First the Kingdom Part 23: Kingdom Power
There was a man sent from God whose name is John. In fact his mission was determined before he was born. He was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mothers womb. Instead of following in his fathers path as a priest of the levitical order, he would be the prophet to herald the coming of the Messiah of Israel.
The people who heard his message were called to repent of their sins because the Kingdom of God was near. Then they followed him into the Jordan River to be ceremonially cleansed as a part of their repentance. He would not permit his disciples to put their faith in him. He said another would come after he had baptized them in the water. John did not even feel worthy to take off the shoes of this one to wash His feet. He told them this this one would baptize them in the Holy Spirit and fire.
When Jesus came to be baptized by his cousin John, John refused. He would rather be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus insisted. When Jesus came up out of the water the heavens opened unto Him, a voice then came saying, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then the Holy Spirit came and landed upon Him like a dove. From that time on, Jesus began demonstrating the power of God, the power of the Kingdom through the working of healings, miracles and delivering people from demon possession.
Both John and Jesus placed strong emphasis on Holy, godly living. They both respected the law of Moses which stood at the heart of the nation of Israel but they were also quick to point out that there was a wrong and a right way to observe the law. As other prophets of Israel they scolded the people who outwardly kept the law, while their hearts were far from loving the God Who graciously saved them from slavery.
Neither John nor Jesus left the people with heavy moral demands and no hope for fulfilling them. John told of the Holy Spirit and fire to come, and Jesus proved what the Holy Spirit could do to heal the minds, hearts and bodies of those who cried out to God for help. We must keep in mind that all of this is consistent with the history of Israel. Abraham and Sarah by faith received the miracle of a child in their old age, Jacob encountered God at Bethel and later received His blessing. Joseph had the help of the Spirit to interpret dreams for Pharaoh, and Moses was empowered by God to work miracles before Pharaoh and Israel. After that judges like Samson were empowered by the Holy Spirit with special abilities to serve the nation. David was anointed by the Spirit of God and was blessed to lead the armies and the nation. Solomon received supernatural wisdom, and prophets like Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Daniel served the people as the Holy Spirit spoke the Word of God through them.
It has always been this principle, God resists the proud, but give grace unto the humble.
If this message accomplishes anything at all, I hope and pray that you will be encouraged to humble yourselves before Him. It does not matter how successful you are in this life or if you were raised in a Christian home and never strayed from the faith. We all need to be humble before God. There is often a serious lack of supernatural ability in Christians to overcome temptations, fears, addictions, bad attitudes etc. Could the reason for this be that we have failed to received the fullness of this baptism, this gift that God through Christ has offered us? Could it be that we have been too proud to admit our need?
In John 3:3-5 Jesus said that we must be born of the water and the Spirit to enter into the Kingdom of God. I doubt that anyone reading this or hearing this podcast would argue that anyone could come to Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. If any change of heart ever comes we know it had to come from the intervention of God and His grace. I certainly hope that you do not credit yourself with becoming a new creation, or a better person!
Is the New Birth the one and only act of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer? Jesus had dozens of followers before Calvary. Some of them had even been given the authority to work miracles as well. But there was an even greater work of the Holy Spirit to come. Jesus said that rivers of living water would flow out from the innermost being of those who believed in Him. When John the apostle recorded this statement he explained that this would happen after Jesus would be glorified. After His resurrection, Jesus told them how the time for Kingdom power was very near.
Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ was a world-changing event. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting their sins against them. The only thing left is for us is to receive the benefit of this reconciling work. This is where the preaching of the Gospel comes in. How can people believe in someone they do not know? How can they know if they are not told? How can they be told if God does not send his messengers? So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.(Romans 10:13-17).
The Cross and Resurrection of Christ makes everything else possible, including the promised coming of the Holy Spirit in power. People need to also hear the good news that God has provided all the power we will ever need to live in His Kingdom now. That aspect of the Gospel must also be proclaimed and believed. For thousands of years this truth has been largely forgotten. Today it is being declared around the world that kingdom power is available to those who believe, but amidst great confusion and controversy.
However in the Bible we see no evidence of a controversy on this subject. John and Jesus foretold of an immersion in the Holy Spirit, Luke in Acts detailed exactly how that happened. Calvary was a one-time, once and for all time event. Then the Day of Pentecost, when Christ poured out His Spirit on all humanity was the fruit of that. Together these two world-changing events herald the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the beginning of God’s Kingdom reign upon this earth! However, are there many who have received the gift of forgiveness brought at Calvary, but not the infusion of power brought at Pentecost? How can they know since they have not heard?
In Acts chapter nineteen there where some people in Ephesis who had heard the Gospel of the Kingdom most likely from disciples of John the Baptist. Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed, to which they answered, “we did not even know there was a Holy Spirit!” These folks were sincere, humble and hungry for God. They immediately received the more complete Gospel from Paul, were baptized in the Name of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, evidenced by the gifts of tongues and prophesy.
Since the early Twentieth Century, more people have become aware of the power that has been available to believers since the Day of Pentecost. In their zeal to encourage other believers to receive this power they have stirred up controversy and a division exists among us to this day. Not only that, but counterfeit demonstrations of power have added to the controversy. The lack of discernment among those of us who accept any strange phenomena as from the Holy Spirit is also a problem.
Once God called His people to “come, let us reason together.” Could it be that the time has come to reason together on controversial subjects like End-time prophecy, the sign gifts, and the supernatural manifestations of the Kingdom of God? Established teachings for many generations have accepted that the days of miracles were over near the end of the apostolic era. It is acknowledged that the inspired writings of that first generation of church leaders have secured the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” The foundation has been laid for the church of later generations, and the basic errors have all been addressed. Therefore some reason that miracles are no longer useful or needed.
Even the controversy we are discussing has already been addressed in the New Testament! Paul explained that love is the greatest gift of all, but that we should still desire spiritual gifts so that we could build up one another in love! Why is this important?
The fact is that confidence in the bible is at an all-time low in our day, even among some who claim to be Christians! The same power of God that worked miracles to validate the message of the kingdom that the apostles brought is needed today. While we recognize that the Holy Spirit Himself has always validated the Word of God in the hearts of hearers throughout the ages, there is no indication in the Bible that God has stopped performing miracles for this same purpose.
While Jesus chastised those who clamor after signs alone, He continued to shock His generation with infallible proofs of His calling and message. Like Peter, who stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus on the water, may we focus on Jesus, His beauty, glory, power and love, step out in faith when He bids us, and trust in Him to support us when we fail. That risk is always possible, but the greatest failure might be to not step out at all!