Spirit and power remain the prerogative of God to confirm His Word and manifest His real glory. They require a willingness to relinquish total control to Him and step out in faith. We should both desire and expect our supernatural God to work in supernatural ways beyond our limited human understanding and ability. It’s part of wanting His will to be done.
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)
It’s interesting to see how the demand for motivational speakers and so-called ‘life coaches’ seems to grow every day. This is now a lucrative career choice if you have the gift of motivational gab. The Bible, of course, calls it ‘exhortation’ which has nothing at all to do with self. Paul, however, realised the critical difference between an anointed preacher and a good orator. The latter will sway emotions by clever, manipulative words and lead people to shallow commitment. The former, however, simply speaks the truth and lets God do the rest. This difference is emphasised by something that only manifests when a preacher has the anointing. It’s the manifestation of Spirit and power that produces signs and wonders to confirm the Word. These generate lasting faith in God rather than emotional or intellectual response. They appeal only to self and will never bring anyone into the kingdom.
The purpose of Spirit and power.
God desires to reveal Himself to the world. He wants all men to see Him as He truly is – the I AM – and to respond to His call. To know salvation, we must know the God of salvation. What this means is that when people come to God it must be the real God. There must be absolutely no doubt that He is who He says He is. Because it’s very easy for a gifted speaker to use words to manipulate and generate ‘hype,’ God takes no chances. He doesn’t want to convince people but rather to present the truth and then confirm it in a way that no man could ever do. The reason for this is two-fold. First, God will never share His glory. A good speaker can easily – and even unintentionally – assume some of the glory. Second, His Spirit and power manifest His participation.
If someone participates in a visible, tangible way, there is no doubt that they are real. When God works by His Spirit and power, He does so supernaturally. He acts to confirm the spoken Word in a way that cannot be explained in rational terms. The speaker cannot claim the glory, either for the Words or for the signs and wonders. It is completely obvious that a greater power is at work which attests to the truth. The evidence of His Spirit and power will always point to Him. They will upend any human logic or reasoning and defy all natural expectations. They also point to the whole ‘package’ of God, which includes His omnipotence, omniscience, power, authority and absolute sovereignty. It’s God saying, “Look and see who I AM and what I am able to do.” There simply are no arguments that can measure up against that.
Spirit and power and human effort.
When we first start out witnessing to others, it’s usually with a lot more enthusiasm than wisdom. We’re so excited, we jump in feet-first and, like poor Peter, find ourselves sinking beneath the waves of resistance. After a while – and a lot of fruitless endeavours and disappointments – we start to think before we speak. On one hand, that’s progress, but it’s small and proves equally frustrating. And stressful, because we spend way too much time rehearsing and that highlights our inadequacies. That we’re unsuccessful in our efforts – much of the time, anyway – only spurs us on to strive harder and expend more effort. Spirit and power provide perfect liberty from human effort. But unless someone teaches us this up-front, it takes long time and a lot of disillusionment before we find the truth. But with the truth comes a vast sense of relief and a deeper understanding.
The reality is that none of us have what it takes. Even the greatest orator is a sinful, weak, and frail human being. In fact, it can be more difficult for the accomplished speaker because they first have to unlearn everything they know. Us ordinary folk, on the other hand, only have to learn to rely on God. The second vital truth is that it’s not how the Word is preached. It’s that the Word is preached. His Word speaks for itself. An anointed preacher will allow the Spirit to give the right words. We get so hung up on how we look, how we sound, whether others will understand, and whether we missed something. Spirit and power removes all of that. We simply become a conduit for God’s voice. Many powerful evangelists will confess that they often don’t even recall all they said. That’s because God did it all.
A willingness to walk in Spirit and power.
Life and the world teaches us to always be in control. We live with a tight grip on the reins so we don’t mess up or make idiots of ourselves. Our culture is that we’re responsible for our success or failure. There’s an underlying drive to achieve in all of us, and that gets in the way of the things of God. The willingness to walk in Spirit and power is not-negotiable if we desire to speak the Word. This willingness means letting go of the outcome. But for outcome-driven people, this is exceptionally difficult. We need to know that we ‘did it right’ and so guaranteed the result. But God’s measure of success is very different from ours. We can only see what we think is obvious. He sees the whole picture. From His perspective, we might simply be a link in the chain towards salvation.
Releasing the outcome to God is what releases us to walk in Spirit and power. When the Word is spoken, the Spirit always operates. They are always ‘in tandem,’ inextricably linked. Word and Spirit work together. Power is God’s sovereign instruction to the Spirit to do something to confirm the Word. For some reason, we expect that the power will manifest there and then. But there is nothing in the Bible that limits how the power operates. He may release His confirming power way down the line when we’ve already moved on. Something will happen to confirm the Word we spoke and that person is convicted. Because it’s not immediate or we’re not present doesn’t negate the power. We’re anointed to speak the Word. When we step out in the anointing, Spirit and power work alongside to fulfil His purposes in His way and His time.
We must desire Spirit and power.
Right up-front, we must grasp the truth that Spirit and power in this context have nothing to do with self. It’s not about us but about God and what He wants to do. In essence, to desire Spirit and power here is saying His will be done. We must never desire them for our own ends or because they make us feel good or important or validate our ministry. Their purpose is to confirm God’s Word, and He decides how. But in desiring them correctly, we actually desire that His purposes are fulfilled. The truth of this is that we set self aside and acknowledge that He alone is able to do it. We acknowledge our inadequacy and weakness and His sovereignty. It’s letting go of the outcome and trusting God so completely that we relinquish control. Our focus is obedience and acceptance that do the work.
The reality is that until we come to a place where we desire Spirit and power in the right way, we’re still doing it ourselves. If they aren’t present, we’re moving in our own strength and ability. The Bible tells us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. This means that it’s only when we yield our weakness fully to Him that He steps in. While we’re doing it, His Spirit and power won’t operate. He won’t share His glory. The other issue is that many of us don’t want to see Him move – at least not sovereignly. It’s a scary thought because we have no control. It challenges our comfort zone and yanks us from our safety net. To desire Spirit and power brings us to the place of bold faith. It’s the place of stretching us beyond what we know and are comfortable with.
Live in the expectation of Spirit and power.
Once we have come to desire Spirit and power, we must live in the expectation of it. The Christian walk is one of constant surprises but never being surprised at what God can do. He desires to confirm His Word and will do so in whichever way He chooses. But His Spirit and power are part of who He is. They help to define Him and confirm that He is way higher than anything in heaven or on earth. We must come to accept that His ‘evidence’ will always point unequivocally to Him. It will defy logic, upend reasoning, defeat explanation, reveal the glory of the awesome, sovereign, all-powerful God of the universe. We’re citizens of a supernatural kingdom ruled by a supernatural God. He is extraordinary, and ordinary evidence will never do Him justice or adequately reveal His glory and limitless power.
When we stretch our faith and expectation to encompass the true God, we will see the true God work in mighty and miraculous ways.
Be glorified, Lord, in our lives as we step out in faith beyond our comfort zones and speak Your Word. Stretch our expectations and bring us to yieldedness. Help us to desire Your Spirit and power, not for ourselves but that so You will be magnified and revealed in all Your glory.