Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 145

The Gifts Part 50

Prophecy continued...

The first prophet of the Old Testament mentioned in the New Testament, was Isaiah, within the context of a prophecy he had given, which had been fulfilled through Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:15-21, “But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there; and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. And He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets; a bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory. And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

In referencing the prophets of old, Peter places Samuel at the forefront of this group of elite warriors for God, reminding those listening to his words that all the prophets, foretold of the days of the coming of the Son of Man.

Acts 3:24, “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”

What is interesting to note, is that beginning with Samuel, we also see the creation of what came to be known as the school of the prophets, wherein men who had been called of God, could train in the law and its interpretation.

Another interesting factoid is that the Old Testament is divided into three parts, the Law of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms. The prophets of the Old Testament can also be divided into two sub categories, those who prophesied but never wrote any books, or had no books attributed to them such as Elijah or Elisha, and those who prophesied and also wrote books.

Of those prophets who wrote books, these are also commonly divided into two categories, namely the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. Among the Major Prophets we find Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Daniel, and among the Minor Prophets we find the twelve other prophets to which books of the Bible are attributed, namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The prophets of the Old Testament also used three methods by which they delivered the prophetic message that God gave them. The first method the prophets used was that of speaking or uttering a prophecy, which is also what the word prophet means, namely one who speaks in the name of the Lord. The second method the prophets used was that of writing out that which God revealed to them, and the third method that was used to deliver a prophetic message was employing symbolism.

Of all the prophets of the Old Testament, Ezekiel was the one, who most often employed the use of symbolism when delivering a message from God, from eating a scroll, to cutting off and burning his own hair, to packing up and moving while they watched, there are countless examples of prophetic symbolism within the book of Ezekiel.

The office of prophet is specific to the Old Testament, and the men who were called as prophets, were instrumental in the writing of much of the Old Testament as well. The office of prophet brings forewarning, revelation, guidance, and direction. Men called to the office of prophet, operate in spiritual gifting in perpetuity, often incorporating more than one gift in their ministry.

The gift of prophecy however, is spontaneous, no longer permanent like the office of prophet, it is sporadic, infrequent, any believer who is born again can possess it, and it only means the manifestation of a singular gift, the gift of prophecy. The gift of prophecy does not see, does not hear, nor does it understand the things of God as one who is called to the office of prophet, but only serves to edify, exhort, and comfort the household of faith, as the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

Because we have combined the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy and attempted to squeeze them into one neat package, there is much confusion and uncertainty when it comes to this particular gift.

Subsequent blowback notwithstanding, I will reaffirm the following Biblical truth so that there is no misunderstanding, the purpose of the gift of prophecy, as defined in the Bible, is to edify, exhort, and comfort the congregation of God. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the purpose of the gift of prophecy is to reveal or bring forth revelation!

Yes, one who is called to the office of prophet can bring forewarning, can bring forth revelation, but such men, who are called to the office, are as sparse today as they were in the Old Testament.

All we need to do is look at the actions of some of the prophets of old to understand the kind of power that resided in them, to understand the full extent of what it was they were able to do, in order to perceive that the office of prophet involves more than just the gift of prophecy.

It is because we confuse the office with the gift that we live with the expectation of the gift of prophecy to have the same intensity, power and presence as the office of prophet, and when we do not see it, we grow disillusioned and distraught.

The revelation of past and present things, as previously discussed is manifested through the gift of the word of knowledge, and the gift of discerning of spirits, and the revelation of future things or future events is manifested through the gift of the word of wisdom.

When a brother or a sister approaches us concerning something in our past, something perhaps long forgotten or overlooked, it is the gift of the word of knowledge operating through them, and when we are told of things to come, the gift operating in the individual is the gift of the word of wisdom. Yes, it’s easy to blend all these gifts into one and label them prophecy, but a right understanding of God’s word, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will inevitably lead us to a healthier, and more surefooted spiritual walk.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 144

The Gifts Part 49

Prophecy continued...

Now that we’ve discussed what the gift of prophecy is not, it is only fitting that we begin discussing what the gift of prophecy is. Although the following might anger some, it must be said, having the gift of prophecy does not necessarily make one a prophet, just as changing a tire does not necessarily make one a mechanic, or changing a light bulb an electrician. When we begin to understand the differences as well as the relationship between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the offices to which men are called of God, we will have the aptitude and the ability to understand, to accept, and to use without reservation the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the measure that He sees fit to entrust us with.

There is a difference between the office of a prophet, and the gift of prophecy, and although these two have many attributes in common, they are also very different from each other. When we do not understand the difference between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy, when we clump them both together attempting to define them as one and the same, not only will we have great difficulty in interpreting scripture, but practical and ongoing problems within the household of faith as well.

While the office of a prophet was more widely attributed to men in the Old Testament, the gift of prophecy is poured out and distributed in the New Testament. It is only men with a special calling that held the office of prophet, and comparatively speaking the number of men who held this office was small indeed. These few men of faith which the Bible identifies were men in which multiple gifts operated simultaneously and in perpetuity. These men did not operate in gifts once in a while, but they saw, heard and perceived the things of God throughout their lives from the moment they were called.

The first such prophet in the Old Testament was Abraham, a man who was God’s friend, and to whom God spoke audibly.

Genesis 22:1, “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to Him, ‘Abraham!’ and he said, ‘Here I am.’”

If we study the Scriptures diligently we come to understand that although these men were called of God to a special office, they by no means got to bypass testing, they by no means got to bypass obedience, sacrifice, or humility. God tested Abraham, as He tested all the men He chose, and as He continues to test all the men He chooses, for only in testing can we show our faithfulness.

Perhaps the greatest prophet of the Old Testament was Moses, one of whom the word of God itself says that no other has arisen in Israel like him.

Deuteronomy 34:10-12, “But since there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”

Now here was a man who went from being a prince of Egypt, to being a shepherd for forty years, wandering the desert, herding his sheep, and being molded and chiseled of God so that he might carry out that which God had planned for him. The years in the desert places are never easy. The years spent being looked down upon, the years spent being disregarded, despised, and even pitied by those who once knew you as great in the eyes of the world as God burns the pride and the self and the flesh out of you will be some of the most painful of your existence, but know that there is a purpose and a reason and a plan that He has foreordained, and when the purging is done, when the wandering is at an end, God will reveal His plan to you and you will understand.

Yes, it would be easier if God would tell us beforehand, ‘I have a plan for you, but first you must spend a few years being humbled.’ But God never reveals His plan to us before He purges us; it is only after we have been made those vessels of honor that He can use that God reveals our duty toward Him.

Imagine Moses, out in the desert, remembering all that he had been in Egypt, having to contend himself with being a shepherd, not knowing if this was to be his lot in life for the rest of his days. I’m certain that the first few months, or even the first few years, perhaps even as long as the first decade Moses waited with anticipation for the Lord to call him, to speak to him, to instruct him, to send him, but after twenty or thirty years of doing nothing more than chasing after sheep and goats and rams, chances are all dreams and hopes of being somebody significant within the annals of history dwindled and fizzled into nothingness.

These forty years of Moses’ life were one of the greatest teachable moments for me as a young man, because they caused me to realize that only when we’ve abandoned our own dreams, ambitions, desires, and wants, can God point to us and say, ‘you are ready, you must go.’ As long as I keep thinking that I’m special, as long as I keep thinking that I am destined for greatness, as long as I keep thinking that I will do great and mighty things, God will leave me in the desert. It is only when the self has died, it is only when my heart and mind, as one, believe that I can do nothing, but my Lord and God can do all things that we come to that place of readiness, wherein God can use us for His glory and not our own.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 143

The Gifts Paft 48

Prophecy continued...

It takes but a moment’s inspection to realize that within the house of God there are different philosophies at play, all equally detrimental to a balanced growth in the faith. There are those within the house of God who would accentuate spiritual fruit, all the while dismissing the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Bible, negating the need for a strong spiritual foundation. Likewise, there are those within the house of God who would accentuate teaching or doctrine, all the while dismissing spiritual fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are also those who would accentuate the gifts of the Holy Spirit and altogether dismiss doctrine, Biblical teaching, and spiritual fruit. All these are detrimental because they lack balance, they lack completeness, and they lack wholeness when it comes to the things of God.

Yes, we need sound doctrine in the church, but we also need the fruit of the Spirit to be evident, and we likewise need power which comes by way of the Holy Spirit and the gifts thereof. We cannot dismiss one in lieu of the other, because they are equally important for us as believers.

If these three aspects of our faith grow in us simultaneously, if doctrine, fruit, and power grow in concert, then we will not be lacking in any area of our lives when it comes to spiritual things. We cannot hope to be all that God desires us to be if we forsake doctrine, nor can we hope to be all that God desires us to be if we forsake the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit.

For some reason we like extremes, we tend to gravitate toward extremes, and I have met my share of individuals who had doctrinal knowledge but no fruit of the spirit, those who focused on gifts but had no doctrinal knowledge, and even those who believed that once they raised a hand in church their fire insurance was paid in full, and they would never have to worry about being cast aside from before God’s face, because they were told, and vehemently so, that all they had to do was come forward and mumble a few words.

It is in extremes that unhealthy doctrines and teachings fester, and take on a life of their own, it is in extremes that we have the overwhelming tendency to place the words and thoughts of men above the word of God, and it is in extremes that we are most likely to stray from truth and the narrow path of faith.

We do not judge the word of God through the prism of prophecy; we judge prophecy through the prism of the word of God. The purpose of prophecy within the household of faith is not to dictate, to rule authoritatively, to mandate and command, but rather to edify, exhort, and comfort the household of faith. I have seen too much abuse of prophecy throughout my life to hold my tongue on this matter. Yes, I have witnessed the destructive nature of unchecked prophecy within the church, prophecy that was not filtered via the word of God, and I have also witnessed men who claimed the office of prophet abuse it, and attempt to lord over the brethren taking upon themselves glory and praise not rightly theirs.

Even for those of us who have taken Paul’s exhortation to heart, and do not quench the Spirit, and do not despise prophecies, we are often lacking in the last part of his counsel, which is to test all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

We are so hungry for a word from the Lord in our day and age, we are so eager to hear prophecy, that often times we fail to take the time and test it to see if it is of God. Paul encourages and exhorts us to test all things, not just some things, not most things, but all things, and words of prophecy are likewise included in this broad word ‘all’.

Some falsehoods are easier to spot than others, like the time a lady attempted to rebuke me after a church service for teaching that Jesus was the only way into the Kingdom, because she’d had a dream of Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha sitting together at one great table, and to her this meant that whatever god one happens to believe in, as long as they believe, they will enter paradise.

Others however, are more insidious, attempting to bring honor to themselves, while minimizing and even denying the Christ who bought them, all so that they might fashion for themselves kingdoms on earth.

Without a deep and true knowledge of the word of God, without taking the time to test all things, we will most likely receive that which we ought to have rejected, and reject that which we ought to have received. God has put all the tools we need at our disposal, He has, time and again exhorted us in His word to be wise, to amass knowledge of His word, to discern the truth from the lie, to be as the Bereans of old and examine the Scriptures to see if what men say is true.

Between the two extreme opinions that exist within the church today one being that we no longer need prophecy because we already possess all that we need, and in and of ourselves are able to steer our own ships, the other being that prophecy is everything and nothing else matters, there is the balance that we spoke of, wherein we do not quench the Spirit, wherein we do not despise prophecy, but also wherein we test all things to see if they are of God, and receive in our hearts only that which agrees with His word.

When it comes to prophecy, dreams or visions, or any of the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, one thing is certain, God keeps His promises, and in His loving kindness He pours into the hearts of those who believe that which He promised He would.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 142

The Gifts Part 47

Prophecy continued...

There are some who do not dispute the office of a prophet in the Old Testament, but are reticent when it comes to believing that this continued on into the New Testament. Although it would be easy to speculate, since as human beings we are readily given to speculation, there is concrete evidence within the word of God, that indeed there were men even in the New Testament that operated in more than one gift at any given time.

One of the greatest, yet most often overlooked examples in the New Testament when it comes to the operation of more than one gift is the case of Peter and Ananias and Sapphira. Peter not only knew of their sin and their pact to lie about the price they had sold their land for, but also of the gravity of their sin, and the punishment they would receive for attempting to deceive the Holy Spirit. In that instant at least two gifts operated within the apostle Peter, the gift of the word of knowledge, the gift of the word of wisdom, as well as the gift of discerning of Spirits, as Peter tells Ananias that Satan had filled his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after her husband breathed his last, expired and was carried out and buried, Sapphira also came before Peter, and it was at this time that he foretold of her demise, informing her that those who had carried her husband out would soon carry her out as well.

Acts 5:9-10, “Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.”

In order to get around all of Paul’s teachings on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially his teaching on prophecy and the desiring thereof, some have said that prophecy is in our day and age nothing more than the preaching of the word of God. It is yet another misinterpretation and mislabeling of a gift that has caused many to stumble, and has brought a considerable amount of confusion within the household of faith.

Denominational filters notwithstanding, we must allow the word of God to have the final say when it comes to spiritual matters, and if the word contradicts a certain denomination’s dogma it is incumbent upon us to choose whose report we will believe. Will we believe the word of God or the words of men? Will we rely on men’s opinions and speculations or on the divinely inspired and eternal word of God?

A sermon is not a prophecy! There are times when within the context of a sermon God inspires a preacher or an evangelist and they give a word from the Lord, or they prophecy, but what a sermon is in essence, is a teaching or exposition on the divinely inspired word found within the pages of Scripture.

There has always been, and there will always be a place for teaching, or sermons within the house of God, because spiritual gifts cannot replace evangelism or preaching, nor can evangelism and preaching replace spiritual gifts. Both the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the offices to which certain men are called, which include the offices of teacher, pastor and evangelist must work together, as one, for the edification of the Body of Christ and the building up thereof.

It is Paul himself who rebuked those that dismissed doctrine and concentrated solely on the gifts in Corinthians, because in order to have a stable spiritual house, you must have a stable spiritual foundation, and a stable spiritual foundation can only be had through the word of God.

Doctrine, spiritual maturity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit must work in concert with each other, for if any of these are lacking within a fellowship of believers it will become visible and painfully so in due time.

Going back to the church at Corinth, from what Paul writes to them, it would seem there was no lack of spiritual gifts, yet their spiritual immaturity, the sin they had allowed to fester and grow within the camp unchecked, their reliance on the gifts alone while dismissing sound doctrine and teaching, made for a very unsafe spiritual environment one for which Paul rebuked them sternly and repeatedly.

Yes, there were gifts within the church of Corinth, but very little spiritual fruit. There were manifestations of tongues and prophecy, but by the same token there was also sin, division, camps within the camp who would claim to follow one teacher or another. The risk of accentuating a certain dimension of the work of God while minimizing, neglecting, or dismissing others is real in our day and age just as it was during the days of the primary church. We see such things playing out often enough, and just as often with dire consequences, wherein a certain group or a certain church focuses solely on one aspect of the spiritual life while neglecting the others, and though they might experience growth for a season eventually it all comes to ruination. God intended His children to be complete and balanced, He intended His children to desire the fullness of Him not just one aspect of Him, and when we stray from this, when in our own wisdom which is no less than folly we assume and presume that it pleases God when we take it upon ourselves to countermand Him and strike out on our own seeking certain aspects of God and not God Himself, it’s only a matter of time before we fall flat on our faces, empty and rudderless, yearning for the peace and joy and grace we once had in Him.

We strive to be complete spiritual beings; we strive for symmetrical growth wherein we are not stunted in any area of our Christian walk, hence the reason for a balanced spirituality, one that incorporates both teaching, and doctrine, spiritual fruit as well as spiritual gifts.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 141

The Gifts Part 46

Prophecy continued...

Contrary to popular sentiment the primary purpose of the gift of prophecy is not the foretelling of future events, but rather something more personal and intimate for the individual believer. It is because the gift of prophecy comforts, edifies, and exhorts the congregation of God that we see its manifestation so much more often than we do the manifestation of the other gifts of inspiration within the church, as it is a gift that edifies the hearer and not the possessor.

1 Corinthians 14:3-4, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”

The gift of speaking in other tongues edifies the individual. When we speak in tongues, we do not speak to men but rather to God, and in the Spirit we speak mysteries. Prophecy on the other hand, edifies the church, the Body of Christ. It is a gift that God employs to bring both comfort and edification, but also exhortation to a congregation of believers.

In order to better understand what the gift of prophecy is, it would be wise for us to begin a discussion on what the gift of prophecy is not. As previously stated, too often we confuse the gift of prophecy with the office of a prophet, and herein we discover the reason that we so often blur and complicate the lines between these two distinct works of God.

One of the primary differences between an office and a gift, is that one who is given a gift of the Holy Spirit can operate in it from time to time, or even once in their entire life, while when one is called to an office, whether that office is that of evangelist, prophet, teacher, pastor, or apostle, they operate in their calling in perpetuity. There is a constancy and continuity in the offices that Paul outlines in Ephesians, the gifts thereof operating in the individual at all times, while those who are given certain gifts of the Holy Spirit are used as they are needed within the household of faith.

It is dangerous to confuse the office of a prophet, and the gift of prophecy, because we see within the word of God that the prophets of old, those who were called to the office of a prophet, not only prophesied, but also did miracles, raised the dead, healed the sick, had discernment and rebuked in the name of God that which was not of God. The prophets of old were endowed with both power and authority that was not restricted to just prophesying. They rebuked kings, anointed kings, spoke judgment on kings, prophesied the downfall of kingdoms, called people to repentance, being the trumpeters of God’s truth throughout their lives once they were called to the office of prophet.

Although some prophets in the Old Testament operated in the gifting of the working of miracles, or the gifts of healings, what all these great men shared were two of the nine gifts that are prerequisite to the office of prophet, namely the gift of the word of wisdom, and the gift of the word of knowledge. What all the prophets of old had in common, is that they knew past events in an individual’s life, such as the prophet Nathan coming to David and rebuking him for his past sin, and they also knew of future events as God revealed them, such as the prophet Samuel telling Saul that he and his sons would die the next day.

To those that still cling to the notion that God doesn’t know the future, and that He is just as in the dark about tomorrow as we are, I would urge you to read through the Old Testament and see the countless words that God spoke through His chosen vessels of things yet to come, some seemingly improbable if not outright impossible, then trace that word to its finality and see how it was fulfilled.

God is not in the dark, God is not stumbling about hoping to find the light switch, He is not sitting on His throne in heaven, hand to heart, anxious as to what humanity will do next, rather He knows the end from the beginning, He has seen the life of every man play out before that individual has taken his first breath, and sometimes in His goodness, He forewarns His children that they might not be caught unaware.

From Micaiah, who having had the gift of discerning of spirits was able to know the lying spirit in the mouths of all the prophets he stood against, to Elijah who knew the counsel of the king of Syria spoken in his own chamber, to Daniel who foresaw the fall of Babylon, and many more, we see that the prophets of old operated in all the gifts of the spirit at various times, except for the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues.

The reason it is important to make this delineation between the office of a prophet, and the gift of prophecy, is because we have a tendency to slap labels on certain individuals, misidentifying their gifting, making them out to be more than they truly are, and once they don’t live up to our expectation of what we thought they were supposed to be, we either become bitter, or denounce them as having been less than they claimed.

The flipside of course, is men who claim titles and offices to which they have no right, to which they have not been called, and in which they do not operate. Such individuals insist that you call them by the title of their office rather than by their first name, and by knowing the specificities of the office which they are claiming, we can readily deduce whether or not they have been truly called, or are nothing more than pretenders who feel the need to feel superior to their brothers in Christ by laying claim to a title in which they have never operated.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 140

The Gifts Part 45

Prophecy continued...

Of the three gifts of inspiration namely prophecy, speaking in other tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy is the most often mentioned and spoken of gift within the New Testament. There is no shortage of scripture in the New Testament when it comes to the gift of prophecy, but one of the most telling passages as to how pervasive prophecy was in the primary church, and how often this gift operated has been overlooked by many a theologian and scholar.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.”

If we study this chapter in Corinthians, we come to realize that the preceding verses were penned within the context of public prayer, or general worship, and as such we can conclude that prophecy is in fact a major aspect of general worship. When we come together to fellowship, when we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ to bring glory and praise to God, both prayer and prophecy ought to be common things within the household of faith.

Paul never quantified prophecy when he spoke of it, he did not say, ‘every man praying, or on those rare occasions prophesying’, he included both prayer and prophecy as common aspects of our Christian walk, something that ought to be present within the congregation of God not rarely or once in a great while, but often and with consistency.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit were common within the house of God during the days of the primary church, they were not something out of the ordinary or something so rare that men made pilgrimage to see and pray with one who possessed the gift of prophecy. It’s not that God loved the primary church more than He loves this present generation, it’s that the primary church had a higher standard when it came to defining what it meant to be a believer, a Christian, and a follower of Christ.

God’s hand has not grown short over the centuries, He has not become stingy with the passage of time, it is our corrupt hearts, our unwillingness to pursue Him with abandon, our hesitation when it comes to setting aside the things of this earth for the things of the kingdom of God that keeps Him from pouring out the gifts in like measure as He did during the time of the primary church. It has never been, and it will never be a God issue, for God is unchanging in His love, in His mercy, in His righteousness, in His grace, and in His ability to do exceedingly beyond what we can imagine. It has always been a man issue, because as we have discussed on many occasions, God cannot pour that which is sanctified into an unsanctified vessel, He cannot pour that which is holy into something that as yet has not been made holy.

Because we are unwilling to take responsibility however, because we are unwilling to face up to our own duplicity, our lack of commitment, our indifference, and our utter terror of stepping out of our own comfort zones, God withholds the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He withholds the power, because He is holy and just, and not one to be wasteful when it comes to such things.

Another aspect of this scripture passage that is worth noting is that Paul mentions both men and women praying and prophesying. There are some who would have the congregation of God believe that when it comes to spiritual gifts it is one big boy’s club, wherein women are denied entry and subsequently turned away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our God is not a respecter of persons, our God does not discriminate based on gender, He sees the heart, He weighs the heart, He judges the heart, and chooses what gift and to whom He would impart it based solely on His righteous judgment.

Although some would readily lump the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy together neither attempting to distinguish or differentiate between the two, there are marked differences between the office of prophet, and the gift of prophecy.

While the office of a prophet was a restrictive group to which very few were called within the entirety of the Old Testament, the gift of prophecy is more wide ranging, and available to a greater degree. There is an immense chasm that separates the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy, one that we can neither dismiss nor ignore. If the office of a prophet was reserved for a few great men such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Isaiah, Elijah, and Elisha just to name a few, the gift of prophecy is potentially available to all believers.

It is with prophetic insight that the prophet Joel foresees the days in which the power of the Holy Spirit and gifts such as the gift of prophecy would grow in frequency and availability. It is these days, the days before the terrible day of the Lord that Joel prophecies about, and foresees a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon His children.

Joel 2:28-39, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young man shall see visions; and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

No, Joel does not say that sons and daughters will be prophets, he says that sons and daughters will prophesy, and old men shall dream dreams, and young men shall see visions. I point this out only because I’ve heard it said from pulpits that we shall all be prophets as Joel foretold, and it is not what he foretold. What Joel foretold was the advent of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an intensification of these gifts during the last and final days before the return of Christ.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Defined!

Dear Friends,

I could not think of a more appropriate time to post this update on the health of Gabriela Licxandru than today, since to me what you did for her and her family a few months ago exemplifies and defines the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks to you Gabriela was able to get her treatment, and she has responded to it positively. Thanks to you, on this day she is able to be with her daughters and her husband to hug them and cry with them and laugh with them. You helped save a life, and it is no small thing.

Once again, to all who answered the call, to all who gave of yourselves, to all who contributed to this worthwhile cause, I thank you, and below you will find some recent pictures of Gabriela and her daughters, looking very different than she did six months ago.

May the grace, mercy, peace, provision, and love of our heavenly Father encompass you, may He answer when you call, and may you be blessed this day.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To All Who Love Him!

Isaiah 9:6-7, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 139

The Gifts Part 44

Prophecy continued...

Matthew 24:23-26, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”

I have known far too many believers that have already packed their bags, had the post office hold their mail, said goodbye to family and friends, found a sitter for their pets, and are currently in standby mode, twiddling their thumbs, doing crossword puzzles, and generally passing the time, with one eye on their timepieces, anxious that as yet they have not ascended into the heavens.

They had been taught for long and long, that at the first sign of trouble, at the first sign of hardship, at the first sign of tribulation, they would be swept away, caught up in the loving embrace of the God who tested the faith of every other generation before them yet who would not test theirs, because He knows that they are frail and fragile things who could not endure a slight verbal reproach, never mind outright persecution.

What such individuals fail to realize is that the word of God, the Bible, was written for the children of God, and not for those of the world. When we are told of coming uncertainty, when we are told of coming famine, pestilence, earthquakes, false prophets, and false christs, it is so that we might not remain ignorant of these things, and that they would not find us unaware.

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The book and the message contained therein, is foolishness to those who are lost, who are perishing, and who have rejected Christ. The message of the cross is unremarkable to those who walk in darkness; it is silly, and foolhardy and imprudent to those who do not believe. To us who are being saved however, it is nothing less than the power of God. The word of God, and the wisdom contained therein was intended in exclusivity for those who believe, for those who are being saved, for those who receive Christ and surrender their hearts to Him. It is because we have believed in Him that we believe His word, and if we believe His word we must beware the times we are living in and live accordingly.

Because these things are written in the word of God, and because we know they were intended for the children of God, we live with the expectation of these things, preparing our hearts, growing in faith, growing in strength, and purposing in ourselves that we will stand for Jesus no matter the cost.

Just a thought, one that I know will raise the ire of some, but if the church, the Body of Christ, the saved and sanctified remnant would no longer be here for the events that Jesus foretold of, why would He tell those of the world that if anyone said to them ‘look here is the Christ or there’, they ought not to believe it.

By this time, in the estimation of some, the song would have already been sung, the great reveal would have already taken place, and those ‘left behind’ would already know that Jesus had come to take His Bride, they would already know the truth of Jesus, and the fact that due to their rejection of Him all that remains is a fearful expectation of judgment.

Why would Jesus warn unbelievers not to believe those who would say that He had returned, if He would have already returned, and caught up His chosen?

It’s those reasonable questions, those rational questions, those logical questions that just get in the way of believing or being able to embrace the idea that we would not be here to see the days of which Jesus prophesied.

For the last time false christs and false prophets would rise, and the enemy knowing that his time is short, and that the end of his dominion is at an end, will endow these workers of evil with power in that they will show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive if possible even the elect.

These men will show great signs, and work wonders, yet they will attempt to sway the hearts of the faithful toward worshipping something other than the one true God.

In our day and age there is an overwhelming tendency to overlook the lack or absence of spiritual fruit in certain individuals because they do cool stuff.

‘Well, yeah I know he doesn’t preach Jesus, and his life is not in accordance to the word of God, I know he’s divorced and remarried thrice over, and his conduct is unbecoming one who is saved and sanctified, but he kicks cancer patients in the belly, and talks with a female angel. You’ve got to think outside the box once in a while brother, God does unexpected things, through unexpected people.’

Yes, God does unexpected things through unexpected people, He chose the son of an immigrant and the grandson of a potato farmer to teach on His word for one, but He never uses unsanctified people no matter how unexpected their call to ministry might be. It is not God’s desire to bring shame to His own house by using sullied and unsanctified individuals, who not only refuse to repent for their conduct, but insist that their conduct is not contrary to scripture and as such have no need for repentance.

Often times, small things give away the true heart of a man, and even before I knew much of the individual I was referring to there were a few alarm bells that went off in concert. To anyone paying attention, the first alarm bell should have been the ‘female angel’ since there is no mention of female angels in the Bible, the second alarm bell should have been when this particular individual would encourage people to believe in the angel rather than in Jesus, and the third alarm bell should have been the absence of spiritual fruit which ought to be evident in the lives of God’s servants.

Open eyes most often spare us from wounded hearts, and it is our duty as children of God to keep our eyes open at all times.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 138

The Gifts Part 43

Prophecy continued...

As Jesus continues His prophetic discourse concerning the end of the age and His subsequent return, He takes us through certain events that will precede what we have come to refer to as the end of days, and within the span of twenty verses He hits upon false prophets and false christs two more times. From reading the words of Jesus concerning the last days, we come away with the impression that interspersed with wars, rumors of wars, persecution, trials, hardships and tribulations, there are those who would deceive the household of faith and compel it to remove itself from under God’s protection.

Matthew 24:11-13, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

After Jesus outlined what the beginning of sorrows would look like, with famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places, after He foretold of the soon coming days when men would deliver us to tribulation and kill us, and how we would be hated by all nations for His name’s sake, He returns to the false prophets who would once again rise up, and deceive many.

The troublesome thing about this particular verse is not that many false prophets will rise up, because false prophets have always been about, and in times of distress, uncertainty and troubles they seem to increase in number, the troublesome thing is that they would deceive many. There is no need to deceive one who is already steeped in deception; there is no need to sway from truth one who has never known truth because it would be a futile and redundant exercise.

To deceive is defined as to cause to believe what is not true, to mislead, ensnare, or catch by guile. It is not the deceived that these false prophets will attempt to deceive, but those whose foundation in truth is weak and not deeply grounded.

In His goodness Jesus also tells us why so many will be deceived, and why these false prophets will be so successful. It is because lawlessness will abound, and because the love of many will grow cold. Although we might like to pretend that the days Jesus spoke of are afar off, although we might like to think that we will not see these events play out in our lifetime, or that we will no longer be here for them, all one needs to do is take a good look at what passes for the church nowadays, see the lawlessness that is festering therein, and realize that the love that once burned bright is all but cold ash. Yes, we still have Jesus on our lips, we still boast of His desire to bestow prosperity on one and all, but He is far removed from our hearts, because if our hearts were truly His, we would not squander that time we have on the meaningless, the vain, the futile, the worthless, but be about doing the Father’s will and laboring for His glory and kingdom.

‘But where do you see lawlessness in the church brother Mike?’

Where do I begin? We have strayed so far from truth that we have made lawlessness a doctrine within the household of faith in recent decades. I realize this sounds blunt, but there is no other way of saying it, we have come to teach the Body of Christ that they can live as they please, unrestrained by law, unrestrained by precepts or standards, and that God must love them as they are, otherwise He would not be a loving God.

When we cease to preach repentance in the church, we are practicing lawlessness. When we cease to preach righteousness and holiness unto God in the church, we are practicing lawlessness. Cheap grace is popular because it costs nothing, though by taking the words of Jesus into account, we come to realize that if we desire to follow after Him, it will cost us everything. It is impossible to reconcile the doctrines of men with the word of God, because while the doctrines of men insist that all one needs do is raise a limp hand in a church service and be forever and irrevocably assigned a place in God’s heaven, the word of God insists that there must be a total surrender of one’s heart and mind, there must be a total obedience to the will of God, there must be a transformation of one’s desires, pursuits, and conduct, and having put on Christ, we no longer live for ourselves, but become a living sacrifice unto Him.

Jesus also makes it clear that it is those who endure to the end that shall be saved, and not those who merely begin the journey. It is in the finality of our race, it is in the crossing of the finish line that we receive our crown and our prize, and not before.

To hear some men’s interpretation of God’s word, what Jesus ought to have said is that it is those who are made to endure to the end, rather than those who endure to the end. In some men’s estimation, we are neither accountable or responsible for staying the course, were neither accountable or responsible for running the race, we are in a sense forcibly dragged into heaven whether we like it or not.

‘Live a life or holiness and righteousness? No, that’s not for us, it’s not for today, we have grace and liberty and so come as you are, leave as you came, the blood covers all, and leave an offering on your way out.’

But grace dear friend, is not a license to sin, grace is God’s loving mercy toward mankind, which was made manifest through Christ Jesus His Son, who came that we might be reconciled unto the Father after having received the Son. ‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid’, Paul says unequivocally, yet when we preach lawlessness it is exactly what we are saying.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 137

The Gifts Part 42

Prophecy continued...

From the words of Jesus, the words of Peter, and the words of Paul, all divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, we come to the understanding that false prophets and false prophecy would plague the household of faith until the Lord’s return. Not only would these deceivers attempt to worm their way into the congregation of God distorting the message of the cross, turning men’s hearts away from truth, and deceiving the easily swayed, as time marched on and the end of all things was within sight, their numbers would grow and their power would intensify.

Within the context of the end times, and His ultimate return Jesus speaks of these false teachers, and false prophets, and though He mentions such things as earthquakes, famines, pestilences, wars, and rumors of war only once in His discourse, He repeatedly returns to these individuals who would come wave upon wave attempting to deceive if possible even the elect.

Yes, we will get a little scripture heavy today, but it is for our own edification, it is for our own good, it is for our own spiritual wellbeing, because the word of God holds more weight than my words, and though you might disagree with what I say, or with my personal opinion on any given matter, the word of God is undeniable and irrefutable.

Matthew 24:3-6, “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.’”

As Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, He knew full well that not only was He speaking to them, but to all who would follow afterward. Although the disciples were anxious to know when the end of the age would come, and what the sign of His coming would be, the first thing that Jesus instructed is that we beware and that we take heed that no one deceive us.

If Jesus warned His disciples against being deceived, those men who walked with Him and learned from Him, and grew in Him, then it goes without saying that all men are susceptible to deception. Hence the reason for our being cautious, hence the reason for our being aware of what we receive in our hearts, and for taking heed of those teachings and doctrines that come across our path. To take heed, is to pay careful attention to, and consider that which we hear, and see. It is as important to consider what we hear, than it is to pay careful attention to it, because when we consider a thing, we compare it with the knowledge we have amassed concerning the topic at hand, and conclude whether or not it lines up with what we had formerly known. When we consider doctrines, teachings or even words of prophecy, the plumb line must be the word of God.

It is not enough to ‘feel’ as though a word is right and true, because many today walk according to the imagination of their own heart, and as such that which they feel ‘bears witness’ to their flesh rather than to the word of God. It is the Bible that must be our sounding board; it is the word of God that a message or a teaching must resonate with and not someone else’s opinion or our own preconceived notion.

If Christ’s first words concerning the end of the age and the sign of His coming was that we take heed that we are not deceived, then we must do just that, take heed, be cautious, be weary, for many have come, and many will continue to come in His name, saying they are the Christ, and will deceive many.

Although there have been few less than sane individuals throughout the ages who claimed to be the embodiment of Christ on earth since His ascension, what Christ meant when He said that many would come in His name saying they were the Christ, was that they would come in His name claiming to be anointed of God. This is the literal translation of Christ, one who is anointed.

So it’s not just men who would come claiming to be Christ returned in the flesh that we must be weary of it is also those who come claiming to be anointed of God, yet who possess no fruit of the Spirit, and whose teaching contradicts the Bible.

The reason Jesus led off with the words ‘take heed that no one deceives you’ when speaking of the end of the age and the signs of His coming, and yes this is just a personal opinion but nevertheless tethered in reason, is if along the way someone did manage to deceive us with great swelling words and doctrines pleasing to the flesh but in no way in tune with the word of God, then we would not believe anything He would tell us concerning the end times even though these words came directly from His lips.

Yes, there are many teachings and doctrines of men floating about even on such topics as the end of the age, and the sign of Christ’s return that outright contradict the Bible, as well as the words of Jesus, yet men cling to these doctrines with grips of iron, refusing to believe the Savior who in His love and wisdom forewarned us of the days to come. If such times find us unprepared, if we did not take heed as He instructed us to do and we have been deceived into believing a lie, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 136

The Gifts Part 41

Prophecy continued...

Due to the fact that many a man desire to be elevated, praised, worshiped, and deemed superior to their fellow brothers in Christ, much corruption and deception has crept into the household of faith. Unlike the gifts of healings, wherein the working thereof is evident, the gift of prophecy can be more readily counterfeited, and this is one of the reasons we hear so many false prophecies in our day and age. Because the gift of prophecy is so easy to falsify it is a delicate arena, wherein we must be cautious and on guard, even dare I say suspicious. Because of their shamelessness, due to the absence of the fear of the Lord in their lives, there are men today who would claim the mantle of prophet, who would trumpet to any and all who would hear that they possess the gift of prophecy, and either driven by the enemy or more likely their own inflated egos, attribute to God that which God never spoke.

Knowing that there is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon so rightly pointed out, this is by no means a new manifestation, it is by no means a new practice, but rather has been present since the days of the prophets of old.

As a whole, in my opinion there is no book in the Bible that deals with false prophets, false prophecy, and the punishment of such individuals more in depth than does the book of Jeremiah. Although the people had wandered from God, although they had descended into the abyss of sin, although they had forgotten the God who had bought them, the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day kept insisting that all would be well, that the Lord would spare, the Lord would bless, and the Lord would prosper. These false prophets were great in number, and Jeremiah was one man who heard from God, and in his fearlessness proclaimed the truth of what God imparted to him.

He was hated, maligned, marginalized and abused, because he would not fall in line, because he would not echo what the false prophets had been saying, because he would not soothe the anxiousness of the people by speaking falsehoods to them, and telling them that God no longer judged, God no longer punished, and God no longer dealt in righteousness and holiness.

Jeremiah 14:13-16, “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘you shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘the prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’ – By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! And the people to whom they prophecy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them - them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters – for I will pour their wickedness on them.’”

While God was prophesying judgment on the people due to their willful sin and unwillingness to repent and turn to Him, the false prophets were speaking the deceit of their own hearts, false visions and worthless things that emboldened the people in their sin, and did not compel them to righteousness or holiness unto God.

If I were to write a blog post every day for the next ten years, there would still be enough wisdom to mine from the book of Jeremiah for another ten years, and the spiritual climate of his time is so similar and relevant in our time that I would encourage one and all to study this book and glean from it the wisdom that it so freely offers.

While the false prophets became great and grew rich because they told the people what they wanted to hear, insisting that no sword or famine would come upon the land, Jeremiah got thrown in prison, then into a cistern, then into a prison again for his faithfulness to God, and for prophesying the truth of what God had shown him.

While the false prophets prospered for a season, their judgment was already sealed, for God said that by sword and famine they would be consumed, and those to whom they prophesied, those who received the false words and continued in their sin rather than repent and return to God would likewise be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword.

God does not take it lightly when men speak what He has not spoken passing it off as though He had spoken it, He does not take it lightly when men in His name encourage people to lawlessness and sin, because they know it is what the flesh and the wicked heart desires to hear.

Jeremiah 23:16-17, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace’; And to everyone who walks according to the imagination of his own heart, ‘no evil shall come upon you.’”

As in the days of Jeremiah, today there are men whom God has not sent yet still run, men to whom God has not spoken yet still take it upon themselves to prophesy, men who would widen the path of righteousness, and dismiss God’s call to repentance and righteousness. Their judgment is not afar off, and soon all will see a just and holy God judging righteously among His own.

Jeremiah 23:22, ‘But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 135

The Gifts Part 40

Prophecy continued...

Whether it’s an evangelist, a teacher, a prophet or an angel, the Bible teaches us that it is sin to worship anyone or anything other than God. As John was shown the great and wondrous things he was shown, from the great multitude in heaven, to the voice that came from the throne, he fell to his feet to worship the angel that was revealing these things to him, and the angel’s rebuke was succinct and to the point: ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!’

The cult of personality is big and growing by leaps and bounds in our day and age, wherein we attempt to raise up, exalt, and praise the messenger rather than the messenger’s Master. Unscrupulous individuals the world over have tapped into this tendency to raise men up, and so elevate themselves, promote themselves, highlight themselves and make themselves out to be more than mere vessels in the hopes that they will garner enough of a following wherein the private jet and lavish mansion are a hardy love offering away.

Due to the inherent temptation of having a following, or the inherent temptation of what having a following might mean by way of the material, there are countless individuals who have disavowed themselves of their Master, who have even gone so far as to be in open rebellion toward Him, all for the sake of having a broader audience, or more adherents.

Because they know the way is narrow, because they know few are those who find it, they attempt of their own volition to broaden the way, to make it more accessible, to make it more pleasing to the flesh, to make it more comfortable and easy to travel, thereby denying the Lord who bought them. It is desire for more of this earth that compels men to forsake the truth of God’s word, to bring in destructive heresies, and undermine the Scripture. You will never see a false teacher or a false prophet encourage you to holier living, to a more righteous walk, or to a closer relationship with God. On the contrary, their aim is to give license to sin, to broaden the way of truth, and take the notion of personal accountability or consequence off the table entirely. Rather than focus on eternity and the kingdom of God, their focus is set squarely on the here and now, and on making the flesh as comfortable as possible.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating, man will disappoint you with greater consistency than you can possibly envision. If you place your trust in man, whoever that man might be, your trust has been placed in something mortal, passing, fleeting, limited, and earthly. Worship God, He will never let you down, He will never disappoint you, nor will you ever be disillusioned by His actions, His conduct, or His lifestyle.

History is littered with the misplaced hopes men have placed in other men, yet we refuse to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us, and blindly follow after men who present themselves as worthy substitutes for Christ. There can be no surrogate, there can be no substitute, there can be nothing that we can replace Jesus with, and this is one of the crucial lessons we must learn as we pass through this life.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

As we can plainly see from Paul’s writing to the church of Corinth, the tendency to follow after men is not a new thing, but is as old as the church itself. Rather than glorying in the fact that some were saying they were of Paul, and instructing those who were of Cephas or Apollos to switch camps and come to his side, Paul rebukes them all and asks them a simple yet profound question: “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

Who is it that shed His blood that you might be forgiven, who is it that died that you might have life, who is it that loved us while we were yet sinners? It was Christ, worship Him!

This world is passing away. All the human constructs all the fanciful progress we beat our chests over, all the feigned civility, are but fleeting things. Place your faith in that which has permanence, offer your worship to He who is eternal, praise Him who paid the ultimate price that you might be redeemed from the mire of sin and be reconciled unto God.

If God bestows a gift upon a man, it is not the man himself who ought to be worshiped or praised it is the God who bestowed the gift, the God who in His infinite mercy reached out to His children in power and authority, giving them that which He promised.

I have heard too many stories throughout my years in ministry, and have witnessed too many faiths utterly shipwrecked because they placed their trust in men rather than in God to make light of this issue, or gloss over it as though it were irrelevant. The worship of man leads to ruination, it leads to heartache and heartbreak, and even in our day and age we have enough examples of those whom we raised to the heavens only to see come crashing back to earth that by now we ought to know better.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 134

The Gifts Part 39

Prophecy continued...

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a man on the outs. Although I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit I’m not a charismatic, and I believe that much shame has been brought to the household of faith because men manifest in their flesh rather than through the Spirit. Although I believe God blesses His children, I’m not a word-faith proponent, nor do I believe that we are entitled to anything material when we come to Jesus. I don’t belong to any camp per se, nor can I be easily labeled and this is frustrating to a great number of people. I believe in the word of God, I believe in rightly dividing the word of God, I believe in diligently studying the word of God, and I believe that the blinders of denominational thinking are dangerous most of the time if not all the time when it comes to understanding the deeper mysteries of God.

Our journey is one of truth, not one of denominational formulae, and if anyone has disagreement with what I write, prove it out Biblically, and I’ll be more than happy to listen. We set a dangerous precedent when we allow personal opinion to countermand the word of God, and superimpose itself upon scripture. We are beholden to God, we are beholden to His word, and we are constrained by the truth we discover therein. When we teach, it must be the word of God that we teach, when we preach, it must be the word of God that we preach, and when we stray from the word of God in the furtive fields of our own imagining, we come away confused, divided, doubtful and uncertain.

We began discussing Paul’s exhortation that we ought to pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, especially that we might prophecy, but before we can get into why it is that we should desire to prophecy we must establish, and biblically so what prophecy is.

There has been much confusion concerning the gift of prophecy throughout the years, and due to lack of understanding or an unwillingness to dig deeper into the word of God to discover the truth that waits beneath the surface, we’ve mislabeled what the gift of prophecy is, what it does, and how it operates within the congregation of God.

The gift of prophecy, just like the gift of speaking in other tongues, and the gift of interpretation of tongues is a gift that is predominately subject to verbal communication. It can readily be said, that all three of the gifts that make up the gifts of inspiration, are gifts which manifest through verbal communication. Although the other six gifts are not necessarily gifts of verbal communication, the gifts of inspiration are. These three gifts in particular are also more difficult to prove or verify, due to their nature. With something like the gifts of healings, it is easy to prove or verify its veracity, because if a man who was once lame now walks, then the gift is proven out by the man’s ability to walk. If however, he who was lame remains lame, then it is evident that the gift was not operating. When it comes to prophecy, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, there is rarely visible, palpable, or immediate evidence of their veracity, unless the gift of discerning of spirits is also operating within the body of believers.

I will be the first to admit that I have witnessed false tongues within the church, I have also witnessed false interpretation of tongues, wherein the tongues were of divine origin, but the interpretation was of purely human origin, and I have witnessed false prophecy within the house of God as well. It is something we ought to expect, something we ought to prepare for, and something we ought to be on guard against, because wherever the presence of the Holy Spirit is evident, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are operating, the enemy attempts to counterfeit, forge and fabricate the true gifts and he does this for two reasons.

The first reason the enemy counterfeits the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is to later expose them as counterfeits and by so doing sow seeds of doubt within the hearts of believers as to the existence of the true gifts, and he second reason is to attempt and sway individuals from the path of righteousness by inserting new teaching and new doctrine within the fellowship, passing them off as truth.

With that having been said, I have also seen true tongues, true interpretation of tongues, and true prophecy within the church.

Yes it is possible to know whether an interpretation or a prophecy is of God or not, even without operating in the gift of discerning of spirits. One of the most consistent signs that an interpretation of tongues, or a prophecy is not from God but rather from the individual’s belly, is when the prophecy or interpretation praises a certain individual or attempts to exalt them.

‘I have sent my servant among you, him you shall obey, him you shall follow, and him you shall submit to.’

Uh, yeah, not so much. True prophecy always exalts Christ, always points the way to Christ, and always magnifies the Son of God. A true word from God, will not contradict the word of God, so if someone with ‘a word from the Lord’ tells you that you’re supposed to follow after them, or obey them rather than Jesus, that is a red flag, a blaring horn, an alarm bell, and a dire warning all rolled up into one.

It is the testimony of Jesus that is the spirit of prophecy, and if the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus, then all true prophecy will be anchored in Christ, glorifying Him, and raising Him up.

Revelation 19:10, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 133

The Gifts Part 38

Prophecy continued...

For something that in the estimation of some was to have come and gone as quickly as a comet streaking through the sky, it would seem God wasted an inordinate amount of ink in His word discussing the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We know that God is not the author of confusion, we know that often times in His word He goes out of His way to clarify certain things that may seem dubious just so we might be on a good foundation, on a right footing, headed in the right direction and seeking after that which He is able to give us rather than the unattainable or inaccessible.

For something that some claim came and went within the span of a single generation, something that was distributed without equality and with disturbing partiality, since it is claimed that only the Apostles had access to, and wielded these mighty gifts, one can’t help but wonder why God would inspire so much writing on the topic, and bring about the inclusion of these writings in His holy word.

Yes, I’m still discussing the notion of cessasionism because it highlights one of the most dangerous trends within the church today, that being choosing denomination over the truth of Scripture.

‘Well, I don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or that they’re still available to the believer, because my denomination doesn’t believe in them.’

But what does the Word have to say about it? What does the Bible say concerning the gifts, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the power to which believers are rightly entitled?

We like to pluck a verse that hints at something we are inclined to believe from the Bible, then make an entire doctrine around that singular verse. Whether it’s the discussion on pre-tribulation or post-tribulation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the need for holiness, men seem to find that one verse that if read at an angle, with one eye closed and the other squinting, supports their preconceived notion. What is disquieting however, is the fact that in trying to make one verse fit their preconceived notion by twisting it and forcing it where it doesn’t belong, they neglect the hundreds of scriptures that rightly refute their ideology.

After penning his chapter on love, wherein cessationists have anchored their ships for long and long, since the words ‘But whether there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away’ are included therein, Paul continues, and dedicates the entire fourteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians to the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and to setting about an order as to the exercising of the gifts in public worship.

When we juxtapose Paul’s words concerning tongues ceasing, prophecy failing, and knowledge vanishing away with the words of Jesus, that He would pray the Father, and He would give us another Helper that He may abide with us forever, we realize that the gifts will cease only when we see the Christ face to face, when He has returned to claim that which is rightfully His, His Bride which He redeemed with His own precious blood.

If the gifts had ceased, if prophecy, and healings, and tongues, and knowledge and wisdom and discernment were done away with, then the entire fourteenth chapter of first Corinthians is folly, trimming and excess that ought to have been done away with, unnecessary in the most basic and fundamental sense, because Paul is writing of things that were and are no more, making them irrelevant and immaterial to the believer.

1 Corinthians 14:1, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

Why? Why ought we to desire spiritual gifts, especially that we might prophesy if that which Paul is encouraging us to do is no longer available to us? Is He just being mean? Is he just trying to get us to do something that he knows will forever be out of our reach just to see if we’re dumb enough to try?

If the gifts were no longer among us and available to us, Paul exhorting us to desire spiritual gifts, especially that we might prophecy would be as cruel and mean-spirited as someone exhorting me to pursue fitting into a pair of size thirty two jeans.

I’m a husky fellow, I’ve always been a husky fellow, I’m always going to be a husky fellow, and I know full well that a size thirty two pair of jeans is not in my future. Anyone who has seen me, would likewise know that I could never hope to find in such a small pair of pants, so for them to exhort me to desire to do it, and especially the slim fit, would just be mean and unkind.

God is not so cruel as to exhort us to pursue something we can never hope to acquire; He is not so cruel as to encourage us to desire something that will forever be beyond our reach. He is a good God, a loving God, a merciful God, and a just God, so if He commands us to pursue something, we must know that it is attainable, and if He commands us to desire something we must know that it is achievable.

Some time ago I was walking through a park and happened upon a little boy holding a piece of sausage high above his head, encouraging his little puppy to ‘jump up and get it’. Although the puppy tried repeatedly, the boy was holding the snack too high for the puppy to ever reach it, but with a sardonic smile, the little boy kept encouraging the puppy to try nevertheless. Every time I hear discussions on the gifts no longer being available, while concurrently being exhorted in the word to desire spiritual gifts, I think back to that little boy holding that piece of sausage perpetually out of his puppy’s reach. God is not so cruel as to treat us like simple minded puppies, exhorting us to reach for something we can never hope to lay hold of.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 132

The Gifts Part 37

Prophecy continued...

As I said in a previous post, most scholars and theologians divide the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit into three categories. Although there are offices of authority within the body of Christ, these are not gifts, since someone wrote in and had a bone to pick saying that there were more than nine gifts when it came to the Holy Spirit. There is a difference between being called to an office, such as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, and receiving one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:11-16, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things into Him who is the head –Christ- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Although there is much to be said concerning this passage, and it is a passage worth reading time and again so that we might understand the true extent of what it is attempting to convey, I just wanted to point out, if only briefly the reasons that Christ Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists some pastors and some teachers, as well as why the gifts of the Holy Spirit were distributed to the Congregation of God.

First, so that the saints might be equipped for the work for the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, and second, that we would no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men.

So the Holy Spirit is among us to equip us, or give us the necessary tools in ministry, that we might be bold and strong and victorious against the enemy, to edify us, or to instruct and encourage us on the path of righteousness, and to keep us from being swept away by every wind of doctrine, deception, false spirituality, and men who are but mists and empty cisterns that can hold no water.

No, the Holy Spirit did not come, nor were the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed to the church so we could walk around with titles, and insist that people call us prophet, or evangelist, or teacher, or apostle, the Holy Spirit did not come so that we might boast in that which we have been given from the hand of God, He came that we might be that mighty army of which we often sing, that we might be the saints of God, thoroughly equipped for every good work, and ready at any moment to defend the faith.

If the Lord terries, we will perchance one day delve into the five offices to which God calls individuals for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ, but for now we are still discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The first of three categories into which most learned men agree that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be divided into is that of revelation. Within the construct of the category of revelation, there are three gifts, which are the gift of the word of knowledge, the gift of the word of wisdom, and the gift of discerning of spirits. Through these three gifts, the Holy Spirit manifests His power to reveal, unveil, uncover or expose. Through the gift of the word of wisdom the Holy Spirit reveals future events, through the gift of the word of knowledge past events, and through the gift of discerning of spirits He authenticates that which comes from God, as well as exposes those things which do not have their origin in God. It is as important to know that which does not originate from God as it is to know that which originates from God, because throughout the history of the church the enemy has attempted to infiltrate the household of faith, bringing in destructive heresies, deception, and a myriad of half-truths that stunt the spiritual growth of the believer, and in some cases derails their faith altogether.

The second category of gifts into which the nine gifts have been divided is what is known as the gifts of power. Within the framework of the gifts of power, we find the gift of faith, the gifts of healings, and the gift of the working of miracles. Within these three gifts we see the power of God manifest, whether through the gift of faith, the gifts of healings or the gift of the working of miracles. All three of these gifts are designated and defined as gifts of power.

The third category of gifts into which the nine gifts have been divided is what is known as the gifts of inspiration. Within the gifts of inspiration, we discover the three gifts that have yet to be named, those being the gift of prophecy, the gift of different kinds of tongues, and the gift of interpretation of tongues. Of the three categories, it is this last category that is most often witnessed within the household of faith, as prophecy, tongues and the interpretation of tongues are more often visible than the other six gifts of the Holy Spirit. Why is this so? Only God knows, but from a personal perspective I believe that God gives what is needed to His children, and as such these three gifts are what the Body of Christ needs in greater proportion than the others.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 131

The Gifts Part 36

Prophecy continued...

It used to be that the world mocked believers for their pursuit of righteousness and holiness unto God. It used to be that those of the world were the ones that snickered and laughed and pointed and whispered, but nowadays it’s those calling themselves Christians who are becoming the most vociferous persecutors of those who still strive to walk the narrow path of faith and pursue holiness.

In their all-consuming desire not to be lumped in with the likes of those who insist that Jesus is the only way into the kingdom of God, in their all-consuming desire not to be lumped in with the likes of those who insist that the word of God is absolute, the scabs within God’s household seem to be the first to throw mud and stones and spears at true believers who continue to stand their ground, who continue to call sin, sin, and who continue to lift high the name of Jesus.

Since these individuals practice a mediocre Christianity, and they are comfortable in their mediocrity, anyone who is zealous for Christ and the things of Christ, anyone who burns with desire for the things of God is seen as strange, peculiar, and yes even abnormal.

The very essence of Christianity is utterly opposed to the mediocrity mainstream luminaries are attempting to force feed the sheep, wherein the faith doesn’t so much die, as dwindle away like a torch at the end of its life.

‘Well you know, I’m all for spirituality, I’m a very spiritual person, but all this talk about Jesus in church is just absurd, I mean, we need to be tolerant of other faiths, and have like open arms and open borders, you know like don’t be so condemning and so judgmental and like, not tell people what they can and can’t do.’

1 Peter 4:1-5, “Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

It seems every time I run into a bubble gum scholar, and proud graduate of the ‘speak your own truth’ online school of theology, I end up taking it out on the readers of this blog, and for that I apologize. I don’t know, I guess I’m getting older, and with age comes impatience, or at least the inability to suffer fools, but the Bible is clear on what our responsibilities toward God are as believers in Christ, and one of those responsibilities is that we no longer live in the flesh for the lusts of men, but rather for the will of God.

Peter is writing to the brethren and he is reminding them that they had spent enough time prior to having come to the knowledge of Christ walking in licentiousness, in lusts, in drunkenness, revelries and abominable idolatries, but now they had been saved and sanctified, and ought to no longer walk in these things.

Those who once knew them, those who once engaged in these things with them, having seen their transformation, having seen that they no longer get drunk, no longer live in lust, no longer practice idolatry think it strange, and begin to speak evil of them. The transformation is evident, and those who had not received the Christ in their hearts, see it and speak evil of it because they do not understand it.

Although they are ignorant of what has occurred in the life of the believer, ignorance does not make them blameless, and Peter reminds all the brethren that though now they are spoken evil of, one day those who speak evil of God’s children will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Just as surely as God will reward the faithful, just as surely as God will give to each according to their works, just as surely as God will receive those that finish the race and not only begin it, He will call to account everyone who has spoken against one of His beloved, who has mocked, who has scorned, and who has spoken ill, even if the individual named himself a believer.

So the next time someone calls you names, the next time someone speaks evil of you for the sake of Christ, the next time you are maligned, abused, or mocked for Jesus, just remember that God knows and sees and those who persecute you will be called to give account to Him.

It is because we have a wrong understanding of scripture that so many today attempt to distance themselves from even the notion of persecution, it is because they’ve swallowed the lie they’ve been fed for so long that they would never be tested, they would never have to endure, they would never see persecution, and they would never know trials, that so many are silent and fearful and unwilling to proclaim the name of Christ.

We’ve been told we’re supposed to live our best lives here and now by men we respected and the world idolized, we’ve been told that accepting Jesus was a free ride on the gravy train to heaven, and we take it upon ourselves to make it so even if it goes against what the word of God says.

2 Timothy 3:12-13, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

All, not some, not a handful, not half, not most, but all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. For if you desire to live godly in Christ, the world will see the difference, and they will mistreat you for it, they will mock you for it, and speak ill of you for it. It comes with the territory, for it was Jesus who said, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.’

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 130

The Gifts Part 35

Prophecy continued...

Although we’ve been discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the order that Paul outlined them in his first epistle to the Corinthians, scholars, theologians, and men far superior in wisdom than yours truly have broken up the nine gifts into three distinct groupings. This is why when you hear a teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if you are fortunate enough to hear one in our day and age, it usually isn’t in the order that Paul details them.

Since I don’t want anyone feeling as though they were shortchanged, we will discuss these three groupings today, and why it is that these nine gifts were designated to these categories. No, I find nothing wrong or untoward about this consignment of the nine gifts into categories, but I thought it would be simpler to discuss them as Paul laid them out for the sake of continuity.

Regardless of how the gifts are discussed, whether within the context of the three categories we will be delving into today, or in the order in which Paul outlines them, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the outwardly manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit. At first the Holy Spirit begins to work on the inward parts of man, compelling him to repentance, to salvation, to rebirth, to service, filling man with His presence. Once this has taken place, once God has done this great work in the heart of man which changes his nature, transforms his mind, and reconciles him unto Himself, the Holy Spirit begins to work through the individual for the benefit of others. It is only after one has been born again, it is only after one has been transformed by the renewing of their mind, that the Holy Spirit begins to impart gifts for the benefit and use of others. First there must be transformation of the inward part, first there must be right standing with God, and then the using of the vessel wherever the Master has need of him.

I say this only because I have met countless souls throughout my years of ministry who desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but are unwilling to remove the weeds and chaff and thistle and thorns from their heart, who desire to see the power of God, but are unwilling to allow Him to purify their heart as He desires. In order to have all of God we must do away with all of the world, for God will not accept anything less of His children.

There is a tendency and desire to partition our hearts in such a way that we leave a little room for the trifles of life, we leave a little room for the distractions of life, we leave a little room for the vanities of life, and whatever’s left over, we proudly offer up to God as though we were doing Him some great honor by doing so.

We have wandered the road of inconsistency and compromise for so long that when we come face to face with an all or nothing God, a God who will make no concessions or share room with another besides Himself in our hearts, we are stunned and awestruck by the presumed intolerance.

Having plainly read in His word that God desires all of us, having plainly read in His word that lukewarm, compromising, indecisive, halfhearted and divided is the last thing He wants us to be for such things disgust Him so that He must spew us out of His mouth if we practice them, we go searching for a second opinion, a learned man in the way of modernized theology and a tolerant interpreter of Scripture who will shrug his shoulders, smile his best smile, and tell us that even though that’s what the Bible says, it isn’t really what the Bible means.

‘God just wants you to be happy! He wants you to be blessed! He wants you to enjoy your life, and live as you please, because He understands the frailty of man, and that’s why He sent Jesus.’

No, God did not send Jesus so we could keep on sinning, He did not send Jesus so we could abuse grace and trample on His Son’s blood, He sent Jesus that we might be reconciled unto Him, that we might be born again in His Son, and that we might not walk as we once walked while in ignorance and far from God.

We can’t preach the truth anymore because we are living in the age of the thin skinned and spineless, the age of the hedonist and self-obsessed, the age of the gray area wherein God is what you think Him to be, His standard is what you establish that it is, and His will is what you desire it to be. How can we hope to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit when much of the church isn’t even worshiping the one true God?

We are the prophets of Baal without the conviction, at least they cut themselves hoping that they would be heard and shown a sign; we don’t even believe our God can hear us or show us signs anymore.

We worship a God of our own making, fashioned with our own hands, conceived in our own hearts, created in our own minds, a one dimensional God who does not judge righteously, who does not punish sin, who does not command obedience, a God who is not holy or just, but only eternally loving.

‘Well I don’t know who has the right of it, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry, so yeah, I go to church on the big holidays, you know, for fire insurance and such.’

To hear some men tell the tale, the fire of the God who is an all-consuming fire has burnt out, and as such it is no longer a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Just because man has stripped God of His attributes however, it does not mean God has bent to the will of men and has done so in truth.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.