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Sent in Power - Shepherd of Hope

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. – Luke 9:1

 

A certain faith includes being sent. Unless faith is tested, it can’t be trusted. Being sent is an essential part of having a certain faith. Being sent is the application of what we’ve learned as disciples. Being sent is how we discover and come to know that God’s truth is truthful. Being sent is indispensable to a certain faith. Faith will never be certain without sending.

Jesus is the “Son of Man” (e.g. Luke 9:22, 26, 44, 58), and as such, He is our example. He came to be the perfect Man and begin to undo the sinful fall of the first man Adam. He will break the curse of the first Adam on the cross. He will defeat the final enemy of that first fall in His resurrection. And He will model and exemplify the life we were originally intended to live by God the Father.

In the first eight chapters of the gospel of Luke, the disciples have been mostly observers. Being a disciple involves observation and study. A disciple is a learner, a pupil, a disciple (Greek mathetes). Up until Luke 9, the disciples have been in the class room with Jesus. But their training will not be complete unless at some point they put it into practice. That’s what we begin to see in this chapter. A certain faith includes being sent.

A faith untested cannot be trusted. No test, no testimony. For a person’s faith to be healthy and all Jesus desires it to be, it cannot only be theoretical. For faith to become strong and reliable, it must be tested, it must be exercised. You can’t just read about diet and exercise; you have to do the cooking and have to actually work out.   You don’t get your driver’s license by just passing a written exam, at some point you have to demonstrate you actually know how to drive. Reading about prayer is good, but at some point, you have to actually pray. Reading and even studying the Bible is good, but you have to put what you study into practical practice in life to actually know that what it says is true, and, to know if you are what the Bible says you should be.

In Luke 9 Jesus sends out the twelve disciples. He sends them out so they will learn the reliability of His resources and teaching. He sends them out to put into practice what He has been demonstrating and teaching them about. If they aren’t sent out, they might come to the mistaken notion that only Jesus can do what Jesus does. If they aren’t sent out, they will have no sense of the authenticity of their faith and what Jesus can empower them to do. Without being sent out by Jesus, they will have no sense of mission and purpose. If Jesus doesn’t send them out, their faith will be weak and uncertain; they won’t be sure about the reliability of Jesus.

This chapter of Luke is essential. It’s essential because we learn, along with the disciples, that application is an essential part of a person’s faith being certain. In our Bible study and life, we make observations and interpretations, but we only discover the actual truth of what we learn when there is application. D.L. Moody once said:

Someone has said that there are four things necessary in studying the Bible: admit, submit, commit, and transmit. First, admit its truth, Second, submit to its teachings. Third, commit it to memory. Fourth, transmit it. If the Christ life is a good thing for you, pass it on to someone else. [1]

At some point in our spiritual growth, there must be a life application of what we learn. Otherwise, we will remain uncertain of what we are learning.

Luke 9 records Jesus sending out of the disciples. This is Jesus’ life application mission for the disciples. They are going to learn what to do and how to do it. And they are going to be given a taste of victory that will propel them onward in their journey of acquiring a certain faith.

Sent with Power

Luke 9:1 – Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.

Jesus called the twelve together to give them some final instructions. Then it says, He “gave them power.” Now notice, this is “power” that He gave them. This “power” came from Him. This is not some impersonal force. This is power that comes from Jesus and had been modelled to them by Jesus.

Jesus, as the Son of Man,” was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself, as the “Son of Man,” the perfect representative Man, our model to follow, demonstrated this empowerment at His baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Luke 3:21-22). Certainly, the disciples would have heard of this and seen the effects of it in the life of Jesus and His ministry. They needed the empowerment of the Spirit as well.

Power. The word “power” (Greek dunamis) means power to do, power, might, strength. This power would keep them afloat and strengthen them to do what Jesus was sending them out to do. It would also provide them with power to do what Jesus commanded them to do, preach the kingdom of God and heal.

Authority. The word “authority” (Greek exousia) means authority, right power. Authority to rule, lawful right. This is Jesus ordination of the disciples. They went out in His name so to speak. If anyone questioned by whose authority, they were doing what they were doing, they could say, “Jesus sent us.” That was all the authority they needed.

This “power” and “authority” was “over all demons, and to cure diseases.” This was an enablement to do spiritual warfare. It was an enablement to physical heal people. And this power was from Jesus.

Do You Fear Being Sent?

Do you fear being sent by Jesus to minister to others? Being sent into the world to minister in the name of Jesus can be an intimidating thing for people. It’s not always easy to share with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employers, strangers, or people we meet incidentally (God-incidentally) in life. Some of that intimidation is due to spiritual warfare. Satan tries to instill fear into the sent Christian so as to curtail and inhibit sharing the truth of Christ. Some of that hesitancy and fear comes from within us. Sometimes its an indication of a lack of faith.

Fear defeating resources from God. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul in his final letter, written to Timothy, tells his younger pastoral disciple:

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

The fear we have in serving and ministering the gospel and word of God, is not from God. The word “fear” here (Greek deilia) actually means cowardice, timidity, fear. Such fear inhibits and prevents us from fulfilling His plans for us. Such fear holds us down from standing up courageously when we need to. Such fear causes us to cower in the face of opposition. Such fear is a foe of faith and what in faith Jesus desires us to do and be.

Instead, what we are told in this verse is that we are given three fear defeating resources by God.

First, God provides us with power.  The word “power” (Greek dunamis) means power, might, ability, force. We get the English word dynamite from this Greek term. This is power that is explosive. It is a power to overcome obstacles. It is the power of influence and favor and impact on the ones being ministered too. It is might to stand strong in the Lord when you are outnumbered. It is spiritual gifting and ability to do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do. It is strength and force to move impediments and obstacles out of the way or brush them aside. It is power to overcome fear.

Second, God provides us with love. When the Holy Spirit indwells a person when the are born again (John 3), the love of God is poured out into their heart (Romans 5:5). There is nothing greater than love. And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). Jesus said His disciples would be identified by their love for one another (John 13:35). He said the greatest love is sacrificial love (John 15:13). We are never closer to Jesus or more like Him than when we love. Jesus said its by love that we reach out to our enemies (Luke 6:27-28, and 35). Through love we can overcome “a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

I believe the nature of the power provided by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was, love. The love of God enabled Peter and the others on Pentecost to overcome their fears and any animosity they might have toward those who supported the crucifixion of Jesus days before. Yes, the love of God gives us a passion for the lost and drives and motivates us to minister for Jesus to the lost.

We are told in scripture that love is of God and is evidence that one has been born of God (1 John 4:7). If we don’t love we aren’t of God (1 John 4:8). God’s love is best seen in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (1 John 4:9-10).

We are told in scripture that if God loved (and loves) us, we therefore, ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). When we love, we are closest to God and matured (perfected) in our faith (1 John 4:12). Therefore, we should not be surprised when we are told:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14–15 – 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

The love of Christ should be the compelling, driving force in all we do.

Third, God gives us a sound mind. A single Greek term is translated by the phrase “sound mind” (Greek sophronismos). The meaning here is moderation, prudence, self-control. This is a God-given ability to know when discretion is the better part of valor. This is a God-given ability to maneuver skillfully in conversation and know when, and when not to speak. This soundness of mind is the ability to realize that sometimes we should listen instead of talk. And it is the God-given ability to provide an appropriate response to an inquirer or skeptic.

Yes, God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Do you have these things God provides? Have you sought Him for them? If you are fearful to be sent and used by God in some way, seek the LORD and ask Him for the power, love, and soundness of mind needed to serve Him. And do you know what Jesus said about asking the Father for help? He said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

Empowerment Since Pentecost

The companion volume to the Gospel of Luke is the Book of Acts. And in that book Jesus instructs His disciples about the empowerment for service He would provide. The Book of Acts provides us with instruction and examples of the power of God provided for us to serve Jesus.

Now for us living in post-Pentecostal times, Jesus provides us power to serve Him through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He instructed the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they received an empowerment. It states:

  • Luke 24:46–49 – 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

 

  • Acts 1:4–5 – And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Then Jesus went on to describe this baptism with the Holy Spirit as:

  • Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This empowering baptism with the Holy Spirit was something subsequent or after the disciples had been initially filled with the Spirit or born again (cf. John 20:22). So, the disciples waiting in the Upper Room for this baptism were already born again (Acts 1:12-14).

There is evidence that this empowerment comes after our initial spiritual rebirth (Acts 8:14-17). But there is also evidence that such an empowerment of the Spirit is concurrent with (or at the same time of) being born again (cf. Acts 10:44-48). Whenever it occurs, it is to be received by faith (Acts 15:8-9). This spiritual empowerment is also connected to obedience (Acts 5:32).

This “Promise of the Father” was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples it states:

  • Acts 2:1–4 – When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Just a few things to notice here.

First, the Spirit came upon them when they were “with one accord in one place” (2:1). The Spirit came upon them when they were united and praying for the same thing, the Promise of the Father and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (cf. also Acts 1:14). The Spirit works in and through God’s people when they are united, “one accord.”

Second, the Spirit came upon them suddenly (2:2). They were praying, and seeking the Spirit’s empowerment, but the Spirit came upon them suddenly. This was a definite experience that came upon them in a moment of time.

Third, the evidence of the Spirit’s arrival and empowering was a “rushing mighty wind” (2:2). You can’t see wind. What you see in a wind storm or hurricane or tornado is debris swept up by the wind. The wind is invisible but powerful. So too is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. You maybe can’t see it, but it is powerful.

Fourth, the “rushing mighty wind, . . .  filled the whole house” (2:2). Everything about this event was fulfilling. The house where they were was filled as were the disciples waiting for the filling.

Fifth, the Spirit came upon them while they were “sitting” (2:2). They “were sitting” in the place where they were waiting for the Spirit to come. I mention this simply to say that, they were praying and reclined, waiting on the Lord, sitting. The position of their bodies was not important. The position of their hearts and prayers was what mattered.

Sixth, the Spirit came with fire (2:3). Fire is often a sign of God’s presence (e.g. The Burning Bush in Exodus 3). Fire is often a symbol of purifying or cleansing as well (Jeremiah 20:9-10; Acts 15:8-9).

Seventh, the Spirit came on them individually (2:3). The tongues of fire “one sat upon each of them.” The Spirit comes personally; individually. They were of one accord waiting on the Lord, but they were individually empowered by the Lord. The Spirit empowers personally.

Eighth, they were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (2:4). The idea here is an overflowing (cf. John 7:37-39). There was a recognizable filling of the Spirit in each one of them.

Ninth, when they were filled by the Spirit they spoke (2:4). Based on Jesus’ explanation of the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:8), the empowerment of the Spirit is to speak or share or witness about Jesus.

Tenth, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they received spiritual gifts (2:4). They spoke in tongues (though this is not always the case). They spoke in other languages that pilgrims from all areas in Jerusalem for Pentecost could understand them (2:5-11). Peter later spoke forth with the gift of preaching, evangelism and teaching (Acts 2:14-40). The Holy Spirit empowers and provides for us to serve the Lord by giving us spiritual giftings; supernatural enablement to serve the Lord in and through the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12-14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4).

While not everyone listening and watching fully understood what was happening, and some even mocked saying “They are full of new wine” (2:13), the gospel of Jesus Christ went forth with power that day. It says:

  • Acts 2:37–41 – 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

When the Holy Spirit empowers us, He accomplishes great things to the glory of God through us.

So, a word of caution here at the beginning of our study of Luke 9. We can’t follow Jesus as a disciple and serve Him effectively, in our own strength. We need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to implement any and all parts of God’s word and Jesus instructions. Remember what William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, stated:

“The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”

The same chief danger for the 20th century holds true in the 21st century. Are you answering Jesus call to be sent? Are you paralyzed from witnessing or standing for Gods’ truth because of fear? That fear isn’t from Him. That fear is the foe of faith. That fear can be overcome by the power, love, and sound mind God promises to provide to the one who seeks Him for it in prayer. If you would like this power, here is a helpful prayer you might pray to receive it.

First, if you aren’t sure of your eternal life, you can pray this to ask God’s forgiveness and for eternal life:

Father, in Jesus’ name, I come before You. I have sinned against You. I turn from my sins to You. Please forgive me my sins. I ask, not on the basis of any works or efforts of my own, but because I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay my debt of sin. I trust in Jesus atoning work on the cross alone for my salvation. I believe Jesus rose from the dead. I accept Him as my Savior. Please forgive my sin and give me spiritual life. Holy Spirit fill me. Please give me a new heart. Help me to live for You. Show me where to serve You. Show me how to serve You. Show me how to make You known to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For those who know Jesus as Savior, but need His power:

Father, in Jesus’ name, I come before You. Forgive me for letting fear keep me from serving You. I need Your power. I need Your love. I need the sound mind You provide. Please help me to overcome my fears. Please use me for Your glory. Help me to stand for Your truth. Help me to share the gospel with the lost. Give me a heart for the lost. Use me however You see fit. Help me to hear You. Help me to obey You. Help me to bring glory to Your Name. Holy Spirit please come upon me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

[1] D.L. Moody, How to Study the Bible – Updated Edition (Aneko Press) for Kindle, chapter 9 “Learn and use the Bible.”

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