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Body of Christ

Theophostic Prayer and the Body of Christ

Critics concern: Does TPM limit what God wants to do through His Body the Church when the faciltator is asked not to speak truth to the person during a ministry session?  Is there not a place for truth giving in this ministry?

Ed Smith’s response:   There is absolutly a time and a place for exercising all the gifts that God has given His Church.  However, there is wisdom in knowing when to exercise what gift.  TPM recognizes the gifted working of the Body of Christ but also recognizes the absolute dependence we have on the Holy Spirit in the ministry process. The facilitator is a vessel being used of God in the ministry session operating from his giftedness and the indwelling presence of Christ. When a facilitator is applying TPM he is actually elevating the preeminence of the Holy Spirit working in and through the Body. As the facilitator chooses to step aside and allow the person to relate directly with the Holy Spirit by him not supplying the truth in the moment, he is deferring to the Lord.  As has been stated over and over, TPM does not seek to replace teaching, instruction, preaching or any other means by which people are given truth.  TPM simply recognizes that there is a time and place for each.

I recognize that my human logic and reason and biblical knowledge will not set people free apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. He can and does choose to use my words and actions to communicate to the hearts of people but He is also able to communicate truth apart from my imparting it. Nevertheless, in either and in every case, it is the Holy Spirit’s doing and not my own. When a preacher preaches a life changing message it only changes lives because the Holy Spirit moved the spoken word from the speakers mouth to the hearer’s ears and into his heart It was not because the preacher did anything but speak the truth. The change came as a result of the work of God.

 

We are indeed His body on the earth. His Spirit indwells the believer and carries out the will of the Father through our earthly bodies in this physical world. Theophostic Prayer does not encompass all that Christ is doing in and through His Church, but only one aspect of a much greater work. When the facilitator is using Theophostic Prayer he is being used as a vessel to bring about a healing moment where a person may encounter the Holy Spirit/ Christ’s presence in a profound manner. This same facilitator may later teach this person the written Word of God, encourage him into good works, and even provide a physical need by feeding him a meal. All of this is a working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer acting as the Body of Christ. How is it that you suppose that the Holy Spirit can minister Christ’s presence so powerfully in the lives of those who receive ministry (TPM or not) if not because of Christ’s real (not figurative) presence manifested by that same Holy Spirit working in and through us? Christ is living in us and therefore we are acting as his literal body fulfilling the destiny He has given us.

 

There are two intertwined issues here that need to be separated and addressed individually. First, the underlying reality is that whatever part the Body of Christ plays in its disciple making efforts, it is fundamentally the Holy Spirit that accomplishes the work through those efforts by bringing the truth home experientially to the heart of the recipient. Second, the Holy Spirit chooses to accomplish His work in various modalities, and for certain purposes one modality may work far better than another. We are not limited to one “tool” over another. However, we need to operate in wisdom so we know what to do when.

Theophostic Prayer ministry is related to the prayer modality and in cases when this type of modality is particularly effective, other modalities such as preaching, admonishing, and instructing may be less effective. If this were not the case then we would only be doing one thing such as preaching as opposed to something else. In some moments prayer is effective while other times preaching and teaching may be better. Saying so in no way minimizes or downgrades the importance or value of preaching, admonishing and instructing in other contexts where the Holy Spirit uses those modalities mightily. Indeed, He also mightily uses the modalities that operate in small groups that relationally connect with and hold each other accountable. The truth must initially come through the Bible and the Body, but it is not necessarily true that the Holy Spirit requires a truth to be spoken through the Body at the time that He moves it from the head to the heart. Sometimes this step requires just the opposite: we have to go directly to God (2 Chron. 7:14).

To say that the truth is only transferred to the ministry recipient by way of another human speaking it or communicating it in some form is to discount what can occur in the personal prayer time of the believer. I do believe that the Lord/Holy Spirit is still speaking to His church. I am not suggestion new revelation but nonetheless, personal communication to His children. Many people report hearing a “word” from the Lord in their private prayer times and meditation that would not be equated with TPM but nonetheless a typical and normal part of what occurs in the community of faith. Theophostic Prayer operates in the prayer modality that assumes the person is capable of receiving directly from the Holy Spirit.

 

TPM does not seek to replace any part of bible teaching, encouragements, or biblical training in righteousness that should occur in the community of faith. TPM enables the Body of Christ to participate in what God is doing through His Holy Spirit. What occurs in a TPM session is the working of the Body of Christ ministering to itself through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I do believe the Church has the power and the mandate to do just that but not apart from the presence and working of the Holy Spirit. I simply believe that unless the Holy Spirit is at work in that moment no freedom will occur. I can tell the person the truth until the Lord returns but they will not be free until the Holy Spirit takes what I have spoken and communicates it to their heart and mind. The words of Paul come to mind when he says, “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…” (Romans 12:3).

It is important that we never lose sight of the fact that apart from Christ we really cannot do anything of any eternal value. It is Christ in us working through us that bring about the good things that God desires for each of us. When I speak a truth into a person’s life it is Christ speaking through me and not me doing it. I make the choice to speak and push the air out of my lungs, but it is Christ that communicates the message of truth into the person’s mind and heart. I am sorry that you have come to the conclusion that you have. However, you have drawn false conclusion concerning what I actually believe. I fully embrace everything that you have stated here. We are on the same page.

I am a preacher, teacher and disciple maker in the local church. I believe that I as a member of the Body of Christ am called and expected to “teach them all things…”but never to forget that it is the Holy Spirit that communicates the truth to the person’s heart and not me. I am a vessel or vehicle of the flowing of the Holy Spirit but it is the Spirit of truth that makes the truth known in the mind and heart of the person. If you take the Holy Spirit out no illumination can occur. I have never thought nor taught that Theophostic was “the way” to achieving this. TPM is a means of many through which God reveals His truth.

2 Timothy 2:25-26 gives a clear picture of my role in the freedom process. “The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” Notice that the minister should be doing several things (not be quarrelsome, kind, able to teach, patient, being gentle with the ability to correct.

However, when it comes to freedom notice how it is a work of God as He grants repentance (literally change of thinking) resulting in the person coming into the knowledge of the truth leading them into freedom. We should continually do all the things we do as minister’s of Christ but never lose sight of the fact that it is God’s Spirit that is releasing people of the lies they harbor and granting them new thinking.

Sometimes people have “Theophostic” moments (God’s Light”) when hearing a sermon, reading the Word, or receiving personal instruction. A “Theophostic” moment is just my terminology, within my ministry context, for when the Holy Spirit makes the truth known to the person. It is that moment that occurs as I read the Scriptures and I go “Ah Ha! I ask you to please not propagate what you have suggested I am teaching above. It is a grave misrepresentation of my heart. It is not what I believe. I am willing to accept that I failed to communicate clearly and that you “heard” what you have stated but this is not my intent. I do ask that you point out any place in the new training where what I say might be interpreted as you have stated and I will do what I can to make it more understandable.

What follows is what is presently contained in the 2007 training.

“Theophostic Prayer Ministry is a method of delivering God’s healing grace to hurting, emotionally wounded people. It is one vehicle, among many, through which God is choosing to minister and is not the only way to lead people into renewal of the mind. TPM is not a new revelation but, rather, a means of accomplishing what God has always desired for His people: for them to come out of darkness and walk in His truth.

In every age, the church has developed models for ministry in order to reach the world. Although the message of hope and redemption is the same, that message has been delivered in many different forms. As with any approach to ministry, the message must be the focus rather than the method.

“The true message is Jesus Christ, the light and hope of the world. He alone can set the captives free. He alone can bind up the brokenhearted. Theophostic Prayer Ministry is but one approach by which God is enabling His church to participate with Him in the divine plan of sanctifying His Body and preparing her for His coming.

… The limited scope of Theophostic Prayer Ministry is mind renewal at the experiential level. I say limited because I do not believe that this is the only way to renew our minds. What occurs in a Theophostic moment is what the Holy Spirit does every time truth moves from the head (cognitive) to the heart (experiential). TPM is a process by which we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and deliberately choose to cooperate with God as our pain is exposed by life circumstances…

…the Holy Spirit is not limited to a process such as Theophostic Prayer Ministry, but only He can move the truth from our heads into our hearts…

… the Holy Spirit is Truth. He is the dispenser of all truth as well as the believer’s teacher and counselor. The written Word is our primary source of truth, but we need the Holy Spirit to interpret and illuminate it.

Unless the Holy Spirit reveals truth, we cannot fully receive it in our inmost being so that it illuminates our souls and releases us from the bondage of lie-based thinking. Jesus said this concerning the role of the Holy Spirit, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). As believers, we are not responsible to set the captives free. That’s good news! We can teach, preach, and minister, and may move people to a position where they may receive from the Lord Jesus, but He alone is capable of bringing about freedom and lasting transformation.

All the teaching and preaching we do is in vain if the Holy Spirit does not implant the message in the heart of the person. Truth needs a preacher to deliver it “for how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14), but it is the Holy Spirit that imparts it, brings it to life and changes lives.

I believe that the primary way our triune God communicates with His children is through His written Word interpreted and imparted by the Holy Spirit, but I also believe the Holy Spirit speaks heart-to-heart to the believer in a personal fashion. For example, if I feel a nudge to share my Christian testimony while sitting next to a person on an airplane, I trust that this is the voice of the Holy Spirit. His communication will always be consistent with the written Word, never contrary to it.

Many central experiences of the Christian faith draw from the belief that the Holy Spirit speaks to people’s hearts and minds. This includes leading the lost to Christ, recognizing an individual calling into Christian service, and receiving daily guidance. This personalized communication may not be a direct quote from the King James, but it must be consistent with the Bible.

Just because people say God spoke to them does not make it so; therefore, any claim about receiving a word from God should be carefully examined. It is common for people to base their theology on their experience rather than allowing the Word of God to interpret their experience and determine its validity.

Any personal communication from the Holy Spirit does not constitute new revelation in the sense that it adds to or subtracts from the truth God has given us in the Holy Scriptures. However, the Lord still speaks to His sheep and they still hear, know, and follow His voice (John 10:27).

The day that I committed my heart and life to the Lord I heard his voice. I was not reading the open Bible when I experienced this salvation but rather sitting alone behind a piece of machinery in Bethlehem Steel Mill in northwest Indiana doing my job. I was a 19-year-old kid torn up in pain and distraught over things that were going on in my life. I heard the voice of God in my heart that day as He called me to follow Him. I prayed by myself and asked the Lord to come into my heart. I know without any doubt that I became a new creature in that moment and began what has become an almost 40-year journey with the Lord. Jesus himself said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock and if any man HEAR MY VOICE I will come into him.…” (emphasis mine).”

Concerning this idea a person once wrote me saying, “I am deeply concerned that wounded people try to pound truth into other wounded people and call it ministry. One of the things that I appreciate most about TPM is that it doesn't allow ministers to meddle with people when they are vulnerable and in their pain, but instead graciously steps aside to allow the Lord to minister His comfort. Many times in a session I have gone from deep hurt to laughing out loud because the Lord knew exactly what I needed in that moment. For a minister to try to find a truth for me in that place of pain that would do the same thing would be a one in a million shot in the dark. Instead, that truth, no matter how biblically accurate, would probably have just shut me down.”



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