In Matthew 22:23-33, a group of religious folk came to Jesus to trap Him, asking a hypothetical question about marriage in Heaven after death. Since these Sadducces disbelieved in the Resurrection, Jesus responded rather directly,
“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the Power of God.”
What Jesus said to them can apply to us today regarding how many Christians try living out their faith daily. It is possible to know a lot about the Bible, and yet be so powerless, because one tries to follow Jesus, using only their own human resources. Conversely, there are those who have received some of the power of God as promised in the Scripture, and yet who do things which do more harm than good, because they lack spiritual maturity. It is like giving a power tools to children.
I personally confronted this dilemma of balancing Biblical knowledge versus power when the Lord called me into the ministry. Having gifts in science and mathematics while in high school, I worked as a summer research assistant with a chemical corporation after graduation. After enrolling in college, I confronted the claims of Jesus, made an “experiment of faith” as I had done in the research lab, and opened my life to Jesus to be my Savior. That relationship began to transform my life. Later, the Lord surprised me, calling me from chemistry into ordained pastoral ministry, a career where I had no apparent gifts. But He was asking for my availability, not my abilities!
In obedience, I attended the finest theological seminaries following college, was ordained, and called to help serve in a large growing church in New England. I felt so inadequate for the job. Something was missing. While I read the Gospel accounts of how Jesus trained and empowered His disciples for ministry, I was trained as a Christian humanist, depending on my own skills and knowledge. I knew much about sound Biblical teaching. But the power of God? I didn’t have a clue.
Through several Christians who were part of renewal movements in the church, I heard for the first time that the miracles of the Bible were still occurring today. And not just with snake handling, tongue speaking, falling on the floor, healing holy rollers. But among mainstream Protestants: Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians. This open my eyes on a journey to find the balance which Jesus modeled with His disciples. It was an entirely new approach to ministry. I was experiencing the “something more” of the presence of God which allowed me to reconcile the knowledge of Biblical truth, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially love (Galatians 5:22-23) with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Wow! Experiencing God at work transforming my life, and the lives of others, was beyond amazing!
Recently, a couple in our congregation became pregnant , bringing great joy to many. But 7 weeks before the due date, during a traumatic premature delivery, the mother and baby nearly died. Then doctors discovered the baby had a potentially fatal heart defect. The parents were part of a community of believers who all knew the transforming love and power of Jesus. So during the next 8 weeks, individually, and in group prayer vigils, the parents and baby were surrounded by prayer. It was a roller coaster ride of hope and despair, joy and crisis, progress and set backs for parents, baby, and the support group.
As we met for prayer, rather than just telling Jesus what we wanted Him to do for this family, we asked Him how to pray. We took time to listen. Someone kept a record of what He said to the group during these times of “listening”. He often guided us to pray about things which we had not considered. But the overarching word seemed to be “Just place this precious child in My strong hands, for My healing guidance and direction of her care, surgery, and recovery.” Some received visions of this little one at different stages of her growth, dancing and praising the Lord. We sensed that Jesus was about to do a series of miracles which would touch the lives of many. Even a group of new Christians in India prayed prior to surgery, and received similar words as they prayed at the Holy Spirit’s direction.
As I write this three weeks after surgery, the baby is ready to come home. Even the surgeon testified how the delicate surgery went well. The recovery crisis is replaced with great joy and thanksgiving!
What are we learning? The balance of TRUTH in the Biblical promises which Jesus often shared with us during our listening times, combined with the FRUIT of the Spirit, in love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, and believing in the POWER of God to accomplish His will today. Our responsibility was seeking His agenda by asking Him, listening, and then praying how we could assist Him in accomplishing His perfect will.
I can testify that this was a great learning experience not only for me but for all of us who were part of this “miracle”. There is a balance of TRUTH, FRUIT, and POWER which must be lived out in following Jesus. Does this make sense?
Don’t miss the experience of seeing His perfect will accomplished by trying to “fix” things with our own resources.
Dr. Larry Selig