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Gospel of the Kingdom Pt 2

Gospel of the Kingdom Pt 2
"Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything" (Thess. 1:8b). The Word of the Lord sounded forth, and their faith had gone out. Here we see cause and effect again in faith and impact. For faith to happen, we have to experience that Gospel of power for ourselves; it has to impact us before it will impact others. When it impacts us, our faith and boldness rise in us to spread the Word. Not only that, but just our lives as witnesses and living testaments of the glory and power of the Lord to transform will cause murmuring, wonder, curiosity, and interest. Christ's words to the woman at the well caused her to run into town and tell everyone, "Come see this Man who knows things about me that I never told Him" (see John 4:29).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a message. Yes, the message is true that Jesus came, He died, and He rose again, and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Yes, there's a message in that, but Jesus didn't just deliver a message. He demonstrated the message, and so did Paul "in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ" (Rom. 15:19).

In his message to sometimes-timid Timothy, Paul said, "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the Gospel according to the power of God" (2 Tim. 1:8).

Have we immunized the Gospel from spreading? Do we sanitize its message so as not to offend? Do we sugarcoat it to make it more palatable? Are we afraid of rejection? Mocking? Persecution? Paul said, "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:13). Do we hold back the pattern of faith and love because of fear? Paul said, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7). In other words, "Don't be afraid to suffer, Timothy, because God's power will see you through it. Remain in His perfect pattern of words and you won't be afraid."

All of those things—power, love, and a sound mind—we have inherited in Christ Jesus. These are all things we need to guide us as we proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Just as in Paul's day, the message to follow Christ and make Him Lord and Savior over everything seems strange to many—perhaps even more so in our "I'll do it myself" world. The plan of God in Christ Jesus may seem foolish. For some, it may expose them as being "weak" or may even cause them fear, but Paul knew that the message of salvation was the living and active power of God to transform and save. There was no way Paul would be ashamed of it or afraid of it. There was no way he wouldn't preach the Gospel of power to anyone lost or captive—be it someone influential and powerful or someone (in the world's eyes) unimportant and insignificant. He told Timothy as much, and we should take care to heed his wife counsel.

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).
How can we call ourselves Christians—followers of Christ Jesus—if we don't follow the Christ of power? That's who He is! How can we not believe that miracles, signs, and wonders are for today? To say that miracles passed away with the age of the disciples is to say that the Gospel has passed away too. It's to say that Jesus didn't really die and rise again for us and that the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead doesn't really live inside of us. It would be a powerless spirit—not the Holy Spirit—because He is unchanging just as God is unchanging, just as Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Heb. 13:8). Has the Bible persuaded you that He is able?

We can preach the Gospel all day long, but that won't win souls. That won't win the hearts of the people. We can talk, try to theorize, theologize, reason, argue, debate, and spend time trying to prove that Jesus lived, but that won't win a heart. How often do we see the religious mindset that believes that the more Scripture quoting, the more yelling, the more hell fire and brimstone preaching, the greater the chance to win someone over for the Kingdom? Likewise, how often do we see people sitting or standing there listening in stone-cold silence or indifference?

My team and I, on one of our visits to South Africa, did some open-air power preaching in the ghettos of one town. We saw many drug addicts and gangsters coming to know the Jesus of power, and many fell out under the power of the Holy Spirit and came to know the Savior. But just behind us on a hill were about 30 gangsters taunting and mocking these people. I called out to them and said, "You don't believe all this?"

Several replied, "No, we don't believe this, we don't believe in God! It's all fake and staged."

What could I do? How could I convince them? Would preaching more convince them? Would a lesson in theology convince these violent youth and rug addicts? I thought not. I called them over and said, "Fine, that's what you believe, but line up right here and let me lay hands on you. Watch how God will touch you. I guarantee that if God doesn't touch you, that I will say that God isn't real."

They lined up and the Holy Spirit smacked them, my friends! Whoosh. Down they all went, laid out under His power, and every one of them got saved. That is why we need a manifestation of the demonstration of the Spirit of God and power. That's power evangelism! When we combine it with the prophetic, it's even more so.

These days, especially in North America, we have "heard it all." Christianity doesn't stand out—it's grouped with every other thing that claims it can change, transform, fix, or alter. Some people even consider our faith hypocritical because they don't see what we claim when we witness. We preach "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exod. 15:26 KJV), but how many healings do we see? If we preach, "By His stripes, you are healed" (Isa. 53:5; 1 Pet. 2:4), but don't step out and lay hands on a person, or pray for that person, how is that going to win him or her? Do we really have faith that God heals? Does fear hold us back? What's holding you back? Why say, "I'll keep you in my prayers," when you can pray on the spot, believing that what you ask for God will deliver? We have to get off the platform and into the midst of the people with the hands-on Gospel of truth! We have hundreds of promises, but do we ever venture forth with them? God doesn't lie. He's unchangeable, and His promises pierce the present just as they broke through in the past.

Is Christianity more of a platform of promises, or do we actually go into the midst of people with God's promises and demonstrate them—His promises to heal and deliver, to bind and loose, and to save and set free? How often do we use Christianity more as a platform to grow our churches for something rather than as a tool to win the lost? The winning of the lost to Christ through mighty demonstrations of His power is platform enough. Armed with the truth, we speak His promises into the lost, into the sick, into the dying into the captive: "By His stripes, you are healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!" Lay hands on someone and say, "Jesus said, 'Behold, I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly'" (see John 10:10). Everything people need, want, or desire they can find in Him.

The power of God operating through us will open dull, apathetic, and hardened ears and hearts. The only thing that is going to release a powerhouse of harvest is the Kingdom of power in us and through us. We are living in a time of acceleration, my friends. Time is short, and it is going to have to be a demonstration of the Kingdom of Heaven at hand. God is anointing and gifting His people to witness and preach the Gospel of power with the power of the Holy Spirit. I tell you, I make sure that in my meetings people know that God is real and in their midst.

Christians need encounters with God. It sounds silly, doesn't it? When we accepted Jesus into our lives, wouldn't we think that His coming to live in us is an encounter? But it's not until we turn that into communion and fellowship with Him—two-way dialogue and spending time in His presence, time in the Spirit, and truly pursuing Him—that we're truly encountering Him.