Tag Archives: power

How to Convince Many

Often, Christian witness today is based upon apologetics—rational arguments. While apologetics has importance and may win a few people to Christ here and there, too often we are satisfied with a few. The problem with apologetics is the likelihood for someone to make counter-arguments and excuses. The arguments may go on forever.

Acts 3 demonstrates that in the power of the Holy Spirit, our witness can become an irresistible force with which no one can argue.

Acts 3 begins on an average day with Peter and John just before afternoon prayer at the temple. They confront a lame man. For years, the man was a fixture at the temple gate, eking out a living in the only way he knew—begging. Most likely, Peter and John had noted the man before, but on this day, the Holy Spirit enabled them to really see him.

They did not just stop to toss him a coin or two, or ask God to bless his day with successful begging. Instead, they invoked the authority of God to heal the man. That day, the man, lame from birth, stood and walked.

A great crowd saw the miracle and gathered around, amazed. They were not hostile. They gazed in wonder. They all had seen this man for years, carried in and carried out, unable to move on his own. Now, he was running and leaping in joy. The healing of the lame man got their attention.

Peter and John quickly told them it was not their own power, but the power of Jesus that healed the man. A few weeks earlier, some of the people who heard this had called for Jesus’ crucifixion, but they did it in ignorance, not knowing who Jesus really was. Peter told them how the prophets prepared the way for Jesus and for this day. This healing was a sign that a time of great restoration had begun that will eventually rid the world of Satan, evil and death.

The amazed people hung on to Peter’s words. In Acts 4, we read that at least 5,000 men believed the message because of what they saw that day.

A display of God’s power prepared the way. The people could not deny what happened. Arguments alone would not have won so many people.

This same power of God is available in our own day. Our evangelists in India, many from non-Christian backgrounds, experienced healing and deliverance which brought them to Christ. Now, they go into unreached areas doing the same works in the power of the Holy Spirit that changed their own lives. Acts 3 is taking place all over India today—power encounters that convince many that Jesus’ power exceeds the power of their old deities.

Acts 3 is our model as well. Let us not be cowed by the anti-supernatural element in many of our churches that tries to preserve an orderly status quo but paralyzes our influence. Let us not say we aren’t good or pious enough for this. Like Peter and John, we have been made clean by the blood of Christ.

Around the world, people are convinced more by God’s power, less by arguments. In today’s evil world, why would Jesus abandon his most powerful weapons against Satan? Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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A New Era in World History

Acts 2 is one of the most amazing chapters in the Bible. It marks the beginning of a new era in world history—the era of the Holy Spirit. That new era came by the will of God, but at the same time, God willed it to come through the actions of His children.

First, they waited on God. They had to wait in order to learn that God’s plans are bigger and better than their own. They had to abandon their own expectations. They waited on God because God was waiting on them to adopt heart attitudes needed for receiving the Holy Spirit.

Up until now, most of the 120 who waited in the Upper Room expected Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom. They didn’t realize that such an earthly kingdom would become subject to the same forces that brought to ruin every other kingdom—the power of the devil.

Jesus’ plan was to completely rid the world of the devil’s power, and that depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Once their hearts were ready, the Holy Spirit came upon them with great power that shook the place and attracted thousands from the outside.

That day, Peter preached a short and simple message that went right to the point and pricked the hearts of those who heard it. There was nothing seeker-friendly about it, yet 3,000 people responded—a 2,600% increase in their number in less than 24 hours. All because the original group had gained expectant hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.

How many churches today expect great things from God through the power of the Holy Spirit? Today, too many churches depend upon seeker-friendly methods, intellectual powers of persuasion, social media and fancy programs, but the culture and influence of the church has continued to decline. Little is said in most churches about the Holy Spirit. In fact, there is much suspicion about the Holy Spirit. This must truly delight the devil!

Yes, we must establish a strong intellectual foundation for belief. But Peter was no intellectual. His blunt message to the crowd reflected his own “blue collar” background as a fisherman. His message demonstrates what the Holy Spirit can do through anyone who abandons his agenda and waits upon God with expectancy to do great and mighty things in his/her life.

A few years later, Paul came along and demonstrated his great intellectual powers in such works as his epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians. But even Paul knew that any intellectual arguments he used depended upon Holy Spirit power to truly transform lives.

Too many people treat Acts 2 as an isolated phenomenon. But Acts 2 lies at the heart of what Jesus introduced in John 14-16 regarding the Holy Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prayed not only for His disciples in their generation but all His people including our own generation and beyond. No, Acts 2 is not an isolated phenomenon but a model for every generation.

Like the 120 who waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we also must put aside our own expectations and wait upon God to work through us in Holy Spirit power to preach the gospel to all peoples. In the meantime, God waits for us…

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Re-discovering His Power

Go into a mortuary and try to carry on a conversation with a dead person lying in a casket. No matter how charming, charismatic or logical your words, you will get nowhere. That dead person cannot respond.

A spiritually dead person cannot respond to the things of God. God is a stranger to him. He cannot perceive God in the world or people around him. A life with God is meaningless to him. He has no longing for God. He gives his life only to those things perceived in the five senses. 

Most people see imperfections in themselves and in others, but tend to blame them on forces in our past, other people or, in places like India, on the bad karma of past lives. Blame is put upon something wrong in the environment. We attempt to “clean up our act” through moral discipline and religious practices.

All of this is like putting band-aids on cancers. Morality and religion do not deal with the root problem which is sin. We sin because we are sinners. Sin is another word for spiritual death.

Just as a dead man cannot respond to the world around him, a spiritually dead person cannot respond to the things of God. Logic and eloquence are of no use. Only the Holy Spirit can change the situation.

In John 16, Jesus tells His disciples that He will soon leave them, but He will give them the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

The Holy Spirit, the creator of life, is the only one who can bring life out of spiritual death. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken a spiritually dead person to his sin. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken a spiritually dead person to the righteousness of God greater than his sin. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken a spiritually dead person to the Good News that Jesus has judged his sin at the cross and makes him righteous before a good and righteous God.

When the disciples spoke under the power of the Holy Spirit, spiritually dead people came alive by the thousands. In the Book of Acts, the church added and then multiplied the number of people who were being saved.

Such is not the case in most of our churches today. Churches rely on gimmicks rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, few people are convicted of sin. They do not see the righteousness of God to which they fall disastrously short. They do not conceive the power of Jesus at the cross and in the resurrection to judge the devil who has darkened their minds. As a result, our churches have become powerless, and society has become a mess.

The solution to our basic problem is both simple and profound: re-discover the Holy Spirit and His power to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. Then we will see a big turnaround that will surprise everybody.

We will also see the gospel reach into every corner of the world. I can tell you from experience, millions of people in India are groaning for the Desire of the Nations. Only the Holy Spirit can convince them that His name is Jesus Christ.

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Do You Truly Know Him?

More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached, “What this world needs more than anything else is personal knowledge of the true character of God. Our basic problem is a profound ignorance of God’s character.”

If anything, those words are truer today than ever before—a profound ignorance of the character of God. Tragically, this is true even in many churches that call themselves “Christian.”

Too many Christians have bought into the lie that God is a creation of our psychological state, and that we can pick and choose what parts of God we like and leave out whatever makes us feel uncomfortable. Too many Christians have bought into the lie that religion begins and ends with ourselves, that God is about “meeting my needs and the needs of my family.”

The names of God in the Bible do not allow us this fantasy. God’s names in the Bible do not result from philosophical speculation but are the names God gives to Himself. They reveal His true being. They shatter our ignorance. They remind us that He makes us, we don’t make Him.

God reveals who He is through His names because He wants us to experience Him. He wants us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” God is always greater than what we think of Him. If we are attracted to the God of love and grace, we must also experience the holy and righteous God who hates and judges our sin. We must also experience the God who demands our total submission to Him. In our present culture, these truths cause discomfort even in the church.

When we adapt God to our own desires and dreams, we cannot experience a true relationship with Him. True relationship with anyone is impossible with fantasies about that person, even more so with God. Whenever we leave something out of God’s character, we experience less of Him, not more. We know less of His love and grace. We know less of His power. In the end, He becomes remote and impotent to us, and we trust Him less, not more.

In today’s world, a remote God is the last thing we need. With all its confusion and turmoil, the world looms large, and God appears small and ineffective even to many Christians, unable to help them overcome daily problems of raising families, deal with health issues, find hope in turbulent electoral politics, face the prospect of death.

God is pleased to reveal hundreds of names of Himself in the Bible. The multiplicity of God’s names in scripture reveal how great He really is—and how little we truly know Him. The multiplicity of His names also demonstrate God’s continuing and patient invitation to us to know Him better.

When we allow Him to surround and embrace us with who He really is, and not who we want Him to be, we discover joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of war, opportunities in the midst of obstacles, accomplishment in the midst of mundane toil.

The multiplicity of God’s names speak of the greatness of God. Let us proclaim this great God to a fragmented world and anticipate His promise of that day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

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