By James Fire
Note: This teaching at The HOUSE of TRUTH fellowship is now posted on youtube.com and may be viewed on video here.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
The awesome power of creation, solely the purview of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is something we can witness, at least in part, on our planet, our solar system, and from images taken by far-reaching satellites and radio telescopes sights and macro-cosmic wonders of galaxies beyond our imagining. We also observe the creation of God with microscopes, electron microscopes and other instrumentation whereby we can perceive the microcosmic universe. Whether in the vastness of the heavens, or the intricacies of the infinitesimal, God's handiwork is an incredible work to behold!
We've measured our Milky Way galaxy and its estimated to be around 100,000 light years across. Light travels at more than 186,000 miles per second; there are 31,536,000 seconds in a year. So the distance that light can travel in just one year is 5,865,696,000,000 miles. That is the distance of just one light year. Multiply that figure of almost 6 trillion by 100,000 and that's just the length of the Milky Way, which doesn't even come close to expressing its total mass! In our universe, the Milky Way is by all accounts one of the smaller galaxies, comprising of as many as 400 billion stars. Andromeda, our nearest neighboring galaxy is a little over twice the size of ours. At an average, galaxies measure any where from our size to 10 times or more the size of our own!
How many of these galaxies are there in the universe? Astronomers 'guesstimate' that there are 100 billion of them – just in the observable universe alone (not counting the ones we can't see!)!!
And “GOD created the heavens and the earth” - the Hebrew word used in Genesis for “create” is barah, and it means to create out of nothing!
Do you think GOD has enough power on hand to solve your problems, your debts, your lack?
Scriptures talk about the creation account in Genesis, as well as in some passages out of Job, Isaiah, Psalms, and a few references out of the New Testament like the one we just read out of Colossians. But that's about all.
Besides God's creative power, what else can we talk about?
His redemptive power, through the Person of God the Son, Jesus Christ, the Word made Incarnate. How much of the Bible is about God's redemption? Doctrinally speaking, you'd be hard pressed to find any of the 66 books of Scripture's canon that doesn't talk about redemption in some fashion!
Look at the variance between what Scripture says about creation vs. what it says about redemption!
Anyone can tell what's really important to a person just by listening to them; what ever is most important to them, they're going to talk about a lot. It's the same with God's Word; we know that between His creation and His redemption, its His redemptive work that far exceeds His creation in importance!
Another way we can measure how important these things are to God by what it cost Him: How much did it cost Him to create the universe? He merely spoke it into existence! Once He does away with the old Earth and the old Heavens as it talks about in ISAIAH 65:17; 66:22 and 2 PETER 3:13 and REVELATION 21:1 He is going to create a new Earth and a new Heavens (And where we didn't get the opportunity to see Him do His stuff the first time, the church of Jesus Christ will witness His second creation in all of His glorious ability! Can't WAIT!).
But what did His redemptive work cost Him?
The death of His own beloved and begotten Son!
Would you say that His work of redemption is more important than His work of creation?
23 For the wages of sin is death . . .
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
2 COR. 5:21a
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin . . .
But we see Jesus . . . for the suffering of death . . . that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:20
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
And this is the essence of God's plan of redemption for sinful man; it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul declares earlier in this chapter of 1 Corinthians:
1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-4
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The early church would have a code phrase to identify one another during the times of persecution; one would say, “He is risen!” and if the other person was a true Christian, they would know the response, which is . . . “He is risen, indeed!”
The power of the resurrection is something that we Christians can know in our lives, just as Paul stated of himself:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
We like the idea of power, but not so much this idea of suffering and death; but that is the order of things in God's Kingdom; Christ was offered up as a suffering sacrifice and died for our sins, and has left us this example. As we die to self, sacrificing our self-will and things of the flesh, we allow Christ all the more to live through our lives.
God declares that its not by any earthly powers or might but by His Eternal Spirit that we receive His anointing for ministry (ZECH. 4:6).
ROMANS 8:9-14, esp. vs 11
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The Spirit imparts eternal life and power to us so that we through Christ, are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body (put to death the sinful impulses) and be led by the Spirit – by these attributes we know that we are the sons of God and that we have eternal life having placed faith in Christ (1 JOHN 5:13).
And as it says in JOHN 1:12
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The Spirit then is given to impart eternal redemption and life everlasting -
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The Spirit is given so that we may mortify – put to death – the impulses and drives of our sinful nature (GAL. 5:24). The Spirit is given as an “earnest” that is, a down payment, to dwell in us and enable us to walk with the LORD in His ways (1 JHN 2:6) “until the redemption of the purchased possession” that is, when we receive our glorified bodies with the absence of a sin nature (ROM. 8:23).
The Spirit is also given so that we may bring forth the fruit of love to be dispensed by grace to brethren and enemies alike (GAL. 5:22-23) and empowers us to live and love by the life-giving Spirit (GAL. 5:22, 25).
Getting back to ROMANS 8:11 -
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Think about those wages of sin that is death-causing. The single sin of any human being would be more than enough to incur eternal death. Even more so an entire life time's worth of sin. What about the cumulative sins of two people? Or a neighborhood? Or a city or nation? What about all the sins of the entire world? How about all the sins of the entire world, through the entire history of the world? How much death are we talking about here? That's the length and breadth and height and depth of sin and death that Christ took upon Himself; He wasn't merely dead, He was 'mega-dead' as it were.
Yet the Spirit raised Him from the dead, and not merely restored life, but all of the power of an endless life! It's that kind of power that shall also quicken those of us who believe on Jesus Christ Who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life (JOHN 11:25-26).
I don't think we fully realize the depths of this truth, nor do we truly understand the magnitude of the power of the Spirit Who dwells in us! How different would be our lives if we were to mortify the sinful nature's actions that so easily staunch the work of the Spirit in our lives, by the enabling grace of God!
I think we would be seeing a lot more power of the Spirit as the LORD mentioned to His disciples after His resurrection:
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
8 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.
Power – the word is dunamis in Greek and its where we get the words dynamite and dynamic from. It is a power that once let loose brings about an extraordinary change both within and without us. In this passage the power is used to make us able witnesses for God; witnesses of the Truth, witnesses of the Gospel, of Jesus Christ, of the changed lives we have experienced as a result of all of these.
The word for witness here is martos; its where we get the word martyr from and this is very telling when you couple this word with dunamis. The LORD by His Spirit enables us to be such effective witnesses by His power that we will affect lives throughout this fallen world of sin which is under the oppressive dominion of Satan.
The great enemy who is the god (ruler; 2 COR. 4:4) of this world, will not stand idly by as we seek to empty his kingdom of darkness of its prisoners; he will go on the offensive and do his worst in the persecution of the witnesses that God is raising up. Yet the power of the Spirit is such that, if we yield to Him, not only shall we endure such persecution, but we shall leave the arena of battle as victorious overcomers.
Its been said many times before, that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed bed of the church”. In other words, any where there has been such dire and anguishing persecution in the world, those who were willing to die for their faith, even willing to endure torture and never deny the LORD that bought them, exhibited such power in holding fast “the faith that was delivered” (JUDE 1:3) that others, even the persecutors of these, came to faith in the LORD Jesus Christ.
In the old hymn, Once To Every Man and Nation we read the lines: “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth and falsehood,For the good or evil side . . . " and then later we read " . . . By the light of burning martyrs, Christ Thy bleeding feet we track, Toiling up new Calvaries ever, with the cross that turns not back.”
By the power of the Spirit we stand boldly against all opposition with a ferocity that can only come from God Almighty. Consider the apostle Peter, who prior to the crucifixion of our LORD cowered before servants of rulers; even a young girl, when they confronted him as being one of Jesus' followers. He even denied the LORD three times when he vehemently insisted to Jesus that he would never do such a thing!
Then the LORD was crucified; He was buried; on the third day He rose again – and instructed His followers to wait in Jerusalem to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. What sort of change did we see in Peter after this blessed event? By God's power, he and John healed a cripple and proceeded to confront the Sanhedrin who demanded to know in what name they healed the man. Listen to Peter's response:
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
This is the sort of mind that operates by the power of the Holy Spirit:
2 TIMOTHY 1:7-8
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Aside from the power of God being demonstrated by healing through prayer, particularly the prayers of the elders (JAMES 5:14) and the miraculous intervention of God in provisions and guidance in avoiding dangers, and the discernment as given by the Spirit and knowledge of the Word, there is I think the greatest demonstration of the power of the Spirit in two specific regards:
The powerful (dunamis) witness of the believer which coupled together with the blood of the Lamb and willing sacrifice of self can defeat the enemy:
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
The other aspect being the Spirit-enabled power to live a godly life which cannot be denied even by any accusers who would diligently look for faults, sins, crimes and find nothing; thus the need for false witnesses.
If you consider the beginning of the church, how she was born into such a hostile environment as found in the Roman Empire, and hostility particularly against those who would refuse to pay homage to 'Caesar as Lord' and give the obligatory offering of incense to shrines that adorned the land every where; Christians were faithful to their LORD Jesus and denied Caesar such worship from their lips and they were tortured, martyred and killed for their faithfulness. That is a power beyond any human ability and its a power of the Spirit that we are in need of today in America, in preparation for the persecution that is probably a short time ahead of our collective experience.
And yet I wonder: can the church here in America that is given over to carnality, to excess, given over to the love for this world, that is living a compromised life expect to endure such a time? A church which is so 'clogged up with carnality' that the Spirit cannot manifest with the power that He would like to? We require purging of carnality, we have need of sanctification, and to flee sin and follow righteousness and be greatly used by the LORD in such days as these!
2 TIMOTHY 2:21-22
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Consider these words by Paul:
12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
2 COR. 4:16-18
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
In closing, a passage from FOXES BOOK of MARTYRS and a few short examples of how God uses weak things to demonstrate His glorious power:
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of the 16th century was brought before Inquisition for heresy (he dared to believe the Scriptures above and beyond any church authority) and after some time, weakened until he was resigned to concede to his inquistors and signed documents to recant his former declarations of faith. Yet before he was released, he recanted again of his weaknesses and once again became resolute in declaring the truth concerning Jesus Christ, the Gospel and the Word of Truth. Even upon further threats of burning, still these did not deter Thomas and this was the moment of truth for him.
He stood before them all, and acknowledged his sin of weakness in signing those damning documents with his own hand.
“Then were the glorious sentiments of the martyr made manifest; then it was, that stretching out his right hand, he held it without shrinking in the fire until it was burnt to a cinder, even before his body was injured, frequently exclaiming, “This unworthy right hand.”
“His body did abide the burning with such steadfastness that he seemed to have no more than the stake to which he was bound; his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and he repeated “This unworthy right hand,” as long as his voice would suffer him; and using often the words of Stephen, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” in the greatness of the flame, he gave up the ghost.”
GOD's Use of Small Things -
~ By a simple rod held in Moses hands, God defeated all the power of Egypt (EX. 4:2).
~ Samson, a Judge of the nation of Israel thwarted all the armies of the Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey (JUDGES 15:15).
~ The Champion of the Philistines, one of the five sons of Anak, Goliath – a giant of over nine feet in height was cast down by a small stone, slung in the sling shot of a shepherd boy who would be King of Israel (1 SAM. 17:40).
~ In dire and life-threatening drought in Israel, the pronouncement of rain began with a small fist-sized cloud (1 KINGS 18:44).
~ The LORD Jesus declared that it took only a small mustard-seed sized faith in the Almighty God to move mountains (MATT. 13:22).
~ As many as 20,000 people were fed when just five barley loaves and a few salt fish were brought into the hands of the LORD Jesus (JOHN 6:9).
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:6-11
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.