A letter to church leaders

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'” (Acts 1:4-8).

Dear Leader, Jesus had just spent 40 days teaching His disciples concerning the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom that Christ had proclaimed was at hand was to be offered to humanity through these first disciples. Yet, having been with Jesus three years night and day during His public ministry, followed by 40 glorious days with Him after the resurrection they were still not ready to be sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

One thing yet remained. They must first be baptized in the Holy Spirit. What an amazingly strange thing it is that so many of us have no problem bypassing this pattern left us by Jesus. What justification can we honestly give for this profound arrogance? Do we really think anything less than the empowering of the Holy Spirit can enable us to do the work of a spiritual kingdom.

Not even our Lord ventured out into His public ministry without the empowering of the Holy Spirit! Yet somehow we think that teaching alone can do it. These early disciples had been taught by the best! Yet their teacher said wait until you are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

No matter what our natural resources may be – great teaching, excellent music, great promotional skills, they are not enough They will never be enough to set aside the pattern Christ has left us. We must face it. God’s Kingdom we are to offer humanity operates on an entirely different set of principles than anything in this fallen world, and this principle of the essential empowering of the Holy Spirit is unavoidable. Nothing can substitute for the empowering of the Holy Spirit – nothing! It is only when we accept the following maxim that we can expect great things from a great God – “God’s work, done God’s way, gets God’s results.”

Never in the entire history of God’s people has the arm of the flesh ultimately prevailed. No, but the arm of the Lord has given His people victory after victory over their most imposing foes. How dare we seek to improve upon the ordained ways of our Lord. We have much to learn from the words of the great apostle Paul to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2:3-5: “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Consider his words to the new church at Thessalonica: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Our abilities and power are not acquired from the kingdom of fallen man, but from the Kingdom of our Risen Lord. A Kingdom that operates from the resources of heaven. Resources that only the Holy Spirit can convey to us.

No institution of man has the power or right to give or withhold this power. It is given by the Head of the Church and King of God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ. This best glorifies God and provides enabling power for all God’s people to fulfill effectively their calling in His Kingdom. From New York City to a primitive jungle village, from the well educated to a man with only a Bible translated into his native tongue. Both can review the gifts of the Holy Spirit to teach God’s Word, to lead people to Christ and to bring the resources of a spiritual Kingdom to the needs of a fallen world.

Jesus knows what He’s doing! To command that we not be sent out into this world until we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit is not the option of our theological persuasions. It is mandatory for us all. We say we want the results that we saw in the first century Christians. Well then, may we accept the same prerequisites as they did. Let us be taught concerning the Kingdom of God and let us be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we will see for ourselves that God’s work, done God’s way, gets God’s results!

 

Bob Caldwell
Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Boise, Idaho, U.S.A.