9. Power and Authority
There is a simple solution to the problems of this world and it is in the belly of every believer whether they know it or not. That answer is the flowing of the river of life. The river of life inside us, as it flows out, as we believe, will touch people, heal them, meet their needs, and give them life.
9. Power to Heal; Authority to Cast Down
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
God has a purpose; He is after something. He has called certain ones out of the ranks of humanity to fulfill that purpose. Romans 8:29 shows us that the purpose of God is to have many sons just like Jesus. The mark of those who are called is simply “those who love God.” Am I called? If we were not called to be part of this we would simply not care. We are called if we want to be.
Do you love God? Do you want to be with Jesus when He stands in His glory? If that is true, then believe God!
Through Paul’s argument in the book of Romans, he builds the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That argument is culminated in the second half of Romans 8, in God having many sons just like Jesus. After that Paul says, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
We have everything we need to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We have God’s backing, His intent, His desire. God wants us to be like Jesus far more than we do. God is for us; He is on our side. He is our biggest fan. He believes in Himself in us; He knows we can fulfill His purpose.
To be like Jesus means that we are created to contain all the fullness of God. Not part of God, not something other than God, but all of God.
The second way we become like Jesus is found in John 7, rivers of living water.
In the gospels, Jesus showed us what God is like. In sending Jesus, God sent a picture of Himself. Jesus is the express image of God. When we look at Jesus as He walked in His ministry, we understand the heart of God. We look at Jesus, how He treated people, and we see God.
The central message of Jesus in word and in deed was “Meet people’s needs.” God sends us in the same way He sent Jesus. He sent us to meet people’s needs.
Jesus did not do miracles to show how great and powerful He was. When Jesus did a miracle, it was simply the best way to meet that person’s needs. Here is one who is blind; he needs to see. Here’s a widow woman who just lost her son. Meet her needs by raising him from the dead.
Jesus told us, if we want to be great in the kingdom of God, then be the servant of all. A servant is one who lives to meet other people’s needs. Jesus said that when we meet people’s needs, You are doing it to Me.
But how can we meet people’s needs without power? Jesus had real power to meet people’s needs. When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we see that it was not God’s desire for anyone to be sick. When Jesus met someone who was sick, He healed them. He met people’s needs.
Jesus said, Come to Me and learn of Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. He trained His disciples; early on He sent them out with power, Go. Heal the sick. They saw supernatural power moving through them to meet people’s needs. They came back really excited. Jesus was excited too, not because they were doing powerful things, but because they were learning to be sons of God.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive . . . John 7.37-39
Jesus refered directly to the river of life spoken of in Ezekiel and Revelation 22, the river of life that heals and gives life and meets people’s real needs. Whether it be spiritual life or teaching or healing or provision for the needs of the body, a river of life that heals and gives life. He said that this is the normal way of life for those who “believe in Me.”
With this truth there is an inside element as well. Just as we saw in Ephesians 3, we are the temple of God, created to contain God. But on the inside of that truth, we must be rooted and grounded in the love of God, knowing that God likes us. We must know that God highly regards and fully respects us.
In the same way, before the rivers flow out, something happens on the inside first. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Before the river of life can flow out of us, it must first flow in. We come to Him and drink. What is our capacity for drinking?
“If anyone thirsts.” How thirsty am I?
We receive as much from God as we want. How much do I thirst? How much have I drunk of His Spirit recently? In order for me to move in this river of life, I must first drink. Jesus said, The water that I give you will spring up to eternal life. Jesus is that living water. How much do we thirst?
So many of God’s people are content to get their toes in the river of life, to worship for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s great, but do we desire more? God gives us as much knowledge of Himself as we want.
As we drink of him, we enter the rivers of living water.
This statement of Jesus, He that believes in Me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water, is all we need to hear to understand that God’s intent for us is to move in a ministry as Jesus said, Greater things than I do shall you do.
Is there an answer to the problems of the world? Of course! And it is not electing the right king. The answer to the problems of the world cannot be found in the world. The world only produces problems. Passing laws, writing constitutions, dropping bombs, none of these things can solve problems, no matter how enamored we might be with them.
There is a simple solution to the problems of this world, and it is in the belly of every believer whether they know it or not. That answer is the flowing of the river of life. The river of life inside us, as it flows out, as we believe, will touch people, heal them, meet their needs, and give them life.
The world does not need more laws. No law can give life. What the world needs is life and that comes from the river that is boarded up, damned up, held back inside the hearts and bellies of God’s people.
How do we move in this river of life? Simple. Practice. Practice! Pray for someone to meet their needs. The power will come. So what if we pray and they are not healed, or the provision doesn’t come. A young man training to win the 100 meter dash has set himself a certain time he wants to beat. He runs and doesn’t beat it, does that mean he quits? No. He keeps practicing until he wins.
So it is with our growing up into the image of Jesus. We are in training. The river of life is in us. As we drink of Him, the fountain releases that river to flow out of us. The river is there whether we drink of Him or not. But as we drink of Him we are able to release that river into the lives of others.
As we cultivate an attitude of meeting people’s needs, we desire to meet those needs with more than earthly power. And we should, because we are sons of God. God has given us supernatural power, the same power that He gave Jesus in order to meet people’s needs. We learn to do that by practicing. Just because we don’t see healing or provision right away, does not mean that we’re failures or that the river is not God’s desire. Not at all!
The truth is founded upon what Jesus says. He that believes in me, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water. That is absolute. We can ignore it, or not believe it, but we cannot remove it.
Or we can believe that God fills us because He likes us. That is so important. If I don’t think God likes me, I am crippled. Since I know that He not only loves me, but He likes me, that He loves to be with me, and that His purpose is that I grow up to be just like Jesus, then this river of life will flow. As I seek to meet other people’s needs, it will flow.
God said, “Prove me.” The flowing river is His intent and desire.
Then we go to Revelation 12 to find a third way in which the primary verse, God’s purpose to have many sons just like Jesus, is worked out in practical application. One more verse that helps us to understand the whole thrust of the gospel, how we are made just like Jesus.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:9-11
First the outward, “They overcame him.” Specifically “that serpent of old, the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.”
We’re talking about Satan and his angels, particularly in their role of deceiving, that are cast out. In verse 12 we see that they are cast out of the heavens and into the earth. And they are defeated by (in verse 11) “THEY.” That’s us!
In the moment of Satan and his angels, the deceiver, being cast out, that is the moment when heaven declares that the kingdom of God and the power of His Christ have come. Why is that? Because the accuser of the brethren is cast down, the one who says, “God doesn’t like you, you sin, you need to die, you’re no good.” Right from the beginning he accused God. The first words God spoke were Let there be light. The first words that Satan spoke were “Did God indeed say?”
Satan begins by accusing God, right at the love of His heart – His word. Satan doesn’t really challenge God; he has no illusions that he could do so. What he challenges is what God says. Satan is not fighting God, but what God says.
Jesus said, “He that believes in Me out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Satan comes along and says, “Ain’t so.” “Ain’t so” comes in many forms, any means by which people justify no power moving through them to bless others. Here is the contest of the ages, the great battle, whether we realize it or not. Do we go with God or with Satan? Most Christians place themselves in the “Ain’t so” side even though they don’t realize they do.
We are theoretical Christians, but practical atheists. In the theories of our theology, we side with God, in the practice of our lives, God doesn’t exist. Jesus is true in our minds, but when Jesus said, “Rivers of living water flow out of the hearts of those who believe in Me,” we are more likely to be found on the “Ain’t so” side of the line. It is a fight, a war.
The reason the deceiver is cast down is that THEY overcame him. Who are they? It doesn’t say. In other words, this is for anyone who wants to be part of it.
They overcame him by three things. First, by the blood of the Lamb, the absolute certainty of the cleansing power of that blood. Second, by the word of their testimony. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The words that we speak change the way we think. They are more powerful than we understand. And they did not love their lives to the death. This reference is not that sad belief that has worked its way into Christian theology, “I am bad, and bad me must die.” No! Paul says in Romans 6 that we already know that what needed to die is dead. All old things are passed away.
Then we obey God: reckon the old man dead. Confess, believe, live your life on the premise that everything that needed to die is dead. We stand upon the cross, not before it. We go out from the cross, not toward it. The cross is behind us, not before us. We are commanded by God to believe it is so. People talk about obedience. But if we cannot obey God on this command, then our life will be marked by ups and downs, ins and outs, by confusion, by uncertainty. The very opposite of the confidence that we must keep to be partakers of Jesus Christ.
When John said They did not love their lives to the death, he was talking about commitment in battle, about our training as sons. A soldier gives everything in battle, not to die, but to live and yet he counts his life as worth nothing because he fights for his commander to win. This is our relationship with Jesus. It’s called devotion, commitment, ready to fight this issue down to the wire. What God says is true and it must be fulfilled in this age, in this earth, in my life, right here, right now! When there is a people who will not shove God’s word off to heaven somewhere, who will not side with the “Ain’t so” voice, but who say, “God whatever You say, let it be to me according to Your word, right here, right now.”
This is the place of contest where God will triumph. It is the purpose of God that the life of Jesus be revealed in our dying bodies, not somewhere else. When we commit ourselves to the triumph of God, it is a commitment of everything we have and everything we are. We commit ourselves absolutely to victory. We speak the truth and are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We stand fully upon the blood of Jesus, that it is sufficient and complete, and in so doing we overcome the original deceiver in his original deception. The accuser is cast down.
We start with the understanding that God’s whole purpose is not to retrieve a disaster. It is not to pull as many people out of this earth as He can and take them off to heaven to clean them up there, “because He sure can’t do it here.” God’s purpose has never changed from the beginning all the way through. It is to conform many sons to the image of His Son, the image of Jesus.
The place where that happens is in this age, in this life, in this earth, in these mortal bodies. That’s where this process must be completed. Inside of that purpose, we find three primary verses, one talks about God in us. We are the temple of God; we are created to contain all the fullness of God. We are sons of God. Then Jesus said, . . . shall flow rivers of living water, talking about our ministry to other people with the very life of God flowing out of us. We contain God; we release God to others to meet their needs.
The river of life from God flowing out of our bellies is the only solution to the problems of this world.
Then comes the great contest of the ages. This world, and the church in this world, stands with Satan in denying that what God says will come to pass here in this earth. There is a contest being decided in our day. We must understand that the whole world sides with the accuser. Every part of this world system sides with the deceiver, including the church. It is a contest. And we know who will win. The question is on whose side do we stand?
We take these four verses, the purpose of God and how it affects our lives, all the way through the New Testament. Every time we read a verse, we simply see it inside the purpose of God, that we contain God, that we release the life of God to others, and that we are in the defining battle over whether what God says is true and to be fulfilled right here, or if it can’t be fulfilled except “in heaven.”
When we have that as our framework of thinking, then as we go through the New Testament from beginning to end, every single verse fits and has its place, We can believe what God says. We can believe what God says! We do not have to compartmentalize it, doctrinalize it; all we need to do is believe it.
I am Your servant; let it be to me according to Your word.