There are two major commissions that we find in Scripture that really stand out as Jesus’ commissions to his disciples and apostles, and therefore to us. The first one you probably thought of is The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and I will be looking at that one in a few weeks.
The second one can be found in Acts 1:8:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
I’d like to focus on that word, “power.” It is translated from the Greek word δύναμις (dynamis), which we get words like “dynamite” from, and it represents the power of God. Spiritual power, Ascension Day power.
I know that during this time of quarantine and isolation, many of us feel weak and powerless. Many things have been taken out of our control – our health and safety, our finances, our relationships. Although I’ve heard that some introverts are thriving during this time, extroverts like myself can feel drained and powerless after being isolated so long. We have all lost so much that gives us energy and power.
However, we can intentionally claim this season as a time of spiritual power, a time to incubate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.Ephesians 1:15-23 (emphasis mine)
What Paul is praying for the church is for them to not only understand who they are in Christ, but also to understand what is available to them through him – the immeasurably great power.
I could tell many stories of how I have seen God’s power in my own experience, but I’ll just tell this one. When I was pastoring in Florida, there was a woman in our church named Lisa who became gravely ill. There was a risky surgery that may be able to help her, but it was so dangerous that they had her lawyer come to her hospital room and help her get her affairs in order before they would even attempt it. We had our entire church and the surrounding region praying for her and for God to work a miracle. On the day of the surgery, they again scanned her body and discovered that her veins had miraculously reattached, and her diseased organ was now healthy. God had healed her completely! I was told that the vascular surgeon exclaimed out loud in the room, “That’s impossible! That can’t happen!” And the operating surgeon explained to the observing interns, “This is something they won’t tell you in medical school. Sometimes God does powerful things in the lives of people.”
This is a wonderful and powerful story, but it upsets me sometimes that nobody teaches these things! We are raised in an educational system that teaches all sorts of skills to people who are going to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, businesspeople, but it robs them of the knowledge of the power that can come through knowing the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
That’s where Paul’s prayer above becomes so necessary. We must pray to know that power, and pray for others to know that power as well. How the way we live would be changed if we really KNEW the power of God available to us!
Paul says it in more than one place in Scripture – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead also raises us who believe up with him, and we are seated with him together in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6, Colossians 2:12).
As the eyes of our hearts are being opened to this immeasurably great power, a natural question follows: How can we access this power? Paul explains this, too:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ephesians 3:14-21 (emphasis mine)
If you’re worried about the health of a sickly plant, you need to find out what’s going on with its roots. If you’re worried about your own weak spiritual health, you need to discern whether you are rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ. If you want to see the power of God in your life, you need to be rooted and established in his love.
When you are firmly rooted in Christ, two manifestations of spiritual power will result:
- Spiritual Gifts – God pours out spiritual gifts on his people, and you will see his gifts manifest in your life when you are experiencing God’s power.
- Spiritual Maturity – As the members of the body of Christ grow in God’s power, they all grow together in maturity, filled with life and the power of God, growing up into the head, which is Jesus Christ. This will become evident in the way we relate to our spouses, parent our children, administrate ourselves in the workplace, and exercise our professions.
The power of God is what is desperately needed in our society right now. I pray that this time of isolation will be an incubation period of the Holy Spirit, so that what is released back into our societies when Christians return to the public sphere is an unleashing of a mighty revival of the Spirit of God. We must use this time as a preparation to go to war against the enemy of God, armed with the spiritual weapons of God’s Spirit.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
May we know that power given to us by God, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead and ascended him to the right hand of God. May we embrace that power and allow God to use it to do mighty works in and through us.