Category Archives: Prayer

Tongues and the Church Today


A Guest Post by: David Fuller (Non-Cessationist)

 

The gift of tongues in Acts is always associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father, baptism with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and references to the Holy Ghost being poured out or falling upon believers are terms used interchangeably in Scripture with one exception which R. A. Torrey notes: Baptized with the Holy Spirit, is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first and suggests an initial or initiatory experience.(65) He suggests we therefore use this term only to describe the initial filling of the believer with the Holy Spirit.

This point is generally agreed upon even by those who reject tongues, since the New Testament clearly and repeatedly admonishes believers to be filled with the Spirit. The points of contention are whether the initial filling necessarily happens to every Christian at the moment of regeneration, and whether or not tongues should still be expected as a necessary sign of it. This debate necessarily narrows down to the purpose of speaking in tongues. Given Luke’s relatively cursory mention of this gift, one could ask what his purpose is in mentioning it at all?

Luke’s purpose in writing, as stated by himself in Luke 1:1-4, was to set down an orderly account of those prophesies concerning the Messiah and His church which had been fulfilled before their very eyes, in order to strengthen the faith of Theophilus. In Acts, he shows how the church fulfilled not only O.T. prophecy, but Christ’s commission as well. Since Jesus Himself, in referring to the enduement with power as the promise of the Father, as well as Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Cor. 14:21, each indicate that the gift of tongues is a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy concerning the church and the last days, Luke includes it in his account; documenting its part in the fulfillment of Christs commission as well. Thus, the fulfillment of prophecy and of Christs commission are the only two purposes for tongues with which Luke is concerned, since this is the focus of his writing. An extensive treatment of the purpose of tongues in collective worship or the spiritual life of the average believer of that day would be a departure from his point.

Also, since he is writing for Theophilus, not for us, he naturally would have excluded extensive information about subjects with which Theophilus would undoubtedly have been all-to-familiar, such as the structure and events of a typical early-church worship service.

We know from Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. that apparently quite a number of the believers in Corinth spoke with tongues, as did Paul himself. That the Ephesian believers spoke with tongues is indicated by his admonition that they should pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 cf. 1 Cor. 14:15). The fact that Luke mentions only three major instances of tongues, and relates them to the spread of the gospel to the major people groups, while neglecting their mention in ch.8 and the many other salvation accounts, does not mean they did not occur in these instances. Luke may have just been avoiding redundancy (especially in light of that days paper costs) and sticking to his purpose, which was to chronicle the fulfillment of prophecy and Christs commission.

Luke also chooses not to teach us of the Eucharist in Acts, so we base our understanding of it on Christs command and Paul’s teaching on the meaning of and procedure for observing it, given to the Corinthians because of their abuse of this ritual. Likewise, we must look elsewhere for detailed treatment of the gift of tongues; and we find it from the same sources. In Mark 16:17, Jesus states that tongues are a sign that will be manifested in those who believe. Luke leaves us wishing for the testimony of one who was there as to what part, if any, tongues played in the individuals spiritual life and collective worship at that time. Paul gives us exactly this, and again his most detailed treatment is directed toward those who were abusing it. Thank God for the Corinthians! Is it not comforting to see how God can use even our shortcomings to the benefit of His church?

What does Paul tell the Corinthians (and us) about the correct purpose and use of the gift of tongues? Citing Isaiah 28:11, he says that tongues function as a sign. Just as the strange tongue of the Assyrians was to be a sign to Ephraim of Gods judgment, so the gift of tongues in the N.T. served as a sign to the Jews of Gods involvement in those events as well. There is, however, a further purpose for tongues. Paul says the gift, when properly used, is intended to edify the individual and, when interpreted, the church body.

But how is this accomplished? What is the point, after all, of speaking a language even you yourself cannot understand? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 14:2, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. In verse 14, he states, For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth (emphasis mine) and continues in verse 15 with, I will pray with the spirit and, I will sing with the spirit. In verses 16 and 17 Paul indicates that tongues are used to bless and give thanks to God. Instead of being in the form of a message directed toward the church, which is always the case with prophecy, it is intended to be a form of worship and prayer. This worship and prayer interpreted generates participation on the part of other members of the body, and thus it becomes a means of edification equal to prophecy, In prophecy the edification springs from the Spirit-quickened Word, while in tongues and interpretation the edification springs from Spirit-quickened worship and prayer.(Brandt, 55).

The speakers in tongues in Acts 2:11 were proclaiming the wonderful works of God. In the house of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.(Acts 10:46). In Acts 19:6, who were the speakers in tongues addressing? Paul, who witnessed the event, tells us that he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God. Furthermore, he encourages the Ephesians to pray in the Spirit(6:18), and Jude likewise tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

According , then, to both the record of Luke and Paul’s teaching, the gift of tongues serves two primary functions. It is a sign to the unbeliever of Divine presence and activity, and a means of building up the believer and the church through Spirit-inspired prayer and worship.

Although some contend that the gift of tongues was meant only for the early church, Scripture nowhere states that this is so. In fact, there are two quite strong statements to the contrary: Paul’s command in 1 Cor. 14:39 to forbid not to speak in tongues, and Peters statement in Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (emphasis mine). Taken together with Christs statement in Mark 16:17, as well as the various admonitions to pray in the spirit throughout the N.T. , I see no scriptural reason for believing the gift tongues is not meant for believers throughout this church age.

Works Cited

Brandt, R.L. Tongues, the Greatest Gift?; Bridge Publishing, c.1981

Torrey, R.A. Baptism With The Holy Spirit; Revell, c.1897

Link to R. A. Torrey

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Parsonage Update for July 21st

Greetings, everyone!

Below is a video I put together on Friday, July 21, at the parsonage where we will soon be moving – I hope.

As many of you already know, we are in a time of transition. The house we are in is being sold, and the house to which we are moving is being made livable (I could say “restored,” but that would be stretching it just a little).

A lot of work has been done, but a lot more needs to be done. The scary part is that I have no idea how it’s going to happen. As of right now there are not enough funds to do certain necessary repairs, the most expensive being roofing, windows, and something other than one wall-mounted window-unit air conditioner.

Yet, God is bigger than any of our problems. If He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He can raise up kingdoms; if He can speak to the storms and make the wind be still; if He can have a man catch a fish to pay his taxes; if He can part the sea one day, then walk on it another; if He can create time; if He can speak the world into existence; if He can save this old sinner and make me righteous in His sight; then He should be able to bring together what we need for some old block house in Soddy Daisy!

Can I get an “amen”?

Anyway, I’d appreciate your prayers for my family, our ministry, and this parsonage project.

(By the way, my special thanks goes out to all of you who’ve submitted guest posts to keep this blog active.)

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The Parsonage Project

What I’m Doing

I would really appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom and a steady mind. Pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, for stormy waves are trying to distract my focus. Pray for me, if for nothing else, that I will myself remain in constant prayer.

This week the house that we are living in will be listed on the market to be sold, and we are not as ready as we would like to be. On top of that, the house in which we are planning to move is the parsonage of the church where I now pastor – but it is FAR from being ready.

Right now I am having to work a job and pastor a church; record a weekly radio broadcast; record lectures at the seminary; move a lot of stuff into storage; see that a house is ready to be seen by buyers; and oversee the restoration of an old house – a restoration which costs more money than we have and will have to incorporate the expertise of many people. That doesn’t count being a parent and a husband. Can you see why I wanted people to send me guest posts?

That’s why prayer is so important. In James 4:2 we read that we have not because we ask not, so I’m asking – pray for us.

The Parsonage

It is a well-known fact among pastors and their families that parsonages are a mixed blessing. For one thing, when you live in a parsonage (a house owned by a church, but meant to house the pastor), you live in a house that is not your own. Secondly, living in a parsonage usually means that you are not building up any equity or means to move into a normal home. So, what happens is that when the pastor ends up leaving the church where he pastors, if nothing else is done, he and is family are effectively homeless.

But, there are times when a parsonage can be a blessing, like for us, because without it we would have no place to live at this point. Also, the parsonage, if used properly, can be a tool for evangelism and discipleship. The parsonage can also show that the pastor and his family are personally invested in the health of the congregation he shepherds. Therefore, if the church does have a parsonage, it should be well-maintained in order to make full use of its potential.

Unfortunately, the parsonage at the church where I now pastor has fallen into serious disrepair. I am working with different groups and individuals in order to restore the old house, but that will take time, manpower, and a lot of something we (the congregation) don’t have…money. One group of men estimated that it would take $10,000 to make the parsonage livable. On the other hand, I was told by someone else that the costs would be closer to $30,000. And right now this little upstart of a little church only runs around 15 in a decent Sunday!

The Video

Below is a video I made last Sunday. In it I take you through the parsonage and let you see for yourself what needs to be done. Look, Nehemiah rebuilt a wall which his enemies swore would fall down if only a fox pushed against it. Noah built a huge ark with the help of fewer men than volunteers I will have. What needs to be done will get done, but this ship won’t sail without a strong wind of prayer.

If all things were easy and well within our own power, we wouldn’t need God’s help. But, when things seem impossible, we call upon the Lord to do for us what we cannot do (Psalm 57:2), thereby allowing Him to get the glory and praise.

The more impossible the project – even a parsonage project – the more praise, glory, and honor is due our Savior and King.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Church, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships and Family

An Update On Jack (and answered prayer)

On Tuesday, June 6, our little dog, Jack, was attacked in our front yard by a roaming pit bull mix (I despise that dog). On June 7, the day after, I published a post entitled “Praying for an Animal” and addressed the biblical reasons for doing so.

Here are some photos of how bad he was messed up.

Jack had approximately 15 puncture wounds, a couple of which went into the muscle – these were the most troubling.

There was so much damage that drain tubes had to be inserted all over his little body so that fluid could drain. He had multiple staples holding his wounds together.

Most concerning was his back, because it was there that the skin was literally pulled away from the muscle beneath. Between that and the punctured muscle, the vet warned us this might not end well.

However, despite how crazy it might have seemed, the evening of the 7th we prayed for Jack, even anointing his little furry head with oil. Want to know what happened next?

The first thing Thursday morning the 8th Jack was sitting up and wanting to play with his favorite toy, a chewed-up cheetah!

Now, just a week and four days later…today…in our back yard…I filmed a camera-shy little Jack. You judge for yourself whether or not God answered our prayers.

Thank you, everybody, for your kind thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes. I believe Jack is going to be fine ūüôā

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Filed under animals, Prayer

Praying for an Animal

I know I’ve got guest posts being posted, but I had to share something with you, something that I did tonight.

You see, my daughter’s little dog, Jack, was attacked in our yard by another dog that has been walking unattended through the neighborhood. Jack is a small dog, only about 12 pounds, and the dog that attacked him was a larger pit-bull mix. Ugly, too.

According to the vet to which my wife and daughter took Jack today, he had around 15 puncture wounds, torn skin, and possibly some muscle damage. Jack has been in a lot of pain, very weak, and very pitiful.

It’s been difficult for us, too.

So, this afternoon, before I came home from work, I told my wife that we would be praying for Jack this evening. She agreed. She also agreed with me that there was nothing unbiblical about doing so, either.

Have you ever prayed over a wounded pet? Have you ever anointed one with oil and prayed for one while being on Facebook Live? Well, that’s what I did tonight.

What do you think about praying for this little dog? Do you think it was silly thing to do? Do you think it was sacrilegious? If so, let give you some things to think about.

First, there is nothing too big or too small, nothing too important or insignificant, to keep us from praying to our Heavenly Father. Are you a parent? Tell me, when your little children drew a picture that made no sense, did it still thrill you when they brought it to you as a gift, all proud? Did you think it was beautiful, even though others may have thought is was scribble?

God is our Abba, our Father, so don’t you think it pleases Him when we bring ANYTHING to him in prayer? Of course it does! That shows Him we care about something and we want Him to care, too! It shows Him that we have faith in Him to take care of something, something we have no control over. It shows that we believe in Him enough to take our petitions to Him, not someone else.

Do you think a hurt little dog is insignificant? Guess what, how big do you think your biggest prayer request is in the light of Omnipotent God? EVERY need we have is small to Him!

Secondly, what do you think about praying for a dog? Do you think it is crazy to ask God to heal a dog? Do you think that matters nothing to Him? Well, what about how He takes note of every sparrow that falls (Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6)? What about the time He chastised Jonah for not even caring about the cattle that could have been killed (Jonah 4:11)? What about how one of the characteristics of a righteous man is how he cares for his animals (Proverbs 12:10)? Need I go on?

When the Lord created all living things, what did He say? He said, “It is good.” God cares for His creation, and that is why He expects us to take care of it and tend it. If God made our little dog, then He cares for our little dog.

Third, there’s this thing called faith. Are you aware that whenever we put our faith in the Lord for anything, that brings Him glory? Our trust in Him to do something we can’t shows our dependency on Him (Psalm 57:2).

Fourth, God cares about us. That’s the biggie. God, our Father in Heaven, is so much better of a father than we could ever be (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13). When our children hurt, that hurts us. Likewise, when we hurt, it must pain our Father. Does he not collect our tears (Psalm 56:8).

So, I prayed for our little dog. I even anointed him with oil when I prayed – as a symbol of faith (believe me, I understand the context of the passages, so you don’t have to offer any exegesis). I prayed, and I believe, that my Father, little Jack’s Creator, will heal him and raise him back up.

So, for my daughter’s sake, and for the glory of the Lord, will you say a pray for Jack, our little dog? He is in pain, has multiple wounds, some of which are down into the muscle. A large portion of his back had the skin pulled away from the muscle. He even has multiple tube protruding from his body in order to help his wounds to drain. He also has multiple staples all over his body.

Thank you for caring.

Poor little guy even has to endure a “cone of shame.”

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Filed under animals, Prayer

Would You Pray With Me? 

Dear Lord, you know who I’m praying for at this moment. You know who she is, her name, everything she’s going through, and even her real hair color. Father, you even know every hair out of her head, as you said in your Word. Now, God, I’m coming to you, along with all those who will pray with me, and interceding on her behalf.

Lord, she says she doesn’t believe in you, But so often that’s nothing about a denial of the truth. She knows you’re there, she just doesn’t want you to be there. God, soften her heart, break her heart, do whatever you need to do to open her eyes to the truth. You were there, and you were waiting, draw her to Yourself.

Lord, I know of many people who have been hurt by those who call themselves Christians. I know this young girl has been hurt, too. But I also know that there have been many who you have broken through the hardness of the walls they have built around their hearts. Break down the walls around this young woman’s heart. 

Jesus, I know you are glorified whenever anyone gives his or her heart to you. Lord, I pray that you would be glorified when this young woman turns from her sin, repents, and gives her heart and life to you.

Continue, or God, to break our hearts for the lost!

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray this, amen.

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Filed under Faith, grace, Love of God, Prayer

“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more Рmaybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay. ¬†The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been. ¬†You see, on day two, it just happened to be¬†the coldest day of winter that we had that year. ¬†I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets. ¬†I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot! ¬†I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time. ¬†After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away. ¬†I was released just after lunch on day three. ¬†I was still just burning up! ¬†I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather. ¬†Anthony? ¬†He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on. ¬†Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there? ¬†I said I did not desire this hysterectomy! ¬†I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel. ¬†I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen. ¬†In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems. ¬†So that year he convinced me. ¬†I left and went to Target to get my estrogen¬†prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better. ¬†We hardly ever get to do this.” ¬†I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better. ¬†The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad. ¬†I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause. ¬†I was so really achy. ¬†Could this be the flu? ¬†I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24. ¬†I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed. ¬†I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand. ¬†Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did. ¬†He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!” ¬†It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks. ¬†I had all but two of the symptoms. ¬†Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER. ¬†My initial EKG¬†was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about. ¬†Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good. ¬†I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me. ¬†I was admitted for further testing. ¬†I finally got the floor doctor to hear me. ¬†He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen. ¬†I did it myself. ¬†That was early morning. ¬†As the day progressed, my test ¬†results were getting better and better. ¬†I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions. ¬†My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath. ¬†Well, the doctor agreed. ¬†So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure. ¬†I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017).¬†My yearly exam with the gynecologist. ¬†Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence. ¬†Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him. ¬†This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised ¬†– at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure! ¬†I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression. ¬†I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!” ¬†He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised. ¬†I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship