“Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32, The The Amplified Bible).
Don’t you love Jesus’ tone in this passage? He is so gentle and encouraging. “Don’t be afraid,” He says. But doesn’t it seem odd that He would have to tell us to not be afraid? That the Father wants us to have the kingdom? What is so scary about that?
As a pastor, I have sensed fear in the form of intimidation come upon a congregation many times at the least expected moment. While the preacher begins to reveal some wonderful truth about the goodness of God, the people get excited. Everyone loves to hear about the blessings the Lord has in store for them. But then as the preacher starts to explain that there are spiritual things that must happen to receive His blessings, you can literally feel disappointment and discouragement start to flood people’s hearts. I’ve felt that way before, myself, and I am certain you have too.
Why is that? It could be in part because we are not used to locating and using the spiritual resources within. Some people, maybe even most of them, rarely tap into the eternal part of their being. But I believe the greatest reason for fear is not knowing God well enough to understand Him. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]” (The Amplified Bible). For some, God is just too big, too awesome and too beyond them. He and His blessings are untouchable. For others God is too small. He couldn’t possibly know of them and their personal life situation. He may be so small in their eyes that He doesn’t even exist. So, when we hear Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid. The Father wants to give you the kingdom…” we should realize there is nothing to validate our being intimidated; unless we don’t understand what He meant by “the kingdom.”
What exactly is the kingdom? Romans 14:17 declares that it is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. The word righteousness scares some off. “That’s just too hard to understand.” So, for them, the kingdom is too big. Others see righteousness and even peace and joy, as irrelevant, churchy words. For them, the kingdom is too small. But actually, the kingdom of God is just right!
First, it is small enough to be understood. Let’s break down righteousness, peace and joy. Briefly put, righteousness is perfect rightness. When things are right, they work. They produce a glad outcome. They are good. There is no righteousness, or goodness, anywhere outside of God. He is all that is right and all that is good. When He made us righteous with His righteousness, He made us as right as He is. There would be no other way for us to approach Him. His righteousness is so powerful that in His presence wrongs are made right, or they are destroyed.
Aren’t you glad He chose to make us right with Him instead of destroying us? This force of righteousness not only makes us right with Him, but it is what makes things right around us and for us. It is because we are the righteousness of God that our bodies can be made right, which is healing. It is the reason our financial lives can be made right, which is prosperity. Think of it like the schoolteacher who comes back into an unruly classroom. Suddenly, when the force of righteousness enters the room, everyone straightens up and begins to act right.
Peace, at the root meaning of the Hebrew word, means “nothing missing, nothing broken. Complete.” He is Jehovah our Peace (Judges 6:23-24). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Peace is more than a serene setting. The force of peace took command of the storm and calmed the sea when Jesus released it with His command, “Peace, be still!”
Peace doesn’t mean having no trouble. It means having security in the midst of trouble. It means the ability to master the outcome of the trouble. It means trouble doesn’t trouble you!
Then there’s joy. It is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). It is a spiritual force that sustains throughout the worst of times. “…Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). Sorrow and grief know no boundaries. They can come to anyone about anything. But joy floats. It lifts you above anything that would weigh you down so you can always see the horizon. Life never loses its luster when joy is present. Joy keeps our eye on the prize, which in God is always good. Psalm 16:11 tells us that there is fullness of joy in His presence. No sorrow. No despair. Anywhere.
See, the kingdom is small enough, or in other words, simple enough, to be understood and to be relevant to every life. It is also big enough to cover every situation. Righteousness allows you to be face to face with God and goes to work to make things right. Peace takes command of stormy situations in order to maintain a life of wholeness.
And joy gives us the strength to press toward the blessings of the Lord and the ability to enjoy the ride! But is the kingdom big enough to handle all your present-day situations? Yes, I say! And your future as well. How can I be so sure? Well, “the kingdom of God” doesn’t just refer to something God possesses the way an earthly king would possess land and all that is on it. “The kingdom of God” is the kingdom of Himself. If you look again at the scriptural references we’ve already given, you will see that hidden in them is the reality that He does not have righteousness or peace or joy. He is righteousness. Nothing is right apart from Him and there is nothing in Him that is not right. He is peace. There is no trouble in God and no peace outside of Him. He is our joy. The only way to know joy is to know Him. The only way to experience joy is to be in His presence because that is the only place you will find it. And to make it even more majestic in scope, the kingdom of God is not just parts of God—it is all of God. And if God is God, by definition He should be able to handle anything, now and in all the future that is to come.
The only thing now that could leave us fearful is thinking that we can’t receive, or simply put, get our hands on that kingdom. It is an awesome thing to wrap our minds around, that God wants me to have Him, all of Him. Just how do we receive—live in, have, enjoy—that kingdom? By the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:18 (The Amplified Bible) says, “…we…have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father….” And Jesus assured us that our heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). And boy, He wasn’t kidding! When the Father gave the Spirit, He gave in a big way!
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
All the power of the Holy Spirit was released in fullness. There was no holding back. No longer was the fire from heaven just falling upon the altar nor was it a cloud of glory just in the temple. But now God Himself, who is a fire from the loins up and a fire from the loins down (Ezekiel 1:27) came upon the 120 in that upper room and then filled them with Himself and they too were a fire head to toe, inside and out. This fire of God didn’t stay in an upper room but spilled into the streets and the operation of the Spirit among and through men began.
Sure, the Holy Spirit had moved among men before. All through the Old Testament there were examples of the amazing manifestations of the Spirit: the working of miracles; gifts of healing; signs of great faith; words of wisdom and knowledge that were beyond human resource and intellect; and prophecies foretelling the future with pinpoint accuracy. But all of these phenomenal displays of God’s might and abilities were only evident through the prophet, the priest or the king. And decades—even centuries—would pass with little expression of the supernatural seen anywhere on the earth.
But on the day of Pentecost the promise of the Father through Jesus the Son was fulfilled and the Spirit came to abide with and in them forever. All the power of the prophets—for visions and dreams, the ability to step out of this world and speak with angels, overcome wild beasts—all came together and fell from heaven all at once. There was such an explosion of supernatural power that the sound was heard wherever there were human ears to hear. Like a violent blast of wind, the presence of God filled the room, filled the earth and filled the people, and overflowed in a way no one had ever experienced before. In just one moment all the force, might and dominion of heaven was returned to man. What Adam lost in the garden and what men had perverted at the tower of Babel was restored.
How did God choose to release this atomic force among men? Was it by adding more prophecy? More visions? More miracles? What one thing was big enough to contain it all? Tongues! Speaking and praying with tongues unlearned and untaught by human means. In a way only God Himself could devise, He had resurrected the connection between heaven and earth and restored man’s ability to speak God’s will into being. Now the fullness of His power could be released through any yielded vessel, not just a priest, prophet or king. On top of that, every previous operation of the Spirit that men had ever encountered was elevated to a higher dimension than any human thinking could have reasoned. The prophets of old prophesied of things they couldn’t understand and the priests could not stand under the weightiness of a cloud of His glory. But now even sons and daughters can prophesy. Old men dream dreams and young men have visions. The maid and the servants now flow in the demonstration of the throne of heaven. Finally men were coming out of spiritual darkness into the light of the glory. The Apostle Paul dared to pray that the eyes of men’s understanding be flooded with light so they could intimately know and understand the heretofore hidden mysteries of an awesome God. Through this great apostle the Lord revealed the ways and the workings of His Spirit.
First Corinthians 14 lays out how tongues opens our eyes to these mysteries, takes hold of God’s will and transfers it into this natural world. Just look at the wonders and the magnitude of tongues:
1. First Corinthians 14:2a: “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God….” For the believer tongues is a direct line that immediately takes our speaking out of a natural human means of communication into a heart-to-heart encounter with God, in the way heaven communicates: in the spirit.
2. First Corinthians 14:2b “…howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” What mysteries? In The Amplified Bible, Ephesians 1:17 calls them the mysteries of God and 1 Corinthians 2:10 calls them the deep and bottomless things of God. Mysteries of any and all kinds are hidden in God and we tap into those mysteries by praying in tongues. Mysteries about God Himself! By praying in the spirit we can uncover mysteries about the realm of the spirit as well as the mysteries of our natural world. We know there are untold medical mysteries to be solved. But what about mysteries in areas of science, politics, military strategy and the creative arts? Do we know everything about education, social issues and technology? And hey, what about global warming?! No, there are still mysteries in every aspect of our lives that have yet to be revealed. And then of course, there is the mystery of the future. Not only what awaits us but what does the Lord want us to do with it. All of these things are waiting to be given birth through the believer who will give himself to praying in tongues.
3. First Corinthians 14:4: “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself….” Imagine it! You have been handed the ability to determine your own spiritual growth. Praying in the spirit builds you up and strengthens you in your inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
4. First Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” At first glance some people think this is a bad thing. But when you realize how limited the mind is, it’s a relief to know there is a way to pray beyond those limitations. Praying in tongues is not dependent on learned information or experience or natural mental powers. It draws instead from the mind of the Spirit which of course is totally unlimited in any possible way.
5. First Corinthians 14:16-17, The Amplified Bible: “If you render thanks with [your] spirit, how can anyone…who is not gifted with [interpreting of unknown] tongues, say the Amen to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? To be sure, you may give thanks well.…” Again, first glance would indicate that Paul was being negative about giving praise in tongues. But really all he was saying is that you can’t testify in tongues because men won’t understand you. Remember that he who prays in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God. Of course the exception to that is when there is interpretation. Praising in tongues helps you to reach lost or untapped depths of gratitude. I have caught myself in a complaining frame of mind and turned it around by reaching for a newfound gratitude through tongues. On the other hand, there are times when gratitude was already welling up so much within me that natural words just weren’t enough and it took the language of the spirit to express to the Lord just how much I appreciated Him.
6. First Corinthians 14:22: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not….” It is a grave mistake, in light of this scripture, to take tongues out of our services thinking we are making it more welcoming to the newcomer. When we do that we eliminate one of the most outstanding signs of heaven working among men. There is nothing that brings the presence of the supernatural into a service so instantly than a congregation all lifting their voices in unity in the language of the spirit. No other manifestation of the Spirit comes off the platform and fills the room like singing in the tongues of men and of angels. Even if you have spoken with tongues before, if it still surprises you and you are unfamiliar with it, then you are still in the category of the unbeliever. You can make the switch to believer simply by using your faith and yielding yourself to praying in tongues with fervency and much consistency.
Tongues and interpretation are the only operations of the Spirit not in the Old Testament. But as I said before, with the outpouring of the Spirit all those other manifestations—the words of knowledge or wisdom, discerning of spirits, working of faith, working of miracles, gifts of healings and prophecy—were lifted to a higher dimension than ever before. Tongues connects us to all those other operations of the Spirit. In fact, as I was looking for a way to describe what I was beginning to understand in the spirit, I heard the Holy Spirit within my own spirit say to me: Tongues is the Swiss Army knife of the Spirit. Instantly I understood. All operations of the Spirit are inside of tongues. He pulls out the appropriate tool “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). No other work of the Spirit is so exhaustive, so vital or so available. No wonder Jesus said it was a sign of those who truly believe (Mark 16:17).
Terri is the eldest daughter of Kenneth Copeland. Since 1993, she and her husband, George Pearsons, have served as Senior Pastors of Eagle Mountain International Church at Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas. They have an international commission that takes them around the world on behalf of KCM. Terri shares her father’s passion for genuine faith in God’s Word, and specializes in teaching people who they are in Christ Jesus and how to pray from that position. For information or ministry materials write to Kenneth Copeland Ministries Fort Worth, TX 76192-0001 or visit HYPERLINK “http://www.terricopelandpearsons.com” www.terricopelandpearsons.com