Feb. 1, 2019

Cross Purposes 32 / Is Wonder Working Power Still Working, I Wonder?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...” (Romans 1:16)

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God...Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24b)

Power: From the Greek “dunamis”, δύναμις: miraculous power, force, a miracle itself, ability, abundance, mighty deed, worker of miracles, power, strength, violence, a mighty or wonderful work. A “dynamic” which is active, not static!

Just mull over these thoughts for a moment concerning the “power” of God. It’s there for  everyone who believes! It is operative toward all, yet not all receive and manifest this “dunamis”. Why?

I can understand why this is so disturbing to people who are worldly minded. They see too many Christians whose walk does not match their talk. They may be “seekers”, enamored of gurus or other teachers who offer “enlightenment” but not salvation. There are trinkets - astrology, psychism, do-it-yourself rituals, meditation techniques, and so forth. But where is the “power of God unto salvation” in any of that? I would offer that these people may be seeking greater spiritual reality, but wind up wandering in the wastelands hearing the whispering of many winds of doctrine.

We “believers” are criticized, and perhaps rightly so, that we offer nothing to the world besides a belief with no power, yet Scripture clearly teaches that the Gospel and the Cross are the very power of God at work in everyone who receives them! Where’s the evidence? Where’s the fruit?

We’re clearly shown by John, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) Now that’s a mouthful! Not only some sort of vague spiritual power, but the very dynamic power to become the sons of God!

Yet when such wonder working power is available and given freely to all, what is it that prohibits the people from reaching up and grabbing the gift offered to them?

Perhaps they fear having something grab ahold of them? But then again - something may already have ahold of them, a fear producing thing.

That kind of fear ought to be disturbing to us who do “believe”. But is it enough to believe, as in mental assent, or should there be something beyond belief which is so real and powerful that it tantalizes and creates a hunger in others, so that it makes them say, “I want what you have”?

The above passage from Romans is a dynamic affirmation from the Apostle Paul: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ!” Are we of the same mind, affirming God’s truth with the same confidence within ourselves? Perhaps we realize that this dynamic power, this “dunamis”, δύναμις, may not exactly characterize how we go about living our life.

If so, we have some work to do. (Who doesn’t?) We’re not a finished work of Grace yet,  as long as we’re still in skin.

The Christian life is really all about that. It begins within the Cross, the greatest metaphysical event in history! Revelation 13:8 presents Jesus Christ as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This takes us outside time and into the eternal and timeless - and is all encompassing. This One Lord Jesus Christ impacts from “infinity” our life here on finite Earth! How? It always seems to go back to  Ephesians 2:10 -  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And also “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)

Crucified and re-created in Christ, through His cross. Dismantled and re-assembled. Old me exchanged for new me, an entirely “new creation” - for “good works”, the righteousness of God through the Holy Spirit, in which God ordained us to walk from of old! That’s “dunamis”, the power of God!

The question each of us must ask ourself is, is this what the rest of the world sees when they look at me? What would my particular expression of “dunamis” look like?

First of all, we’re directed to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking to receive the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13). And then...

What if each of us affirms daily, often, and with regularity these scriptural proclamations of St. Paul? Maybe it could be short and sweet, like this: “Let me never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, since I have been crucified with Christ. I have been raised up with Him. I sit in heavenly places in Him! Everywhere Jesus is, there I find myself!” (per  Ephesians 2:6 - “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”)

What if we wrote this on an index card and pulled it out of our pocket at numerous times of the day and reminded ourselves of our truth in Jesus Christ? Would the “dunamis” become our reality? Would the world see The Way, The Truth, and The Life visible in us,  and behold the exit out of its conundrums, through the transformation of one Soul at a time?

It seems pretty clear that God has this divine vision that we ought to actually be set free from the devil, the world, and the flesh, and that He actually implemented that freedom through our Elder Brother Jesus Christ! Is He not that in which we live, move, and have our being? To top it off He gives the Holy Spirit to those who cry out persistently.   

What would happen if the truth became our truth? That is the beauty of affirming Bible truth to ourselves. This is a way for the transforming power of the Gospel to take hold of our minds first of all. For are we not admonished to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2)? This is where it must begin! The seed of Truth must be planted inwardly in order to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit outwardly. There is no truth more exciting, for in the final analysis this is the truth that sets us free. And how sweet it is!

It amazes me that so many of these dynamic passages are found in the opening chapters of these epistles. It signals that these are the beginnings or basic reminders! The “dunamis” is there at the very outset! The primary things! The Christian’s “prime directives”! So, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...” As in do, re, mi? 

How and where has this basic idea of the dynamic power of God become lost? Where did ears become hard of hearing? When did eyes no longer see this basic introductory truth of the Gospel and the Cross being the utterly transformative Way that sets us free? (Please also refer to 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and James 1:21.)

I’ll leave you, dear reader, to grapple with these questions, as we all “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Truly amazing, dynamic, not static grace! May it be so in all!