Category Archives: Power

The Power of the Spirit (Acts 2)

by Scott

Acts 2 presents a paradigm shift in the way the body of Christ will function forever. The paradigm shift for the people of God would mirror that of the Messiah, Jesus Himself. And that is very important in Luke’s account of early church history as found in Acts. What happened in Acts parallels what happened to Jesus in Luke’s presentation in his Gospel.

As one theologian notes:

In the structure of Luke-Acts, the Pentecost narrative stands in the same relationship to the Acts as the infancy-inauguration narratives do to the Gospel. In the Gospel of Luke these narratives not only introduce the motifs which define the mission of Jesus, but they also show that Jesus will execute His mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. In a similar manner, the Pentecost narrative introduces both the future mission of the disciples and the complementary empowering of the Spirit. (Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, p49)

And so, in Acts 2, we find the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:5:

for John baptised with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

It is this paradigm shift event of Pentecost which thrusts forward the walking out of the thesis statement of Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

The Spirit poured out means just this – an empowered people! When they were baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) or filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) or clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49), it gave them the power to be witnesses. Simply put, they could not have been the witnesses Jesus intended had they not been empowered, baptised, filled and clothed with the Spirit of God. We might have a theology that allows otherwise. But that theology fails knowing the reality of what Luke teaches us in Acts 1 and 2.

Thus, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the first followers of Christ were not given a ministry of maintaining the status quo. Far from it! They were given power to be His witnesses!

As I said in a recent post, what if Acts 1:8 had said this:

But you will receive the ability to maintain the status quo when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Good grief, I am glad it does not say that. Though we so easily fall into the trap of carrying out such a ministry. Oh, so easily. I know. I’ve been there.

But rather the Spirit was sent and given as a gift to empower God’s people so that they might continue the works of Jesus as witnesses in all the earth. That was my major point in this recent article. This would allow for the whole Christ to be known in the whole earth.

Not only were all of God’s people an empowered community, but they were also a prophetic community.

What do I mean by this phrase – prophetic community? Well, let me break it down a little more.

First off, the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, that is, all God’s people irrespective of gender or age. That, in and of itself, was quite a paradigm shift to the general nature of the old covenant, though we had little intimations that this would one day be a reality in the new covenant. That is why we read these words in Acts 2:17-18:

17 And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

The Spirit given to all groups and all types of people. And what is the fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit of God? Go back and read these two verses. They shall prophesy! That is what these two verses emphasise as the by-product of the Spirit coming on all of God’s people.

And this makes quite a lot of sense when we realise that Jesus was the great prophet. Yes, more than a prophet. But still a prophet nonetheless, and a prophet par excellence. And He sent the Spirit to continue His exact same ministry in the earth today. The Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy, if anything else. And this is the same Spirit that indwells and empowers all of God’s people. Thus, we have a prophetic community.

Yes, I believe God gifts specific people as prophets and with prophetic gifts. But there is a sense in which the whole body of Christ carries a prophetic measure. And this measure should affect all areas of life, not just when we are used in the gift of prophecy. This affects right across every action, every word, every mindset, every thought, every attitude. Our whole lives are to be a prophetic pointer towards Christ.

Still, when we read 1 Corinthians 14, it seems in particular that prophecy, along with tongues, are the two most readily available gifts to the body of Christ. And tongues can function like prophecy when there is an interpretation of the public message in tongues (see 1 Corinthians 14:5). But we see Paul’s passion for the prophetic body of Christ with these words:

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

This was a statement to the church at Corinth. Not just a special group of prophets. Roger Stronstad articulately expresses this amazing reality in another of his books, The Prophethood of All Believers:

Jesus completed his redemptive ministry by giving orders to his disciples by the Holy Spirit about their imminent Spirit-baptism and empowering (Acts 1.2, 5, 8). Having ascended to heaven he then poured out the Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.33). He thereby transferred the anointing and empowering Spirit from himself to them, just as the Lord had earlier transferred the Spirit from Moses to the 70 elders, from Saul to David, and from Elijah to Elisha. By this act of transferring the Spirit to his disciples, Jesus, the Spirit-anointed prophet, makes his disciples a community of Spirit-baptized prophets. This fulfils an ancient oracle of the prophet Joel about a future age of restoration and blessing when the entire nation or community of God’s people, irrespective of age, gender or social status, would have the Spirit poured out upon them. Thus, on the day of Pentecost Jesus inaugurated the prophethood of all believers. (p71)

And, so, with the pouring out of the Spirit on God’s people, we also have the prophetic community. We cannot get away from our nature as Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-empowered people. We are a community of prophets. These are the things I preached this past Sunday at Cornerstone. If you are interested, you can listen to the message by clicking on the audio icon below. Or you can download from our podcast site or iTunes.

The Power of the Spirit

by Scott

Because of what God has been stirring in me recently, I am currently looking at the power of God on Sundays at Cornerstone. And this past Sunday, I preached about the power of the Holy Spirit, based out of Acts 1:1-8.

Of course, I recently posted an article on the reason the Holy Spirit was given: 1) to continue the works of Jesus and 2) to empower the whole body as witnesses. But I thought it might be good to hear my thoughts on this same topic through the medium of audio recording. I also look at some things that I did not particularly address in the previous article.

You can listen to it by clicking on the icon below, or you can download from our podcast or iTunes.

Why the Holy Spirit?

by Scott

I would have to say that the second most important event of history, second only to the resurrection of Jesus, is that of the pouring out of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2. So important was it!

Now, what we must realise is that the feast of Pentecost had been annually celebrated for some time. It was connected to the feast of Shavuot, where the Jews also remembered the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

So Acts 2 was not the recording of the first Pentecost. Hence, Luke’s words here: When the day of Pentecost arrived…(Acts 2:1). They were already expecting Pentecost to come. I’m just not sure they were fully expecting the fruitful harvest that came on that particular Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. A greater gift was given here than at Mt. Sinai!

What had been intimated at and prophesied about for centuries past (see Numbers 11:24-30; Isaiah 32:14-15; 44:3; Joel 2:26-29), and promised by Jesus himself (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4-5), had finally arrived. No longer was the Holy Spirit to be given to only a select few. He was to be given and poured out on all God’s people, no distinction made – male/female, young/old, Jew/Greek.

The Messianic age would also be marked as the age of the Holy Spirit! Fantastic news, no doubt.

But, one might ask: Why the Holy Spirit? Why was he given?

Good question. And while Scripture does not answer every single question we ask, it seems to clearly answer this question. It’s recorded by Luke, coming from the lips of Jesus.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Pretty clear, heh?

This statement in the early words of Acts stands as the thesis statement for the whole book. The account of Acts would be an outworking of this one statement. The Spirit would be given, and through such an event of extreme import, the people of God would be empowered witnesses.

This was not something for a group of twelve, or a group of twelve and a few other special people. Again, this was a reality for all of God’s people. Remember, the Spirit would not differentiate via gender or age or social barriers. This is one reason why Peter quotes Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18; quoting Joel 2:28-29)

So, reason number 1 for the Spirit being given – that we might receive power and that we might be his witnesses. If there is anything that should mark the life of the Christ-follower it should be the power of the Spirit and the power of the Spirit to be his witnesses. No, I do not only mean that we all must be used in miracles and healings, though I am definitely not opposed to such. Rather, we are to know the power of God across all areas our lives. The power of God is to be available in every aspect, leading to a life that seasons with salt and shines with light.

I cannot imagine anything less.

So, as I shared in my last post, the Spirit of God was not given to ‘maintain the status quo’. It was not given to make sure we hold together nice meetings, a prayer meeting here, a Bible study there, a fellowship meal here, a finance meeting there. None of those are bad in and of themselves. But they are not necessarily the fruit of Acts 1:8, especially if it is tied into solely maintaining the status quo.

Can you imagine Acts 1:8 saying this?

But you will receive the ability to maintain the status quo when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you might possibly be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

I’m sorry, but I can honestly say I would not want any part of that. The Spirit was not given to make sure we all live out a nice and comfortable life in Christ. The Spirit was given that we might be empowered witnesses. Acts 1:8 does not get any clearer.

I am stirred deep by the reality of the reason the Holy Spirit was given when reading Acts 1:8.

The second reason the Spirit is given, not that it is subservient to the first reason I pointed out, is found in the very first verse of Acts 1:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. (Acts 1:1)

Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke, was an account of the things Jesus began to do and teach. Jesus was not finished. He had more to accomplish and say. Hence, he poured out the Spirit to continue his work, for the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus (see Acts 16:7; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19).

But, though the Lord of heaven and earth, as one man, accomplished quite a lot, he was not able to accomplish all as that one human being. Remember, he did not grasp at his equality as the divine (Philippians 2:6).

So, as I have emphasised, to continue his powerful work, Jesus pours out his Spirit to empower an entire body, though that body started at about 120 (Acts 1:15). Hence, why his words in John 14:12 make a lot of sense:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Not a select few, but whoever believes. I know there are plenty to argue that this does not mean everyone, since Jesus was only talking to the disciples-apostles. Or that this does not really mean all of Christ’s works, since some of those works are not needed much any more because the gospel has spread enough and we have the testimony of Scripture.

I am glad that gospel has spread, though I am not sure we understand the power of the gospel at times, and I am glad we have the God-breathed Scripture. But I am not sure whoever believes can be any clearer as to whom Jesus envisioned when he uttered those words. Suffice it to say, I am clear on what Jesus clearly meant – whoever believes. But if you want more to chew on, here is a great article to read.

Now, let me also note that I do not believe the ‘greater works’ is so much speaking qualitatively as it is speaking quantitatively. You get me? We can’t really walk out much greater a manifestation of the works and power of God than raising the dead, healing the blind, seeing withered hands restored, etc. Thus, I believe this is speaking more about the whole Spirit-empowered body of Christ being able to accomplish more than the Son of God as one human being.

Can you imagine millions and billions of Christ-followers empowered with the same Spirit? I’m thinking greater works, quantitatively. Remember, the same Spirit that Jesus relied on in the flesh, even post-resurrection (see Acts 1:2), is the one who indwells and empowers the body of Christ now.

Of course, I am not so silly as to believe that John 14:12 is only speaking of major manifestations of God’s power through healings and miracles. The works of Jesus include compassion for the hurting, mercy for the downtrodden, food to the homeless, respect and love for our spouses, tender care for our children, overcoming the temptation of the enemy and flesh, etc, etc. But I could never deny and step back from recognising that the works of Jesus also include healings and miracles and other demonstrations of the powerful work of the Spirit. We cannot argue our way out of this one.

Again, whoever believes in me will also….

So, why was the Spirit given? Simply put: 1) to continue the works of Jesus and 2) to empower God’s people as witnesses, so that those works might continue. This didn’t stop with Jesus. And this didn’t conclude with Acts 28. This has been continuing for some 2000 years and will continue on until all is accomplished and he returns to marry his prepared bride.

Oh, that we might know his power.

Maintaing the Status Quo

by Scott

In my recent renewed revelation of the power of God, one thing that has continually been highlighted to me is the reality that, so many times, we are content with simply maintaining the status quo.

As I noted in my article earlier this week, in every situation of life, there is a way things are supposed to happen. At work it might be that we arrive at 9.00, have coffee break at 10.30, lunch at 12.30, and so on. That is the status quo. And we have plenty of examples within the church, the people of God.

And while this is not inherently bad, I have recently become very aware that God is not calling His Spirit-empowered people to simply maintain the status quo. You know how this plays out in the life of the church. Well, for starters, we end up ‘playing’ church. We end up coming to our gatherings with a prescribed layout of the way things should and ought to be done. Kind of like children playing house. They aren’t really adults with their own house and children and stove to cook meals on. They just act as if it’s true.

And how much of what we do is centred around ‘playing’ church, rather than being and walking out all that God has called us to. I’ve been so caught up with this for two years now. Of course, I wanted pastoral wisdom in helping a multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-church background community at Cornerstone move forward in the things of God. But God finally made me aware that it is time to move forward with purpose and power. No maintaining the status quo any longer.

Listen, we have to hear and obey the voice of God. That is what this present stirring is all about for me. But hearing and obeying God will not be about maintaining the status quo. It will not be about simply keeping things as they are. If anything, the body is headed towards maturity. We are preparing a people to marry Jesus. Just getting by doesn’t prepare anyone.

And so I don’t want to get caught up in the meaninglessness of simply holding things together, maintaining how its ‘supposed’ to be. It’s not healthy, and it definitely doesn’t give much room for the reality of the power of God and the message to Belgium and beyond that God Is Alive! How tragic if, at the end of our lives, our greatest story is that we maintained the status quo! How tragic! But, at this point, many of us are simply satisfied with such. I know I was. I only hope that a shake up comes when we realise that our end story will simply be that we maintained the status quo.

And, even more, we can so easily get caught up in making a contract with Jesus on a regular basis of how we want this thing to go: Jesus, I’ll follow you, but let’s just set out some things that I would like. I’ll follow you, just make sure that I have not only what I need, but a few extra’s on the side. Or a nice amount of extra’s if at all possible. Make sure that I don’t have to give too much of my resources, not too much of my time, not too much of my finances. Jesus, I’ll follow you, but let’s just make sure that I don’t get put in too many uncomfortable situations. Yeah, I think I can follow you if we can agree on those things.

Now, of course, to maintain the status quo, we would never verbally admit such. But we do live our lives with that modus operandi. It simply has taken over life in the western world.

Listen, you have to understand. I don’t usually talk like this. I don’t usually bring strong rebuke. But I am completely aware of how ungodly and how selfish and what an idol maintaining the status quo has become in my life and our lives in the west. It has simply become the way of life and we don’t even recognise it for what it is.

And so this sucks the life and power of God right out of us. No wonder the Chinese, who are currently seeing the masses turn to Christ and seeing the power of God on display in a real sense, are praying that persecution does not stop. They don’t want to maintain the status quo. They want to maintain a pure faith.

I am now very aware that if I want to see the power of God active in my life and in the life of God’s people universal, then we have to lay down our god-idol of maintaining the status quo. The goal is not that we now become crazy’s, though I do recognise that God has called His people at times to crazy things – think Isaiah walking around for naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3), think of Ezekiel baking his bread over fecies (Ezekiel 4:15), think of Jesus and His spitting ministry when healing others (Mark 7:33; 8:23; John 9:6-7).

But we don’t do things for the sake of doing things. We don’t become crazy for the sake of being crazy. We hear God…….and then we obey. And God is making clearer and clearer that a Spirit-empowered people are not called to maintain the status quo. We are called to so much more, starting with being witnesses, as well as moving towards unity and maturity.

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:14)

Oh, that we might be saved from such an ungodly bondage as simply maintaining the status quo.

Change Has Come

by Scott

It’s been quite a while since I last posted an article anywhere in the blogosphere, especially at my home base at The Prodigal Thought or here at To Be Continued. That’s a bit of an oddity for me, since I love to write. It has been a passion of mine going strong now for just over 2 years. So for me to not post anything in 9 days, well, that’s not usual.

But I suppose the usual and the norm for me will change.

Why? Because change has drastically happened to me.

Actually, I’m not sure what the norm will be with regards to blogging. Nor do I know what the norm will be for me when it comes to reading. Reading is my second passion. I’m always reading: theology, devotional, fiction, or maybe even other things here and there.

But, with not blogging for a week and a half, and only reading the better part of a handful of pages outside of Scripture, well, again, those who know me would wonder what is going on. It’s not the norm.

So why the lack? Again, I can only describe it as radical change has come to my life.

But what is that change?

Well, I had posted a few times on my personal blog that we, at Cornerstone, were hosting two training conferences this summer: 1) VMI, which had to do with music and worship training and 2) Fast Forward, which had to do with more ministry-leadership training. Both times were simply excellent. You can listen to or download all 12 speaker-teaching sessions from our podcast site.

During these two training times, there were purposeful gatherings of worship, times of waiting on God to hear from Him, deep prayer and intercession, as well as hearing God speak revelations via prophecies of who He is and His purposes into the Brussels area and beyond.

For some, this sounds off-the-wall crazy. But, oh well. I can only say that God truly made Himself known – not just in the teachings, though those were excellent, but also in the times where space was created to hear from God and respond to Him.

But, the ironic thing was that, for me, the most radical, life-changing moment came for me the following day with both conferences already concluded. My wife and I were having a nice Thai dinner together with some friends when God decided to reveal Himself to me in a most significant way.

During our conversations, and at one particular moment, God decided to give me a renewed revelation of His power. It was nothing insignificant with a little nod as I stated, ‘Yeah, that’s good.’ The conversation set something in motion where I could only sit there a stirred man in awe of the power of God.

He specifically brought to me a renewed revelation of His power – the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of His kingdom, and the power of the gospel to change lives. I was already aware of these things in my life, and Scripture definitely testifies to God’s power in these specific areas! But this past Wednesday evening, as I joined together with those close friends over a meal of Thai curry and Pad Thai noodles, God made His power so real and clear to me.

Therefore, I cannot expect my life to ever be the same. I am not one to hype up things nor ‘jump on a bandwagon’, as we say in English. So, for me, this is not just emotionalism. This is knowing the clear reality that God has revealed Himself, and revealed something significantly at that.

I cannot say I know what it will all look like. I simply know that God has spoken and I must obey. For as Scripture says, ‘Today, if you here His voice do not harden your hearts…’ (Hebrews 3:7-8). Again, I have heard and I can only obey what He is saying.

And I am very aware that God will begin to work such a reality into the Cornerstone church community, the Brussels area, even into Belgium and beyond. That is how real this revelation is, this is how real God has made Himself known to me.

Within the first words of the book of Acts, we read about two very important characteristics about the people of God:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

We are to be a people empowered by the Spirit, and as we are, we will be His witnesses. It’s not that we might be or could be, but that we WILL BE. This is the empowered church!

Therefore, I can no longer simply be satisfied with maintaining the status quo. That is not what God has called us to. What I mean is that, in every situation of life, there is a way things are supposed to happen. At work it might be that we arrive at 9.00, have coffee break at 10.30, lunch at 12.30, and so on. That is the status quo. And while this is not bad, I am very aware that God is not calling His Spirit-empowered people to simply maintain the status quo. Life in God is about so much more. No, God is not calling us to confusion. But God is calling us to obey what He is saying and doing.

In the end, from a human perspective, it is much easier to try and control the situation as best we can. It really is so much easier to not learn to be a people who rely completely on the Holy Spirit, looking to see His power at work in our midst. To consider such can make us uncomfortable. But I can no longer try and control what He is doing, for I do not want to be guilty of grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30).

And so, if you haven’t sensed it yet, I am completely gripped with the reality of the power of God. Again, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God’s kingdom rule and the power of the gospel to change lives. And I cannot make apologies for what my life will look like from here on out. I don’t know the specifics of what it will all look like. I expect to be surprised after receiving this fresh understanding of His power. I expect to see lives changed. I expect to see healings and miracles. I expect to see people drawn to Christ. I expect to see major impact. And I expect something to start stirring and shaking beyond me and my church community. This will move into Brussels, into all of Belgium, and even beyond.

Matter of fact, since last Wednesday evening, the phrase that God keeps impressing upon my heart is – God Is Alive. I believe this is a specific message that Brussels, and Belgium, and even western Europe, needs to hear afresh. A land which has had a rich heritage of the things of Christ, such a reality has now fallen to the wayside. And people here need to know just this – God Is Alive! A God who is powerful is one who is truly alive, and a God who is alive is one who is truly powerful. There is no one like Jesus Christ!

Consequently, as I’ve siad, I know my life will not be the same. I must proclaim the powerful message of Christ and His kingdom (Matthew 4:23; 1 Corinthians 4:20), the powerful work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4), and the power of the gospel to change lives (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). I must proclaim to the people in Belgium that God Is Alive. He is alive and He will again show His power.

So, as to blogging (and reading), at this point, I don’t know how often. I haven’t really wanted to do so much at all, which is another pointer as to how real and deep this truly is. I’m willing to lay aside such for a time, or for all time. I am not sure at this point. It’s just not as important as proclaiming that which God has made known. I cannot see myself doing anything else.

If you would like to hear more of what I shared with Cornerstone this past Sunday, as sometimes verbal media is more helpful than typed media, you can click on the icon below. Or you can download from our podcast site or iTunes.