What a difference a day makes.
o October 31, 1517 - A German monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany.
o July 31, 1940 - Yours truly saw the light of day in Oregon.
o December 7, 1941 - Japanese aircraft attack Pearl Harbor, and World War II begins.
o November 22, 1963 - I still remember where I was standing on the campus of Syracuse University when I heard the news of President Kennedy being shot.
o The day of Pentecost - The age of the Holy Spirit is inaugurated and the Church begins.
What a difference a day makes.
What do you know about the Holy Spirit. I think the average Christian is bogged down somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost. Christians have been to Calvary for pardon, but they have not been to Pentecost for power.
o Bethlehem indicates - God with us
o Calvary indicates - God for us
o Pentecost indicates - God in us
The Day of Pentecost occurred 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. This is exactly what the word Pentecost means. But it is important to understand that the day of Pentecost would have come regardless of what the disciples did. Don't get the idea that 10 days of praying in the Upper Room caused the day of Pentecost. That day had been appointed by God for the Jews some 1,500 years earlier. But in the calendar of God, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit coincided with the annual Feast of Pentecost in that year.
And what a difference this one day made. The disciples and all the other followers of Christ in that Upper Room were dramatically transformed on that day. One disciple, who just a few days earlier, on the night before Christ was crucified, swore that he did not know the Christ, and did so vehemently three times. On the Day of Pentecost, after receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter's words changed from, "I don't know Him," to, "Him declare I unto you."
Have you ever thought how great it would have been to be part of the early Church? Before dreaming too long, consider these facts about the early Church.
o They were greatly persecuted.
o They argued over who got more food (Acts 6).
o There were disagreements among members with hurt feelings (Paul and Barnabas).
o You found selfishness (Ananias and Sapphira).
o After being told by Christ to take the gospel to the world, beginning in Jerusalem, they waited 8 years before they were obedient to leave Jerusalem.
The fact of the matter is, we are like the early Church, not only in our human failures, but also in our failure to use the powerful resources that are ours in the Holy Spirit.
Years ago, the movie, "Star Wars," popularized the saying, "May the force be with you." Jesus said that for his followers, the force was a Person. And He told his followers they would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them. He wasn't talking philosophically about some physical energy. This divine power is to help us take the gospel to the people of the world. Unless the "good new" is taken to them, they will never know the releasing truth that can change their lives, and establish their souls for eternity.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN THINKING OF THE POWER OF PENTECOST? HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE POWER OF PENTECOST?
When most people think of the force or power of Pentecost they think of spiritual authority over demons, miracles, signs and wonders, speaking in tongues, gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, the ability to witness and persuade people to open their hearts to Christ. All those are scriptural and thoroughly available to you and me today. But are they the power of Pentecost. Are they not, rather, the outflow of the Power? For example, the light coming from the bulb overhead isn't the power. The power is the electricity flowing to each bulb. What comes from the light bulb is a result of the power.
Likewise, the power, the force of God is a Person. And there are things about Him that are different from what it is He produces through people. The power lies in the Holy Spirit. And Jesus offers this power - the Holy Spirit - to each of His followers. But He didn't just give us the power, but He gave us the authority to use that power.
Luke 10:19 NKJV
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
One cannot read about what happened on the day of Pentecost without realizing that a new kind of power became available. Jesus had promised this power to the disciples.
Luke 24:49 NKJV
49 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."
If there was anything those disciples needed, it was power. They came to Pentecost almost powerless - they walked away filled with power. What a difference a day makes.
Over the past several week, at least once in each lesson, I have had you read Acts 1:8. I want to look at it once more - and this probably will not be the last. This is a key verse, for in it Christ promises what the 120 received 10 days later.
Acts 1:8 KJV
8 But you shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
I think it is quite evident that the result of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is that the believer will receive power. But it is not power to be used any ole way we might wish. Predominantly it is power to effectively witness and take the message of salvation to our city and around the world.
There are at least four different Greek words that are translated as "POWER" in our English Bibles. But only two of them are used extensively. Last week I briefly introduced those two word to you. Today we will look at them more fully. But first, I also want to quickly look at two other words not included last week.
The two words are Kratos and Ischus. "Kratos" is found 12 times in the original Greek, and is translated as: power, strength, might, and dominion. "Ischus" is used 10 times, power, strength, might and ability I don't want to spend a lot of time on these two words, but I think you will find their usage interesting. Let's go to Ephesians 1 to start.
Ephesians 1:19 NKJV
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power [dunamis] toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty [ischus] power [kratos].
If you were to look at every verse that uses the word "kratos" or its derivatives, you would see that it is related to the power of the Word. Here is a good example of that.
Acts 19:20 NKJV
20 So the Word of the Lord grew mightily [kratos] and prevailed.
Here is another interesting case.
Hebrews 2:14 NIV
4 Since the children have flesh and blood, He [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil-
This verse says that one of the reason Jesus took on human flesh was to destroy him who has the power of death - the devil. Notice two thing here. The word, "destroy," literally means "to make zero." But what about the "power" that the devil has? The Greek word used here is "Kratos."
At first, I was a little puzzled about what Paul was teaching us. But this verse says the devil has nothing to do with "dunamis" power that God has and gives to us. And it has nothing to do with "exousia" power or "ischus" power.
We mentioned earlier that the Kratos power of God is tied to the Word of God - the power of the Word. On the other hand, the power of the devil lies also in words, but they are words to deceive. Ever since Genesis 3, the devil has been a deceiver. And if he can make you to believe his words - then you become under his power. The devil is a liar - and liars use words to deceive. Satan is one who contradicts God's Word. He adds to it or subtracts from it just enough to deceive. Always remember, lies are the native language of the devil. He tried to manipulate words when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
HOW DID JESUS DEFEAT SATAN WHEN THEY WERE IN THE WILDERNESS?
He defeated the devil by correctly using the Word of God. For me, this is very important, and speaks to why each of us must know the Word of God. If we know the true Word of God, we will not be deceived by the devil, who holds the "word" power that, if followed leads to death.
The devil is still going around with words of deception. Words play a key role in our spiritual battle. And if the devil can give you a wrong, deceptive thought and a wrong word, he can lead you astray and seize you as his captive. I believe it was a deceptive thought that caused Eve, then Adam, to go astray and sin. I think the same is true of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They allowed a wrong thought to take root. In Samaria, Peter prayed that God would forgive the thought of Simon the sorcerer's heart.
Acts 8:20-22 NKJV
20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
As long as you and I can distinguish between the Word of God and the word of the devil, you will prevent yourself from being deceived, and you will be immune from him trying to exercise deceptive power over your life. We need to be skillful in the Word of God.
The other word is ISCHUS. Without getting too deeply into all the passages where this Greek word is used, let me state right up front that ischus seems to be related to the power of prayer. Take a look at James 5:16 (NKJV).
James 5:16 NKJV
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails [ischus] much.
Here's how it reads in the NIV
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful [ischus] and effective.
Now, lets return to the two words that are used more often as it relates to power. I gave you a brief preview of them last week. Interestingly, these two Greek words are used in Acts 1 in consecutive verses. Let me read it first in the Old King James Version.
Acts 1:7-8 KJV
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 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.
The Greek word used in verse 7 is "EXOUSIA." We get our English word "exertion" from this word. The reason I used the KJV to begin with is because almost all other translations render is as "AUTHORITY."
In the New King James version, verse 7 reads:
Acts 1:7 NKJV
7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority."
And the NIV renders the seventh verse as:
Acts 1:7 NIV
7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Exousia has more to do with conferred power. This is the kind of power that a judge or ruler has. Take John 19:10-11, which speaks about Pilate during the trial of Jesus.
John 19:10-11 NKJV
10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power [exousia] to crucify You, and power [exousia] to release You?"
11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power [exousia] at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
EXOUSIA is used in the New Testament in a number of ways, but always is consistent with the belief that there is no authority except from God.
Romans 13:1 NIV
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The Scriptures also tell us that the Father has given the Son all authority.
Matthew 28:18 NIV
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
In this verse Christ is saying that all authority has been given to Him. But this authority is linked to the verses that follow - which are the great commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority [exousia] in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Now, about the next word that is translated "power." This is the word that is associated with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Many of you know the Greek word I am speaking of.
WHAT IS THE GREEK WORD FOR "POWER" USED IN ACTS 1:8?
Yes, it is "DUNAMIS." It is the word from which we get "dynamite," "dynamo," or "dynamic." It has more to do with "ability" - having the potency or capability to do what is desired. It is more than the conferred authority of exousia, and more to do with innate or resident dunamis - power, because the Holy Spirit lives within you.
We have been given the power because He brings that power with Him. This is the dunamis power that is received by the believer when they are filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And that power is offered to all Christians.
Our Lord had finished what He came to accomplish on earth. He is standing with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. And although Jesus had finished all His work and was ready to return to glory, He knew that these believers were not ready to go out into the world in their own power. He had already given them His authority when telling them to take the gospel to the world, but now they would need another kind of power. They would need a type of power that literally could transform them.
There is not one here that cannot have a supernatural ministry. You don't have to be a preacher or a Bible teacher. It doesn't require you to go to a Bible College. It doesn't have to occur in a church building. It can occur between you and your neighbor. It could be displayed on your job.
The empowering of the Holy Spirit is the ministry by which the Spirit of God comes upon you with power to equip you for supernatural ministry. It is the power to be all that God wants you to be. And that extends to every area of your life. Simply put, the empowering of the Holy Spirit is an experience that equips you with supernatural resources to accomplish the work of God. His power enables you to do the very works of Christ Himself.
John 14:12 NKJV
12 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.
We need the power of God if we are to be effective in doing the work of God.
In Mark 9, we find a record where a man brought his son to Jesus to be healed. Jesus makes the statement, in verse 23, "everything is possible for him who believes." In the next verse, we read his response.
Mark 9:24 NIV
24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
I don't know how many times I have prayed that same prayer to God. Lord, I believe you - I have faith in you - but please help my unbelief - my lack of faith." I want a faith that is based not just on the cross - but also on the empty tomb. The cross, as stark as it is, is understandable from the human perspective. An innocent man was murdered by crooked politicians and religious leaders. But the empty tomb - what can you say? Only a supernatural God could accomplish that.
I am not advocating melodrama or theatrics that work up emotions. But I am in favor, as were the apostles, of asking God to stretch out his hand and manifest himself. People must not only hear but feel, see and experience the grace of God we speak about.
The power that is received when one is baptized in the Holy Spirit is what is necessary to be an effective witness, wherever that may take place.