Well, brother, we’re half way through the journey to Mature Manhood. We are in the midst of the Kingdom stages, and while this stage on the surface may seem linked to the previous one, there will be some distinctions carried here, which I believe are helpful. I see some believers who are plugged in to a community who have not realized this stage. Most of them, I suspect it is because they lack power. If a believer has not yet received the Holy Spirit, has not followed his leading to depend on God, and has not received a mission from him, this stage cannot take place.
What happened after Israel inherited the land? They asked for a king, and God gave them one, which they ended up despising, and then He raised up a man who was after his own heart, who shepherded God’s people Israel. In doing so, he was meeting physical and spiritual needs of the people. David and his son Solomon were both active in setting up a kingdom and a temple for the worship of God. They followed God’s heart, and found that He was a God who serves.
In Luke’s Gospel after the separation from the community in chapter 4, Jesus begins his Ministry. The word “ministry” is misleading because only some people seem to be called to “ministry” but the word ministry simply means “service.” Jesus began his work of Service.
Preaching the Kingdom. Look at the first things Jesus did after the people of the synagogue nearly killed him in Luke 4:29. By verse 31-32 Jesus taught with authority the message of the Kingdom. He has given that same authority to his disciples to preach the Kingdom of God. This kind of authority amazed people.
Casting out demons. In the very next verses there was a man with a demon who rose up, in the synagogue no less, (take warning) and tried to disrupt him. The message of the Kingdom of God has the authority and it will stir up spiritual opposition. Jesus cast out demons to meet the spiritual needs by casting out the spiritual forces which had dismayed and oppressed His people.
Healing diseases, by verse 38 Jesus in his full humanity sought to restore the whole human, body and spirit, earth and heaven. He healed the mother in law of Simon, and what did she immediately get up and do?
What’s more: Jesus got his disciples to help him in chapter 9.
And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases, and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing.
The three things his disciples were doing, were the same things that Jesus was doing!
A sterilized Christianity will not be able to bear with this statement, but it must be said: Jesus gives power to his followers to do the miraculous to enact spiritual and physical service by the power of the Holy Spirit as an advancement of the Kingdom of God. The Christian who has been with Him will know that this is possible with God, it is difficult to the one of little faith. The Christian who has not learned the power of the Holy Spirit will be of no use to this Kingdom service.
Characteristics of this Stage
Power– The Holy Spirit of God will do the miraculous through this follower, by keeping the believer in a dependent, trusting, and devoted relationship. These are the three chords that make up the rope of faith: Dependence on God, Trust in God, and Devotion to God. These three bind the believer to the one who truly has the power, and who can shine the glory of God in their own clay vessel.
Temptations to Worldliness— The pitfalls of this stage are not so much about personal vice, though these are ever present so long as we are in this flesh, but rather about the direction of virtue. The pitfall of this stage is using spiritual action to support Worldly Pursuits. If the evil one can side-track the empowered believer to build worldly kingdoms, or make peace by worldly means, he will have secured a super-worker to construct his Babylonian Empire which ultimately raises it’s fist at God, and upon whom God ultimately lowers His fist.
Accomplishment— This is what must be gained in this stage. The news of such a mighty power in the world awakening people to the reality that God is King, and that His Kingdom is near them will spread as the Power of God accomplishes what man never could. In the Church, it looks like what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 14:25. The unbeliever confronted by the miraculous will fall on his face and worship God, “declaring that God is certainly among you.”
A quick note to those who are cessationists (meaning those who do believe the supernatural workings of God are no longer happening): you cannot deny that there is spiritual power at work in the world today: on both sides. And wherever the power of evil rises, the power of God’s Holy Spirit must be there to meet it. Not everyone has the same gifts, but the gifts of manifestation that are listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are not just for the early church, or apostles. To think that the gifts ceased because all the Canon of Bible was completed is, to me, indistinguishable from a Deist perspective of God’s actions done only in the past, which dehumanizes Christ, the Bible, and the Church. Remember Jesus’ prayer specifically for the church who were still going to believe in John 17:22, “The glory You [Father] gave me [Jesus], I [Jesus] have given them [The Church].” What glory? The revelation of God in power. And if there is no supernatural power, there is no revelation of God’s glory. If there is no revelation of God’s glory, then Jesus’ prayer is meaningless, and the church is just another club.
1. Boldly advance the Kingdom as the Holy Spirit leads you on your specific mission. Pray and teach and do the work of service for people’s physical and spiritual needs.
2. Do not ignore the importance of signs to believers and unbelievers, but instead practice them in the congregation. 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of tongues and prophecy, two miraculous signs which must be implemented according to God’s guidelines inside the church and out.
3. If you are struggling, because you believe you have a mission from God, and you feel hopelessly weak to enact any sort of supernatual power, I tell you, press into the God. You are weak. He is strong. He is the one with the power, and He will enact the supernatural. Seek Him earnestly, and commune with Him. Paul spent sleepless nights to seek Him. It could be that there are areas of disobedience in which you are not being FAITH-ful to God. If you are not fully dependent on Him, Your faith will break. If you are not fully trusting in Him, your faith will break, and if you are not fully whole-heartedly devoted to Him, your faith will break. But remember the encouragement from Paul to Timothy, “Though we are faithless, he remains faithful.” (2 Timothy 2:13) And also remember, “He uses the weak things to shame the strong.” ~1 Corinthians 1:27
4. Avoid the extra-mission-al things with which the world distracts you, especially those that promise reward. Jesus stayed dependent on God, and trusted God to work out all things, when people asked him to do things, to which he said “No.” (Example: John 6:15) It keeps the believer humble instead of thinking himself to be the Savior of the World. Jesus is. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” 1 Corinthians 3:5
As a Christian reaches this stage, and lives out the power of God in his life as the Kingdom of God advances, may he say what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:1– “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ.” And again in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7,
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
O Lord, Thy Kingdom Come! Thy Will be accomplished as it is in Heaven, so also upon the earth!