Note: I’m part of something called the “Apprenticeship” in the ministry school of the Dallas House of Prayer. These are a few comments about the experience:
A friend of mine asks me how “healing school” is going. He means the Apprenticeship, and I guess that is as good a designation as any, because the goal is to follow in my older Brother’s footsteps, which are described like this:
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
I think though that my friend is puzzled by the whole school aspect. For a lot of people “gifts of the Spirit” seem like something that ought just to work automatically if you got ʼem, and not something you can just take a class in if you don’t.
The idea of a learning curve in supernatural, Spirit-empowered ministry seems counter-intuitive.
So how does this work? What is it we are doing with the schooling? It’s spiritual, right? So are we somehow training our spirits? Maybe. I really don’t have a good answer to that right now. So then, is it about the mind? That’s the kind of learning we are familiar with, training the mind. I’ve had a boatload of that, by the way. Do I need some more?
Before we give in to something that is a bit of a reflex in “Spirit-filled” circled, let me come to the defense of the often-denigrated mind. “My brain,” says Woody Allen, “that’s my second-favorite organ.” Well, not entirely sure what he had in mind, but if we’re big fans of the spirit, which is made to interact with the Holy Spirit, I want to commend the mind to a close second. It’s very important especially if full function in the spirit is what we aspire to.
The mind serves as a kind of switch, directing our focus, our point of concentration. The apostle Paul tells us:
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
I figure I could teach a PhD course on setting the mind on the flesh, if anyone actually needed a lesson. Setting the mind on the Spirit, however, that’s something I could stand to beef up more than a little. And so I want to suggest that this is one thing we’re about in the curriculum of the Internship and the Apprenticeship. “Renewing the mind,” Bill Johnson says, is “when the impossible begins to look logical.”
Maybe then it’s really an unlearning curve.
A few things I’ve been unlearning:
- A settled and confident expectation that “it” won’t work (a) this time, (b) for me. Whatever I may be telling myself in the front of my mind—based on the amazing statements of the Word of God, that the promises of God are “Yes” and”Amen,” what I seem to know in my knower is “No.” I know that I know that it’s “No.”
I am in the process of unlearning this.
- Normal Christianity looks much like regular folk, only we have an extra compartment for Bible, Church, and God stuff. Day-to-day life is much the same for me as for the next door neighbor with whom I share a common culture. Tweak it: I don’t cuss. I think some things about history that he doesn’t. I have ideas about the far-off future that he doesn’t. But on the rudiments of how the world works, we’re just not that different.
I’ve been on this unlearning curve a good while now. What I’ve been discovering in the Apprenticeship is that I may not be as far along it as all that. But we’re moving on.
- God tolerates me. We do use the word “love,” but I give Him credit for better taste than that. I’m quite pleased He’s let me in the door. I’m convinced He isn’t going to kick me out. He’s quite magnanimous, after all. If I sit in the corner and be quiet, maybe He’ll toss me a bone from time to time.
He’s unteaching me this putrid notion, insulting to Him as it is. As yet I have grasped a mere scintilla of His measureless love. But give me time, the infinite takes a little longer.
- To be is to do. Time’s a wasting. We’re burning daylight.
I have known in a conceptual way that spending time with the Lord is important. This has a way of becoming just another “do this” however. I’m unlearning “relationship” as a kind of code term for holding a correct theological position or having come into a particular judicial standing or exhibiting behavior that is more or less moral, on my better days. What part of “Real, Living, Present Person” do I not understand? Whole bunches of parts, sorry to say. I fall easily into my mental ruts.
But I’m unlearning.
Brilliant post Marv, in fact Marvellous!
I guess you are learning to die, little by little, day by day, to your learned Christianity.
My wife and I have spent the last several years UNlearning what church taught us, and we are still a long, long, way from completion.
We are fed a diet of Christianity straight from the Tree of Knowledge of GOOD and ???. (Being Christian it couldn’t possibly be EVIL!) It nevertheless poisons our faith and makes us lose sight of the fact there ever is also a Tree of Life in the Garden that we can eat from.
Yes, you are obviously right that our mind is most valuable, but its place should be subservient to our spirit, rather than overruling it.
We fill our minds with all sorts of information about the Kingdom of God, and forget what Jesus taught, that a small child, with an almost totally unformed mind can see the Kingdom of Heaven far clearer than we adults ever could.
This reminds me of about 30 years ago, when my three and a half year old son gave a prophetic word about a house purchase.
After being led over several months to believe, that as cash buyers, a house purchase was ours, the agent suddenly let us know that it was being sold elsewhere to a non cash buyer. We were thrown by this, but as we got back home, our son disappeared into his bedroom, only to reappear a short time later with the statement. “Jesus says we are going to have that house and we will have it before we go to Norway”, Norway being a holiday we had planned for about three months later.
We therefore went back to the Lord about this word, and felt a clear confirmation in our Spirit. We started to confess as truth, what we believed God had told us, rather than believe the contrary facts on the ground. Much to his irritation, for the next three or so months, we also checked regularly with the agent to see if his sale had fallen through.
A day or two before our departure for Norway I called on him to let him know we would be away for several weeks, but were still confidant about buying the house. He rudely told me to get out of his office and leave him in peace.
On that day, we started the loading of the van ready for our prompt 2pm departure to catch the ferry, when at midday the phone rang. It was the agent saying that the sale had fallen through and if we could come in and sign the papers, the house was ours.
God’s two hour time slot was seriously cutting it fine, but as we had everything ready and at hand we tore into town and signed all the paperwork. “How did you know,” asked the agent. “For the simple reason that God told us over three months ago that the house was ours,” was the reply.
It was our spirit, not our mind which was the key to eternal truth. On our own, without the kick start from a three year old, who could see, and hear, the King of Heaven, we would have not got the house.
Marv, this is beautiful. Great things. A season of refreshing in the ways of the Lord. We all need this, including me. I need to unlearn some things myself.
Hi Marv. Ive read some articles on this site. I tried reading your exegetical and grammatical responses to certain texts that are used to support cessationism, and failed to keep up, lol.
I haven’t seen an article clearly defining the purpose of tongues. I think Scott wrote one or two, but they seem to fall short of biblical support. Ive recently talked to my pastor this week about the issue, and he brought up an idea that Ive never thought of. He thinks that in Acts 2 (on Pentecost), that Peter spoke in tongues to people and proclaimed the gospel message, and people were saved. He thinks that tongues had a salvific purpose. I am hard pressed to believe that. In the other two instances in the book of Acts when people speak in tongues, it isn’t recorded that the gospel is preached and people are saved. 1 Corinthians doesn’t portray tongues in a salvific way either. In Grudem’s Systematic Theology, he explains the purpose of tongues, but also seems to exaggerate the text and twist tongues’ purpose. But even if tongues’ purpose is salvific in nature, it isn’t portrayed that way in Scripture, and it surely isn’t how Pentecostalism in our day portrays it either. Hebrews 2:3-4 seems to suggest that the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” were to attest to Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 14:22 clearly states that tongues were for a sign to Israel, and are never for believers, but for unbelievers. Jon Courson tries to explain that meaning away, but he doesn’t make a good case. Tongues were for a sign to “unbelievers.” “Therefore,” in 1 Corinthians 14:22 seems to combine it with verse 21, which is speaking about Israel. But even if one argued that the unbelievers weren’t just Israel, but were any unbelievers, this would clearly limit the gift of tongues to unbelievers. Speaking in “tongues of angels” would violate the purpose of tongues in verse 22.
Regardless of whether tongues has ceased or not, what was tongues purpose? Taking into account the rebuking nature of 1 Corinthians 14, and that Paul is trying to correct their misunderstanding of tongues; can you provide an explanation of tongues purpose? Not the fake tongues/ gibberish the Corinthians were doing and many charismatics are doing [“speaks in a tongue (1 Cor 14:2), and “speak with tongues (1 Cor 14:39-plural form of the word)]. What was/is the gift of tongues? What was it for?