THE PURPOSES OF POWER
Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
C Write the Key Verse from memory.
C Explain how spiritual power differs from worldly power.
C Give a Biblical reference which confirms that the principles of the world are
opposite of those of the Kingdom of God.
C Identify purposes for spiritual power.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. (Mark 16:20)
Undirected power can be dangerous. The power of a mighty river can be channeled for good purposes. It can bring water to farmers. Great ships can sail upon its waters. In some societies it is used to produce powerful energy in a form called "electricity ."
But the same river, if undirected, can flood its banks and cause great damage. It can ruin
crops and land, destroy homes, and take lives. It is the same river. It is the same power.
The river is a positive force when directed for proper purposes, and destructive when it is
Spiritual power used for wrong purposes is as dangerous as a mighty river flooding out of
control. For this reason it is important to understand the Scriptural purposes for spiritual
As you learned in the introduction of this course, there are many types of power operative in the world today. People use this power for various purposes:
Political power is used to take leadership of organizations, tribes, villages, cities, states, provinces and entire nations
provinces and entire nations.
Intellectual power is used to make great inventions, literary and musical creations, and to establish educational institutions.
Physical power results in great fame in the world of athletic competition.
Financial power creates profitable businesses, corporations, and great financial empires. Military power is used both to defend and gain territories.
The power of energy serves man in many ways ranging from a simple fire for warmth to electricity serving an entire city .
Religious power creates great denominations and religious cults. But none of these are Biblical purposes for power.
NOT AS THE GENTILES
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching His disciples about leadership, He said:
. . . Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister:
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:25-27)
Jesus was teaching His followers an important principle which can be applied to many
other areas of life besides leadership. The word "Gentiles" is used to identify people and nations apart from God. Jesus explained that the Kingdom of God operates on principles completely different from those of the world.
This same principle is true in relation to the subject of power. Worldly purposes for
power are not the purposes for power in the Kingdom of God. Power is used for selfish purposes in the world. In the Kingdom of God , it is to be used for unselfish purposes to advance the Kingdom .
Some people abuse spiritual power and use it to create great religious and denominational movements. They use it to create financial kingdoms and gain personal popularity. But
these are not Scriptural purposes for spiritual power. They are abuses of the true purposes for which Jesus delegated authority to believers. The Scribes and Pharisees of New
Testament times are examples of the abuse of spiritual power. Jesus said:
Woe unto you, Pharisees! For you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
The scribes and Pharisees were powerful religious leaders. They used this power for personal gain. They took the best seats in the synagogues. They commanded special greetings in the marketplace. They also used their power to control people:
But woe unto you scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and
land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of Hell than yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
The Pharisees made a great show of outward religious power, but used it for personal
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (Matthew 23:14)
They had religious power, but they did not have true spiritual power. Jesus said they were like unmarked graves, so dead and powerless that people walked over them
BIBLICAL PURPOSES FOR POWER
Here are Biblical purposes for spiritual power:
A primary purpose of spiritual power is salvation:
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)
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)
The demonstration of God’s power results in salvation. The villages of Lydda and Sharon were converted when Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bed ridden for eight years, was
healed (Acts 9).
A major purpose of the spiritual power delegated to believers was given when Jesus first promised this power:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
You will learn more about the power of the Holy Ghost later in this course.
The power Jesus delegated to His followers was to come upon them after the coming of
the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the power was to extend a mighty Gospel witness, starting in Jerusalem and spreading to the ends of the earth.
The first demonstration of this spiritual power was seen in the Apostle Peter. After
receiving the Holy Spirit, he gave powerful witness to the Gospel which resulted in
salvation for 3 ,000 people . This was the same Peter who fled at the time of Jesus’ arrest. This was the same Peter who denied even knowing the Lord. What had happened?
Peter had been endued with spiritual power. He remembered the purpose of that power as stated by Jesus, "Ye shall be my witnesses." When he received the power he began to use it for a proper purpose–extending the Gospel to unsaved men and women.
In a court of law, "witness" consists of two factors; verbal testimony and evidence. The
same is true in the spiritual realm. Our witness of the Gospel must include both testimony and evidence. Evidence is the demonstration of God’s power:
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power. . . (I Thessalonians 1:5)
Jesus promised to work with those who fulfill the command to go into the world as
witnesses to every creature. Some people seek powerful signs in their ministry, but they are not fulfilling the command to go. The power Jesus promised is to those who fulfill this command.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)
In the early Church the Gospel went forth in boldness because of the endument of spiritual power:
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
But Barnabas took him (Paul) and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them. . . how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:27)
And He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. . . (Acts 18:26)
And He went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)
. . . we were bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God. . . (I Thessalonians 2:2)
WORKING THE WORKS OF GOD:
The disciples were amazed at the powerful works of Jesus:
And He (Jesus) went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him.
And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue:
and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even
such mighty works are wrought by His hands? (Mark 6:1-2)
I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)
Jesus had a definite purpose: He must work the works of God. This was His motivation . After witnessing these works for a time , the Disciples came to Jesus with this question:
. . . What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (John 6:28)
. . . This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. (John 6:29)
The greatest work of God was manifested in Jesus. The Lord focused the attention of His Disciples upon this fact rather than the visible demonstration of signs and wonders. True miracles always exalt Jesus. This is the work of God.
Later, Jesus told His followers:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
His followers were to do the same works He had done. The past had not exhausted the
possibilities for power. They would do greater works. These works would be greater in quantity, not quality – -because Jesus must return to Heaven.
His promise came true. Throughout the book of Acts, we witness believers doing the
works of God. The sick are healed, demons are cast out, prison doors are opened, and the dead are raised again to life.
You learned that one reason God demonstrates His power on earth is to reveal Himself to man. Spiritual power delegated to believers is also for this purpose:
But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. (Matthew 9:8)
Through a powerful Church, God desires to reveal Himself to the entire universe:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
The purpose of this revelation through power is to:
. . . open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and
inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
REVEALING THE KINGDOM OF GOD:
Jesus combined the proclamation of the Kingdom of God with its demonstration. When Jesus was questioned "are you the one who was to come?" (Luke 7:1 9), He did not reply with argument or logic. He said:
. . . Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached. (Luke 7:22)
Power demonstrates the Kingdom of God in action. The miracles of Jesus demonstrated that the Kingdom of God was at hand. They were illustrations of what the Kingdom will be like in its visible form when the New Heaven and New Earth are created:
-Casting out demons signals God’s invasion of the realm of Satan and his final
destruction: Matthew 12:2 9; Mark 3 :27; Luke 1 1:21 ; John 12:3 1; Revelation 20 :1
-Healing the sick looks forward to the day when all suffering will end: Revelation
-Miraculous provision of food tells us of a day when all human need will end : Revelation 7:1
-Stilling the storms looks forward to victory over the powers using nature to threaten the earth: Revelation 21 :1
-Raising the dead announces that death will be forever done away with: I Corinthians 15:26
CONFIRMING THE WORD:
Powerful signs and wonders confirm the Word of God:
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave
testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3)
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.
By stretching forth thine hand to heal: and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. (Mark 16:20)
MINISTRY TO OTHERS:
The power of God rested on Jesus to equip Him for ministry:
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and
understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2)
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. (Isaiah 61:1)
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil; for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22)
This same power was evident in the ministries of believers in the early church. Paul said:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. (Ephesians 3:7)
The effectual working of God’s power within you results in ministry. Your ministry
comes into being and develops into maturity through the power of God at work in you. Paul said:
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (I Corinthians 2:4-5)
The early Church was born in a demonstration of God’s power, not through great orators or theological debate. This permitted their faith to be in God instead of the skillful speaking abilities of men.
God’s power enables all areas of spiritual ministry: Spreading of the Gospel, ministering to the sick, oppressed, and those bound with demonic powers:
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. . .
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
And when He had called them unto Him, His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1)
You are approved as a minister of God by the power of God:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God. . . by the Word of truth by the power of God. (II Corinthians 6:4,7)
FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE:
As you fulfill the purpose of power to extend the Gospel, you will encounter the
opposition of Satan. Jesus has delegated power to you for spiritual warfare. He has given you power over all the power of the enemy:
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over
all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
PREVENTING SPIRITUAL ERROR:
People fall into spiritual error for two reasons:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29)
Spiritual error results if you do not know the Word of God because you are open to
deceptive doctrines and false teaching. Spiritual error also results when you do not know
the power of God . You are open to the deceptive power of the enemy . You fall victim to
his powers operating against you when you have no spiritual power with which to resist
Some have a form of godliness and even know the Scriptures, but they deny God’s power. The Bible warns that these people have. . .
. . . a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (II Timothy 3:5)
VICTORY OVER SIN:
Spiritual power conquers sin:
For sin shall not have dominion over you. . . (Romans 6:14)
Paul wrote the Corinthians:
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction.
(II Corinthians 10:8)
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to
edification, and not to destruction. (II Corinthians 13:10)
Paul knew his authority was not to be used to control people or destroy them at will . He apparently had a tendency to speak sharply, so he wrote the Corinthians concerning
difficult matters . He did not want to abuse the spiritual power God had given him. The power from God was given to Paul to edify others, not to destroy them. To "edify" means to build up and promote spiritual growth.
This does not mean we do not have power to properly discipline within the church.
Spiritual authority is given to leaders to discipline according to the instructions given in God’s Word. A powerless church will result in the absence of such discipline.
Each person has a will of their own. That will is the power of choice. The demonstration of power creates willingness or openness to God:
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. . . (Psalms 110:3)
ENABLING GOD TO WORK:
God acts in proportion to the measure you permit His power to work in you:
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)
All you ask God for–all that you think concerning spiritual truths–is affected by the power of God at work in you.
The power of God is not only a force working through you, but the strength maintaining you . Paul said we are. . .
Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness. . . (Colossians 1:11)
God’s power strengthens you in difficult times when you need patience in suffering. You can face difficult situations with joy because of His glorious power at work in you. It is not just a measure of (limited) strength. You are strengthened with "all might"–all the power and strength flowing from God are the inner resources available to you in time of
need. It is an important purpose of His power at work in you.
And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9)
You are kept, or preserved through God’s power, until the end of time:
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
You live in a mortal body which will die unless Jesus first returns to earth. It is spiritual power that will raise your mortal body in resurrection:
It (the body) is sown in dishonor: it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (I Corinthians 15:43)
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power. (I Corinthians 6:14)
God’s power enables endless life:
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. (Hebrews 7:16)
FOR ALL THINGS:
All things that pertain unto life and godliness are given to you through the power of God:
According to His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue. (II Peter 1:3)
Think of the many things involved in life . Think of the many virtues involved in godliness. The purpose of His divine power is to give you these things-all things.