Kingdom of God
in 13 Weeks
Empowered Proclamation. Learning to Speak for God: Week 7
Observing the Stuff!
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 he is private to 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 is to continue the Kingdom ministry of Jesus in this Present Evil Age.
There are many approaches to evangelism practiced by Christians today. I believe we should not overlook the use of 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. John Wimber 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 Kingdom of God invading this Present Evil Age. How then is the concept of evangelism to be understood in light of the declared mission of Jesus to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth?
Interpreting the Stuff!
Jesus promised that the power of the Holy Spirit would help his followers to continue to bring God's rule into this world. (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 we fulfill the Great Commission.
The Greek 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 to do 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 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 is now our ministry.
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 combined the proclamation of the gospel with the 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.
Kingdom Conflict and Proclamation
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.
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 might be reduced if one examined his or her own worldview first.
The New Testament demonstrates continual communication between the natural and the supernatural (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 supernatural interaction and thus misses these important forms of communication from God to help in evangelism.
By including the possibility for the supernatural 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 supernatural, Kingdom conflict is more recognizable. It has always been there, but new worldview glasses help to recognize it. As we begin to experience the supernatural, we begin to experience the Kingdom Rule of God as it invades 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.
Doin' the Stuff!
BibleHandbook: Resource Stuff
Read the following Dictionary Articles from Easton's Bible Dictionary. Easton's is about a century old, therefore, some of the information is not current with newer Bible Dictionaries. You might read the articles off-line 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. One of these should suit your personal needs.