Ministering the Kingdom Today

Dallas Willard Part 7 of 8

Rolling Hills Covenant Church had listened to Dallas for over ten years. For this Sunday school class, they asked him to speak less about the spiritual life and more about God and the kingdom of God, about sin and our redemption from it.


Dallas: Now, this morning, we are going to talk about acting in the power of the Kingdom of God—Acting in the Power of the Kingdom of God. This is a difficult topic. It tends to create problems in two ways especially that I will notice as we begin. Then I want to read a number of scriptures this morning and we will see what we have time to cover but it creates problems first, politically.

It creates political problems because people tend to think that if someone is acting in the power of God, they must be somebody special. They must have some special position and that if they say such and such, you’d better believe them; and if you are not doing what they are doing, maybe you’re not quite right. See? You are called into question and it may be that you’re not quite right if you’re not doing what they are doing. [1:40]

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that they are right if they are doing what they are doing. There is just a whole bunch of confusions on this matter and those who do something a little outstanding tend to threaten other people because the other people begin to feel like they are somehow not as good as those who do. And one of the curses of the modern movement in the spiritual gifts has been nothing but this political problem which is based in pride and misunderstanding. See?

And so, from the other side—the other side becomes defensive and says, “Well, you know, if you are doing this stuff, it must be the devil that is acting through you.” Right? So, here we go—spiritual Christians out here boxing it out, you know? [2:41]

I remember some years ago hearing about a man up on the outer drive in Chicago got in a car wreck and got out and was just ranting and raving and said to the other person, “Well, I’m a member of Moody Church!” [Laughter] He couldn’t possibly have been in the wrong, could he? He’s a member of Moody Church.

So, here we are duking it out as Christians because it becomes a political issue and people’s inferiority feelings, their pride—they are all touched and a huge conflagration goes up and then of course, above all, we are called—we feel ourselves drawn into the position of judging other people and we become very finely tuned judgers so I have to acknowledge this now as I begin to take it up and it’s a very serious problem and all I can say to you is if you are going to be a Biblical Christian, you must understand that you are called and commissioned and given the opportunity of acting in the power of God.  [3:57]

Now, if you do that while speaking in thirteen tongues or none at all or whatever you do, you’re going to have to work that out between you and the Lord. Or if you don’t speak in any tongues, you will have to work that out between you and the Lord. So, don’t get mislead by all of these fusses that people are having. I thank God that I was introduced early in my life to a wide range of people who were obviously acting in the power of God and nearly anything you could lay down and say that they had to do, some of them weren’t doing it and a lot of things you might lay down and say they couldn’t do, some of them were doing them. That helped a lot to sort things out. [4:50]

Now, the other matter of trouble that is caused is a really serious problem—the idea that many of us find ourselves in a position where if we were asked and honestly had to answer, we might feel very uncertain about whether or not we ourselves personally are acting in the power of God and we might feel very worried about this and sort of try to duck under the church bench and hide and say, “Well, you know, I’m just—I’m just a laymen. I’m just—I’m not, you know, I’m not a preacher” so what does that refer to? It refers to the idea that there is a special people among those who are saved that exercise the power of God and the rest of them just sorta sit there out of gas until the Lord comes and takes them home—battery is dead, gas is out, just sitting there—all they know is the wrecker is coming, right?  [Laughter] They are sure about that. [Laughter] They’ve got their little Heavenly AAA card there that says, “He’s gonna get here eventually and he will give me a jump start or pull me in or something.” [Laughter] [6:22]

So, and it’s good that we can be humorous about this because it’s a troublesome matter and its troublesome to anyone who has any sense at all. I am going to read some of these scriptures in a moment.

Anyone who stands up with any amount of pride in their advancement in this just doesn’t know what they are talking about. You know, Paul said it so well in Philippians 3 where he, this man with all that he had done, and all that God had done through him said very simply, “I haven’t attained. I press towards the mark that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.” (Philippians 3: 12-14 Paraphrased) You mean, Paul didn’t even know that? [7:13]

You see, Paul’s attitude was always based upon his vision of what lay before him and not what lay behind him. And what lay before him was so   much more that his constant attitude was “I press towards the mark.” I press towards the mark and he said some very uncomplimentary things if you read that chapter about the things that he had attained to in the past.

So, now remember when we come up against these passages, try not to be worried politically and try not to be depressed about your condition. Your condition is depressing. [Laughter] I’m depressed. I’m depressed about my condition. [8:05]

You know the psychiatrist who came out after interviewing the boy and said to the mother, “Your son IS inferior. He doesn’t just have an inferior appearance; he IS inferior.” [Laughter] We are inferior. Right? That’s the truth about us. That’s the truth about us and thank God we are accepted in a Kingdom where inferiority is the truth about everyone except God—except Jesus—and except the community of love, that perfect thing which God is working out with people of passions just like you and me. [8:50]

So, let’s just please keep that in mind now as we look at some of these verses that will be very challenging and we are apt to begin to question. It’s right that we question but this morning, we want to try to direct our minds in a more positive way of approaching this matter of ministering the Kingdom rule of God today.

Let’s begin with Matthew 10. And see, one of the ways that we defend ourselves against the tension that is built up around us as we begin to think about this is by looking at some passages of scripture and saying, “Well,, that’s for another time. That’s for another period.” [Laughter] If you need that, all right; that’s okay. If you need to do that, I’m not going to quarrel with you about it. All I ask you to do is hear this word and I will trust that the Lord will give you what you need from it. [10:04]

This is the commissioning of the Twelve Disciples. Now, you remember that He called twelve unto Him. He called twelve unto Him. And that wonderful passage in Mark that describes the calling. The first thing He called them to do was to be with Him. That’s what we are first called to do—to be with Him.

Mark 3—you don’t need to turn there unless you must want to but 3:14— “ . . . he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power . . .” (Mark 3:15) That’s the order. Be with Him; get the good news so you can communicate it; exercise the power of the Kingdom. [11:02]

Now the time comes—ten of Matthew—“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power, against unclean spirits . . . ” and so forth on down the line.

Look at verse 6—“ . . . go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(Matthew 10:6) Don’t just indiscriminately go out and use this power; use is purposively for those who are ready or are best prepared to receive it—“ . . . as ye go, preach, saying”(Matthew 10:7)—and remember, this is the formula of John the Baptist and of Jesus—it’s the same words that He gives to His disciples now that are going out to preach, “. . . The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The kingdom of heaven is now available. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) “ . . . Freely ye have received, freely give.” You can’t give out of what you haven’t received, can you? See? So. [12:14]

Now, when they talk about all this material, we are talking about it on the assumption of having received. So, one of the things that we just can rest in is that if we are going to go out and do something here now, we are not going to do it in our own strength. We are going to do it with a strength that is given—something that is given to us and when—on all of these assumptions about the reality of the Kingdom of entrance into the Kingdom and so on that we have talked about, we have to recall that we need now to learn how to give what we have received. We need to learn how to give what we have received.  [12:58]

And probably for your benefit, the most important thing I have to say to you this morning is to say to you and emphasize that this is something you will have to learn how to do. It is not something that will just happen to you. Now, you say, well, but I heard so and so talk about how it just happened to her. Yes, you can find all sorts of strange events but if you want to be in tune and working with God, you have to learn what He chooses to do regularly and not what He does in odd moments to accomplish some purpose. You can wait from now until doomsday for God to replicate some wonderful kind of event that you’ve heard about in your life and you will never get it. You will never get it. [13:52]

And one of the problems about the stories that we hear and they are called testimonies and they are often challenging and all of that sort of thing. Frankly, a lot of people go home depressed because they are left out of it but the stories cannot take the place of teaching about how it is to be and leading people into the experience of it on their own.  Don’t wait for God to do to you what He did to somebody else. Don’t wait for that.

We are going to see more of what we should do in a moment but let me just lay that down. Don’t wait for God to hit you and knock you off of a horse while you are on the road to Damascus or something like that because it isn’t going to happen to you. Now, someone will run back in and say, “Wow, it happened to this person.” Yes, it happened to that person but you’re not that person.  See? You have the problem of being you. [Laughter] And that’s not a problem from God’s eyes—from God’s point of view—but it can become a problem from our point of view when we are thinking about how we enter into this and we keep thinking, “Well, I do it just like that person did it.” It will happen to me in that way. [15:25]

One of the great difficulties in reading the lives of the great evangelists, for example; Finney or Moody or other people of sort is that people get so hung up on how it happened to them and they devote themselves to trying to make that happen and you cannot make religious experiences happen.

You cannot do it and one of the biggest problems of the charismatic wing of the evangelical movement today is that they are trying to make these experiences happen. In fact, they have some ministers who have them on tap and you just walk under the spigot and they will turn it on and you’ll have yours.

Now, please don’t take what I’m saying as a general condemnation of them. I’m trying to help you understand; they are trying to force this matter and as a result, the overall quality of lives in these groups tend not to be that much higher than the overall quality in any group of devoted Christians.  The overall quality and their problem is they are hung up on models of what the experience is supposed to be like and I’m saying this because you must not do this. You must understand that God will give you your experience and it will be uniquely yours. And you must not seek the experience, you must seek the Lord and you must seek to love people with His love. [16:59]

Many people think that their problem is they don’t have faith but if you listen to them a little while, you will see that what is missing is love. They don’t love people. You know, if you love people enough, you’ll be driven to faith but if you don’t love them, you will want to have faith as a kind of trick and then of course, there are the non-charismatic groups, you know.

They are proud that they don’t have the experiences. They’d be ashamed if they did have them. So, all of these things are totally peripheral. They don’t matter. The Lord gives to His people and they receive and then they are in a position to give freely what they have received, but we have to understand that it is ours to do and because of the confusion in the teaching, many people think they don’t have anything to give, even though they have received and because they don’t step out in faith. Now, many people don’t have anything to give but many people have honestly received but because they are confused and they do not know how to step out in faith and act, they are unable to give or maybe they give in a very limited way and they don’t step out into the full power of the Kingdom of God.  [18:26]

Look at Luke, please, Luke the ninth chapter. There is an important distinction here now that bears just on this point that I am covering. If you look at Luke 9:1, you will see these words, “Then he called his twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority. . . ” Power and authority are two different things. [There is a seat up here in the front, please; just come right ahead. It doesn’t cost any more.] [Laughter] Ummm…power and authority are two different things and we really have to talk about that because many people confuse these and there are deep questions about both of them. [19:22] [He writes on the board.]

And then [he writes more]. I’ve got that spelled wrong, I think but dunamis is power. Now, dunamis means ability and we have the ability to do many things we don’t have a right to do. It’s also possible to have a right to do things we don’t have the power to do. A policeman, for example may have the right to arrest someone but doesn’t have the power, doesn’t have the ability. I might have the ability to do something; for example, go over to UCLA and fill in a grade sheet. I could do that but I don’t have the right to do that because I’m not appointed in that position.

Now, notice that Jesus gave them power and authority.  Authority means you have a right to do this and one of the major problems in the faith of the ordinary Christian with reference to exercising the rule of God is they don’t believe in their heart of hearts that they have a right to do it. They think that someone else is supposed to do it. They think the preacher is supposed to do it or somebody. And they do not believe that they have a right to do this. They want to tell you that Jesus gives authority to the people in His Kingdom to work the works of God and here in that Kingdom, you have that authority. You have the right to do it. [21:26]

You don’t have to say, “Well, let’s see if so and so says it’s okay if I do it.” Right?  If you are going to work the works of God, you have your authority from God. You remember, when Jesus did His deeds, they would come to Him and say, “Where did you get this authority?” Because Jesus spoke—remember—He spoke as one having authority—what does that mean? What does authority mean there? He spoke as one who had authority. Hmmm?

Well, um; I don’t know how to put that any clearer than just He used the old Harry Truman sign—“The Buck Stops Here.”  Now, you mustn’t confuse where I got the authority from what the authority is. In management we know that many people cannot delegate authority—what does that mean? That means that they are not able to say to a person, “Now, this is your job and you’ve got it and any problem, you handle it. OK? You handle it. You can talk to me but you handle it.” See? [22:43]

What the Scribes and the Pharisees were always doing was referring everything to someone else—to thirteen different rabbis who had lived at 80 different times over a period of 26 million years and written 450,000 books. None of which anyone could understand but somehow it was in there, right? It was in there somewhere. See, these people did not simply accept the responsibility of acting. That’s what authority is. Authority is you have the responsibility of acting.

This term, ekousia is an interesting term to study.  It refers to having a power in you, which is from outside of you but you have the power. It’s in you; you have that power. You have that authority. It’s given to you. That authority is yours. What that means is you can even abuse it. See, this is one of the things that confuse so many people. They see someone act with a little authority and power and they think they must be perfect. No, they are not perfect. [23:57]

They can abuse their power. You’ve seen power abused, haven’t you? You know what it’s like to see a person, a man or a woman who has truly been gifted by God to abuse that power and you know what it’s like. You’ve heard the rationalizations of people. The individuals themselves often will try to rationalize and justify what they are doing by talking about how big and important their work is. You ever hear that? See? They are confused. They are missing the point.

He gave them power and authority and sent them to preach the Kingdom and heal the sick and so forth—preaching the Kingdom, healing the sick. Listen to these words from the very last chapter of Luke. We are coming up now on Jesus’ departure and we hear Him saying, talking to them about what they are to do and then He says—last chapter, verse 45—“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. As it is written it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the day that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning in Jerusalem and ye are witnesses.” (Luke 24: 45-48 Paraphrased)[25:33]

Now, I want to talk about this word a bit as we go along for the next few minutes—you are witnesses. What is a witness? We think of a witness often as someone who talks but a witness is someone who knows. A witness is someone who knows. You are my knowers.

What is bitterness? What is bitterness?  It’s a quality or state of being bitter. Right? This suffix “–ness” is a common English way of forming words, isn’t it? A witness is or witness is the state or condition of knowing—to know. So, did you witness that event? What does that mean? Did you talk about it? Did you see it? Did you? Seeing is of course one of the best forms of knowing, isn’t it? Did you see it? You are my witnesses. [27:06]

See, this business of witnessing is a matter of knowing and that’s the important part of our being with Christ is to know—to know the Kingdom of God—to know the world behind the veil while we are still here. It’s a pity but some people, their first real knowledge of the reality of the power of God may be when they hear the trumpet and they are called out of the grave. They’ll know it then, won’t they?

Paul said, “the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus form the dead dwells in you. He will also quicken your mortal body,” (Romans 8:11 Paraphrased)— not your immortal one. Your mortal body will be quickened by that spirit which raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, see? That’s for you. You have the authority. The power is given on the assumption that you have really come now to enter the Kingdom of God as we talked about last time. It’s there! You are witnesses. [28:34]

Now “Behold,” Jesus says, “I send the promise of my Father upon you, [the promise of my Father upon you,] tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until you be clothed with the power from on high . . .” (Luke 24:49 Paraphrased)—clothed with the power from on high. Where was the new birth from? On High! Where is on high? Heaven, right? Where’s Heaven? [29:06]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: That’s right. See? All of this ties together now and that power—the power of Heaven from on high is available here to those who have entered the Kingdom of God and who have waited upon it until they’ve received it.

Now, there is a whole ton of books that have been written in this area which deal with serious problems that come up in trying to interpret this in the light of our experience in the church today and throughout history but all I can say is that if you are in doubt about this, you should consider tarrying.  [29:49]

Now, I know that there are people who teach that the tarrying was all done back here. The tarrying was taken care of in the first chapter of the book of Acts so no one else will have to tarry forever, right?  This, by the way is the non-charismatic way of attempting to produce this in a kind of automatic “squeeze it out of the toothpaste tube kind of way,” you know and many of the folks who are abhorrent of charismatics like to talk in terms of “you already having it all” but if that’s all you do, you just sit there and enjoy having it all, you are going to find that your work does not progress and while I know that waiting on the Lord sometimes means, like waiting on tables; it’s serving but it also sometimes just means don’t do anything until God does something and we all have to be very ready to take our hands off of things and do nothing unless God does something. [31:00]

Let’s turn to the opening of the book of Acts for just a moment and carry through with that reading. This is actually the continuation of the book of Luke, as you know and there’s a description here of what Jesus was doing up until the time that He was taken up. He was teaching them through the Holy Spirit in verse 2 of Acts 1—giving them commandments, teaching them how to interact with the Holy Spirit without Him being present. That’s what He was doing there and as you study the progression of the Scriptures, you will see how God leads people very patiently and He will lead you that way if you want to know. If you want to enter into something more fully, you just ask God to lead you and He will lead you.

He not only gave them commandments through the Holy Ghost but He showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs being seen of them for forty days coming and going in their midst. Notice what He spoke of—“but He spoke of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3 Paraphrased]—and of course they were interested in that because they still hadn’t got it straight in their minds as to what that meant and he pulled them together, verse 4—“commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father . . .” (Acts 1:4) [32:30]

The promise of the Father was that they would live by the Sprit of God—that the Spirit of God would be poured out upon His people and that they would live in that Spirit. You find out in the book of Isaiah and elsewhere—Joel. “John baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:5) Now then, they said, is this the time, Lord? Are you going to restore the Kingdom to Israel and he said, it is not for you to say these kinds of things. You don’t need to know the times or the seasons.” (Acts 1:6-7 Paraphrased) That’s a wonderfully healthy lesson for all of us to learn. Not only the times and the seasons generally but the times and seasons of our own lives are in the hands of God. We don’t need to know the times and the seasons. We need day by day to live in the Kingdom and serve Him out of that. [33:26]

“But ye shall receive power;” (Acts 1:8) see, they wanted a position. They thought of Kingdoms in terms of position. You won’t have position. You don’t seek position. Don’t seek position. That’s true of anyone who is a minister. It’s true of lay people. It’s true of everyone. Don’t seek position. You don’t need position. You have your position—minister out of it where you are.

I can remember as a young preacher boy, as they called them at Baylor University, I saw so many young men trying to find a place to preach and the Lord put me at peace by saying simply, “Never seek a place to preach. Seek to have something to say.” So, you can focus on that. If you have something to say, the people around you are going to need it, aren’t they? Everyone needs a good word. They need something that will give them light and power and truth. They need that.  So you’ll have a place to preach if you have something to say. You won’t be able to hide it. See, the rivers of living water that flow from the belly of those who believe on Jesus Christ do not wait upon man’s permission or his positions so we mustn’t think in terms of those. We don’t need position. [34:53]

“ . . . ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses . . . ” (Acts 1:8 Paraphrased) Now, witnessing is carried out in our character, in our words and in our deeds and all of those are manifestations of the power of God.

Now, I want to spend the rest of our time this morning just talking about power in deed and in word. Just to mention that this power is given for service. It is given to love people with. God does not generally give it except to those who are ready to serve others. See, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, of His apostles; He even washed the feet, I guess of the one who betrayed Him. He washed their feet. He got a lot of static problem. They didn’t want Him washing their feet you see, because they didn’t think that was appropriate to the role of the Messiah.  But His message was, “No, this is it! This is really it!” Hmmmm? [36:11]

So, when—if we are concerned to understand the use of Kingdom power, we have to understand that it is in the life of service. Yes, but you say, “what about all the bad people; are we supposed to serve them too?” Yes, you are supposed to serve them too. You are supposed to love them too. You are supposed to give to them and care about them.

See, when Jesus taught us that we should bless those who curse us and so on, He wasn’t’ telling us to put on an act. Remember again the verse I’ve quoted to you almost every time this series, it’s so important to understand—the passage in Luke 6:35 (Dallas said Luke 6:34), I think it is—“God is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.” So, in all of the other connections I’ve mentioned that verse in, now I have to say, we use the power of the Kingdom of God to do good and to love. We don’t have to make judgments about who’s in and who’s out before we minster to them. God has plenty of power; He’s not about to run short.

And so, when we go out into the world, we love people like Jesus did. We accept them like He did. Remember, Zacchaeus and the others that we have talked about. We are comfortable in the presence of evil people—Mmmmm—even if they are our relatives. [Laughter] We don’t feel like we have to first decide about them and then know whether we love them and minster to them. [37:57]

Remember, there’s plenty of love. There is plenty of power and the more you give away, the more you will get—provisions, power, love—all of that. God bless old brother E. V. Hill’s heart. He says, “If God can get it through you, He’ll get it to you.” And the problem is for so many of us, He can’t get it through us to others. See?

Now, that’s the way this works. You never run out of power. You want more power? Do more! Give more! OK? It’s for the servant.

Now, the thing that I think is most important for us to understand here practically is the power of God is power which is exercised under authority and the single most important story and teaching in the New Testament on this topic in my opinion—most useful at least pedagogically—is the story in the 8th chapter of Matthew. [39:15]

The 8th chapter of Matthew, we see a non-religious person, shall we say—a Roman centurion; and of course, he was aware of what Jesus was doing. This was all happening in his area and he knew about the authority, for example in verse 39 of chapter 7. You remember this word—“”He taught them as one having authority.” It’s very clear when people are acting under authority. You don’t have to run litmus paper tests to figure it out. I mean, you can tell when people are acting under authority and when they are acting beyond their authority. You can tell that too. Now Jesus was acting under authority and because this Roman centurion had the experience of acting under authority, he could recognize what Jesus was doing. [40:10]

Now listen to the story. “ . . . Jesus entered into Capernaum,” verse 5, “and there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented, And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.” (Matthew 8:5-7) Now, very few of us I think can quite come up to that but that’s something for us to hold before ourselves and ask that God would guide us into that kind of assurance. Jesus showed it over and over and over. [40:42]

You know, the leper that came to him and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou should—you could make me clean” and he said, “Ok, I will. I will.” (Luke 5:12-13 Paraphrased) Now, He was acting under authority as the incarnate Lord. He was acting under authority from God His Father. The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof but speak the word only.” (Matthew 8:8 Paraphrased) Now, this was a matter of the centurion’s consideration for Jesus as a Jew, saying to him, “you don’t really need to come” but it was based on his understanding of how Jesus worked. That’s the key here. It was based upon his understanding of how Jesus worked. [41:29]

He explains it. “I’m a man under authority.” (Matthew 8:9 Paraphrased) See that? “I’m a man under authority. You can do this and I know about it because I do that sort of thing. Look at how he explains it.  I say to this man, “Go.” And what happens? He goes. And he doesn’t have to say, “ If you don’t go, I’m gonna knock your head off or kill you or something of that sort. He just says, “Go.” What makes that man go when He says go? Authority. He’s under authority.

What does authority mean? When you are under authority—you are acting on behalf of another. (Writes that on board.) And this of course is where the use of Jesus’ name becomes important. To act on authority—under authority is to act on behalf of someone else. [42:35]

Now, if you are acting on behalf of someone else—you may reasonably—if you’ve been commissioned, you may reasonably expect to be acting with the power of another. Now, Jesus Himself was of course a glorious being of great power. That was not visible to us but do you remember from our earlier studies in the New Testament, you see every time Jesus comes up against a person who is possessed of an evil spirit, what happens? They recognize Him, don’t they?

Why do you suppose they obey Him? There used to be a joke about where does a three hundred pound gorilla sit on an airplane? [Laughter] Anywhere he wants; that’s the answer, isn’t it? Why? Because of what the gorilla is. You see, there is a recognition of the reality of the person of Christ that the demons cannot escape. They live in full view of it and their vision of Him when He comes to them is one of torment. That is why they scream because they see who they are and what their destiny is and they immediately pre-suppose when He comes around that He is going to send them to their ultimate destiny. [44:18]

You know hell was never made for human beings? Who was it prepared for? The Devil and his angels and they assume that he’s come to send them now and they plead with Him and they beg. Right? When we act on behalf of Jesus, we act with the weight of His person and authority.

Let’s move to Acts 3 for a moment. I am concerned to not so much just to dwell on the story but to call your attention to how this was done and how it was explained or understood because now, I’m trying to drive home this point about acting—in the Kingdom power is acting under authority. That is to help us understand what it is. We have to understand what it is and we have to enter in to this by a progressive experience so that we know what we are doing. You can’t just rattle off empty words and do this. It has to be an expression of your understanding and will in union with God.

See, that’s—people hurt themselves so terribly because they see the scriptures and they try to do it and they rattle off a few empty words and absolutely nothing happens or they just feel ridiculous or something. So now, when you watch the progression of this account, keep in mind that these are people who have been in the presence of this sort of thing for about three years. They had been inducted into it with the Teacher present. [46:03]

Peter and John go up to the temple and at the gate Beautiful in verse 2, as you remember, they meet a man who was lame, had been lame all of his life and this man asks them for alms in verse 3  . . . And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John” and you want to really think about whether or not the person who wrote the scripture had something in mind by putting all of these little pieces in and you ought to think the thought that when it says, “they fastened their eyes upon him with John and challenged and told him to look on them” (Acts 3:4 Paraphrased) that they were doing something that it might be interesting for us to explore in our experience. How would we do this sort of thing?

You know the famous “dive bomb method.” You just get in there and drop the bomb and get out as soon as possible. They were not doing that. They were making, if we can use other language, meaningful human contact and meaningful human contact always takes time. They looked at him. See? They stopped and looked at him. [47:21]

You know, one of the things about people in that situation—very few people ever look at them—a lot of folks can’t stand to look at them. What does that mean? Does it mean they love them? No, it doesn’t mean they love them. Looking is an act of love. And then he calls them to look on him.

Now, we say that the eyes are the windows of the soul and your soul will never be in closer contact with other people than when you are present with them and you look into their eyes. Hmmm? IF you are going to minister to people, you have to contact them.

I wish I had time this morning to talk about that fundamental point of the Christian faith called the laying on of hands—the laying on of hands is listed in Hebrews 6 as among the fundamentals of the Christina faith. Listen to this—“Therefore leaving the fundamentals of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to completion, not laying again the foundation” and here’s the foundation—“repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of dead and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2 Paraphrased) Now, how many Christians do you believe if you were to ask them what the fundamentals of the faith are would list the laying on of hands?  [48:55]

Baptism is in a hard way too nowadays. Used to be everyone fought over it so much but—it’s right here, you notice? Comes right between faith and resurrection. See, there was something going on between there, the beginning and the end after all, wasn’t there? Notice that there are many baptisms, not one—baptisms in the plural and the laying on of hands. Contact is necessary to act under authority. Eye contact is one of the deepest forms of contact you will ever have. [49:31]

When you fell in love with your sweetheart, one of the things you did was you sat and looked in her limped eyes forever. [Laughter] and she look in yours and you know one of the things that made that possible was in that moment of love, you completely trusted one another and the moment when trust began to be broken, you no longer looked in one another’s eyes. [50:00]

We are not talking about non-spiritual things here. We are talking about the redemption of our lives, our whole personalities and the transference of that to others. There are many, many people who, with all kinds of afflictions and injuries would be healed immediately if there was someone with the power of love to look into their eyes and see to the depths of their soul.

And Peter said, “We don’t have what you are looking for, sir but I’ll give you what I have—verse 6—“in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth—the fellow that came from, you know? I’m gonna identify Him very specifically, very fully—Jesus, the anointed One, the Messiah from Nazareth—that one! “Rise up and walk and then he took him by the hand . .  .”—that’s laying on of hands, friends. “He took him by the hand and lifted him up.” (Acts 3:6-7) Now, you say, well God’s gonna do it, why should he lift him up? God isn’t going to do it if you don’t do something and you better figure out what you are going to do. You know? What are you gonna do? [51:30]

That’s the question before you as you approach this matter of acting in the power of God. What are you going to do? You are going to have to learn how to act under authority and you are going to have to learn how to reach out to others and touch them.

Now see, touching is a touchy subject, isn’t it? And it is touchy because so much harm has been done to us by touching. Touching is threatening. It gets into the realm of sexuality, of violence, of control, paternalism, which is often a kind of objectionable sort of thing done in a bad way. See, all of these things come in touching. All I can say to you friends is you are going to have to redeem touching and the only thing that will redeem your touching and your looking at people is the love of God in your heart and when you come to trust and live in that fully, you will be able to look at people and touch them. [52:35]

See, looking also is a kind of contest, isn’t it? If I look at you, the question is, who is going to look away first, right?  See we have all this business about who blinks in the great corporate confrontation. You are sitting across the table and the question is will you get the Bank of America or he will get it? (Laughter) So now, if you blink, he’s got it because you are weak so you have to sit there until your eyes begin to almost fall out because you want to blink because your eyes need a little moisture and all that sort of thing but you can’t give in. See, all of this is corrupted by the sinful fallen world in which we live.

Looking and touching is absolutely indispensible to ministering the power of God. You say, “I can do it without it.” Good! Jesus couldn’t, but you can. Jesus touched people. He touched people.

Now, look you can make a mechanism out of this. Touching isn’t going to heal anybody, right? So you go around touching people and knocking them over or doing whatever you know; that isn’t going to do anything in itself but you have to recognize that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. [53:49]

Now, I am coming down to the real fundamentals of it, okay?  Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. If you are going to act in the rule of God and the power of God, it is going to be because of the spirit, which is in you. Now, in order for you to do that, you’ve got to do something. What are you going to do? The New Testament model is, you speak; you look; and you touch. That is a process; it takes time. You have to take time with people—the dive-bomber model won’t work. [54:26]

The pattern is one of speaking. Rule in a Kingdom works by speaking. You have to learn to speak to things.  In Mark, the 11th chapter, this is the verse about the fig tree that Jesus cursed. You know the story so I’ll just quickly go on to the main point.

Jesus said, “Have faith in God. Have faith in God.”—verse 22—“For verily I say unto that whosever shall say unto this mountain . . .” How did that get in there all of a sudden—“say unto this mountain?” Now, Jesus never said to a mountain, “move” and it moved; he never did that. Right? God has probably placed the mountains pretty well where they belong anyway, right? [Laughter] He never felt the need to move one of them so this is a teaching device and you shouldn’t try it on a mountain that’s in your back yard or anything. [Laughter] It’s to make a point. [55:36]

But notice, he says, “say” because he spoke to the fig tree, didn’t he? See, saying and praying are on a continuum; both of them are actions of co-working with God and “shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he sayeth. There for I say unto you, whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them and ye shall have them. And when you stand praying, forgive.” (Mark 11:22-25 Paraphrased)

This prayer is coming again from a heart of loving forgiveness that is suited to the Kingdom of Heaven but what I want to emphasize here now.

“Whatsoever ye desire when you pray, believe and ye shall receive.” (Mark 11:24 Paraphrased) Now, more people have gotten strained spiritual muscles on that verse than any other verse in the Bible—that if you want to enter into the rule of God, you can begin by prayer with people for their needs. As a representative of Jesus Christ acting in the name as Peter and Paul did—uh, Peter and John did—acting in the name, sit with people in their need and pray with them, listening for the voice of God. As you pray, pray with them, not for them. Stop praying for people only and start praying with them. The contact is very important. Be with the people you are praying for and in the name of Jesus, bring the power of His Kingdom to bear upon the need, very specifically that is before you and rest in that power and you will have experiences of acting under authority that will nurture your faith. It is for every one of you here. [58:00]

Don’t worry about the big explosion. You will have them if they are needed. Don’t worry about how it’s supposed to feel. Just do it and you will know the reality of accomplishing things in a power that is not yours.

“Lord, there is so much here. You know, you are the great teacher. You are in our heart. You give us the anointing of the spirit to guide us. We just surrender it to you and ask you to minister to each one of us according to our need. Give us the grace to go on and to know that this ministry is ours.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Listen to all parts in this The Soul’s Eternal Anchor series