Saturday, September 10, 2011

Power for Working

(The following lesson was developed from the writings of Steve Bray- “The Faith that Prays.”)

Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me. (John 11:41-42)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)
The Son surrendered His right to assert His own power and authority when He came to live as a man in a mortal body. Because He was fully man, He too had to live by faith and receive everything from His Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. He knew that if He was to live according to God’s original plan for man it would be necessary to receive everything from above. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” (John 3:27) He would need to permit the Father to be the source of everything He did. Thus, the Son never did anything on His own.

I do nothing of Myself… And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:28-29)

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:10-11)
Jesus chose to live as a vessel of the Father’s life and works. Through communion with His Father He was able to learn of the Father’s will and then carry it out through His prayers of faith. He was enabled to pray in harmony with His Father’s will because He waited on the Father to communicate to Him through the Spirit what needed to be done. This is what enabled Him to receive answers to His prayers.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear {from the Spirit}, I judge {make decisions and respond}; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)
The Son did not ask His Father to answer His prayers just for show. He too had to depend on the Spirit to guide Him and to show Him what the Father was intending to work out through Him. And then, as He lived as a man without His own power, He carried out the works of His Father through the power of the Holy Spirit based on His prayers of faith.

Jesus knew that He would always be heard by the Father because He was totally committed to doing His Father’s will. Even at the age of twelve, we hear Him saying, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) He did not “do anything” or “say anything” that was not received from the heavenly realms through the Holy Spirit. This is why His judgments were always righteous. As He lived “as one” with His Father, everything He did came from His Father in heaven.

We too are expected to receive our spiritual life and our daily guidance from heaven and then carry out His works through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to live as a vessel of His life and works in the same way He lived as a vessel of His Father’s life and works. Those who will stop living in a self-originated form of life and begin responding to the still small voice of the Spirit will be led into a place where they can begin sharing with the Son in an abundantly full measure of His eternal life and begin doing His “greater works.”

My sheep hear My voice…and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life… (John 10:26)

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall {be led through these greater works to} build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In {as you carry out the work of establishing the true kingdom of God }. (Isa. 58:11-12)
When we learn to walk in the Spirit as Jesus did, which entails receiving everything from Him, He begins to do His “greater works” of restoring the eternal kingdom of God through us. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12-14) Now that He has all power and authority in heaven and earth He can begin sharing His dominion and power with His disciples so that His eternal kingdom can be established within the hearts of other men and women in this world.

Not only did the Son come to show the children of God how they are to live, but thanks be to God, our resurrected Lord is now a “life giving spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45) As the Father was the source of His life in a mortal body, He can now become the source of everything we do. “I will come to you… At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:18, 20) “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 18:20)

The Holy Spirit is the One who takes of the shared life of the Trinity and reveals this heavenly life within our inner being. Jesus said, “He {the Spirit} will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. {The Father and the Son share in the same life and will within the Trinity.} That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:14 NIV)

The Spirit is able to reveal the Son’s life and will through our mortal bodies as we choose to walk by His Spirit. And as we share with Him in His spiritual life, we can also share with Him in the power of His throne.

This may help us to understand how the prayers of man, coming through the Son, can have such an effect on the Father. His decrees are not made without reference to the Son. In effect, our words become expressions of the Son’s own petitions. Every request that reaches the Father comes through the Son.

The Lord Jesus is the first-begotten, the Head and Heir of all things. As the Representative of all God’s children, the Son of Man always has a voice in the Father’s decisions. The same holds true for the petitions of the members of His body who have fully surrendered to live as vessels of His life and works. By dying to the old self-originated form of life and choosing to be united together with the Son’s life and will, these children of God can then draw near to the Father through their prayer-union with the Son. “For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is head over every power and authority.” (Col. 2:9 NIV)

Is there any wonder why our prayers can have such power? Through our union with the Son, we enter into the workings that are now taking place within the Blessed Trinity. Because we receive this “fullness” of divine life in “bodily form” from Christ (John 1:16), we can be restored to the divine image and put His mighty power to work through our prayers. This is the glorious privilege of the Spirit-led children of God in this age of fulfillment.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand {on the throne of power where He now has all dominion} in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:18-20 NIV)
The first lesson Jesus provided was simple: Be childlike, pray believingly, and trust the Father to be your provider. Now He points to something much higher. His disciples are to be the source of His work in this world. As the members of His body here on earth, the furthering of His eternal kingdom has been entrusted into the hands of His disciples. Prayer is to be the channel through which the power for that work is received and dispersed. With Christ’s ascension to the throne of power and through the disciple’s union with His spiritual life in the heavenly realms, a new epoch for both their working and their praying then commenced. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death {to the old self-originated form of life}, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5)

F. B. Meyer exhorts every Christians to enter into this glorious privilege. “If any will dare to venture on the path of separation [from the ways of this world]—cutting themselves aloof from all human aid and from all self-originated effort, content to walk alone with God with no help from any but Him—such will find that all the resources of the divine almightiness will be placed at their disposal.”

This connection comes out clearly in our text from the fourteenth chapter of John. After dying out to their flesh-life and becoming vessels of the Son’s life and works, the disciples, as His body here on earth, were enabled to do an even greater work than He did before being glorified. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

His going away to be glorified—a place where He would possess all power and authority—would provide the disciples with a double blessing. It would enable them to have the divine image restored and exalt them to a place where they could pray in His Name. This relationship would enable them to begin doing the greater works of furthering His eternal Kingdom-life here on earth. And He is still seeking out disciples today who will follow Him into the light of His eternal life and begin spreading this gospel—this good news—about the kingdom of God.

Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:14-15)
Has your faith begun to rise up and provide a little understanding of your glorious privilege? You too can be exalted to a special place in the kingdom of God and begin living as a means for your Lord to reveal His power and glory and dominion. We are now in the age of fulfillment when He can accomplish these “greater works” through His disciples. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time {to the place where you may begin sharing with Him in His reigning life and in the power of His throne} … But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the old flesh-life}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you {in the eternal Kingdom-life}. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 5:6, 10-11)

And how true it was! Jesus, during three years of personal labor on earth could not lead anyone into His Kingdom-life of holy love. But after He had paid the price for our sins and was living in His glorified state with the Father, He was in a place to begin communicating His spiritual life to people here on earth. This is something that Jesus could not do while still living in a mortal body. At that point He could only say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) The Kingdom-life was near to them, but was not yet in them. “Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.” (Luke 10:11) Thus, Jesus said it would be better for His disciples after He went away and could become the very source of their life.

Jesus was able to reveal this heavenly “light of life,” but He could not share it with anyone until He was glorified. Let us praise the Lord! Now that He has received the right to fill every vessel, we can become vessels of His life and works. “He who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4:10)

We have records to show how men like Peter and Paul, after being clothed with heavenly power, began leading others into God’s heavenly kingdom. Multitudes were enabled to share with the Son in His submissive nature and began doing God’s will here on earth with the same kind of yieldedness as it is done in heaven. And this is exactly what we need to be praying for in our day.

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come {into the hearts of men and women in this world}. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:9-10)

For the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. (Eph. 5:8-9)
Our fleshly human efforts may have some use in restraining sin, in creating social organizations and in preparing the way for a blessing, but the true kingdom of God cannot be advanced without the work of God’s divine power. We might even become as great as John the Baptist in leading others to a repentance that results in the remission of sins and reconciliation with God; but if we are to do the “greater works” of drawing others into our Lord’s heavenly Kingdom-life of holy love we must begin using a greater power than was available to John the Baptist in his day.

The disciple who lives wholly for the kingdom of God, for Christ’s will and honor alone, shall be given the power to appropriate His promises. Anyone who tries to take hold of these promises only when he wants something for himself will be disappointed. God will not honor those who try to make Jesus the servant of their own pleasures. (Jam. 4:3) But those who will choose to die to their old self-exalting and self-seeking way of life so they may begin to pray the effective prayer of faith that accomplishes the greater works of their Master, can depend on Him to hear their prayers. He always grants the requests of those who have His mind and are living for His interests.

Whoever is “faithful over a few things, I will make…ruler over many things.” (Matt. 25:21) With the amount of grace you have already received, give yourself to the work of your Master! If you will be faithful in the little things, you can count on Him to begin leading you into His greater works. As you surrender fully to serve God, you will feel that this great promise of answered prayer is exactly what you need for accomplishing your appointed tasks.

Believers in Jesus! You have been called to do the work of God. The Son is now sitting at the right hand of the Father where He possesses all power and authority. And He wants to share His dominion with you for the purpose of furthering His Kingdom-life in this world. We now ask you, are you going to respond to His conditions so you may enter into this glorious privilege? These are His words: “If you abide in Me…you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Do you truly believe in Jesus? If you do, become a true disciple of His. For the sake of this dying world, fully abandon yourselves to God so you may become an instrument of this glorious work of the Lord.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)