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The Power and the Word

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The power and the word of God are inseparable.  This in itself is such a self-evident statement that to have to say it shows the state of decay the church is really in.  For in most of the churches, there is at best the word, but scarcely any miraculous power.

Miraculous power is a tool that most do not appreciate because most do not have it and cannot be trusted with it.  For most pastors who wish to start a church, it is a matter of gathering the people to garner the financial support, and for some, working a job with somebody to pay for the food and bills.  A few are successful and some even grow their churches to sizes that the captains of Mammon would be proud of, but most flounder away, struggling with a small congregation, like so many small businesses in mammon’s world.  The rate of small church failure is as high as the rate of failure of small start-up businesses.  Of course, this does not apply to the denominationals that have their entrenched parishes as much.  However, even they can experience church closure due to lack of interest.

How did Jesus start up His ‘church’?  Was it with support from believing Jews who gave Him their tithes and offerings?  Did He choose a place and held regular services, establishing a good praise and worship team, a children’s ministry, a women’s ministry and so on?  Oh, and a Sunday school?  No, He started His ministry with a few men who wanted to know more about Him, and began to do miracles and signs and wonders even as He started to preach.  In truth, since the changing of water to good wine was not accompanied by a preach or a teach, unless you consider what He said to His mother and the servants a preach and a teach, then really signs and wonders preceded the preaching of the word with Jesus.  That was the hallmark of His ministry, and if anyone can do that before they start to preach, they will do extremely well.

As His ministry grew, He concentrated on His disciples and not on the size of His congregation.  Without a cathedral and without the paraphernalia of the usual ‘big’ ministries, He packed out the house wherever He went, even if it was a remote place.  Why?  Because the power of God flowed through Him.  And as He taught His disciples, He also made sure that they were able to do signs and miracles, sending them out to preach but also to do signs and wonders as well as heal the sick.  Though He taught them the word first, when He sent them out they also had the power to heal and drive out demons.

However, before He taught them the word, He had to convince them to follow Him.  Although they did follow Him, they kept going back to their fishing.  So when He called them again in Luke 5, He gave them a demonstration of His power with the miraculous catch of fish.  It was after that that they left their boats and followed Him completely.  Their hearts were in the right place – they desired to be His disciples, and the words He spoke stirred their hearts – but their minds were not convinced.

This then is the relationship between the power and the word.  When the disciples heard the word about Jesus, they were moved in their hearts and desired to follow Him and see where He lived.  They followed Him for a while, but logic dictated that they should go back to fishing for a living, and so they did.  It was only when they themselves experienced the miracle for themselves that they finally made up their minds and committed themselves to follow Him.  They may have said it earlier, but it was not until Jesus had come back from Jerusalem in John 5 that they made the commitment to follow in Luke 5.

The word of the Lord is for the changing of a person’s heart.  That is why Jesus said that the seed is the word that will yield forth the harvest if it finds a good and noble HEART.  The word cannot change the mind of a person, but it appeals to the person’s heart, convicting him of the truth.  The power, however, is for the mind of a person.  For seeing a display of power is what changes a person’s mind.  That is why Jesus said that the people would not believe unless they saw miracles, not because their hearts were hard, but because their minds were stubborn.

Jesus’ miracles are designed to change your mind about what is possible and what is impossible.  His words are, however, for the heart, for love lays in the heart and not in the mind.  If we are to love our enemies, then we must change our hearts.  But to be convinced that this can be done and done profitably, our minds must be changed.

The command to turn the other cheek when one is struck on one side is a good example of the interaction between power and word.  A person who does not know the power of God will see this instruction as foolish and an inspiration to do so as an attitude, but he would not actually do it physically.  However, for a person who knows the power of God, this command can be carried out physically.  For the presence of the power would wither the arm raised to strike, so that your enemy might be taught a lesson and be shown love as you then restore the withered arm.

The absence of the power of God to accompany the preaching of the word means that hearts are touched and sinners are brought to repentance, but their minds are unchanged.  So that, although they are no longer sinners but saints, they are indistinguishable in the way they approach the problems of the world.  Praying to your God to solve your problem is not the monopoly of Christians.  Believing that your God will solve your problem by answering prayer is also not the monopoly of Christians.

What is the monopoly of Christians is that their Lord and Master is the only One who did miracles unceasingly and told His disciples they were to do likewise and even greater.  No other founder of the other religions has as much a ministry of unceasing and continuous miracles as Jesus’.  Jesus did not philosophy about the problems faced by His audience; He solved them by miraculous power.  If your child was dead, He did not go into a long lecture about the meaning of life and death, but He raised the child.  End of problem.  Philosophies are birthed by those who have no power to solve the problem.  Remedy is performed by those who have the power.

The restoration of the command to listen to Jesus gives back to us the words that can change the hearts of men, and the tabulating of the Testimony of the Holy Spirit gives us the power to change their minds.  That is why these two have been produced by the workshop of the Holy Spirit.  So that the words of Jesus are preached and taught first to allow hearts to be soften, and the power is available to change the minds so that we can see and feel differently about Jesus Christ and the God who sent Him, His Father.

Study the gospels and the books of Acts again if you are not convinced about the Testimony, and you will see where there was power to accompany the preaching of the word, the crowds were always large, and without the hype and the advertising that go into today’s crowd drawing ministries.

This then is the answer to every ministry that finds itself struggling:  To the word of Jesus you teach and preach, add the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is reported that one of the greatest ministries of the sixties and seventies took off when the power of the Holy Spirit healed a person with cancer as the female evangelist preached on John 14.12.  See the purpose for the power and you will bring the word of the Lord to life in your listeners’ hearts, and you will have a people whose hearts are softened and minds are renewed.

Hr. Ed, manager of the Holy Spirit’s Workshop

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