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We have been studying together the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and we have reached the third group of three which I call the vocal gifts because they must of necessity operate through human vocal organs. In this third group of three gifts, the vocal gifts, we have tongues, interpretation, prophesy. In our previous study I stated that we could distinguish, first of all, a singular and a plural use of tongues. In the singular, an unknown tongue, a new tongue, another tongue. In the plural, kinds of tongues, which is a completely different phrase. In our previous study we began to deal with the singular, an unknown tongue, a new tongue, another tongue. I pointed out that we could discern three different purposes of an unknown tongue.
For convenience, I define them as follows: initial, occasional and continual. In the previous study we dealt with what I call the initial purpose of the unknown tongue and I said this is the culmination of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit has three phases: an immersion from above, an infilling within and an outflow from within. That the initial speaking in an unknown tongue is the initial outflow, the supernatural outflow from a supernatural infilling.
I gave a number of scriptural reasons why these two are connected in Scripture and in human experience and I also made these successive statements about this experience that it was the evidence which the apostles themselves received. That it was the evidence which the apostles accepted in others, that the apostles asked for no other evidence. No other specific alternative evidence is found in the New Testament.
Now I want to go on with the second purpose of a new tongue, still dealing with the singular, not yet coming to the plural. If you will look at the outline, you will see defined as “occasional.” I explain it this way: a supernatural sign to unbelievers. This is something somewhat unusual. Many people possibly have never encountered it. I have encountered it on several occasions but to make our study complete we must pay attention to it. It is spoken about by the apostle Paul and in 1 Corinthians 14:21–22. Paul says:
“In the law it is written ...”
And where he says “in the law” he means what we would call the Old Testament. He’s quoting from Isaiah 28 which we’ll look at in a little while.
“With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign...”
In Greek that phrase “for a sign” is placed in an emphatic position.
“... for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not...”
Notice that verse 22 begins with the word “wherefore.” Somebody said, very aptly, especially in the writings of Paul, when you find a “therefore” or a “wherefore” you want to find out what it’s there for. In this case, of course, it’s directly connected with verse 21. “With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; yet for all that they will not hear me, saith the Lord.” Then Paul goes on to say, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” Why does Paul conclude it is unbelievers? Because at the end of the previous verse the Lord said, “for all that they will not hear me.” So, it is talking about unbelievers, not believers. Tongues are for a supernatural sign to unbelievers, not to believers. How can that be? The answer is very simple. A person who is a believer and baptized in the Holy Spirit, prompted by the Holy Spirit, gives forth a language which that person does not understand. But an unbeliever present understands the language and either knows or discovers that the believer did not know the language. Furthermore, what is said in that language is addressed to the unbeliever. In that way the unbeliever is brought to a place of having to acknowledge that God has supernaturally spoken to him, that it was not the believer speaking to him, because the believer didn’t understand what he was saying, but it was God supernaturally speaking to him, an unbeliever, through the believer.
The obvious place where this happened, of course, is on the Day of Pentecost. On the Day of Pentecost actually, every facet of tongues came into operation. Not just one or two but every facet. They received tongues as the culmination of the baptism, they received tongues as a sign to unbelievers and also, as we’ll see later, they edified themselves by speaking in tongues to the place where they were able to handle a crowd of 3,000 converts which takes a little doing! Before the baptism in the Holy Spirit they wouldn’t have been able to handle that situation.
Let’s look at the experience of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2 in relation to tongues as a sign to unbelievers. It says that “they all spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Then in verse 6 it says:
“When this was noised abroad [or when this noise came abroad], the multitude came together, and were confounded [they were amazed, they were beside themselves], because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”
Each one heard them speak in his own language. And then it says:
“They were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”
The unbelievers knew that those men that were speaking were Galileans, they knew that the Galileans did not know the languages that they were speaking, but the unbelievers having come from many different corners of the Roman Empire and having another language as their first language heard those believers speaking languages which the believers did not know but the unbelievers understood. And, therefore, they were amazed. They had to acknowledge that this was supernatural. They knew the Galileans were not doing it by their own understanding.
Some silly people—and I have to be frank and say silly—say that this was just a miracle of hearing, they only said, “We hear them every man in our own tongue.” But they have Scripture against them because in verse 11 it says, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” It was not a miracle of hearing; it was a miracle of speaking. They were speaking languages they did not know. In those languages they were speaking the wonderful works of God. They were praising and exalting the Lord. And, of course, his Messiah Jesus Christ.
These men were actually beside themselves. They were outside normal experience. It’s very interesting. Lots of people have the impression that people who speak in tongues are beside themselves, but there’s no suggestion about that. The people who were beside themselves were not the people speaking in tongues but the people who heard them. There the word is used ecstatic. That’s actually the Greek word used. They were outside of themselves with amazement and astonishment at hearing these Galileans who were fishers and tax collectors and not educated people mostly, speaking languages which they knew the Galileans did not know themselves. So, this was a tremendous sign to those unbelievers. It absolutely arrested their attention. They would not have stopped and listened to Peter preach about Jesus the Messiah if it had not been for that sign. That’s what arrested them and compelled their attention.
Now, this was a fulfillment of a prophecy given in Isaiah 28. Let’s look at Isaiah 28 which is what Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 14:21. He says “in the law it is written,” he means in the prophet Isaiah it is written. You’ll find it in Isaiah 28:11–12:
“For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.”
More literally, “with stammerings of lips and another tongue will he [God] speak to this people.”
I was in the Hebrew University as a student in the year 1947 listening to the man who was supposed to be the greatest expert in the Hebrew language at that time, Professor ?Torchenor?. He was dealing with this verse because of the word that’s used for stammerings. It’s a rather unusual word. When he read it out—he was a Jew but not a religious or excessively Orthodox Jew—when he read this verse out he had to tell you, he said, “I can read it but I have no idea what it’s talking about.” I sat there at the back and thought, “I wish I could tell you, but I didn’t have the courage.” So, what the learned don’t know the simple and the childlike can understand by experience.
But then, in the 12th verse of Isaiah 28 it goes on:
“To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”
Notice Paul points out in spite of this they wouldn’t accept the supernatural testimony.
In verse 11 he says, “with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” Who is this people? It’s Israel, isn’t it? That was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. It’s actually a fulfilled prophecy. On the Day of Pentecost God, through 120 uneducated people, mainly Galileans, spoke with another tongue to this people Israel gathered for one of their three major feasts in their holy city Jerusalem. They knew it was supernatural, they knew the Galileans didn’t know it in themselves and yet as a nation Israel would not hear. Three thousand believed and were converted but as a nation they rejected it.
If you look at the subsequent history of Israel, it surely points out the dangers of rejecting the Holy Spirit. I believe the dangers are just as great for the modern professing Christian. When he’s confronted with the supernatural manifestation and testimony of the Holy Spirit, if he rejects, in my opinion his spiritual and personal danger ultimately will be just as great as that of Israel. It is the last thing that a person can do to reject the Holy Spirit. It is a final rejection of God. Beyond the Holy Spirit God has nothing more that He can give us. He sent His Son the Messiah, they rejected the Messiah and He still sent the Holy Spirit. But when they rejected the Holy Spirit there was nothing more that God could do.
I always feel as I come to this point in speaking about this, that the same is true of the United States today. God is sending the Holy Spirit to the professing Christian church in a unique, supernatural, sovereign way. If the professing Christian church of America makes the mistake that Israel made and rejects the Holy Spirit, there is nothing more that God can do for them. It is the ultimate. That’s why I don’t believe that this is a matter that we should trifle with or compromise about because the destiny of this nation depends on its reaction to what God is doing by His Holy Spirit in the church at this time.
Now, though that prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, nevertheless this particular manifestation still occurs from time to time. In other words, God still gives an unknown tongue through a believer to an unbeliever as a sign. I have myself been present on several occasions when this has happened. For instance, when we had our meetings in London, England about fifteen years ago there was an elderly Englishman who didn’t know any language but English. One Sunday evening in the gospel service a young man came in of Welsh birth and background who spoke English but also knew Welsh. It was his mother tongue. At the end of my gospel message that elderly man interrupted me—I was rather upset with him—and spoke out loud in the meeting in a language. We waited for the interpretation and no interpretation came. But the young Welshman turned to his girlfriend who was one of our daughters and said, “Why is that man telling everybody about my sins in public?” And, it took ten minutes to convince him that the man didn’t know a word of Welsh. It surely was a sign to an unbeliever. He was on his knees before that meeting ended.
On another occasion in West Berlin in l965 I was with a group on a Full Gospel Businessmen’s airlift. I preached in a church in West Berlin on the baptism in the Holy Spirit just about as I’m doing now. A group of about twenty persons stayed to receive. I instructed them, led them in prayer, turned them loose and the first two German ladies that had received the baptism spoke flawless English. Neither of them knew a word of English. There was a Methodist minister from the state of Missouri there who went up and he so delighted to hear people speaking English he started to speak to them. They couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then they went back to German. He said, “Let’s praise the Lord.” They put their hands up in the air and began to praise the Lord and they all spoke English. Then he realized that they were not doing it by their natural understanding. He said to me afterwards, “You know, the remarkable thing was, Brother Prince, one of those German ladies was speaking with a perfect Midwest American accent.” This is a thing to which there are several witnesses, both German and English- speaking, still alive. Other cases are quite frequently reported. I mean, I know of several other cases. I’m not going to go into them in detail now because that’s not the purpose of this study which is essentially teaching Scripture. But, here is something which is a fulfillment of this statement by Paul that an unknown tongue can be for a sign to an unbeliever. You see, we always when we read that passage say, “How could it be for a sign to an unbeliever?” That’s the way. We have ample Scripture to support that. However, this is not a major nor a normal use of an unknown tongue.
Now I want to come on to the third purpose of an unknown tongue which I call continual. We’ve dealt with the initial, we’ve dealt with the occasional, now I want to deal with the continual or continuing use of an unknown tongue. I’m still not dealing with kinds of tongues in the plural. For this we need to turn to 1 Corinthians 14 and let’s read verses 2–4. I’ve already pointed out in these verses that where the King James Version says “an unknown tongue” the Greek actually simply says “a tongue.” But, the context shows plainly it is an unknown tongue.
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”
Notice that Paul is here using the continuous present tense. He’s speaking about something that either happens continually or is regularly repeated. He that regularly speaks in an unknown tongue. This is not the initial manifestation; this is not the occasional manifestation. This is something that is done regularly, continually by the believer. It is perfectly clear it is an unknown tongue because it says “no one understands him” and he’s “speaking mysteries.” It’s also equally obvious that it’s not a sign to an unbeliever because the scene is not one in which an unbeliever is present. In fact, there are only two persons involved: God and the believer. There is no question of this being used to bring conviction to unbelievers. This is not the purpose of this particular form of speaking in an unknown tongue.
Paul says that the person that does this, speaks in a tongue, is doing three things. He’s speaking to God. Secondly, he’s speaking mysteries, things not understood by the mind. Thirdly, he’s edifying or building up himself. People often say, “What’s the use of speaking in tongues?” I have no objection to them asking the question provided they’re prepared to go to the Bible for an answer. But, a lot of people, as a matter of fact, ask the question as a way of avoiding the responsibility of studying Scripture. That is a lazy and unworthy way to present the question. If you ask the question and go to the Scripture for an answer, the Scripture gives you an answer. What’s the use of speaking in an unknown tongue? Three things. You’re speaking to God. To me, that’s a privilege. I don’t know how you feel about that, but I feel it’s a privilege to speak direct to Almighty God. I’d feel it was a privilege to speak direct person to person with the president of the United States. Far more Almighty God. If people don’t appreciate that privilege, I think they have a wrong valuation of God.
Secondly, it says he’s speaking mysteries. Things that his mind does not understand.
And thirdly, he is edifying or building up himself. Any Christian that does not want to edify or build himself up doesn’t appreciate the need of being edified or built up. He’s either lazy or he’s ignorant.
Let’s contrast now what Paul says about speaking in an unknown tongue and prophesying. Prophesying we have defined as speaking in a language which you understand words that are given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And I have put there in your outline three points in which Paul distinguishes them. On the left hand side you have the unknown tongue, on the right hand side you have the prophecy or prophesying.
First of all, the one that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks to God, not to man. The one that prophesies speaks to men.
Secondly, the one that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks mysteries, things that are not understood by his mind. But, the man who prophesies speaks things that are understood by himself and those to whom he speaks.
Thirdly, the one that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies or builds up himself. But, the one who prophesies edifies or builds up the church where the church means the assembled company of believers who are being spoken to.
When a believer speaks in an unknown tongue he is not praying or speaking with his natural mind.
Let’s see what Paul says about this. First Corinthians 14:14:
“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”
I prefer to say “inactive.” My understanding, my natural mind takes a rest. It goes into neutral, let’s put it that way. I don’t know how it is with your understanding, but my understanding frequently needs a rest. I’m glad to be able to give it one because there are lots of problems that I encounter in situations that go beyond my natural mind’s ability to reason and find the solution to it. And I’m glad that I have another way to approach these problems in prayer. I don’t wrestle with them with my natural mind, I put my natural mind in neutral and I go into a different gear. I pray in an unknown tongue. What is happening? My mind is taking a rest, my spirit is praying.
Many, many Christians actually scarcely realize that they have a spirit which is distinct from their mind. I think it not unfair or exaggeration to say that contemporary Christianity in America is mind dominated. It’s absolutely at the mercy of the human mind. If a thing doesn’t measure up to the requirements of the human mind or appear reasonable to the human mind, it is ruled out. That’s why in most churches the supernatural is ruled out immediately, because the human mind can’t explain or account for the supernatural. Because it can’t account for it, therefore it won’t accept it. So, it’s ruled out. But, this is enthroning the human mind in a place it has no right to be. The mind of man is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s trained. But, it is not the master. It is the servant.
I used to tell our African students this because they were absolutely crazy for education. They felt that if they got education they got everything. I used to tell them, “Be careful. An educated mind is a wonderful thing, but it depends how it’s used.” I said it’s like a sharp knife. It’s a good instrument. One man may take that knife and cut up food for his family. Another man may take an identical knife and murder his neighbor with it. There’s no difference with the knife, it’s the use that’s made of it. I say it’s the same with an educated man. A mind, one man may use it to promote the well-being of his neighbors and friends. Another man may use it as a criminal. I said, “If you educate a thief, all you produce in the end is an educated thief, and he’s that much more able to do damage.” I think it was President Theodore Roosevelt who said “An uneducated man will just steal a railroad car, but an educated man will steal the whole railroad!” That, of course, is true. If the man is crooked before he’s educated, he’s still crooked afterwards.
The mind is a marvelous thing but it’s not the master. God didn’t set it in that position. If the mind sits on the throne of the believer’s life it’s a usurper. One of the things that happens in the baptism is the mind is dethroned and that’s why a lot of intellectual Christians fight the baptism, because they’re not prepared to see their natural mind dethroned.
I remember a lady in a meeting where I was where the people were really praising the Lord and worshipping Him with their hands uplifted and speaking in tongues. It was a very precious scene. It was in a university, a group of students here in the United States. I went there thinking I’d get a stiff intellectual kind of audience and I tell you, I had to hold on to them. I had to damp them down, not prime them and get them worked up. There was one girl sitting there and she obviously was not entering into it. She said, “You know, I don’t understand all this emotionalism. I was brought up different. I was brought up a Baptist.” I said, “That’s just where you’re wrong. If you were brought up a Baptist, as I understand it, you were brought up to believe that if it’s in the Bible, it’s right. Everything here is in the Bible. But, don’t call it emotionalism. It isn’t. Do you know what it is? It’s obedience to the Word of God. As a Baptist, you should be able to understand that.” The Word of God says “We shall lift up our hands in praising the Lord.” You don’t have to do it because you’re emotional or because you feel like it. You do it because the Bible says to do it. That’s good reasoning for a Baptist.
And so it is that we have allowed our natural mind with its prejudices, its preconceptions and its erroneous ideas about things to dictate to us. The baptism in the Holy Spirit dethrones the natural mind. I said this to this Baptist girl. I said, “In actual fact, you are letting your natural mind judge things. The very purpose of the baptism in the Spirit is to dethrone your natural mind.” She looked at me for a moment and said, “That makes sense. I can understand that.” And really, she adjusted when she heard that fact. So, Paul says here when I’m praying in an unknown tongue it’s not my mind that’s praying, it’s my spirit that’s praying. My mind is taking a rest. Till I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I didn’t know I had a spirit. I was brought up a Platonist, educated in Greek philosophy. I knew I had a soul, I knew I had a body but I just didn’t even know I had a spirit. I went years in life trying to satisfy something inside myself without knowing what it was. The more I satisfied it, the less satisfied I was because I was cultivating my body, cultivating my soul and starving my spirit. The moment I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit I knew that’s what I’d been looking for all those years. It had brought into focus, brought out into the open and revealed to me the reality of an area within me that was starved, dissatisfied, dumb, unable to express itself, which was the most important part within me. Without a question the Bible reveals that the spirit of man is the supremely important part of man. The Bible order is 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“I pray God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless ...”
The spirit first, then the soul, then the body. I know of nothing except the baptism in the Holy Spirit which will liberate the human spirit and enable it to operate on its own without being dictated to or censored by the human mind. I know of no other way in which a person’s spirit can pray and their mind be inactive. But the moment a person begins to pray in an unknown tongue the spirit is praying, the mind is inactive. I cannot calculate what it is worth to me in my own personal experience to have a way that my spirit can pray to God without being enslaved by or dictated to or subject to my poor, puny, little mind which is the size of a peanut in comparison with the greatness of Almighty God.
You see, there’s probably nothing which generates pride so much in a human being as intellectual success. There are three things I understand that generate pride. One is wealth, one is social privilege (aristocratic background), and the third is intellectual achievement. Of the three it seems to me the one that is most prone to create pride is intellectual achievement. That’s why the apostle Paul said, “There are not many wise, not many noble and not many wealthy amongst you.” Not because God doesn’t like the wise, the noble or the wealthy, but it’s harder for them to humble themselves and to submit to something that’s greater than their wealth, greater than their nobility, and greater than their intellect. Praise God, when you do it you make a good exchange.
We’re going to speak for a little while about the purpose of praying in an unknown tongue. To me, this is one of the richest subjects in the whole of Scripture. I say sincerely, I’m truly sorry for the person that belittles speaking in a tongue. I am deeply sorry for them.
Let’s look for a moment at what the Bible says about the spirit of man. You see, this is one of the subjects that is practically never studied in most contemporary Christianity. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 2 and read from verse 11 through verse 15:
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
Notice that. There’s something in man that knows man and there’s nothing else that knows man that way and that thing is the spirit of man. It isn’t the mind of man that knows what’s in man, it’s the spirit of man that knows what’s in man.
I will tell you tonight there are many, many things in you and me that our mind doesn’t know anything about. Very often they’re the root source of all our problems. A terrible, traumatic experience in childhood that a mind has blanked out, an experience of fear, an experience of hatred, an experience of rebellion, and yet, under the surface that thing eats away like a cancer. The mind doesn’t acknowledge its existence but the spirit knows it’s there. When the spirit of man is liberated by the baptism, you’ll often find that many inner wounds and scars that have been carried for years without the mind knowing anything about them are pinpointed and dealt with. How many times when a person receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit you’ll see that person break down and start to sob like a child. What is happening? The release of an inner tension that that person has carried for years without their mind ever acknowledging it or knowing anything whatever about it.
I’ve often said to people, “When you get the baptism, turn loose. Never mind if you weep and seem a little emotional. It’s not emotion. It’s got nothing to do with emotion. It’s the Spirit of God.” The Scripture says in 1 John 3:8:
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
And the Greek word destroy is actually a word “loose or untie.” It’s used of John the Baptist when he said he wasn’t worthy to untie the laces of Jesus’ sandals. I love that word “untie,” because the devil has tied people in knots and the Holy Spirit unties the knots. He’s the only person that can do it. When He comes in in the baptism, you can see Him start to untie those knots of tension and hatred, resentment and rebellion and fear one after another. There’s a kind of outflow. Sometimes it seems hysterical. Sobbing, weeping, but it’s healing. The spirit is receiving attention. For the first time the finger of God (which is the Spirit of God) has reached beyond the mind and touched the real source of people’s problems.
Let’s go on reading. Verse 12:
“We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy [Spirit] teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man ...”
The Greek is the soulish man. You can check on that in any translation you like.
“The [soulish] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ...”
The man who is dominated by his soul, by his natural mind and reasoning and faculties does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. Why not?
“... for they are foolishness unto him ...”
How many theologians, preachers and ministers will not accept the manifestation of the Spirit of God. Why? Because they’re judging it with their natural, soulish mind and the Scripture says the soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. The more you educate the soul of the soulish man, the less prone he is to receive the things of the Holy Spirit. I’m not belittling education, but it’s a question of the place that education takes and that depends upon the order within ourselves of the three elements within us: the spirit, the soul (which includes the mind), and the body. If the mind dictates, it dictates ultimately to disaster. If the Spirit is in control, then the more keen and able and gifted the mind is, the better it is because it’s an instrument of good.
Reading again verse 14:
“The [soulish] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them...”
You see, the intellectual hates that statement. You cannot know it by reasoning. You have to know it by believing. That dethrones and deflates that proud, self-assertive mind.
“... neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
It’s the spirit of man that discerns the spirit and the things of the Spirit of God. Verse 15:
“He that is spiritual judgeth [or discerneth] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Notice, the whole of this is in the realm of the spirit. It’s the Spirit of God dealing with the spirit of man direct, not by way of the mind. The mind comes in secondarily after the spirit has been dealt with. Then, the spirit takes over the mind and begins to exercise it the way that God desires it should be exercised.
First Corinthians 6:17, we have a parallel statement.
“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
As I understand Scripture, it would be completely incorrect to say “one soul.” He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. That part of man which unites direct with God and knows God direct is not the soul, not the mind but the spirit. It is spirit to Spirit. That’s the union and that’s the communion of the believer with his Lord.
Now, in Hebrews 4:12–13—which we do not need to turn to—you’ll find the writer of Hebrews points out this distinction.
“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit...”
So that soul and spirit are not identical, but the only means by which we can discern between them is when we use the Word of God. The Word of God is the only instrument sharp enough and penetrating enough to show us the realm of the spirit and the realm of the soul within us. But, there is a difference because the Word of God divides between them.
Now, the realm of the spirit in man is connected with an area in man’s physical body. To some people this appears to be extraordinary but the fact of the matter is it’s true. Turn with me for a moment to these Scriptures listed there on the left hand side. John 7:38, which we looked at in connection with our previous study but we will look at again. Jesus says:
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
And, the next verse says:
“But this spake he of the Holy Spirit...”
Where does the Holy Spirit flow out from? The belly. When I was a boy brought up in the Anglican Church, I thought church was such a holy place that it was even a mistake to sneeze or cough. Yet, when this lesson was read, one thing I thank God for in the Anglican Church is you always hear the Scriptures read. I heard them so often that some of them I remembered. And when this particular lesson was read, “out of his belly shall flow” I always reacted. I always thought, That isn’t right to talk about the belly in such a sacred place as the church. Particularly in connection with the Holy Spirit! But that’s what Jesus said, “Out of his belly.” And He meant exactly what He said.
The Greek word that’s translated “belly” is directly formed from the Greek word for hollow. And it means “out of the hollow inner area within the physical body of man.” When I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a soldier in the British Army in an army barrack room about 9:30 one evening without anybody else present or anyone praying for me, the first thing that happened was I felt the fire of God right in my belly. I could put my hand right where it was. And when I yielded to God that fire moved up my body into my throat and I began to speak with another tongue as the Spirit gave me to speak. This is the first time I’d ever heard anyone do anything like that. I knew where it started, it started in the belly. When I turned back to the Scripture I found that’s exactly what Jesus said. “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This he spoke of the Spirit.” Out of that hollow, inner place within the center of the physical body shall flow the Holy Spirit.
Why? Because this is the area of the spirit. Look for a moment in Job 32:8.
“There is a spirit in man...”
That’s a revelation by itself. Many, many people don’t know that, there is a spirit in man.
“... and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
The inspiration directly connects with the Spirit of the Almighty. The Spirit of Almighty God gives understanding. Where? Not in the mind, but in the spirit. Notice, understanding all through Scripture is not intellectual, it is always primarily spiritual. It is the spirit that receives understanding. There is a spirit in man and when it’s illuminated by the Spirit of God the result is spiritual understanding.
Then these are the words of Elihu, he goes on to say in verses 18 and 19:
“For I am full of matter [but the Hebrew is words], the spirit within me constraineth me.”
But the literal Hebrew is “the spirit of my belly constrains me.” Then he says in verse 19:
“My belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.”
The picture is of putting wine into bottles, leather bottles, sealing them up. The wine ferments, and it must have a way out. He says, “I’ve been listening to you people talking to Job so long I’m like a bottle full of wine that’s fermenting. I’ve got to burst. It’s got to come out. I’m full of words; they must find a way out. He says the spirit of my belly is pressing me to speak.” Where does it come from? The belly.
Really, if we consider personal experience, that’s where it starts. Anything that really affects you strongly, makes a deep impact, starts in the belly—whether it’s fear, joy, whatever it is. It’s right there. I remember my wife had an Arab maid in Palestine and one day she got angry with her father and started to scold and abuse her father. For an Arab girl to scold her father is a terrible thing; it’s unheard of. My wife stood and listened and then she said to the father, “Why do you let her do it?” The father who knew his daughter said, “If she doesn’t, she’ll burst.” And really, I think most of us know what that feeling is like. If I don’t say something I’m going to burst. It’s got to come out. Well, like Elihu, our belly is like a bottle full of wine that’s fermenting; there’s got to be a way out. This is the area of the spirit.
See, when the spirit of man is filled with the Spirit of God, it’s got to have a way out, it’s going to burst. I’ve seen many people receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit like a wine bottle bursting. They held it in until they couldn’t hold it in any longer and out it came with a gush. That’s because they were slow to yield.
Let us look also in Proverbs 18. This we are just touching on the question of the spirit of man and where it’s located, which directly relates to man receiving the Spirit of God. Proverbs 18:8:
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
The Hebrew says “the chambers of the belly.” Have you ever heard words like that? Things that enter so deep they wound you somewhere deep inside? That’s a wounded spirit.
Notice what the 14th verse of the 18th chapter says.
“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
When the wounds get right down into the innermost part of the belly, then there really is trouble. Turn on to Proverbs 20 for a moment, verse 27:
“The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”
The word spirit there is the “breath spirit,” it’s not the same word that’s used elsewhere. It means spirit but it’s specifically applied to breath. The breath spirit of man is the candle—but the word is “lamp” not “candle.” In Hebrew they didn’t have candles, they had lamps that had to be filled with oil and then gave forth light. This is exactly the picture. The spirit of man in the inward parts of the belly is the lamp of the Lord. When that lamp is filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit and set on fire, then there is complete inward illumination. This is revelation. This is the correct use of the word illumination. It’s when the Spirit of God comes within the spirit of man and brings light. Then we have understanding. Not mental understanding, but spiritual understanding and revelation.
This is what David spoke about in Psalm 51 when he was faced with the awful fact of his sin which with his mind he’d been trying to cover up but when God laid it bare he dealt with the spirit of David and he came out with this tremendous psalm of penitence and he says in the 6th verse speaking to the Lord:
“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
Again, this inward part, this hidden part, is the spirit of man. God isn’t interested just in intellectual truth, in my just saying the right thing with my mind and with my mouth; it doesn’t answer to what’s inside me. As a matter of fact, that’s hypocrisy, and most religions tend to produce professional hypocrites. That’s a hard saying, but it’s true. People who say the right thing because they know it’s the right thing to say. They say it with their mind, they say it with their mouth but there’s something very different inside. That is not what God is seeking. God desires truth in the inward part. When what I say answers to what’s in me here, that’s truth in the inward part. Then I’m sincere. God has got to deal with you and me till we come to the place where what’s in me can be brought out through my mouth without my being embarrassed. That, for most of us, means a very extensive and far reaching change. David came to this realization in this psalm of penitence. “Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part [the same part] thou shall make me to know wisdom.”
If you want understanding and you want wisdom, it’s not going to come to your mind, it’s going to come to your spirit and your spirit will feed it to you mind. It does not come by way of the mind; it comes by way of the spirit. The spirit then teaches the mind. This is the way of revelation. God does not start with the mind though the mind has its place, let me not belittle it. God starts with the spirit, with this inward hollow sacred area which was constructed when God formed man in the Garden of Eden for one supreme purpose: to be the dwelling place of Almighty God. Only at the baptism in the Holy Spirit is that purpose of God actually brought to fulfillment and then it is out of the belly that there flow through the mouth in speech these rivers of living water. After that, my spirit can communicate direct with Almighty God, spirit to spirit, as God intended me to live and be.
Let’s look now in 1 Corinthians 14:15–16. Paul is now returning to this theme of praying in an unknown tongue. He says in verse 14:
“If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is [inactive]. What is it then?”
How am I to deal with this matter? Am I to pray always in an unknown tongue? No. Am I to pray always with my understanding? No. He says sometimes one, sometimes the other. He says:
“I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?”
Notice that Paul is here speaking about praying and singing in an unknown tongue. It’s absolutely clear and specific, there’s no ambiguity about it, and he calls it “praying in” or “with the spirit.” It’s very important to understand that. Why does he call it that? Because it’s praying with the Spirit apart from the understanding. He gives the picture of a man who is asked to say grace at the meal table and he says grace in an unknown tongue. Paul says that’s all right, you said a good grace but what about the man that doesn’t understand, how can he say Amen? He said, “You must consider the unbeliever present.” That’s not the time to do it. But that example proves without a shadow of a doubt that when Paul speaks about praying, singing or blessing with the spirit he means with the spirit apart from the understanding in an unknown tongue.
There are many other passages in the New Testament you cannot understand unless you grasp this fact.
Let me point this out also first. Paul says, “I will pray with the spirit, I will pray with the understanding.” What decides whether you’ll pray with the spirit or the understanding? Your will. Many, many believers baptized in the Holy Spirit do not realize this. You have to use the switch. The switch is your will. You can pray in your understanding in your own language. You can pray in an unknown language. You can sing with your understanding, in your own language. You can sing in an unknown tongue. Who decides which you do? You do. Don’t wait to be pushed around by circumstances. Some people only pray in a tongue when they’re on the top of the mountain or at the bottom of the valley. This is foolishness. Why should you wait till those two situations to edify yourself? “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifies himself.” I believe we have a scriptural obligation to pray as much as possible in an unknown tongue provided we’re not offending others. The more we do it, the more we build ourselves up.
You say, “I didn’t feel like it.” You don’t have to feel like it. You have to will it. You decide it. I will pray with an unknown tongue. We are not to be guided by our feelings. That is not spirituality. I love the statement made by Smith Wigglesworth who was nothing but a plumber when he started and couldn’t write his own name. One thing he said that has never slipped from my memory, he said, “I’m never moved by what I feel; I’m only moved by what I believe.” That’s to be spiritual. See, the majority of Christians are only moved by what they feel. “Well, I feel like praising the Lord so I’ll praise the Lord. I feel like praying in tongues so I’ll do it.” No. You find out from the written Word of God whether it’s right and timely and appropriate to do it, then you do it whether you feel like it or not. Do not let your feelings dictate to you, do not let your carnal mind dictate to you. Let God speak to you through His Word to your spirit and let your spirit initiate the action. Let your spirit enlist the cooperation of the other areas of you. Remember how many times David said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul.” His spirit spoke to his soul and said, “Come on soul, get busy. Bless the Lord.” It had to be the spirit that initiated but the soul made the decision, if you can see what I mean. The soul is the switch.
How do you know what you’re going to do? You make your mind up. It’s time to pray in tongues. Pray in tongues. It’s time to pray with the understanding. Pray with the understanding. It’s time to sing in tongues. Sing in tongues. How many people baptized in the Holy Spirit don’t know they can sing in tongues? God will not only give you the language, He’ll give you the melody. I’ve met many Pentecostal believers baptized in the Holy Spirit twenty years and never knew they could sing in tongues. Then along comes an Episcopalian, gets it one day and starts singing in tongues the next day. It’s remarkable.
Let’s look at other places where this phrase to pray in tongues or to pray in the spirit, I should say, is used. Ephesians 6:18:
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...”
Notice “in the Spirit.” You cannot do it with your understanding. That is obvious. Your physical strength and your mental faculties do not permit you to pray all the time. But if you turn over to the Holy Spirit it becomes possible to be praying always.
First Thessalonians 5:16–19, the same truth is brought out in other words.
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: ... [How can you do that? Verse 19 explains:] Quench not the Spirit. Don’t put the fire of the Holy Spirit out and as long as you let that fire burn you will pray without ceasing, you will give thanks in everything, you will rejoice evermore. But, if you quench the Holy Spirit, then these things will cease within you.
In Jude 20–21 the apostle Jude comes back to the same thought.
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy [Spirit], keep yourselves in the love of God...”
How do we build up ourselves in our most holy faith? Praying in the Holy Spirit. How do we keep ourselves in the love of God? By praying in the Holy Spirit. What is praying in the Holy Spirit? Praying in an unknown tongue. The whole background of these words in Jude’s epistle are godlessness, wickedness, unbelief, mockery and cynicism. Just like many of us live amongst all day in the world.
How do we keep ourselves from becoming submerged from beneath these things? How do we keep ourselves pure? How do we keep ourselves in the love of God? How do we keep ourselves strong in faith? Praying always in the Holy Spirit. This is God’s appointed way to enable us to do it.
Let’s look quickly at a few closing Scriptures on this theme of the Holy Spirit’s part in prayer.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Notice, the apostle Paul says that we have an infirmity. He says we all have an infirmity. It’s not a physical sickness; it’s not even a mental sickness. What is it? It’s this: We do not know how to pray as we ought. I’ve often questioned large congregations: “Is there anybody here who always knows what to pray for and how to pray about it?” Never have I had a person say it was always so. We all acknowledge we have an infirmity. Many times we do not know what to pray for. And even if we do know what to pray for we still do not know how to pray for it. What are we to do? We know we ought to pray, we know prayer is urgently needed, yet we don’t know how to do it. What’s the answer? The Holy Spirit comes to the help of our infirmity. We turn over to the Holy Spirit, we allow Him to take over our vocal organs from within our spirit and to pray through us.
Paul speaks about groanings which cannot be uttered. There’s also this praying in the Spirit, praying in the unknown tongue. When we do that, we know we’re praying right because the Holy Spirit maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. It’s the privilege of every Christian believer to be able to pray on this level. In fact, the New Testament by its requirements of the prayer life of the Christian shuts us up to a position where we either must have the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit or we cannot pray the way the New Testament says we ought to pray. Why? Because God intends that every one of us should have this supernatural help of the Holy Spirit.
Look at two other Scriptures and we close. Zechariah 12:10, a very beautiful Scripture in the Old Testament speaking about the time of Israel’s restoration as a nation and reconciliation with God. The prophet says, and it is the Lord who is speaking through the prophet:
“I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications...”
Notice those three words: spirit, grace, supplications. That’s the order. Without the Holy Spirit we do not have the grace to pray acceptably to God. The only one that can give us acceptable prayer to God is the Holy Spirit. He’s the Spirit, first, of grace and then, of supplications—of prayers that are acceptable to God.
You see, there’s one simple fact that we often tend to forget. As sinners, we have nothing good at any time to offer to God except what God first gives us. If it does not come from God it is not acceptable to God. This is true of prayer. As sinners shut up in our own weakness and infirmity and inability, we have no prayer to offer to God until the Holy Spirit gives us the prayer. He’s the Spirit of grace and of supplications.
When Israel come to the place where they’ll accept that Spirit, they’ll pray through and be reconciled to their Messiah. And until that day it cannot happen. See, they refused the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost nationally and they cannot be reconciled to God until they accept the Spirit as prophesied here in Zechariah 12:10. It is impossible to overemphasize the significance and importance of the life of the individual, the congregation or the whole nation of how we react to the Spirit poured out upon us. Will we receive the Spirit of grace and of supplication or will we do like Israel and reject it?