in the Reality of the Supernatural (1)
6:15-18; Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 6:1-7
One of my favorite stories in biblical history
is the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:16,17. Elisha is surrounded by his
enemies and his young servant is terrified. The Arameans have surround
the city of Dothan to specifically kill Elisha. God was revealing to the
prophet Elisha the destructive plans of the Arameans to destroy Israel.
Each time Elisha the prophet would inform the king of Israel about the
2 Kings 6:8-14
"Now the king of Aram was at
war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, ‘I will set
up my camp in such and such a place.’
"The man of God sent word to
the king of Israel: ‘Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans
are going down there.’ So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated
by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was
on his guard in such places.
"This enraged the king of Aram.
He summoned his officers and demanded of them, ‘Will you not tell me which
of us is on the side of the king of Israel?’
"’None of us, my lord the king,’
said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells
the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.’
"‘Go, find out where he is,’
the king ordered, ‘so I can send men and capture him’ The report came back:
‘He is in Dothan.’ Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force
there. They went by night and surrounded the city" (NIV)
The presence of God in Elisha’s life is a
blaring reality for everyone but the king of the Arameans. If God reveals
his plans to Elisha, why would you want to mess with Elisha. Don’t ever
mess with those who have God on their sided—they are going to win in the
2 Kings 6:15-18
"When the servant of the man
of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses
and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?"
the servant asked.
"’Don't be afraid,’ the prophet
answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
"And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD,
open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes,
and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all
"As the enemy came down toward
him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, ‘Strike these people with blindness.’ So
he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked" (NIV).
Too often, we are like the king of the Arameans
and Elisha’s servant, we fail to see the real power behind what is happening.
The Scriptural emphasis is that the supernatural is a reality
for the present. It is not a thing of our yesterdays, or something
to be realized in our future—it’s a reality for today.
What we think we know often blinds us
to what we could know. We are so busy trying to fit what we are
learning into what we already know that it blinds us to what we could know.
Our view of the world is projected by what we think we know. Our worldview
comes mostly from the observation of our natural world because the urgency
of the present seems more real and more important than anything else. Growing
up in a natural world has fully indoctrinated most of us to toward a natural
perspective of life. It makes it difficult for us to live in the reality
of God’s supernatural presence. Our natural world tends to blind us to
the reality of Satan, angels, demons and God’s presence.
The Supernatural Is Real
Biblical history reveals the supernatural
aspect of our lives. How often
do we see angels moving in and out of the natural order of things in the
biblical record? This is living testimony that our walk with God is a supernatural
walk. We see angels rejoicing over the salvation of sinners (Luke 15).
We see the apostles becoming a spectacle unto the world, and to angels,
and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9). It is as if we are on a stage being observed
by the powers that be. It is like a one-way
mirror; they can see us but we can’t see them without the special sight
God gives us through faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).
The presence of the supernatural element
is evident in Paul’s charge to Timothy. As Paul writes to the young
preacher Timothy he writes, "I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ
Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality,
and to do nothing out of favoritism" (1 Timothy 5:21 NIV). He speaks
of Timothy standing in the sight of God, Christ and the angels. Their presence
continues to be a reality for each of us. No book of the New Testament
reveals the supernatural aspect of our lives as the book of Revelation.
One of the handiest items in the toolbox
is a cordless screwdriver. It is one of a new generation of power
tools that renders obsolete the old-fashioned, wrist-wrenching labor of
turning a screw by hand. Put the bit into the screw head, push a button,
and the job gets done.
There is one drawback to this handy device,
however. It is totally dependent on an outside power source and must be
charged regularly. Without a charger, it is a clumsy, unusable tool.
The same is true of us. We need an outside
power source if we are going to serve God effectively where He has placed
us. So many times when I want to use my power tools the batteries are down.
It is hard to keep on top of those power tools to keep them charged. The
same is true with our lives. We get so preoccupied with the natural order
of things that we fail to keep in touch with the One who empowers our lives.
The Hebrew writer says, "Faith is the substance
of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1)
In essence faith is the ability to see the unseen (2 Corinthians 5:7).
It is the ability to tap into the supernatural presence of God to remove
the mountain of difficulties before us.
A Christian’s Walk Is A Supernatural
The conditioning of the religious world
often blinds us to the reality of the unseen. We may be looking
to experience God’s power in all of the wrong places. We may be looking
for a charismatic experience. Perhaps
we are looking for the extraordinary —such as supernatural
signs from God, which would exhibit the power of his presence
in our lives. We may be looking to others to impart
this power to us through the laying on of hands. We may want
God to make us powerful in the same way he made Samson physically strong—we
want a burst of energy that will allow us wipe away all of our
enemies and overcome all of our problems.
We try to see the God the world envisions
and it blinds us to the supernatural aspect of our walk with Christ.
The Christian’s walk is a supernatural walk with God in the power of the
risen Christ. Most of our lives seem so ordinary that we never dream of
the power of God at our disposal. It is because we don’t see living a Christian
life as a supernatural walk with the Giver and Sustainer of our lives.
Jesus spent forty days with his disciples
after his resurrection to convince them of the supernatural aspect of their
lives. The last miracle Jesus performed in the presence of his
disciples was just like the one he performed for them when he called them
to follow him. On both occasions they had fished all night and caught nothing.
Jesus commands them to throw out their nets one last time. Each time they
caught a record number of fish. The first time they filled the boats so
full that they began to sink; the second time they caught so many fish
they couldn’t haul in the nets (Luke 5:1-6; John 21:1-10).
When the disciples did get to shore
after the last miracle, Jesus had fixed breakfast for them and he ate with
them. John tells us that no one dared ask Jesus who he was. Jesus
sought to give them undeniable proof of the reality of his presence. However,
some were like us—they continued to doubt.
"Then the eleven disciples
went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When
they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus
came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age" (NIV).
This great commission promises the presence
of Christ for Christians in every age—"to the very end of the age"
i.e., to the end of the world. We see the faithful of the past
struggling to walk hand in hand with God. We must understand that Christ
continues to walk with the faithful struggling to obey him.
Christ may have vanished from our sight
but he is still present. Luke writes of Christ resurrection appearance
on the Emmaus road, "And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and
he vanished out of their sight" (Luke 24:31). It is suggested that it would
be better to translate this verse by saying: "He ceased to be seen of them."
It wasn’t that he was no longer there; they just did not see him. Jesus’
transfiguration before Peter and John reveals the reality of Jesus’ presence
in the natural and supernatural world. Most people, both inside and outside
the church, lack the mental categories to interpret supernatural occurrences.
It is no accident that the Christian life
begins at baptism. When the gospel reveals that we are dead in sin, the
only natural thing to do is to bury that which is dead. Baptism represents
our desire to bury our sinful nature. Baptism also reveals our desire to
be united with Christ—not only in his death, but also in his resurrection.
What shall we say, then? Shall
we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin;
how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who
were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore
buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live
a new life.
If we have been united with
him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in
his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him
so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer
be slaves to sin-because anyone who has died has been freed from sin" (NIV)
The difficulty with most of our lives
is that we seek to live a life dead to sin without experiencing a resurrection
with Christ. When we die with Christ it is a pledge to live with
a good conscience toward God as we come alive to Christ (1 Peter 3:18-22).
We were baptized into Christ in order that we may live a new life with
Christ. We were baptized into Christ so the resurrected Christ can come
to life in our hearts.
"For through the law I died
to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ
and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained
through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (NIV).
It is just as important for us to be
raised to a new way of living, as it is to become dead to sin.
We cannot truly experience death to our sinful nature without being resurrected
with a new nature.
You can’t believe in Christ’s power
over sin without seeking to live a powerful triumphant life with the resurrected
Christ. Sadly, many Christians live as the walking dead, for their
lives are void of Christ’s presence. Often we are dead to the availability
of God’s power for taking advantage of our opportunities and fulfilling
Try to imagine me getting up every morning
and physically pushing my car over to where my wife works, and then I push
it over to the church building. Then, I do the same thing when I go home.
Imagine seeing me do this every day. The car is in perfect running order.
It has a full tank of gas, but I choose to get it to where I want to go
with my own strength and under my own energy.
This sounds silly, but this is how many Christians
are living. They have come to God for forgiveness of their past sins, but
they are living out the present as if everything depends upon them. They
are not depending upon God’s power to pull them through life’s difficulties.
They fail to see God’s presence in their lives. We fail to see the keeping
power of God.
How Do I Experience God’s Powerful Presence?
God’s power is not a dormant power;
it may appear to be so, but it isn’t. The young Ash tree between
the wings our building has dropped its limbs and leaves. Someone ask me
if it was alive. They were concerned about its survival, but it is very
much alive. The nature of God’s work in that tree may not be visible in
the winter months, but it is very much alive. The supernatural is at work
in that tree; we may not see it with our eyes, but we can believe that
it is real with our minds and hearts. Whether we choose to see it or not
it is there.
God’s power to bring new growth is also
dependent upon us to make sure that it has water and fertilizer. God
power can make it grow, but he depends upon us to do our part. God’s
power is subject to our control, that it is in submission to each of us.
For it to become real it is up to us to use it. We are responsible for
how we use it. In the following verses we see how the prophets possessed
the Spirit of God, but the spirits of the prophets were subject to the
1 Cor 14:29-33
Two or three prophets should
speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation
comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For
you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God
is not a God of disorder but of peace. (NIV)
God’s power is discovered through submission
to God and the needs of others. The power envisioned by the world
is a coercive force. It seeks self-interest. However, God’s power is influential
and persuasive rather than coercive. True power for liberation is not found
in the pursuit of power. It is found in pursuit of service through submission.
It is not demeaning; it is ennobling. The concept of leadership in the
Bible is servant leadership. Those who wish to lead God’s people in a powerful
way must do so through service.
The great men and women in biblical history
were not great because of brilliancy of thought—they were not great because
they personally possessed exhaustless resources—they were not great because
of their culture or native endowment—they were great because through
their submission to God they commanded the power of God (Adapted
from --J. Oswald Sanders, quoted in Wesleyan Advocate, Mar 1995).
Christ’s resurrection power comes to
life in us in simple ordinary ways—rather than through the extraordinary.
It is experienced in our relationships when we
learn to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness makes
it possible for God’s healing power to enter into our relationships. Holding
on to our grudges embitters us and weakens us more than it hurts others.
It deprives our relationships of God’s healing presence.
1 Peter 2:21-25
"To this you were called, because
Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow
in his steps.
"’He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his
"When they hurled their insults
at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead,
he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our
sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for
righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were
like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and
Overseer of your souls" (NIV).
Through his wounds we have been healed
so that God’s healing power can be extended through us to others as we
enter into relationships with them. Through forgiveness we bring the
power of a risen Christ to our relationships. When we bear the reproach
of others, to a great extent we help them bear the burden of their sin
and thereby bring healing to the relationship.
Satan is present to take the advantage when
we fail to allow God to enter into our relationships.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
The husband should fulfill
his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The
wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the
same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his
wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time,
so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so
that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (NIV)
The power of God’s
grace is experienced through how we speak to one another. God’s
grace is the most powerful thing on earth, and others and we can experience
it as we allow God’s grace to direct our words.
"Do not let any unwholesome
talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others
up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (NIV).
"Let no corrupt word proceed
out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it
may impart grace to the hearers" (NKJV).
Anyone with little or no brains can use their
tongue to insult and tear others down. But wise words directed by the power
of God’s grace build up rather than tear down.
God’s power is exerted
through us when we choose to believe the best about others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does
not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues,
they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. NKJV
The miraculous manifestations of God’s supernatural
presence in the first century pales into insignificance as the powerful
love of Christ discovers a powerful presence in our lives.
The power of the
risen Savior is discovered as we go the second mile with those who coerce
us to go the first mile.
The power of the
risen Savior is discovered as we treat others, as we desire to be treated.
The power of the
risen Savior is discovered as we pray for those who despitefully use us
as tools to get what they want.
The power of the
risen Savior is discovered as we mourn over the sin in our lives as we
hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness.
Simply put, the powerful presence of God is
realized when we allow our minds to be renewed with the knowledge of God.
When we truly catch a glimpse of our
supernatural walk with God we will see the resurrected glorified Christ
working through us to accomplish his will. The sad part about not
being able to see the resurrected Christ at work in our lives is that it
leaves us with a dead faith. It robs us of Christ’s ability to produce
fruit in our lives. It makes it impossible for us to live free from the
bonds of sin.
"So, my brothers, you
also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong
to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might
bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature,
the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that
we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have
been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit,
and not in the old way of the written code" (NIV).
Do we depend upon Christ to save us
from our past sins, but fail to live in the reality of his presence?
2 Peter 1:3-4
"His divine power has given
us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given
us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate
in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil