5. The Power of God

By John Thiel, The Power of the Cross Conference, Study 5, mp3

2 Corinthians 13:3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me,

Amongst all the preachers and teachers, we seek for proof of Christ speaking in me.

2 Corinthians 13:3 …which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

The power of God toward us is coupled with the crucifixion and the resurrection by the power of God. That is the power of God toward us.

Not by His own power, but by the power of God. Not by our own power, but by the power of God. If it would not be for the experience of Jesus not depending on His own power, we would never be helped. He lived by the power of God toward Him.

If we are going to live by the power of God toward us, it can only be by the understanding of how Jesus lived as a human being. It is the connection of the weak with the understanding of the power of God that Jesus lived by that we are to live by. We saw very powerfully that Jesus was dependent upon God’s power to save Him out of His dilemma. We can only be saved by the power of God out of our dilemma, the very one that He came to demonstrate.

Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

We need to have a knowledge of Him. As we have the knowledge of Him, we receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation which is in the knowledge of Him.

Ephesians 1:18-21 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Assess very carefully what the apostle is trying to get across here to a people who are prone to just believe in Jesus in an ignorant manner. To know that Jesus died for us and that is all. Apostle Paul is saying I wish that you would be given the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. We need to know more than just of Him. Our eyes must be opened, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened. He wants our understanding to come into the activity. If you would understand this knowledge as we study it; that we might know what is that hope of His calling and riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Those wealthy aspects of intelligent understanding is what apostle Paul is praying for, that we would understand what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. We need to know the power that was exercising itself in the weakness of Jesus so that we would be benefited by that. That is why the study of the power of the cross is so essential. Our understanding needs to be enlightened. This is what our purpose is, to let this understanding be enlightened more and more as we study in regards to the power of God. It is the power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.

Did you notice it says that He was set on high, the right hand of the heavenly places by the power of God far above principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named? There are a lot of powers around us which frighten us; the power of the authorities, the world, etc. or any human being.

I am a person who is by nature afraid of man but the power that I have come to understand from God lifts me above all that. We don’t have to be timid anymore like Jeremiah was. The Lord had to strengthen him because he had a timid nature. By the understanding being uplifted we see how Jesus, the one who was equal with us, was lifted and with Him we may be lifted also by the power of God. Who is He that has such power? The Scriptures tell us that the seeing men know what that is and they tremble when the storm is raging on the ocean. They realise the power of God.

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Study the heavens, study the universe; stand in awe. How were they created? They were created by the breath of His mouth, the Word of the Lord.

Psalm 33:7-9 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast.

This is the power of God. As you gaze into the universe the distances, the enormity, the infinity of it, that’s the power of God. As we come to struggle with the perplexities of our sinful life, is anything too hard for Him? When that power is revealed in Jesus Christ we have to come to the knowledge of that power. Let’s stop to ponder and apply in the gospel such a person with such power as our Father.

I love the way that He challenges the human race as He speaks to Job.

Job 38:2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Job 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

Here we have just one demonstration of power as the waves come roaring in. I have often stood before the sea shore and see those waves roaring in. I have been caught in some of them and the power as it drags you out, it is beyond us. That band where He says this far shall thou cometh and no further, it is God in control of the power of the ocean. That is just a small item. In fact it is the power of God that the moon holds the tides. God is giving all that in nature around us. In the cosmos we see the power of centrifugal force that holds everything in place. This is the power of God. He says where were you when I laid the foundations thereof, what does it hang upon? It is by the Word of the Lord. He made the heavens, He spoke and it was done. He hangs the globe on His Word. He stated and it was so.

He exercises our mind in challenging our thoughts along this path. He wants us to have a knowledge of the power by which He brought Jesus from the death. He wants us to understand it. He wants us to exercise a faith that Jesus Himself exercised.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

There is a field of meditation there. You can’t see yourself becoming perfect. God can make you perfect out of something that you don’t see. He who brought light out of darkness, we are in darkness, He can bring light out of darkness by His Word. It is the power. As we realise now today we understand it better than in those days. He hangs the globe in space just like the others. They all circulate around each other. There is the power that can control anything. God made visible things from the invisible. He has that power, He has that capability.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

God spoke and it was done, the Word.

John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

He brought things that were invisible into visible reality. We are dealing with a God of such power and it is also in Jesus. Jesus would not exercise that upon Himself. He depended upon the Father. The power of God in Him in whom we live and move and have our being. Everything exists and we have got to grasp hold of this to give us peace that passes understanding that whatever our struggles, we are not dependent upon ourselves. Just as Jesus said I of my own self can do nothing, this is what I am relying on; the power of God.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

What does consist mean? It is by Him that they continue to function. To consist now is by Him continually exercising that power. Jesus is that power too. He manifests that power at the cross; even the power of trust.

Believing in His Father was a power which He demonstrated which He wants us to embrace. After sin came in, He is still sustaining. By Him all things consist even after sin, things are still held by His power so that the power of sin cannot have its full control, only as He permits it to be. If we don’t realise this power, we keep on living in our own world. I can’t emphasise strongly enough how important this is.

Psalm 104:10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, [which] run among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. 12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, [which] sing among the branches. 13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart.

Do you remember that by Him all things consist?

Psalm 104:16 The trees of the LORD are full [of sap]; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; 17 Where the birds make their nests: [as for] the stork, the fir trees [are] her house. 18 The high hills [are] a refuge for the wild goats; [and] the rocks for the conies. 19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. 20Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep [forth]

Then it goes on to describe how in Him all things consist. This is still the case today even for those sins there. He is still exercising everything to keep everything under control even though He permits certain things to go astray to remind people that if He withdraws His hand, we can see what happens. You see that when the tsunamis take place. He says now the power of the ocean that is not restrained comes and destroys. Sin has put everything into derangement but God is still holding. We are dependent upon that power.

Jeremiah 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand [for] the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

He says do you realise who I am? Don’t you tremble at my power? I can use the sand to stop the wild ocean. I love the way God is trying to get us to exercise our mind. As we read all that, apply it when you meet insurmountable obstacles. Apply this power when you see that you are so weak that you cannot control anything. Realise the power of God when the obstacles are there that you cannot do anything about.

When it comes to the requirement of perfection where He says be holy for I am holy, do you look at yourself and say but I am not holy? How can I reach that holiness? What was it that brought the world into existence? What was it that brought all these things into existence? It was the breath of His mouth. When He says, be ye holy for I am holy, it is a word that has power. We see it in the power of the cross.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God:

We fear don’t we? There are so many things that create fear in us, especially when we are called upon to be righteous and we are not.

Isaiah 41:10 I will strengthen thee;

Who is speaking? What power is available?

Isaiah 41:10 yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.

Do you see the power here? What are we worried about? The God that we have just been looking at in nature, in the power of creation, says what are you worried about? I am your God if you trust me like Jesus trusted, look what I can do.

Isaiah 41:12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, [even] them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. 13For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, [and] ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Here is the language of the power of God that is to govern us. I will help you. Do you remember what Jesus said in Psalms? All they have trusted in thee but I am a worm. Fear not thou worm. These are the things that Jesus engaged His mind in when He was overwhelmed and saw Himself as a worm. He remembered God’s grace and He battled through the darkness.

Psalm 146:5 Happy [is he] that [hath] the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope [is] in the LORD his God: 6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein [is]: which keepeth truth for ever:

What did He say before? He said I will help thee. I who created the immense universe, I will help thee. Why are you afraid? Happy is the man who hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God. That is the question; do we really have the comfort that when He says, be ye holy as I am holy, it will be true for us?

Here He is again saying, look; why are you forgetting so readily?

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding.

Understanding is what we need. He is an intelligent, understanding God.

Isaiah 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

Nothing is impossible for Him

Isaiah 40:29 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

As we are talking about our fainting inability because we can’t reach perfection, He says what are you worried about? Even as you are surrounded by the corruption of your evil nature there is nothing impossible for Him. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Isn’t that what Jesus did? He waited on the Lord. Although He surrendered Himself to Him and died, He was renewed, He renewed His strength. But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Here is the declaration of God’s power to the weak. No matter how weak we feel we are, He gives power, so why stress? Why be tense about this, that and the other thing? What God has promised, He is able to perform. Why are we stressed? We are stressed over our imperfections especially as conscientiously we want to get somewhere and we feel that we are under stress: we are not relying on the power of God.

If we wait on Him, they that wait on the Lord will renew their strength, waiting is something we can’t do in our own patience; we want to see everything now. If we don’t have it straight away, we stress. Let God work His way according to His patient labour for us. God had said that Abraham was going to have a child. When He said that, Sarah laughed within herself.

Genesis 18:13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? 14 At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

The story of Sarah having a son in old age is a comparison to what God can do to create righteousness in us. People laugh at that thought, they say you can’t be perfect so just trust in God because you can’t be perfect but you will be saved any way. The understanding of God is that He will produce the righteousness, He will produce a new heart and He will produce a new birth.

Jeremiah 32:1 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee

Luke 18:25-27 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard [it] said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

If it is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man get to heaven, who then can be saved? The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Is that not right? Is that not what was demonstrated in the power of the universe?

As we are studying the power of the cross, we see that the man Christ Jesus was weak like we are and was overwhelmed with our sin in the flesh. We read in Lamentations that they came up to His neck because God had stirred them all in His being. He was thrown into dreadful mental contortions but He battled through it all. He relied on the power of God and He had peace when He gave up and said into your hands I commend my spirit. There lies our answer to our problems. With God it is possible. He demonstrated it in Jesus when Jesus was crucified because of weakness and He lives by the power of God. So shall we.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

These words are resplendent with the knowledge of salvation found through the understanding of Jesus Christ as He was living on this earth. He could do nothing of Himself. He relied entirely upon God. We are saved, we are not a product of our own efforts to try to keep the law but of His workmanship, not of works, lest any man should boast.

If we could keep the law we could say, look at me I can keep the law. We can’t so we can’t boast because we are to be His workmanship created in Christ Jesus as we gaze upon Jesus and focus on the understanding of His knowledge and the striving lawfully according to the way Jesus did it.

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

Here comes this strange paradox. You work out your salvation with fear and trembling but we can’t work out our own salvation. What does He mean you work out your salvation with fear and trembling? It is God that worketh in you. This can only be appreciated that yes there is something that we have to do in this process. That is what Jesus demonstrated. He cried with strong crying and tears unto Him who could help Him. If He would not have cried like He did, He would have relied on His own strength. He realised the terrible depravity of sinful flesh and He cried unto God with strong crying and tears. This is the part that we need to engage in together with Jesus.

So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in a right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations. {MH 487.2}

So long as we are in the world, we will meet this. There will be provocations to test us and we must meet them in that spirit. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations.

Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism. {MH 487.2}

The work of the power of God, the workmanship is a process. We won’t see everything immediately. It is a patient development. Year by year, day by day we will grow into a noble heroism.

This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has a personal battle to fight. {MH 487.2}

Now comes the most important statement.

Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful, unless we become co-workers with Him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory. {MH 487.2}

What a beautiful summary of fighting lawfully. We have a struggle to engage in. Jesus did. He showed us the way with strong crying and tears in the struggle to conquer. If we are together with Jesus by faith realising that He is right there beside me in this struggle, I will do my part that God can’t do for me. I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling but I know that God is there to help me as I cry to Him. Jesus did that and that was the reason why Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered. He conquered the negativity that would cause us to tremble if we don’t believe in what He has done for us.

As we described the power of God, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. If that’s the case, not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful unless we become co-workers with Him. We must do what Jesus did to come through, that is all. Just trust in God and struggle through the battles of our sinful flesh. This is what the gospel is all about, having our minds, our understanding, exercised.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

If we will believe, if we will look to Jesus in faith and study all those aspects in His Word because it’s the power of His Word by which this happens. As we study it and explore it and make it our own, then we have the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. What we have studied about our weakness and how our weakness when connected with God’s power can gain the victory and we watch it in Jesus, we therefore have the power of God in the gospel acting within us. This is how it all fits together.

As each study illuminates our mind with the practicality of God’s power manifested in Jesus Christ in the gospel, Apostle Paul could say that I am not ashamed of the gospel because there is the power that controls the universe; there is the power that controls the ocean coming as far as it will come. That is to be our fascination, our occupation of mind that when the powerful waves of passions in sinful flesh crave our attention and come through and impulsively enrage us, we can conquer those waves because God’s power is operating within us.

May the Lord bless us to this end, to appreciate this and hold it firm in our memories. We will not forget this power that will be functioning within us as we learn and look to Jesus to that end.


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Posted on 20/06/2014, in The Power of the Cross (Conference). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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