Wonder-working Power

Learning to understand, appreciate, and embrace the Holy Spirit


After His Resurrection, Jesus stepped through a locked door to have an important conversation with His disciples. Once they settled down from shock, Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He then did something rather amazing. Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21–22).

I believe Jesus was telling them—as well as you and me—that the only way to exist and work as His people is through the Holy Spirit’s power.

Strength from Above

God’s design for the nature and function of His Church is big. Really big.

First, we who follow Christ are to live out personally and corporately our Lord’s virtues and values in the way we interact with others. This outflow of Christ-like character includes loving, forgiving, and peacemaking and being compassionate, generous, humble, repentant, and merciful. No small order for sure.

Second, we are to serve Christ in the world, bringing the lost to Him, combating dark forces, setting prisoners free, and positioning the broken to experience His transforming touch. This mission is local, regional, national, and global and is the Commission Christ has placed upon every believer and church that bows to Him as Lord. Again, this task is beyond comprehension if we seriously consider what it involves.

This brings me to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Our Lord was clear that fulfilling the expectations linked to the Church’s nature and function is outside human ability and resource. It takes power from above, which is why Jesus continually pointed to the importance of the Spirit-filled life.

Jesus re-emphasized this point at the ascension when He told His disciples to “wait for the gift my Father promised . . . you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . .” (Acts 1:4, 8). In other words, we cannot fulfill our purpose as Christ’s followers without the Spirit.

Whole Gospel

Recently, while rereading a favorite book by A. B. Simpson, a statement caught my attention: “We cannot leave out any part of the gospel without weakening all the rest.”

Though a mere 14 words, this phrase speaks volumes. It may help to exegete, at least in part, what is missing in some churches today and possibly help to set a course for new life and spiritual growth.

“We cannot leave out any part of the gospel without weakening all the rest.” —A. B. Simpson
Simpson wrote those words more than 100 years ago. However, a careful reading of them will not fail to unveil their relevancy to Christian life and ministry today. The church must be animated about the gospel in its entirety, or else it compromises the integrity of the whole. Christ’s followers ought to seriously consider and discuss this truth.

The above statement’s context comes from Simpson’s second volume on the Holy Spirit, simply entitled The Holy Spirit. More specifically, it comes from his chapter on the necessity of being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in “power from on high.”

Simpson was deeply concerned that Christians understand, appreciate, and embrace the Holy Spirit’s empowerment as both foundational to the gospel and essential to effective Christian living and ministry. He wrote:

We cannot leave out any part of the gospel without weakening all the rest, and if there ever was an age when the world needed the witness of God’s supernatural working, it is this day of unbelief and satanic power. Therefore, we may expect as the end approaches, that the Holy [Spirit] will work in the healing of sickness, casting out of demons, in remarkable answers to prayer, in special and wonderful providences, and in such forms as may please His sovereign will—to prove to an unbelieving world that the power of Jesus’ name is still unchanged.

Simpson believed that the Holy Spirit’s empowerment was not a negotiable ancillary consideration but essential to being a Christian and advancing the gospel of the Kingdom.

He also stated that the closer we come to the time of Christ’s return, the more vital the Holy Spirit’s empowerment would be. Simpson did not know, nor do we, when that day will come. This we do know: we are closer to it than he was. So if he was right, and I tend to believe he was, we need more than ever to walk in the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

You may note Simpson did not say that it would be good if we were open to the Spirit’s dynamic presence. He said that the world needed that type of witness to combat unbelief and satanic power. Whether intentionally or not, Simpson was affirming Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:1–4 that words alone are not enough, no matter how wise or persuasive. Living as Christians and engaging Christ’s mission involve an experienced dependence upon the Spirit.

Get on Your Marks

We do not control the Holy Spirit’s movement or manifestation. Certainly none of us can make signs and wonders happen. God is sovereign, and as Simpson said, He will do what He wills. However, we must position ourselves to receive empowerment from above and willingly serve as channels of His transforming presence.

Here are three ways to get started:

1. Let’s be intentional about praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I wonder what would happen if people began to regularly gather and pray, asking God to fill them anew with the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Given that Jesus told us that the Father loves to give the Spirit without limit (John 3:34), I would encourage such people to fasten their seatbelts because things will begin to get pretty exciting.

2. We need to preach, teach, talk, and read more about the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that it was good that the Spirit was being sent to the Church. Let’s again spend time highlighting the Spirit’s work so that He does not become, as one of Francis Chan’s book titles suggests, the forgotten God. Surveying the Gospels and Acts would be a great place to begin.

3. Let’s keep making room for the Holy Spirit to act.

The matter of “the healing of sickness, casting out of demons, remarkable answers to prayer, special and wonderful providences, and such forms as may please His sovereign will” are in the original DNA of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Every C&MA congregation, member, and worker is linked to an exciting spiritual heritage. Is it not time to lay active claim to that spiritual inheritance once again?

I wonder if someone had asked Simpson to look a century ahead and imagine what the movement he founded would be like, specifically related to this matter of the Holy Spirit, what would he have envisioned?

3 responses to Wonder-working Power

  1. Hi Terry, my name is Marco Wittenberg, Alliance pastor from The Netherlands, and I just wanted to let you know that this article and your books (Untamed Christian, Healing Care) are highly appreciated here. Through your writing you help me in my personal walk with Jesus and to lead the church in the power of the Spirit. Thanks, God bless!

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