The Church – An Extension of Christ
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

18 – Powered by the Spirit

(Luke 24:45-49)

Our last two studies on the Church as an extension of Christ has been focusing on its Highest Priority:  it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  When God created our first parents, He created them in His image.  This meant that their natures were dominated by the agape love of God, which Paul says “seeketh not its own.”  This was the glory that surrounded our first parents so that they did not need any clothing.

But when Adam and Eve sinned, this agape love did a flip and turned towards self.  As a result, the glory of God departed from them.  At that time, Steps to Christ tells us (page 17), love disappeared and selfishness took its place.  The Old Testament word that describes this bent to self is “iniquity.”  Since all of Adam’s children were born after the Fall, this is how all of us were born into the world:

Psalm 51:5
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Isaiah 53:6
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Therefore, one of the effects of the Fall is that it has robbed mankind of the glory of God:

Romans 3:23
...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And there is nothing you and I can do to restore this glory.  In other words, it is beyond our human reach.  But what is impossible with man is possible with God.  In coming to this world, Christ did not only come to save us from the curse of the law which hangs over each one of us but also to restore the glory of God sin has robbed us of.  Hence, Christ in you is the hope of glory.

This study we are going to look into the power that makes this highest priority of the church possible.  The starting point is Christ Himself.  When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came to this world, He divested Himself of His divine glory and came down to us in flesh, the same flesh and blood all of us were born with:

Hebrews 2:14-17
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

So even though Christ looked outwardly like any other human being, His life revealed the glory of God so that He could tell Philip that anyone who saw Him saw the Father:

John 14:9
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

One of the best descriptions of this glory revealed in the life of Christ is expressed by John:

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

But what gave Christ the power to manifest this glory?  Was He born with a special human ability that we do not naturally have?  The answer is yes.  However, the good news of the gospel is that this same power is made available to all God’s children who have experienced the new birth.  The source of this power is none other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the one who represents Christ:

Luke 4:14, 18-19
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  ...“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Acts 10:38
...How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

This same power was manifested by the early church, which we saw when we studied the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts.  Before Jesus left this world, He gave His disciples a commission.  That commission was to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  But Jesus knew that, in and of themselves, they had no power to fulfill this great commission.  So what did He say to them?

Luke 24:49
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

A good example of this power is Peter, the big fisherman.  Before Pentecost, he proved he was a coward, especially when he denied His Lord three times.  But note the change and the power he experienced after Pentecost:

Acts 2:14-16
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:  “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefuly to what I say.  These men are not drunk, as you suppose, it’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

This same power was also manifested by the rest of the disciples and the early Christian church.  Even though these were ordinary men and women who did not possess any special abilities, yet they turned their world upside down with the glory of Jesus.  Note, for example, what the Scriptures have to say about Stephen:

Acts 6:1-5a, 8
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group.  They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit....  Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

This same power is available to us today, for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But, you will ask, why do we not see such power today in our churches?  The answer is simple.

  1. The church was robbed of this power when the gospel was perverted.

  2. Therefore, the first step in restoring this power is to restore the pure gospel.

  3. Finally, there must be full surrender to the claims of the gospel:

    Luke 9:23
    Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

    Galatians 2:20
    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

But here I would like to make something very clear.  This total surrender to the cross of Christ must be from the heart and not just in words.  God will not tolerate shams in His church.  Let us look at what happened in Ephesus when some so-called believers tried to imitate Paul:

Acts 19:11-20
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed.  They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”  Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.  One day, the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all.  He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.  Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.  A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.  When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.  In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

So the big question is, how is the church to manifest this power and finish the work God has raised the advent movement to accomplish?  Certainly, it cannot be done by increasing our budgets, or through promotional programs, or whipping our members into shape.  None of these have been successful in the past and neither will they be successful in the future.  The only answer is found in the message of the fourth angel, that is, to join the three angels of Revelation 14:

Revelation 18:1-4
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven.  He had great authority and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.  With a mighty voice he shouted:  “Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great!  She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.  For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”  Then I heard another voice from heaven say:  “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues....”

What does Babylon represent here?  In the Old Testament, Babylon is described as the most powerful nation of the ancient world.  Its downfall, however, has been recorded in the book of Daniel as a warning to spiritual Babylon mentioned in the book of Revelation.  Therefore, to understand the significance of spiritual Babylon, we must first understand literal Babylon and why it fell:

Daniel 4:28-33; 5:18-23a
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.  Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar:  Your royal authority has been taken from you.  You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle.  Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.  He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle.  His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

...“O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.  Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him.  Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, the promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.  But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  He was driven away from people and given the mind of any animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.
“But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.  Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven.  You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them.  You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.”

The word “Babylon” comes from two Semitic words joined together.  They are bab, which means gate; and el, which is the Old Testament word for God.  When put together, it means men trying to reach the gate of God, or in other words, men trying to reach heaven by their own efforts.  A good example is the tower of Babel.

When used spiritually, Babylon means anything we think or do, no matter how religious it may be, that is polluted with the principle of self.  True Christianity begins with death to self.  This is the first step in experiencing the power of the gospel.  Note what Paul has to say to those who have been baptized into Christ:

Romans 6:10-13
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Only when we surrender this self life of ours to the cross of Christ will it be possible for the Holy Spirit to take over and turn our modern world upside down with the power of the gospel.  True Christianity means to be Spiritually minded.  This is the second step in experiencing the power of the gospel:

Romans 8:5-11
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Finally, as we keep our minds focused on Christ and His redeeming grace, as we learn to abide in Christ so that He can abide in us through His Spirit, our lives will change, first from the inside and then outside.  It begins with our thoughts, our desires, and our goals in life; all these will take a new direction.  This makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to take over and lighten the earth with the glory of Christ:

2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
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