Why We Need the Power of God

It has been said that if we took the Holy Spirit out of many of our churches today, 90% of what we do would be left unchanged. That might be an exagerration, but it does speak to the fact that so much of what we do in our Christian lives are only the things that we do in our own power. As I studied for the Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit last month, I became more and more convinced that God wants to work in powerful ways in our lives and ministries. People tend to get hung up on "tongues," but that is just a minor gift that needs to be seen in its proper context. The bigger issue for me is, "Does my life and ministry require God’s power, or am I able to handle everything in my own strength?" Jesus said that the disciples were to wait in Jerusalem until they were "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49), and Acts 1:8 reports Jesus as saying that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us to be witnesses all over the world. Do we have that power?

How much are we doing, that if God did not show up, it would completely fail? How much are we doing that we have to have faith to believe God for? When you hear stories of miracles and God’s intervention, do you praise Him, or are you unmoved and filled with skepticism? How often do you pray for God to do what you cannot do? Do we think that we can see people come to Christ and see our churches grow apart from the work and power of the Holy Spirit? When is the last time that you prayed for God’s power to be upon your church or yourself so that you could be a witness for Him (Acts 4:29-31)? I think that we are often depending more upon ourselves than we do upon the Lord for victory in our lives and fruit in our ministry.

I remember when I was a youth minister in a rural church years ago. We were having revival meetings and the pastor and evangelist were in the pastor’s office. I asked if we could pray before the meeting and they were a little surprised. "Sure," they said awkwardly. We then prayed a stiff prayer that God would bless the meeting. It was over before it started. I was shocked. We were having "Revival" and we didn’t even ask God to show up! I have seen this attitude repeated over and over again in our Southern Baptist Churches. Perhaps this is why our member to baptism ratio is 44:1.  In our church it was 9:1 last year, and I truly believe that it is simply attributable to the fact that we consistently ask God to work through us and empower us for life and ministry. It is His work, not ours. We should do it in His power and give Him glory for what He does. No one is coming to Christ unless he is drawn by the power of God. No one. So, why don’t we pray and live that way more often?

I am starting a sermon series this month on the power of the Holy Spirit as shown through the Book of Acts. We are going to look at what God did in the early church and ask Him to do it in our lives as well. We are not going to explain things away or say that God doesn’t work that way anymore. We are going to preach, hear, and read the Scripture and actually try and live it out by faith. We are also going to reach out all summer and pray that God will empower us and work through us. I am believing God for great things and I’ll let you know how it goes!

What are you believing God for this summer beyond what you can do in your own strength?

6 Responses to Why We Need the Power of God

  1. Alan,
    I read your blog, but rarely comment – if ever (I’m not sure if I have or not). Anyway, I am originally from a small town about 45 miles north of Montgomery. I appreciate what you write, and I am excited to hear about Gateway in Montgomery.
    After reading this post, I thought you might be interested in this quote from A.W. Tozer (from many years ago):
    “The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.” – A.W. Tozer
    I think you are correct. We have so organized the church and so defined for each person’s role is that we no longer need God. God still works powerfully. But, that doesn’t mean that we are obeying and following him.

  2. Alan,
    Your post has caused me to spend many more words in considering the Power of God, and I posted my thoughts on my blog (I find myself unable to create a link on this page).
    I believe my church has systematically, although not necessarily intentionally, kicked God out. When a prominent member and worship leader maintained an adulterous affair in full view of the entire community, we did nothing and turned on the pastor who did something. We maintain a woman playing the piano because she is an amazing player (and she truly is), regardless of the fact that her words are bitter, that she interrupts worship to berate her husband (who leads the music), and that she is of a very foul mouth and disposition. We have put our hope in facilities and not in the Lord.
    These are just a few examples, but I firmly believe that we are only doing what we are able to do in our church.
    As for your closing question, I am believing God to bring us to repentance as a church. I am believing God to take hold of the hearts of some neighborhood kids and to make them His servants. I am believing God to take people who are tired, who feel they have already served and do not need to serve again, who have a tight little clique, and who see nothing wrong in any of it to be convicted and shaken to their core with an urgency to serve God and to reach out to their neighbors and co-workers who are lost. I am believing God for miracles!

  3. Amen, David! Praise God! I’ll be praying for you as you follow the Lord in these things. May His grace and power be with you!

  4. Love this post Alan…
    It truly resonates well with my heart. I just returned from working with one or m’s in Europe who works with Muslims in a large city. Both there, and here in the local church…we just flat out need God’s presence and power. Bless you bro. as you and your church go hard after God. You’re on the right track man!

  5. A passing thought: how much are we doing that, if God showed up, then it would fail?