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Our Power In Christ

God's Power - Greek "Dunamis"

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power [dunamis] toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working [operation] of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule [principality (Greek: arche)] and authority [ power (Greek: exousia) ] and power [might (Greek: dunamis)] and dominion [Greek: kuriotes], and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:18-23 NASB)

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power [dunamis] through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16 ESV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power [dunamis] at work within us (Ephesians 3:20 ESV)

Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Matt 22:29 ESV)

  or click on Titles

I begin by admitting that our text creates some problems for me. While there is an interpretive problem, Paul’s overall point is pretty clear: God’s mighty power that saved us has exalted Christ over all rule and authority in the universe. He is the head of His body, the church, of which we are members if we have believed on Him. Therefore, this mighty power of God is presently available for us.

That’s the problem. As a pastor, I often deal with Christians who are defeated by sin. Some are enslaved to pornography or sexual immorality, or to alcohol or drugs. Some have ruined their marriages and families because of anger and verbal abuse. Many are just plain worldly, wasting their lives by frivolous activities that have no bearing on the kingdom of God. They spend their money just as the world does, with no thought of laying up treasures in heaven. They spend their time living for themselves, with no thought of seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness. They feed their minds with godless TV shows and movies, but don’t read and study God’s Word. What is worse, I often hear of pastors and Christian leaders who live like this! My question is, “Where is God’s mighty power in the lives of these people?”

Some will say that God’s mighty power should be seen by frequent miracles of healing or by speaking in tongues or by words of supernatural knowledge or prophecy. But, all too often, those making such claims are guilty of living just as the world lives. When their immorality and worldly lifestyles become known, the world mocks and the gospel is discredited.

So the question is, how can we reconcile what Paul says here about God’s mighty power toward us who believe [Eph 1:19] with what we see all around us? What do these words mean and how do they apply to us? How can we legitimately experience the reality of God’s power in our personal lives?

To grapple with these verses, we must remember what Paul prays in verses 18 & 19, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know … what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” We will not be able to know God’s mighty power unless He opens the eyes of our hearts. So we must continually ask Him for understanding.

Also, as Paul makes clear in Philippians 3, this is a lifelong process. He states there that his aim is (3:10) “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection….” But, then he adds (3:12), “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Paul wrote those words about 25 years into his Christian experience. So the process of coming to know Christ’s resurrection power is one that we should be growing in until we meet the Lord.

With that as a context, in our text Paul is saying that…

God wants us to understand the magnitude of His mighty power that saved us and exalted Christ over all, so that we will properly represent Him on earth.

1. God’s mighty power that saved us is the same power that raised Christ from the dead (1:19-20a).

I have never understood why the NASB inserts the words, “These are” at the beginning of the sentence in the middle of verse 19. The Greek text is literally, “according to…” and refers back, not to all three things that God wants us to know, but only to the third one, “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” So if you want to break up the sentence, a better translation would be, “This is in accordance with….” In other words, Paul prays that we would know the surpassing power of God that saved us, which is in accordance with the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

The mightiest power ever unleashed on this earth was not the power of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It was not the power of an earthquake, volcano, tornado, hurricane, or flood. The mightiest power ever unleashed on this earth was when God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Satan and all of his evil forces were aligned in full battle force when Jesus lay in the tomb. If he could have kept Jesus from rising from the dead, Satan would have been triumphant. And so Paul piles up words to make the point that God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead was the mightiest display of power ever known.

Paul not only refers to God’s power, which would seem to be sufficient (since He is omnipotent!). He adds, “the greatness of His power,” and then tops that by adding, “the surpassing greatness of His power.” Power is the Greek word dynamis, from which we get our word, dynamite. It is often used of miraculous power. But Paul goes further, stating that this power is “in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” We get our word “energy” from the Greek word translated working. Paul uses it in 1:11 to refer to God’s working all things after the counsel of His will. It refers to the exercise of His power, or to action that gets results. It accomplishes what it sets out to do. Strength may also be translated “dominion” (1 Tim. 6:16) or “power” (Heb. 2:14). Might refers to inherent strength.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (God’s Ultimate Purpose [Baker], p. 397) points out that there is a logical flow here: “He first speaks of energy, a power in action; and then says that it comes from a force which is irresistible, which in turn comes from the ocean of God’s might, the eternity of God’s illimitable power.”

It is important to note that Paul is not praying that God would give us this mighty power, but rather that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know that this power has already been displayed in us if we believe in Jesus Christ. Since he goes on (in 2:1-6) to state that when we were dead in our sins, God raised us up and seated us with Christ in the heavenly places, his point here is that the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand is the power that saved us. Paul wants us to know that if we have believed in Christ, it did not come from human will power or reasoning. No, it came from God’s mighty power, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

It seems to me that this may be a large part of the answer to the problem of those who claim to be Christians, but are not living in accordance with God’s mighty power. These people need honestly to ask, “Do I have new life in Jesus Christ? Whereas I once was dead in my sins, am I now alive to God through His resurrection power?” It takes nothing less than a resurrection from the dead to make a genuine Christian!

The modern view is often that when a person decides to go forward and believe in Christ, he is saved. Evangelists will exult that there were so many decisions after the meeting. But, we shouldn’t be so quick to count heads. The Puritans were much more guarded. They would say, “There are so many who seem to be hopeful of eternal life.” But they waited to see the fruit.

Even the most famous modern evangelists admit that only ten to fifteen percent of those who make decisions at their crusades are going on with Christ five years later. Why is this? It is because there is a difference between making a decision and being born again. All that are truly born again believe in Christ. But, not all that profess to believe in Christ are born again. People can make decisions based on the emotions of the moment, or because they think that following Christ will get them what they want out of life. But being born again requires an act of God that raises a person from death to life. No one decides to be born. No one decides, “I think I’ll be raised from the dead!” You can’t even help God out in the process. It requires God’s sovereign, mighty power.

Maybe you are wondering, “How can I know whether I am truly born again?” First, do you truly believe in Jesus Christ and His shed blood as your only hope for eternal life? If you do, such faith did not come from within you. It came from God. He had to open your blind eyes to see your need for Christ. He had to give you the faith to believe the gospel. If He had not done so, you would have thought that it is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

Also, if God has raised you to new life in Christ, your desires are changing. Whereas before, you loved a dirty joke, now such jokes repulse you. Before, you liked watching steamy sex scenes in movies, but now you don’t want to defile your mind with such filth. Before, you didn’t hesitate to cheat to get ahead, but now, you are honest, even if it costs you. Before, you never read the Bible, but now, you find that it feeds your soul. You used to hate being around Christians, but now you delight to be around God’s people and talk about spiritual matters. There are many more such changes. While these changes are not automatic or instantaneous, they are evident and growing since becoming a Christian. You could sum them up by saying, “God changed my heart!”

So Paul’s prayer is that God would enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we will know the surpassing greatness of His power that saved us. It is the very power that raised Christ from the dead.

2. God’s mighty power seated Christ at His right hand, far above all spiritual powers (1:20b-21).

God not only raised Christ from the dead. Also, He ascended bodily into heaven, where He now is (1:20b-21) “seated at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” God’s right hand refers to, as Calvin puts it (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker reprint], on Eph. 1:20, p. 215), “the power which the Father has bestowed on Christ, that he may administer in his name the government of heaven and earth.” Calvin adds (p. 216) that the phrase, “in the heavenly places,” “directs us to contemplate the heavenly glory amidst which our Lord Jesus dwells, the blessed immortality which he enjoys, and the dominion over angels to which he has been exalted.”

Paul piles up four different words, “rule, authority, power, and dominion,” to encompass all spiritual powers. These words may indicate different gradations of rank or power among the angels and demons (Matt. 12:45). But Paul isn’t putting our focus on the finer points of angelic or demonic organization. Rather, he means that whatever levels of spiritual power exist, Jesus is over them all. And if we ask why he didn’t just call them “angels,” Calvin answers (pp. 216-217), “it was to convey exalted views of the glory of Christ…. As if he had said, ‘There is nothing so elevated or excellent, by whatever name it may be named, that is not subject to the majesty of Christ.’”

Paul adds, “not only in this age but also in the one to come” to make it clear that Jesus Christ is exalted to the place of absolute, supreme power in the entire universe. His authority is not just for a period of time, but for all eternity. Although we do not yet see everything subject to Him (1 Cor. 15:23-28), that day is soon coming. As Psalm 110:1 states, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” God never gave that invitation to any of the angels or to any other created being. He only gives it to His eternal Son, who is of the same nature as the Father. Scripture promises that Jesus will come again to crush Satan and all that follow his evil ways. So, even though Satan and his evil forces still have frightening power, they are on God’s leash. They can only go as far as He permits.

As we know from the Book of Acts, the believers in Ephesus came out of a culture steeped in idol worship and the occult. Demon possession was so common that some made a living by trying to cast out demons. When the Ephesian believers got saved, they burned their magic books, which amounted to a small fortune (Acts 19:11-20). Such people would not have regarded Paul’s words in our text as an interesting point for theological discussion. For them, these words were intensely practical. They knew and had been fearfully enslaved by the power of Satan. But now they had a new Master and Lord, who is seated far above not only all of the evil spirits, but even above the most powerful angels. Paul wants them to know that the power of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ is available to them in their struggle against the forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (see Eph. 6:10-17). That same power is available to us if we are in Christ.

3. God’s mighty power put all things in subjection to Christ and gave Him as head over all things to the church (1:22).

The phrase, “He put all things in subjection under His feet,” reflects Psalm 8:6, where David reflects on the honor given to man to rule over God’s creation on earth. This goes back to God’s words at creation, that man would fill the earth and rule it, having dominion over all the animals (Gen. 1:26-28). What the first Adam lost through sin, Christ as the second Adam regained. While the complete fulfillment of these words awaits Christ’s return and final victory over Satan and death (1 Cor. 15:24-27; Heb. 2:8-15), His resurrection, ascension, and present enthronement at God’s right hand guarantees the outcome. All things, including the terrible forces of evil in the heavenly places, are under Christ’s feet, even now. As I said, Satan is on a leash.

Then Paul adds that God “gave Him as head over all things to the church.” This is the first mention of the church in Ephesians, and it is a major theme of the book. The Greek word translated “church” means, literally, “the called out ones.” It never refers to a building, but only to God’s people, called out of this evil world to follow Jesus Christ. Note that Paul does not simply say that Christ is the head of the church, but that God “gave Him as head over all things to the church.” The idea is that Christ’s ruling authority (headship) over everything in the universe is God’s gift to us, the church. Thus, “The Church has authority and power to overcome all opposition because her Leader and Head is Lord of all” (Francis Foulkes, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Ephesians [IVP/Eerd­mans], p. 65).

What does all of this mean practically? I think that the practical application is inherent in the final verse:

4. God’s mighty power is at work in us so that we will properly represent Christ on earth (1:23).

Paul adds that the church “is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The last clause is difficult to interpret. But before we consider it, note that Paul here brings in the familiar analogy, that the church is Christ’s body. He is the only New Testament author to use this picture. He develops it at great length in 1 Corinthians 12 as it relates to our relationships with one another, each with different spiritual gifts. But here it is the idea that Christ is the head and we are His body.

This implies an inseparable, organic union between Christ and the church. Organic means that it is a living union—we share in His life. If you sever your hand from your body, it is not in this living, organic union. We cannot do anything to produce or attain this union. It comes from God’s resurrection power alone. It also implies our submission to the Head. In a human body, if the limbs are not subject to the commands of the head, it is a spastic or malfunctioning body. If God has saved you through His mighty power, you must make it your aim to obey Jesus Christ as Lord of every area of your life. A disobedient Christian is like a spastic leg, jerking uncontrollably. He does not bring glory to the Savior!

But we need to tackle this difficult phrase, “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Some have taken “the fullness” to refer to Christ, who they say is the fullness of God, who fills all in all. But that is a heretical view. The Bible says that all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ (Col. 1:19; 2:9), but it never says that Christ is the fullness of the Father, which would put the Father under the Son. So the word “fullness” refers to Christ’s body, the church.

The next question is, does the word “fullness” have a passive or an active sense? If it is passive, it means that the church is filled or completed by Christ (somewhat similar to 3:19). If it is active, it means that the church in some sense fills or completes Christ. If this is the meaning, it is not implying that Christ is somehow lacking or dependent on us. As the eternal Son of God, He is self-sufficient and has no need of us. Rather, it is an extension of the head-body analogy, that the head is not complete without a body. The body expresses the wishes of the head. In the wonderful purpose of God for us, He has given us the task of expressing Christ to the world. In that sense, we are His fullness.

Calvin takes this view (p. 218) and then points out that the next phrase, “who fills all in all,” “is added to guard against the supposition that any real defect would exist in Christ, if he were separated from us.” Rather, all that we are and have as His people comes from His gracious hand. Christ’s filling all in all not only refers to His gifts and power as given to the church, but also to His supreme presence and power in all the universe. As God asks (Jer. 23:24), “‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord.” So the phrase means (Peter O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 151), “Christ pervades all things with his sovereign rule, directing all things to their appointed end (cf. Heb. 1:3), and this entails his functioning as the powerful ruler over against the principalities (1:21) and giving grace and strength to his people, the church (4:13, 15-16).”

So the practical import of God’s opening our eyes to see the magnitude of His mighty power that saved us and exalted Christ over all, is that we should properly represent Him on earth. People do not see the risen and exalted Christ, but they see His body, the church. What do they see? Do we represent our risen, exalted Head in a proper manner? Do they see His grace, His love, and His holiness through our lives?

Conclusion

Warren Wiersbe (Be Rich [Victor Books], p. 30) tells of the late, wealthy newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst. He spent a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. One day he found a description of some valuable items that he felt he must own. So he sent his agent abroad to search for them. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasures. They were already in Mr. Hearst’s warehouse. Hearst had been searching for treasures that he already owned!

If you are a Christian, God’s mighty power is already yours, but perhaps, like Mr. Hearst, you are not aware of what you possess. Are you experiencing God’s mighty power to overcome temptation and live a holy life? If not, you should entreat God to open the eyes of your heart so that you will know the surpassing greatness of His power toward you. If you have no desire to overcome sin and to represent Christ on this earth, you may not have experienced the power of being raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. Ask God to give you new life in Him. Then live according to His mighty power.

Steven J. Cole, "Lesson 11: God’s Mighty Power (Ephesians 1:19-23)", published May 8, 2013, https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-11-god%E2%80%99s-mighty-power-ephesians-119-23

The following is an honest attempt to help us to see the need of the “dunamis” power of God to be restored in greater measure in our lives and in the Christian Church in general. For too long this power has been neglected, the power that the Church and the world desperately needs to see in action. My prayer is that we will approach the subject with a very prayerful attitude of heart and mind, and genuinely seek God as to why more “dunamis” is not working in our lives.

“But you shall receive power (“dunamis”) - ability, efficiency and might - when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends - the very bounds - of the earth” (Acts 1:8 , AMP.).

“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or conceive, by the power (“dunamis”) which is at work among us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20 , NEB).

The “dunamis” has already been given, but it is only beneficial when it is working - in US!!

“Dunamis” is a Greek word and means:

 “act of power” (Young’s); “miraculous power, ability” (Strong’s); “natural capability, inherent power; capability of anything, ability to perform any-thing; then, absolutely, not merely power capable of action, but, power in action” (Bullinger’s). 

“Dunamis” is used 121 times in the New Testament and translated into the following English words: 

ability

(1)

 

power

(77)

abundance 

(1)

 

strength

(7)

 meaning 

(1)

 

violence 

(1)

might 

(4)

 

virtue

(3)

mighty deed

(1)

 

wonderful work

(1)

mighty work

(11)

 

worker of miracles

(1)

miracle 

(8)

 

and mighty

(4)

JESUS’ MINISTRY:

Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb when the “dunamis” of God came on her:The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power (“dunamis”) of God shall overshadow you; so the baby born to you will be utterly holy - the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 , TLB).

An interesting extra thought here is that when the “dunamis” of God is working in our lives it will produce holiness unto God. The “dunamis” power of God sets God’s standard within us, so that all we do and are reflects back to God’s honour and glory. True “dunamis” deals with “sloppy” grace, undisciplined living, unbelief and hardness of heart, etc.

Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power (“dunamis”), according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead: By Whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name” (Romans 1:4-5 , KJV).“

Dunamis” and holiness go together!

Jesus functioned in wisdom (“cleverness, skill, a right application of knowledge” - Bullinger’s) and “dunamis”. Jesus came to minister the “dunamis” of God to fallen mankind. It was demonstrated through the doing of “mighty works.” In Matthew 11:20-23  (KJV) three times Jesus used the words “mighty works” (“dunamis”) as a measuring standard to rebuke the people for their unbelief. (The NIV uses the words “miracles”). (See also Luke 10:12-15 ). Yet, in the doing of the “dunamis” works in the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, those cities rejected their chance to repent and get right with God. They will face a future judgment because of their denial and rejection of the “dunamis” power of God. In this passage Jesus named three other cities - Tyre, Sidon and Sodom - and said to the Israelites that if those cities had had an opportunity to see and experience the “dunamis” of God in them, then they would have been spared and remained unto this day! Sodom would still exist! God’s judgments upon people, cities and nations is according to the “dunamis” and what they do (or do not do) with it! Let us not forget this.

In Matthew 13:53-54 , 58, the Scripture uses the words “mighty works” to describe the “dunamis.” Jesus taught the people, who were astonished at His teachings. They said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” (“dunamis”) (NIV). (See also Mark 6:2 ). Verse 58 tells us His “dunamis” was limited because of the unbelief and lack of faith in the people! Unbelief is the killer of “dunamis” being released out of our lives!!

When Jesus returned from His wilderness experience of being tempted by the devil - Luke 4:14 , 36, - He “returned in the power (“dunamis”) of the Spirit” (KJV) . . . “and the fame of Him spread through the whole region round about. And He Himself conducted (a course of) teaching in their synagogues, being recognized and honoured and praised by all” (AMP.).

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power (“dunamis”) He gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” And the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding area (Verse 36, NIV). 

JESUS WAS APPROVED BY THE “DUNAMIS”: 

He carried God’s “stamp of approval” on His life because of the “dunamis” that was working in and through Him: 

“You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles (“dunamis”) and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know:” (Acts 2 : 22, KJV). 

JESUS WAS ANOINTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND “DUNAMIS”: 

“You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached - how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power (“dunamis”), and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:37-38 , NIV). 
“And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, who were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power (“dunamis”) of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17 , KJV). 

JESUS IS FAR ABOVE ALL OTHERS:
 
“Jesus is far above all principalities (“the highest dignities; the first place; relates to the dignity of the position” - Bullinger’s), power (“exousia” meaning “delegated authority, privilege”)and might (“dunamis”), and dominion (“Lordship” - Young’s), and every name that is named . . .” (Ephesians 1:21 , KJV). 

THE “DUNAMIS” CAN BE SEEN: 

“ . . . the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works (“dunamis”) that they had seen” (Luke 19:37 ). 

  • Do people see our “dunamis” today? 

JESUS COULD FEEL THE “DUNAMIS” WHEN IT LEFT HIS BODY: 
 
Jesus knew when the “dunamis” went out of His body. (The KJV uses the word “virtue”; the NIV “power”): 
Mark 5:30  (Luke 8:43-48 ) - The woman with the issue of blood. She determined to press through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. But before she could do that she had to make a faith decision that if she would “reach out to Jesus” He would cause her to be made whole. Between her and Jesus were many people in the way. She had to press through the crowd, get them out of the way, and reach out to touch Jesus. She did, and she was healed! 

  • What stops us from releasing the “dunamis” from Jesus to us? People, that’s what.

  • What stops us from releasing the “dunamis” power of the Holy Spirit out of our lives to impact and heal others? People . . . the fear of man, what others might say, etc.
     

Luke 6:19 “The whole multitude sought to touch Him (Jesus): for there went virtue(“dunamis”) out of Him, and healed them all” (KJV). Here’s another translation: “Everyone was trying to touch Him, for when they did, healing power (“dunamis”) went out from Him and they were cured” (TLB). 

TWO THINGS THAT CAUSE CHRISTIANS TO GO INTO ERROR:
 
 Jesus taught that there were two things that caused people to go into error:

  1. Not knowing the Scriptures

  2. Not knowing the power (“dunamis”) of God (Matthew 22:29 ; Mark 12:24 ). 

That, surely, must sober us up enough for us to ask ourselves sincerely:

  1. How well do I know the Scriptures?

  2. How well do I know the “dunamis” of God? 

If we want to keep our lives on that “straight and narrow path that leads to life” (Matthew 7:13-14 ), then we will certainly give priority to what Jesus said!

What are we going to do about these two statements of Jesus?

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power (“dunamis”)” (1 Corinthians 4:20 , GNB). 

JESUS DELEGATED THE “DUNAMIS” TO HIS FOLLOWERS: 

He gave it to the disciples and us!
“He now called the Twelve together and gave them power (“dunamis”) and authority to overcome all the devils and to cure diseases, and sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1 , NEB). 

“And now you see that I have given you the power (“dunamis”) to tread underfoot snakes and scorpions and all the forces of the enemy, and nothing will ever harm you” (Luke 10:19 , NEB). 

“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached (by us!) in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised: but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power (“dunamis”) from on high”  (Luke 24:46-49 , NIV). (See also Acts 1:4 ). 

“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power (“dunamis”) to testify about Me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about My death and resurrection” (Acts 1:8 , TLB). 

Surely we cannot get it any clearer than that! The whole purpose of Jesus returning back to the Father in heaven was so He could multiply Himself and His ministry in His followers through the baptism of the Holy Spirit with (you guessed it!) “dunamis” power to make us effective! That “dunamis” works in the believers in varying ways. Some release “dunamis” more than others. But essentially it is over to us as to how much we are determined to release. As Ephesians 3:20 states, it is “according to the power that works within us.” 

In the Parable of the Talents, the talents were given out “to every one according to his ability” (“dunamis”) (Matthew 25:15 ). The more “dunamis” that is actively working in us, the more talents are likely to be released through us. 

THE DISCIPLES RELEASED THE “DUNAMIS”: 

  • The early Church functioned in the “dunamis”: “And with great strength and ability and power (“dunamis”) the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace - loving kindness and favour and goodwill - rested richly upon them all” (Acts 4:33 , AMP.). 

  • Stephen released the “dunamis”: Acts 6:8 .* 

  • Philip released the “dunamis”: Acts 8:5-13

THE APOSTLE PAUL MINISTERED POWERFULLY IN THE “DUNAMIS”:    

“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds (“dunamis”)” (2 Corinthians 12:12 , KJV). 

“God did extraordinary miracles (“dunamis”) through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11 , NIV). 

Paul’s own testimony was this:

“And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the (Holy)Spirit and power (“dunamis”) [that is, a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power (“dunamis”) of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 , AMP.). 


“To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully(“dunamis”) works in me” (Colossians 1:29 , NIV). His cry was: “That I may know Him, and the power (“dunamis”) of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death . . . “ (Philippians 3:10 , KJV). 

PAUL PRAYED ESPECIALLY FOR THE “DUNAMIS” TO BE WORKING IN US: 
 
Here is a selection of the things he prayed for the Christians:
 
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened(“made strong” - Young’s) with might (“dunamis”) by His Spirit in the inner man . . .” (Ephesians 3:16 , KJV), because as we read in verse 20, everything is “according to the power (“dunamis”)that is at work within us.” 

“ . . . do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge (“full knowledge; clear and exact knowledge; a knowledge that has a powerful influence on the knower” - Bullinger’s) of His will in all wisdom (“wisdom, cleverness, skill, etc.; a right application of knowledge” - Bullinger’s) and spiritual understanding; That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing (“to make large, to receive increase, to grow, grow up” - Bullinger’s) in the knowledge of God; strengthened (the Greek word is “dunamoo” meaning “to make powerful” - Young’s; “to enable” -Strong’s) with all might (“dunamis”), according to His glorious power (the Greek word is “kratos” meaning “dominion, power, strength” - Young’s) . . . ” (Colossians 1:9-11 , KJV). 

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power (“dunamis”) He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11 , NIV). Notice how the “dunamis” of God works when our faith is prompted into action. God is able to do anything and everything, BUT it is according to the “dunamis” that is actively working within US! (Ephesians 3:20 ). 

“DUNAMIS” WORKS ACCORDING TO THE HEARING OF FAITH: 

  • We came into a living relationship with Jesus by His grace and through faith (Ephesians 2:8 ).

  • The only way we can please God is through faith (Hebrews 11:6 ).

  • Faith comes to us through our ability to “hear the word of God” (Romans 10:17 ). 

Faith releases “dunamis”! 

Unless God gives us “the gift of faith” (1 Corinthians 12:9 ) to enable us to believe and function on a higher realm of faith, then we have to apply the faith in our hearts towards God’s promises, claiming the reality and fulfilment of them for our lives and ministries. “Dunamis” is released out of our lives as we act upon the promises and truth of God’s Word: 

“Tell me this one thing: did you receive God’s Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the Gospel and believing it? How can you be so foolish! You began by God’s Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles (“dunamis”) among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the Gospel and believe?” (Galatians 3:2-5 , GNB). 

The answer, of course, is “we heard the Gospel and believed.” Paul says that it is exactly the same principle that releases God’s “dunamis” in our lives as well. “Hearing” and “Believing.“Believing” means to “be persuaded, to rely upon, to trust. The New testament conception of faith is 

  1. a fully convinced acknowledgment 

  2. a self-surrendering fellowship, and 

  3. a fully assured and unswerving confidence” (Bullinger’s). 

That is what the faith of Abraham (Romans 4 and Galatians 3 ) is all about. Out of that believing faith the “dunamis” of God is released. 

  • Who does the hearing? We do.

  • Who does the believing? We do.

  • Who does the releasing of faith? We do.

  • Who carries the “dunamis”? We do.* Who has to learn how to release it more? We do.

The Gospel is the “dunamis” of God unto salvation: Romans 1:16 ; 1 Corinthians 1:18 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 . In each of these Scriptures, the word “power” is “dunamis”. It is the “dunamis” that demonstrates the Kingdom of God (the speaking of words alone is not enough): 

“The Kingdom of God is not just talking; it is living by God’s power (“dunamis”) (1 Corinthians 4:20 , TLB). 

The Kingdom of God comes in power (Mark 9:1 ).
 
John the Baptist came in the spirit and power (“dunamis”) of Elijah (Luke 1:17 ). That’s what made Elijah different. It was the “dunamis” at work through his life. 

“Dunamis” helps us to believe and abound in hope: 
 
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power (“dunamis”) of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13 , KJV). 

God’s will is that His “dunamis” power is actively working in every part of our life. It is the “dunamis” that sets us apart as being different from other religions, peoples and belief systems. Without it we cannot accomplish anything for the glory of God. 
 
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
 
 The Gifts of the Holy Spirit have to do with the “dunamis” of God. The gift of the Working of Miracles (“dunamis”) is an out and out spectacular working of God’s power (1 Corinthians 12:10 ).According to Paul the gifts operate through “dunamis”: 

“For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, His Spirit fills us with power (“dunamis”), love, and self-control. Do not be ashamed, then . . .”(2 Timothy 1:6-8 , GNB). 

In 1 Corinthians 12:28 where we have a list of God’s top eight priorities for the Church, miracles (“dunamis”) is listed at Number Four. All the ministries listed before it require the “dunamis” operating for them to be effective as well! 

“DUNAMIS” AND THE PLACE OF TRIALS AND SUFFERING: 
 
We often wonder why it is that so many good people seem to suffer such difficult and hurtful experiences as they go through life. Our belief systems try to tell us that living for Jesus “delivers” us from all the negatives of life. But that is not so. In fact the Bible clearly links suffering and difficulties as being necessary for the developing of “dunamis” in our lives and ministries: 

I will say this: because these experiences I had were so tremendous (Paul had been taken up into heaven for a visit), God was afraid I might be puffed up by them; so I was given a physical condition which has been a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to hurt and bother me, and prick my pride. Three different times I begged God to make me well again. Each time He said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power(“dunamis”) shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power (“dunamis”), instead of showing off my own power and abilities. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about “the thorn,” and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong - the less I have, the more I depend on Him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 , TLB). 

“For though He (Jesus) was crucified in weakness, yet He goes on living by the power(“dunamis”) of God. And though we too are weak in Him [as He was humanly weak], yet in dealing with you [we shall show ourselves] alive and strong in (fellowship with) Him by the power (“dunamis”) of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4 , AMP.). 

God, in His wisdom, has chosen to reveal His power and glory through weak human vessels. The sooner we realize how weak we are, the quicker we will make progress. Jesus told us, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 ): 

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power(“dunamis”) may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7 , KJV). 

GOD’S “DUNAMIS” KEEPS US THROUGH FAITH: 
 
We have seen throughout this study that “dunamis” is interlocked with several key graces in the Christian life, e.g. holiness, believing, hope, faith, resurrection, power, etc. It is very much a part of Christianity, so much so that without it we are reduced to a realm of powerless religious beliefs, which do nothing for the soul. 

Consider these statements:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power (“dunamis”) of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 , NKJV). 

The “dunamis” of God gives us everything we need to live a God-honouring, God-glorifying life: 

“God’s divine power (“dunamis”) has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the One Who called us to share glory and goodness. In this way He has given us the very great and precious gifts He promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the divine nature . . . “ (See 2 Peter 1:3-12 , GNB). 

END-TIMES RELIGION AVOIDS THE “DUNAMIS”: 
 
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 we are given an accurate description of the heart condition of mankind as we approach the end of the age. In spite of an increasing lawlessness and evil within the heart, people still retain “a form of godliness.” If we read on to the end of that verse we discover that they also “deny the power (“dunamis”) thereof” (KJV). The challenge to every one of us is to examine our own hearts to see whether or not we are measuring up to the standard of what a New Testament, Spirit-filled Christian really is. 

  • How effectively is the “dunamis” working in us?* 

  • Are we guilty of denying its power?

  • What is our “dunamis” gauge reading?* 

  • Is it (1) Working powerfully? (2) Moderately? (3) Slightly? or (4) Not at all?

The message to the Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:8 ) was that it only had a “little strength (“dunamis”).” 

WAIT UNTIL WE RECEIVE:
 
Jesus taught us to “wait until” or stay where we were until we received the “dunamis” power from on high (Luke 24:49 ; Acts 1:4 ). Without the “dunamis” actively working in our lives we have no power or authority over our enemies, over sickness or disease, over doubts and fears. With life proving to be so busy and strenuous in these days, it is imperative that we Christians take time to come aside and wait upon the Lord to renew our strength (“power”) (Isaiah 40:31 ). A powerless Christian is a useless Christian. Powerless Christians cause a powerless church to stumble along in life hoping, praying, having a form of godliness, BUT . . . without the “dunamis” power of God! Once we have received that power (through the baptism of the Holy Spirit) we then should learn to activate and do whatever it takes to see the “dunamis” of God working in and out of our lives powerfully and effectively to the glory of God, and the advancement of His Kingdom! 

May the Lord help every one of us to discover how to release the “dunamis” out of our lives, so we can impact our generation for Jesus Christ and His Gospel! Amen.

Rodney W. Francis, "The "Dunamis" Power Of God!", http://www.gospel.org.nz/index.php/articles/faith-messages/311-003-the-dunamis-power-of-god

Introduction

Centuries ago, God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son through whose offspring the world would be blessed. But there were problems. Abraham and Sarah were getting on in years, and Sarah was barren. When told she would be the mother of Abraham’s child, the child of promise, Sarah laughed. In response to her laughter, God spoke these words to Abraham:

13 And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear [a child,] when I am [so] old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:13-14, emphasis mine).

When God rescued the nation Israel from their bondage in Egypt, He led them into the wilderness, where the “menu” was a miraculous provision of manna. But the Israelites began to grumble because they could not enjoy the variety of foods they had eaten in Egypt. In response to their grumbling, God promised to give this great company a diet of meat for an entire month. If the feeding of the 5,000 seems difficult, imagine feeding this hugh congregation. Moses had the same thoughts and expressed his concerns to God:

21 But Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet Thou hast said, ‘I will give them meat in order that they may eat for a whole month.’ 22 Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or should all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?” (Numbers 11:21-22).

But God asked another question in response to Moses, a question vitally important to every Christian today:

23 And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (Numbers 11:23, emphasis mine).

The answer to this question is crucial, and the answer of the Bible is clear and unequivocal:

3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).

17 “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee’” (Jeremiah 32:17).

26 And looking upon [them] Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, 25 to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. Then his yoke will be removed from them, and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26 This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate [it]? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:21-26).

God’s Power in Creation

The earliest manifestation of God’s power is seen in the creation of the world in which we live:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Throughout Scripture, the creation of the world is cited as a compelling testimony of the power of God.

(For the choir director. A Psalm of David.) 1The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. 6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat (Psalms 19:1-6).

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. 10 The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance (Psalms 33:6-12).

In Psalm 33, the heavens testify to the existence of God and His attributes and thus proclaim His glory (Psalm 19:1-6). David continues the theme of creation’s proclamation of God’s character in Psalm 33 where the power of God is highlighted. Verse 6 states the power of God in creating the world, emphasizing that all this took place by the mere speaking of a word (see Genesis 1:3ff.; Hebrews 11:3; 2 Peter 3:5). In verse 7, David indicates God not only created the heavens, He controls them. And in verses 10 and following, David goes on to tell us God likewise controls the affairs of men; God is in control of history.

(For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.) And he said, 1 “I love Thee, O LORD, my strength.” 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me, And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. 5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. 7 Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. 8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. 9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. 10 And He rode upon a cherub and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, hailstones and coals of fire. 13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. 14 And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. 15 Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare At Thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils. 16 He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my stay. 19 He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me (Psalms 18:1-19).

Psalm 18 praises God for His strength, strength in which he can take refuge (see verses 1-2). Verses 3-7 praise God for the deliverance He gave David from the hand of his enemy, Saul (see also verse 1). David was in great distress, and God rescued him. David poetically depicts in verses 7-15 God’s response to His cry for help, as though God called upon all the forces of nature to come to his aid. In a word, David tells his readers God will, so to speak, move heaven and earth to deliver one of His children in distress. We can trust in God and find in Him a place of refuge, because He is the one true God whose power includes the control of all the forces of nature.13

God’s Power
Demonstrated at the Exodus

After having first displayed His power at creation, God’s second great demonstration of power is seen at the Exodus,

1 And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:1-2, emphasis mine).

Pharaoh’s obstinance was by divine design. While Pharaoh hardened his own heart, at the same time God hardened his heart so that he would resist God, providing the occasion for God’s power to be demonstrated to the Egyptians, the Israelites, and the surrounding nations:

3 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst” (Exodus 7:3-5).

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 And when Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses (Exodus 14:30-31).

6 “Thy right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Thy right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy” (Exodus 15:6).11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? 12 Thou didst stretch out Thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 In Thy lovingkindness Thou hast led the people whom Thou hast redeemed; In Thy strength Thou hast guided [them] to Thy holy habitation. 14 The peoples have heard, they tremble; Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; the leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. 16 Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Thine arm they are motionless as stone; Until Thy people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over whom Thou hast purchased” (Exodus 15:11-16).

The nation Israel praised God for the power He displayed in delivering them from their bondage in Egypt. They confessed that their deliverance proved God to be God alone, and the word of their deliverance would strike terror in the hearts of the other nations. They saw this deliverance as proof of God’s power and assurance of their entrance into the land as God had promised. The exodus was indeed a demonstration of God’s omnipotence.

Later, Moses would remind the second generation of Israelites of this great event and of the power of God to which it bore witness:

32 “Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and [inquire] from one end of the heavens to the other. Has [anything] been done like this great thing, or has [anything] been heard like it? 33 Has [any] people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard [it], and survived? 34 Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within[another] nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. 36 Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. 37 Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power” (Deuteronomy 4:32-37).

And so in the later books of the Old Testament, the creation of the world and the creation of the nation Israel (by means of the exodus) becomes a major theme. In the Book of Psalms, these events and the power of God to which they bear witness, become the basis for Israel’s hope and for her worship and praise:

5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain; Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries. 8 He smote the first-born of Egypt, both of man and beast. 9 He sent signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, Upon Pharaoh and all his servants. 10 He smote many nations, and slew mighty kings, 11 Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, And all the kingdoms of Canaan; 12 And He gave their land as a heritage, A heritage to Israel His people (Psalms 135:5-12).

The prophets make much of these events and of the power of God to which they point. They do so because they are calling Israel to trust in God and place their hope in Him. They do so because they speak of even greater events God is going to bring to pass, events which involve a “new creation,” and therefore require the power which only God, the Creator, has:

5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk in it, 6 I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7 To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. 8 I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:5-8).

24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone” (Isaiah 44:24).12 “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, And I ordained all their host” (Isaiah 45:12).

2 “Why was there no man when I came? When I called, [why] was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; Their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering” (Isaiah 50:2-3).

While imprisoned in Jerusalem, Jeremiah was instructed by God to redeem a field in Judah from a relative, even though the period of the nation’s captivity in Babylon had already commenced. Jeremiah’s prayer in response to this action reveals his grasp of God’s power demonstrated in creation and in the exodus:

17 ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, 18 who showest lovingkindness to thousands, but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; 20 who hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, [and] even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and Thou hast made a name for Thyself, as at this day. 21 And Thou didst bring Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22 and gavest them this land, which Thou didst swear to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 And they came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey Thy voice or walk in Thy law; they have done nothing of all that Thou commandedst them to do; therefore Thou hast made all this calamity come upon them. 24 Behold, the siege mounds have reached the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword, the famine, and the pestilence; and what Thou hast spoken has come to pass; and, behold, Thou seest [it.]” (Jeremiah 32:17-24).

The Power of
God in the New Testament

Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah included the fact of His power. He was called the “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6). At the time Messiah’s birth was announced to Mary, she was told this miraculous virgin birth would take place by the power of God:

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:34-37).

Our Lord’s power was evident through the many miracles He performed (see Acts 2:32; John 3:2). The people were awe-struck by the evidences of His power:

43a And they were all amazed at the greatness of God (Luke 9:43a).

When John the Baptist began to have second thoughts concerning Jesus, our Lord sent this word back to him:

4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 [the] BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and [the] lame walk, [the] lepers are cleansed and [the] deaf hear, and [the] dead are raised up, and [the] POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 6 And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me” (Matthew 11:4-6).

Jesus made it clear His power extended beyond the merely physical realm. He employed His power to heal in order to show that His power extended to the forgiving of sins (Luke 5:17-26; see also Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12). The greatest demonstration of our Lord’s power was His resurrection from the dead:

17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and [yet] no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:38-40).

4 Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4).

In His first coming, a few men were given an occasional glimpse of the full power of our Lord (see Mark 9:1-8; 2 Peter 1:16-19). But He makes it clear that in His second coming, all will see Him coming with power:

30 “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it [yourself]; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN” (Matthew 26:64).

The last book of the Bible emphasizes the power of the Lord Jesus Christ:

11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:11-12).

God’s Power
in the Lives of His Saints

God is omnipotent whether we believe it or not. But it is vitally important that we do believe He is omnipotent. An individual’s grasp of the power of God will transform his thinking and his actions. Consider these illustrations of the way God’s power transformed the lives of several men in the Bible.

First, let us turn our attention to Abraham. Here is a man who, at the beginning of his life, had grave doubts about the power of God. But in the end, his firm belief in God’s power enabled him to act in a way that makes him a model of faith for all Christians.

In the early days of his life, Abraham lacked confidence in the power of God. He made his way to the land of Canaan in obedience to the revelation He received from God (see Genesis 12:1-3). But when a famine came in the land, Abram made his way to Egypt, a decision which does not seem prompted by faith in God’s power or His promises. When he and Sarai arrived there, they conducted themselves as they habitually did throughout much of their marriage (see Genesis 20:30)—they deceived others about their relationship. It is apparent from Abram’s words in Genesis 12:11-13 and Genesis 20:11-13 that Abram was afraid when he took his wife to a foreign land. Because there was no “fear of God in that place” (Genesis 20:11), he thought God’s power was somehow nullified. It seems Abram thought God’s power was sufficient to protect him only when he was in the right place and when the people of that place feared God.

How foolish we now consider Abram’s thinking. God not only protected Abram, He also protected Sarai, Abram’s wife. Abram lived, and Sarai did not become another man’s wife. Abram also prospered in these foreign places, coming out not only alive but richer (see Genesis 12:20–13:2; 20:14-16). In fact, God was powerful enough to close the wombs of every woman living in Abimelech’s kingdom of Gerar (20:17-18).

Abram did not believe God’s power was sufficient to enable he and his wife Sarai to bear a son because they were getting old, and Sarai was barren. So Abram sought to produce a son some easier way, first by adopting a servant as a son (Genesis 15:2), and then by producing a son by taking his wife’s handmaid, Hagar, as a concubine (Genesis 16). God purposed to produce a son in a way that would demonstrate His power, by miraculously producing a son in their old age through a woman who had been barren all her life.

The great test of Abraham’s life came when God called him to take this son, the son in whom all Abraham’s hopes rested, and sacrifice him on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-19). Here, Abraham was set to obey God, and the New Testament tells us clearly how he could do so—he was convinced of the power of God to resurrect his son from the dead:

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten [son]; 18 [it was he] to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise [men] even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type (Hebrews 11:17-19, emphasis mine).

The key words here are “God is able.” Abraham’s belief that “God is able” was his belief in the power of God to raise the dead. Abraham had a resurrection faith, just as we are to have (see Romans 10:9). Abraham’s growth in faith is paralleled by his increasing belief in the power of God—whether the power to give two people “as good as dead” with respect to child-bearing a son (Romans 4:18-21)—or the power to raise a son from the dead.

Abraham, who began with little faith in God’s power, grew to have great faith in the power of God. In some ways, David’s faith in the power of God diminished over time. When we are first introduced to David, he is ready to do battle with Goliath, the giant who arrogantly spoke blasphemously against God. David was confident, not in his own abilities, but in God’s ability to silence this heathen by putting him to death through David and his sling:

33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are [but] a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth . . . 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you” (1 Samuel 17:33, 36-37).

David’s problem was that he, like the nation Israel, began to take credit for what God did through His power. God had warned the Israelites about this false pride:

11 “Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived [in them], 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as [it is] this day” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-18).

I believe this is just what happened to David. Taking too much credit for what God had accomplished seems to have been the cause of two of David’s most serious and devastating sins. Twice in the biographical account of David’s life we read of David failing to go to war at the time when kings customarily went to battle:

1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out [to battle,] that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 And David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house (2 Samuel 11:1-4, emphasis mine).

1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out [to battle,] that Joab led out the army and ravaged the land of the sons of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. And Joab struck Rabbah and overthrew it . . . 1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me [word] that I may know their number.” 3 And Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” 4 Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore, Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 20:1; 2 Chronicles 21:1-4, emphasis mine).

It may well be these two events, whose descriptions are separated from each other in the Scriptures, are the result of the same failure on David’s part to go to war with his troops. In both cases, Israel was at war with Rabbah. In both cases, in the spring when kings normally went to war, David did not. He stayed home. And the result was he ended up in bed with a loyal soldier’s wife and eventually became a secret ally of the enemy army he used to kill the soldier Uriah to “hide” his sin. In the second instance, David numbered his troops, resulting in an outbreak of divine wrath upon the nation Israel.

The results of David’s sin are glaringly apparent in these Old Testament texts. My purpose here is to consider why David stayed home rather than go to war as kings normally did and as David should have done. I would suggest David began to take credit for the victories God accomplished through His power. David seemed to be so confident of defeating his enemies that he need not even go out to war with his troops. He could serve as commander and chief while between the sheets, and it is just here, between the sheets, that David lost the biggest battle of his life. So too David instructed Joab and the princes of Israel to number the troops of Israel. Even though Joab strongly urged him not to do this, David insisted, at great cost to the Israelites.

But why number the Israelites? For the same reason many of us keep track of “decisions for Christ” or “attendance this week” (not that this is wrong in and of itself). Many of us want to have numbers because we believe there is strength in numbers. David seems to have numbered the Israelites so he could feel confident about winning the battles he waged against the enemies of the nation Israel. Gideon’s 300 men would not have given David great confidence at this moment in his life. David seems to have looked upon Israel’s victories as his victories and Israel’s strength in numbers as his strength. He was wrong. David was never stronger than in his weakness as a youth, when he stood up against Goliath in the power of God and not in his own strength.

The life of Daniel and his three friends, recorded in the Book of Daniel, provides yet another example of the way faith in the power of God made men of faith heroes of the faith. When Daniel refused to cease praying to his “God,” king Darius was reluctantly forced to cast him into a den of lions. The last words of Darius before he left Daniel in the den of lions overnight expressed his hope that Daniel’s God might deliver him:

16 Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Daniel 6:16).

The king was right, and the words he spoke in response to Daniel’s divine deliverance give credit where credit is due, to God, by whose power Daniel was delivered from the “power of the lions:”

26 “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion [will be] forever. 27 He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has [also] delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (Daniel 6:26-27).

Likewise, it was through the faith of Daniel’s three friends in the power of God that Nebuchadnezzar came to make a similar confession. Nebuchadnezzar had a great golden statue set up before which all men were to bow in worship when prompted by the king’s musicians. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused to bow down to this image, infuriating the king who made this threat:

14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, [very well.] But if you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:14-15, emphasis mine).

What a challenge to the power of God! Notice the response of Daniel’s three friends. Their response is first of all an expression of faith in God’s power to do anything He chooses. It is secondly an expression of submission on the part of these men to the will of God, which may be to deliver them from the fire or to deliver them through a fiery death (compare Philippians 1:19-24):

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be [so,] our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But [even] if [He does] not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

In fact, God delivered these three men in a way they could never have imagined. Rather than keeping them from the fire, He brought them through the fire, alive, and without as much as the smell of smoke on their clothing (see 3:27). Nebuchadnezzar was soon to learn yet another lesson concerning the power of God compared to his own “power.” He discovered that his “power” had been given to him by the God of all power. After God humbled him and took away his power, he came to his senses and issued these words for us to hear and heed:

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and [men of every] language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! 2 It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. 3 How great are His signs, and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation . . . 34 But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom [endures] from generation to generation. 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and [among] the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ 36 At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride” (Daniel 4:1-33, 34-37).

Conclusion

No one who takes the Bible seriously can deny the power of God. God is omnipotent; He is all-powerful. This truth transformed the lives of men in the past, and it can transform our lives today. Allow me to suggest several ways the power of God intersects our lives today.

(1) The first thing we should do, in light of the power of God, is to fear, honor, and serve God and God alone.

1 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:1-7; see also Joshua 4:23-24; Psalm 115:1-15).

(2) Recognizing the Bible teaches God is infinitely powerful should remove the word “impossible” from our vocabulary.

How often we excuse our sin by appealing to our human inability. “But I’m only human,” we say. So we are. But God has not only saved us by His power, He also works in us to sanctify us by His power:

8 And those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you (Romans 8:8-11).

18 [I pray that] the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. [These are] in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:18-21).

14 For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:14-20).

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard [of it], we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:9-12).

29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me (Colossians 1:29).

(3) Our weakness is not a barrier to the power of God. Rather, recognizing our weakness is the basis for our turning to God, depending upon His power to work in us. In this way, God receives all the glory.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7).

7 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

When we minister in the power of God, we need not trust in our own strength and in human methods. Indeed, we dare not do so. Through the “weakness” of a cross, God brought salvation to men. Through the “foolishness” of the message of the cross, men are saved. Through weak and foolish men, God has chosen to proclaim His gospel. Through weak and unimpressive methods, the gospel is proclaimed, trusting in the power of God to convince and convert sinners. In this way, men must give God the glory, and they must trust in Him and in His power, not in men:

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:20-24).

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).

This is not the way the church operates today. When we preach, we employ the marketing methods of our day, proven to be successful in producing results. We use persuasive techniques which sell soap and breakfast cereals. When we seek to train and develop leaders, we train men to be leaders following the model and methods of our secular culture rather than teaching them to be servants. The church is more often run on the basis of “good business” principles than on biblical principles. And we offer “therapy” in a thinly disguised version of (poor) secular psychology and psychiatry, rather than challenging men and women to think biblically and to obey the Word of God. Is evangelicalism not like the state of the church Paul sadly describes as the church of the last days?

5 Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these (2 Timothy 3:5).

If We Really
Believed in the Power of God

We would come to Him in prayer first

If we really believed God is omnipotent, we would come to Him in prayer first, not as a last resort after having tried every other means and failed. We would forsake trusting in the idols of our day and trust in Him. We would humbly acknowledge that all the blessings we have are a gift of His grace and the result of the working of His power. Our prayers would be filled with praise and thanksgiving, seeing God as the Source of every blessing.

We would be filled with faith and hope, knowing that no purpose of God can be thwarted (2 Chronicles 20:6) and that every promise God has made will be fulfilled, in His time, and exactly as He has promised.

We would not give so much credit to Satan

If we really understood the power of God, we would not give so much credit to Satan. We would not look at Satan as though he and God were closely matched rivals who have battled for centuries. We would not dare suppose that in the end God will barely defeat this one who is our deadly foe. We would realize that God is the Creator, and Satan is but a creature. We would know that God’s power is infinite, while Satan’s is finite. We would not minimize Satan’s power, but neither would we overstate his power. God is not battling with Satan with the hope of defeating him; Satan is already a defeated foe, whose final demise is certain (John 12:31; 16:11; Luke 10:18). In the meantime, God is using Satan and his rebellion to achieve His purposes (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

We would not believe the lies of the “good-life gospeleers”

If we really understood and believed in the power of God, we would not believe the lies of the “good-life gospeleers,” those hucksters who line their own pockets by assuring donors that God is standing by with all His power, eager to do their bidding. They lay claim on God’s power by “faith,” by claiming certain possessions like money and healing. “God doesn’t want us to suffer,” they say, “but to prosper.” If they really believed in God’s power, they would know God’s power can just as well sustain us through suffering and affliction as it can deliver us from suffering and affliction. They refuse to accept that God often works through suffering to sustain and purify the saint and to demonstrate His grace and power to a lost and dying world (again, see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

We would not be so reluctant to obey

If we really believed in the power of God, we would not be so reluctant to obey those commands of God which seem to leave us vulnerable (like, “sell your possessions and give to the poor,” or see 1 Corinthians 7:29-30 for a more general version). And we would not excuse ourselves from obeying the “impossible” commands like, “love your enemy.” We would live our lives much more dangerously if we really believed God is omnipotent.

18 [I pray that] the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. [These are] in accordance with the working of the strength of His might . . . 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God (Ephesians 1:18-19; 3:16-19).

Additional Thoughts on the Power of God

What the New Testament Teaches About the Power of God

(1) Creation is a witness to God’s power (Romans 1:20).

(2) The gospel is powerful; the power of God can save and radically change men (Romans 1:16).

(3) Saints are saved, kept, and constantly empowered for life and ministry by the power of God (Romans 15:13, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 6:4; Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:11, 29).

(4) The resurrection of Christ, and subsequently of every Christian, is through the power of God (Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:43).

(5) Even the unbelief and rebellion of men is used by God to demonstrate His power (Romans 9:17).

(6) God’s delay in punishing evil-doers is not an indication of His inability to handle the situation, but an indication of His intention to demonstrate His power (Exodus 9:13-18; Romans 9:22).

(7) God’s choice and use of Christians, as foolish, weak and earthy vessels of clay is to demonstrate His power (1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5).

(8) God’s power is ministered to and through man’s human weaknesses, rather than through man’s natural human strengths.

8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

4 For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him because of the power of God [directed] toward you (2 Corinthians 13:4).

What God’s Power Enables Him To Do

(1) All power belongs to God—“Thine is the power. . .” (Matthew 6:13).

(2) He can therefore do all things (Matthew 19:26; Mark 14:36).

(3) Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:34-37).

(4) He is able to do what He has purposed (Job 42:1-2; Isaiah 14:27).

(5) He is able to do what He has promised (Romans 4:21).

(6) He is able to judge because He can save and destroy (James 4:12).

(7) He is able to destroy the body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28).

(8) He is able to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).

(9) He is able to save us (Isaiah 63:1; Psalm 54:1; Romans 1:16), forever (Hebrews 7:25).

(10) He is able to defend us, to overcome our enemies (Psalm 59:9-11).

(11) He is able to deliver us (Daniel 3-4).

(12) He is able to protect (Psalm 79:1; 91:1) or rescue us (Psalm 79:11).

(13) He is able to make us stand (Romans 14:4).

(14) He is able to come to our aid when tempted (Hebrews 2:18).

(15) He is able to establish us as His saints (Romans 16:25).

(16) He is able to keep Christians (John 10:29; Romans 8:31-39), to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24-25).

(17) He is able to keep that which we have committed to Him to the day of His coming (2 Timothy 1:12).

(18) He is able to raise the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

(19) He is able to provide everything for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

(20) He is able to empower us to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

How Is The Power of God Exercised or Demonstrated?

(1) In weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 13:4).

(2) In simplicity and clarity, rather than human sophistication and persuasion (1 Corinthians 1 and 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; 4:1-6).

(3) In a simple proclamation of the gospel (Romans 1:16).

(4) By the exercise of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 3:7).

(5) By prayer (Ephesians 3:14-21).

(6) By dying daily and thus being conformed to Christ’s death (Philippians 3:10).

22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22)

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:18-19).

18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).

4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, (1 Corinthians 5:4).

14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power (1 Corinthians 6:14).

24 then [comes] the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power (1 Corinthians 15:24).

43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; (1 Corinthians 15:43)

5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, (2 Corinthians 6:5)

6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, (2 Corinthians 6:6)

7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, (2 Corinthians 6:7)

19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. [These are] in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21).

7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power (Ephesians 3:7).

10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (Philippians 3:10)

21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21).

5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

11 To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with [me] in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, (2 Timothy 1:7)

5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these (2 Timothy 3:5).

(7) God saves us by His power.

(8) The kingdom of God and power:

19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).

(9) God’s power and the gospel:

18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

(10) God’s power and the resurrection of Christ.

(11) God’s power and the Scriptures.

(12) God’s power and the Holy Spirit.

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:18-19).

(13) God’s power and human weakness.

(14) God’s power and those who oppose God and His servants.

22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH” (Romans 9:17).

13 While David seems to be speaking poetically and figuratively here, we can find a number of instances in the Scriptures where God did summon the forces of nature to deliver His people. See, for example, Exodus 9:18-33; Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 10:12-15; 24:12; 2 Kings 1:9-14.

Robert L. Deffinbaugh, "The Power of God", https://bible.org/seriespage/2-power-god


A discussion on prayer would not be complete without including a subject that is an important companion to prayer in the Bible: fasting.

Combining fasting with prayer can result in a spiritual atomic bomb that pulls down spiritual strongholds and releases the power of God in your life and the life of your church, its pastor, its leaders, and its members.

Down through the centuries, godly people who have done mighty things for the Lord have testified to the necessity of prayer with fasting. John Wesley, who shook the world for God during the Great Awakening, which gave rise to the Methodist Church toward the end of the eighteenth century, is representative of such great spiritual leaders.

John Wesley so believed in this power that he urged early Methodists to fast and pray every Wednesday and Friday. He felt so strongly about fasting those two days a week that he refused to ordain anyone in Methodism who wouldn't agree to do it.

The roll call of other great Christian leaders who determined to make prayer with fasting a part of their lives reads like a hall of fame: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Charles Finney, Andrew Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many more.

Why were they so convinced of the need for fasting and prayer? And how does fasting cause the fire of God to fall upon the life of the individual and the Church?

OUR NEED TO FAST

The writings of Scripture, the church fathers, and many Christian leaders of today offer several biblical insights into the spiritual need for fasting:

  • IT IS A BIBLICAL WAY TO TRULY HUMBLE ONESELF IN THE SIGHT OF GOD (PS. 35:13;EZRA 8:21).
  • IT BRINGS REVELATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF A PERSON'S TRUE SPIRITUAL CONDITION, RESULTING IN BROKENNESS, REPENTANCE, AND CHANGE.
  • IT IS A CRUCIAL MEANS FOR PERSONAL REVIVAL BECAUSE IT BRINGS THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT INTO PLAY IN A MOST UNUSUAL, POWERFUL WAY.
  • IT HELPS US BETTER UNDERSTAND THE WORD OF GOD BY MAKING IT MORE MEANINGFUL, VITAL, AND PRACTICAL.
  • IT TRANSFORMS PRAYER INTO A RICHER AND MORE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
  • IT CAN RESULT IN DYNAMIC PERSONAL REVIVAL--BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT AND REGAINING A STRONG SENSE OF SPIRITUAL DETERMINATION.
  • IT CAN RESTORE THE LOSS OF ONE'S FIRST LOVE FOR THE LORD.

Throughout the Old and New Testament eras and during the last two thousand years, fasting was a primary means of humbling oneself before God.

In Isaiah 58:5, the prophet describes fasting as a "day for a man to afflict his soul" (NKJV). And in Psalm 69:10, David says he "chastened" his soul with fasting (NKJV). And in Psalm 35:13, he says he "humbled" his soul by abstaining from food.

Humility is an attitude of the heart. The Scripture says, "A broken and contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17 NKJV). God will hear us and respond to our cry when we come before Him in humility and brokenness--acknowledging and repenting of our sins, and asking Him to cleanse us by the blood of Jesus and to fill us with His Holy Spirit.

HOW DOES FASTING HELP?

Fasting is also a primary means of restoration. By humbling our souls, fasting releases the Holy Spirit to do His special work of revival in us. This changes our relationship with God forever, taking us into a deeper life in Christ and giving us a greater awareness of God's reality and presence in our lives.

Fasting reduces the power of self so that the Holy Spirit can do a more intense work within us. It also helps in other ways:

  • IT BRINGS A YIELDEDNESS, EVEN A HOLY BROKENNESS, RESULTING IN INNER CALM AND SELF-CONTROL.
  • IT RENEWS SPIRITUAL VISION AND FAITH.
  • IT INSPIRES DETERMINATION TO FOLLOW GOD'S REVEALED PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE.

The discipline of fasting made a powerful impact in the life of Andrew Murray, who wrote, "Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice everything, [even] ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."

FASTING BRINGS POWER

The early church recognized fasting as a means to obtaining spiritual power. In his book God's Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis writes, "Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and [persistence] into our praying, and to give force to our pleas in the court of heaven."

But over the years, Wallis continues, "as spirituality waned and worldliness flourished in the churches, the power and gifts of the Spirit were withdrawn."

This same spiritual erosion can and does occur in the life of the believer today. But God's Word declares fasting and prayer as a powerful means for causing the fire of God to fall again in a person's life.

This fire produces the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22)--but especially the fruit of righteousness and spiritual power over lusts of the flesh and the lies of the enemy of our souls.

In is book Fasting, author and teacher Derek Prince describes fasting as "a tremendous lesson in establishing who is the master and who is the servant. Remember, your body is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master." And, according to Galatians 5:17, the flesh, or carnal nature, always strives to be in control.

As fasting and prayer bring surrender of body, soul, and spirit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they also generate a heightened sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit; they create a fresh, clean joy and a restored determination to serve God. In short, they bring personal revival. Our spiritual power does not lie in money, genius, plans, or dedicated work. Rather, power for spiritual conquest comes from the Holy Spirit as people seek God's face in consecrated diligent prayer with fasting.

FASTING IN GOD'S WORD

As revealed by just a cursory look at any concordance, fasting is mentioned frequently in God's Holy Word. Often it is associated with weeping and other acts of humility before God. In Joel 2:12-13 the Lord commanded:

Return to me with all your heart, With fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God.

In the Old Testament, fasting was the way individuals and the people humbled themselves (Ps. 35:13; 69:10; Isa. 58:5). God's people have always fasted to humble themselves, to receive cleansing of their sins by effective repentance, for spiritual renewal, and for special helps. Ezra called a fast to seek God's protection for the Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:21).

Concerning Ezra, Edith Schaeffer writes in The Life of Prayer:

This serious fasting and prayer, bowing humbly before God with repentance and concern for His mercy, took place in the context of practical need--for protection and guidance, for help in choices and for the supply of material things.

In the New Testament, Luke records the account of a prophetess named Anna who in her eighties "never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" (Luke 2:37).

Jesus set the example by fasting forty days after His baptism. For Jesus it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. He spoke in these terms: "When you give to the needy...when you pray...when you fast" (Matthew 6:2,5,16).

Prophets and teachers fasted at Antioch (Acts 13:1-2), and Paul--who wrote much of the New Testament--said he was "in fastings often" (2 Cor. 11:27 NKJV).

For believers, then, the question is not "Should I fast?" but " When will I fast?"

WHEN TO FAST

Some teach that you should fast only when led or prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. But being led by the Spirit and hearing the Spirit involve a highly subjective, personal area of the Christian life. Believers do not always hear accurately, especially if God is asking them to do something they do not want to do.

The flesh will surely try to override inner promptings to abstain from food. God may be calling you to fast, but the flesh may be saying, "That's just your imagination. How is fasting going to get you out of this situation?"

Once you learn the purpose and benefits of fasting, you are free to proclaim a fast whenever you sense the desire to draw close to God in a dynamic way or feel the need to seek special help from Him.

Those who consistently practice fasting know instinctively when to do so. They recognize certain spiritual conditions and life circumstances as the signal to "bear down" spiritually. I try to live according to Philippeans 2:13: "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

In his book Fasting: A Biblical Historical Study, by R.D. Chatham tells of a pastor's wife who kept a diary of her fasts. She recorded how she and her husband were changing pastorates and felt overwhelmed by their new responsibilities and realized they needed God's help. Together they fasted for ten days. She said that if she had not fasted--and as a result received special strength from the Lord--she would have "gone under."

Of course, the still, small voice of the Spirit, always consistent with the Word of God, will tell us what to do if we will only listen. There are times when the Holy Spirit will prompt you to fast. On another page in her diary, the pastor's wife reported, "Monday: I awoke feeling the need to go on a fast." Such prompting of the Holy Spirit can come anytime, anyplace.

It is particularly important to receive a leading of the Lord before beginning an extended spiritual fast. If you undertake a long fast simply on your own, you may run into difficulties. But if the Lord leads you into a protracted fast, He will give you the strength to carry it out.

In 1994 God impressed me over a period of several months that He wanted me to fast for forty days. But I was not sure I could fast for that long. Even so, I began my fast with the prayer, "Lord, I will fast as long as You will enable me. I am looking to You to help me. I am claiming Your promise recorded in Isaiah 40:31, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (NKJV). God was faithful to His promise. That fast was the greatest forty days of my life spiritually up until that time.

I have since fasted with great blessing for forty days in 1995 and again in 1996. In 1997, as I write, I am beginning my fourth forty-day fast. My wife, Vonette, is joining me in this adventure to seek God's face.

CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR

I strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before fasting. Unfortunately, however, many doctors have not been trained in this area, so their understanding is limited.

In writing about fasting, the subject of doctors is a chief concern. Author Lee Bueno, who conducts seminars on the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, makes a strong statement about the attitude of doctors toward fasting in his book Fast Your Way to Health:

All but one in a thousand doctors react negatively to the subject of fasting. They have never fasted, know little about the subject, and respond only to bizarre stories that they've heard. Lack of understanding creates unnecessary fear and results in unfounded, imaginary dangers and the use of scare tactics by doctors to [make you] avoid fasting.

My experience has been similar to Bueno's. Even so, I encourage you to consult with your physician before beginning an extended fast. And I strongly suggest that you arrange for a physical exam to make sure you are in good health. You may have a physical problem that makes fasting dangerous and unwise. But be forewarned: Even if you are in good health, your doctor may try to discourage you from fasting. If this happens, you may be faced with a dilemma similar to mine.

Over the years, I have fasted many times--often from one to four weeks at a time--without consulting a physician. Since my first forty-day fast was beyond anything I had ever undertaken, I called several Christian and secular doctors for their advice. They either knew nothing about fasting or tried to discourage me altogether, and I realized that I was on my own. Would I obey the leading of the Holy Spirit or follow the counsel of unbelieving doctors?

Most fasting authorities believe that if you know that you are healthy and you fast properly, you will benefit physically as well as spiritually.

These are certain persons who should never fast without professional supervision:

  • PERSONS WHO ARE PHYSICALLY EMACIATED.
  • THOSE WHO SUFFER WEAKNESS OR ANEMIA.
  • PERSONS WHO HAVE TUMORS, BLEEDING ULCERS, CANCER, OR BLOOD DISEASES OR WHO HAVE RECENTLY SUFFERED MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION.
  • WOMEN WHO ARE PREGNANT OR NURSING.
  • THOSE WHO ARE AFRAID OF FASTING BECAUSE THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND ITS BENEFITS OR WHAT TO EXPECT AND WHO MAY EVEN BELIEVE IT AMOUNTS TO STARVATION. Fasting is not starvation, but if persons have genuine doubts and negative emotions--which must be overcome--no persuasion should cause them to fast until they become knowledgeable about fasting.
  • There may be persons with other conditions who should not fast. The rule of thumb is this: If you have serious questions about your health, or if you are under a physician's care, you should consult your doctor before you abstain from food or change your diet.

HOW TO FAST

"In Scripture the normal means of fasting involves abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water," says Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline. "From a physical point, this is usually what is involved in a fast."

The partial fast is described in the book of Daniel. Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he abstained only from delicacies: meat and wine (Dan. 10:3).

Richard Foster describes two other biblical fasts, the absolute and the supernatural absolute. These are total fasts, meaning no food--solid or liquid--and no water.

Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). Esther called for a an absolute fast for three days when the Jews faced annihilation in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:16).

Moses and Elijah engaged in what must be considered supernatural absolute fasts of forty days (Deut. 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8).

But because of dehydration, I do not recommend the absolute or supernatural fasts. They can be dangerous to your health. I strongly advise you to drink plenty of liquids, including pure water (preferably distilled) and vegetable and fruit juices. Obviously, if God leads you to undertake an absolute or supernatural absolute fast, you must obey. However, I strongly encourage you to be certain, without doubt, that God is leading you.

HOW TO BEGIN AND CONDUCT YOUR FAST

How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. Permit me to suggest steps to take that will help make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding, while at the same time enhancing your physical health.

Set an Objective

The first step is to set a specific objective. Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Keeping your goal in focus will help you sustain your fast when physical desires and life's pressures tempt you to abandon it.

I personally believe the Holy Spirit has given all believers an urgent call to humble ourselves through fasting and prayer so that He may stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. I urge you to make personal, local, national, and world revival and the fulfillment of the Great Commission your primary purpose for fasting.

Lay a Spiritual Foundation

The second step is to prepare yourself spiritually. The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. In Scripture, God always requires His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers.

As you begin your fast, I encourage you to confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance. Include the obvious sins and those not so apparent, such as leaving your first love for the Lord, worldly-mindedness, self-centeredness, and spiritual indifference--being unwilling to share your faith in Christ with others, unwilling to help at church, unwilling to spend time in God's Word and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in your heart that is not pleasing to God and claim the promise of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NKJV).

Make Physical Preparations

The third step is to prepare yourself physically. Do not rush into a fast. If you plan to go without food for several days, you find it helpful to begin by eating smaller meals before you abstain altogether. This sends your mind a signal that you have entered the time of the fast, and it helps to "shrink" your stomach and appetite.

Some health professionals suggest eating only raw foods for two days before starting a fast.

Preparing yourself physically makes a drastic change in your eating routine a little easier. Then you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.

Ask God for Guidance

The fourth step is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the kind of fast God wants you to undertake. Does He want you to go completely without food, consuming only water? Or only water and juices? Is He asking you to fast one meal a day, one day a week, or several days or weeks at a time? Is God leading you to undertake a forty-day fast? Inviting the Holy Spirit's guidance in this matter will make your time with God more meaningful.

Token fasting, such as giving up chocolates or lemon pie or some other favorite food, may be commendable, but it does not allow the Holy Spirit to do the inner work necessary to bring about real changes in your spiritual life. Nor does it persuade God that you are serious about revival for America and the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

As I pointed out earlier, the biblical fast usually calls for water. I have conducted many strictly water fasts for a day or several days at a time with special blessings. However I strongly suggest adding vegetable and fruit juices to your intake, although some advice against orange or tomato juice because of acid content.

Once you know how to fast, short fasts of one to three days require no more than water. Christians who fast regularly often go ten days or longer on water--even up to forty days--with beneficial effects, both spiritually and physically, under the daily supervision of one who is knowledgeable about water fasting. You have more food reserves stored in body fat than you realize, and most of us would be more than happy to give up the fat.

However, until you build up your "fasting muscles," or if your are undertaking a long fast, you may want to add vegetable or fruit juices (preferably without sugar or sweeteners) to your intake.

Limit Activity

The fifth step is to limit your activity level. Exercise moderately. Rest as much as your schedule will permit. Short naps are very helpful. "Resting is not a sin," Dr. Ruidbal explains. "Fasting in the strictest sense is physiological rest. Your body rests from the processes involved in digestion and the assimilation of food to concentrate on excretion."

That is why during the fast you may experience side effects. "Some people experience headaches, stomach aches, nausea, foul tastes in their mouth, or a pasty tongue," Dr. Ruibal says. "Their urine may become darker, and even their perspiration may smell worse than usual. Vomiting may occur. This is not normal but should not be cause for alarm. In a prolonged fast, it is not unusual to experience slight fever. Basically, the body is taking advantage of the fast to clean and heal itself."

Consider Your Medications

The sixth step is to consider your medications. It is particularly important that you consult with your doctor before going on a fast if you are on any prescribed medication.

Plan Your Prayer Time

The seventh step is to set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord during your fast. The more time you spend with Him in fellowship, worship, and adoration and the more you read and meditate on His Word during your fast, the greater your effectiveness will be in prayer and the more meaningful your fast will be.

Seek God in prayer and as you meditate on His Word each morning before you leave home or go about your daily routine. Return to prayer at lunch, and come before Him again in the evening for unhurried times seeking His face. Of course, you should practice His presence and continue to have fellowship with Him constantly as your pray without ceasing throughout the day.

There is not set formula for how to pray when you fast. You may wish to pray aloud or silently, asking the Lord to grant specific requests. I suggest you make a list and add to it daily as needs come to mind. Pray earnestly for your family, your pastor, your church, your community, and our nation. Pray for revival in our land and a great worldwide spiritual harvest. Pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

You may wait before God in quiet meditation as you invite the Holy Spirit to minister to you and bring to mind those things He wants you to pray about.

You should go about your daily activities mindful that your are still fasting and seeking the Lord. Some of my deepest spiritual insights have come as I continue my ministry responsibilities while seeking His face and practicing His presence.

If you do not know what to pray for, or you feel "prayed out," wait quietly before Him. Turn to the psalms or other favorite passages of Scripture and pray the Word of God back to Him. For example, pray each verse of Psalm 23 aloud, thanking Him for performing each of those promises in your life. Worship and praise the Lord. Tell God how much you love Him and want to serve Him. Invite His presence into your life in a fresh way.

You may wish to approach God with the Lord's Prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. Generally, this prayer covers everything we could possibly ask or say to God. As an introduction to this prayer, Jesus reminded His disciples that "your Father knows the things that you need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8 NKJV).

Now that you have an idea of how to go about fasting, it is time to fix your gaze upon the One who sees you and knows you--the One who delights in you and is waiting for you to come before Him.

HOW TO BREAK YOUR FAST

When your designated time of fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important--both for your physical and spiritual well-being.

If you end your fast gradually, as you should, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will linger for days. But if you rush into eating solid foods--the prospect of food can tempt you to do that--you may experience diarrhea, sickness, fainting, and even death due to shock. This is especially true of an extended fast. Nutritionist Paul Bragg explains in The Miracle of Fasting :

When you have been on a ...fast, your stomach and the thirty feet of intestinal tract have contracted, and when you are ready to break a fast, it should be done (with special care).

Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract always creates defeating effects. You can lose much of your deep sense of peace and well-being in the space of a single meal. Even a three-day fast requires reasonable precautions. It is wise to start with a little soup--something thin and nourishing, such as vegetable broth made from onion, celery, potatoes, and carrots--and fresh fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe.

As your body accepts these foods, advance to a few tablespoons of solid food such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato. (I do not recommend milk or milk products and meat because some individuals may suffer adverse reactions to these after a fast.) Then, several hours later, try another small snack. The idea is to ease back into regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. This requires discipline, but you will avoid the severe pain and other serious physical reactions that come from eating too much too soon.

I terminated my forty-day with a cup of soup, followed by small amounts of watermelon and other fruits every few hours for a couple of days until I was comfortable to resume my normal routine of eating. As you can imagine, that cup of soup and first few bites of solid food were ecstasy. Never had ordinary food tasted so good.

EXPECT RESULTS!

No two persons will experience the same effects of a fast because no two persons go into it in exactly the same condition or with the same needs. But if you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord in repentance, intercession, and worship and consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. And you will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed...

Most people experience a measure of revival as a result of fasting. In addition, you will begin to see God's hand move in the situation that originally drove you to your knees and to fasting, including spiritual awakening and revival for your pastor, your church, and your church leaders.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and praying again and again until we truly experience God's best in our lives, our homes, our churches, our beloved nation, and our world.

BIll Bright, "Releasing God's Power Through Fasting", https://unityinchrist.com/prayer/print/fasting.htm