The Gift of God, Power
2 Timothy 1:1-7
A Sermon Preached 2/9/97
Dr. C. W. Powell
There are several words that are translated "power" or "might" in the Bible. One of them is used in John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." The word there means authority, or right, as you might give a "power of attorney" to someone, that is the right to act on your behalf.
Another word is used in 2Tim. 1:7. It means "enabling power," or the power to do what you ought to do. You may have the right to something, but no power to do it. You have the right to play basketball for the Chicago Bulls, but you may not have the ability or the power or skill to do it. It is the Holy Spirit who gives this enabling, through faith in Jesus Christ crucified.
Last week we spoke of the soundness of mind that the Spirit gives to those who believe in Christ. Today we speak of a second benefit of the gift of the Spirit to believers: that of power, or the enabling of them to do what God has call them to do.
Philippians 2:13 says that it is God who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Paul tells Timothy that this working is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. He enables us, works through us to accomplish God's plan and purpose.
I. General Remarks.
The word for power has noun forms, verb forms, adjective forms, just as English does. For instance: power, powered, and powerful. These words are used in various ways.
God Himself. The word is used for God Himself: At his trial before the high priest, Jesus said that we would see him seating at the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of heaven: Matt. 26:64
Angels. In Ephesians 1:21, Christ is seated above all powers. Sometimes both good or bad angels are included, as Romans 8:38, where neither principalities nor power can ever separate us from the love of God.
Miracles. Sometimes this word means miracles, or mighty deeds. It is often so used in the New Testament.
II. Significant Passages.
God Is Able. Abraham did not stagger at the promise of God, because he knew that God had the power (was able) to do what He had promised. (Romans 4:21) In the same way we know that God has the power to make all grace abound to us, so that we are able to do what He has commanded (2Cor. 9:8)
The Power of Scripture
The Scriptures have the power to make us wise to salvation (2Timothy 3:15-17). Simply because the Scriptures are inspired of God, they are able (have the power) to bring wisdom unto salvation. The Word does not return empty to God, but accomplishes that for which it is sent (Is. 55:9-13).
Power to Believers
In the parable of the Talents, Jesus said that the servants were given talents according to their several "abilities" (powers) (Matt. 25:15). This corresponds to the definition given above. God gives talents in proportion to the power that the servant received to use them. The gifts corresponded to the ability. We can have confidence that God will enable us to endure the trials, suffer the persecution, or whatever else He lays upon us, for the Spirit will enable us to fulfill the service that He has laid upon us.
The Power of Faith. The Spirit works through faith. Faith is His gift, and it is through this gift that victory is gained over the world (1 John 5:4). Thus, out of weakness, the martyrs were "made strong" (given power) (Hebrews 11:34). It was by faith that Sarah received strength (power) to conceive seed (Heb. 11:11).
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...."
Paul knew that they would not be able to "be filled with the knowledge of his will," or to be "fruitful in every good work," unless they were strengthened with all might, or literally, "powered with power," according to Christ's glorious Dominion as the Creator of all things. Paul knew that they needed an enabling from God in order to have these things.
The Power of Ministers.
Paul's effectiveness as the minister of God was tremendous. But Paul knew the source of that effectiveness. He explains it in 1 Cor. 2. "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
Because Paul wanted their faith to stand in the power of God, and not simply his persuasiveness, he renounced the "hidden things of dishonesty, not walking the craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." He was bold to say "we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. 4:1-7) Paul sincerely desired that their faith would not be in word, but in power (1Cor. 4:20).
1 Thessalonians 2:6-13.
"Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostle of Christ." (verse 6)
Paul knew where the power was. It wasn't in him, in his wisdom, in his way with words, in his dominating will; nothing in his flesh.--none of those things that the world looks for. As an apostle he could have "been burdensome" (with the use of authority--so Calvin interprets it).
Instead, Paul said, "we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children...." Because of Paul's servant attitude, comforting and charging every one, as a father does his children, Paul was able to rejoice that "when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in your that believe." (1 Thess. 2:13)
Paul did not want anything of him to get in the way of the power of the word of God, so that it would effectually work in them.
It is when we are filled with goodness and knowledge, that we have power to admonish one another (Romans 15:14.) Being helpful to one another does not just mean the power to tell someone off. That's easy. It takes goodness and knowledge to be persuasive.
Paul recognized that he could do all things through Christ. (Phil. 4:13) He does not mean all things absolutely, but all the things that God had called him to do, or that God brought upon him. He could (have the power) do the things through Christ, who strengthened him (energized him). He prayed this also for the church, "that the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)
The Spirit of Power
The power of the Spirit is given only one way, through the hearing of faith. (Gal. 3:1-3) It is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). On the other hand, "the strength (power) of sin is the law." 1Cor. 15:56: The law energizes the flesh.
Every Christian has two powers working in him. These powers are called the "flesh" and the "spirit" (Galatians 5:17). Each of these powers have their own proper fruit, and each of them is energized differently.
The fruit of the flesh is always the same. Paul gives a list of this fruit (Gal. 5:19-21), but even his list is not complete, for there are many varieties. He mentions adultery, fornication, uncleanness and such like, but also mentions idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, wrath, strife and things like that. That his list is not complete is indicated by the words "such like" at the end of his list.
Paul also tells us how the flesh is energized, how it gets its power. "The strength (power) of sin is the law." The law tells me my duty, but it does not teach its own use. It defines sin and condemns the sinner, but cannot give life. It makes sin exceedingly sinful, and must be preached in order to define sin and rebellion. But it can never give life, or Jesus would not have come to die.
The other power working in the Christian is the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the hearing of faith, through the Gospel of Christ, God works His grace by the Holy Spirit to enable men to do what they can never do in themselves (Gal. 3:1-3).
Our faith does not stand in the wisdom, the power, the strength of the flesh, for that is the strength and power to do evil continually. It stands in the power of God: the gift of the Holy Ghost through faith in Christ crucified.
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918