This past week a pastor that works at Beam Development Center kindly asked if I would be willing to preach at his church before I leave for home. I graciously accepted. I’ll be speaking there this Sunday, October 25 at 10am (3am American Central Time).
I’ll be preaching from Romans 5:1-5. The title will be “The Gospel and Suffering.” The health and wealth mindset reigns down here, and I would miss a great opportunity if I didn’t try to dispel this false teaching by speaking on what the Bible really says about God’s sovereignty and suffering. As you finish reading this post, please take a minute to pray for these things:
That God would say “Let light shine!” and that the blinding work of the devil would be overcome so that people would see Jesus and believe the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4-6).
That God would work mightily so that the demonic “prosperity (false) gospel” would be exposed. It is held tightly by so many poor, black, African congregations. I want to preach “Christ and him crucified” and not a gospel of comfort and convenience.
That God would speak clearly through me and the pastor, Ludwig, who will be translating my message. It doesn’t take a linguistic expert to know that speaking with a translator is never easy. And no matter what your view on speaking in tongues is, no one can deny that, in fact, I’ll be speaking in a tongue (American English) and Ludwig will be interpreting my message to the congregation’s native tongue (Tswana). We know that the Bible says this is difficult and so we should pray for power to interpret (1 Cor. 14:13). Pray for clear, powerful, Christ-centered exaltation of the word of God.
I found these two articles by Robert Zerhusen very helpful on the study of speaking in tongues. He gives compelling arguments to believe that tongues are known human languages in both Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14, and not ecstatic utterances. They were published by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals:
Perhaps a great question to ask before and while you read is, “Who ever said that tongues has to be a miraculous gift?” The Bible certainly say that, or really even imply it.
At the end of the day, this debate doesn’t make a lot of difference, as it’s not an essential thing. However, we are called to know the Scriptures and study them. Wherever you are at on this issue, I hope these articles are beneficial to you.
When we think about how we should exercise our spiritual gifts, we must remember the gospel. Without the gospel, we would have not spiritual gifts. Without the gospel, there would be no reason for spiritual gifts. The gospel changes lives, spiritual gifts do not. The gospel is of utmost importance, spiritual gifts are secondary.
At the same time, the gospel and spiritual gifts are about a person — the person of Jesus Christ who is the image of God. If we wrongly use our spiritual gifts, we are wronging Christ. There are many people who will do miracles and sings and wonders who will not be saved (Matt. 7:21-23). Just because someone heals or has revelations or speaks in a tongue or does miracles or casts out demons does not mean he is saved. That’s frightening. That should cause us to examine ourselves daily and repent of our evil heart and actions (cf. 10:12; 2 Cor. 13:5; Heb. 3:12-13). It should cause us to believe in the gospel and embrace Jesus.
The gospel is very God-centered. Our spiritual gifts should be God-centered. Still, the gospel edifies people because God gives us a knowledge of the Savior. When we are changed and shaped by the gospel, our minds are renewed so that we can know God’s will. Our goal is to know God through his Son Jesus, not get a lot of nice gifts (spiritual or otherwise). We are changed by the gospel to glorify and enjoy God and to spread his fame to other people.
It only makes sense then that our spiritual gifts should be used to edify and build up those who have been changed by the gospel. They are merely tools to point people to the gospel, namely, Jesus Christ, the blazing center of the universe.