John Aziza Family Update & Newsletter 5/28/2019
Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Newsletter contents: family news, the gifts of the Holy Spirit #2, revival producing prayer Hello dear friends,
We hope all of you are well and prospering in Jesus.
Here in Alaska it's that time of year again when daylight never entirely disappears and it gets super bright early in the morning. Up here we call these light filled nights “white nights”. They have the potential to mess with your sleep if you're a light sleeper like me. On the flip side, the longer days are excellent for getting more work done outdoors.
My wife and I started a garden behind our house this year in hopes of harvesting organic produce, so gardening as a family has been delightful. I also started fishing again and so that's been a lot of fun. Aside from that, I'm still working on producing my latest Youtube video on the mark of the beast and have a few other ministry projects I'm attending to right now. So it looks like I'll have to skip next week's newsletter if I hope to get my work completed. So please don't expect another newsletter till the first or second week of June. Also, this current newsletter will be devoted entirely to the most crucial and necessary aspects of the Christian Faith. I think it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of what it takes to experience spiritual revival both personally and corporately. THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Note: My reference to the spiritual gifts in this section pertains to the distinctly supernatural category of spiritual gifts, such as prophecy, “tongues”, and miracles. Last week we covered the issue of prayer and how essential it is to revival and the true operation of the spiritual gifts. I made some hard hitting assessments on the tendency by the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement to overemphasize the spiritual gifts and how this tendency has given rise to the counterfeit manifestations. But I also implicated those Churches who lack prayer and have no desire to see the operation of the spiritual gifts as representing a different, yet equally grave problem. I mentioned the fact that such churches were spiritually sick. So I want to explain myself further on this point in order for you to understand the reason for my blunt statement. For instance, all of us would agree that a church in which the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) was lacking or not present at all is in fact a sick church. But can we flip this around and apply it just as equally to a church where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are completely absent? After all, why should Christians feel spiritually healthy if they are devoid of the spiritual gifts? Perhaps many of us haven't thought about it in quite this way before. So I think it's good for us to be reminded of Apostle Paul's teaching on this issue: “And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. ….What then shall we say, Brothers? When you come together, everyone has a psalm or a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All of these must be done to build up the church” (1 Cor. 12:28; 14:26). In the above verse, Paul is encouraging the Church to participate in all of the various operations of the Holy Spirit. His list contains a mix of both the “sensational” and “non-sensational” spiritual gifts. For example, teachers and helpers are within the not so sensational category, while prophets and miracle workers are considered sensational because they are overtly supernatural. So it is evident that a healthy church should include a healthy mix of the various giftings of either category. But you see, while many Christians are "ok" with the operation of the sensational gifts, thier attitude towards them is one of indifference. And that's the problem. It's important to note that Paul specifically instructed the Church to “covet earnestly” and “desire” the best spiritual gifts: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. ...Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophecy. ...Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1, 39). Now since Paul is telling us to covet earnestly the best gifts, which are they? According to the list provided in 1 Corinthians 12:28, apostles and prophets rank highest. Apostles, however, were unique in that they were commissioned by Christ to establish the foundation of the Church and to pen all of its doctrines and teachings. Apostles were also endowed with all of the gifts of the Spirit in order to equip them for their special ministry (2 Cor. 12:12). So while it's still possible to be an apostle today, in terms of a Church planter, such would no longer have access to all of the unique functions of the original apostles. So what about prophecy? Just how important is this gift? According to Paul, prophecy is extremely important; and so much so that it appears to be the single most important gift currently available. Notice that Paul spends much of 1 Corinthians 14 expounding on the importance of prophecy and then concludes with the following injunction: “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophecy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39).
SO IF PROPHECY IS SO IMPORTANT, WHY IS IT LARGELY MISSING IN OUR CHURCHES TODAY?
And have you noticed how often Charismatics and Pentecostals love to speak in tongues etc, but will rarely attempt to prophecy since they know it can be tested.
Now here's another problem that is often associated with the general reluctance to pursue the sensational gifts. The last part of Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 12:31 is very often misunderstood: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” It is assumed that Paul is about to introduce a substitute (“a more excellent way”) that is better than the gifts of the Spirit which he just outlined, and that chapter 13 (the very next chapter) introduces that better substitute. This thinking, however, is wrong. Chapter 13 does not provide a substitute meant to replace the gifts of the Spirit previously described, otherwise all of the spiritual gifts, including the non-sensational ones like teaching, evangelism, and ministry helps etc, would also be replaced. 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of inclusion, not substitution. According to this chapter, it is wrong to speak in tongues, prophecy, accumulate knowledge, exercise faith, or distribute charity to the poor without first having a foundation of love. In other words, if our ministry and Faith is devoid of love, then our spiritual gifts are empty and meaningless. So that's the caveat. We are to practice the gifts of the Spirit (all of them) out of love for God and His people. But some Christians still like to argue that the sensational gifts were only necessary in the first century of the Church age and are no longer needed today. If this is your argument then please provide me with a compelling list of scriptures to persuade me of it. Because frankly, I can't see that being the case. If anything, I think the Church is more in need of the sensational spiritual gifts now, than we ever have been. And if you think the completion of the New Testament canon marked the end of the sensational gifts, then once again, I will need to see valid scriptures in support of this view. John Pipper did a wonderful job refuting the common arguments of cessationism (the doctrine which claims that the sensational gifts of the Spirit have expired with the completion of the NT canon). His 1990 sermon on this subject is available by clicking here and his excellent teaching on the gift of prophecy is available here. Alternatively, you can read my two articles pertaining to the Holy Spirit which contain a refutation of cessationism by visiting the articles section of hisperfectbride.com. REVIVAL PRODUCING PRAYER In the early part of 2012, I knelt in prayer for maybe an hour weeping and wailing (literally) for the salvation of a particular family member dear to my heart. At the time, this individual was turning his back on God and engaging in life threatening activities. I so desperately wanted to see God move right then and there to save this person. And the tears and crying were intense. Now I know for sure that this burden and powerful act of prayer were the unction of the Holy Spirit because we can't counterfeit a burden for lost souls apart from God's Spirit....
Well anyway, that very individual for whom I was praying got miraculously saved less than a week later, if my memory serves me right. Ok, but this little story doesn't sound very appealing or sophisticated. Nobody likes to “cry their guts out” or make a silly spectacle of themselves on behalf of others. And so they don't. Plain and simple. Sadly, this reserved attitude exists among the majority of Western Christians and is nothing more than arrogant sophistication. It is also the very attitude that hinders God from unleashing His power upon our troublesome circumstances. And it bars us from watching the miraculous answer to prayer. On the other hand, very few Christians are even acquainted with this kind of "groaning prayer"—which the Bible identifies as the travailing of the spirit. In my personal experience, I've heard Christians cite Mathew 6:7 to excuse themselves from praying too often or for too long. Because, they say, “we shouldn't be like the 'heathen' who make long repetitious prayers”. So as a result, they limit themselves to their trite 5 minute prayers and never see any souls being saved or any miraculous answer to prayer, and they wonder why....
But context is king. Mathew 6:7 has nothing to do with the Christian “praying through” for as long as necessary until God moves. On the contrary, this passage is an injunction to abstain from repeating the same empty lines again and again for the purpose of acquiring physical things from God (Mat. 6:7 is explained by 6:8 rather clearly).
And here's another misapplied verse: "be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few" (Ecc. 5:2). But this verse also can be easily explained when we read the story of Job. Job's story exemplifies the meaning of Ecclesiastes 5:2 perfectly. After much complaint and endless groaning over his physical hardships, Job was told by God to silence his complaints and prepare to listen because now it was God's turn to speak (Job 38:1-3). Honestly, one can hardly blame Job for his complaints and groaning, but God has a different standard than we do. It was obvious that because of Job's much complaining he was missing an opportunity to hear God speak. Conclusion: We should not try to use Ecclesiastes 5:2 to excuse our prayerlessness. So here's where I'm coming from: I believe we must pray often and persistently for the same spiritual matters until there's a breakthrough. In other words, until we compel God to act, as in the manner of the importunate widow (Lk. 18:1-8) and the man requesting bread for his guest (Lk. 11:5-13). These two examples were an important lesson in persistent prayer. The widow and the man in need of bread would not quit REPEATING their request until they "wearied" their benefactors and compelled them into action. God is looking for Christians who would do the same--"wrestle" on their knees in prayer. Now I want you to notice the way biblical men prayed and God's attitude toward their prayers: “Because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord” (2 King 22:19). “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12). “While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites, men, women and children, gathered around him. They too wept bitterly” (Ezra 10:1). “Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" (Joel 2:17) “So Hannah rose up … And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore” (1 Sam 1:9-10). “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). “When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly” (Esther 4:10). “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping” (Psalms 6:8). “When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn” (Psalms 69:10). “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us” (Hos 12:3-4). “And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake” (2 King. 20:1-6). “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared (Heb. 5:7).
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (Jn 16:20). Friends, does any of the above in any way reflect our typical Sunday morning prayer style? Yet we want God to act, right? You see, I think the formula for effective prayer has been presented by God in the clearest terms possible. Now it's up to us to pray: “If my people which are called by my name shall HUMBLE themselves and PRAY” (2 Chr. 7:14). You see, I believe that once God's people get a hold of biblical prayer and put it into use, God will finally act to restore our nation. And perhaps we can then see genuine revival flowing once again. The kind where the Holy Spirit falls upon the place and lives are fantastically transformed. Perhaps we will also witness countless small Churches begin to explode in size as unbelievers witness something genuine and attractive.... The potential is truly endless! Dear friends, if only we could acquire a small taste of genuine revival. What would that be like? I think it would forever spoil us. No longer would we so easily meld into the doldrums of formalistic Christendom. No longer could we continue to strut about in our stuffy sunday suits feeling so terribly impressed with ourselves. On the contrary, I believe it would dramatically alter our behavior. We might become frustrated and unsatisfied on account of the sleepy condition of our churches and fellow Believers. Perhaps this may also leave us feeling isolated and lonely. Worse still, other Christians may begin to accuse us of setting the bar too high because we wish to appear "holier than thou". Yes, we may experience some “peculiar” trials, similar to what our Lord and His disciples experienced. But nevertheless, I still feel it is worth the small price. Revival is certainly pricey, but man give me revival any day! I far more prefer the power to influence our small communities and witness the transformation of countless of lives over the temporal comforts of modern-day "churchianity". Now before I sign off, allow me to recommend some important resources on the subject of prayer and revival. These are my personal favorites:
1. Witness the life transforming results of the revival that took place in Canada among the Inuit natives back in the 1990's by clicking here
2. audio/video E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer
4. audio/video The Essentials of Prayer E.M. Bounds
5. audio/video Pastor and Prayer E.M. Bounds
Love in Christ,