Summary: When you feel powerless, remember the Holy Spirit and get ready for a power surge.
“Getting Into Shape: When you Feel Powerless”
When have you felt powerless? When the doctor said “There’s nothing more we can do?” When the boss said, “We have no choice but to let you go?” When the Counselor stated, “I can’t help her?” When you said, “It’s impossible! I can’t handle this?” When your personal battery was drained and you said, “I just can’t go on; I can’t do it anymore?” To feel powerless is to feel helpless – and it’s not a good feeling. Imagine, for example, how the disciples and other followers of Jesus felt. After Jesus died, they were powerless, hopeless, and helpless – then Jesus rose from the dead! But then He left them again as He ascended into Heaven, leaving them with the words (Luke 24:49) “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Just what does this ‘power clothing’ look like? How do we put this ‘power clothing’ on? Let’s look at the activity of Peter for an answer.
First, we are to RELEASE UNQUESTIONABLE POWER. Think about what had been happening since the arrival of the Holy Spirit: (2:41) “Those who accepted (Peter’s) message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (2:47): “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Then (Acts 3) Peter and John healed a middle aged man, crippled from birth, and gave Jesus Christ all the credit. Verse 4 of chapter 4 then states, “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” Society was experiencing, as Paul would later put it (Rom. 1:16), “…the gospel...is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...” The word Paul used for Power, by the way, is dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite! It is an explosive power!
The take home for us is that this POWER IS RELEASED WHENEVER WE GIVE WITNESS TO JESUS. The religious leaders were frustrated. They were the learned, the powerful, the molders of society. There was no way this band of common men should be able to take the crowd away from them. Peter and John had no diploma from the school of Gamaliel, no letter of recommendation from the High Priest, no preaching license from the Sanhedrin. This was really David versus Goliath, the plain man versus the theological “Who’s Who.” But as Peter and John preached, these power brokers could not deny the resurrection of Christ, they could not refute the miracle; all they could do was try to put the brakes on Peter and John’s preaching. They knew it was the preaching that was doing the harm and causing the ruckus.
And it still does! THE OUTPOURING OF GOD’S SPIRIT IS FOR THE OUTGOING OF GOD’S PEOPLE! Wherever, whenever the Gospel is preached, wherever and whenever a witness is given, an explosive power for salvation is released.
It’s important to notice that this POWER COMES FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT. The religious leaders asked the apostles the wrong question; they opened the door for the sermon which followed. Verses 7-8: “They had Peter and John brought before them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them...” It’s not that Peter and John had missed out on Pentecost and lacked the Spirit; this was a special filling for that moment in time. The Holy Spirit never refuses an invitation or opportunity to witness with power! As Jesus had promised them Luke 12:11-12): “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” The significance here is that Peter and John were standing in front of the very persons who had condemned Jesus to death! Their lives were on the line yet rather than cower in fear or wither in uncertainty they relished the opportunity before them because they knew the Holy Spirit’s power. Always remember that THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN TO US BRINGS OUT THE BEST THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS TO GIVE.
That leads me to ask: what are you, or we as a church, attempting that cannot be accomplished without the Holy Spirit? Do we trust the Lord enough to speak up – at work, in school, at City Hall, in front of our peers? The Holy Spirit’s power is released whenever when we witness.
Notice, too, that this POWER COMES FROM THE NAME OF JESUS. Verse 10: “then know this...It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you completely healed.” The apostles simply told of their experience of Jesus! The Holy Spirit activates power at the name of Jesus! The Church needs programs, worship, a variety of ministries, Day Care centers, mission trips, and so much more; but the power that makes any of it effective comes only in and through the name of Jesus! As Paul explained to the Philippians (2:6ff.), because Jesus died on the cross God “gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” It’s the name of Jesus! WE ARE NOT TO SAVE JESUS FOR THE SANCTUARY – WE ARE TO SHARE HIM WHEREVER WE ARE! To release unquestionable power we must witness to Jesus.