When asking Christians about God’s power, the answers vary. Some will equate the power of God with the ability to perform specific acts – speaking in tongues, healing, miracles and the like. Others see God’s power in a more general sense like getting prayers answered or living the Christian life with as little sin as possible.
It is the power of God or God’s power, but regardless either phrase implies ownership – the power belongs to God. If it is His, then it is His prerogative on how this power is manifested and used.
When Christ ascended to heaven, He told the apostles to wait, and they would receive power (Acts 1:4,8). Some believe they were waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive, but Christ gave them the Holy Spirit in the upper room after the resurrection. John 20:22 says, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost:”
Every believer now receives the Holy Spirit upon salvation. The Holy Spirit takes up residence and dwells in us from that day forward (John 14:17; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 2:27).
At the ascension Christ told them they would receive power, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says the power is His but implies that He will give it to His followers, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In both accounts of Christ giving His followers power, the purpose was to get the gospel out to the world. In Acts, “ye shall be witnesses;” in Matthew, “go ye therefore, and teach...” In fact, 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that preaching of the cross is the power of God, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” There are other verses that explain that words, preaching and the gospel are the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4, 9:8; 2 Corinthians 6:7 and more). Through Christ’s last words before leaving this earth and other passages, it appears that the power of God is given for the particular purpose of spreading God’s word for the salvation of souls and the growth of Christians.
As far as tongues, healing, miracles and other things – those are all listed as gifts (1 Corinthians 12). Answered prayer and living as sinless a life as possible are promises of God given to every believer (John 15:7; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
OK. The power of God is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to spread God’s word.
Now to the other question – do you have the power of God?
A common mistake is to equate the power of God with His other attributes. Christ called the Holy Spirit the Comforter. We cannot confuse the peace of God with the power of God. Christians have the peace of forgiveness and the calm only God can give during the trials of life, but many rest in their conversion and never experience the power of spreading God’s Word to others. This power is not restricted to preachers; it is available to every Christian in every place on the planet. Do you have it? When was the last time you talked to someone about their soul? More specifically, when was the last time God used you to change someone’s life?
Between the time of Christ’s ascension and the receiving of power, we see the disciples praying, studying the scripture and fellowshipping with each other. Contrary to popular opinion; fellowshipping is interacting with each other, not just meeting in a large room or having a meal together. How much are these activities part of your life?
Today’s column has now come full circle. There is not much to do than to ask that original question one final time. It is a question we can only answer for ourselves. I cannot answer it for you, and you cannot answer it for me. Do you have the power of God?
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Email him at [email protected] and visit preacherjohnson.com.