Works of Power; May 6, 2018

Matthew 10:7-8 “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Having gone to a Southern Baptist seminary, they loved verse 7. I remember a very rousing chapel message on, “As You Go, Preach.” However, in only one class do I remember hearing anything about the contents of verse 8. This was a Baptist seminary, after all! At that time the Cessationist view of spiritual gifts (that such things were only for the 1st Century) was dominant, to the point that my Systematic Theology professor was sure I was Assemblies of God from the content of the papers I wrote for his class. However, they loved preaching! There too I had my arguments. My preaching class required that I use commentaries extensively, to the point that I felt they didn’t want me to preach on the Word, but rather on what other people said about the Word. To be fair, my final sermon was graded by a Doctoral student rather than the actual professor, but I was graded down as “too extreme.” If that was too extreme, then Isaiah was too extreme, because I took my title directly from the text! That seminary has done a lot of good, sending out more missionaries than any other, but I find myself wondering what it would look like if they were to accept both of these verses as applying to them.

That said, I have to be honest about my own ministry. Despite believing that such things are for the entire Church Age, including today, I haven’t had much of verse 8 evident. I was rejected by the Southern Baptist mission board because of my Charismatic beliefs, but my track record has been largely indistinguishable from that of someone who didn’t believe in such things. With my Teacher gifting, I love to preach! I don’t use commentaries, but I do research historical context and the like. I actively seek to speak out only what God is saying, but at times I feel like my ministry is almost entirely words, and nothing more. I long to be like Paul, who could say to the Corinthians, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) Sometimes I feel like people in the church believe in me, rather than in Christ, so when I disappoint them, they leave. That’s tragic. I love to speak God’s Word, but those words need to be backed up with demonstrations of the power of God. (Mark 16:20) Mark 16:9-20 was summarily dismissed by most of my seminary professors, because “It’s not in the earliest manuscripts,” but it was obviously the experience of the early Church, and should be no less so today. Actually, in some areas it still is, as Heidi Baker and others can testify. I accuse myself in this area, but by definition this isn’t something I can make happen, since it’s a matter of God’s power and not man’s. All I can do is be humble before God, keeping myself available to Him and not holding back from anything He tells me to do. I would like to see more supernatural manifestations, because I want more people to be shaken out of their unbelief, but I’ve got to leave that in God’s hands.

Father, You are doing good things here, even if they aren’t what I might choose myself. Help me trust You enough to rest, relax, and rejoice in You whatever You are doing in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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