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We are tired of a powerless gospel

I read a blog post from our team in Mozambique. Over 100 people healed! The blind seeing. The deaf hearing. The lame walking. And it’s all happening in real time – this week!   Why don’t you and I experience this stuff? Is this just for Africa, or can it happen here too? What does the B…
By Seth Barnes
I read a blog post from our team in Mozambique. Over 100 people healed! The blind seeing. The deaf hearing. The lame walking. And it’s all happening in real time – this week!
 
Why don’t you and I experience this stuff? Is this just for Africa, or can it happen here too? What does the Bible say about this?
 
The good news is, in the Bible, this is normal. Look at Matthew 10.  Jesus sends his disciples out to practice sharing the kingdom.  As we watch them move out, we see that the kingdom of God removes pain. It takes away the pain of hunger, of sickness, of demonization, leaving hope.  The message that attends these miraculous events is: God is not far off; he has come near.  We might translate that: “Something incredible is transpiring in real time and it looks like God.”

This is basic Christianity 101.  The disciples advertise the kingdom by meeting felt needs (as opposed to tract-bombing) as their primary strategy. 
 
They don’t convince people into heaven. They demonstrate the tangible nearness of a powerful God by touching felt needs and removing pain.

The question is, how exactly do we do that?
 
Well, for starters, we bring hope in practical, personal ways. Stomachs are filled, cancers eradicated, blind eyes opened, relationships restored. The kingdom is not ethereal; it is near and it is personal.

This brings up a good question: Has your church helped you begin to practice this basic expression of faith? Do you actually get trained to do the stuff like Jesus trained his disciples?
 
Or do you feel like you are being spiritually dumbed down?

Too late in life (somewhere in my 30’s) I discovered this secret that Jesus made plain enough, but we struggle to grab:
 
We were meant to wield the power of God to meet real needs
 
Perhaps it sounds trite, but most of us don’t really get it because we’ve not really seen it. Too many of us have read the verses, but have yet to see what it looks like in the year 2011 to have been delegated the same spiritual authority as the disciples. 
 
Heaven knows I’ve fought long enough to come to a place of some courage on this issue. For too long I’ve sat under pastors who preach another gospel, one of talk without action or action without power. I’ve felt like a hypocrite and looked around at people wondering if they felt that way too or if maybe they knew something I didn’t know.
 
Did Jesus preach a gospel that says healing no longer happens or that demons don’t need to be evicted? Did he give us the example of disciples who were powerless? Yes, they may have started this way, but eventually they grabbed hold of a powerful gospel and their conviction changed things.
 
And so, if you’re a preacher, we who listen to your sermons have a bold request: Would you please preach the gospel of power that Jesus preached? Would you please show us what this looks like with your life?
 
When we see you pray for healing, at least we’ll be encouraged to try. Raise a dead person and we might even visit a few mortuaries with you and join with you in prayer.
 
The fact is, we are tired of a powerless gospel.  We are tired of people preaching a gospel of doctrine divorced from experience.  It feels like heresy when you look at Matthew 10.

There are many wonderful churches that preach a gospel that sends disciples out as Jesus did.  For example, David Platt’s book Radical has power not only because he calls us back to the red letters, but because his church attempts to put them into practice.
 
What does your church do? Are you hungry to do more? Paul says, “My message wasn’t wise and persuasive words, but a demonstration of power.” Have you ever been around Christian leaders who have demonstrated power? Wouldn’t you like to be?
 
As Christians, we’ve been called to demonstrate the kingdom and then to explain it.  Anything less is half a loaf.*
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* Comment #11 below asks where do I start? My response, seek out a discipler – that’s how we grow. More on that here and here

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