This is the fourth precept in the You Say I Am series. To start from the beginning, click here to go to Who You Say I Am – My Person in Christ.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. ~Acts 1:8
When I was a young boy in school, I remember a rather eventful day when my teacher had finally had enough of my class clown antics. So, there I was, standing in the front corner of the classroom, facing the blackboard. Behind me was an entire classroom of children, mocking, pointing, and literally laughing at me behind my back. While I was standing there, “thinking about” whatever it was that I had done, I escaped into the highly imaginative world of super powers. I invented my own array of special capabilities that included: making myself invisible, transporting out of the classroom and into my own living room, and then there was my all-time favorite, turning the whole class of scoffers into a bunch of hideous-looking creatures – ones that couldn’t make any noises.
Looking back on that day, now some five decades later, I realize something. As mortals – even adult mortals. We daily go about our happy little sleepy and complacent lives flitting after the butterflies and dancing among the daffodils on this life’s journey until we come up against a real adversity or trial. Don’t we? Then, and almost only then, do we call upon the power of God to come save us. To rescue us from our situation. To lift us out of our current difficult dilemma as if God were some kind of mighty cosmic bellhop waiting at our beck and call when we get ourselves into trouble – or when trouble comes and finds us. Believe me, this was my way even as a 50-something adult.
Here’s the problem with that theory – that mythological, erroneous theology is a false doctrine and bears no alignment with Jesus’ teaching at all. In fact, Jesus tells us that what we will have is tribulation, distress, and suffering in this world (John 16:33).
As Christians, we are not physically removed from the world and its trials, as some might think – and even hope. In fact, Jesus tells us that it is to the world that he sends us (John 17:15-18). Jesus doesn’t pray us out of the world and our difficult situations – He prays us into it and through them. He doesn’t meet us in the front corner of the classroom when our backs are bare to our adversaries and beam us out of our problems. In fact, He plops us right down in the face of them.
Consider these accounts of real world adversity: Moses faced his Red Sea (Exodus 14), David faced his Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Paul faced his shipwrecks (Acts 27), and Jesus faced His cross (Mark 15:16-38). But even in the most difficult of things we face, Jesus also tells us that by His power He has already overcome the world and everything we have ever faced…and will ever face (1 Corinthians 1:18, John 16:33).
It is to the world that Jesus sends us – and indeed has sent us from our very beginning. In this precept, we will examine the life of overcoming, resurrection power we have in Jesus Christ as we navigate life to the full – from our Design to our Destination.
As believers in Christ, we have… The power of Jesus IN our design. The power of Jesus OVER our death. The power of Jesus FOR our deliverance. The power of Jesus THROUGH our destiny. The power of Jesus UNDER our destination.
The power of Jesus IN our design – The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), and He created all things through His power (Jeremiah 27:5). It is in the very image of this power that we were designed and formed in the womb (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139: 13-14). Moreover, it is in Jesus and His power, His very presence, which is the source of all power, that we should live and move and exist…starting at our beginning (Acts 17:28).
As we examine our design in light of these verses, we can reason that we were created for more than acting up as a class clown and escape artist. We were made to be more than dumb sheep in a pasture. We were made for more than just visiting the Red Sea, we were made to cross it! We were made for more than facing our giant, we were made to take it down! We were made for more than merely boarding a star-crossed sailing adventure, we were made for landing on shore to declare what the Lord has done through it! We were made for more than going to the cross, we were made for dying there so we can live for Jesus! In our design, we were flawlessly made, but then sin entered the garden…
The power of Jesus OVER our death – Before we look at the accomplished work of Jesus Christ over our own death, we must first embrace the truth that Jesus conquered all death on the cross by the power of the glory of God. The devil thought he had his agenda – his victory – on lockdown when he falsely believed he murdered God’s only Son. How arrogantly deceived he was! And how utterly shattered he must have been when the power of God resurrected His Son back to life!
First of all, the devil was just a pawn in the story (as always). Jesus laid down His life – no one was even capable of taking it from Him (1 John 3:16, John 15:5). Even the man he thought he used to allow for Jesus to be put to death, Pontius Pilate, had zero power to take the life of Jesus (John 19:10-11).
Second, death is never the end – rather it is always the beginning of true life! Unless the seed dies, it will never bear fruit – and much fruit it will bear (John 12:24)! So when the devil thought he effectively murdered the Seed of Life, he forgot one thing…Jesus is the Author of LIFE, He is LIFE, and therefore, the DOOR TO ALL LIFE (Acts 3:15, John 14:6, John 10:9)!
And finally, death is merely a tool in the hands of an Almighty God to demonstrate His omnipotent and supreme power. Jesus was raised by the glory of the Father by His Spirit – the Holy Spirit – which He received at His own baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). Yes, Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit and there is where He received the resurrection Spirit, indeed the power of God Almighty, to raise Him from the dead (Romans 8:11, Romans 6:4)! Jesus is the God of life after death!
What does this mean for you and me? If you recall in part two of Where You Say I Am – My Position in Christ, we learned that we were created body, mind, soul, and spirit. But because of sin and the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, we therefore were born into sin and separated from God. Essentially, the sin of the world murdered our spirit and sent it to the grave (Genesis 2:17). As a result we also died unto our sins (Ephesians 2:1), we were taken captive by our sinful flesh (Proverbs 5:22), and rendered incapable of ever pleasing God (Romans 8:8).
Even on our best day – serving in the church, preaching the gospel to multitudes, feeding the homeless, giving thousands or even millions to the church – all our efforts are as but filthy rags to God. The Bible says we were as unclean as a person with a wasting flesh disease (leper), and all that we did for God would still result in carrying us down to our own destruction in the sentence of God’s just and holy wrath (Isaiah 64:6). We were dead people walking – walking in the darkness, walking in despair, walking hopelessly in our own miry bog of desolation…until we cried out. Then God heard our cry (Psalm 40:1)…
The power of Jesus FOR our deliverance – …He brought us out of our destruction, set us firmly on the rock of LIFE, Jesus Christ, and establishes our path. He takes us off of the path of eternal destruction and sets us firmly on His path of life where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 40:2, Psalm 16:11)!
When we cried out to Jesus from the pit of our despair, out of our miry bog of hopelessness, this is what happened: we declared the absolute surrender of our death to Jesus Christ. Remember, we had no life to give to Him – we were DEAD! Our best works were dead! our best thoughts were dead! Our best efforts were dead! So, if we had no life in and of ourselves to give to Him, all we had left to surrender was our death. Jesus never said, “Give me your life.” He did say, “Enter into death with me [baptism], and live My life. That is, your life is now with Me, in Me, and for Me (Romans 6:8, Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
As we embrace the fullness of our baptism in our death with Jesus, we simultaneously take a stand on three of Jesus’ most liberating words ever spoken…”It is finished!” When we begin to live out these forward-believing words by the power of the Spirit of God, we are truly set free indeed (2 Corinthians 3:17, John 8:36). The words of Jesus, “It is finished,” means our hopelessness is finished, our despair is finished, our addiction is finished, our fears are finished, our death is finished, our sinful way is finished, in Jesus’ name (Romans 6:1-3), Amen!
Welcome to your deliverance! But there is still work to be done. Now that we are set free, we still need to walk out of the grave. Jesus was resurrected in the tomb, but overcame death when He walked out of it. Until we surrender our death, and we walk – no run – out of that grave, we are still in bondage. Prisons are full of innocent people, and churches are teeming with captives. If the stone is rolled away but there we sit in our tomb-enshrined paralysis, we are no less free than a man behind bars facing a death sentence. Until the tomb is empty, we are still in our death. Today is the day of salvation, my friend…flee from your grave and run with joy to your destiny!
The power of Jesus THROUGH our destiny – There they were…waiting for the promise to come. Jesus’ disciples gathered in the upper room along with others, contemplating the last words of Jesus to them before his ascension to heaven. He charged them to go into the world, preach the gospel, and make new disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). He would send the Helper to empower and prosper their new destiny as they went (John 14:16). The power of the Holy Spirit is so critical to fulfill our destiny that Jesus warned them to stay in the city of Jerusalem until they received the power of the Spirit of God from the Father (Luke 24:49). And with great anticipation and wonder they did tarry as per Jesus’ instructions. Perhaps some even witnessed and recalled the day, three years earlier, when Jesus also received the Holy Spirit…
If you recollect, Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism by John the Baptist. At this time, Jesus received the power of God working through Him to fulfill his destiny – His ministry, His commission – even to death, burial, and resurrection. But notice what happens immediately following His baptism…He is led into the desert by this same Spirit of God for 40 days and nights…and then tempted by the devil when He was hungry and weak. But Jesus did not sin (Matthew 4:1-11). That was why He needed the power of the Holy Spirit – to empower him to obediently fulfill what the Father called Him to do – unto His death – even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
And in like manner, we are called to our walk out our destiny through the power of the Holy Spirit. We often read about the commission for the disciples and dismiss the text as a “good read,” and only relevant for the people “back then.” However, this is a very dangerous paradigm. Jesus’ words are timeless. His word doesn’t change from generation to generation, or fade over time. Because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), His word is equally enduring, and just as applicable for us today as “way back” then. The Bible tells us that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we will be witnesses for Jesus to all the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Welcome to your destiny, my friend.
The power of Jesus UNDER our destination – When Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism, He gained power from God Almighty for his entire ministry. He received power for obedience, persecution, ridicule, suffering, tribulation, and scourging. He took on power to endure a crown of thorns, nails in His hands and feet, and a sword in His side. And He also received power to overcome death, hell, and the grave – for Himself – for you and for me. And finally, He received power to go back to the Father. And likewise, He places the same power into you – and into me.
On our last day, my friend, we will be raised up to Him in His power to our final home with Him in heaven. His power under us will carry us home. It will be a glorious day to witness our second raising with all the saints to meet Jesus. His power has already raised us from the dead to our deliverance, and our destiny. But one day, we will see Jesus face to face as He raises us to our final destination with Him in heaven forever (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)! Amen!
Dear reader, my prayer is that this teaching will encourage us all (myself included). Encourage us to look back in our hearts and minds to when God instilled His design into us and purposed us for the destiny He is calling each of us to fulfill. Life is more than what we might imagine. We were created for more than escaping life’s embarrassing blackboard moments, more than merely living in a placid, no-frills bubble, while leaving no room for God’s plans and purposes to take us so deep that our shallow faith must hold it’s breath.
God’s plans for you and for me involve Red Sea crossings, giant slayings, shipwrecks and crosses to bear. God’s purpose for us is to reach the world with the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. What is He saying to you today? What depths will you go to see the heights of God’s glory? Today is a new day, my friend. A new adventure. Do you see the stone of your tomb is rolled away? Let your purpose be renewed by His power to fulfill your personal commission for the glory of God. Where are you going today?
Next Up: The Conclusion – Why You Say I Am – My Purpose in Christ