FOREWORD TO OUR NEW BOOK
The New Testament Church was born on Pentecost, and launched from the Upper Room under the glorious leadership of the Holy Spirit. It was the continuation of the ministry of Jesus Christ, with His signs and wonders streaming from them as they went. Luke begins his 2nd book, The Acts of the Apostles, with this context-setting statement:
In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus BEGAN to do and teach… (Acts 1:1)
The Book of Acts is not the story of a change of command with a hand-off, but a CONTINUATION. Jesus had already set the tone and method of His ministry and it was perfect. Shortly after the launch at Pentecost, Peter stands before the Gentile centurion, Cornelius, and his household, testifying to the Lordship of Jesus. Here’s the account from Acts 10:38-45…
…how 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…While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
Peter summarizes the pattern of Jesus ministry as the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit—God being with Him, and evidenced by doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. There is no way that this pattern of all that Jesus BEGAN to do, could be CONTINUED with any less power than the Holy Spirit’s infilling. Jesus had given strict orders that no ministry was to be initiated until they were filled and under the Spirit’s power. Peter knew he had just witnessed the same baptism with the Holy Spirit that they had received in the Upper Room, when he heard Cornelius, and the gathered assembly, all speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
The divine pattern is clear. Speaking in tongues, in its various applications and purposes, is at the heart of the Spirit-filled New Testament Church. And this manifestation, with its edifying purposes, spreads with the Gospel, through all the early churches. So germane to the Gospel mission of the Church, is the manifestation of tongues, that its use is codified with extensive testimony and instruction by Paul in his letter to the Corinthian churches.
In 1 Corinthians 14:5 and 18, Paul declares that he speaks in tongues more than any of them, and wishes they would do the same. Tongues is not a practice that the New Testament church should, or even could, ignore and do without, and still operate at the level of its calling, outlined in the Book of Acts.
Recent decades have witnessed a precipitous decline of tongues, leaving a giant spiritual vacuum in the Church, and by extension, in society. And Satan has rushed in to fill the void with deception and evil, resembling the Antediluvian World and the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. As a result, today we are experiencing the contradictory elements of the rise of Big Box Churches (think WalMart and Home Depot) juxtaposed against a numeric decline of Christianity. Christianity is rapidly declining in American culture, while the culture of “church” is increasing without advancing the Kingdom. What are we missing?
Bert Farias has written a wonderful book, TONGUES: THE ELEVATION OF A MYSTERY, detailing the purpose, methods and applications of this awesome manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s working, supported with scriptural explanations and testimonials. This book ought to be given to every Christian who is serious about fulfilling Jesus’ assignment to the Church and the world. At some point, as you read through the chapters, the realization will dawn on you, that most of the Church’s praying has been floundering in the paralyzing grip of mental stagnation. We’ve been trying to build effective prayers with uninspired minds. We do not know what to pray as we ought, or how to phrase our praying, but the Holy Spirit is in us to help (Romans 8:26). Bert does a great job of explaining how the use of tongues brings our minds under the influence of the Holy Spirit, providing God’s direction for prayer and service.
The Church was never intended to succeed in its mission without this essential operation of the Spirit, tongues. Bert lays out the important distinction of private and public, devotional and prophetic applications of tongues, with detailed explanation. Tongues has been wrongly classified as the least of the gifts. It might be the least gift according to pastors and leaders who don’t want it showing up in their churches, but in the New Testament Church of the Bible it’s an essential tool for edifying believers, to fulfill their missions, and opening them up to the rest of the gifts. Everyone in my church will be getting a copy of this book.
Rev. Nick Champlin Faith Christian Church, Clearwater, FL