UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF GOD
By Apostle Richard Wright
2 Timothy 1:7-8 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God...”
We constantly hear christians talking about “the power of God”. When asking a minister about the last service they had ministered in, you will usually hear something like “it was awesome, God really moved, the power of God knocked people down and made others weep! People were reeling under the power, etc., etc.
WHAT IS THE POWER, WHAT IS IT FOR, AND HOW DO WE GET IT?
“Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, This man is what is called the Great Power of God. And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.” (Acts 8:9-11) Not unlike the Samaratans, many christians believe that the power of God is given to knock people down when being prayed for, or for producing a needed miracle. Many chase all over the world seeking a miracle believing that is proof of the presence of God. Where does this thinking come from? It does not come from the Bible, so it must come from carnal, religious thinking. Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day when they asked for a sign in Matthew 12:39. But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet”.
If we would only seek the Giver of miracles more than the miracle itself, we would be constantly living in a realm of the miraculous. Today’s church appears to put more emphasis on miracles than on Jesus.
So, what is the purpose of any man possessing the power of God?
See Acts 1:1-8, Jesus said, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
“you shall receive power and...”
• you shall walk on water.
• you shall cast mountains into the sea.
• you shall call down fire from heaven.
• you shall perform magic tricks.
• you shall dazzle people with your amazing demonstrations on the stage.
NO, even though we are told that we are to heal the sick and raise the dead, that’s not the primary purpose of the power of God being bestowed upon those who have received the outpouring of Holy Spirit. WE ARE TO POSSESS THE POWER TO WITNESS FOR CHRIST (“MARTYR”). We are to possess the power of God to live the christian life in:
Power to encounter foes and dangers;
power to bear up under trials;
power to triumph in persecutions.
Muslims, in demonstrating their faith, put us to shame. Most muslims would die for their faith, most christians would not. Muslims hold strong to their beliefs, and are united in them. Most christians don’t know what they believe, and the christian faith is so divided because we do not all follow the teaching (doctrine) of our bible. Muslims even pray in unity all around the world. You can access their websites and select any city in the world and it will give you the exact times to pray every day. Many prisoners are becoming muslims in order to gain free time as our American prisons grant muslims time off to pray at their specified times. Their religion seems to be taking over everywhere we look. Our president claims to be christian, but publicly honors the muslim faith more than his christianity. Statistics show that muslims will be the majority in Europe within 10-15 years. It is the fastest growing religion in America at this time. What spiritual good is it doing for us to continue to seek the power of God to produce an occasional miracle when we are losing the battle for this nation?
The muslim faith is extremely disciplined. Where is the christian discipline?
I have seen too many who were chasing the miracles that do not have the power of God to discipline their children in biblical principles for fear that their children would not like them.
I have seen too many who were producing “miracles” that did not possess the power of God to overcome temptations, accusations and everyday problems.
I have seen too many who claim to demonstrate miracle-working power, but do not have the power to walk in honesty concerning financial matters.
I have seen too many who claimed to possess the power of God who did not have the power to tell the truth and demonstrate the character of Christ in their lives.
I have experienced many who do not keep their word or their promises, but claim to possess the power of the Holy Spirit.
Again, look at 2 Timothy 1:8, which says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me, His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God...”
“According to the power of God”. That is, according to the power which God gives to those who are afflicted on account of the gospel. We are not afflicted on account of the gospel because we use the power of God to produce miracles and cause us to roll on the floor and laugh and cry. We do not use the power to boldly proclaim the gospel wherever we are.
1 Peter 4:11 says, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The opposite of “steward” or “servant” is “victim”. In his book, “The Search for Power”, Harvard professor David McClelland says that there are 4 stages in the development of an individual to maturity.
Stage 1 - Power is perceived as coming from others, but is directed towards oneself.
Stage 2 - Power is perceived as residing within oneself, but is used for the needs of the self.
Stage 3 - Power is perceived as residing within oneself, but is used for the sake of others.
Stage 4 - Power is perceived as residing outside, coming through the self, but used for the sake of others.
Therefore, a sign of christian maturity in understanding the power of God would be shown in humility. It would be more like Jesus in Luke 8:56 when He raised a girl from the dead and then we read, “Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.” Today, we might be tempted to say, “contact the media, we’re having a healing revival”! “The power of God is in our church”!
Luke 10:17-20 says, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name. And He said to them, I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
The primary problem today is the seeking of miracles rather than seeking the Giver of the miracles.
All who are filled with Holy Spirit are called to display the power of God, but many do not have the boldness and have delegated this to a few “miracle workers”. In doing so, we elevate them to a place they cannot handle.
We who are believers possess the power of God to boldly take the Kingdom by force (Matthew 11:12). We possess the power of God to live the christian life as God intended when He saved us. We possess the power of God to work together in unity as we boldly follow the Word of God as it is plainly printed.
2 Timothy 2:3-5 says, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” We no longer follow the rules because we are so afraid that following rules places us either under the law or in some kind of bondage. We must follow the rules and demonstrate the true power of God by being His bond servants!
Probably the greatest example of God’s view of all this is found in His answer to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when Paul is asking God to take a thorn out of his life. God answers him with, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
As believers, we do possess the power of God. When we finally realize that it does not belong to only an anointed few, we can put this power to use in living a true christian life. We are then able to stand and see the glory of God in the midst of trials and temptations. We then begin to see great victories where before there were repeated defeats. When we realize the kind of power that brings us together in unity of the faith and unity of the spirit, we will reap the corporate anointing in God’s house!