My wife and I met in our early 40’s and married after a year-long, long-distance courtship. Typical of most church weddings, our minister’s homily spoke of the 3-stranded cord, unity, cleaving, and becoming one flesh. To conclude the marriage ceremony, he declared “what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:9).
Twenty-five years since my wife and I lit our “unity” candle in the presence of our guests, it’s clear some of them didn’t listen to the minister’s homily nor take to heart his charge not to separate us. Were it the only time they’d heard the gospel message on marital oneness, I might understand their ignorance and divisive behaviors. However, the unity message is a universal one, in the sense that the same message has been delivered at countless weddings since we were married so long ago. So how many times can people sit through a wedding ceremony, hear the charge of Christ (Mark 10:9), then mindlessly set about trying to divide husband and wife the moment they say “I do”?
Where Paul wrote about marriage “This is a great mystery; but I am speaking in respect to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32), it’s clear that marriage between a man and woman is patterned after the marriage of Christ to His people, His bride, His church. Just as the enemy does all that he can to separate people from Christ, he also does all he can to separate husband and wife. Often the assault on marriage comes through family members who continually find fault with the new “in-law”, or through other believers and the church, who try to invoke spiritual authority over a marriage. Throughout our marriage and cleaving to one another, my wife and I have experienced many attempts to separate us. For more about that, please see my other articles called I pledge my marriage to Christ JesusandI pledge my head to Christ Jesus.
In the article “Rebuilding the fallen tabernacle of David” I wrote “I believe the truth is this: in the same way we are the “Church”, we are also the “rebuilt tabernacle of David”. About that, I can’t put my finger on any scripture where it says that definitively, rather, I wrote that in keeping with the spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Of course, that’s the way it is with prophecies in scripture; few are explained and only after they come to pass are they understood.
Recently the Spirit prompted me to consider David’s tabernacle as a kind of vessel which contained several symbolic elements within the Ark of the Covenant, and we as tabernacles (vessels) in which dwells the Holy Spirit together with several gifts from God. I was truly surprised by how the articles within the Ark of the Covenant compared to the Holy Spirit, His gifts and teachings that the Lord has deposited in us through rebirth and maturation (perfecting).
It seems to me the doctrine of cessation is for those who like me were fearful of receiving the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts or who asked God but never received them. In turn they comforted themselves by adopting such doctrine to explain their lack, but it is a false comfort rooted in nullification of God’s Word. I suppose the appeal of such a doctrine is that it’s easier than persisting with God until He grants your request for more of His Holy Spirit and His gifts. It is through persistence that my wife received the gift of tongues some twenty years before we met, married, and I received the gift for myself.
Biblically, the doctrine of cessation is rooted in a poor interpretation of the passage “when perfection comes” found in 1 Corinthians 13:10 which holds the Bible itself to be the “perfection” Paul wrote about. Adherents to the doctrine consider tongues and all the other spiritual gifts to have “passed away” when the Bible was completed. Whether “completed” refers to the date the last book was finished or to one of the various canonized (ratified) versions of the Bible, I’m not sure. Regardless, adherents generally believe spiritual gifts passed away between 1600-1900 years ago. Naturally that puts cessationists at odds with countless believers who have received the Holy Spirit and practice using spiritual gifts today. That leaves them with just 2 choices concerning those who speak in tongues: admit their doctrine is in error, or persecute those who do. Sadly, in my experience they have always done the latter and with great zeal. If only they realized that they are in fact persecuting (and grieving) the Holy Spirit by assailing believers who speak in tongues by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If as I have, you’re wondering why you’ve never heard the gift of tongues in your church, perhaps there is a reluctance to teach about the Holy Spirit and His gifts and thus ignorance abounds. On the one hand, I can empathize with that approach in the sense that teachers ought not teach about gifts they do not have. Such isn’t really teaching, it’s opining and the way I see it, that’s vanity. For example, I wouldn’t dream of trying to teach someone the guitar if I couldn’t already play it myself. On the other hand, not teaching about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts makes for an unequipped body of believers.
Or it may be that your church simply isn’t welcoming of the Holy Spirit. I’ve met a few pastors over the years who have the gift of tongues, but whose congregations forbade them to exercise their gift or even talk about it. How sad it is when fear of the unknown reigns over the body. It isn’t likely those congregations ripped the book of Acts and Paul’s letters out of the pew Bibles. Rather it’s more likely the so-called “controversial” or uncomfortable passages are simply avoided. After all, who doesn’t like the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13? It’s 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 where people get all worked up.
Where it is commonly taught that the Holy Spirit is received during water baptism and that’s all there is, the church has effectively raised a generation of believers who are unaware they can ask for MORE of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) and His gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). But try as I might, I never could figure out the why of it all, for the New Testament clearly describes the Holy Spirit and His gifts and contains instruction for their use in the body, with numerous exhortations to seek the Father and ask for more of Him. Whatever the reason, it’s seems clear that fear and/or ignorance are at the root of resistance to the Holy Spirit.
Having been driven out of a few congregations, it is apparent “non-charismatic” churches turn “anti-charismatic” if ever a believer who speaks in tongues joins the fold. In all the years the Holy Spirit sent my wife and I to “non-charismatic” churches, we never used the gift of tongues in public. Nevertheless, where ignorance and fear rule over a church, members can quickly turn mob-like to run off any threat to the status quo. In our case the results of our “spiritual gifts assessment” were leaked to a few members who gossiped about us, rumors were started and some people feared we might speak in tongues and thereby turn them into a “holy roller church”. Clearly they did not practice the principle of receiving those whom God sends as illustrated by the parable of the vineyard tenants (Matthew 21:33-41 and John 13:20). Specifically, receiving the one sent is the same as receiving the sender. To refuse the one sent is to refuse the sender. By driving us out of “their” church they effectively drove out the Holy Spirit who sent us and abides in us.
Three times the Lord said “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10) and each time I responded fearfully. When I opened my mouth to give voice to my ignorance for the 3rd time, the Holy Spirit washed over and through me in what felt like a flood of warm pure love. At the same time, it felt as if His hand took hold of my tongue and stretched it out until something hard and lifeless broke off from the end of it and I began speaking in a language previously unknown to me. Overwhelmed with emotion, tears of joy ran down my face as the words which could only have been highest praise for almighty God rushed from my tongue. For several hours I didn’t speak another word of English except to confess “I can’t believe I ever feared You”.
Try as I might the next day, I could not begin speaking in tongues again. When I expressed frustration, the enemy whispered in my ear “God gave you the gift of tongues just for the day so you could see what it used to be like. It is not your gift to keep.” In my other ear I heard a different voice say “That is a lie. The gift is yours to keep. Now take your concordance and look up every scripture in which I say that I’ll put my words into your mouth and read them aloud”. Still feeling frustrated, I did as the second voice said, reading the first scripture timidly, the second more loudly and with authority, and the third I yelled at the top of my lungs “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it SAYS THE LORD! Now GET OUT of my HOUSE Satan and TAKE your LIES WITH YOU!” With a welcome rush of the Spirit I began speaking in tongues once again and did so all day long every day for the next 2 weeks since I was at home at the time and out of work. What a joyous experience it was to receive such fullness of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues! Though it was 22 years ago now, I still remember the gentle beauty of it all as if it were yesterday. It was truly ignorant of me to have ever feared the Holy Spirit.
I saw Joe Biden standing before a basin filled with water, where he washed his hands in such a way that I thought to myself “just like Pontius Pilate”. He mumbled something to himself which I took to be dismissing all accusations and evidence of fraud. Biden then turned to his left and walked to the top of a stairs where he tripped from the waist as if falling over an invisible turnstile and fell head-long down the stairwell and out of sight.
Still dreaming I pronounced “You are dead. You will never be president.” And the dream ended.
I have no specific interpretation for the dream, however it did make me mindful of when President Trump gracefully descended the stairs to his inauguration ceremony on January 20th, 2017.
This I believe is the first short article I ever wrote, about the fall of 1999. I had forgotten about it until recently when the Father thought I needed encouragement and reminded me about the article by His Holy Spirit. The message is simple for the family of God in Christ who are down and discouraged by the evil goings on in the world today: WE WIN! I hope this blesses and encourages you as it has me. Jack
When I was 14, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Not long after, some of my new Christian friends introduced me to various beliefs about the Rapture of the Saints. That was the 70’s, and Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth” was causing quite a stir, and prompted many rapture debates. I can remember one sister asking me: “are you pre-, mid-, or post-trib, pre-, post-, or a-millennial”? Biblical scholar that I was then (I knew John 3:16 inside and out), I gave her my most profound answer: “Both!” and then I changed the subject. Eventually, I adopted as my own the popular beliefs at the time. Certainly that was easier than searching for the answers myself.
As I’ve grown in Christ, those early ‘hearsay’ beliefs, are being challenged and changed by what I read in scripture. While I still believe in the Rapture of the Saints, my view of the church at the time of the rapture has changed.
At that time, the popular belief depicted the Church as on the verge of annihilation at the hands of Satan, when Jesus would come and ‘rapture’ the church like a holy ‘Superman’. In that scenario, Satan nearly defeats the Church, and Christ takes a victim bride.
My Dad, Jack Edward Helser, went home to his Joy Sunday morning April 22 at 9:55am. He was 85 and passed peacefully in his sleep. From the unusual movements of his head and mouth, it seemed to me like he was being greeted with kisses from loved ones on the other side of the veil as he abruptly turned his head from side to side to see who was next to welcome him home. Of course, that could well be my imagination – but it was a behavior I’ve never before seen from him while sleeping. And in the last year I’ve watched him sleep a lot.
Mom and Dad had a thunderous relationship at times in no small part because Dad loved to push Mom’s buttons. Though she was born in Maple Valley, Mom was adopted and often displayed the fiery temperament of her Italian parents. She stayed home to raise us kids while Dad went off to work and they made family decisions together. Sometimes when Mom asked Dad’s agreement with doing something out of the ordinary, he replied “You have my blessing” which always put Mom over the moon. She launched in an instant and blasted Dad with Continue reading →
There are 7 articles in the original “Tithe” series, written between 2000-2002 and posted to my former web site Lord, You Are (dot) com, now defunct. This article consolidates the 7 articles in the order they were published. Exposing the falsehood of the modern tithe doctrine was one of the instruments God used to set me free from man’s dead Laodicean church system. As always, I pray the Lord will use them to set you free from false teaching and guilt-based giving.
To Tithe or not to Tithe: the $earch for Truth
Though I’ve always struggled with the tithe, I still shook my head in disgust when I heard about the preacher who’s congregation quietly left the church during the prayer following a long sermon on tithing. He said “Amen”, looked up and cried out “half my church is gone!” I laughed saying “they must have fled the conviction of the Holy Spirit”.
What the Lord said took me completely by surprise: “They fled from error and guilt-based giving”. “What?!?” I’ve heard more sermons on the tithe than on any other topic except perhaps our need of Jesus for eternal life! After I picked up my jaw from the floor, the Lord prompted me to study tithing and giving.
Throughout the Bible study I prayed for His guidance and in the end I reached the inescapable conclusion that the “tithe” is to the modern church what the issue of “circumcision” was to the church in Paul’s time.
NOTE:Nothing in this article is intended as an excuse to stop giving as the Lord leads you to give.
The verse most often cited in support of the tithe is from the Old Testament, found in Malachi 3:8-10: Continue reading →