DISCIPLINE 2000—Part 4
Power for the Dark Hour
Just the other morning when I awoke, as I was in the midst of a four-meeting seminar with one meeting left, I was so tired I could hardly stand. The first thought that tried to take my mind was with regard to the weakness I felt. But, because I had been soaking in the Word regarding this power, another thought knocked that carnal one out of the way. I was able to think, "His strength is made perfect in weakness."
I had learned this from David and from Paul. Statements from each of them were ready to release their strength in me. This worked. I asked Glenda to come have breakfast with me, then I went forth, ministered for three hours with the help of the Holy Spirit, and then drove home through the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York traffic, only to find greater strength at the close of the day than at the beginning.
Glenda partook of that strength with me. When she got up, her left hand and arm were swollen in an alarming way. This had never happened before. In my weakness I laid hands on her and prayed. The swelling went away. The power available for healing was not diminished by my feeling of weakness nor by the alarm of her condition.
Let me give you the two statements from those two men in the Bible. They are words of divine inspiration that will work in your weakness too. David, in Ps 18:32, said, It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. Paul, in II Cor 12:9, said, And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. We looked with you at this statement from Paul before. In the one verse, the word strength and the word power are both from the New Testament Greek word dúnamis. This is the primary word of the power that worked in the Resurrection.
I tell what I do just to remind you that this power is still at work. It is as current as it was the day Christ was raised. It is as ready to work in us as it was in His dark tomb.
The resurrection of Jesus was the greatest demonstration ever of God's eternal power. Through the ages a few others have been raised, and there are recent reports here and there of others coming back from death's hold. Only in the raising of Jesus, however, was there a power released to work in others. His resurrection was a vicarious resurrection, just like His death was a vicarious death.
I know "vicarious" is a word not in popular use, but we need to know it. I first heard it when I was a young man. The old ready-to-retire Pastor of the church I attended after I was saved used the word. It was a favorite of his. It means "in the place of." My Pastor used the word to teach us that Christ's death was vicarious for us. That helped me immensely to know wherein my hope of salvation lay. It was in Jesus who died vicariously for me. That dear old man never told us His resurrection also was vicarious. I think maybe his theology stopped a little short of being able to fully embrace that. I had to learn this from Paul whose understanding didn't stop so short. He saw, so clearly, that when Jesus died, He died for us. When He was buried, He was buried for us. When He was raised up, He was raised up for us. He even saw when He ascended into the heavens, He ascended there for us.
Some of you who have been with us through the years know that from time to time I bring out the "with" words Paul used. They are the words in the Greek New Testament that make use of the little prefix sun that means "with, in exactly the same place." They are the words that lead us to the Scriptures that substantiate for us the vicarious atonement that is provided for us in Christ Jesus.
Even if you already know them, see these "with" words again. They define the extent of our Savior's vicarious work in our behalf. We discussed them in The Wonder of a Shared Life.
IN THE PASSAGE from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians from which we are presently drawing our guide for praying, there is another string of words that never lets go of me. I hope it never will. I need what is in these words now more than ever. They are the words Paul used in Eph 1:19 to describe the power that worked in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This power was so full it took four Greek words to describe it. Together they describe the power that was released to work in us.
What Paul saw and laid out is something that can never be fully taught or learned by human methods. It is something that must be brought to life in us by the Holy Spirit. Admittedly, He will take on and use in us the knowledge that comes from God's Word and bring it to life in us so it can work in us, and through us. Praying one for another helps this process in a great way. The passage from which we're taking our present instruction is part of Paul's prayer for the people in Asia Minor.
For this kind of praying we use the word "intercession," although in the New Testament it is mostly used of the Lord Jesus and of the Holy Spirit (See these statements: Rom 8:26, 27, 34 and Heb 7:25 where the word intercession occurs four times). What we presently mean by intercession is that it is the kind of praying that goes on when one person takes on a concern for another and holds that one before the Throne of God's Grace. It is what husbands do for wives and wives for husbands. It is what parents do for children and sometimes children do for parents. It is what Pastors do for congregations, and congregations should do for Pastors. It is what Paul was doing, and is teaching us in this Ephesians passage to do. We do it for any person we love and care about. Besides individual persons, our intercession can reach out to include people groups and nations, cities, congregations, towns, schools, institutions, and so on for as large or small a company as our hearts can contain.
For those of you who have been with us through the years, you know that we have made reference to all this several times before. We'll probably make reference to it again--and then, again. That's all right. There are quite a few things in the Bible that are repeated, this matter being one of them. Let's look at the passage together--again. You know we use the King James Version of the Scriptures. Here we place it in a structured form. This is to emphasize each important part.
There is another matter that is highly supportive of the Kingdom, especially as it spreads into all the earth. We find this in the Covenants, those powerful contracts into which God entered with certain men, such as Abraham and David. We cannot get to this matter in so short an article, but click onto "The Covenant Promise" to gain some insight into this most important area of understanding.
We want to take a little space to look at each stone of truth the Holy Spirit caused Paul to place in this pyramid.
In a previous article we took note of THAT YOU MAY KNOW from verse 18. This is a powerful grammatical construction in the Original that tells of a knowing that comes as a result of the Holy Spirit's enlightenment. The knowing to which the prayer directs us is a knowing that becomes finalized so that no one may take it from our minds or convince us otherwise. It is a knowledge that becomes instinctive with us. It is a knowledge that becomes settled in our minds as well as in our hearts, so that the intellect, as well as the part of us that feels and has emotion, knows that God is faithful.
There are three things we are to know with this settled knowledge. One--we are to know what is the hope of his calling. This means we become settled with a certainty in the knowledge of what God wants with us. This is our calling. Two--we are to know what (is) the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. This means we become settled with a certainty in knowing how valuable we are to God. This becomes a settled thing with us when we find our value to Him in the Redemption. Three--we are to know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. This means... Well, let's see what it means--as much as is possible in this article. It will take the Holy Spirit to translate it into our living.
At this time, I think the best thing for us to do is simply to look point by point at the pyramid of truth we find in the Ephesians 1 passage. In doing this we can add a certain fullness to the knowledge toward which this prayer of Paul is leading us. But remember this: this knowledge cannot be gained by study only. It must be added to our understanding by the Holy Spirit and then released into the living out of our lives. This generally takes place in the dark times of life when our only hope may lie in the effective release of this power. He will take what we have learned of this power and ignite it in us. Then, suddenly we can say, "Oh, now I understand!"
This is the reason we are learning to pray like we are. It is the Holy Spirit's intention that we become settled in knowing what God wants from us. It is His intention that we become settled in knowing the value He has placed upon us. And, it is His Spirit's intention that we become thoroughly acquainted with, and settled in knowing, the power available to us now from the Throne in the heavens.
The best way I know to move toward this knowledge is to pray and ask the Lord to help us. Then we will take each phrase and try to discover some of its meaning so it can be resident in our minds, ready for the Holy Spirit to take over and release fully in us.
There is a greatness in this power, a vastness that reaches beyond anything any mind anywhere could imagine. Get it clearly. You just can't come up with any threatening force of doom or destruction that is anywhere near a match for this power toward which we are now moving in our praying.
• Now, let's see the next phrase in our buildup of truth. This power is released to us-ward who believe. What a qualification this is for knowing all this! It is simply that we believe. This is a bedrock foundation of the Gospel. We're already acquainted with this kind of believing. It's how we began our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
• This power comes to us according to the working of His mighty power. In this string of words we find three more of the Greek words Paul used to describe the power of the Resurrection as it was released for us. Working comes from enérgia. This is the "active energy" of dúnamis as it comes into operation. It names for us what brings about our effective release from sin's power, as well as from the power of sickness, the power of demons, and the power of our own human weakness.
Yes, our own weakness has its power to hold us down. That's what I faced when I got up the other morning and felt too weak to go forth and minister. There came an energy to me from out of the Kingdom. I believe it was this enérgia released from the Resurrection of Christ.
In the same string of words, we find that mighty comes from the Greek krátos. This means a display of might that brings dominion or restraint to a situation. Actually, it is the power of government. It could mean the power of temperance and self-control. It is so important a word that we will take it up entirely in our next article.
The last word in the string of words is power. It comes from ischúos. This is muscle power. It is the spiritual strength that demons have when they bind and control persons and situations. Out of the Resurrection came a greater strength. To put it straight and simple, there was released in the Resurrection of Christ all the strength needed to bind any and every demonic force that will oppose the Kingdom of Christ, either in us or in the land. Great light comes to us in Mt 12:29 where Jesus used this same word to describe the strong man. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. The spiritual muscle to bind him comes to those who believe and who know the full power released out of the Resurrection.
• This full power with all its dynamic ability, energetic force, governmental dominion and strength of spiritual muscle is what God wrought (or "put to work") in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. Think on it. All the dimensions of power worked in the tomb, and all these same dimensions were released to work in our behalf.
• Now here is something we need, verily, to see. In Christ Jesus being raised, He conquered the last enemy, death itself. (There is a wonderful discussion of this in I Cor 15.) After this conquest, He was seated in the highest position, at the Father's Own right hand in the heavenly places. It is here the higher rule of our lives finds its seat of government. Those who know the Kingdom know this government. From His Throne, our risen Lord rules in us and for us--and releases His power toward us.
• Finally, take note of all the forces of the universe over which Christ has gained the dominion because of His Resurrection. He is enthroned over all principality, the chief spirit rulers of all the large domains on earth. He is enthroned over all power, the executive authority in every institution and business and corporation. He is over all might, the forces that give ability to do evil as well as those that give ability to do good. He is over all dominion, those who hold the lordship of any situation.
Then where is this power? Where is it known? Why is it not seen the dark places of the earth that are full of the habitations of cruelty? (Ps 74:20) Could it be because we who know Christ know Him so poorly? Could it be that we are now being drawn by the Holy Spirit to become effective in the release of His dominion and power?
Go back and look at the ending of our Eph 4 passage which we don't have room in this article to discuss. All this power was released for the church which is His body. It seems we have dwelt too much and too long in the shadows of defeat. Now He is calling us out. Can it not be that the darkest hour the world has ever known will be the brightest hour for Christ and His Kingdom? Is not He teaching us now and giving us opportunity to test just how great is His power? We rejoice in it all.
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