Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Operating In The Power Of The Spirit To Reveal Christ To The Lost

It can often be frustrating when we are sharing the great news about Jesus and the person we are talking to keeps going off on tangents. It is as if they can't even hear the words we are speaking but they grab onto some small thing and run with it. The reason isn't too hard to understand: we are speaking a foreign language to them. How can we expect them to understand the significance of Jesus without the Holy Spirit? We are possessed by the Spirit and we still have trouble understanding but Jesus did show us how to do it.

First we had Jesus' conversation with the very religiously minded Nicodemus. Jesus would not allow Nicodemus to draw him into any doctrinal arguments but took him to the heart of the matter, the need for a second birth, a spiritual birth. Jesus knew that in order for Nicodemus to understand spiritual matters he had to take the first step to come from the darkness of man's understanding into the light of God's revelation. Even with Nicodemus' protest of how silly a second birth would be, Jesus pressed the truth upon him.

Second we have Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Here we have the opposite situation, a woman who was so caught up in the sins of everyday life it had all become routine for her. There was so much to get through here that most of us would probably have walked away because we would try to deal with her in the flesh instead of the Spirit. She was filled with national pride, prejudism, self knowledge, religion and sin. But Jesus did not allow any of her barriers to keep him from speaking the truth to her and he did it in a way that many of us would be too afraid to attempt. Despite this list of barriers Jesus stated the real problem with great clarity:

 “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

We don't have to make it complicated when people hit us with 20 questions they could not accept the answer to even if we responded. Without the Spirit they can not understand or accept spiritual matters. Instead of wasting our time trying to explain the mysteries and character of God we should stick to our purpose: to proclaim Jesus and reveal the gift he offers everyone who will believe. When we get caught up in arguments we lose our way and people's attention. Most of their questions are answered as they receive Jesus so we must persist. But this woman was not Nicodemus who could be brought into the light with a simple plea to his understanding. No, this woman needed something to reveal the glory of the Lord, so Jesus spoke a word of knowledge to her.

Now that's something that many of you would be too afraid to do, even if the Spirit laid it on you because it requires a real trust and vulnerability. There are many people in the Church that would like to strip away and dismiss the gifts of the Spirit, who want to turn the Church into a school with lectures and studies. They want the Church to have all the appearance of godliness without any of the power. They want to strip each Christian of any form of spiritual power given them by the Holy Spirit but despite these people the fact remains that Jesus set for us an example of how we are to do things according to the Spirit.

I have had people speak words of knowledge to me and I found it shocking and encouraging at the same time. Each time was a moment of great change and I felt renewed and close to God. Here too, as Jesus spoke this word of knowledge to this woman things began to change:

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:17-18)

This opened the woman's eyes but still much of her flesh resisted and the religious mind took over but Jesus was prepared to deal with this, again with a word that the Spirit gives to us as well. Why are we so afraid to operate in what the Spirit gives to us? It's not about us, it is about the glorification of Jesus through these weak vessels. Jesus went from a word of knowledge to a prophetic word. It is what he used to deal with her religious thinking:

“Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)

This is a prophetic word and it opened the door for Jesus to reveal himself to this woman. The word of knowledge shocked her and the prophetic word brought in clarity so that she actually invited Jesus to reveal himself to her:

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” (John 4:25)

Jesus was then able to plainly say to her : "I who speak to you am he."

Now when she went running back into town to tell everyone about Jesus take note what she said to convince everyone to come and meet him:

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)

It is the word of knowledge that she used as evidence that this was no ordinary man. We are a silly bunch of Christians trying to use wise and persuasive words to convince a world about Jesus. Others of us rely on our acts of love, hoping people will see Jesus through our kindness. There are a few who trickle in by these means but most pastors will tell you very few come into the Kingdom by these things. No, the greatest impact is when we are willing to operate in the Spirit, allowing the Spirit to reveal Jesus to people. This flesh cannot understand spiritual matters but when the spiritual gifts are used the flesh is pushed aside and the Spirit speaks directly to our spirit. People do not need to hear more lectures, they need to see Jesus Christ revealed in spirit and truth. Paul reminded the Corinthians:

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

If we would get back to that place of trust and vulnerability, allowing the Spirit to work through us, we would have a lot less doctrinal discussions and a lot more people being saved. Come on Church, let's get back to the real basics and give leadership of the Church back to Jesus. Today, dare to hope that the Spirit would use you to speak words of knowledge and the prophetic into the lives of the lost so that Jesus would be revealed to them. The Light is shining out; may he shine out from you.

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