Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: power

Elections

All is quiet on the election front where I live – Canada had a federal election last fall and Saskatchewan had a provincial election just a moth ago. But the media that I read are full of angst and bewilderment about the upcoming presidential elections in the USA and France (this fall in the USA, early 2017 in France). It looks more and more like Donald Trump and Marine LePen have got a real shot at becoming leaders of their respective countries. Based on your political point of view either event could be the beginning of a better way of doing things, or an unmitigated disaster.

What is a Christian to do?

Just about everybody in every country of the Western World es ready to admit that something is seriously amiss. There is no agreement, however, on just what has gone amiss, how it happened, or what can be done to fix it. Does a Christian really want to wade into this mess and get himself befouled in trying to fix it by political means?

As I see it, politicians didn’t get us into this place, and they aren’t going to get us out of it. We live in an era of Big Government, Big Business, Big Education, Big Entertainment and Big Foundations. They have all grown too big to be controlled by anything else than their self-perpetuating Big Bureaucracies. What can a politician do?

Christianity has been known as a movement that could turn the world upside down. We forfeit that influence when we get involved in politics and try to change the world from the top down. Has that ever had good results? It may seem that way for a moment or two, but ultimately power corrupts even those with the purest of good intentions.

So, what is a Christian to do? We will do the most good by living as genuine Christians, keeping ourselves pure and unspotted from the world, praying for all those in positions of authority, being good neighbours, and being ready to give an answer for the hope that lieth within us.

 

All power

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18

These are bold words, yet coming as they did from the mouth of one who had risen from the dead we must grant their credibility.  The question then is, at what point was Jesus given this power?  Was it at the moment of his resurrection, or did he possess all power before that?

After the resurrection we see that Jesus still had a body that could be touched, he could prepare food and eat it; nothing in his appearance announced that he was now different.  Yet he joined his followers in a closed room without opening a door, then left the same way.  Some people might think of this as something similar to Star Trek characters being teleported.  However, it does not seem that Jesus was moving miraculously from one place to another in the visible world, but that he was slipping between the created and uncreated spheres, between that which is temporal and that which is eternal.

This is remarkable enough, but before his crucifixion and resurrection he turned water into wine, multiplied the loaves and fishes, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and healed congenital infirmities.

The greatest display of his power, however, took place on the cross.  The battle between Christ and Satan began in heaven and continued on earth.  Jewish leaders had expected Messiah to restore their earthly kingdom and give them dominion over their enemies.  Jesus had a much greater goal in mind.  At the very moment when it seemed that Satan had finally gained a complete victory, the mercy seat in the heavens was anointed with the blood of the Son of God and Satan’s hope of victory was forever crushed.  The veil of the temple split from the top to the bottom, showing that all mankind now had free access to the mercy seat.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  Colossians 2:14-15

It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Hebrews 9:23-26

What seemed to be a fatal weakness was actually a display of power that transcends any other that we could imagine.  That should give us a pretty good clue as to how God expects us to witness of his power to others.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 18:18-20

Power outage

We were moving from one farm house to another, with the help of friends.  I hurried to connect the kitchen stove so my wife could bake a pizza for our helpers.  This was in the day when kitchen stoves did not plug into the wall, but the wires from the stove had to be individually connected to the wires coming up through the floor.  I tried the top burners and they turned red, then I turned on the oven and the element glowed red.  The pizza went into the oven and we sat down to visit while we waited.

And waited.  Finally we sensed something might not be quite right.  This was also long before the day of digital oven temperature readouts, but we figured out that the oven wasn’t getting as hot as it should.  I was forced to confess that I really didn’t know what I was doing, so probably the oven only had 110 volt power, not 220.  We pulled the stove out, someone who knew a little more about these things connected the wires properly and the pizza finally got cooked.  I don’t remember how it turned out, but it probably wasn’t the best pizza my wife ever made, due to the long preheat session.

When a serviceman is called out to fix a piece of electrical equipment that isn’t working, in a home, an office or other commercial location, the first thing he does is check to see if it is plugged in.  If it is plugged in, the second thing he does is check whether there is electricity coming to the receptacle.  It is amazing how often something can be fixed by plugging it in or flipping the breaker back on.

There is much boasting today in Christian circles of powerful presentations of the gospel, by music, audio visual presentations and powerful preaching.  Some speak of a powerful moving of the spirit, healing, raising of the dead and other manifestations.  Yet in these same circles the rate of pornography use, marital breakdown, financial irresponsibility and outright dishonesty are  little different than among those who make no profession of faith.  Where is the power?  Are they really connected to the source of power?

I believe some of them have that connection, but is the power being transmitted to all those who fill the pews?  Many of them go home with a warm fuzzy feeling about the gospel service they have attended; however Revelation 3:16 has bad news for anyone who thinks a lukewarm fuzzy feeling is enough to transform a worldling into a child of God.

When the power of God first touches our lives, it is likely to give us an unpleasant jolt.  We cannot connect to the source of spiritual power without first seeing how sinful we are and repenting of that sin.  When the Holy Spirit flows into our lives, He gives us power to overcome sin.  We are still sinners by nature and we can expect occasional sparks and power interruptions due to slips and stumbles on our part.  Yet the power is there to get back up and resume our walk with God, living through His power, not our own.

Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the effects of being connected to this spiritual power —  the fruit of the Spirit is (with explanations from Matthew Henry’s Commentary):

love (to God especially and to one another for His sake)

joy (cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, a constant delight in God)

peace (with God and conscience, a peaceableness of temper and behaviour toward others)

longsuffering (patience to defer anger and a contentedness to bear injuries)

gentleness (a sweetness of temper that disposes us to be affable and courteous, easy to be entreated when any have wronged us)

goodness (kindness, which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity)

faith (fidelity, justice and honesty in what we profess and promise to others)

meekness (wherewith to govern our passions, so as not to be easily provoked, and when we are so, to be easily pacified)

temperance (in food and drink, and other enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them).

This is the power that needs to be evident in Christian worship services, and in the daily lives of believers.  There is no excuse for boasting in this, as the power is not man-made.  Where these qualities are lacking, it is appropriate to question whether there is truly a live connection to the Holy Spirit, the source of power.

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