For Christ And His Glory
“Power from on high” is not entrusted to every child of God. It is promised to every child, yet so often some obstacles prevent the acceptance of the gift. Sometimes the child of God is not fit to receive the fullness of blessing.
When the prodigal son came back home, his father did not invite him to sit down at the table in all his rags and filth! It would not have been right or fitting.
That loving father could fall on his neck and kiss him in all his rags and wretchedness. And that act of tender love has brought tears to the eyes of many a sinner. It was beautiful. But to have a boy at the table in rags – never!
So also there is a communion and a fellowship with God which cannot be enjoyed by anyone who is not clothed with the robe of righteousness. But the father did not expect the prodigal to provide his own clothes. They were provided for him.
So it is with us – God has made every provision for our holiness. Why did our Lord promise “power?” What was that power to do – to effect? That power is inseparable from the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us. Power is never given to us – this power merely works through us.
What is the great mission of the Holy Ghost? He has only one aim – to glorify Christ. Our Lord said, “He shall glorify Me” (John 16:14). Every act of the Holy Ghost honors the Lord Jesus. Let us be fully assured of this fact, that if He, the Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in my heart in all the fullness of His power it will be for one purpose only – to glorify Jesus Christ.
Is that my aim? Is my one and only purpose in life to bring glory to the Lord Jesus? Is that the only reason why I seek power from on high? If it is not, then I shall seek the blessing in vain. Let us be quite clear about this. “Holiness” is not an end in itself. God says to us, “Be ye holy” because He knows that only holiness can witness to His glory. We are called to be not cisterns but channels. A cistern full of water is absolutely valueless until the water begins to flow.
“He that believeth on Me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). “...We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works...” (Eph. 2:10). The fullness of blessing never comes merely to make us happy or holy; God never grants “power from on high” that we may be glorified – that others may talk about us and say what wonderful preachers or teachers or personal workers we are.
When the beauties of holiness present themselves to our minds, Satan at once begins to tempt us with wrong motives. Many seekers fail to find this great blessing because they are thinking of their own blessedness or peace or satisfaction or joy or usefulness. We are so apt to reflect what a glorious thing it would be for me if I were only a Power-Full Christian! How convincing my life would be; how easy things would become; how quickly difficulties and opposition would be swept out of the way! We may be quite sincere while we are unconsciously quite selfish, for self is at the bottom of these ambitions. God cannot trust the fullness of power to selfish people.
Our blessed Master – our example – sanctified Himself in order that others might be sanctified. Listen to His words: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19). He sanctifies us only that we may help others.
The promise of “power” is coupled with the willingness to witness: “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:8). There is a law of nature regarding any gift which runs, “Use it or lose it.” In the matter of power from on high we shall seek it in vain if we seek something which is to end in ourselves.
Sift Our Motives
Let us then on our knees before God call upon the Holy Spirit to search our hearts through and through and to sift our motives in seeking power. Let Him kill in us all desire to be regarded as saints, all ambition to be spiritual leaders. Let every aim be put aside but that of the Holy Spirit Himself. “He shall glorify Me” – Jesus Christ. Ah, how quickly would the “fire” fall if we had but one aim – one consuming and all-concentrating desire that Christ should “be glorified in our mortal bodies.” That and that only! That was the consuming passion in those Pentecostal days.
We see Simon Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, going forth to preach a sermon which led thousands to Christ. The Lord Jesus was indeed glorified, and no one ever thought of praising Peter or his sermon. “What is this?” they cried. “What is this mighty power?” “It is poured forth from God through Jesus Christ,” replies Peter.
Yes – it was all Christ and His glory. Later on he exclaims, “...Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? ...God…hath glorified His Son Jesus.... And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong...” (Acts 3:12-16).
But Stephen was also filled with the Holy Spirit. He was not chosen by the church to preach. He was selected to distribute alms to the poor, while the apostles prayed and preached (Acts 6:4). He was willing to labor in the background and God could fill him with the Holy Spirit. His witness, however, did not end with almsgiving (as perhaps some of ours does). He too preached a sermon. But – full of the Holy Ghost and power as he was – we do not hear of a single convert. Yet the Lord Jesus was glorified just as much by that sermon as by Simon Peter’s, for it was a “Holy Spirit sermon.”
Instead of rejoicing over converts, Stephen was led forth and stoned to death! And the Lord Jesus was glorified.
“What?” you exclaim. “How?” “Thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter.” Many of us think that Saul of Tarsus owed his conversion to Stephen. Not to his sermon, that only caused him to gnash his teeth in anger. But the very glory of God shone forth in the Christ-like way in which Stephen endured opposition, persecution, martyrdom, death. Even his face shone like that of an angel.
Fellow Christian – face the question fairly. Are you truly seeking “power from on high?” Very well, thank God. But if you knew that to become a Power-Full Christian would mean your being persecuted, despised and stoned to death for the glory of God, would you still eagerly press forward for the gift? Let us be frank about it. Do self and self-seeking and self-appraisement and self-glorification enter into the question?
Am I willing to face and endure social ostracism and ridicule even from professing Christians? If “fullness of blessing” depends upon my giving up doubtful pleasures or harmful “friends” am I willing to let them go? Can we honestly look into the face of our adorable Lord and say, “O Lord, evermore give me this power, and I will follow Thee to whatever place Thou lead me, and will do anything Thou shall ask of me, if only Thou may be glorified in me, and through me?”
God’s will. Nothing less. Nothing else. Nothing more!
The Whole Point
The whole point is this: Am I weak enough for God to empower? Am I small enough to be “of no reputation,” so that Christ may be all in all? Our Lord Jesus Christ “emptied Himself” of all His glory when He came to reveal God to us. We have to do the same. If only we could come to the place where we have no thought of what we can do for God, but be full of the thought of what God can do through us when we are wholly yielded to Him! When anyone comes to the place where he is able to say to his Lord and Master, “Lord Jesus, where Thou wilt, what Thou wilt, as Thou wilt,” that one is not far from becoming a Power-Full Christian.
– From The Power-Full Christian by an unknown Christian.