Jesus called the church into being at His first appearance to His disciples after He rose from the dead. He completed His mission, but the work that brought Him to earth had to continue. God’s rescue operation to save man from His wrath just became a powerful global outreach. Much still had to be done, but with the church enlisted, His work will be brought to a grand finale.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21,22
We are tasked with the same assignment Jesus had, and therefore received the same anointing to empower us to do it. The work is supernatural and spiritual, as we come against spiritual forces that work to enslave humanity. Satan cannot be subdued by natural strength, human intellect, impressive ceremonies, talented music bands, or colorful vestings. If Jesus needed the Holy Spirit to do the work, we do too. It is for this very reason that He gave us this promise:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14
What are the works that Jesus referred to? The same works that He announced at the beginning of His ministry on earth:
And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21
The Gospels show us how He went about setting captives free, often at great risk to Himself. Never once did He fail, or put in a corner with no answer to the questions of His adversaries. When the religious establishment accused Him of working with the devil after He cast out a demon, He referred to the Holy Spirit as “the finger of God.” (Luke 11:20)
It was never God’s intention to empower the church with a lesser anointing than Jesus had. At the very first meeting Jesus had with His disciples after His resurrection, He breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.“ That was their new birth, for they could not be born again before He rose from the dead. They received the fountain that springs up into eternal life that Jesus told the woman at the well about:
“…the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14
While the fountain of living water guarantees eternal life, more is needed to do the works Jesus did. The disciples received the Holy Spirit when He breathed on them, but they needed power from on high to continue the mission to which they were called.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Luke 24:49,50
The Promise of the Father is the fountain in your innermost being that erupts into rivers of living water — the abundance that Jesus invited all of us to:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39
The 120 in the Upper Room were never the same after that experience. They went out from there and did what Jesus did: miracles became a way of life for the church, demons were cast out of people, and the gospel was preached to the known world of their day. Simple people, some of them untrained and uneducated, like Peter and John, started doing what Jesus did. Mark ended his gospel account with the following comment:
And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. Mark 16:20
The author of Hebrews confirms what Mark said:
…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? Hebrews 2:3,4
The church age started with signs, wonders and miracles. Did God change? No.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17
Will the Lord take back the gifts that empowered the early church, and caused them to be so effective? Of course not. One would expect such an important change to be announced in Scripture, but there is no mention of such a thing. Is it in the character of God to quietly and gradually withdraw the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were given so spectacularly on the Day of Pentecost? Absolutely not. The fact that it is widely taught that the gifts ceased, does not mean it is true, because it is not backed by Scripture.
The church has entered the last of the last days. Prophecy is being fulfill before our eyes. Paul’s predictions of the wickedness of the last days (1Timothy 4:1-3 & 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ) have become the norm in cultures around the world. You cannot combat these ills with legislation, reasoning, or arguments; we still need God to confirm the gospel message with signs and wonders like He always did. The spiritual blindness and hardness of heart cannot be cured with eloquent sermons and good music; only the power from on high can do it. Our day is far more wicked than the days of the early church; how can we possibly think to reach this world with less power than they had?
Jesus is preparing for Himself a glorious church (Ephesians 5:27). God’s pattern has always been that the latter is better than the former; He never ends in defeat, but in greater glory. We are locked in a covenant with Him that is founded on better promises than the Old Covenant. Things get better with Him, not weaker.
Clearly, the time of preaching novelty sermons is over; motivational speeches and pep talks from the pulpit will not carry us through this last lap of this race. The enemy is coming out with his best efforts, knowing his time is short; we will meet him with power from on high to which he has no defenses. We will enforce his defeat, and see him bow the knee when the name of Jesus is but mentioned.
It is not in the character of God to end the era of grace on a low note. May we, like Samson, see our greatest victory in our last moments on earth, and end strong to the glory of our magnificent God, the Majesty on high. All glory and power and victory belong to Him, and Him alone.
We are well equipped for the task at hand. Let’s lay aside our human wisdom and strength, and lean fully on Him to confirm the word we speak, as it was at the beginning. Let us therefore be bold with the message of deliverance, of freedom from oppression by the devil, the new life in Christ, and the baptism of fire. The Acts of the Holy Spirit will come to a glorious end as we continue down the path set before us by the apostle Paul:
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4,5
Human reasoning is dwarfed by the demonstration of the power of God. You cannot reason against a visible miracle that took place, as the early religious leaders found out:
And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” Acts 4:14-16
This is our time; we have nothing to lose. We can already see the finish line; we can end strong with power from on high!