In "Trained to Witness, Part 1", we saw that in Matthew 10, Jesus left very
clear instructions to His disciples on how to witness. He instructed them to
give the gospel free of charge; He told them that they didn't have to worry
about what they would say, but that they needed only to rely on His Spirit to
give them the words; and He assured them that they didn't need to worry about
anything, that He would supply all of their needs, their protection, and their
But Jesus isn't finished giving instructions yet. The most exciting part is that He promised to give them authority! Let's look: "He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness." (Matt 10:1 NIV; See also Mark 3:14-15)
"Wow! That's amazing! But wait. This was just for the disciples!"
Was it? Let's find out: "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go." (Luke 10:1 NIV)
Seventy-two others were appointed for a task given by Jesus. What was their assignment? To "heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The Kingdom of God is near you.'" (Luke 10:9 NIV)
They were to broadcast the Good News message, and they were given authority to heal the sick. Watch what happened: "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'" (Luke 10:17 NIV)
Notice that the Good News message is deeply integrated with freeing the oppressed! This was Jesus' way as well: "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (Matt 4:23 NIV)!
The New Testament church preached the same way as Jesus: "Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed." (Acts 5:16 NIV)
"Okay, so Jesus gave authority not only to His disciples, but also to many others, and even to the 1st century church. But that still doesn't mean it is for TODAY!"
Friends, if it's in the Bible, it's still applicable today!
Let's look at Jesus' last command: "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." (Matt 28:18-20 NIV)
That doesn't have any qualifiers, does it? Jesus is simply telling each of us to "go"!
I have personally experienced this power from God. One day I was faced with a demon possessed woman. My theological training had never mentioned this kind of a situation. Had it not been for God's guidance through His Spirit, I would have been helpless, but He gave me the authority over those demons, and through the name of Jesus, that poor woman was set free (see Problematic Convulsing at http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon3b/problematic_convulsing.htm )
More recently, I was approached by one of my secretaries. Her dad was gravely ill. He had been admitted to the hospital two months earlier, and since then his condition had deteriorated steadily as infection, untouched by medication, rampaged through his body. "If he makes it, it will be a long painful road," the doctors had told the family. "And after that, he will need to go to a rehabilitation hospital."
"Do you believe God can heal him?" I asked her.
She hesitated, but I felt God's Spirit affirming that he would be healed. "Trust God, and your dad will be healed," I said. "I will pray for him, but God is the One who can make him well."
A week later, the infection had completely disappeared, and the following week, to everyone's astonishment, he was released from hospital and sent back home. There was absolutely no need of rehabilitation!
In addition to seeing the sick healed and demon possessed freed, I have also been an eyewitness to victims of substance abuse and sex addictions being released, I have observed marriages being restored, and, the best miracle of all, I have witnessed the most unlikely and unlikable people turn into powerful witnesses of God's grace.
So you see, the authority Jesus gave the apostles is still effective today!
God's message is a powerful one, the most prevailing one in the whole world. He will confirm His message to those who search for Him. It is a message that turned the world upside down in the first century, and is still as effective today.
Remember though, we, as Spirit-filled Christians, do the praying, but it is God who does the miracles: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the LORD will raise him up." (James 5:15 NIV) The key to having authority over illness is complete dependence on God. It's not by doing our own will that people will be led to God. He is simply allowing us to be part of His plan of salvation for this world. It is a great honor to have God use us in this way! But it is only by complete reliance on Him that we will be effective witnesses.
Do you believe in the power of God?
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