The Great Commission calls us to engage in some pretty powerful things, that we are otherwise powerless to do without the anointing of God upon us. As we learned in the previous teaching (post), operating in the power of the Holy Spirit first REQUIRES time in the PRAYER CLOSET connecting to our “power source” (so to speak).
We have been given the command by Yeshua (aka Jesus) to preach the Gospel (Good News of Yeshua) and make disciples. Part of being EFFECTIVE today in engaging in that commission ENTAILS first demonstrating the POWER of God so that we gain the attention and right to speak to those we are sent to by God.
Today, our culture is no longer “Christian” in terms of the basic worldview that most people hold to. In other words, 100 years ago people viewed the world and made educated decisions based on a “Christian” way of looking at the world, morality, relationships, and governance, etc. (even if they did not have a personal relationship with Jesus). That is no longer the case today.
Not only this, but our commission and mission goes beyond simply getting people to understand certain cognitive realities “about” God, the world, salvation, resurrection, etc. We are called to demonstrate the power and authority of God to confirm that which we preach. This approach has been largely lost to much of the western church. For example, most people’s experience in the western church stops at verse 7 in Matthew 10:7–8:
7“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”
At the beginning, the apostles’ preaching was followed by a demonstration of the power of God. This was part of the “normal” Christian experience, and was even “expected” (as it still is today in many Asian countries). A demonstration of the power of God was not to be limited to some bygone era, but part of our everyday Christian life and practice.
Today, most churches teach Christians “how” to preach the Word, but very few address the issue of following that preaching with a demonstration of God’s power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Why is that? And what is the impact on our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in the mission?
In part, the answer lies in the fact that it is easier to acquire cognitive “knowledge” by human effort through study (to a certain degree), than gain a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit in terms of greater intimacy, responsiveness, and trust. There is enough low lying fruit to be gleaned from the biblical text without having to develop greater intimacy with the Holy Spirit, but such a knowledge that lacks intimacy will not result in the ability to demonstrate the power of God in and through one’s life.
Furthermore, there were not classes covering the topic in seminary, no courses on “how to” demonstrate the power of God, nor an emphasis on the necessity of intimacy with the Holy Spirit as a necessary prerequisite to do so. Seminary was by and large only focused on acquiring a solid cognitive understanding of God and the Bible. Now don’t get me wrong, these are important things to learn to keep one’s charismatic feet on the ground, to avoid slipping out into heresy, but it also leaves one’s faith feeling rather dry and boring, outside of the occasional deep insight one may glean from diligent study over time.
So what are we to make of this somewhat “powerless” version of the Great Commission that the majority of Christianity today operates in? And could part of the problem come from not simply from a lack of knowledge of the need for power, but the absolute necessity of accessing it through a rich and vibrant prayer life?
This is especially important to consider since we are living in a world that is clearly seeking after and starving for “supernatural encounters” and we do in fact have a very supernatural God. But if we do not at some point address the elephant in the room regarding the importance of demonstrating the power of God through prayer, people, particularly young people, will continue to go so far as to “fill their spiritual void” with dangerous and demonic sources?
Did you ever notice that when Jesus ministered, he taught the truth, but that truth was always followed by a demonstration of God’s power and authority working through Him. He then gave the disciples this same authority and power and sent them out in two’s.
It was not long after this that they all started fighting over which one of them was the “greatest?” Clearly they had gotten a taste of the power of God working through them to heal the sick, cast out demons, and cleanse lepers, and they immediately let it go to their heads, because they were yet immature in their faith. It takes real maturity to be submitted to God in such a way as to be a vessel of God’s power and yet not let it go to your head.
And, it first requires constantly being on your face in the prayer closet and fully repentant and submitted on an ongoing basis else any one of us would fall. But mind you, God, through the years, has legitimately chosen to use many imperfect people to demonstrate his power through healing people, etc., who later go on to have it revealed that they had been engaging secretly in some hidden sin. It seems strange to us that God would knowingly choose to do such a thing, but sometimes He does. The healing is not de-legitimized by the sin of the vessel (besides the fact that God would have no one to work with if he didn’t work with sinful human beings!). God uses vessels of wrath to prophesy truthful things at times for His purposes (ex. Caiaphas, the acting High Priest of the time, prophesied the death of Yeshua as a single representative for the whole of Israel even though he did not believe in Him). When we realize this distinction, the warning to those who prophesy, but have no true “knowledge” or rather no intimate, relational knowledge of the Lord becomes all the more alarming, because it stresses the vital importance of really understanding our need for intimate, experiential knowledge and not just cognitive knowledge of God in and behind such actions.
Furthermore, when religious but unbelieving men failed to understand the truth that Yeshua spoke to them, sometimes He would make the comment or tell them that “the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) has come upon you.” What He meant by this statement was that the power and authority of God had been demonstrated through Him and thus “come upon them” in the sense that it’s expression and articulation had now confronted them in a way that would require them to MAKE A CHOICE. That choice concerned who they believed was the source of Christ’s power and authority? Was it God or the enemy? There were only two choices in the minds of the audience of that day.
In the same way, when we are blessed to operate in the authority and power of Christ through our submission to the Holy Spirit and willingness to partner with God in ministry, we are able to provide a lost and dying world with the right combination of prophetic words of truth, as well as a demonstration of the power and authority of God, that forces them to make a decision as to what the source of that power working through us is? In other words, just like Yeshua (Jesus), they must determine whose power is working in and through us? When we are able to abide in Christ by and through a deep, authentic, living, active, and vibrant relationship to the Holy Spirit (as in be continuously aware of and interacting with the Holy Spirit each day), the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit working daily in and through us then allows us to have more opportunities to engage in exciting and powerful “God moments” with people that can provoke them to repentance and salvation in Christ.
Thus, this reality gives us greater insight into Paul’s emphasis in 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 which states:
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Paul had an exceptional knowledge of the Word of God for a person of his time, having learned at the feet of the famous Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), but in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, he specifically notes that he intentionally chose NOT to emphasize and rely on his use of persuasive words of “wisdom” alone, because He specifically wanted their faith to be based on their experiencing God’s Goodness, through both a demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God.
We are all created and designed to be like little RADIO RECEIVERS, capable of hearing and communicating with God through receiving the signals He sends out by means of our relationship with the Holy Spirit, who helps us understand the words we hear, so we can pass them on or “transmit” them to others to edify, encourage, and exhort.
In order to do this we must tune into the frequency God is transmitting in order to receive and then redistribute all the Love, Blessings, Peace, Power, Healing, Deliverance, etc. that God desires to pour out upon a world of people that He truly loves and desires to see come to repentance.
Today many people have LOST SIGHT of the MISSION, which is SALVATION not CONDEMNATION.
Now, if we understand how a normal radio receiver works, then we can parallel that phenomenon in the natural with its equivalent communication concept in the spiritual so that we can understand the important power we receive through prayer.
A receiver works by taking an antenna and capturing the radio waves it receives, processes the waves to extract only the waves that are vibrating at the desired frequency, then extracts the audio signals that were added to those waves, amplifies those audio signals, and finally plays them on a speaker.
Since we have been given the mandate and authority to share the Good News and represent the King on earth, we are likewise called to do only what we “see” Him doing, (that is, if we have the spiritual eyes to see what He is doing because we are pushing in and paying attention). Yeshua commented that not only would we do what He did, but that we would engage in even greater things than He engaged in. How is this possible? Just as Yeshua only did what He saw the Father doing, so also we should only do what we see Him doing. Yet, that’s a much easier thing to say than to do. The disciples could have asked Yeshua to teach them many things, but they recognized something important about Yeshua’s prayer life. They recognized that the source of His power was intimately connected to His commitment to a strong prayer life, and thus they asked Him to teach them how to pray.
Now we have come full circle back to our original question. Why was it that we need that daily POWER of God that comes only through intimacy with God through prayer? Because we want, like Paul, for people’s own faith to rest on the manifest, active, and present power of God at work in their lives today and not just grounded in the “right” theologies, creeds, and religious observances they learn through the wisdom men.
However, we also have to take into account an important distinction between authority and power that we will cover in the next post/teaching.