Influential Words :: By Jerry McDermott

Two scriptural words that are interconnected are power and righteousness. In fact, they are used throughout the Bible. Let’s start with righteousness, which in religious circles means being Christ-like.

As we examine the twenty-first century, it appears there isn’t much of this even in churches.

However, this is critical to our Christian growth, yet it is not evident in most people. The reason is that they are unfamiliar with how you obtain this virtue. Simply, it is part of the process whereby we change our lifestyle to become more virtuous like Christ.

I was curious about this, and in questioning the Lord, He revealed a progress not understood by many, including me. I asked about personal growth since Pentecost. The Lord reminded me of the progress of His people. While the change may not be apparent, His words about His people were amazing as He asked me, “Are you not holier; are you not becoming sweeter; are you not becoming more like me?” Scripturally, Paul commented, “All of us gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Evidently, we should be looking within ourselves and be more aware of the Holy Spirit within us.

This same unawareness is the problem we have with divine power. Again, focus on the fact that the word power is used hundreds of times in both testaments. I want to stress the scriptures to show the validity God places on His power. We can start with Jeremiah, who said, “He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion” (Jeremiah 10:12 and Jeremiah 51:15). While this reestablishes the Genesis scenario, we have yet to realize what happened when a Savior was born for us to renew the friendship and intimacy with God. Paul revealed this: “by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Next, we visit Jesus at the river Jordan where John the Baptist commented, “I baptize you in water for the sake of reform, but the one who will follow me is more powerful than I. It is He who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).

It is important to realize that John’s baptism was not like the latter Christian baptism. John’s dunking was similar to the Jewish scriptural washing in the pool, which symbolized purifying and remorse. Likewise, John’s baptism was not the Pentecost experience. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him. Luke later explained this as: “Exalted at God’s right hand, He first received the promised Holy Spirit from the Father, then poured the Spirit out on us” (Acts 2:33). Paul later talks about the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19).

This is worth dwelling on for a moment, as Jesus became one of us without power, and now with the power of the Holy Spirit, He wants us to become like Him as He shares the Spirit in every believer. Paul says, “Seek eagerly after love. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). Matthew also confirmed this as: “The gift you have received, give as a gift” (Matthew 10:8b).

Comment: He is not talking about birthday or Christmas gifts, only spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts, sometimes called the charismatic gifts, are Tongues; Interpretation; Prophecy; Wisdom; Knowledge; Discernment; Healing; Miracles; and Faith. Please note that some churches mistakenly call the Fruits of the Spirit the gifts. The Fruits of the Spirit are for the individual, whereas the Gifts of the Spirit are for the building up of God’s Kingdom.

Next, we turn to Jesus, the man of God who put His Godhead aside to become exactly like a Galilean man of His day. Isaiah confirms this as: “There was in Him no stately bearing to make us look like Him nor appearance that would attract us to Him (Isaiah 53:2b).” After His heavenly blessing, Jesus was tempted by Satan, but it was not His power that defeated Satan, but the Word of God, the ancient scriptures, known to every Jew.

I have to interrupt here as Jesus used the Old Testament as the New Testament was not yet written. I added this because of unbiblical Christians that may not know the timing of scriptures. Scripture relates that after the temptations, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14). Stop. This is the first-mentioned usage of the Spirit’s power in Jesus and is called being transported. You will see this gift also being used by Phillip. After he baptized the Ethiopian, he was immediately transported to the town of Azotus (30 miles away) (Acts 8:38-39). For definition, it is like here and there are almost the same.

I believe this will be used by all of us in heaven as Jesus stated, “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works” (John 14:12). Furthermore, there are numerous people who were transported as referenced in scripture. These include Jesus (many times) as well as Ezekiel, Paul, John, and probable Elijah.

In the Old Testament, scriptures contain plentiful examples of God’s power, starting with creation itself. It is these manifestations that are the history of the Israeli people. In the New Testament, it is obvious how Jesus wanted to equip all believers with the Holy Spirit. Here are some scriptures by Jesus, Paul and Luke that demonstrate God’s insistence of power.

To the Ephesians, Paul talks about the heavenly Father of us and the immeasurable scope of His power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:19). To the Romans, Paul prayed, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). To the Corinthians, Paul talks about being “United in spirit with you and empowered by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 5:4). Luke repeats Jesus’ commentary, “I send down upon you the promise of my Father. Remain here in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). John repeated the same promise of Jesus: “He breathed on the gathered disciples and said, Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).

Another time, Jesus said, “Wait for the fulfillment of my Fathers’ promise of which you have heard me speak. John baptized with water, but within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-9). When they asked about kingdom restoration, Jesus replied, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you” (Acts 1:8). And in Acts 2:4, “all were filled with the Spirit.” On the Jewish feast of Pentecost, they were all gathered in one place, and the Holy Spirit filled all of them.

We have just reviewed the power of the Holy Spirit for us and in us. The problem is how is it used or why isn’t it used? The reason is probably that they are not taught in seminaries nor by some Christian pastors. From a scripture standpoint, Paul said he did not want us to be ignorant of the spiritual gifts and then explained the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. If you want to know how they work, read the actions of the apostles in the book of Acts.

While we believe in the gifts of the Spirit, a typical response from an unbeliever might be “Whatever!” This is a logical reply if we are talking about His power but not demonstrating it. With this in mind, I questioned the Holy Spirit about the lack of power. He floored me with just a two-word response. These were, “Try Me!” I had to let that sink in me before my response was obvious as I said,” Okay” I asked for some things as I remembered “Try Me!” I can confirm my answer was there almost before the last syllable of the last word in the request was made. The healings were not immediate, but the problems clearly lessened over a few days.

With this process, there are two approaches. There is “My way,” and there is “His way.” Obviously, if you are asking the Holy Spirit for help or information, you must be attuned to Him. Here are two examples where I wasn’t, yet He was patient with me as I turned from “My way” to “His way,” namely God’s way.

We now arrive at True Confessions as I reveal my mistakes so you won’t make them. One morning I went to a nearby bakery to buy some Danish pastries but realized at checkout that I did not have my wallet. A quick test showed it was not on the driver’s seat nor by the door. As a former engineer, I was used to solving problems. Therefore, the next try was at home, looking everywhere. “My Way” was a flop, so I remembered “His way,” which I should have done initially to avoid any stress. The Holy Spirit did not say, “Good morning Gerald; I see that you have lost your wallet.” In fact, He didn’t say anything. However, as I finished my query to Him, I knew exactly where it was. He didn’t verbally tell me anything nor provide a picture. However, I suddenly knew it was hidden between the driver’s seat and the armrest. It was the same quiet experience as a word of knowledge among the nine spiritual gifts.

Another time a different crisis arose when I needed a receipt but could not find it in “MY Way.” Finally, turning to Him, we never found the receipt, but He simply solved it another way. Now you know the process whereby the creator knows everything while the creature is less fortunate.

We have already seen the fact that Jesus shares His Spirit with all believers. Hopefully, you will seek the gifts and ask the Holy Spirit within you to release this gift and others that you two will become closer as you place your trust in Him. The closer you two become, your righteousness will develop and increase.

Books by the author: A Gilded Walk; Gifted; Choices; and Together