[a] So often we have sung the chorus Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.
[b] But are we cheating?? Are we living on our past laurels??
IS THE GOSPEL REALLY UP TO DATE?? OR IS THE BIBLE AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR WHAT USED TO BE??
[c] Let me direct you to what is to be our text for this meeting. It is found in John 14:12. Jesus is speaking, and He says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (N.I.V.)
[d] Now we say that we believe the Bible!! DO WE BELIEVE THAT PROMISE FROM THE VERY LIPS OF JESUS??
[e] Now what we read - the healing of the cripple, is nothing more than the disciples putting it into practice!!
[f] "Ahh" says someone, "that was only a promise for the Apostles!"
That's not what it says!! Jesus says it applies to "ANYONE WHO HAS FAITH IN ME!" Now that's shot a bit of a hole through that theory!!
SO, AT WHAT POINT WAS THE POWER AND PROMISE WITHDRAWN??
IT NEVER WAS!!
[g] In the previous chapter, in verse 17,when Peter is preaching his famous Pentecost Day sermon, he speaks about being in "the last days". Now if we're not still in the last days, then where on earth are we??
[h] Had not Jesus promised in Mark 16:18, that his disciples "will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Something William Booth had written, published in a War Cry of November 21st 1914. I feel is applicable just now!
He says, speaking of the Apostles,
"They had the gifts of healing; that is they cured the sick
.... without the use of ordinary means........ There is not a
word in the Bible which proves that we may not have them at
this present time, and there is nothing in experience to show
that they should not be as useful today as in any previous
period of the Church's history.....Far be it from me to say
one word that would stay the longing of any heart for the
extraordinary gifts already mentioned. I long for them
myself. I believe in their necessity, and I believe they are
already amongst us."
[a] In his welcome meeting as Divisional Commander in North Scotland, David Hinton spoke about a 'continuance of Christ's work through human agency'. We are Christ's ambassadors, His representatives!
[b] Now it strikes me that if we are not allowing Christ to continue His work through us, we are failing Him miserably!
[c] Now maybe you think it's only speaking about the ministers, the officers.
In Acts 6, the Jerusalem Corps decided to appoint a local officer, for some very mundane tasks. The Apostles said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables." It was in connection with the welfare of the Church widows.
[d] So they appointed Stephen to the task of what we today would call hospitality.
He wasn't an Apostle, or anything like it - BUT HE WAS AT GOD'S DISPOSAL!
[e] In verse 8 of chapter 6, we read he was "a man full of God's grace and power."
THE RESULT? NOT JUST A BETTER CUP OF TEA!! IT TELLS US THAT HE "DID GREAT WONDERS AND MIRACULOUS SIGNS AMONG THE PEOPLE."
[f] Now let me tell you when that happens, it glorifies the Saviour, and attracts people to Him. It lets the world see that He is truly alive and working in the world today through His people.
[g] You would think that everybody would be happy with so much good being done - but with so much harm being done to the devil's kingdom, it isn't long until he whips up the opposition - after all it was poor old Stephen who became the first Christian martyr!
[h] It shows us that it is not just those called to be the Apostles, ministers or officers, whom God wants to exercise this kind of ministry - it is all of us.
I do not believe for a moment, that it is the domain of the 'chosen few' with their high profile 'healing meetings' although there is a place for that also, in the plan of things.
WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PRESENT A CHRIST WHO IS STILL, TODAY INTERESTED IN THE WHOLE PERSON. A CHRIST WHO WANTS TO WORK THROUGH ALL OF US TO ACCOMPLISH THAT MINISTRY.
A SAVIOUR WHO WANTS TO SAVE THE SOUL!
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN WHO CAN AND DOES HEAL THE BODY!
THE CHRIST OF GOD, WHO WANTS TO BAPTISE US IN THE HOLY
SPIRIT, AS JOHN THE BAPTIST SAID.
[a] Stephen was chosen, according to Acts 6:3, because he was a man "full of the spirit and wisdom." And that dear friends is where it must start!!
[b] For the most part, the Church today tries to do things in it's own way, and it's own strength - which is why in so many places it is tottering on the brink of extinction!
[c] The churches and corps that are growing today, are the ones that are giving the Holy Spirit His place.
[d] So often Christians seem to forget that according to Scripture, He can be QUENCHED! He can be GREIVED! He can be BLASPHEMED!
[e] He is the third Person of the Godhead!
Do we give Him His place, in the same way as we do God the Father, and God the Son? After all He is God the Holy Spirit!
[a] We in the Salvation Army, have always taught a further work of Grace, subsequent to the most important work of Salvation. A work of the Holy Spirit, leading to holiness of life, a new closeness to the Lord, and a new power for service.
[b] To my mind, it isn't important what you call it, 'the second blessing', 'holiness' 'sanctification', 'the release of the Spirit', 'the overflow of the Spirit' or the term used by John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, 'The baptism in the Holy Spirit'.
[c] Unfortunately, sometimes Christians who have been on the road for a long time, see it as a threat, that sometimes those young in the faith who have the experience, are looking down on them, with an air of superiority!
[d] If someone can look at any other Christian with an air of superiority, then it is evidence that their own experience of the Spirit isn't up to much!
[e] A real experience of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new sense of how far we've still to go spiritually, and not how far we've come! We are aware, of how far we fall short, when we are touched by the Holiness of Almighty God!
[a] Let's remember our text - the promise of Jesus to the Spirit filled man and woman.
It is found in John 14:12 and it says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (N.I.V.)
Jesus says, "I tell you the truth"
In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am Ö. The truth."
That is why we can accept what He says with complete confidence - DO YOU?
"anyone who has faith in Me"
Not just the Apostles - not just the famous evangelists, and 'big names', but 'anyone' who has faith in Jesus - that's you and me!!
"will do what I have been doing"
We are to continue His ministry! Look at what Jesus was doing! His promise and commission is that we are to do it too! Can there be any other possible meaning?
"He will do even greater things"
Now this was the Jesus Who even raised the dead!!
We are to do even GREATER THINGS??
I would suggest that the 'even greater things', could well mean the hundreds of thousands of Christians, throughout the world, carrying on the work of Christ, meaning the work is expanded throughout the earth - an explosion of witness and power commencing in that upper room on the day of Pentecost.
As Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
[b] Are you at God's disposal, for whatever He may require of you?
Are you Baptized in the Holy Spirit? To be filled with God's ability you must be!
Are you willing to carry on the work He commenced? Can He rely on you??
[c] God never asks us to do anything, without giving us the power to do it!!
[d] I believe it a very exciting concept to carry on the work which Jesus commenced!
But it takes a real depth of commitment, and a genuine seeking after God.
[e] It's a revolutionary idea!! But it's not mine - it belongs to Jesus!
prayer song 435