Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:13-17
The Dynamic of the Kingdom—Holy Spirit Power
The Bible teaches that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove. Jesus Himself later said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.” – Luke 4:18. Indeed, no mighty work for God has ever been done apart from the endowment, the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
Elijah was a great prophet. His student, Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” – 2 Kings 2:11–12. Thus the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha, and he did even greater works than his prophet teacher.
So it is true of your life and mine. If the mantle of the Holy Spirit clothes us and if we are filled with His presence, we then can do mighty works to glorify the name of God. The disciples were Christians before Pentecost, but the Bible states that at Pentecost they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. From this milestone the church moved out into worldwide evangelism. The disciples could not have won the world to Christ by staying in the upper room, neither could they have won anyone to Christ without waiting in the upper room.
When Saul of Tarsus was converted, Ananias came to him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus . . . has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 9:17. This is the pressing need we have as born-again believers. We need that divine infilling to empower us to do God’s work. There is no substitute for Holy Spirit power.
The church has been guilty of using many substitutes for the Holy Spirit. We have tried activism. We have told people that they ought to do something, while the Bible says they ought to be something. One can be as busy as a bee and have just about as much spiritual power. We have tried aesthetics, making beauty a ritual. Sometimes we feel that if we can make our churches beautiful, then people will automatically be drawn to God. We may have all of the colors in the rainbow in our stained glass windows, but they cannot cover the blackness of sin in a person’s heart. We need God’s Spirit in our lives.
Another substitute for the Holy Spirit is organization. Remember that organization in itself never produces power. Organization is only a channel through which power flows. A Cadillac automobile without gas will not go as far as a spasmodic mule with a mouth full of corn. The Cadillac may be better organized, but it lacks the power. We need more than organization. We need the power of the living God.
Another substitute for Holy Spirit power is intellectualism. There is nothing wrong with knowledge. The apostle Paul said that knowledge is good if it edifies. It is true, however, that the cold winds of intellectualism often stifle the fires of evangelism. I respect great students and scholars. We need what they do and accomplish, but we also need the Spirit of the living God.
A story is told that when Bishop Matthew Simpson preached years ago (1881) in Memorial Hall in London, he preached quietly and with little gesticulation but with great power. A young professor and one of his students came to critique Bishop Simpson’s speech. Though he sat with pencil and paper in hand, the professor never made a note during the entire sermon. Afterward the student asked, “How did you like the speech of Bishop Simpson? What did you think of his homiletics, his organization, his elocution?”
The professor confessed, “I don’t know anything about his homiletics, his organization, or his elocution. All I know is that Bishop Simpson has the power of the living God.”
That is what we need in our lives. That was the secret of the attracting power of Jesus Christ. And that was the secret of the success of the first-century church. The dynamic of the kingdom is Holy Spirit power.
To Be Continued