Episode 1. Resurrection Power
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Too many Christians, in fact, way too many Christians, are living lives that fall so far short of the life that Jesus promised. When Jesus promised power, they instead end up living a powerless life. …
Too many Christians, in fact, way too many Christians, are living lives that fall so far short of the life that Jesus promised. When Jesus promised power, they instead end up living a powerless life. I wonder if you know anyone like that.
I wonder if this scenario sounds at all familiar to you. At some stage, way back when, you decided to believe in Jesus. Perhaps you, like me, can remember the day that you took that step. Or maybe like many people I know, you can’t remember a time when you didn’t believe in Jesus.
So you’ve believed … and believed … and believed … and somehow life doesn’t seem to get any better. You seem to have the same challenges, successes, failures … whatever, as all the other people you know who don’t believe in Jesus. In fact, often times, they seem to be living a better life than you are and on top of that, they’re not wracked by guilt the way you are, because by not believing in Jesus, they don’t have to worry about the idea of temptation, or falling short of God’s ideals, or any of that stuff.
Does that sounded all familiar? Sadly, it’s de rigour for many a Christian. Most Christians in fact. The Christian life doesn’t seem all it’s cracked up to be.
Wasn’t it Jesus who said:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
So where is that abundant life (the original Greek word used there actually means super-abundant!) Where is this super-abundant life that Jesus promised us? Why is everything so difficult? Why is it that I’m not filled with the joy and the excitement that I first felt when I gave my life to Jesus?
Can I tell you, I speak to a lot of people, all around the world, who come to me with basically that scenario; basically that same story. Here it is in a nutshell:
I know that my life isn’t what it’s meant to be in Christ. I know that. But I don’t know why. I don’t know what to do about it.
And that’s why today we’re kicking off a brand new series of messages called ‘Power Unlimited’. Because the thing that’s lacking in the lives of these people – perhaps in your life too – is the power to live the life that Jesus promised us. The devil comes along and whispers in our ear You’re not good enough for God. And actually He’s right.
That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul says of himself (and remember God called him to write almost half of the books of the New Testament).
For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. (Romans 7:14-21)
So Paul, as it turns out, has exactly the same problem that you and I have. But happily, he doesn’t give up, because the old Paul, God bless him, also has the answer. The only answer that has the power to make a difference:
Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:24)
You see I have some very good news for you today. Listen carefully so you don’t miss it: God has already placed within you all the power that you need, to live the super-abundant life that Jesus died and rose again to give you.
God has already made the resurrection power, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, available to you, here and now, to live the super-abundant life that Jesus came to give you. I know, I know … you don’t believe me. Good, you shouldn’t believe me, it’s not within my purview to grant you that power. But will you believe what God says in the Bible:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-22)
Do you see? Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they would discover the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe … the very same power that raised Christ from the dead. Each year we celebrate Easter, the death on the Cross (which receives most of the focus) and the resurrection (which frankly, we don’t focus on as much).
But this resurrection is the evidence of the immeasurably great power that is available to you and me, so that we can live a new life. The life that Jesus promised. As Bible teacher Casey Treat once said … we need to stop praying for power, and start praying with power, the power that we already have.
One of my Bible college lecturers from years ago, Dr Barry Chant, once said that if he were to transliterate the original Greek words used there for immeasurably great power, it would sound something like this: hyperballistic, megathonic, dynamic power!
Do you get it? Do you realise the immeasurable greatness of God’s power that He has placed at your disposal to live your life for Christ? Hello, wake-up!
And the purpose of this power, the whole point of this power, is to enable us to live the new life, the born–again life, the resurrection life, the super-abundant life, that Jesus came to give us. Yet so many Christians, most Christians, fail to live that life for one reason and one reason alone. Because they don’t lay hold of that power. We live on a spiritual battlefield. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
… our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:12-17)
No I’m an old soldier from way back. And I can tell you that as I look at each of the elements of that spiritual armour that Paul lists there, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes, the shield the helmet, each of them those is a defensive piece of armour. Defence is important to protect yourself, but you don’t win a war by defending. To win, you have to attack. And the only offensive weapon in that list is … what? The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!
That’s the only attack weapon in the spiritual armoury that God has given you. And the truth is that most Christians leave it in its scabbard. They leave the sword of the Spirit at home, and then they wonder why the devil keeps on winning!
And that … that’s something we’re going to talk a lot more about over the coming days.