Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's the Dunamis, Stupid

"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence ... 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 1:4-8)

During the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, public anxiety ran high over the state of the economy. The mantra, “It’s the economy stupid,” coined by Democratic strategist James Carville, connected with the American electorate and helped put an Arkansas governor in the White House.

Much is argued in the Church today about what constitutes evidence of the infilling, baptism in, or baptism with the Holy Spirit. Some will say that “speaking in tongues” is the only reliable initial benchmark. Others will insist that love for others and the “fruit of the Spirit” provide ample proof. These “evidences” are essential, but before your autonomic theological response system kicks in, consider what Jesus said would characterize the Spirit’s coming,

“But you shall receive power [Greek, dunamis], after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

It’s the dunamis, stupid. It’s the power. It’s the dynamite. There is a lot of potential in a stick of dynamite. If we think we have everything God has for us, but the power of God is not clearly evident among us, then, like an undetonated stick of dynamite, we are merely living in unrealized potential. The Spirit’s presence in our lives implies great potential, but we need to let God ignite the "fuse" so the power of the Holy Spirit can be released in and through us.

The subject of the Holy Spirit often triggers a reflexive “fight-or-flight” response when raised in conversation among believers. How sad. The net effect is that the person of the Holy Spirit, the “promise of the Father,” received by the Son from the Father and given as His most audacious gift to His bride, is left largely ignored, marginalized and uncelebrated. How can the subject of the Comforter create so much anxiety and animosity among God’s people?

What will it take to win our lost world to Jesus Christ? Have we not tried every technique known to man? Seeker-sensitive services, friendship evangelism, Servant Evangelism, Four Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion; the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. No doubt these programs, techniques, and tools have had some success. But deep in our hearts we know that the Church is not living up to her potential. We have not “turned our world upside down” because we are not fully preaching the gospel. Paul said,

“… by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

Dunamis power was the rule in Jesus ministry and assumed by the apostles and early Church. Jesus commanded his disciples to delay launch until they had received “power from on high.” Dunamis power defined Paul’s ministry.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

An absence of dunamis power would have been cause for great alarm. Paul wrote,

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall … Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Why aren’t the “unchurched” more attracted to the Church? Maybe it is because we don’t have much to give them. When Peter turned his attention to the crippled-from-birth beggar at the temple gate he said, “such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) If we don’t have it, we can’t give it.

There is good news. Let’s not be stupid about dunamis! We can fake a lot of things, but we can’t fake power. Jesus has given the Holy Spirit to His bride as he promised He would. But we must ask. We must believe. We must receive. We must not settle for anything less or adjust our theology to accommodate our impotence.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)

And we must keep asking, seeking and knocking until we know we have received everything He has for us.


Father, I ask, believe and receive Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for hearing me and filling me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet!

© 2008, Seeds for Good Soil, 13 April 2008

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