The Message and the Meaning

He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (Mk 4:34)

I was recently asked an intriguing question:

What would be the sense in interpreting your own tongue? Why not just 'cut to the chase', and interpret it right-off?

The question goes deeper than just the issue of someone interpreting their own message in tongues. Since it is the same Spirit that inspires both the tongue and the interpretation, the same question holds whenever tongues and interpretations comes. Nor can you dodge the question if you are one of those who holds that tongues have ceased - because they had to be in operation first in order for them to cease. So why did and does the Spirit of God choose to use tongues and interpretations to communicate with his people? Why doesn't he 'cut to the chase' and just give a prophetic message in the first instance. Since Paul makes it clear that prophesy is to be desired above all the other spiritual gifts, why bother with tongues at all?

Here I take a detour into the gospels. Because it is interesting that the disciples asked Jesus a very similar question:

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mt 13:10)

Jesus never spoke in tongues, but it is clear that he had a similarly curious method of communication: he would speak in parables that would be incomprehensible to most, and then later he would give the interpretation. [It is also interesting in the Greek that speaking in tongues (glossais lalo) and speaking in parables (parabolais lalo) are similar constructs.]

Why, as the disciples themselves wondered, did Jesus not just cut to the chase and give the plain meaning in the first instance.

In fact, if we look back through the scriptures we see that this was often God's chosen means of communication:

God did not tell Pharaoh that there would be a famine, but gave him two dreams that Joseph had to interpret.

Even after Gideon had heard the voice of God, and had various miraculous confirmations to the tests he put out, he was finally convinced that God would give him victory through a dream and its interpretation:

As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, "Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand." (Jdg 7:15)

The prophet Daniel was renowned for one who was able to give interpretations from God. Twice he had to give both the message and the interpretation. The first when God spoke through Nebuchadnezzar's impenetrable dream; the second when God chose to communicate through indecipherable writing on the wall.

I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. (Da 5:17)

So we see, it's not a new question at all. Indeed looking at the big picture of God's eternal plan of redemption we might ask the question, "Why didn't God cut straight to the chase and send Christ, the lamb slain from before the creation of the world, when Adam fell? Why the millennia of type and shadow before the reality was revealed?"

Whatever the reasons may be, you cannot escape the fact that God chooses to communicate in this way! One reason may be that it is because he knows that we have to appreciate the problem before we will appreciate the solution; we have to appreciate the difficulty before we will appreciate the deliverance. It could also be that, like with the parables, God chooses not to reveal his most intimate thoughts and feelings to the casual observer, but only to those who make a diligent inquiry into them; those who hunger and thirst for his righteousness; those who seek him.

As Keri Jones says: God does not hide things from his children; he hides them for his children.

One thing is clear. There is something compelling about a mystery revealed. For whatever the reason, it speaks to us far more than if we just had the end message itself. It carries with it the M.O. of God himself!

Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation. (Da 2:9)

"Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Ge 40:8)


The Same Spirit

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1Co 12:11)

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Ro 8:11)

Paul makes it clear in his discourse on the gifts of the Spirit that they are all the activity of one and the same Spirit. At first it seems like an obvious and redundant comment, after all, how many Holy Spirits are there? Of course it must be one and the same Spirit because there is only one.

However, when you start to unpack the idea - it is the same Spirit - you can see why Paul wanted to emphasise it so strongly.

The Spirit who in victorious power raised Christ from the dead. If you have received Jesus as Lord, then it's the same Spirit who dwells in you!

The Spirit who hovered over the unformed earth on the first day of creation. It's the same Spirit who is in you!

The Spirit who stirred the hearts of the prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah; the Spirit who gave Samson his strength; the Spirit who gave Gideon victory when vastly outnumbered. It's the same Spirit who is active in you!

The Spirit who descended on Christ in bodily form as a dove and empowered his ministry. It's the same Spirit who empowers you!

The Spirit who with a mighty rushing wind filled the house and with tongues of fire touched the disciples at Pentecost, filling them with power to be witnesses to the risen Christ. It's the same Spirit that fills you today!

The Spirit who was at work in the book of Acts and the book of Corinthians - guess what? - Yes, it's the same Spirit!

We don't have a different, or inferior Spirit; we are not filled with Spirit-Lite! We have the Spirit of Christ. The third person of the eternal, unchanging, almighty God-head lives within us! We are participants of the divine nature! He who is in us is greater - oh, how much greater! - than anything in this world.

Who can be against us, when God himself is not just with us, but in us! How can we fear the activities of Satan, when God himself empowers us? It is Satan and all his demons who tremble before the believer who truly understands what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

How can we be content with anything less than what we read in the pages of the New Testament, and believe that this can be a true manifestation of the same Spirit that turned the world upside down?

Let God be God. And let God be God in you! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.


Teacher Training

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2)

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, instructs him not only to teach in line with the revelation he has received, but to commission men as teachers to do the same. He was not just to pass on the revelation, but also the responsibility to present the revelation.

He was not instructed to identify and recognise those who were gifts of the ascended Christ - the Ephesians 4 ministries of Teacher (or Pastor-Teacher). Nor even to find those who already had an emerging teaching gift or ministry amongst the body. There is also no implication that Paul was referring to the Elders that Timothy had already been instructed to appoint - men who as part of their qualification had to be able to teach. He was just told to find faithful men.

You see just as there are men who are Evangelists but we are all to do the work of an evangelist, and there are men who are Prophets but all can prophesy, so too the ministry of teaching (imparting the revelation of Christ) is not limited to those with a recognised ministry or office of teaching.

The writer to the Hebrews says that we should all be teachers (in this sense), not merely those who continually need to be taught.

Jesus himself, expected that anyone who received instruction in the Kingdom would be able to impart it to others:

Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. (Mt 13:52)

In fact the main responsibility of the recognised teaching ministries, as with all the other Ephesian 4 ministries, is to equip the body of Christ to do the work - not to do it all themselves!

The temptation for some teachers is to try to keep control of "their" revelation, to preserve their ministry. But Paul is very strong against this:

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1Co 3:7)

We can't really claim that any of "our" revelation is actually ours. For how did we receive it? Was it not from the revelation of others, or the free gift of the Spirit of God? If we received the revelation we teach freely from others how can we try to restrict those who teach what they have received from us? Paul was very clear in his own teaching ministry that his preaching, teaching and revelation, was not something he was the possessor of, but something entrusted to him from God to pass on:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1Co 4:1)

...and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; (Tit 1:3)

What if some of the men who run with "our" revelation overtake us in ministry or recognition? Praise God! If a man sows with my seed, am I not entitled to a portion of the return? I pray he sows far and wide and reaps a hundred-fold! After all who does all the seed ultimately belong to if not the Lord of the harvest. He did not give us good seed to stow away in barns, but to sow and sow and sow. Sow it as far as you can, and give it to others that they might sow with it too. Give others your seed and bless them that they might sow it further, in greater measure and with a better return than you ever did.

We are not involved with the activity of raising towers to make a name for ourselves, but in raising up teachers who may be fruitful and multiply and take the instruction of Christ and his Kingdom to the ends of the earth.


Would you recognise him?

They did not recognise him nor understand the utterances of the prophets. (Ac 13:27)

It is striking to note how many times Jesus was not recognised. First John tells us that though he made the world, the world did not know him; he came to his own people but they did not receive him.

Even during his earthly ministry when he performed outstanding miracles, there were those who dismissed him as a fraud or as demon-possessed. It's incredible to think that God-in-the-flesh walked amongst them and they didn't realise it!

But here's what makes it even more astonishing, this lack of recognition wasn't limited just to the Pharisees, Scribes and other cynics - it extended to his own believers as well. His own disciples who had shared their lives with him for three years also failed to recognise him on occasion: The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not realise that they walked with the risen Lord. Mary at the tomb, when all she wanted to do was to see Jesus, still thought he was the gardener. And even Peter himself when he was fishing with the other disciples did not recognise the Lord when he called out to him from the shore.

It's astonishing and sobering to realise that God himself can speak and act among even his own people, and they do not recognise him. As Jacob declared:

"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!" (Ge 28:16)

One of the accusations that is levelled by some against prophecy today is that it does not come with the same level of authority or recognition as that in Biblical times. Anyone who thinks this should take a closer look at the texts. All through the history of God's people there has been the same problem - an elevation of all God has said in the past, yet an inability to recognise and accept what God was saying now. Even prophets like Samuel had to learn to recognise the voice of the Lord.

Modern church history also contains sobering accounts of those who devoted their lives to praying for revival, yet failed to recognise it when it came.

When God comes it is rarely in the way we expected. When he speaks it is often through a means we might despise. When he walks amongst us there is no guarantee, no matter how long we have been walking with him, that we will be looking in the right direction.

The real question for God's people in this day is not "Do you believe God still speaks?" but "When he speaks, will you recognise him?"


Lost emails

It has come to my attention that any emails sent to my lineone.net address have not been getting through. They are not coming through late, or labelled as spam, they are just not getting through at all - lost into the ether somewhere. This has been the situation for at least a week maybe more.

Apologies to anyone who has tried to contact me on this address. Please use my gmail address (see blog footer) from now on.


Living in the Green Light

"Live as people of the green light. Don't wait for God to tell you to go. Keep on going until he tells you to stop." ~ Keri Jones