Featured Article from Living Water Magazine
THE POWER OF GODWherefore did I come, and there was no man? I called, and there was none to answer? Is my hand at all shortened that I cannot redeem, or have I no power to deliver? Isaiah 50:2
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple rent in the midst. And Jesus, having cried with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. And having said this, he expired Luke 23:45 – 46.
… that by two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible that God should lie, we might have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us, which we have as anchor of the soul, both secure and firm, and entering into that within the veil, where Jesus is entered as forerunner for us, become for ever a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 6:18 – 19.
I would like us to consider together God’s power. There is a lot made of power nowadays and all kinds of efforts are made to have more and more power available according to man’s mind. But the power of God has been shown in the gospel and particularly in the Lord Jesus Himself.
Since the beginning the power of God was there and we are very thankful for the first book of the Bible that tells us faithfully how God created the heavens and the earth and the power that was displayed in that creation. But soon man disobeyed God and sin came in so the question that God puts to man is the one we read in Isaiah. “Is my hand at all shortened that I cannot redeem?” It was not the first time that God had asked that question. He had already asked it of Moses when He said, “Hath Jehovah's hand become short? Now shalt thou see whether my word will come to pass unto thee or not” (Numbers 11:23). That was the power of God to redeem His people, the children of Israel that He had chosen according to His own desire and plan.
But, as we know, the children of Israel failed and disobeyed as we have all fallen in disobedience. So the question comes to us, ‘Is God’s hand short that it cannot redeem us?’ That question is a searching one in the heart of each one. If you are not a believer that question should stir your heart – is God’s hand shortened? Has it not the same power that it had in creation? Yes, exactly the same power is there. The power that can create is the power that can redeem: it is the same power, a power that is expressed in the way in which God is available today in the Lord Jesus.
The way that God has chosen expresses the wonder of His sovereignty. He has chosen many different ways to show the presence of His power. Think of the miracles with the people of Israel in Egypt. Think of the way in which God spoke through His prophets. Think of the way in which He had servants who could show His power. Think of Elijah, Samuel and Daniel. Think of how Daniel was delivered many times; think of him in the den of the lions and the power of God that was there ready to deliver.
Do you believe in the power of God? It is a power that is not, speaking reverently, shown in authority in the way of judgment but is shown in love. It is a power that reaches the heart in love. It will have a judgment side to it but at the present time, in the dispensation of grace, it is a power displayed in love and grace. It is power to redeem because that is what we need. We are sinners and we need to be redeemed. ‘Redemption’ means that we are delivered from the power of the devil, the power of the one who wants to rule over us. God intends to deliver us from the power of Satan and transport us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (see Colossians 1:13).
Now, when was this redemption accomplished? It was accomplished at a time when all unrighteousness was seen. Can you think of a worse legal process than the one that the Lord had to undergo? It was a trial where the judge had to say “I find no fault whatever in him” (John 18:38), yet He was condemned to die. Here was a Man who had “done nothing amiss” (Luke23:41); the robber on the cross could witness to that. The Lord was One who had gone about doing good, bringing grace and healing and giving life yet He was condemned to die. What unrighteousness was shown on the part of mankind. But the power of God was there. The power of God was showing itself in the fact that the Lord took a body - became Man – that He might bear in His body the judgment of sin that was due to us. In becoming Man He also accepted that place of a perfect servant in complete dependence on His Father.
Think of His words on the cross. It says that the Lord cried with a loud voice. There was power there. You would not expect somebody dying on a cross to be able to speak with a loud voice. But the Lord Jesus had that power. We speak with reverence about these matters. But it is there. It is witnessed in Scripture. We are very thankful to Luke because there is a unique report of this fact; the Lord cried with a loud voice and He said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Think of the power that is there. The Lord was able to lay down His life and He was also able to take it up again. Here He was laying it down. Nobody else could do that, they just died on the cross as men die. But the Lord Jesus had a powerful death: although it was a death in full dependence on His Father - He says, “Father, into thy hands” – nevertheless He was able to commit His Spirit to the Father and then He expired. That is the moment in which the power of God was expressed in such a powerful way, in a way that can reach the heart of each one of us. There is no other salvation. There is no other redemption.
The Lord on the cross can really redeem each sinner. He has redeemed me: He can redeem you if you put your trust in Him. It is such a powerful way in which He acted. And it is as if everything was calm in the Lord; although undergoing such suffering He was absolutely calm in putting His Spirit into the hands of His Father and laying down His life.
As we know, He has taken it up again and we bless Him for that. That is why He is not only a Saviour to us but He is also Lord to us because He has taken His life up again and He can therefore exercise rights upon your heart. He has been powerful in redeeming you and He can powerfully lead you through life in dependence upon Him.
If you have not yet put your trust in the Lord, now is the moment to do so. At the present time God waits in grace. We do not know what can happen in a few moments. We might not be here: time is in the Lord’s hands. Now is the time for you to believe on Him and the gospel is preached so that you may do so. The gospel is being preached because this is a time of grace. Come to the Lord and take heed to His power in redemption, His power to save you. He laid down His life and took it up again that He might redeem you.
When you have trusted in Him you become a believer. And when you become a believer your first reaction is to be filled with joy about what the Lord has done. But following this experience there is a new path to be followed as a Christian here in the world where Christ is still despised and rejected. For that pathway you have need of the power of God: this is the power spoken of in Hebrews which is available to us in order that, “we might have a strong encouragement”.
I have been thinking of this expression lately. There is not much that encourages us in the world. Quite a few things do the opposite and depress us if you think about it because there is no human hope for this world. But the strong encouragement comes from within on account of the power of God expressed in the Lord Jesus.
Where we read in Hebrews it speaks of this hope. It says, “we … have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us”. Do you not think, dear reader, that this is a time in which we can really experience fleeing for refuge? Escaping from all which can overwhelm us and that makes us despair humanly speaking? We have a hope on account of the Lord’s power, power that will change everything and in due time will bring about a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
In the present time we have this hope set before us, “as anchor of the soul”. Nothing is sure nowadays except what is connected with the Lord Jesus as the Rock. He is the One who can really provide an anchor for our souls.
When the anchor gets a solid hold there will not be any movement, there will not be any loss. This is exactly the power that is available in the gospel - not only to redeem, but to make us sure in our belief, of our pathway here and of our hope.
Then it continues speaking of, “entering into that within the veil, where Jesus is entered”. I think this is very fine. This is a glorious part of the gospel. By His death the Lord Jesus has opened up a way whereby we can go into the holiest. He has gone in as our Forerunner as we sometimes sing:
And we our great Forerunner see
In His own glory there;
Yet not ashamed with such as we,
As Firstborn all to share.
Then He has gone in as high priest, to lead the praises. That is the answer that comes from the gospel. The gospel transforms the sinner into a believer and the believer into a worshipper. That is exactly the hope that is within the veil, the hope that we can have in our Lord who has gone in there.
May we be affected by the power of God expressed in the Lord Jesus. You need to know that power while it is available to you in grace. You do not want to experience it when it is a power for judgment for you. It will be a terrible power to those who will have to undergo God’s judgment. But at the moment you can avoid that by believing in the Lord Jesus now, today and to experience His power in redemption. May this be your experience and our experience together, for His name’s sake.
A preaching of the Gospel, Worthing, 16 July 2017.