Signs and Wonders,
The Miracle of Home Fellowship
copyright Will Ghormley 1998

1 Rain of the Spirit
2 Equipping Believers for the Work; Ministry Gifts
3 Equipping Believers for the Work; Spiritual Gifts
4 The Work of the Ministry
5 The Shape of Things to Come
6 The Miracle of Home Fellowship
7 Power to the People
8 A Work of Grace to the Glory of God

God inspired the writing of this booklet.  He led me into areas where my understanding was inadequate, so I took the topics to the small fellowship that meets in my home.  God supplied everything I needed to write this book through the insight of Brothers and Sisters whose hearts are turned towards God.

This booklet is a perfect example of the Body of Christ coming together and functioning as a living, growing organism – working together in love, for the upbuilding and edification of all.  

My wife asked me what I wanted to accomplish by writing all this down.  After thinking about it, I was able to answer, “To inspire Believers to start home fellowships or join local home fellowships; to encourage others to step out and begin functioning as the Body of Christ; to let people know it’s OK to want to “do” something for God; and by stepping out and doing something they would begin down the road to a healthier and more meaningful Christian life.”

I would like to pray this prayer for you and me and the Body of Christ.

Mighty God of all creation, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our glorious Father; give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know You better.  Open the eyes of our hearts to enlightenment, so we can know the hope to which You have called us, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in us, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of Your mighty strength, which You exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And You God, placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is Christ’s body, the full expression of Christ, who fills everything in every way.  Amen

Taken from Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, Ephesians 2:17-23

The Rain of the Spirit
The Spirit of God is at work in the Body of Christ today.  He is stirring the hearts of those who are seeking Him.  It seems as if the Lord is doing a new thing, but in fact, He is not.  It is a very old thing.  It has been spoken of by the prophets of old and is coming to pass in our lives.  It seems like a new move of the Spirit to our way of thinking, but it began about two thousand years ago when the Church was born.

In the final days before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke with His disciples of a time when He would go again to be with his Father.  He told them that He wouldn’t leave them alone.

John 14:15-20  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  NIV

Jesus tried to explain to His disciples the Counselor the Father would be sending was now living with them within Himself.   But after Jesus departed physically, the Spirit of Truth, that was currently with them in Jesus, would be in them.  He told them that He would live after His resurrection, and because He was alive, they would become alive, and on that day, He would be in them, in the Spirit of Truth.  He spoke all of this concerning how the Holy Spirit would come and make His home within them and make them alive to God, new spiritual creations through Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness.

John 14:25-27  “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  NIV

After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to complete His sacrifice, He miraculously appeared to the disciples gathered behind locked doors.

John 20:19-22  On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  NIV  In the Wuest translation His command is more accurately translated with the urgency, “Receive at once the Holy Spirit.”  Wuest

Remember Jesus had told His disciples, “Because I live, you also will live.”  He told them that, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” On the day he appeared to the disciples, He repeated His salutation of peace.  The disciples didn’t believe their eyes.  It wasn’t until Jesus showed them His hands and His side that the disciples believed it was really Him and not some vision or ghost.  When the joy of recognition of their risen Lord overtook them, it was clear they now believed.  Jesus repeated His salutation of peace, and breathing on them, told them to “Receive at once the Holy Spirit.”  Wuest

Jesus had suffered separation from God on the cross as the consequence of our sin, died and descended into the lower regions, triumphing over death and Hades, been raised from the dead as a vindication of His righteousness, had been to the Father in Heaven and completed the offering for mankind, and could now offer the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, to those who believed.  After the gathered disciples had seen His scars they believed.  After they believed, Jesus offered them the Spirit of Life and breathed into them the Holy Spirit.  It had begun!  God and man were reconciled through the redemptive work of the cross.  The Spirit of God could once again co-exist in humankind; God could make His home within Believers who were cleansed from sin by the redemption of the Lamb.  Before Jesus ascends into Heaven to await the time of his return, He tells His Believers to wait until the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they are baptized in the Holy Spirit.  To be baptized means “to be immersed in and fully saturated”.  For this extra measure of the Holy Spirit to come upon them, the Believers had to yield themselves to God and wait upon His will, His timing – His power.  

In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus admonishes His disciples, “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.”  NIV  

The Believers had received the Holy Spirit directly from Jesus and now God, through His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, lived in them.  They had become the temple of the Living God.  They were new creations, created by their repentant hearts, their belief in Jesus as the Son of God and their confession of Jesus’ Lordship in their lives.  They had made the decision to allow the Spirit of the Living God to come into their lives and transform them.  It was a choice the Believers had control over.  But God, in His sovereign will, wanted to empower His people in a way that was outside of the individual Believer’s control.  Even Jesus hadn’t acted independently of God’s direction during His ministry on earth..

John 5:19  Jesus gave them this answer:  “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”  NIV

Believers can’t operate in the Spirit of God independent of God’s will.  Believers can do whatever they want, but God’s power is only manifested according to His will.  Believers only transfer God’s power through yielding themselves to God and the working of the Holy Spirit.  God’s plan for His Church requires His guidance and control – and for that, His Holy Spirit would come upon Believers in an act of God’s grace that is in addition to the indwelling of His Holy Spirit at the new birth. That “power”, (Acts 1:8), would descend on the day of Pentecost.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples waited to be immersed in the Holy Spirit.  For ten days they were on their own, waiting for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  The Believers did a number of things in those intervening days, but one thing was constant about their behavior.  In Acts 1:14 it says, They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.  NIV  They prayed.  With the promise from Jesus they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit in a few days, they prayed.  They submitted themselves to seek God, wait upon Him, and fulfilled His will.  They prepared themselves to receive from God.  

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all joined together with one purpose, to seek God.  God fulfilled His promise and the Holy Spirit descended upon them in a supernatural way.  What appeared to be flames of fire rested upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  It was the Spirit of God that “enabled” the Believers to speak with other tongues.  Jews and Jewish proselytes from all over the known world, who were gathered together in Jerusalem for Pentecost, heard the Believers speaking in their own native languages, extolling the mighty works of God.  They were amazed.  But the inhabitants of Jerusalem, many who heard only babbling from these followers of Jesus, mocked them and said they were drunk.  

 Acts 2:14-21  Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:  “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  These men are not drunk, as you suppose.  It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  NIV

Peter, moved by the Spirit, began to explain the events which were unfolding by quoting the prophet Joel.  At the end of his discourse, three thousand listeners believed and were added to the Body of Christ.  But on that day, not everything quoted by Peter came to pass immediately.  The sun wasn’t darkened, the moon didn’t turn to blood, there was no blood and fire and billowing smoke.  But God’s Spirit was poured out and since that day, everyone who has called upon the name of the Lord has been saved.

On the day of Pentecost, God’s Spirit rained down upon the Believers empowering them.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus had told them what would happen.  “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.”  NIV  This showering of God’s Holy Spirit upon Believers was only the beginning.  In the book of Joel, Peter had quoted from on the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God, through Joel, outlined the things to come.  Not only did the Spirit speak of signs and wonders, blood and fire and smoke, the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood and the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord, but the Spirit outlined other coming events.

 Joel 2:23-24  Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness.  He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.  The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.  NIV

The prophet Joel spoke of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on the earth.  It began on the day of Pentecost.  The small group of about 120 Believers grew to over three thousand the day the Spirit of God was poured out upon His people.  This was the autumn rain spoken about by Joel.  To fully understand what God was saying requires the insight of a farmer and knowledge of the growing season of Israel.  

In Israel, winter wheat is an important crop.  It is planted in the autumn.  Autumn rains germinate the wheat and it springs up out of the earth.  It grows through the winter, where it is stressed by the cooler temperatures and drought conditions.  The funny thing about grain and feed crops is, they require a certain amount of stress while growing to reach their full nutritional value.  Drought and cold stress cause wheat to store up protein in the grain.  This stored protein makes the wheat more nutritious as a food source.  But if the drought and cold stress continue, the plants die.  The spring rains of Israel rescue and revive the stressed crops.  The moisture from the spring rains brings the crops to maturity, ready for harvesting.  Without the stress, the crops would be less useful, but without the spring rains, they would never be ready for harvest.

The day of Pentecost was the autumn rain, when God’s Spirit was poured out on the Believers to germinate the Body of Christ and cause it to spring up.  The autumn rains would see it through the winter months of cold and drought.  Occasional showers have fallen throughout church history in the form of revivals.  These have served to sustain the church and keep it alive, but now we are on the verge of spring.  The refreshing rains of spring are about to be poured out upon us.  God’s Spirit will be poured out on Believers to bring the crops to maturity and usher in the harvest of souls for eternity.  I have heard it said that soon, more people will be alive on plant earth than have lived and died since our world began.  It sounds like an ideal time for a harvest to me.

The Spirit of God is moving in the hearts of Believers who are listening to Him.  He is gathering us together for this mighty move of the Spirit.  Like gathering storm clouds, we circle about with anticipation.  We are gathered by an unseen wind and may not even know why we are coming together.  But the Spirit of God knows.  The Holy Spirit is at work.  The Spirit of Christ who dwells in us compels us.  An eager looking forward towards unseen events fills our hearts.  The fullness of time is almost upon us when the Holy Spirit will once again be poured out upon the Body of Christ as it was in the beginning of the Church.  That time spoken of by the prophet Joel, when God sends the spring rain, and the harvest is so great it cannot be contained, is almost upon us.  Once again, the Holy Spirit will be poured out on Believers as it was in the beginning and we will be empowered to be witnesses to the whole world.  Jesus told the Believers to wait in Jerusalem until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.  They waited and prayed.  When the Holy Spirit came upon them they were transformed from a small group of about 120 souls, secluded in an upper room waiting on God, to fierce warriors fighting for the Kingdom of God; warriors who fearlessly proclaimed the good news of God’s redemptive work through Christ.  Like those first Believers, we need to be waiting upon the Lord.  We must gather ourselves together to fast and pray.  We need to fast to bring ourselves into submission to God’s will and purpose.  We need to pray to put God’s will into effect in this world.  We need to yield to the will of the Father so we can effectively set about doing the work of the ministry.

Equipping Believers for the Work;
Ministry Gifts
Jesus came to earth with a mission.  His goal was to reconcile mankind to God; to close the chasm of sin separating humanity from our Maker.  Only the Sinless Son of God could be the perfect sacrifice to wipe out our sins.  After His resurrection from death, Jesus gave His Believers a mission of their own.

Matthew 28:18-20  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  NIV

While it was Jesus’ job to redeem mankind to God, it is the job of Believers to tell the world the truth of the Gospel.  We have a mission, given to us from Christ Himself.  The job belongs to everyone who believes and is called by the name of Christ.  It belongs to each of us individually.

Our relationship with our Creator, through the redemption of the Christ, is meant to produce a profound life changing difference in us.  We have been changed from the inside out.  If we have become new creations, created in Christ, then our lives will show it.  And God wants us to tell everyone about it!

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  NIV

God called each of us to the ministry of reconciling the lost souls of this world to Himself.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to live within us, lead us and minister to us.  But He also gave us each other.  He created the Body of Christ to function as a body.  Each member is reliant on the rest of the body to live.  Within the Body of Christ, Christ Himself appointed individual members to help prepare the rest of the body for the work of the ministry to the lost.  In scripture we are told that Christ gave ministering tasks to individual members of the Body of Christ.  Notice it was Christ who gave these gifts to some, but not to all.

Ephesians 4:11-13  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  NIV

It is important to understand God’s intention for each of us is to be built up in Christ.  Not only for our own edification and betterment, but so we can minister effectively to the lost.  Nowhere in scripture are we told come to church, get blessed, feel good about ourselves, have a few doughnuts and go home.  Not that there is anything wrong with fellowshipping over doughnuts, but, most of the New Testament instructs us on living effective lives that illustrate the love, grace and glory of God.  Christ has set five ministry gifts within the Body of Christ to help us develop.  We need to take a look at each of them to understand God’s purpose for us.

In the Greek, the title apostle means: a delegate, an ambassador, one who is sent.  The Bible specifically talks about the original 12 disciples or apostles.  When Matthias was chosen by the remaining 11 disciples to replace Judas, there were specific criteria to be met to be counted among the “12”.  Peter specifically said in Acts 1:21-22  Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.  For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”  NIV  Matthias and Joseph met that criteria.  Matthias was selected by casting lots for the position and the Bible says he was added to the eleven apostles.  

Later, Paul refers to himself as an apostle.  

1 Corinthians 1:1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,  NIV

Paul didn’t meet Peter’s criteria for being counted among the “12” apostles, but he met God’s criteria as being, a divinely-summoned and divinely-appointed ambassador belonging to Christ Jesus,  (taken from 1 Corinthians 1:1, WUEST translation).    In Acts, Barnabas is included as an apostle along with Paul.

Acts 14:14  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd,…  NIV

So we see there were two distinct  groups of apostles, those who were the original “12” apostles, plus Matthias who was added to replace Judas; and all other apostles, who were placed within the Body of Christ as Spirit appointed ambassadors of Christ.

Prophets are mentioned as being appointed by Jesus to minister to the Body of Christ.  In Greek, the title prophet means a foreteller, an inspired speaker.  Even in the Body of Christ there is a misunderstanding about the office of God’s prophets.  Many imagine them to be fortune tellers or mystics.  The plain truth of the matter is that they are people with desires just like us.  Yet, by God’s grace and appointment, they are able to yield themselves to God and speak inspired truths to help guide and build up the Body of Christ.  In the days when the Old and New Testaments were being written, most prophets weren’t recognized as God’s inspired speakers.  In fact, most prophets were rejected, tortured, imprisoned, or killed by religious leaders.  The prophet’s message was often unpopular.  The prophet’s inspiration is given by God and cannot function on demand or yield to popular opinion.  For this reason, most of today’s prophets are ignored, unrecognized, or rejected.

We all have the commission from Christ to be living examples of our faith in Christ.  We are told to be the “light” in this darkened world, to be “salt” to preserve this world from decay.  But, in the Greek text, the evangelist is specifically appointed to be a “bringer of the good news”.  We think of an evangelist as someone who takes the gospel of Christ to the lost, and that is their job.  But these ministering gifts were given to Believers to build up the Body of Christ and bring it to maturity and unity to do the work of the gospel.  The evangelist’s work is also to prepare the rest of the Body of Christ to share their faith with the world as well.

In the Greek, these two words mean shepherd and instructor.  The modern Body of Christ is familiar with these offices.  They function in most modern church bodies, but not as they did in the New Testament.  The modern church is structured around the concept of a pastor doing the work of the ministry, and a congregation supporting him financially.  In the New Testament, pastors and teachers were members of God’s congregation, just like everyone else.  But they were placed within the Body of Christ to counsel, care for, guide, correct and enlighten the church so The Body would be equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Jesus gave these five ministry gifts to individual Believers within the Body of Christ.  Why?  What was God’s purpose for selecting individuals from among the congregation of Believers to perform these specific functions within the Body?

Ephesians 4:12-16  …to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  NIV

These five ministry appointments by the Spirit of Christ are to prepare the congregation of Believers for works in God’s service.  They are to bring the Body of Christ to maturation.  These gifts to the Body are to help individual Believers attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  They are to bring the Body of Christ into unity, built up in love, each member and each congregation supporting each other in love, as each part does its part to further the work of God.

We aren’t where God wants us to be as His representatives in this earth.  We desperately need all of the ministry gifts of Christ functioning as God intended to bring us into maturity.  All of the gifts need to function to round out the training of the church.

Equipping Believers for the Work;
Spiritual Gifts
Most of the Body of Christ is unaware God has given them spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul starts the chapter off with these words, Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.  NIV  It is good not be ignorant, so we should listen to what the Spirit of God has to say through Paul.  To better understand what is going on, 1 Corinthians, chapters 12 through 14, should to be read all together, verse by verse.  Paul explains about spiritual gifts.  It is important to understand it is the Spirit who gives spiritual gifts to each Believer, not just some, according to the determination of the Spirit, and not according to the desire of each Believer.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.  NIV

It is important to note who receives these spiritual gifts.  It isn’t just “some” as in the ministry gifts given to the Body of Christ by Christ himself.  The Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to each one, each Believer, according to the Spirit’s determination.  Notice these spiritual gifts aren’t given specifically to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers mentioned in Ephesians.  Each of these individuals who received a ministry gift from Christ is also a member of the Body of Christ, and will receive spiritual gifts from the Spirit as the Spirit decides what is appropriate.  But spiritual gifts are given to all Believers, regardless of calling.

In Ephesians 4:11, Scripture says about MINISTRY gift, It was he who gave some to be…  NIV  This is a state of being, a call to a way of life.  In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 the Scriptures say SPIRITUAL gifts are  manifestations of the Holy Spirit for the common good…just as he determines.  NIV    There is no indication these spiritual gifts are a permanent way of life, only a manifestation of the spiritual gift for the common good, as the Holy Spirit determines they are needed.

The spiritual gifts may take some explanation since the modern church isn’t very familiar with them.  A Believer can’t manipulate spiritual gifts whenever they want to.  Spiritual gifts are manifested through believers who are yielded to the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual gifts operate through Believers as determined by the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge to a situation.  The spiritual gift of the message of wisdom is to supernaturally obtain and apply wisdom to a situation, usually in answer to prayer.

To have knowledge is to have an understanding or awareness of something specific.  The spiritual gift of the message of knowledge is to supernaturally obtain and apply a message of knowledge in a situation.  Again, this usually follows specific prayer.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  NIV  The gift of faith, is just that, to have faith in situations where natural faith is inadequate.  God’s grace supplies faith in our time of need.  It is often the answer to prayer.

Gifts of healings are the divine gratuity of healing, beyond what is naturally capable with the physical body or medical science.  This is often released as a result of prayer, but can also happen spontaneously.

The spiritual gift of miraculous powers is the operation of miracles through a yielded Believer.  It is often a manifestation of faith or the result of prayer.

The spiritual gift of prophesy is the supernatural ability to predict events.  This differs from the ministry gift of prophesy as an inspired speaker.  To operate as a prophet is an appointment from Christ.  It is a function, a way of life.  To exercise the spiritual gift of prophecy is to yield oneself  to the Spirit as the Spirit wills.  An example would be when the Spirit comes upon someone and they prophesy.  This is different from the life of the prophet who walks always on the verge of two worlds.

The spiritual gift of distinguishing between spirits is the supernatural ability to know when spiritual forces are at work in a natural situation.  This is often the result of prayer for a specific situation.

The spiritual gift of diverse tongues is the ability to speak in unlearned languages as the Spirit gives utterance.  While this has been known to accompany the baptism in the Holy Spirit, there is no doctrine in the Bible that demands the evidence of tongues as proof of the Spirit coming upon individuals.  It is also the most easily counterfeited and faked spiritual gift, so it is more widely abused than all other spiritual gifts.  Paul found it necessary to address these misuses of tongues as we will read later.  

Speaking in tongues as the Spirit determines, has several purposes outlined in Scripture.  In Mark 16:17, it is spoken of as a sign that follows Believers.  In 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul talks about speaking in the tongues of men and angels.  In 1 Corinthians 14:2-4, it says that anyone who speaks in tongues speaks not to men, but to God and they edify and build up themselves.  It says he utters mysteries with his spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 14:22, tongues are spoken of as a sign to unbelievers.  Speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is a good thing when done in submission to the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 14:18, Paul thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than anyone.  In 1 Corinthians 14:39-40, the church is instructed not to forbid speaking in tongues, but to do it in an orderly way.

The spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability to understand the spiritual message in an unknown language and interpret it for the edification of the Body of Christ.

Why has God ordained the Spirit to give different spiritual gifts to each of us?  In chapter 12, it is explained.  It is so we can work together as a body, each of us supplying the needs of the rest of our Body according to the gifts the Spirit finds necessary.

1 Corinthians 12:24b-25  But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lack it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  NIV

Christ is the head of the Body of Christ.  The five ministry gifts aren’t the heads of the church, but members and servants of the Body.  Spiritual gifts are given to all, to unify the Body.  We are the Body of Christ, God’s representatives here on earth.  We have taken Jesus’ place to continue His ministry.  Jesus received the Spirit of God without measure or limitation.  John the Baptist testified to Jesus’ worthiness with God.

John 3:34-35  For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.  The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.  NIV

Except for Christ, the sum of God’s power is too great to be handled by any single Believer.  We are still fallible beings.  For this reason, God’s power is not entrusted to the motivations of individual Believers, but operates as the Spirit determines; through yielded Believers.  The Spirit uses different Believers in different areas of ministry.  This makes us co-dependent on the rest of the Body of Christ to be a true representation of Christ in this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?  But eagerly desire the greater gifts...  NIV

In this last passage of scripture, it seems that Paul is ranking the gifts in order of importance.  The first three gifts mentioned are three of the five ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4.  The fourth and fifth gifts listed here are mentioned among the spiritual gifts outlined in 1 Corinthians 12.  The gift, those able to help others, may refer to any of the gifts: wisdom, knowledge, discernment of spirits that are able assist Believers.  Gifts of administration may refer to the ministry gift of the pastor as the shepherd, the administrator of souls.  Diverse tongues, is mentioned as a spiritual gift, as is interpretation of tongues.  We should not to be envious of brothers and sisters who operate in ministry and spiritual gifts.  We shouldn’t look down on fellow Believers who do not function within the body as we do.  But we should all eagerly desire to operate in greater gifts.  What are the greater gifts?  

God’s love for us is the greatest gift of all.  God’s love provided His only begotten Son for the cross of redemption.  God’s love provides what we need in every situation.  The greatest gift in any situation is the gift God’s love provides for the occasion.  If my church congregation is in turmoil, God’s love can provide discernment of spirits to understand the causes.  If I have a burden for the lost in the remote jungles of the Amazon, I need to pray that God’s love will provide an apostle who has been to an extreme missionary training course.  You could also run down the list of gifts as Paul did, and I don’t think it would be a wrong answer.  But without God’s love, shed abroad in our hearts, none of these gifts are adequate.  This is why Paul says, at the end of verse 31 in 1 Corinthians 12, And now I will show you the most excellent way.  NIV

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, that it is all meaningless unless it is motivated by the love that God has placed in our hearts when we became New Creations in Christ.  

1 Corinthians 13:8-13  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child,  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.  NIV

While the Spirit of God illustrates through Paul’s examples the enduring eternal qualities of faith, hope and love, many within the Body have been deceived by a doctrine that has crept into church teachings.  The false doctrine was designed by the powers of darkness to rob the Body of Christ of the gifts God promised us.  Being deceived by a false doctrine isn’t rebellion against God.  However, to stubbornly cling to a doctrine that isn’t taught in the Bible is dangerous.  The doctrine being taught is that the Bible is what was spoken of as being perfect, and since it’s completion, there is no need for the spiritual gifts.  This doctrine is clung to by people who don’t see the working of the Spirit of God in the Body of Christ today.  It is an excuse used to explain why their lives lack power.  It is anecdotal in it subjection, and inaccurate in it’s application.  Just because someone who reads the Bible hasn’t seen the things talked about in it, doesn’t mean it has all passed away.  Let’s examine the last segment of scripture again.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; (Have all the prophecies in the Bible been fulfilled?  No.  Prophecies from the Old and New Testaments are still waiting to come to pass.) where there are tongues, they will be stilled; (Tongues, in this case, is a translation for a word meaning “unlearned languages”.  There are known languages, such as were uttered by the disciples when they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and the English this paper is written in; and unknown tongues, such as the language of angels spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1.  People continue to communicate with language, and though I’ve never heard angels talking, if Paul knew angels talked together in his day, I’m sure they still have a need to communicate today.  Have languages ceased?  No.) where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (Has knowledge passed away?  No.  Most of us still have a need for knowledge.  Knowledge is different from information.  The Bible is full of information.  It only becomes knowledge when the Spirit makes it alive to us.) For we know in part (Nobody knows everything, or can even explain everything in the Bible!) and we prophesy in part, (Who even now can fully and accurately interpret all of the prophecies?  Many think they can, and they often disagree with one another.  One thing I can tell you for sure, when prophecy is fulfilled, we will know it.) but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (Most scholars agree that perfection will be exhibited by Jesus’ eternal reign.  What we see around us certainly isn’t perfection.  If the printed Bible is perfection, how come so many devout Believers disagree with each other over it’s meaning?  Why do different translations contradict each other?  Which translation is “perfect” and which translation isn’t?  It only stands to reason that perfection should be indisputable and that everyone can recognize it.  There will be no need for the Bible when we are before Jesus on His throne.  There will be no disputes among us about what Jesus says or does.)  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child,  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.  NIV

1 Corinthians 14:1-5  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.  For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.  He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.  I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.  NIV

Here Paul exhorts the Body of Christ to follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.  Love will endure eternally.  Why would Paul encourage us to follow after love that is eternal in the same breath as spiritual gifts that would be done away with as soon as the Bible was written?  He wouldn’t.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  NIV  

We see in 2 Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training in righteousness, so the servant of God can become thoroughly equipped for every good work.  NIV  We see this scriptural mandate reinforced in,  1 Corinthians 12:7, … the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  NIV; and in Ephesians 4:11-13  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  NIV  These verses clearly outline their purpose in building up Believers.  The purpose of ministry gifts, spiritual gifts and all scripture, is so the servant of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work.  To say 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 are no longer relevant is to rob the Body of Christ of the equipment God intended us to have for ministry.  It is also in direct contradiction to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which states that all scripture is inspired by God and designed to equip the servant of God for every good work.  While these things are clearly spelled out in scripture as God-inspired and useful, nowhere in the Holy Bible does it say that any part of the Bible has become obsolete and has passed away.

Eventually all of it will pass away when it is no longer needed, when we have all come into the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, when we abide in the presence of Christ on His throne, when we know all things even as we are fully replaced by the life of Christ in us.  So, rather than try to explain away the relevance of scripture, impoverishing the Body of Christ in the process, we should embrace scripture and squeeze every promise from it’s text.  Learn from the Bible how to put these gifts to proper use in the Body of Christ and we will see more of their manifestations.  The first step to walking in the fullness of God’s promises, is to believe they are for us.  The Apostle Paul lays down some very practical guidelines for the manifestation of spiritual gifts.

Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, that speaking in tongues is desirable, but prophesying is better.  The reason that prophesying is better is that it builds up the Body of Christ.  Paul has nothing against speaking in tongues.  In fact, he wishes everyone could speak in tongues.  In 1 Corinthians 14: 18 he goes so far as to say, I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  NIV  And in 19 he summarizes his discourse from the beginning of the chapter by saying, But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.  NIV  

Nonetheless, Paul had to address problems in the early church with the misuse of tongues.  As I said before, the gift of tongues is the easiest spiritual gift to counterfeit and misuse.  I have personally seen satanic forces imitate the spiritual gift of tongues as a mockery and deception.  I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of Believers use an imitation of tongues as a show of their spirituality.  In Acts 2:4, tongues were spoken as the Spirit gave utterance on the day of Pentecost.  It wasn’t wholly up to the individual Believer to speak in tongues.  In the early church, a Believer’s desire to speak in tongues wasn’t always in line with the Holy Spirit’s purposes and it disrupted meetings.  Paul had to correct the situation.  In 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 he told the church, If anyone speaks in a tongue, two – or at the most three – should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.  NIV  This was to limit the misuse of tongues from disrupting services.

It wasn’t just speaking in the tongues of angels and speaking to God that was causing a disturbance in the early church.  It is easy to understand, that in the early church, when there wasn’t a published Bible to use as a reference, people would have questions.  People in those days were rude, just as they are today.  During the service it was only natural that questions would arise.  It was also only natural that people would whisper to their neighbor when they didn’t understand something.  This chatter was apparently getting out of control among the women of the Corinthian congregation.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35  …women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.  NIV

Paul summarizes the salient points he wants to make in the conclusion of chapter 14.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40  Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  NIV

It is easy to understand why many in the modern church have thought spiritual gifts have been done away with.  Their use, especially in the United States, has either been absent, excessive, or counterfeited.  All extremes are counterproductive.  But we have been between the seasons of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for almost two thousand years.  The Holy Spirit hasn’t been withdrawn from the church, we just aren’t experiencing the outpourings of the Spirit in the rainy seasons as spoken of by the prophet Joel.  Misunderstandings and bad doctrine have abound and the showers of revival have been few and far between.  But this stress to the Body of Christ will make it stronger, more nutritious and more bountiful after the spring rains of the Spirit begin to fall.  The church will be refreshed and reinvigorated and the hardship it has endured will be a lesson of how much we must rely on the Spirit of God for our leadership and motivation.

It is important to understand the workings of the Spirit when it is poured out upon the Body of Christ.  These spiritual gifts haven’t passed away, but they function as the Spirit wills.  The Spirit is still at work in the world.  In other parts of the world, spiritual gifts are common, because that’s what the Spirit is doing there.  Here, in the United States, authentic spiritual gifts are few.  This is due in large part because authentic Believers who are listening to the Holy Spirit and yielded to God are few.  It also doesn’t help that much of the church leadership has been taught, and continues to teach, spiritual gifts aren’t for today’s church.

It’s almost spring and the reviving spring rains of the Holy Spirit are about to fall on Believers as it did in the beginning.  We need to watch and pray.  We need to prepare our hearts.  We need to understand spiritual gifts and be ready to receive the outpouring of the Spirit when the storm comes.

The Work of the Ministry
Much of the modern church labors under the misunderstanding that only a few individuals are called into the ministry.  Most church members are under the impression the pastors, priests, nuns, missionaries, evangelist and other clerical workers, are the only ones trained and capable of doing the work of the ministry.  The structure and organization of the modern church is largely based on this misconception.  The plain truth of the matter is; every individual who puts their faith in Christ Jesus for salvation, has been called to share in the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  NIV

We all are Christ’s representatives in this lost and dying world.  God would have us live our lives so that by our every action, we would show Christ to the lost.

Matthew 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before man, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  NIV

God has called each one of us to be ministers of the good news of the gospel of Christ.  The whole Bible is our instruction book for how God is preparing us for this task.  Not only has the Holy Spirit provided us with this great manual, Christ has also set ministry gifts among the Body of Believers to train us for the task.

Ephesians 4:11-13  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  NIV

The job of these ministers of Christ is to prepare US to do the work of the ministry.  Christ placed these functions within the Body of Christ to build US up in unity, faith and the knowledge of the Son of God; so WE are mature and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Not only has God assigned us the ministry of reconciling the world to Him; given us ministers to prepare us for the work of the ministry; but God has also given each of us the spiritual gifts to help us minister to the lost and our fellow Believers.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.  NIV

For the work of the ministry to be accomplished, the Body of Christ has to begin to function as a body.  Each member must be trained and empowered to fulfill their purpose in Christ. In the fullness of time, the spring rains of the Spirit will once again fall on the church.  We will become powerful witnesses to the whole world of God’s redemptive work through Christ.  But we shouldn’t be idle, waiting on God to do it all for us.  We must move out in what we know and what we have.  We must yield our hearts to the Spirit of God every day.  We must practice listening to the voice of God and yielding to His leading.  Someone might ask, “How can I hear the voice of God?  I’ve never heard it before.”  When a Believer begins to study scripture and apply it to their life, they have begun to yield to God.  The Believer has to make a habit of denying their own fleshly desires to fulfill the spiritual desires they have to serve God in holiness.  When they make it a habit to conform their carnal self to God’s word, they will begin to hear the voice of God.  The more they yield to God, the more distinct His directives for them becomes.  In time, they realize they had been hearing God all along, but didn’t really want to hear what He had to say.  They will remember the small nagging voice that accompanied every poor decision they were about to make.  It is then the Believer has conditioned themselves through obedience to hear the voice of God.  With our hearts yielded to God, we must carry on the ministry of reconciling the world to God.

The Spirit of God is moving in the hearts of those who are listening to Him.  He is gathering us together just as clouds gather together before a mighty rain.  We must do the work of the ministry because God is counting on us.  This move of the Spirit will not be a revival of big name ministers.  This pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the earth will not be in the form of powerful preachers and big churches. God will resist the proud, but will exalt the lowly.  The spring rain is coming to refresh the Body of Christ, bring it into maturity, and prepare us for the work of the harvest.  God’s Holy Spirit will work through the empowerment of the Body of Christ itself.  It will be the Spirit of God empowering individual Believers who have prepared themselves and submitted themselves to do the will of God.  It will be a spiritual movement of countless ordinary Believers who have yielded themselves to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

To yield to the Spirit of God is the most important aspect the Body of Christ needs to understand about doing the work of the ministry.  For too long the church has talked about Holiness, but lived like the rest of the world.  The church has been sunned by the world because of its hypocrisy.   The lives of church members haven’t looked any different to the lost than the lives they live themselves.  Millions of souls have been condemned to eternal separation from God because they thought if God would let Christians into heaven, He would have to let everyone else in too.  All of this is changing though.  God is stirring in the hearts of ordinary Believers.  God is calling on us to live extraordinary lives – yielded to God’s will - filled with God’s grace, holiness and a burning fire to serve The Living God.  When the Body of Christ begins to radiate the life and love of Christ, the lost will see that there is a God - and He lives in us.  Only then will we have something to offer a lost and dying world.  Only then will our lives serve the purpose God has saved us for.

The Shape of Things to Come
The form and function of the modern church in the United States is based on the ministerial staff being responsible for the work of the ministry. The congregation is then made responsible for financially maintaining the ministerial staff while they do God’s work.  What will the Body of Christ look like when the spring rains of the Spirit comes upon Believers, and the congregation rises from their pews and begins to do the work of the ministry?

It has already spontaneously begun to take place all over the globe.  Believers who are following the leading of the Holy Spirit are struggling to find their place within the Body of Christ.  There is a stirring in the hearts of many; a quiet dissatisfaction with the state of the church; a longing for a Christian life of relevance that simply isn’t being satisfied by the status-quo.  

It is being called, The Out-Of-Church Movement, or The Home Church Movement.  In spiritual reality, it is a moving of the Spirit to re-establish the fellowship of the Body of Christ evident in the book of Acts and the epistles.  Some within the movement are radical in their rejection of modern church structure.  Others seek to find a compromise with their denominational church homes.  The result is the same.  Believers are congregating outside of the formal church structure to fellowship with one another, build one another up in the Lord and seek the will of God.  

It is quite possible the coming outpouring of the Spirit of God will take place primarily outside of the formal church structure.  I say this because historically, movements of the Spirit have been resisted by established religious institutions.  As a result of institutionalized resistance and persecution during past periods of revival or revelation, informal gatherings of Believers were forced to meet in homes and in secret.  But why would the formal church resist a movement of God?

Institutionalized religion has historically resisted spiritual movements and revivals.  Jesus himself was rejected by God’s own chosen people and the religion they embraced.  Martin Luther was excommunicated from the church and faced death as a heretic.  John Wesley was rejected by organized religion and preached from house-to-house teaching small groups of dedicated Believers.  The list goes on for as long as there has been organized religion.  Every organization naturally resists change as a self-preservation reaction.  The church, as an institution made up of human beings, is no different.

A movement of the Spirit of God directed at training and empowering the Body of Christ to do the work of the ministry, could be viewed by much of the formal church leadership as a threat to their financial base.  If individual Believers are trained and empowered to do the work of the ministry, leadership may fear a reduced reliance on, and decreased relevance of, church programs.  It isn’t necessary for change to be viewed this way, but it is human nature to mistrust and resist change, especially when your livelihood depends on the way things are now.

The formal churches that adapt to the changes brought about by the move of the Spirit will be the ones that thrive and are relevant to God’s purpose.  What will a formal church have to do to adapt to the needs of a congregation seeking and serving God in this move of the Spirit?  First, the leadership will have to embrace God’s plan for the congregation.  God has always desired that His people be trained, equipped and empowered to do the work of the ministry.  The leadership will have to release the control they exercise over the congregation and trust them to God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  They will have to train the congregation in the responsibilities of individual Believers.  They will have to stress the Believers roll as God’s ambassador in their individual sphere of influence, (home, work, friends, family, neighborhood).  They will have to give the congregation the freedom to act on their own to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  They will have to entrust the congregation to the keeping of the Spirit of God, and allow the congregation to strike out on their own.  They will even have to allow the congregation to make their own mistakes, support them, and restore them to right fellowship with God and the rest of the Body of Christ.  They will have to humble themselves before the congregation.  It is imperative the leadership understands they are dependant on fellow members of the Body of Christ for their own personal development in Christ; even as the rest of the Body of Christ is dependant on them in the office assigned to them by Christ.  This cannot be stressed enough.  To release personal control over a congregation will require bold and fearless leadership.  It will require servants of God who are sold out for God.  It will require leadership with enough faith to trust God.  It will require leaders who understand they are servants of the Body of Christ, servants placed in the Body to build it up.

God designed the Body of Christ to function inter-dependently upon its members.  The leadership in the body is every bit as dependent for its development and spiritual health on the rest of the body as anyone else in the congregation.  The isolation of the ministerial staff from the rest of the body has stunted the development of the body and church leadership.  It has kept the whole body from being, as it is said in Ephesians 4:12b-13, built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  NIV  

If the leadership of a formal church can adapt to this, the church will be transformed.  The congregation will become inspired.  Believers will begin meeting on their own throughout the week.  As Believers begin to exercise their newly developed spiritual authority, their lives will become blazing beacons of Christ that draw all men to them.  Sunday morning services will become a glorious festival of praise and thanksgiving for everything God has done and the new Believers He has added to the Kingdom of Heaven throughout the week.

Fortunately, the moving of the Spirit of God isn’t limited to what the formal church is willing to do.  God’s purposes will come to pass regardless of what religious leaders do.  Within formal churches that yield to the Spirit of God and those that don’t, the result will be the same.  Dedicated Believers will fellowship from house-to-house, building themselves and each other up in the spirit.  Developing into the mature and vital servants required to carry out the work of the Gospel.  This transformation experience by Believers stepping out on their own, exercising the spirituality God has placed in each of us; is the real miracle of home fellowship.  Home fellowship will be the conduit for the outpouring of the Spirit that will change the Body of Christ and the world for all eternity.

The Miracle of Home Fellowship
In the book of Acts, the Spirit of God was poured out on the new Believers on the day of Pentecost.  They were transformed from their fearful seclusion in the upper room to a fearsome spiritual force of Mighty Warriors who could not be stopped, not even by death.  The passion and faith these individual Believers had in their risen Lord overwhelmed all resistance and changed the face of history for all eternity.  The religious leaders persecuted and murdered them.  The political leaders tortured and executed them.  The mobs of unbelievers fell on them, tore them to pieces and stoned them to death.  Yet, what began on that day has endured throughout our history.  But where is the passion of those early Believers?  Where is their faith that defied death?  What became of the Spirit that so inspired these Heroes?  The answer to all of these questions is: It’s stirring in you - it’s awakening in me.  The Spirit of God is moving in us to bring us into the fullness of the life God always wanted for us.  It is beginning.  God is stirring in our hearts and gathering us together in Him.  

Just as in the beginning, the Body of Christ is being drawn together for fellowship and mutual development.  This yearning for a more meaningful Christian life is drawing many Believers beyond the church services, into home fellowships.  This interaction with other Believers allows them to work out the stirrings of their spirits.  There is a growth in the spirit that requires exercise.  Most Believers never experience any type of spiritual activity in formal church services because programs are pre-formatted for effective delivery.  There is nothing for a Believer to do in most formal church services because it’s all done for them.  This leads to weak Believers.  Faith, like muscles, requires exercise and development.

The fellowship meetings of the early church were much more personal, much more involved, much more interactive.  Everyone had a role to fill, as well as a need to be ministered to by other members of the Body of Christ.  The early church was much more symbiotic.

1 Corinthians 14:26  What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.  NIV

It was this interaction between Believers that strengthened them and helped them to develop and mature spiritually.  Yes, mistakes were made.  Yes, abuses had to be confronted.  Doctrinal errors had to be addressed.  It’s even true outright sin had to be rebuked and dealt with strongly.  But this was all necessary for the development and maturation of individual Believers and the Body of Christ.  To be strong, it was necessary for the Body of Christ to be able to address the problems that arose and deal with them in a healthy spiritual manner.

The Biblical examples of Believers meeting together in homes, forms the foundation for the practice of home fellowship.  In Romans 16:5-6, and 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul mentions the church that met in the home of Priscilla and Aquila.  In Colossians 4:15, Paul mentions the church that met in the home of a woman by the name of Nympha.  In Philemon 1-2, Paul addresses Philemon, Apphia and Archippus and the church that met in their home.  Churches were also addressed by the city or town where they met.  There are examples in the New Testament of gatherings of Believers in the temple courts in Jerusalem.  It was not so much where Believers met, but how they gathered together and interacted as the Body of Christ.

The spiritual growth and development of Believers in home fellowships is the most amazing of transformations.  Many formal churches have had great success in the spiritual development of the congregation and in building attendance, through small-group meetings.  The key isn’t the program, but empowering Believers to exercise themselves spiritually and mature through spiritual activity.  This happens even more when the fellowship is not restricted by a set format, but allowed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When Believers are seeking God, studying the Word and praying, they are excited about the spiritual revelations and growth they are experiencing.  When they come together for fellowship, they want to share what God is doing in their lives.  This spontaneous expression of God’s relevance in their lives is an inspiration and revelation to those who share the experience of home fellowship.  The more Believers are exposed to this type of fellowship, the more they want to have God working in their lives.  It is a spiritual principal that the whole group is built up by the act of fellowship.  Each member of the Body of Christ comes together, working to build up and edify each other in love.  This is the miracle of home fellowship.

This freedom to interact spiritually with fellow believers is the catalyst for spiritual development.  The ability to share spiritual insights or ask questions among one’s peers, is the exercise the spirit must receive to grow stronger.  The individual Believer’s spiritual strengths will begin to manifest and mature.  Individual weaknesses will also appear.  But they can be recognized and dealt with by a loving body in an intimate setting.  As the Body of Believers deals with the events that unfold within the home fellowship, everyone has the opportunity to grow through meeting spiritual needs and by being nurtured by other’s spiritual ministry.  It is a symbiotic relationship compared to the physical body.  In actuality, it is the spiritual Body of Christ.  This is the miracle of home fellowship.

Seekers can come into this nurturing environment of home fellowship.  It is the spiritual inclination of Believers to minister to the needs of the lost and the home fellowship is the perfect place.  The intimate setting of the home fellowship provides the ideal setting for seekers to have their spiritual needs ministered to.  Each Believer present has a spiritual strength or insight that can be drawn upon to minister.  With all that the environment of the home fellowship has to offer seekers, the primary purpose for home fellowship is the spiritual development and maturation of Believers.  When the lives of Believers begin to reflect the glory of our risen Lord, their conduct becomes a testimony that is lived for all to see.  We don’t have to carry tracts to get out the message of the gospel, it is evident in our lives.  Our conduct is the single most effective evangelism tool.  It is also the most destructive witness to the lost.  When Believers become spiritually mature, their lives say more to the lost around them than ten-thousand preachers on soap boxes.  When Believers begin to walk in the fullness of the grace of God, the lost are convinced of God’s reality and righteousness.  It is how we live our lives that will usher in the harvest of souls for all eternity.  Home fellowships play a vital roll in the development of individual Believers who attend them.  This is the miracle of home fellowship.

Our home fellowship started as a small-group program sponsored by our formal church home.  Participants in our group decided to continue the fellowship after the curriculum ran its course.  For a short while, we felt we should have a format for our meetings.  What we discovered was, God was dealing with each of us during the week.  When we came together for our time of fellowship, each of us would have something to share from the heart of God.  We shouldn’t have been surprised that everything we shared was interconnected to show us a larger picture of God’s heart.  Our home fellowships became an anticipated event in the lives of the Believers who attended.  Other small groups from our formal church left their meetings early after they had covered the curriculum.  They didn’t have anything else to talk about.  Others stopped meeting because interest dwindled till attendance became an issue.  In our home, interest generated during the fellowship keeps animated conversations going long after the meetings have formally closed.  It isn’t uncommon for the clock to ring twelve bells and the fellowship to continue into the small hours of the morning.

Both my wife and I felt there were other people who should be attending our fellowship.  But we didn’t know who they were or how to reach them.  Then, my wife, who had worked in the sign industry, got the inspiration to put a yard sign in front of the house advertising the fellowship.  

Believers Meet Here
Come As You Are
For Christian Fellowship
Thursday Nights at 8:00pm

Then things really began to happen.  Complete strangers would come in off the street on Thursday nights to fellowship with us.  People we had know for years, but who didn’t know we were Believers, started to drop by.  Visitors would tell friends and their friends began stopping in.  A continuous stream of people come week after week, seeking fellowship in the Lord.  It is a fluid and interactive association that transcends denominational boundaries.  Some are one-time-only visitors.  Others are as regular as a clock.  Others are sporadic, like the wind, you don’t know where they came from or where they are going.  All denominations, all ethnicities, all ages are represented by the people who have come through our front doors and God is always there in the middle of it all.

The most radical growth and maturation in our personal spiritual lives has occurred since we opened our doors to home fellowships.  The most meaningful spiritual experiences have been because of the Believers who come to fellowship in our home.  The most exciting spiritual adventures lay before us because we are yielded to the leading of God.  This is the miracle of home fellowships.

Power to the People
I have always been a good American:  proud, independent, self-reliant.  When I became a Christian, I carried these traits into my walk of faith.  Because of my cultural biases, I considered this to be the way a Christian should be.  It never crossed my mind God would want me to be any other way.

I always assumed God wanted me to mature and grow in Him and this should be my own personal spiritual goal.  I figured that if I matured enough, submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit enough, learned enough of the Scriptures, I could become a mighty man of God.  The goodness of God would be manifest in my life and be a witness to everyone around me.  Then, a great light would shine in this dark and dying world and everyone would know that there was a God, because they could see Him manifest in me.  Like I said, I am a good American, proud.

We each should have as our goal to grow in the Lord and press on toward the higher calling of Godly service.  Each of us will stand before the mighty Judge with an account of our own affairs, not the works of the rest of the Body of Christ.  For this reason, and to fulfill Christ’s sacrifice in us, we should die to ourselves so we can live for Christ.  Who could have put it more eloquently than the Apostle Paul?

Philippians 3:7-14  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  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 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.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  NIV

But our pursuit of spiritual growth must be with a right heart, and that heart must be turned towards the Body of Christ as a whole.  While rugged individualism was essential for opening up the American frontier, it doesn’t build the Body of Christ.  To fulfill God’s purposes for the Body of Christ in this earth, our goal should to be to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Even as we have submitted ourselves to the will of the Father, should lay down our lives for the edification of fellow Believers.  We are not Lone Rangers in the service of the Living God, we are members of the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12, 26-27  The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form the body.  So it is with Christ…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  NIV

As a young Army Private in Boot Camp, I was faced with the reality of individual, verses corporate, responsibility.  Being possessed of a quick mind and a strong body as a young man, I accelerated in the arts of war.  However, there were members of my squad who were not as physically fit, not as mentally agile, not as dedicated to the mission of becoming the best soldier they could be.  These individuals slowed down the whole squad.  If I had truly been an “Army of One” as the advertising mantra now erroneously states, this wouldn’t have been a problem.  But the reality is, the effectiveness of any fighting force is determined by the weakest component.  The Army realizes this and has an efficient way of developing unit cohesion and readiness.  In boot camp, the Army punishes the fighting unit for the shortcomings of the individuals in the unit.  The high-speed soldier suffers along with the slacker for the slacker’s shortcomings.

This may seem unfair on the surface, but it illustrates the peculiar genius of military training.  In combat, the enemy will exploit any weakness and use it to their advantage.  If a weak link is discovered during combat, the enemy forces will concentrate on that weakness.  That weak spot comes under heavy attack and a hole is punched in the lines, the enemy streams in and overruns the position.  The whole fighting unit is compromised by that one weak link and everyone suffers the consequences as the unit is overtaken.

To train soldiers to compensate for the weakness of fellow soldiers, the military punishes the whole unit for the weakness of individuals.  The rest of the unit responds to this seemingly “unjust” punishment by focusing attention on the soldiers who are not performing up to standards.  Positive and negative reinforcement are employed against the individuals to persuade them to improve their performance.  When everything that can be done to correct the problem has been exhausted, the unit compensates for, or “covers” the remaining weaknesses.  In this way, soldiers learn to think of their overall performance as a fighting unit and not as individuals.  This unnatural mind set prepares the soldiers for the realities of warfare, where they will share the same fate as the rest of the fighting unit.

The Body of Christ in America is plagued by the uniquely American concept of individuality.  While I appreciate and uphold the American Spirit of Independence as a fine American quality, it hinders the growth of the Body of Christ.  We, as ambassadors of Christ, must rightly perceive ourselves to be members of the whole and not as self-sufficient mini-Christs.  No matter how holy we may become through sanctifying ourselves to the service of God, no matter how righteous we might become through submission to the will of God, no matter how pure we may be through renewing our minds through study and meditation on the things of God, we will never represent the fullness of Christ in this world without the rest of the Body.  Our individual fate is tied to the fate of the rest of the Body of Christ.  A finger, an ear or a leg will never represent Christ to the world.  We must view our spiritual existence corporately within the context that we are merely part of the Body of Christ.   Our effectiveness in ministering to this world relies in the overall health of the Body of Christ.

In times past, mighty men have risen from within the church and led the Body of Christ forward into revelation and action.  This was necessary to keep the church growing in knowledge and developing.  But God has called us all to the ministry of reconciling the lost to Himself.  God is looking for the Body of Christ in the earth to usher in the great harvest of souls.  God desires a people, from the least to the greatest, who will do the work of the ministry, who will accept the responsibility to be Christ in the lives of the people they meet.  God is calling on the Body of Christ to rise up and begin to live its role as Christ, being Christ in this earth.  We have an individual responsibility to yield our lives to the service of our King, but it isn’t an individual ministry, it is the corporate ministry of the Body of Christ, functioning together to complete Christ’s ministry in this earth.

Empowering the body of Christ, encouraging the average Believer to serve God in extraordinary ways, freeing the church from the shackles of  inactivity; these are the spiritual battlegrounds for the Body of Christ.  The challenge is waking up the church and inspiring it to work together as a living body.  For so long the church has languished under the misconception it is the job of the professional minister to do the work of the ministry.  This has caused the Body of Christ to grow weak with disuse.  But it is time for ordinary Believers to understand they have a vital role in redeeming this lost and dying world.  It is time for every-day people, who have within themselves the Spirit of the Living God, to enter into God’s spectacular plan for their lives as functioning members of the Body of Christ.  God’s investment in this earth is to build up the Body of Christ to the glory of God.  It is essential that every-day Believers who make up the Body of Christ understand the Spirit of God lives within them and their lives should be any thing but normal.  God intended for ordinary Believers to live extraordinary lives.

Unschooled, ordinary people can live miraculous lives once they have spent time in the presence of the Lord of Hosts.  Jesus didn’t pick religious professionals as his students, He picked ordinary people.  If you know anyone who likes to fish, you will understand that Jesus’ first miracle wasn’t turning water into wine at the wedding feast.  The first miracle Jesus performed was to get a fisherman to quit fishing and become His disciple.  Yet, these ordinary people, after spending three years with Jesus; watching Him die, seeing Him raised from the dead and then having the Holy Spirit come and live in them, became God’s servants and turned the world on end.

After Pentecost, Peter and John were hauled before the religious leaders to explain the miraculous things that were taking place.  Peter preached to them by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The power of his words and acts could not be denied.

Acts 4:13  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  NIV

The religious leaders were shocked and appalled that ignorant men would speak with the power of God.  They were offended that these unschooled men presumed to speak for God when they had never had any religious training - and, they made special note that these men had spent time with Jesus.

This was great for those in the early church who had been able to spend time with Jesus in the flesh, of course their lives would be transformed, they had walked with Jesus.  But what about us today?  How do we spend time with Jesus and become empowered and emboldened so that we walk the face of this earth as the Body of Christ?

John 1:1-5, 14  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  NIV

Jesus is the Word of God.  The Bible is the Word of God.  Spend time studying and learning the Bible and we will spend time with Jesus and become familiar with Him.  We build up and strengthen our relationship in God through studying His word.  We also need to spend time with fellow Believers.  They are Christ’s ambassadors to this world.  We, corporately, represent the person and ministry of Jesus.  As we fellowship with other Believers, we familiarize ourselves with Christ.  We also need to spend time fellowshipping with the Father through prayer like Jesus did.  We should bring our bodies into submission to the Spirit of God through fasting.  When we exercise our regenerated spirits, which are alive to God, we begin to submit ourselves to God’s will, even as Jesus did.  Spend time fellowshipping with the Body of Christ in the Word, each individual Believer supplying what is lacking in each other for the betterment of all, fast and commune with the Father in prayer, then we will have spent time with Jesus, our Lord and Master.

The more we get to know Jesus, the more like Him we can become.  But we have to die to our own desires so we can become alive to God.  We have to yield ourselves to the will of  the Father and submit ourselves to His plan before His purpose and power can be fully manifest in our lives.  This is why the church is powerless.  We want to go to heaven when we die, but we don’t want to give up our lives while we still live.  Even as Believers, we want to be in charge of what we do and how we serve God.  Through our willfulness, we rob God of the glory He should have received from our yielded lives, bought with blood on the cross.  We are like the servant with one talent who buries it in the ground to keep it safe until his master returns.  This foolish servant thinks that as long as he delivers up what was entrusted into his care on the day of his master’s return, he will please his master.  The parable Jesus told about the talents entrusted to the three servants, in Matthew 25:14-30, depicts the church.  It will not be a joyful reunion between the servants with one talent and the Lord Jesus Christ on the day of His returning.

While the parable of the talents ends well for the two servants who worked diligently with what the Lord had given them, it isn’t that simple for Believers who diligently study to show themselves approved and who work to build up the Body of Christ and redeem the lost.  Human nature continually needs to be beaten down.  When an enemy becomes too weak to beat you outright, it tries deception.  Likewise, when human nature is subdued through service to the Most High, it becomes sneaky.  When a Believer attains a certain level of spirituality, it is natural they begin to take some credit for their achievements.  It is only natural, because the natural un-regenerated personality still lurks in the darkness of our souls.  When we have attained even a limited level of spiritual maturity, it is often accompanied by our own congratulations.  How quick we are to forget who we really are and what we would remain except for God’s grace.

Romans 7:18  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  NIV

1 John 1:8  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  NIV

We often take the credit for our spiritual growth, when the plain fact of the matter is; we are nothing good without the grace of God working in our lives.  For this reason, those who have attained any level of spiritual improvement, should use the grace working within them and continuously encourage and assist others within the Body of Christ.

Romans 12:3-8  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy let him do it cheerfully.  NIV

We need to understand our fate is tied up with the overall health of our body, the Body of Christ.  Like good soldiers, who fight the good fight of faith, we need to look after, correct, and compensate for, our fellow soldiers in Christ.  We need to work together to build up and edify the Body, so that we can all grow into the full stature and image of Christ.  Then this world will see Jesus as He really is.

2 Corinthians 4:15  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  NIV  

When, by grace, the Body of Christ is yielded to the will of God, Christ will be manifest.

John 14:12  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  NIV

A Work of Grace to the Glory of God
Grace: The result of God’s undeserved tender favor towards humanity; the divine influence of God’s favor upon individual hearts and how it is reflected in the life of the recipient.  (paraphrased from Strong’s Concordance)

Grace:  a. the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.  b. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.  c. a virtue or excellence of divine origin:  the Christian graces.  d. Also called state of grace.  The condition of being in God’s favor or one of the elect. (Webster’s Dictionary)

So much is encompassed by God’s grace that it is hard to understand how such a little word, used so often, can mean so much.  

Ephesians 1:2-10  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.  In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, for forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.  NIV

In the New Testament, grace is often extended from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, as a salutation.  It is an expression of God’s favor, extended to humanity, through the sacrifice on the cross.  That price was paid by Jesus Christ for our lives.  God chose us, through Jesus, before the world was created.  Through Jesus, God intended us to be holy and blameless in His sight.  Because of God’s love for us, God chose us for adoption as His own holy children, paid for with Jesus’ sinless life.  Why?  Because it pleased God to do it.  Why?  So we would praise God’s glorious unmerited favor, freely extended to us through Jesus who He loves.  Because Jesus paid the price for our sinfulness in His own blood, we are forgiven.  This is the richness of God’s unmerited favor towards us.  This was God’s purpose for providing The Anointed One of God as a sacrifice.  This great truth has been revealed to humanity.  In the fullness of time, this great truth will unite heaven and earth together in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s purpose for extending His grace towards us is so we will realize the great, compassionate, merciful and self-sacrificing nature of our God.  When we understand all that God has done for us, we should gratefully glorify His Holy Name.

Ephesians 2:1-10  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit which is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  NIV

Because of God’s grace at work through His anointed Christ, we have been able to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice has freed us from our sin.  We put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Even our ability to have a saving belief in Jesus doesn’t come from within us, it is extended to us through God’s grace.  Why?  To glorify God!  We are the result of God’s finest work, His sinless Son.  We were created new creatures in Christ, for what purpose?  To do good works; God has a plan for each of our redeemed lives.  God has prepared good works for each of us to do that will honor the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and glorify our Father in heaven.

What can we ever do to live up to Christ’s sacrifice?  What can we ever do to bring glory to our Father in heaven?  Jesus brought honor to His Father.  Jesus’ life glorified His Father.  But Jesus died, for what; to replace the perfect sinless Son of God in this earth with a bunch of flawed half-hearted disciples?  No, it can’t be!

And glory be to God our Righteous Father, it isn’t.  God never intended for us to be anything less than His children.  God never intended for us to be anything less than representatives of Christ in this earth.  We are called the Body of Christ because we are to embody “the Christ”.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  NIV

With Christ living in us and through us, our lives assume the ministry of Christ in this earth.  We take up our crosses daily and follow Him.  We die to ourselves, and by the grace of God, we live in Christ.

Ephesians 3:7  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.  NIV

1 Corinthians 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  NIV

When the world sees us living as Christ, they can see a difference between our lives and theirs.  When we speak the word of God, the lost hear a message of hope they can’t hear in the world.  

2 Corinthians 4:13-15  It is written:  “I believed; therefore I have spoken”  With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  NIV

All of this, so the grace reaching more and more people will cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  When God’s saving grace touches the lives of the lost they glorify God in heaven and His Sinless Son who died!  They give thanks for God’s bountiful mercy!  They thank God for obedient, selfless, servants of the Gospel.  One redeemed life, touching another, glorifies the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Grace brings us salvation.  Grace empowers us to live lives that are holy and sanctified for the use of God.  In-and-of ourselves, we cannot attain godliness, but in 2 Corinthians 9:8, the word tells us that God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  NIV

Titus 2:11-14  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  NIV

For this reason we press forward, striving toward the higher calling of life in Christ Jesus; letting go of all we have clung to so we will be able to grasp the fullness of Christ; to be found steadfastly living in Christ, fulfilling God’s will for us.

2 Timothy 1:8-10  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  NIV

Ephesians 4:1-8  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says:  “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”  NIV

“…and gave gifts to men”, such gifts; such incomprehensibly rich gifts.  How can we even begin to imagine the unfathomable riches of God’s grace?  We may try, but it will have to be revealed to us in the coming ages because we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around the immensity of God’s love for us!  Yet, God’s love for us is a jealous love.  Just as immeasurable as God’s love for us is, God’s jealousy burns more intensely than the fires of hell.  He cannot abide to share us, the reward of Christ’s suffering on the cross, with this degraded world.

James 4:4-10  You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to morning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  NIV

Humble ourselves before the Lord and He will lift us up.  Oh, to be lifted up in the nail scarred hands of the Lord.  Oh, to be cradled in his loving arms.  We have sinned, we are unworthy, and it is precisely because we don’t deserve mercy from God that God is glorified by the grace He has so lavishly imparted to us through the sacrifice of His Son.

Hebrews 4:12-16  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  NIV

We hold a great responsibility within our fragile hearts.  Jesus redeemed the lost.  Jesus reconciled the entire world to God through the sacrifice of His perfect life; and we, by the life of God now living in us, have made ourselves accountable to be ministers of reconciliation.  We are accountable to All Mighty God to deliver the Gospel of how Jesus reconciled this lost and dieing world to God.  But for the grace of God we would be undone!  But for the grace of God!  God is able to make grace abound to us, so that in all things, at all times, we will have all that we need, to abound in every good work!  

We have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, the Righteous, the Lamb that was slain, the Alpha and the Omega, the Great I Am, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Son of God, who inhabits the throne of grace.  Jesus calls to us, urging us to come with confidence, so we may find mercy and grace, to help us in our time of need.  May our lives become beacons of grace to honor Christ’s sacrifice and to bring eternal glory of our Father in heaven!  May we yield our lives to the work of the ministry of reconciliation, so Christ can receive the reward for His suffering through us.  Then, God’s purpose for redeeming our lives will be fulfilled.

I will leave you with this last verse from the Holy Scriptures.

Revelations 22:21  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen  NIV

To download a file of
Signs and Wonders,
The Miracle of Home Felloswhip
click on icon to the right.
Email Will Ghormley
For More Messages
Back to Home Page