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If the Kingdom of God is truly a Kingdom of Power[1] as Paul wrote, then surely, the citizens of the Kingdom should be familiar with its power and the soldiers of the Kingdom of God should be experts with the power of the Kingdom as well as the power of their enemies.

We all entered the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God by repentance and faith in the Godliness preached by Jesus Christ, and that faith when extended to His Name and Person, also availed for those who would take it up; eternal life. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,”[2] and we know the purpose of that eternal life because Jesus defined it clearly, saying for our benefit as He prayed to the Father, “Now, this is eternal life: that they may know You, the Only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”[3]

It would appear that in the Kingdom of God, there are both civilians and soldiers, for Paul wrote to Timothy: No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs.[4] It is clear that at the very least, anyone who wants to serve Jesus seriously, should serve Him like a soldier serves in an army, and better still, to serve Christ as a soldier of His Kingdom and not just as a citizen. If you observe the behaviour of the citizens and the soldiers of the kingdoms of the world, you can see two very different patterns of behaviour. We are both citizens who are soldiers of the Kingdom of God.

It is time therefore to take stock of the power(s) we have been given—for to those who have, and use well what they have been given, more shall be given to them and they shall receive more until they have an abundance. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.”[5] “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, [who have nothing] even what little they have will be taken away.”[6] Therefore, we now need to know what we have and what to use it for, so that we may receive more until we have an abundance. A simple scroll through the NIV concordance gives this list of powers:

A. The power of God includes the power of the Father, the power of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit because They are three Persons who are One. You must realise that there are manifestations that reveal Their own individuality whilst affirming Their unity. By His power:

· God is exalted in His power[7]

· God made the Earth by His power[8]

· God rules forever by His power[9]

· God formed the mountains by His great power[10]

This power of God, the Power of God, which holds all things together, is poured out through the different Persons of the Godhead, so that through the Father came the creative power, and through Jesus came the power to save, and through the Holy Spirit, the power to witness. Within the Godhead we see these subsets of the Power of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

· Father has power in His Name. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name.”[11]

· Holy Spirit has His own power, as such it is written: Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,[12] which is the power we also receive when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.[13] It is the same power that strengthens us as Paul wrote: I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.[14]

· Jesus has His own power that was brought forth through His life.

o As Paul puts it: lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.[15]

o Christ and the power of His resurrection[16]

Associated with the Godhead are the powers of:

1. The Gospel – I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.[17]

2. power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit[18]

3. weapons of divine power to demolish strongholds[19]

4. power of an indestructible life[20]

5. powers of the coming age[21]

B. As well as that, we need to know well the power of the enemy, for every good soldier is well trained in His enemies’ tactics also, which are the powers of this dark world:[22]

· Spiritually

1. the power of the devil [Satan][23]

2. the power of sin is the law[24]

3. the secret power of lawlessness[25]

4. the power of death[26]

· Physically

1. physical power – military

2. financial power

3. intellectual power

4. political power

It is our job to do what Jesus has been doing and even the greater things, including:

1. Keep the powers and authorities disarmed[27]

2. Keep them submitted[28]

Until—that day the Lord will punish the powers in the Heavens above and the kings on the Earth below.[29]

Sizing up the Terrain:

Once upon a time, the apostles had power as did the early church, so what happened to that power? First of all, understand this, power is given, not earned, and it was given by Jesus firstly to the apostles while He was training them in His personal ministry on Earth. When Jesus had called the twelve together, He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.[30] After the twelve, He sent the seventy-two out ahead of Him,[31] and these seventy-two returned testifying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your Name.” Then, on the one hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost,[32] so that we can see it is the Lord’s will not to confine the power only to the apostles, but indeed to give it to all individuals in all the church. And we have recorded for us the short period of time when the apostles testified with great power[33] and when the church had the power to heal all who came and the power to deliver their own out of danger when their earnest prayers saw Peter delivered out of prison by an angel.[34]

So far we have examined the persons and teachings that have detracted believers away from listening to Jesus and His commands by men like Nicholas and James the Younger who reintroduced part of the Law into the church, and when you bring the church back under the Law, even partially, you have brought the power of sin back into the church. When the command to “Listen to Him”[35] was lost, power could no longer be retained by individuals, and if individuals have no power, the church has no power for the church is a collection of individuals.

Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God, was and is at full power. In His three years of ministry, He never lacked power to heal, even though a lack of faith may have prevented Him from doing miracles in Capernaum. He is the fullness of the measure we are to aspire to, and yet by His own words, it would seem that He has a desire for us to exceed Him in deeds of power, for He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me… will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”[36]

The purpose of eternal life is that we come to know Him now—and so far, you have come to know Him in part as the Son of God and the Son of Man who He is. Your coming to know Him will allow you to understand the state of existence required to have full power. If you were to say now that the state of existence required to have and sustain full power is holiness and complete sinlessness, then I would have to agree with you, but not holiness and sinlessness as defined by religion with its observances of rituals to fulfil outdated laws and rules to segregate and avoid sin as defined by the Law of Moses. No, the holiness and sinlessness required is the continual observance of the one command of the Father, “Listen to Him!”

A continual observance to listening to Jesus by any disciple of Jesus is like Adam continually refusing to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You know, Adam could not eat the leaves, bark or even the root of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and not disobey God for the command to him was: “But you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”[37] Eve changed the command and said, “‘You must not eat fruit from the Tree that is in the middle of the Garden, and you must not touch it, or you will surely die.’”[38] Look just for one moment at the inaccuracy of Eve’s statement. Firstly, there isn’t just one tree in the middle of the Garden, there were two. In the middle of the Garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.[39] And God did not say, ‘Don’t eat the fruit,’ He said the whole tree, and He never said, ‘Do not touch it.’ Inaccuracies of recollections of God’s command are what plague us. God gave Adam a command of 35 words, and Adam couldn’t obey it and Eve couldn’t quote it. So, to make things real simple for us, God shortened it to three words, and we still couldn’t get it right!

God said, “Listen to Him,” while Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus, which was His way of emphasising that we were to listen to Jesus only. Don’t worry about what Moses and Elijah are saying to Jesus; listen to what Jesus is saying to Moses and Elijah. Just because Moses and Elijah were talking on the Mount of Transfiguration to Jesus does not mean we are to listen to them. No, it is clear… “Listen to Jesus!” And if Jesus is speaking to Moses and Elijah, listen then… but don’t listen to Moses and Elijah… That is, do not heed their words though you can hear them speaking to Jesus. Extending this to the Bible; just because the words of Moses and Elijah are in the Bible with the words of Jesus, we are not to listen to the words of Moses or Elijah, but only to the words of Jesus who is the Only One who is One with God. You can hear Moses’ words or Elijah’s words, but do not heed them, do not listen to them. You can hear what other religions say about God, but just don’t listen to them. And if God does not want disciples of Christ to listen to Moses or Elijah, how much less would He want any of the disciples of Christ to listen to anyone else?

For Christ’s sake, you are disciples, not believers, nor searchers, not people who believe in God, etc, etc, etc. Disciples are believers who have been called by the Lord and have or are paying the price of discipleship. Believers are those who chose to believe the Lord by grace to enjoy the benefit of salvation through faith in Christ for free. Believers choose to call on the Lord. Disciples are called by the Lord and drawn. Apostles are chosen. And for those who are neither called nor chosen, what can we say? God has mercy on whom He has mercy, compassion on whom He has compassion. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”[40] By His mercy, we are saved and by His compassion, we are healed. His compassion is for His own as Jesus demonstrated when He healed all those who were sick amongst the five thousand, even though Jesus wanted to be alone to grieve for John the Baptist. When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.[41] Yet He had no compassion on the Canaanite woman, saying, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” But He had mercy on her when He said, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”[42]

Now look back to the main point. The state of existence needed to receive and sustain full power is holiness and sinlessness, holiness that is exclusive to sanctification by Jesus and His word, and sinlessness that is exclusive to listening to Him. A focussed obedience to the command given to Him and a focussed faith in the truth of the Father’s word is what Jesus had. He had fullness of faith in the truth of the word of God in the Law and the Prophets and every word He heard the Father speak. Likewise, He obeyed the command given Him by the Father exclusively and did not stray from it. Thus, fullness of faith in the word of God was half the reason for His power. The second half of the reason for His power was His unashamed testimonies about what He had heard and seen of the Father doing, saying and showing Him. He summed up the total dedication of His testimony and witness of the Father when He said, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”[43] He revealed His new Name, the Amen when He said, “These are the words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Ruler of God’s creation.”[44] He is the Faithful Witness because He believed and obeyed God, and He is the True Witness because He proved the word of God to be true.

Herein then are the basic problems of lack of power in the church:

1. The general church, in all its various denominations, does not believe in the entirety of the W/word of God, much less obey it. It is ignorant of the command for disciples and through its traditions, has decided to pick and choose what it wishes to believe, basically, whatever suits its image of God. The failure to believe the W/word of God in its entirety disqualifies anyone from full power immediately, but not all power, as you will see later, which is why you must now understand and know what the powers are, be they of the Kingdom of God or the enemies’ or the world’s.

If we are to raise the church to full power, we need the church to be prepared to believe and obey the word of God in its entirety as given by God. That is, the church must come back to listening to the Holy Spirit only because it is made up of individuals who listen to Jesus only. Remember, the church is made up of a collection of individuals and its total power is the sum total of the power of the individuals averaged out. One or two people at full power in the congregation does not a church at full power make!

2. The church is not prepared to stand up and be a witness for Jesus. It is not prepared to declare that which Jesus said is true and prove it to be true. After all, it is not politically nice to do that. In order to solve the problem of the lack of power in the church, we must therefore start with individuals, for after all a church is a collection of individuals. The mathematics is simple and obvious. If every individual disciple in a fellowship listens to Jesus, then we have a church of disciples who listen to Jesus and the state of holiness and sinlessness is fulfilled.

Now, if every disciple works on their own testimony concerning each verse of Jesus until everyone has a testimony of their own that proves the words of Jesus to be true, then we have the beginning of the complete and true witness of Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit is given that we may be His witnesses, that is, people who can stand up and say, “What Jesus said about this or that is true. I am the witness of it.” And since a church is made up of not only disciples, but also believers and seekers and detractors, a church where every believer is able to do something that Jesus has been doing is a good start. A church where all the believers can testify to the truth of Mark 16:17-18 would be a good start. “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

A good start would be the presence of some who drive out demons, some who speak in tongues, some who have picked up serpents and drunk poison and not experienced harm, and some who have laid hands on the sick—to be amongst the believers until all the believers have experienced all five signs individually, and then to have others to walk on water, change water to good wine, raise the dead, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, feed the multitudes and calm the storms. Remember Jesus said, “Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing…”[45] therefore anyone who has faith in Jesus can do this and believing is the beginning of faith. As great as these miracles are, they are only at the believer’s level.

Disciples on the other hand are witnesses who not only can testify to the truth of Jesus, they are also meant to be His friends for He said to His disciples, “You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his Master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.”[46] Disciples are to work on their friendship and their knowledge of their Friend’s business as well. Thus the witness of disciples is the testimony also of friends who know the business of their Master who is their Friend.

Finally, the missing ingredient in the church at full power is the presence of real life apostles who are:

· those who have seen Jesus alive,[47]

· those who have their own gospel,[48]

· those who have a ministry of signs, wonders and miracles

· and have done so with great perseverance,[49]

· men (male and female) who are willing to come last in the procession like those condemned to die in the arena.[50]

For the early church in Acts had apostles who, as it is written: With great power, the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,[51] were men who did not believe that Jesus was alive, but men who knew Jesus was alive because they had seen Him, touched Him, been rebuked by Him, commanded by Him and even ate with Him. And their power flowed as they testified to what they knew, not what they believed.

The others preached what they believed, as it is written: Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.[52] Thus the individuals required for the church to be at full power are apostles, disciples and believers, all of whom can either individually or corporately believe in the whole word of God and testify to the truth of the entirety of Jesus’ words individually and or corporately.

Such a church is worthy of the martyrs to return for, for they are those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.[53] What of those who water down the word of God and are ashamed of the words of Jesus, yet call themselves the church? We leave them to the angels of the Lord, the harvesters the Lord has sent,[54] unless they repent and turn around to “Listen to Him!”

AMEN


 

[1] 1 Corinthians 4:20

[2] John 3:16

[3] John 17:3

[4] 2 Timothy 2:4

[5] Matthew 25:29; Luke 19:26 NIV

[6] Matthew 25:29; Luke 19:26 NLT

[7] Job 36:22

[8] Jeremiah 51:15

[9] Psalm 66:7

[10] Psalm 65:6

[11] John 17:11

[12] Luke 4:14

[13] Acts 1:8, Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 5:4

[14] Ephesians 3:16

[15] 1 Corinthians 1:17

[16] Philippians 3:10

[17] Romans 1:16

[18] Romans 15:19

[19] 2 Corinthians 10:5

[20] Hebrews 7:16

[21] Hebrews 6:5

[22] Ephesians 6:12

[23] Acts 10:38; 26:18

[24] 1 Corinthians 15:56

[25] 2 Thessalonians 2:7

[26] Hebrews 2:14

[27] Colossians 2:15

[28] 1 Peter 3:22

[29] Isaiah 24:21

[30] Luke 9:1-2

[31] Luke 10:1-17

[32] Acts 2

[33] Acts 4:33

[34] Acts 12:4-10

[35] Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35

[36] John 14:12

[37] Genesis 2:17

[38] Genesis 3:3

[39] Genesis 2:9

[40] Exodus 33:19

[41] Matthew 14:13-14

[42] Matthew 15:26,28

[43] John 17:17

[44] Revelation 3:14

[45] John 14:12

[46] John 15:14-15

[47] 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

[48] Galatians 1:11-12

[49] 2 Corinthians 12:12

[50] 1 Corinthians 4:9

[51] Acts 4:33

[52] Mark 16:20

[53] Revelation 20:4

[54] Matthew 13:37-43

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