is an issue … I could have used many other examples too. Physical healing was given, but it also involved dealing with the sin, facing up to it and repenting of it.

And this confrontation with the sin in our life is really about acknowledging the holiness and sovereignty of God, and choosing the walk away from the things which separate us from God and to, instead, walk with Him.

When that happens we cross over from death to life.

And that is the ultimate healing.

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Jul 23 2012

Sermon: Suffering and Faith (SNAC)

Filed under SNAC Service

We continue with our series on Living Life Dangerously – meaning we choose to live at the centre of our faith, trusting God’s actual and real involvement in our lives.

We are in a sub-series at the moment, looking at the ministry of healing and tonight we are looking at suffering.

 

Suffering is what we feel when we pray for healing and healing doesn’t come. It is what we experience when we desperately cry out to God and He seems to ignore us.

 

Suffering is the hardest problem to understand.

Think of the Jesus on the cross. His experience was terrible. He had the most awful physical pain, mental despair and spiritual sense of being alone.

Jesus used the same word as millions of other people. He cried out: ‘My God, Why have You forsaken me?’

 

I alluded to Job last time, and here is a good example of the crisis of suffering. Everything was going wrong in his life; he lost his family, his possessions, his health and it seemed that God was simply ignoring his pleas.

 

But, we know something that Job did not.

It comes right at the beginning of the book.

 

Job 1:6-12

This could be the most important part of the book’s message.

 

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

 

We hear an interview.

There is the all-powerful God.

Then there is the one who is always an enemy.

Job is going to be a kind of ‘test’.

We see that Job pleases God as a servant and friend.

God allows Satan (the devil) to test Job.

Its all about whether Job will continue to love God and remain loyal to Him.

It could have been so different for Job. If only he had known that he was a ‘test’. Then he would have accepted his troubles. But he was not aware of the event in Heaven’s Court.

And he could not know it. The test required Job to continue to put his faith and trust in God despite his circumstances. It had to be a free choice, unencumbered by prior knowledge or insight into the ultimate outcome.

 

There is also something important here for us to remember. It is this. In our suffering, we do not know all the facts. God hides some of them from us. Things that we cannot know about affect us. There is eternal importance about some of our experiences. We could accept many troubles with courage if we knew this.

Dr Wheeler Robinson in ‘The Cross of Job’ reminds us that this part of the action was in heaven. Job and his friends knew nothing about it. Their responses come from ignorance.

And our response to suffering (or the apparent absence of God) often is also out of ignorance of the Master’s intention. We do not know the facts – the bigger picture. To blame our situation on on sin or disobedience, our own failure or God’s anger is both to deny the sovereignty of God and the fullness of His grace and love towards us.

God did not abandon Job, indeed quite the opposite. He was proving to Satan that He trusted Job’s love and loyalty. I believe God’s heart ached with Job’s agony. And God’s heart ached with Christ’s agony on the Cross, but He could not intervene for that would weaken His love towards us. He had to trust His Son to finish the work.

 

Some of life’s events are a great mystery to us. But one day we will understand completely.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

Joseph certainly realised this truth when he finally welcomed his brothers in Egypt. He said “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20.) There were cruel plots against him. People accused him. Much of Joseph’s life was unjust. Yet God was at work. In Acts 2:23 we see that this happened to Jesus too. “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

God always overcomes men’s evil plans. He changes awful situations. He brings good things out of bad things. It always means honour for God in the end. It can be the same for us.

 

We must never think that following God means no trouble or suffering but one thing is very certain: We must not think that our suffering is God’s punishment.

When God does not heal, when God does not answer our prayers, when we try to live well and all things go wrong – none of this should be seen as God’s punishment.

We do sometimes think like this. We might ask: ‘What have I done to deserve this…?’ All Job’s friends thought like this. But they were all wrong.

You see Job was innocent and he knew that he was innocent. No sin in his life deserved his great suffering. And as a people living under grace, why should God want to purposely ignore us and put us through suffering. Peter tells us that it is God’s will that “none should be lost, but that everyone should come to repentance.”

Sometimes, yes, people do have physical suffering because of their sins. But this is because of the law of ‘cause and effect’.  (smoking, alcohol, drugs etc) Nothing can change this law. If you plant, then you expect a harvest. But it is wrong to use this law about suffering. Sometimes we fail God. Sometimes we do not obey him. It is still wrong to suggest that God will punish us with physical illness or punishment of some sort, or that God would ignore our cries for help.

 

Here is a lesson for us:

God can use the experience of suffering for good

 

If God seems absent, it does not necessarily mean that He is angry. There are times when He will be absent, but as I read the Scriptures, this is against nations particularly(especially His elect) and sometimes against individuals who purposely rebel against Him.

It is God’s apparent absence which causes our suffering, for we know that He could deal with our illness, pain, trouble. He doesn’t and so we suffer. Why?

 

I believe that there are two reasons:

  1. He is growing our trust and dependence on Him (our faith) for things which lie ahead of us. He knows those things, we don’t.
  2. He is allowing us to see that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It is trust in God beyond the physical and visible.

 

In a way these two things always go together – they are about trusting God not health, or possessions, or loved ones, or jobs, or governments, or abilities. Both are about the choices we make, to put our trust in God despite everything; or to trust the passing things of the world.

It seems to me that when everything is going well in our lives, we simply take God for granted. When times are tough, we are forced to make a choice – do we turn against God, or do we trust Him more than ever? And if that is the case, perhaps we need the tough times … they are for the testing and upbuilding of our faith.

 

In James 1: 2-3, the Apostle says, “Count it all joy my brethren when you face trials of many kinds … for these are for the upbuilding of your faith.”

And in verse 13 he says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

 

Here is the ultimate victory – not in the answer to prayer, not in the healing, not in worldly riches … but, having stood the test (of suffering and God’s apparent absence) we show that we love God more than these things, and the reward is the crown of life.

 

The right response to suffering is childlike faith in God – it is believing in and upon Him irrespective of the circumstances. In bitterness and pain, in struggle and defeat, in life and in death, our trust is in God and God alone!

 

 

 

 

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Jul 08 2012

Divine Healing (SNAC)

Filed under SNAC Service

1st in series on the ministry of healing

(Still part of the series on Living Life Dangerously by Faith)

Mark 1:14-34

Just a few points to highlight from our text this evening ….

The kingdom of God is near.

Come, follow me.

The people were amazed.

What is this? A new teaching with authority.

News spread quickly.

The fever left her.

The people brought the sick and demon-possessed.

He healed many.

He also drove out many demons.

 

The ministry of Jesus was much focussed on healing and the casting out of demons. Indeed these were the signs of the Kingdom.

And, as we read the gospels, it is clear that it was not only Jesus who healed, He also gave authority to His disciples – He sent out the 12, but He also sent out the 72. And at the end of Matthew’s Gospel there is a commission that is to be passed on to all who believe in Jesus.

Divine healing – the healing which comes,  miraculously from God, is a feature ministry of the Kingdom of God. It is a declaration that the Kingdom has come, that Christ is Lord and that He is preparing to come again.

We dare not neglect it.

 

So first, why do we need healing? And what is it?

We need healing because we are sick; sick in our bodies, sick in our minds and sick because of the influence of demons.

 

And we are sick, because there is a war going on.

 

I was given the full collection of the Narnia books by CS Lewis for Christmas. It is more than a series of children’s stories about a wardrobe and a boy and his horse. It is about the Lion and the witch. It is about the eternal conflict between good and evil. It is a story about a war, written and influenced, some say, by the Second World War. We are in a major conflict and without our spiritual armour, and even with it sometimes, we become wounded.

Paul says that there is a war going on in the spiritual realm, and that war will rage on until Christ comes again in power and with great glory. At that time, according to the Revelation (and Paul in Thessalonians), Satan and the demons will be cast into the pit. Only then will there be ultimate freedom – we will have resurrection bodies which can no longer be subject to illness, pain or discomfort.

 

In the meantime, we live in this imperfect world, subject to the fall out of the war; subject to the consequences of evil and also subject to our own disobedience and sinfulness.

 

Not all sickness can be directly attributed to personal sin, though some can. Indeed, most sickness is a consequence of other sin, other forces, other evil. Be that as it may, we are the ones who suffer, often innocently.

 

Our hope however is in Christ, who brings healing as a sign of His coming Kingdom. And He has given us authority to pray in His name for people to be healed.

Not all are healed – I don’t know why, but perhaps it is lack of faith … not faith in God, God doesn’t need our faith to bring healing … but lack of enough faith to actually live changed lives.

And sometimes, I think, we need the sickness and/or discomfort to remind us of God’s grace … Paul spoke of a thorn (which some have said was a sickness of sorts) which God would not take away … to remind Paul that His grace was sufficient.

 

Francis McNutt said that the whole purpose of pain and suffering is good because it calls our attention to something which is wrong, either in us, or in the world. It calls us to centre our efforts on dealing with that thing.

And prayer for healing is one way in which we deal with that thing.

Other ways may be confession and repentance; or a new commitment to Christ; or the abandonment of some negative lifestyle … from smoking to cursing to simple bad attitude.

 

So when we pray for healing, we need to be aware of all these things …

What’s going on here?

Is it a sickness by infection from someone else?

Is it a sickness that results from sin? In self, or situation?

Is it a sickness caused by the evil one?

 

We need to know, in order to know how we should pray.

If my car is broken, I need to know where and how it is broken. If it has a flat battery, it doesn’t help to change the tire.

I think that often our prayers for healing are like washing a car because it won’t go. It doesn’t help the car at all.

And when we pray general comforting prayers, we are not addressing the situation.

Jesus was specific and He wants us to be specific.

 

And if you don’t know how to pray, then ask the Father and He will rest His Spirit on you to give you wisdom and knowledge. These are some of the gifts of the Spirit, which are essential for the declaration of, and life in, the Kingdom which Jesus announced.

 

We are go give opportunity for prayer in a moment.

First any questions?

 

  1. Do you think that personal sin can lead to sickness?
  2. Do you think that through healing, Jesus defeats Satan?
  3. Why do you think that sometimes people are not healed?
  4. Can anyone pray for healing?

How do we pray? Here’s an ABC guide:

Ask the person/God

Be specific in your prayer

Care for the whole person

 

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Jun 25 2012

Sermon: Are you ready?

Filed under SNAC Service

Romans 8:12-17

The title of this sermon is “Are you ready?”
I guess the immediate thought is that this will be about the Second Coming of Christ, but its not …

No, in our focus on Living Life Dangerously I want to ask the question: Are you ready to really walk with Jesus?
Are you ready to let your personal life reflect what God expects of you?

Jesus said that if we want to see the Kingdom of God; in the now, in the present, we must be born again. We’ve got to be different. 1 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

So the question is: Are you ready…
To live a righteous lifestyle
To have an Evangelical passion
To walk an authentic Christian Walk
To love your neighbour.
Perhaps the list could be longer, but lets just leave it at these four.

A. Righteous lifestyle!
The dictionary defines righteousness as, acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin.
Notice it does not say: Being Perfect, it says:
Acting in accord with divine or moral law. Acting would suggest that there is effort on our part needed. It is something we have to do.

Of course Jesus came and died to pay the price of our sin, our unrighteousness. When I say that we have to do something I do not in any way deny this.
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Philippians 3:8,9 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

But I do need to continue in this righteousness. I cannot simply keep on sinning claiming the righteousness of Christ as my excuse.
We must see sin as God does. We must put it aside for it is the one thing which keeps us from a healthy relationship with Him, and a completely fulfilled life.
I don’t need to define your sin for you; you already know. The Spirit reveals it. Are you ready to turn from sin?
B. Evangelical passion!
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

A Non-Evangelical Christian is an Oxymoron!

There is no more important task than Evangelism; sharing the Gospel, the Good News, of the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to do that?

Let’s look real briefly at the life of Jesus’ disciple Andrew in the bible-
John 1:40-42 “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”

1. One who heard! – “what John had said,” the gospel message

2. One who followed Jesus!

3. One who told about Jesus! – the “first thing” Andrew did…
Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

4. One who found his brother and brought him to Jesus –
We love to talk about telling others about Jesus, but we seem to forget the other part… we are to go find them first and bring them to Jesus!
Did you notice that the first person he told was his brother? You don’t have to go to Africa. Start by telling people that you know and love.

C. Authentic walk!
Ephesians 4:1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Now if you think that just going through the motions, going to church once in a while, or even attending each week, and then going back to your homes and living the way you want is O.K.- Let me quickly share with you the words of Jesus in the Book of Revelation-Chapters 2 and 3.

He tells the Apostle John to write a letter to each of the seven churches that surrounded the area of Patmos Island. Of the Seven Churches, only two of them were living authentic lives.
To the Church in Smyrna he said: I know your afflictions and your poverty–yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
To the Church in Philadelphia he said: I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars–I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
But notice what he said to these Christians who were not living authentic Christian lives!
To the Church in Ephesus he said: Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
To the Church in Pergamum he said: I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
To the Church in Thyatira he said: I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
To the Church in Sardis he said: I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
To the Church in Laodicea he said: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
What he is telling these five churches is this: You are not living authentic lives for me. You are living the life you want. You are not living lives worthy of the calling-

D. Loving our brother!
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
A new commandment I give unto you. This is not just an invitation to have an amiable and pleasant disposition. This is one of the fundamental laws of his kingdom.

It is a new commandment. To love your brother was the second great commandment of the law of Moses; but now it has a new slant – “as I have loved you.” We are to love as Jesus loved. He is our model
Our love to one another must be free and ready, laborious and expensive, constant and persevering; it must be love to the souls one of another. We must also love one another from this motive, and upon this consideration—because Christ has loved us.
Finally, the way we love one another is the badge of our discipleship. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples.” We must have love, not only show love, it must be the root of our cause and habit of our life.
Jesus is depending on it.

So … are you ready?
Are you ready to live
· A Righteous Lifestyle
· with Evangelical passion
· to have an Authentic walk
· and to Love one another.

It is dangerous and threatening; it might be a real challenge to your life right now; but it is also immensely liberating.
To live a life without sin; sharing good news with others, being true to your calling and living in peace with one another is a life of real freedom … this is the good news!

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May 27 2012

Sermon: The baptism of the Holy Spirit

Filed under SNAC Service

 

Acts 1:4,5,8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


A. Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit important

Jesus had given the apostles the Great Commission – to go into all the world.

With such a great task, one should expect that some kind of strengthening or encouragement would be given.

They had to wait in order to receive the Promise. Its not just a switch on – it needs preparation.

When we try to fulfil the Great Commission or do the work of God without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will fail because we are not equipped to do the job.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

Time spent seeking the Spirit is NOT time wasted. In fact, we waste time and effort by trying to fulfil the Great Commission without the Holy Spirit!

B. What is the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an empowerment to be.

We often think only of the manifestation of gifts, but the main reason for the baptism of the Hoy Spirit is to BE something.

We often use the term “witness” as a verb. “I’m going to witness to someone”. However, here “witness” is a noun – you will BE my witnesses. It’s not something you do, but something you ARE.

Also we are baptised with the Holy Spirit to develop the Fruit of the Spirit not just to demonstrate the Gifts of the Spirit.

C. How can we be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

1. We must wait.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father and it is dependent on God’s timetable.

Example: I was baptised with the Holy Spirit before I even knew there was such a thing but a friend of mine waited for many years.

However, it’s not just passive waiting; it includes prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit. My friend prayed every day and took every opportunity to come forward for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She never gave up.

The disciples obviously took this command to wait as an active command, because, as we read in Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

And there they were praying when the Holy Spirit came down.

2. We must pray and seek the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

Those who have already been baptized in the Holy Spirit should pray for us.

There is nothing in Scripture about coaching people on how to be filled. We simply pray for them to receive!

D. What is the sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

The initial physical sign in Scripture is speaking in tongues. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:4, Acts 19:6

1. This was proof enough to Peter to accept Gentile believers into the faith, which until then had been an exclusive Jewish sect.

“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.

2. There may or may not be other physical signs, like wind and fire.

3. The main sign is a change in life: a new dependence on God, evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc) and a witness in word and character which draws people to faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

People often put much emphasis on “speaking in tongues” but it is not the end, or even the purpose, of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

E. Speaking In Tongues

This is, and has been, a big issue in the church. Some say it was for times past, others that it was just other human languages and some see it as something more, deeper, in our relationship with God.

I see tongues as an integral part of my faith life; I have never thought that it was not a real and valid experience. By the same token, I know that there are many strong Christians who produce much spiritual fruit in their life but who do not speak in tongues. I have no problem with either and do not see one group as being more important than then other; though I expect that Jesus is likely to be more interested in whether we produced spiritual fruit in our lives than in whether we spoke in tongues. However, if we speak in tongues it should also go without saying that we produce spiritual fruit; this may be the reason for the waiting upon the Holy Spirit.

In considering whether we want to speak in tongues we do probably need to ask ourselves how intimate with Jesus we want to be.

Consider for a moment the wonderful possibility that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father in a way that is totally unlimited by our finite minds. A way that we can receive from Him in fresh, wonderful new ways. If this appeals to you, I encourage you to approach speaking in tongues with an open mind, and an open Bible.

I. So what is speaking in tongues?

First,let’s look at a few things that speaking in tongues is NOT:

1. Tongues are not a status symbol, indicating that one Christian is more spiritual than another. The Corinthian church was a hotbed of tongues speaking, yet the Apostle Paul still chastised them for being carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3.)

2. Tongues are not a shortcut to instant spiritual maturity.

3. Tongues are not a hypnotic, zombie like state in which the person has no control of his faculties.

Speaking in tongues is, to put it simply, Holy Spirit inspired speech in a language unknown to the speaker. It can be spoken in a Christian’s private prayer life, or in a public worship service with interpretation.

People do tend to have a natural hunger for the supernatural. Unfortunately, many turn to the false, satanic supernatural found in psychics, the New Age,and other cultic activity rather than seeking the true supernatural power of God. This is tragic. God is a supernatural God! He can fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts with His love and power. Tongues are one of the avenues that He works through in order to do this.

II. Are tongues still valid today?

Yes, there are more Christians on earth today who speak in tongues than there have been at any other time in history! Although they have always been around in varying degrees throughout church history, there has been a strong revival of tongues in this century.

It is true that the Bible refers to a time when tongues shall cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). However, this same passage also tells us when this will happen: When perfection comes, we see face to face, and we know, even as we are known (verses 10-12.)

We don’t always know how to pray properly. This is why God has made available to us this heavenly prayer language, that takes us beyond our limitations and helps us pray with the Spirit making intercession with us through groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26.)

We need the Holy Spirit to help us this way just as much, if not more,than the first century church did.

III.How does speaking in tongues operate?

In order to answer this question properly, we must recognise that the Bible describes three different manifestations of speaking in tongues:

  1. Evidential tongues-The initial physical evidence when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1- 4;10:44-46;19:2-7.)
  2. Intercessory tongues-the ability to pray in other tongues, or “In the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:14- 16; Ephesians 6:18;Jude 20) in order to pray beyond our limited human understanding, speak mysteries to God ( 1 Corinthians 14:2) and edify (build up) ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4).
  3. The ministry gift of tongues, described in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14, involves giving a message in tongues in a public worship service, which is to be interpreted (12:10).This is a powerful sign to unbelievers ( 14:22).This gift is only given in certain situations, as the Spirit wills. Therefore, not all Christians are used in this gift (12:30.)

IV. Are tongues really all that important?

In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul gives us a basic primer on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Since tongues and interpretation are the last gifts which Paul mentions, some have taken this to mean that tongues are the least important of the gifts, and that we shouldn’t really be concerned with them. However, I would respectfully reply that this argument is based on a very presumptuous and inconsistent approach to Biblical interpretation.

Chronological order of how something is listed is not necessarily an indication of importance. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 , Paul tells us that faith, hope, and love remain, yet the greatest of these is love, despite of the fact that it is listed last. Likewise, in a list of sinful activities recorded in Galatians 5:19-21, murder is named near the end of the list. Does that mean that murder is a less serious sin than the others? Of course not.

Paul definitely did not view tongues as being unimportant. In fact, he devotes an entire chapter in the Bible to teaching on the subject (1 Corinthians 14). In this chapter, he tells the Corinthian believers that he desires that they all speak in tongues (verse 5), and thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than all of them! (verse 18) Three times in Scripture we are exhorted to covet (Pursue with passion) the gifts of the Holy Spirit-including tongues (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1, 39, the same Greek word is used in all of these Scriptures.) Note that this is worded as a commandment, not an option.

V. Why are we afraid, or nervous of this gift?

Tongues are a wonderful tool God has given His people to enjoy His presence more fully and intimately, and to make us more effective in our service for Him.

Being a supernatural phenomenon, speaking in tongues is approached somewhat hesitantly by many Christians. However, this is nothing new. In the Bible, when God’s presence showed up in a tangible manner, it was not unusual for onlookers to respond with fear. We see this in events like the angelic vision the shepherds had when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8-12,) when the disciples saw Jesus walk on water (Mark 6:45-50,) and when John had his vision of the risen Jesus (Revelation 1:4-17.) Notice that each time,the first reaction of the people who witnessed these supernatural occurrences was to be afraid. However, in each of these cases, these people were assured to “Fear not,” or “Be not afraid.”

In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus makes the solemn promise that if you ask God for bread, He isn’t going to give you a stone. According to verse 13,the context of this verse is asking the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is something to be cherished, not feared.

F. What happens after the baptism with the Holy Spirit?

Remember that a baptism is an initiation.

Your water baptism is not the fullness of your Christian walk. It merely marks the beginning of your Christian walk.

You still must take advantage of that initiation every day, by continuing in the Christian life.

Likewise, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the end-all to your experience of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it marks the beginning of your living in the fullness of the Spirit.

 

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