In this session, we're going to deal with the subject of the power and authority of Jesus Christ that's been given to us and the significance of living in that power and authority. Jesus made the promise to give us this power and authority in Matthew 16:18 when he said to Peter: "The gates of Hades will not be able to withstand or withhold the advancing church." Jesus was going to build his church. The church was going to advance. The gates of Hades could not withstand it.
Jesus is saying that he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. His power is greater than the power of the enemy. When there is a head-on conflict between the power of the enemy and the power of God, the power of the enemy will lose every time.
How do we then live and walk in this power and authority? We understand from our last session that the world we live in has two realms—the natural and the spiritual. We need to be able to know how to live in this spiritual realm in a way that affects the natural realm. Instead of the spiritual realm only affecting me, I need to be living in a way that affects the spiritual realm, which in turn affects the natural realm.
Ten years ago, as I read Paul's amazing statement in 1 Corinthians 4:19-20, I began my personal journey in understanding the power we have as believers. Paul says in these verses that he's coming to Corinth to see the teachers that are there, and he's not coming to hear their words, but he's coming to see the power in their lives, "for the kingdom of God is not words, but it is power."
At that time ten years ago I was very committed to the Word and truths of God, to the expositional instruction of God's truth, and to trying to live out those truths, but I hadn't committed myself to understanding God's power. In that verse, I heard this question from the Lord: You've given yourself to me through my Word. Will you give yourself to me through my power? At that moment, I didn't know what it meant and couldn't relate with it. But pretty soon the Lord started us on a journey, and on this journey we began to understand the power of God. Specifically, we started to understand how he wants us to appropriate that power and do his work through that power, and that our lives should be characterized by the power of God.
Christ's power and authority
In Ephesians 1:19 Paul says, "I pray that you'll begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power." Now just prior to this Paul said, "I pray that a spirit of wisdom and revelation will be given to you," and he was praying that it would happen in three areas. One of the areas had to do with the power of God. Paul says:
I pray that you'll begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe. This is the same mighty power which he brought about in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things in subjection under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.
Mike Riches is pastor of Harborview Christian Fellowship in Gig Harbor, Washington, director of the Sycamore Commission, and author of Living Free.
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