Supernatural Power! – Part 1
“On one occasion, while [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…’” (Acts 1:4 NIV)
Here is the simple New Testament truth about how the Christian church was born:
In Acts 1, the risen Jesus has appeared to the disciples on and off for forty days. These are the same men who had failed miserably when the pressure came during his arrest. Far more than just doubting Jesus, they turned tail and fled. Peter was worse than that; he verbally denied that he knew Jesus, to the point of cursing.
Yet Jesus is going to entrust these very men with the leadership of the newborn church of Christ, which is his Body!
The world, lying in spiritual darkness, desperately needs the gospel that has just been completed with the sacrificial death and powerful resurrection of Jesus. The disciples are putting it all together in their minds: why Jesus had to die, what it means for humanity, the great task that lies ahead. The Old Testament Scriptures are coming alive right and left for them. The glorified Christ, with fresh nail prints still in his hands, is tutoring them day after day.
You would think that as Ascension Day draws closer and closer, Jesus would be saying, “Get ready, men, to launch a major campaign. Reserve the Jerusalem Arena for a series of mass meetings. Start the advance publicity. Indeed, maybe you should divide up into teams and hit several cities of Israel at once for maximum effect. The message of redemption through my death on the cross needs to go out far and wide—immediately!”
In actuality, he tells them the opposite…
The world is dying; people are without the gospel; these men have the message of life; they have seen Jesus in the flesh and walked with him for days on end, both before and after his death and resurrection—and yet he tells them to wait. Why?
Christ knows the power and strongholds of the enemy. He knows what these men will soon face. He knows how much wisdom, discernment, and boldness they will need. And so he says, “No, even though you have the correct message, you will never accomplish the task I give you without the power [Greek: dunamis, from which we get the word dynamite] of the Holy Spirit, which is greater than yourselves. It will be his supernatural ability working in and through you. Don’t go anywhere until you have received that power.”
This is truly amazing. It is the opposite of what we hear in our day: “Just get a good theological education, and then go out to preach the message you’ve learned in the classroom.” But we are finding in churches all across the country that preaching alone does not cause conversions, does not result in baptisms, and does not expand the kingdom of God. Most churches are making no dent in the masses of unbelievers all around them.
We can blame tough neighborhoods, New Age thinking, and immoral entertainment all we want. But when has the environment not been difficult for the gospel? Think of what the early church faced in hostile Jerusalem and the pagan Roman Empire. Yet they received power from on high and did exploits for God instead of just talking to themselves. Their preaching and witnessing had a dimension of supernatural ability that we are sadly lacking today.
To be continued…
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Fresh Power)
Read Acts 1:1-5.