How do we know the Spirit is speaking through prophecy and tongues/interpretation?
Issues People Express with Operation of the Gifts:
- It may offend visitors.
- It may be uncontrolled and out of order.
- It may be that someone “misses the Spirit’s prompting.”
One of the approaches for many churches, even some Pentecostal ones, is to not use the gifts of the Spirit in the public setting of a worship service. They are afraid it will scare or offend visitors. But Paul addresses the issue of visiting unbelievers in a service (1 Corinthians 14:20-25).
Another reason people are afraid of the gifts is that they feel they are uncontrolled. But when you read 1 Corinthians 14, Paul stresses twice that God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Not only is there order but every gift is controlled by the one who uses it (1 Corinthians 14:32)..
Still another issue people raise about the operation of the gifts in a service is that people can “miss the prompting of the Spirit.” This means they think they are led by the Spirit when they are not in that instance. It’s called, “in the flesh.” It may also be that they are still learning how to use their gift.
If you experience these issues when you go to a service it may unnerve you and you may wonder if the Holy Spirit truly is speaking to us today. These issues are wide-ranging but the Spirit and Scripture address them all.
If this occurs, wise and Spirit-filled leadership such as the pastor and the leadership team should step in place and explain what has happened and lovingly lead that person into orderly use of their gift. This activity by the leadership shows order.
How do we know that the Spirit is always leading and people are always following? We don’t know 100% of the time. Don’t let that hinder the Spirit and his gifts. As I mentioned, these checks should be in place.
To discourage the gifts of the Spirit is to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) so he cannot move and speak to his people. The other effect of not using the gifts is to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). We don’t want to upset the Spirit by hindering him from speaking and moving.
For these reasons, it is imperative that we do not discourage the gifts from use among us. We need to hear from the Holy Spirit. We want a fresh word from God when we meet together. And God wants to give it. He uses us and others around us to do it.
We know it’s a genuine move of the Holy Spirit because just as the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16), he confirms what he is doing through the gifts in the service. Sometimes you actually can feel his presence and confirmation. You will feel a connection, conviction, or encouragement from the Spirit as the word is given.
We need to trust that the Holy Spirit knows what he is doing as he uses people in the gifts. The leadership will help confirm when something is not done in an orderly way. If you feel uncomfortable with the message or the tone in which it’s given, that may be an indicator that it was not meant for that moment.
I always ask the Spirit if the gift fits within the context of what the Spirit has already been doing in the service. I also ask if it may have not been a word for the whole body. Sometimes a person speaks a message that is meant for themselves for one or two other people. That doesn’t mean they missed the Spirit. It means that they didn’t understand where to apply the message.
You can’t see it in English, but in the original language, Paul is not speaking to an individual Christian. He is speaking to the whole church when he tells them to desire the greater gifts. Desiring greater gifts is not only about us seeking God for more personally. It’s about us supporting the work that the Spirit is doing among us.
When you know the Spirit confirms the gifts or if you are unsure that the gift fits what the Spirit is doing, it’s better to apply grace instead of judgment. We always need to be filled with love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nobody is perfect in listening to the Spirit
We need to give a wide berth of love and encouragement to anyone who seeks to follow the Holy Spirit and be used by him. We may make the same mistake ourselves at some point and we will need that same love and encouragement from others.
Above all, everyone wants to hear from the Holy Spirit. And this is the method that he uses. He chooses to use us, and that is a wonderful thing. Let us bear with one another in times we feel somebody is out of order. Let us always be filled with grace and mercy.