The Power to Heal

Jesus came to earth with the power to heal.  “One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing” (Luke 5:17).

Jesus came to us with the power to drive out demons.  “And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, ‘What is this message?  For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out’ “ (Luke 4:36).

Jesus gave the power over demons and disease to His disciples.  “And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.  And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing” (Luke 9:1-2).

In the book of Acts, His followers performed miracles by the power of Jesus.  “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).

So where does that leave us today regarding the power to heal and drive out demons?  I honestly don’t have a clear answer on this topic.  Did Jesus have and exercise this power?  Yes!  Did His first century disciples have and exercise this power?  Yes!

I believe God heals today.  I believe God drives out demons today.  Do we all have the power to call down these miracles?  Is it through the gift of healing in certain individuals?

As the message of the New Testament unfolds, the focus of God’s power seems to be less on signs and wonders on the outside and more on the power inside us.  The power verses in the New Testament letters seem to pertain to Jesus’ power to save and deliver, His power over sin, and His power to live His life through us.  And all of this power of His is available to us to live the Christian life with the power to obey, the power to serve, and the power to love.  Of these evidences of the power of God in our lives, I am quite sure.

A Little Power, An Open Door

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name’ ” (Revelation 3:7-8).

To the church at Philadelphia, Jesus introduces Himself as the one who holds the keys.  And the one who holds the keys is the one who has the power to open doors and the power to close doors.  Jesus is and has the power.

In contrast, the church at Philadelphia has “little power”.  This probably refers to little power as the world measures power.  But what power they do have has been used to “keep His word”.  They have stood firm in times of persecution.

We are familiar with the power promised us by Jesus even when our faith is as small as a mustard seed.  This is a similar picture.  It is as if Jesus is saying, “Your power is small.  But I am stepping in.  There is a door in front of you that you do not have the power to open.  But I have the keys and the power.  And I am giving my power to you by opening a door for you that no one can shut.  My power will become your power.”

This passage is so encouraging.  How many of us feel like we have little power in the world’s eyes?  How many of us feel unqualified in the world’s eyes?  The world’s opinion means NOTHING when we are infused with the power of God in us.

Let me take this right down to a personal level.  What door is in front of you?  What door is God asking you to go through?  Are you stymied … sidelined … stopped by worry that you do not possess the power to march through the door?  God is marching ahead of you.  The door will open and shut based on God’s power and God’s timing, not on our power and self-effort to force it open.  Jesus, possessor of the keys, is in charge of it’s opening and closing.

Pray for God’s guidance about the door ahead of you.  Follow His leading.  He goes before you.  He will open a door that no man can shut.  The keys and the power are in His hand.

Alive By the Power of God

“For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you” (II Corinthians 13:4).

Christ was crucified in weakness, humiliation, and shame.  But Jesus despised the shame for the joy, power, and life that was coming after.  To the world, Jesus died a broken and weak man.  But he rose from the dead, not as a weak and broken man, but as the powerful Divine Creator Savior of the world!  He died in weakness, but lives, rose again, because of the power of God.

This verse is a picture of our joining Jesus in that journey.  “For we also are weak in Him.”  How can we be weak when we are “in Christ”?  How can we be “weak in Him”?  Our weakness is in how we joined Christ in His death.  We were lost sinners with nothing to offer when we accepted His offer.  When we believed, we joined Christ in the weakness of His death.  But that is just the start of our story.

Because we also joined Him in the power of His resurrection.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead now lives in us.  We live with Him in the same power that made Christ alive.  We live with Him by the power of God.

In the broader context of this chapter, Paul is reminding his Corinthian brothers that his strength is in the Lord.  He is expecting a need to confront an issue in the church on his next visit.  And he makes clear that his efforts in this area will be directed by the Lord and carried out in the power of the Lord.  Any weakness was buried with Jesus when we joined Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.  We now operate in the body of Christ from a stance of power.  Power that is informed and exercised by a deep deep love toward our brothers and sisters in the body.

We were weak just as Christ appeared weak in His death.  But we are now united with Him in the power of His resurrection.  Not just WITH Christ, but actually indwelt BY Christ.  He and His resurrection power live in you!

The Gospel That Came to Us with Power

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit” (I Thessalonians 1:5).

I love words.  I think most writers do.  Words can illuminate, explain, and deliver our ideas, our thoughts, and our feelings.  Words can convey facts AND emotion.  Words have the power to heal and the power to harm.

But our gospel message is more than just words.  As we understand more and more of the words of God in Scripture, we can fall into the trap of thinking that knowledge equals maturity.  We can lord over others with our Bible knowledge.  But knowledge for knowledge’s sake completely leaves out the power supplied to us by the Spirit.

The apostle Paul gives us this warning, “Knowledge puffs us, but love builds up” or “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (I Corinthians 8:1).  Knowledge without love can send us headlong into a prideful destruction.

How do we measure “growing in Christ”?  How do we measure maturity.  I believe the greatest commandment in the new covenant is to love as Jesus loves (John 13:34, 15:12).  In our new life in Jesus, we see our maturity develop as we learn to love, learn to serve, learn to obey, and learn to worship.

And all of these efforts to love, serve, obey, and worship require the power of God brought to us by His Spirit.  We are not robots.  God is not asking us to just read the words and automatically do what they say without any thought, feeling, or effort.  We need the power of the Spirit.

Grace does not teach that God’s requirements are soft.  No, God is asking us to live in ways that are contrary to the world we grew up in; ways that are not natural to our flesh.  But in one of the most beautiful joys of the new covenant, GOD SUPPLIES WHAT GOD REQUIRES!

It is really quite supernatural if you think about it.  How is God asking you to love, to serve, to obey, and to worship?  Who is God asking you to love in this moment?  His words inform our love, our service, our obedience, and our worship.  But the power to do it?  It comes straight from the Holy Spirit.  Don’t rely on your knowledge to get everything right.  Rest and move in the power of the Spirit in you.  He has given you more than enough.  He has given you Himself.

In the Power of the Spirit

“And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district” (Luke 4:14).

Following Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Luke describes His return to Galilee as being “in the power of the Spirit.”  Jesus’ ministry began and continued throughout His time on earth “in the power of the Spirit.”  Now why would Jesus, God in the flesh, need the power of the Spirit?

Jesus operated in the power of the Spirit.  As the triune God, the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.  The Spirit is the Spirit of the Father.  The Spirit that empowered Jesus in His time on earth is the power of His divinity.  Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Where else do we see the specific reference to the power of the Spirit in the New Testament?

Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  “The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Christ went around doing good by the power of the Spirit.  “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

Paul preached in the power of the Spirit.  “In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19).

We abound in hope by the power of the Spirit.  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

And finally, we carry within us and are strengthened by the same same same same same power of the Holy Spirit.  “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).