Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Renovating Holiness: Sarmiento on THE POWER OF ONE

Christian Sarmiento, South America Regional Director for the Church of the Nazarene, is a few years too old for the Renovating Holiness project.  (To qualify as a full contributor, you must be born on or after 1960.)  However, he believes in the project and contributed this essay for the discussion.

     “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NASV).

     What does the “Power of One” mean? Is this a new “fad?” Is it another church program?
The expression, “Power of One,” points to God, Jehovah.
     He reveals Himself to Moses saying: “I am the Lord [Jehovah]; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [El-shaddai], but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3).
     Jehovah means, “to be,” and it encompasses all the tenses: The God that was, that is and that will be; the eternal and only God. He is the “God Almighty” [El-shaddai], meaning the “most powerful” Being. He is the most sufficient, the most sustaining, the One that supplies more than what is necessary to have the highest realization of all. He is the “God of Power,” the God of creation, history, and salvation. His supreme call to Abram was: “I [am] God Almighty, walk habitually before Me, and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1, Young’s Literal Translation).
     Since God is who He is, he expects that His people “shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

     This supreme call is given to all creation and is the reason and purpose of all existence:
“All the earth will worship you, and will sing praises to you; they will sing praises to your name” (Psalms 66:4). “All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, o Lord, and they shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous deeds; you alone are God” (Psalms 86:9-10). This is already sung in heaven: “And one called out to another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3), and this will be the song of eternity: “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). “And the four living creatures, having each one of them six wings, are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

    God’s utmost desire is that His people would realize, believe and understand that “worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).   
Therefore, Gods engages all His being in His mission so we would have the complete realization and fulfillment in Him: “The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people,” (Psalms 68:35) to fulfill His mission. Our mission is His mission! The Holy God will use His power to fulfill His mission in us.
     Throughout the Scriptures, “power is attributed preeminently to God (1 Ch 29:11; Job 26:14; Ps 66:7; 145:11; Rev 7:12, etc.) The supreme manifestation of the power, as of the wisdom and love of God, is in redemption (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24)” (James Orr.  International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/P/POWER/).
God grants His power to his people for the fulfillment of the reason of our existence, thus, Himself obeying His eternal purpose and call: “Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, o Lord, shatters the enemy. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff” (Exodus 15:6). This is the “POWER OF ONE!”
     The “Power of One” is also the power of Jesus the Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, “promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:3-4; emphasis added).
     Jesus explains His power as one received from the Almighty God: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18, King James Version). He exercised the power of God (“the Power of One”) as the base for His being, living and doing. After He, the “One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) came out victoriously from the encounter with the “most Evil one,” “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district” (Luke 4:14). All His life and ministry was the releasing of God’s power for salvation and wholeness: “Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him…” (Matthew 5:30).
     There is no mistake when Peter the apostle explains to his colleagues in the Jerusalem council the reason for the ministry of Jesus: “You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem” (Acts 10:37-39, emphasis added).
     There are two main expressions related to Jesus’ power. The first in the Greek language is exousia, that can be translated “authority or power” (“all authority [power, KJV] has been given to Me in heaven and on earth;” Matthew 28:18; “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ;” Revelation 12:10). Exousia is the power to be (“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [exousia] to become children of God;” John 1:12). “Exousia” is the internal power that drives us to mission and in mission: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).
     “The historical Jesus claims exousia within the limits of His commission, e.g., to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), to expel demons (Mark 3:15), and to teach (Mark 7:29; Mark 11: 28; Matthew 9: 8; Luke 4: 36). This power is inseparable from the imminence of the kingdom; with the presence of him who exercises it, the kingdom itself draws near,” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Article on Exousia,” Abridge Edition. Copyright © 1998-2012 Olive Tree Bible Software).
     The second expression used in relation to Jesus (“the Power of One”) is the Greek word “dunamis.” When the prophets speak of the Messiah, they mention an Anointed One with Power: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His earthly presence in His birthday is the encounter of Mary with “the Holy Spirit will…upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
     The initiation of His ministry is marked with the dunamis power: “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). His disciples recognize him as “Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty [dunamis] in deed and word in the sight of God” (Luke 24:19). The common people around Jesus recognized Him as One that exercises powerful deeds as something natural to Him: “When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles [dunamis] as these performed by His hands?” (Mark 6:2).
     The word dunamis means explosive force that overcomes and destroys any obstacles to accomplish a mission. It is from this word that we get our word dynamite.
     “The Power of One” in Jesus is the combination of power of being (exousia): power to be real, whole, upright, honest, undivided, with the power of doing (dunamis). The first is the essence; the second is the output. This is the explosive result of being real.
     Jesus is the most powerful person in the history of humankind; He demonstrated being and doing as one thing. He and only He, displays God to us: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” (John 14:9). Jesus Christ is the demonstration of the words and actions of God: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel… I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:19-20, 30).
     “The Power of One,” the power of God came to us in the flesh: “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
     Luke presents this incredible combination of exousia and dunamis in how the common people perceived and saw Jesus: “And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying: ‘What is this message? For with authority [exousia] and power [dunamis] He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.’ And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district” (4:36-37). His message is being and doing.
     Paul summarizes Jesus’ powerful life as “the surpassing greatness of His power” (Ephesians 2:19). Paul’s greatest dream and desire is to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10), “The Power of One.”
     The power of Jesus was the power of the Holy Spirit. All that God does is through the agent of power in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zacharias 4:6).
     As we mentioned before, the “conception of Jesus” is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High” (Luke 1:35). The works of Christ were the performance of the commands of God through the power of the Holy Spirit: “God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). The victory of Christ was the victory in the power of the Holy Spirit: “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). The defeat of death was accomplish by the power of the Holy Spirit: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
     “The Power of One” is the power of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Power of the Triune God is the power of unity (not uniformity). It is in and through the unity of essence, will, purpose, mission, and holy character that God is being known in powerful ways, transforming the impossible for His honor and glory today: “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
     In the glorious prayer of Gethsemane, while Christ was fighting the last battle of His will, (“Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” Mark 14:36).  Before Jesus was imprisoned by the Romans, He expressed in prayer “The Power of One” for His disciples and for His Church today: “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are... I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved”  (John 17:11, 20-23).
     The only model of strategy for mission “that the world may believe that You sent Me” is the church “perfected in unity” modeling the love of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
     The prayer of Jesus in John 17 becomes the Promise of the Father for the disciples and the Church: “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Then, “He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).
     The promise becomes reality when the early church and the church today “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come” and become “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
     This is the promise of “The Power of One” as the model of unity of purpose of the God Triune and prayer of Christ (“that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us”). It becomes a reality in the Church as the power of the Holy Spirit is received.
     The key for the “Power of One” (the power of the Triune God) is obedience: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15-16). The 120 in the upper room were obedient: “these all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer . . . [and] when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2, 4).
     The early church became ONE, thus, the “Power of One” (the Triune God), flowed from God in Christ through the Holy Spirit to a world desperate to find the answer to the living dilemmas of the day: “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:39).
     Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians demonstrates this as well: “for this reason I bow my knees before the Father… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts… Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-17, 20-21). God enables them to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1-5).
     The answer to Paul’s prayer will be a united Church, “one body and one Spirit… called in one hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).  This is the “Power of One” for the Church today.
An empowered Church by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit will have “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Will have a “message and . . . preaching…not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4)…“for the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20)… “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)… “for God has not given us [the Church] a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).
     God has given us the “Power of One,” His power in Christ through the Holy Spirit, power to be the Church, power to do mighty deeds, transforming a world that desperately needs God.
Post a Comment