|Observing the Text!|
The Kingdom and Prayer
One of our greatest directives in the church is the Great Commission which is found in (Matthew 28). We are told to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey everything Jesus had commanded. Baptizing means to evangelize. Often in our Western culture, evangelism has been demoted to the memorization of a few scriptures to quote to a prospect or a programmed list of a few spiritual laws to walk through. We might ask the followings questions:
- Are these the only ways in which to reach a person who is without Christ?
- How does the Holy Spirit work in the area of evangelism?
- Why did God send him to the church?
To answer the question, “Why did God send us his Holy Spirit?” Michael Green responded:
There can be no doubt from a candid examination of the New Testament accounts that the prime purpose of the coming of the Spirit of God upon the disciples was to equip them for mission. The Comforter comes not in order to allow men to be comfortable, but to make them missionaries (Green. I Believe in the Holy Spirit . 58).
This is counter to the often-espoused understanding that the Holy Spirit is for the believer and is private for the community of God, the church. Scripture gives us a different view than the one often espoused today. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said that he would give the Holy Spirit (parakletos, pronounced para KLEE tos) to be with the church forever. The best way to understand the idea of parakletos is with the word continuator. The ministry of the Holy Spirit continues the kingdom ministry of Jesus in this present evil age.
There are many approaches to evangelism practiced by Christians today. I believe we should when we use any of these tools in winning individuals to Jesus. The ones we mentioned above, scripture memorization and spiritual laws, provide a message for the mind. There is another area, however, which does not receive as much attention as others. The late John Wimber, co-founder of the Vineyard, called this area Power Evangelism, a phrase which John coined. He taught that this form of evangelism greatly increases the effectiveness of our efforts to lead men and women to Jesus. It surely is a biblical way for the proclamation of the kingdom. He believed that this presentation of the gospel was rational (content) but transcended the rational (transrational). As the gospel is being explained (words) there is a demonstration of the power of God (works) which accompanies it. This form of evangelism is empowered by the Spirit who is the continuator of the ministry of Jesus. Empowered Evangelism is a demonstration of the newest version of the kingdom of God at war with this present evil age. How then is the concept of evangelism to be understood in light of the declared mission of Jesus to energize the kingdom of God on the earth?Empowered Evangelism is a demonstration of the kingdom of God at war with this present evil age. Click To Tweet
|Interpreting the Text!|
How does the church proclaim the kingdom? How are we to give away the kingdom in this present evil age? Jesus left his disciples with the command to make disciples teaching them to observe everything that he had commanded (Matt. 28.20). The objective of Jesus was to produce obedient followers. Followers would continue to point out the kingdom in this present evil age as they continued to speak the words and do the works of Jesus (Matt. 20.20b; Acts 1.8). As the Holy Spirit continues the kingdom ministry of Jesus, he passes the authority that had been given to Jesus to the followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the vehicle of God’s authority by which his followers fulfill the Great Commission.
The original word used in the Great Commission passage (Matt. 28.18) for authority, exousia, denotes power which was divinely given to Jesus. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we receive the authority of Christ, which is the authority of the Father so that we can what he is doing. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus told the Jews who were persecuting him, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated the gospel by doing the will of the Father. The word sees in the original language suggests possibility or potentiality. The action of seeing, which is described, may or may not occur and depends on circumstances. This clarifies that Jesus, depending on circumstances, could see what the Father was doing and when he did, he responded with the ministry of the Father. Jesus brought the kingdom of God into this evil age. This ministry is now our ministry and every Jesus follower gets to participate.
Paul’s testimony to the Corinthians concerning his initial efforts in their lives certainly includes, if not defines, the idea of Empowered Evangelism. He says:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but (my words and my preaching were) with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor. 2.4-5 NIV).
I didn’t preach my message with clever and compelling words. Instead, my preaching showed the Holy Spirit’s power. This was so that your faith would be based on God’s power. Your faith would not be based on human wisdom (1 Cor. 2.4-5 NIRV).
While Paul was in Athens he had preached with compelling words but with scanty results. When he arrived in Corinth, it is recorded that many believed (Acts 18.8). According to Paul’s own words (noted above), he spoke the proclamation of the gospel and in that speaking, there was a demonstration of the gospel as Jesus had done throughout his ministry. First Corinthians 2.4-5 is another way of stating the words and works of the kingdom in action. The scripture above is often misunderstood as a contrast, i.e., preaching to persuade (with wise and persuasive words) or a demonstration of the Holy Spirit (healing, etc.) The NIRV (New International Readers Version®: 2014) clears up the reading of the passage as I indicated by the parenthesis inserted into the NIV translation above.
Kingdom Conflict and Proclamation
As we risk ministering the power of the kingdom with the content of the kingdom, we begin functioning as members of God’s army. As such, we will certainly find ourselves face to face with the forces of the kingdom of darkness. Jesus followers should be sensitive to how they are functioning. When we are a member of the army, the armament (see Kingdom of God: 5) should be adorned. When functioning as a member of the Body of Christ, we should realize that a different set of actions should occur (a thumb does not do the same thing as a shield). We certainly do not want to use the armor of warfare on our brothers and sisters!
For the most part, the Western church is unaware that there is a war going on. Two things seem to be true. First, the Western church reads the New Testament and does not see that there is a war going on between God and Satan. Second, the secular worldview of the Western church cripples it from understanding the full message of the New Testament in regards to the war between God and Satan.For the most part, the Western church is unaware that there is a war going on. Click To Tweet
The Westerner simply does not recognize the spirit world as real. Its worldview is set on a scientific assumption that is controllable. Because we have no concrete belief in the spirit world, it is simply relegated to myth and superstition. The influence of this Worldview inhibits modern Evangelicals from experiencing Empowered Evangelism. The Evangelical often has no paradigm to understand how Empowered Evangelism works. As an example, some of the controversy about Spiritual Gifts, which I call Gracelets, might be reduced if one examined his or her own worldview first.
The New Testament demonstrates continual communication between the natural and the so-called supernatural 1 (dreams, visions, prophecies, prophetic words, angelic visions, etc.). God used and still uses these forms of communication today to communicate to his children. The Western church often screens out the possibility of another sphere’s interaction and thus misses these important forms of communication from God to help in evangelism.
By including the possibility for another sphere’s interaction, we will begin to encounter Satan’s kingdom almost continually, thereby entering kingdom conflict. It is here that we must take on Christ’s authority as given in the Great Commission and do what he commanded: heal diseases, cast out demons, and demonstrate the kingdom of God in this present evil age.
When a believer changes worldviews and encounters the kingdom of God sphere, kingdom conflict is more recognizable. It has always been there, but new worldview glasses help to recognize it. As we begin to experience this sphere’s, we begin to experience the kingdom/rule of God as it wars with this present evil age. Any believer or church entering the ranks of Empowered Evangelism will begin to experience the supernatural in evangelism and in the building up and healing of the Body of Christ.
|Living into the Text!|
It is always important to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.
- When was the last time you witnessed with power with the words and works of the kingdom? What happened?
- Why do you think that Empowered Evangelism will or will not work?
- Why is it important to see and then do what you see the Father doing? Is this limited to what is spontaneous or does it include what Scripture shows us that the Father is always doing?
- When was the last time you dressed as a soldier of the kingdom, but should have been acting like a member of the Body of Christ? What were the results?
- Have you ever had a dream, vision, prophetic insight, angelic visitation? Do you believe these are still active?
The articles below come from various Bible Dictionaries and other sources. The posting of these brief articles are to introduce some readers to the vast amount of information that is provided to enhance your reading of the text of the Bible with a hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the text and will lead the reader to an improved praxis in his or her community of faith and personal life. You might read the articles offline in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. Revell Bible Dictionary is no longer in print but is available from Amazon. One of these should suit your personal needs.