“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
I preached a message from this text at the Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God in the early 1980’s. Afterward, some of the District officials appeared annoyed with me and one refused to shake my hand. After reflection, I realized that they thought I was advocating the Word of Faith doctrine that was growing in prominence at the time and invading many of the AoG churches. Since then I have come to the realization that professing Christians tend to swing on a pendulum of dogma. When something mimics their position, they will swing as far in the opposite direction as possible to avoid association. Thus, we have legalism in response to liberalism, hyper-Pentecostalism in response to Cessationism, and a measured faithlessness in response to hyper-faith, among other things. It appears that all Satan has to do to knock us off our mountain is to build one nearby that appears similar. Then we will abandon our position willingly.
I still believe in the power of God in response to effectual, fervent prayer by faithful people. If we do not believe that statement, then why pray or ask people to pray? Are we praying to a “Perhaps God” that seldom responds? It does not matter that many filthy rich simoniacal charlatans practice their craft with cameras rolling. They make a mockery of God’s gifts and power for the benefits of wealth and fame. But that does not mean I should refuse to lay hands on the sick, bound, oppressed, and possessed, believing in the power of God to set them free. Either every word of God is true, or it is all false.
It does not mean that they will all be healed or that all their needs will be met in the manner and time that they desire. I don’t know the reason(s) why. All I know is that I have witnessed miracles. The lack of God doing what we desire does not alter the fact that He can. It is for certain that few people receive healing or deliverance from the “telecharlatans”. I have heard them brag about how God answers every one of their prayers without fail. However, they turn and blame the ones that are not healed or delivered of having a lack of faith. I wonder if they realize that Christ healed and delivered people who had no faith or hope.
Another side of the issue is that many churches today are becoming cultural centers. Everything one would expect to find at a secular meeting to attract a crowd one can find in these churches. When the entertainment is over, a spiritual icicle will stand behind a Plexiglas podium and preach a pithy sermonette laced with humor. They all go to the restaurant and then home to watch a sports event on TV. Everyone is comfortable that they did their duty to God and all is well. They are more concerned with relating to culture and doing social works than they are in being a peculiar people of God with a unique message. How do they expect to get people to become totally committed to Christ Jesus when they are too ashamed to expressly declare His full attributes? Who those churches advertise is not the true Christ, but one that needs much help from the world system and even Satan to attract converts.
The biblical Christ declared that if He was crucified, He would draw people to Him. There was no other requirement even hinted at. (John 12:32-33)
Because Christ died and rose again from the dead there is power in every true Christian to defeat the works of darkness. We should not blame the pastor only when no mighty works are accomplished in church meetings. God never told us to put all our hopes and faith in one human and expect him to do all the work. We should ask ourselves, “What is the good fight of faith anyway?” Is it simply the ability to endure the consequences of our low living? Is the mere fact that we still attend church meetings proof that we have faith?
Imagine standing before God with a dirty rag wrapped around our church attendance record and saying, “Here, Lord, I fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” We should stand in front of a mirror and tell ourselves what attributes of true Christianity that we possess. It’s for certain that one day God will tell us what we possess. If we can point at ourselves and say, “You love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and believe that with God all things are possible”, then we have the premise of true faith abiding in us.
True Christians must come together in their meetings with the faith that nothing is impossible for God. If we don’t believe that God can set people free in the name of Jesus Christ, or we are too spiritually weak and lacking in faith to do so, then we should send them to a doctor or perhaps a psychiatrist. But one thing we should not do, and that is to declare that God cannot do what He plainly declared that He could and will do. We should be honest and say that we are people of little faith.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)