Join God’s Power Team (Sermon)

Introduction

A few years back one of the local churches invited a ministry group called The Power Team to come to their church. These men, bulging with muscles, came to this church to do amazing feats of strength and give their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ.  At first I was quite impressed with the ministry and their capacity to draw a large crowd.    It was an awesome sight to see what these guys could do with their massive bodies.

I don’t want to disparage these teams, but the focus was not on Jesus.  Each of the two hour performances was 95% about what these men could do with their physical strength and only a few minutes about Jesus.  So you do the math.  The mostly young audiences weren’t that impressed with Jesus’ power to save, but with the men’s power to lift things, bend things and break things.

I also found out that most of these teams didn’t last long, as the men dropped out regularly because of moral failures or an inability to deal with the burdens of itinerant ministry.  Though these men had placed their faith in Jesus for salvation, they were still focused on their own worldly power and strength.

Have you been to a weight lifting gym lately?  There are mirror’s everywhere.  And when you go there you see how self-adoring many of these body builders really are. When I was in Iraq, I frequented the gym a lot, but was surprised at how much the body builders stared at themselves.  It was very narcissistic.  I even saw one guy kissing his biceps as he was doing curls.

I know we all need power and strength to live.  But as the old saying by Lord Acton goes, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  There is inherent danger in seeking power.

So the Bible says that we will only really experience God’s power when we are walking in the Spirit, and, hear this, God’s power is only made perfect, not in our strength, wisdom, or abilities, but in our weakness.  God’s power is inherently made manifest when we are at our neediest.

Additionally, any power that God gives us is so that we can live holy lives, to exercise Christ’s ministry of the Gospel, and to build others up by serving them.  So, it is vitally important to join God’s power team, to have His authority, and to do His will not ours.

Let’s take a look at a portion of Scripture that deals with the giving of God’s power to His people.

Mark 6:7-13 (NIV)                                               

7 Calling the Twelve to him, [Jesus] sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Prayer of Illumination

Context

First, let me give a bit of context.  Jesus was in His hometown of Galilee, but only a few believed in Him.  This is where He said, “A prophet is not welcome in his own hometown.”  Jesus would not perform many miracles among his own relatives and neighbors because of their unbelief.  In fact, it says that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.  So, I find it interesting that after Jesus leaves that place, He sends his disciple to do miracles.  It’s as if He was saying, “You don’t believe I have the authority of God, now look at what happens when I give God’s power to mere common men.”  I believe this was to show that Jesus’ power could be imparted to His followers.  Jesus said to His disciples then as He says to us today, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

The Difference Between Authority And Power

  1. Before I go any further, I have to make a distinction in the text.  The text doesn’t really talk about power, but authority.  You see power issues from authority.
  2. Now imagine if I were to go out to Freeport Road right outside the church in khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and tried to stop traffic.  I would probably be run over in a matter of seconds.  So, why is it that cars will immediately come to halt if a man or a woman in a blue uniform, shield, and a gun puts up their hands?
    1. Is it the gun? Is it the shield or the uniform?  No!  It is what those items represent.
    2. The policemen’s power doesn’t come from his gun or uniform, but from the authority granted to him or her by the government he or she represent.  We respect authority, and power flows from authority.
    3. Our power comes to us from the authority of God to do His work, just as it did for Jesus, who came to do the will of His Father in heaven.
    4. This misunderstanding of authority and power has been a problem in the church for centuries.  In Corinth, especially, we see that they didn’t understand that the power and authority given to them by God was for God’s sake more than it was for their sake.
    5. That’s why we do ministry in the Name of Jesus.  We do ministry by the authority of Jesus.  And we do ministry for the sake of Jesus.  It is not our ministry.  It is His!
    6. The ministry we are doing is Gospel ministry.  We are proclaiming Jesus.  We are healing for Jesus.  We are casting out demons for Jesus.  That’s why we need Jesus’ authority and power. Jesus is the authority and the power behind all that we do in His name.  We are His followers; we are His ambassadors; we are His servants; and, as one of my friends in ministry, Ed Glover, likes to say, “We are His errand boys and girls.”  Don’t like that idea? Then you’re probably not a disciple of Jesus.

Principle One:  We Are Sent

  1. As we look further at this powerful text there are several life changing principles I want to impart to you this morning.
  2. First of all, when we become believers, we are immediately sent to make disciples.  Once we become disciples, we become disciple makers. No waiting period, no degree necessary.  We are given our marching orders.  Jesus sends us, so we must go…; God commands and we obey. Remember, we are disciples; we are followers.
  3. Throughout the Gospels and Acts we see the Great Commission.  Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  I am sending you out sheep among wolves” (John 20:21; Matt 10:16).  We are the sent people of God.
  4. This leads to our second and third principles.

Principle Two:  Two by Two

  1. Gospel ministry is not about you.  It is about others. That’s one of the reasons we go out two-by-two.
  2. Gospel ministry is best done in teams: Husband/Wife; two couples, two or more friends.
  3. When we do our door-to-door ministry here in the community, we always have teams of two going out to ensure their safety and accountability.
  4. Jesus was very familiar I am sure with the passage from Ecclesiastes which says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (4:9-10).

Principle Three: It’s going to be difficult

  1. Another reason why we do ministry in teams is because ministry is difficult.  We need to encourage one another and build each other up.
  2. Jesus said in this world you would have troubles, a guarantee that if you are doing the will of God there would be opposition.
    1. Now, some people don’t seem to have any troubles.  Some, people seem to have a life of relative ease.
    2. And the reason for that is that they are not involved in the Gospel ministry.  If you are involved in Gospel ministry it will be difficult.
    3. But therein lays the secret.  In the difficulty of ministry, in the rejection that comes, through the opposition, there are also the great successes and victories which inevitably will come.  The disciples returned victoriously from their mission because they were operating in the power and authority of Jesus.  So many Christians do not accept the difficulty of Gospel ministry, so they never experience the power of God.  Nor do they enjoy the victories that God wants them to achieve.

Principle Four: You Don’t Need Money To Do Ministry

  1. There’s a reason why Jesus told the disciples not to take any resources with them.  They were to depend on God’s power for ministry and to depend on each other for support.
  2. Let me say this as clearly as I can, there is no need for money to do gospel ministry; to share the gospel with someone else.  When you are on the bus going to work you will need no resources other than the Holy Spirit to share your faith.
  3. Now I know some of you might be thinking, “If we don’t need any money to do ministry, why do we take an offering when we worship together?”
  4. Well, first of all what is being described here is a temporary assignment, not a long-term one or a church based ministry which does cost money.  Secondly, there is distinct difference between the equipping ministry of the church which requires resources, whereas the deployed priesthood of all believers doing Gospel ministry does not.  Each local church is an equipping center to send forth the members into the mission field.   Nevertheless, the point is that we are to depend on God for everyting.

Principle Five: It’s A Proclamation Ministry

  1. Finally, the fifth principle that we will consider is that the ministry we are called to is a proclamation ministry.  The Greek word is kerusso; and I am not talking about the great opera singer.
    1. The ministry we are primarily called to, is to proclaim the Good News—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The kerusso is an announcement. It is a message!  And this Gospel proclamation always leads the call of what we all do in service to our King.
    2. It has been incorrectly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that “You should preach the gospel always and sometimes use words.”  Sounds good right.  The big problem with that pithy little statement is that the Gospel is words!  The Gospel is a message that first and foremost requires words!
      1. It is the Good News of repentance; the announcement of the inauguration of God’s Kingdom in Jesus Christ.  It is the powerful news of how a life can be changed through persona and work of Jesus Christ.  It is the incredible message of the victorious eternal life that can be found only in Christ.
      2. But, don’t get me wrong, the Gospel is not just a spiritual reality.  If the Kingdom was just about spirituality, then the Jews would not have understood that Jesus was their promised Messiah.  The prophets spoke of something more than an internal, spiritual transformation. They spoke of an amazing new reality where people were transformed holistically—spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally.
      3. So, there is the ongoing physical healing ministry by prayer and anointing the physically sick in Jesus Name.
        1. God still heals today!  It is not simply an esoteric, spiritual or emotional healing like we talked about last week.  There will be that, of course, but we are called to believe in the mighty healing power of God, yesterday, today, and forever!
        2. God will manifest His gift of healing through people, and in some way this is connected to faith.  I don’t know exactly how that faith connection works; it is a mystery; and, don’t misunderstand me I am not a proponent of so called faith-healing.  But there clearly is a connection to faith and the miraculous work of God.  If we don’t believe that Jesus is God, has the power and authority on earth to forgive sins, heal, and perform nature bending miracles, then Jesus will not perform many miracles among us and through us.   Even secular researchers have found a faith component to physical healing.  So, why do so many Christians believe the healing ministry of Christ has passed.
        3. Listen to what is says in James 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
        4. The healing ministry of Jesus is for today.  If it wasn’t, why is James telling the church how to do it?   We need to expect to have Christ’s coursing power running through our veins.
        5. So, I don’t want you to go to someone in the hospital and pray some wimpy prayer like [IN A WHINY, WIMPY VOICE], “Oh, dear Father, could you please help here. I don’t know your will here, but I hope you’ll do something.”
        6. No!  Pray with boldness, “In the Name of Jesus, be healed!!!!!!!!” And have faith that God is going to heal that person.
        7. Driving Out Demons in Jesus Name
          1. Now is that too weird? Are we so proper in our religion that we can’t believe in the weird stuff?  Christians are weird; we are different; we are not normal; we are super-normal; we are super-natural!!!!!
          2. So, if the healing ministry is too much for you, then the casting out of demons in Jesus Name may not be for you either.  But I don’t want you to miss the power of God today.  This is for us for today!  God’s power and authority available to all who believe.
          3. When I graduated seminary in 2001, the full-time professors all gave us graduates twenty-one final words of wisdom.  When my mentor Prof. John Ellenberger came to the podium he only said in a loud voice, “Preach the Gospel, heal the sick!”  And then he sat down.  I thought to myself, “Wait that’s only like seven or eight words.” I felt jipped.  I expected the next professor to get up for his turn, but, suddenly, Prof. Ellenberger came back to the podium and said very seriously, “And, yes, cast out demons in Jesus Name!”
          4. That is still a part of our ministry–the deliverance of those who are under the oppression of satan and his emissaries.  And in the great words of Martin Luther, “One word will fell him.”  Jesus!!!
          5. We often think of demon possession happening in other countries, but not here in America. Let me tell you Martha and I have ministered to several people with demon possession here in the States.  There are all sorts of people in desperate need of deliverance from the demonic right in your neighborhood.
          6. Yet, demons work differently in various contexts.  It isn’t surprising that in the West demons don’t manifest themselves in the way they might in more superstitious and animistic cultures.  Here in America there are millions and millions of people who are possessed by their possessions.  They are demonically controlled and need to be delivered from the pagan God of Mammon.
          7. Jesus said you cannot serve God and Mammon.  Money is the translation, probably, in your Bible.  But Jesus said Mammon—the pagan, demonic god of materialism.  This is just one way you can help to cast out demons from others, especially other Christians.
          8. Today, you are being re-commissioned.  But you are not being sent unprepared or unequipped.  God has promised to give you His power and authority to “Preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons in Jesus Name!  All you have to do is laid hold of it.  Yes, claim your rightful inheritance in Jesus Christ.

Closing: Resurrection Power

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, all authority has been given to me, therefore, you go and make disciples.   All authority is given to me, therefore you… therefore I give you my authority…

  1. Imagine that day when Jesus died on the Cross.  The disciples were dejected and defeated; there Messiah was a failure.
  2. But when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them, all of His disciples were excited and victorious and expectant of the coming of God’s Kingdom in power.
  3. So, when the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the disciples were empowered and released with His power and His authority and did mighty works to advance the Kingdom of God.
  4. Are you ready and excited and victorious in Jesus to receive His authority and power for Kingdom ministry?

Prayer For An Impartation Of God’s Power And Authority Through The Holy Spirit

Closing Hymn:  “There Is Power In The Blood”

(c) Paul Dordal, 2012

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