Monday, March 31, 2014

Anointed with the Holy Spirit and with Power

Peter preached to Cornelius and household about how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, which was how Jesus went about “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). This anointing, however, was not just for Jesus. It belongs to all who belong to God through faith in Jesus.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, speaks about the Holy Spirit and power in relation to those who have received the Lord Jesus. We are, he says, “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Then he offers a prayer that God would give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” — wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit — so that we may know God more and more (1:17). In particular, Paul prays that we may know, deeply and intimately, three things:
  • The hope (joyful expectation, positive anticipation) to which God has called us (v. 18). Paul spoke of this in 1:3-10, about our adoption as children of God, redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the abundance of God’s grace toward us, and about being gathered together along with everything in heaven and on earth into one — into Christ.
  • The riches of the inheritance God has given us (v. 18). Paul spoke of this in 1:11-14, with the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our inheritance. It is not just about what we have in Christ but also who we are in Him — and who He is in us.
  • The exceeding greatness of God’s mighty power toward us who believe (v. 19).
It is this third one that I want to consider more closely here, for Paul goes on to describe the “exceeding greatness” of that power. It is the very same power by which God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s own right hand in the heavenlies. That is to say, the power of God has seated Jesus in the place of ruling and reigning. Paul tells us the extent of His reign. It is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (vv. 20-23).

The power God has toward us is not only the power by which God has raised and seated Jesus, it is also the power by which He has made us alive, too, who were once dead in “trespasses and sins” (2:1-3). God has not only made us alive together with Jesus, He has also raised us up together with Jesus and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies — in the place of ruling and reigning with Him (2:5-6).

In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul speaks of this power again as he takes a moment to offer a praise to God: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Paul says, and He does it “according to the power that works in us.” This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father. the power Paul fervently prays we might have a deep realization about through the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is the power of the Holy Spirit Himself, who is at work in us.

It is far more wonderful than anything have even begun to imagine, and God does not hold any of it back from us. But what does hold it back is our own unbelief. We do not have because we do not ask, James says, and even when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, because we do not think beyond our own pleasure (James 4:2-3). But faith expresses itself through love, which gives and serves. When our love is lacking, so is our faith. Then we are hindered in our ability to ask, think or imagine the amazing things God wants to do in us, with us and through us in the world.

But God’s Spirit, anointing and power are there in us nonetheless. Waiting.

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