The Strength That the Saved People Must Enjoy (Acts 28:1-10) April 21, 2012
There is something that changed immediately when we had realized and accepted Christ into our hearts: our fundamentals and identity. For all of our sins and curses have been resolved through Jesus’ blood, we are no longer sinners. We are saints and the source of blessings. You are not alone. God’s spirit is within you. That is why we call ourselves Christians (those who have the spirit of Christ). We are not meant to live under Satan’s deceptions and schemes and the oppression of the world. It says in Rom.8:15-17, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” Because our fundamentals and identity have changed, all we need to do now is enjoy the authority and strength our new fundamentals and identity comprise. Our authority and strength come from our fundamentals and identity (Presidential authority and strength are effective only when you become a president.). What do we call this authority and strength? We call it the spiritual authority. If we are indeed saved, we who have received salvation (whose fundamentals and identity have changed) must enjoy the authority and strength which we are worthy of enjoying. Only then can we survive in this troubled world in which Satan is doing everything at his disposal to deceive God’s people. How are you going to live in this world without such enjoyment? Do you not need to enjoy such authority and strength as long as you are smart, receive good grades, and make a lot of money? Over a thousand elite students in American universities and colleges take their own lives every year. They do not commit suicide because they feel comfortable and happy. Everything is so difficult. They are living oppressed by things like financial issues and interpersonal problems (Acts 10:38). If you really restore your strength, it will not end at surviving yourself. Because of you, people who are related to you and the field in which you are in will be revived, and people will come to see God’s glory and power. This is evangelism and missions. What do you think that God really desires the most? He wants you who have received salvation to enjoy this strength. How can you enjoy it?
1. When we have received salvation, not only our fundamentals and identity changed, but we were also given the authority and strength.
(1) It says in 1Jn.5:11-12, “Those who have the Son have the life.” What is life referring to here? It is a state in which the living God is within you. Just because you are breathing, it does not necessarily mean you have life. The lives of unbelievers are lives without God. They must struggle on their own. Satan can attack them whenever he wants. But how about the lives of believers? They are in the state in which Christ who died for their sins and curses, resurrected, and is sitting at the right hand of God’s throne is within them through the Holy Spirit. Christ works Himself within the lives of unbelievers. That is why Jesus says in Jn.14:14-15, “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.” (Jn.14:12)
(2) It says in Jn.1:12, “Those who receive Him and believe in His name shall be given the right to become God’s children.” It is not like the authority will be given somewhere along the way, but God gave it to us at the very moment we accepted Christ. There are at the very least seven tremendous authorities given to God’s children (indwelling, guidance, and working of the Holy Spirit, angels’ guard, driving out demons, citizenship of heaven, and the world conquest). Even if we can enjoy these seven authorities, our lives will change. Everything that we do will be different.
(3) But how come you cannot enjoy these authorities in real life? We cannot enjoy them because we cannot see these things with our eyes.
a. We think they do not exist and do not realize how important they are because we cannot see them. If you realize the truth, you can stake everything for it (Jesus’ analogy of a person who buys a piece of land with everything he has knowing what is buried underneath).
b. The world is not limited to the things we can see with our physical eye. Things that are really important are invisible (air, energy, spirit). What is seen was not made out of what was visible (Heb.11:3), and we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2Cor.4:18).
c. Christ resurrected, and He is now within you as the Holy Spirit. He cannot be seen, but He is within you. Talk to Him, look unto Him, and adore Him. That is prayer (praying during worship is worship prayer, praying while meditating upon the Word is meditation prayer, praying in everyday life is continuous prayer, praying unconsciously is 24-hour prayer, and praying at set times in concentration is scheduled prayer). As much as you train yourself to pray, His power will appear in your life, personality, things you do, every meeting, and everywhere you go. It does not mean you should put less effort into other things. As you study, work, or something else in diligence, ask for God’s help, adore Him, and fix your eyes upon Him even though you cannot see Him.
2. Today’s passage has an account of the appearance of tremendous spiritual authority. Paul was bit by a viper, but he did not even get a swelling. When he prayed for a sick person with his hands on him, his illness was healed. When does this kind of power appear? Christ can let it appear even now.
(1) It is when we truly live as evangelists like Paul.
a. God does not have to show you miracles just to put food on your table. Even unbelievers try their best to make a living, often get sick and receive healing. However, if God has the save people and the world through you, He must do things that you cannot do on your own. We call this God’s power and miracle.
b. In fact, there is power of the resurrected Jesus promised us in Mk.16:17-18; “These signs will accompany those who believe.” When did He give us this promise? It is when He was urging His disciples to go to the ends of the earth and preach the Gospel to all nations. If we truly live in evangelism and missions, the Holy Spirit works in every aspect of our lives.
(2) It is when we ask for God’s power (spiritual authority) in order to faithfully take charge of everything that has been entrusted to us.
a. What is God’s work? Of course it includes things we do for God, but the things that we do through God’s power are really God’s work (Phil.3:3). Although you may serve the church through doing different tasks, they are just your work if you are doing them through your own strength. Your standard, opinions, and pride are bound to permeate. How can you call that God’s work?
b. Depending on what heart and attitude you have, it can be either your work or God’s. Even when you study, work, or labor like a slave as Joseph did, if you enjoy your work through Immanuel and ask for God’s strength, you will give glory to God no matter what the outcome may be. This is God’s work.
(3) If we run into crises and problems even with this heart and mind, they turn into opportunities to experience tremendous spiritual authority. Daniel’s three friends were doing work for the government with this heart and mind, but they were thrown into a scorching furnace and Daniel into a lion’s den. How did God save them? He even sent angels to protect them. That is what Paul faces in today’s passage. As an evangelist, he is on his way to do God’s work, but runs into a crisis.
I hope you experience and enjoy God’s authority and strength that come from our fundamentals and identity. Are you facing problems or crises? They have been allowed to you in order to raise you as someone who has the three mysteries that were mentioned earlier. The best way is, of course, training yourself to enjoy these mysteries in everyday life when you are not necessarily facing any problems, especially during your Remnant years. Things that you do every day will build up within you as experience. I hope you enjoy the authority and power that are within Christ.