Thursday, April 27, 2017

Please Introduce Yourself

I am grateful for those of you who visit my blog. I am especially pleased to have so many visitors from South Korea. I am blessed that you have been reading my posts and have recommended them to your friends. I would be blessed if you would send me a message and introduce yourself, so that I may know my new friends from South Korea. My email address is broblong@gmail.com.  
Billy Long

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Book

My book is now available for purchase. You can click on this link and go to my website to order the book. https://billylongministries.com     

You can also order the e-book at Amazon.com.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Below is a series of articles on the subject of "Praying in the Spirit." The last article in the series is shown at the top of this page. I recommend that the reader begin this study at the very beginning of the series. To do this you must scroll down to the bottom of this page and click "older posts."   -Billy Long

Thursday, March 31, 2011

“DON'T TONGUES CAUSE DIVISION?”

TREASURES DISCOVERED
The people in our Baptist church loved the Lord, but I was not satisfied with the routine. I had a hunger to know and walk with Jesus in the same way as those early Christians I read about in the Bible. The Lord heard the cry of my heart, and I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the early days of the Charismatic movement in 1967 when I was 17 years old.
The Lord was pouring out His Spirit upon people in all church denominations in the USA and around the world. Christians were receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and were experiencing a renewal in the gifts of the Holy Spirit including healing and praying in tongues. I myself witnessed miracles of healing in those days and experienced the excitement and enthusiasm one would expect with the discovery of such new-found treasures. Multitudes rejoiced to know that Jesus Christ was working in the church and on the earth in the same intimate way He did in the Bible. People were justifiably excited, and there were many whose zeal may have exceeded their wisdom.

TRUTH CAN CAUSE DIVISION
Not everyone was happy with these developments, and it was not uncommon to hear people say, "Don't get involved with tongues. They cause division." Relational stresses did occur, but the reasons are more complex than simply blaming “tongues.”

Orthodox Christianity will naturally respond to perceived heresies when they arise. Therefore, divisions may occur when good people react justifiably to an evil doctrine or practice that tries to invade the church. But we must also realize that truth itself can cause division when people react to it in a hostile manner. Therefore, division does not necessarily indicate that the message causing the division is wrong or evil. While the New Testament condemns division arising from heresy and self-will, it also gives examples of division and strife arising because people rejected God's word and stumbled over truth.

Truth can bring division and even confusion when men reject it. The ministry of the Apostle Paul is an example of how conflict and strife can be the result of a negative reaction to positive truth. The following verses show how this happened to Paul as he preached the gospel message across the Roman Empire.

"These men (Paul and his company) do exceedingly trouble our city [are throwing our city into confusion], and they teach customs which are not lawful for us…to receive or observe." Acts 16: 20.
"There arose no small disturbance [a great commotion] about the Way." Acts 19: 23
"So the whole city was filled with confusion...Some cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together." Acts 19: 29, 32.
"For we have found this man (the apostle Paul) a plague [a real pest] and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world. " Acts 24: 5

We must emphasize that the Apostle Paul never deliberately tried to incite trouble. The Gospel is a message of peace, and it will produce peace in the individual and society who believe and act upon it. But the word of God is rarely received in a neutral manner. Truth carries with it the ability to bring joy, peace, and blessing. But it sometimes confronts people with realities they are not yet willing to face, and so has the potential to create tension. The messenger will often find himself either loved or hated.

Therefore, we must walk in compassion, wisdom, and love, and do everything in our power to bless and not hurt God’s people. If they are going to be offended, let them be offended by the truth itself and not by our lack of wisdom or foolishness in how we present it. We should not be arrogant, insensitive, unwise, or unloving, but walk humbly and with grace. But even when we have conducted ourselves in the wisest possible way with exemplary love and patience, there will still be those who are offended by truth. There will be those for whom certain truths will be unpalatable, no matter how much “sweetener” we add and no matter how much we disguise it in the comfortable fit of the person’s culture. We must do all we can to walk in love and wisdom, but also be prepared for those who reject the truth and sometimes us with it.

Praying in tongues is one aspect of our spiritual experience that has been a controversial topic. We are thankful for this valuable prayer tool and we encourage others to practice it. But we do not force it on anyone nor do we condemn or judge anyone who disagrees. Praying in tongues does not make me better than anyone else, but it does make my own prayer life better than it would be otherwise.

THE APOSTOLIC TRADITIONS
“…Keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” 1 Corinthians 11: 2

Tongues is part of the traditions passed down by Paul and the other apostles. We should hold firmly to these traditions and not lay them aside in favor of the ones developed subsequently by those destitute of the gifts. We avoid division caused by doctrine and traditions that are contrary to what Paul and the early apostles taught (Romans 16: 17), but we embrace that doctrine and tradition which was practiced by the early Christians, and are willing to pay the price to do so. We should not allow ourselves to be blinded by the traditions of men (Mark 7: 1-13) which contradict God's word, nor should we allow the fear of man to cause us to compromise the truth (John 12: 42, 43). We want to be faithful servants who follow our Lord Jesus Christ to do His will in all things. But in doing so we must be careful to walk in grace, wisdom, and love, and be patient with those who disagree.  (Hebrews 10:31-33).

A CLOSING WORD
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, …” 1 Corinthians 12: 10.

The objective of this teaching has been to encourage and help the reader to enter the presence of God in a deeper experience of intercessory prayer and praise. I imagine my primary audience has been those who are spiritually hungry, those who sense a call to intercession, and those who possess a certain insight into prayer and God’s presence. A few readers may have joined us who were simply curious about the topic. In any case, I trust the study has been helpful, informative, and enlightening. I also pray it has been motivational in stirring the reader to a deeper level of prayer and intercession so desperately needed in the world today..
“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays.”
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God.”
“For indeed, you give thanks well.”            1 Corinthians 14: 2, 14, 17
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us..."   Romans 8: 26

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SOME THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS QUESTIONS THAT TYPICALLY ARISE AROUND THE DISCUSSION OF TONGUES.

Do I have to pray in tongues?
A friend of mine once said, “You don’t have to; you get to.” My personal opinion is that a person can be filled with the Holy Spirit without praying in tongues, but I also believe that every person who is filled with the Holy Spirit can and should pray in tongues. Praying in the Spirit opens up so many avenues in ones spiritual life and serves so many useful purposes. It does not make you better than anyone else, but it is a wonderful tool to help you reach higher into your own spiritual potential.

Praying in tongues is the door to the other manifestations of the Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit (being filled with the Holy Spirit) releases your spirit to move more freely in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is a means of exercising your spirit and helps you to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, thus releasing your ability to work with Him in other manifestations and gifts of the Spirit.
Generally speaking, people who reject tongues also fail to experience a real release in the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

In the New Testament praying in tongues was not some unusual and rare phenomenon that occurred only once for each person at the initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, but was a common daily practice of the praying believer.
In 1 Corinthians 14: 18 Paul says, "I speak.” He did not say, "I spoke". He uses the present tense which in Greek refers to progressive or continuing action. This verse along with the following verse implies that Paul prayed a great deal in tongues outside the Church in his daily prayer life. Praying in tongues is a vital aspect of Paul’s exhortation that we should “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:18). A person can pray in his own language or in tongues anywhere, anytime, no matter what else he is doing.

To forbid tongues is to disobey a direct biblical command.
“Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”
1 Corinthians 14: 39

There are two major categories of tongues.
This perspective is drawn from an objective look at all the verses on the subject and clarifies certain verses.

One category is the simple manifestation of the Spirit used for prayer, intercession, praise and worship, or edification to strengthen the believer. This does not require an interpreter, and there is no limit to the number who can be praying together in this fashion. (1 Corinthians 14: 2, 4)

The second category is the ministry of tongues. This refers to an individual's being moved upon by the Spirit to speak a message in tongues to or before the congregation while all others listen silently. This is to be followed by an interpretation and is limited to "two or three at the most". 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. If there is no one who will interpret, then the person is to "keep silent" (that is, not give the message in tongues to the church, but to "speak to himself and to God" in his own language or in tongues).

"Two or three at the most" 1 Corinthians 14: 27
This limitation is placed on the messages in tongues addressed to the Church. There is no limit placed on the number who can pray in tongues in regular prayer, praise, worship, and intercession. Congregational singing and worship in tongues can be very beautiful. It is interesting to note that in every example in the book of Acts there are more than three people praying in tongues. There were at least one hundred and twenty people praying in tongues simultaneously on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; 1:15). In Cornelius’ household there was a house full of people praying in the Spirit at the same time (Acts 10: 44-48). There were twelve at Ephesus (Acts 19: 6-7).

"Keep silence"? 1 Corinthians 14:28
"Silence" here (as well as in 14: 34 regarding women) is not to be taken in the absolute sense. The term "Silence" is implying that a person should not address his message to the church without an interpreter. If there is no interpreter, he should be quiet in the sense of not giving the word to the church. But "let him speak to himself and to God" (in his own languages or in tongues).

The meaning is used in a similar manner in 1 Corinthians 14: 34 regarding women keeping silent in Church. It is obvious from l Corinthians 11: 1-16 that Paul expected women to speak up in prayer, prophecy, exhortation, and all of the other gifts of the Spirit. Paul was not saying that women or tongues should be silent in the absolute sense.

Is tongues the least gift? 1 Corinthian's 12: 28
People mistakenly infer this from 1 Corinthians 12: 28 where it is last in a list. The list here denotes ministries (1 Corinthians 12: 18, 28). Tongues may be a lesser ministry, but it is not a lesser personal gift. Each of these gift-ministries is a "member" set in the body of Christ by God Himself, regardless of order of importance. God does nothing that is not important, and He does nothing that is unnecessary. Praying in tongues was designed by the wisdom of God to serve very practical and useful purposes. Verse 18 says that all the various gifts are like members (limbs) of a body. They were all set in the body by God Himself, and they all please Him.

We must, therefore, beware of arrogance that despises tongues or any other work of the Holy Spirit. We should never despise what God was pleased to institute.

Tongues is not the least gift. It is probably one of the most important personal gifts. Tongues is much like a key. A key is not the most important tool around the house, but it is vital in unlocking access to other more important things in the house. Even if tongues was the least gift, that would be no reason to avoid it or think of it as bad, something to fear, or something to "throw out the window" saying ''I have no need of thee". 1 Corinthians 12: 21-24.

Is Paul saying to prophesy instead of praying in tongues? 1 Corinthians 14: 5
The Greek phrase "Mallon de" in the King James Version is mistakenly translated "but rather." While this translation can be technically correct, in this context it represents a grammatical irregularity (a command followed by a contradiction). It should be translated "but more" which is also technically correct and more logical for the context. The newer translations as a whole translate it "but more."
14: 5 "I want you to pray in tongues, but moreover (mallon de) that you go on and prophesy."
14: 1 "Be zealous for spiritual gifts, and especially (mallon de) prophecy."
In both verses the "mallon de" wants to add something. In neither verse does it negate the directive that preceeds it.

Do all speak with tongues? 1Corinthians 12: 30
All do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages are given to the body to be interpreted, but all can pray in tongues for personal devotions, prayer, intercession, praise and worship. The same principle applies to both prophecy and tongues. Note the following:

Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 12: 29, "Are all prophets?" The obvious and expected answer is "no." All do not function in the office of Prophet. Neither do all function in the specialized ministry of prophecy (Romans 12: 6). However, Paul does say that "you can all prophesy" (1 Corinthians14: 31, 24) and that we should desire and seek to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). So all are not prophets, meaning not all hold that office or move in prophecy as a ministry, yet all can prophesy.

In the same way, all do not have the ministry of tongues in which messages in tongues are addressed to the church (1 Corinthians 12: 30), yet all can pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14: 5).

Tongues will not cease until Jesus returns. 1 Corinthians 13: 8-12
“…but whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For now we know in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”

Tongues will cease when that which is perfect has come. "That which is perfect" refers to the age to come. Paul is comparing the “now” and the “but then.” We are still in the "now" era. The "but then" refers to a time when everything will be perfected and when that which is in part shall be done away. We shall see face to face and shall know fully even as we are fully known. That time has not yet arrived.

Meanwhile, all of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit that were operating in the early church should be working in the church today. According to Ephesians 4: 11-16 the Apostles and Prophets shall continue until the church “attains the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Thus, tongues, prophets, apostles, and all of the other operations and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that were experienced by the early Christians will continue until the church is perfected, until Jesus returns.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Significance of Tongues in Relation to Praise

“Speaking the Wonderful Works of God”
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance…. Then they [Jews from foreign nations] were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language? ...we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2: 1-11;

Tongues: for Prayer and Praise, Not for Preaching.
People who do not understand the purpose of tongues use 1 Corinthians 14: 14-26 as a basis for forbidding them altogether. The following paragraph is my understanding of what Paul meant.

The praise in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was not meant to edify the listeners, but was a sign that captured their attention and drew them to the gathering. The foreigners thought these worshippers were drunk. This is a good illustration of what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 14: 23 where he says that an uninformed person or unbeliever may think you’re crazy. The Day of Pentecost exemplifies Paul’s teaching that prayer and praise in tongues are directed to God and not to man. Tongues edify the speaker but may in some cases be a sign to the listeners (1 Corinthians 14: 22).
The crowd heard their own languages, and knew these people were praising God. However, the praises did not explain anything to the listeners, but rather, got their attention and raised the question, “What does this mean?” Peter then stood up and gave the sermon that provided the answer. The “10,000 words in tongues” did not edify the crowd but did give praise to God and served as a sign to gather the multitude to hear Peter’s message.

A Form of Praise We See in the Psalms
The worshippers on the Day of Pentecost were speaking to God, recounting and rehearsing his mighty acts and thanking Him for all He has done. This is a form of praise we find throughout the Psalms. Praying in tongues enables us, like the Psalmist, to “speak the wonderful works of God,” but supernaturally in earthly languages (tongues of men) or in heavenly languages (tongues of angels).
”Though I speak with the tongues of men or of angels…” 1 Corinthians 13:
"Who can speak of (utter) the mighty deeds of the Lord, or can show forth all His praise?" Psalms 106: 2
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, for His wonderful works to the children of men." Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31
"Oh give thanks to the Lord… make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Speak of all His wonders (wondrous works). Psalm 105: 1-2

“Spiritual Songs” Are Songs of the Spirit.
“What is it then…I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding…for indeed you give thanks well…” 1 Corinthians 14: 15-17.
“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5: 18-19
“…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colosians 3: 16

The verses above speak of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “Psalms” refers to songs which take their general character from the Psalms, usually accompanied by musical instruments, and repeating the wonderful works of God. “Hymns” speaks of songs of praise. In early Greek writings from Homer on down it referred to praise of heroes and conquerors. “Spiritual songs” are songs sung in the Spirit, a person’s spirit singing by the Holy Spirit.

"Spiritual songs" is a translation of the Greek words "hodais pneumatikois."  "Hodais" is the generic term for "songs," whether praise song or songs about any other subject. "Pneumatikos" is the word for "spiritual," or "belonging to spirit" and is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 12: 1 referring to "spiritual gifts," meaning “that which operates in the realm of spirit.” Paul is not using the term “spiritual songs” in the same way our contemporary culture uses it to refer to “spirituals” (gospel songs) as opposed to “secular” music. In this context (1 Corinthians 14) he is talking about spiritual gifts, and tongues in particular. “Spiritual” here refers to spirit as opposed to the mind, singing in tongues as opposed to singing with the understanding. “Spiritual songs,” therefore, refers to the Holy Spirit working through the human spirit, singing in tongues.
“I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14: 14-16

God is Great and Greatly to be Praised
Praying in the Spirit enables us to enter a deeper dimension of praise and worship. To appreciate tongues we need to appreciate praise itself. In a previous post I referred to the many various expressions of praise we see in scripture, such as lifting the hands and voice in praise, dancing before the Lord, clapping hands, leaping for joy, and singing songs to God both a cappella and with every form of musical instrument. We now add  tongues to that list.  The psalmist said, "God is great and greatly to be praised." We, therefore, should praise Him greatly and with every tool He has made available to us.

“Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.” - Charles Wesley.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PRAYING IN TONGUES AS AN INSTRUMENT OF PRAISE

A Supernatural Cloud of Glory

“It came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord…that the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 5: 13-14, (See also Luke 9:34-35)

My wife Laurel and I once witnessed an unusual manifestation of God’s presence during praise and worship at a conference in California in the early seventies. There were about 300 people standing with hands lifted to the Lord and singing praises in tongues. It was a beautiful harmonious blend of voices rising to the Lord like a symphony orchestra. As I looked about I saw what appeared to be a misty cloud that filled the room. My initial reaction was to rub my eyes thinking there was a problem with my vision. But then I saw the leaders excitedly moving about on stage and pointing out over the congregation. Everyone at that moment realized we were witnessing the cloud of God’s glory being manifested in response to the praise. This was an awesome experience. Ralph Mahoney, the director of World Missionary Assistance Plan (World MAP), wrote about this event in a subsequent publication of the organization’s magazine.
Our experience that night reminded us that praying and singing in tongues can be a significant instrument of praise.

An Appreciation of Praise
To appreciate tongues as an instrument of praise you must first have an appreciation of praise itself. Otherwise, the discussion remains in the realm of dry technicalities. Therefore, I would like to briefly discuss praise before discussing tongues as it relates to praise.

Praise can be quiet reverence speaking silently from the heart, but should also include outward expressions of exuberant and joyous enthusiasm. It is not simply a feeling or ritual, but is an act of worship in which the human spirit expresses itself through voice and body to give thanksgiving, honor, and glory to God. Praise should not be limited to inner silent thought but should be an expression of the whole person verbally and physically reaching out to God. We should have the same enthusiasm for God that fans show to their sports teams. Why should we “make the rafters ring” for a ball team but remain lifeless and frozen when we approach God?

We see many various expressions of praise in the Bible. We see the children of God lifting their hands and voices in praise. We see them dancing before the Lord, clapping their hand, leaping for joy, and singing songs to God, sometimes a cappella and sometimes with every form of musical instrument. We hear them reciting to the Lord all His wonderful deeds and mighty acts. We see the people spreading palm branches before Jesus as He makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Worship is not a cold solemnity we call reverence, but a living and joyous expression of honor and love to the living and very present God before whom we stand and to whom we lift our voices. It should not be a passive audience listening to a worship team on stage, nor just a collection of people worshipping as isolated individuals, but a body of believers joined as one, as a family, to make one sound rising to God as a beautiful symphony.

Praise is more than warm Sunday morning songs we sing prior to the sermon. It is the people of God dynamically entering the presence of God and touching Him with their spirits and pouring forth love and honor to Him, and in turn experiencing the presence of God that inhabits those praises. Like prayer it is also a means by which God allows His people to be dynamically involved in the release of His awesome work upon the earth. This is evident in many of the Psalms and in the praise paragraphs that are interspersed throughout the book of Revelation. Praise is an acknowledgment of the King and His coming kingdom. No wonder Jesus said, “If these were to keep silent, the very stones would cry out!”

 “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!’” Revelation 19: 6.

This post is meant to stir our hearts toward praise. The next post will give the specific scripture verses that describe tongues as an instrument of praise.