The prophet Daniel spoke the Word of the Lord specifically for these last days: “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan.11:32) According to the scripture, God is searching out a people that he will prepare for a life of power and adventure.
There are individuals popping up in the churches today–young people whose souls are aflame with a desire to bring honor back to the name of Jesus. One here, two there–perhaps a half dozen–they are being drawn by God. Like the prophet Jeremiah they cry out: “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones…” (Jer.20:9)
Their hearts break over an impotent church that has ceased to be relevant for today’s generation. Their spirits are grieved over powerless religion that is losing ground in the struggle for the souls of a lost world.
The apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. It left him blind and searching for answers. (Acts 9:1-9) Let all this generation take note that God did not send a big-name televangelist to minister to Paul.
He chose a reluctant Ananias. He was nobody special. He was just “a certain disciple…” (Acts 9:10) If you are just a certain disciple, God can use you, too, to open blind eyes, and to lead a man to the Lord!
Ananias was fearful. Ananias even argued with God! But in the end, he obeyed, and Jesus used him to change the history of the world. (Acts 9:13-17)
Scarcely had the scales fallen from Paul’s eyes, when he began to “preach Christ” in the synagogues of Damascus and in Jerusalem.(Acts 9:20&29) Something about this enraged the Jews. They were not bothered by the rest of the church. (Demons never are!) But they set about in a satanic fury to kill Paul.
What was it that brought this violent reaction? “But Saul was being filled with more and more power.” (Acts 9:22 CJB) What was he doing different from the other Christians that stirred up the powers of hell so much? Paul “preached Christ.”
Peter would later admit that the rest of the church had been preaching “another gospel.” (Gal.1:6-7) Peter said the gentiles knew their message, but were not converted by it. They were preaching: “Peace by Jesus.” (Acts 10:36-37) But Jesus said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt.10:34) So Paul came back to the true gospel. Paul “preached Christ.”
Just like Philip had “preached Christ” in Samaria. (Acts 8:5) “And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the MIRACLES which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” (Acts 8:6-7)
Paul “preached Christ” in the same way–attended with miracles and healings. (Acts 14:3-10) He also confronted demonic powers.(Acts 16:16-18) Paul himself testified of his methods: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”(1Cor.2:4-5)
But the church’s response was to get rid of Paul! “Yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”(2 Tim. 3:12) But that price was higher than this church was willing to pay. They packed Paul off on the first boat bound for his boyhood home in Tarsus. (Acts 9:30)
This tragic story closes in verse 31 with what looks at first glance like a victory report: “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
But a red flag goes up at this point. The place that had “rest” was an area smaller than most U.S. states! Meanwhile, the rest of the world was perishing in its sin. They had sold out! They purchased a separate peace! (Just like so many churches today.)
No doubt, this church needed to be edified (built up in the faith), and to learn to walk in the fear of their Lord, whom they had still not obeyed! Sadly, history records that they would remain comfort-able in the Holy Ghost until a Roman army drove them out of the city.
Do you “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…?”(Mark 12:30) Are you willing to pay any price to live for his glory? Will you dare to believe God for the power to “preach Christ” as Paul did?
“But ye shall receive power,” Jesus told his disciples, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…”(Acts 1:8)
In the very act of commissioning his church to preach the gospel, Jesus added these words: “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry [wait] ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”(Luke 24:49)
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father…” Jesus continues in the next verse, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”(Acts 1:4-5)
How do you receive power from God? How do you receive the promise? How do you receive the baptism in the Holy Ghost?
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”(Luke 11:13)
It’s really very simple: Just ask your heavenly Father for it. Then receive it the way you received your salvation. Take God at his word that he will give it, and open your mouth and give thanks for the gift. But don’t let what comes out be your own words of any known language.
Now begin immediately to ask God for boldness and opportunities to minister his power to the needs of others around you.
Our life changing study continues in Part 5….