The previous post summarized the introduction and first chapter of Guillermo Maldonado book "How To Walk In The Supernatural Power Of God". I have enjoyed this book so much and found it so instructional that it demands more than a single read.
Blogging about this book is a way of studying it for me. It forces one to think more deeply about what I have read and hopefully by doing so, the important points will stick and cause one to actually begin living them. I have an immense desire to walk in the level of Christianity described in this book. I hope that as my desire grows for this kind of life, it will cause me to overcome the fear of man, the laziness of the flesh, to put off the weight of sin that so easily besets us and to take the action necessary to walk in the obedience required. Any criticism directed towards the "church" is a generalization and is not meant in anyway to be destructive, but rather as a challenge to rise up from the doldrums of mediocre Christianity. Reading books like this and similar ones, causes me to think that the church practices that I have been exposed to, are way off what they should be. There is little chance of producing the level of Christian described in this book through most current church structures or methodologies.
A completely new wineskin is required if the power of the Holy Spirit is to be experienced as God intended. There is very little room for God to move in current religious structures or for the average Christian to mature into the fullness of Christ. The current system keeps church members dependent on the "pastor" to deliver the "word". The early church model was very different. There was far more participation by the congregation and there was demonstation of the power of God, not just some well prepared sermon. At least 95% of church services I have attended in my life appeal to the intellect and have had almost no demonstration of the power of God. It is a fact that salvation is the greatest miracle and one could argue that when people respond to the Gospel message that the demonstration of the power of God is evident. I would not completely deny this, but sadly most people who respond to these invitations are not following the Lord a year later and if they are, the level of Christianity being lived is often hard to recognize. As a preacher once said "Be sure that in a court of law, there is enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian".
The closest I have come to experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit as described by Guillermo in this book, was during my week in Brazil in 2010 with Gary Oates. I also had a tiny taste, way back in the early 1980's when a student at UCT. Those little tastes and reading a book like this, give me hope that there is a "real" Christian experience to be had where the power of God is demonstrated. It is also true that we need to care for our fellow man's physical needs and mercy ministries play an important role. I think that sometimes it may be easier to spend so much of ones effort on these "do good" ministries that the spiritual dimension is neglected. There is the danger of the church simply becoming another humanitarian organisation, as important as these are, this is not the primary calling of the church, but definitely a part of the Church's responsibility.
So back to the book and I wish that I did not have to always be quoting someone else's experience, but until I have enough of a testimony myself, this is the best I can do.
To repeat the summary from the last blog and include a few points I missed:
Summary of Chapter 1
1. God is a spiritual being with supernatural abilities.
2. He lives in eternity but manifests His presence in our physical dimension.
3. Revelation is the revealed knowledge of God that comes directly into our spirits in an instant, without prior knowledge or research.
4. The Holy Spirit is the only Source of revelation we need to know God.
5. All the mysteries of wisdom are hidden in Jesus and are available to the humble who hunger to know God intimately.
6. The four things that can be known only through revelation are God’s nature, human nature, the origin of man, and the origin of life.
7. The two sources of supernatural power are God and Satan.
8. God created man with an instinctual desire for power.
9. The five enemies of supernatural power are ignorance, bad theology, humanism, the spirit of Jezebel, and the carnal mind.
10. Faith and revelation enable us to live beyond the natural dimension.
.......this book is for those who deeply desire to experience God’s supernatural power so that they may bless a world that now stands in crisis and hopelessness. To understand and operate in that power, I believe we need revelation and understanding of the kingdom of God.
What Is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God is the invisible, divine government that is established on earth when the will of its King has been carried out completely. It is His administration influencing the earth, replacing its mundane operating system and order. The kingdom of God is the lordship and dominion on earth of King Jesus manifested in a visible form.
Jesus spoke of three divine realms: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.(Matthew 6:13, emphasis added)
1. The “kingdom” is the government of God;
2. the “power” is the ability found in God;
3. the “glory” is the presence of God.
The essence of Jesus’ teaching is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.
In Acts 1, Jesus spent around forty days teaching His disciples about the kingdom. His goal was to prepare them for the day when they would receive the power, an event that takes place in chapter 2 and is followed in chapter 3 by the manifestation of God’s glory.
Today, some ministries teach much about God’s kingdom but with little demonstration of His power. In other ministries, the opposite occurs—there is a great manifestation of God’s power, but little mention is made of the kingdom. In still other ministries, there is teaching on the glory but no manifestation of the power or God’s kingdom.
Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom because He understood that to be effective witnesses in a hostile world, they would need the power. Furthermore, He knew that the government and the religious leaders of the day would do anything to eliminate any evidence left behind that might prove His resurrection.
What Generates the Revelation of the Kingdom in the Believers?
The revelation of the kingdom produces within our spirits a knowledge of how to use God’s authority and how to submit to it. Without this knowledge, such power may destroy people. The subjugation of Satan can be understood only by revelation from the kingdom of God. When we finally understand this, we will see the undeniable superiority of the kingdom of light each time it confronts the kingdom of darkness.
Order cannot be established in the absence of government and authority. Without them, chaos and disorder can become dangerous when faced with the power of God.
In the absence of vision, principles, character, and a kingdom mentality, supernatural power could be used for other things and not for the expansion of God’s kingdom and the blessings He has for His people. Without the kingdom’s vision, power can become futile or destructive.
Knowledge—or revelation—of the kingdom must come first in our lives. That principle is still active today. We live in a society that is hostile toward the gospel. It is full of wickedness and iniquity, and, without His power, we would never be able to succeed in it.
What Is the Power of God?
The Greek word for “power” is dynamis (pronounced dunamis). This word also means “powerful force, potency, or inherent power.” Dynamis is the ability to perform miracles. It is the explosive, dynamic, and inherent power of God—His supernatural ability. Many Christian circles exhibit a negative attitude toward this power because they have never personally experienced or witnessed a physical miracle or a supernatural occurrence. His power is intrinsically tied to the message of the gospel, and this is the difference between Christianity and other religions that cannot produce a supernatural experience. In the book of Acts, the supernatural power of God is present in each of its twenty-eight chapters. At present, countless churches are full of people who are sick and oppressed because they have replaced the power with other things.
Religion is the result of not having an experience with God.
The church that Jesus left behind in the first century evangelized and established the kingdom using supernatural power as their primary tool. However, with the passing of time—and the influence of the spirit of witchcraft—the expectation of God’s supernatural power has been abandoned, producing the need to seek idealized human tricks and talents as substitutes for the miraculous (e.g. sermonizing).
Substitutes for the Power of God
The spirit of witchcraft is in operation wherever you find carnal habits and legalistic practices.
"Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"(Galatians 3:5)
The Galatians had started out in the Spirit: they were saved, were filled with the Spirit, and witnessed miracles, signs, and wonders. But witchcraft influenced them to follow unbiblical rules, norms, and carnal ways, which caused them to lose sight of God’s power.
The church today is in a similar situation. Most Christian movements, regardless of denomination, began with a supernatural revelation from God. Without this, they never would have been able to make an impact in the world. But, how many of them are still operating under the supernatural power with which they began? Sadly, very few.
At some point, the human soul became a substitute for the Holy Spirit.
Let us recall that man is a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body. The soul has legitimate functions, but it cannot take the place of the spirit.
When people begin to put their trust in their own abilities and strength, they move away from the spirit and toward the soul, which includes intellect and emotions. Then, a substitution takes place in which “religion” takes over for spiritual reality.
Let us look at some of the most common substitutes.
Theology, lacking inspiration from the Holy Spirit, replaces revelation.
Theology is man studying God with his human mind and reasoning. This is a proper way to study Him, but in order for it to be effective, man needs the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, mankind needs to balance the knowledge he derives from studying God’s Word with the knowledge he gets from the Holy Spirit. This combination of the Spirit and the Word is what transforms our lives.
Intellectual education replaces character.
Education occupies an important place in the life of an individual. Thus, it is important for young people to study, pursue educational degrees, and become excellent professionals. However, we must keep in mind that intellectual education does not build or shape their character; it only prepares them to carry out a job.
The only thing that can shape character and transform the heart of man is the power of God.
It is very dangerous to train people intellectually without dealing with their character.
When the carnal (worldly) mind is educated without character training, a well-educated enemy of God results. Some theological seminaries do not believe in the supernatural revelation of the Holy Spirit. Because their only goal is to educate minds without shaping character, their students become enemies of the gospel of the kingdom.
Psychology and psychiatry replace spiritual discernment.
Psychology is part of the philosophy that studies the soul and the mind.
Psychiatry is the science that studies the psyche of the human mind and the illnesses connected to it.
God gave us perception and discernment, both of which help us to discover the root causes of our problems. However, instead of using these, we sometimes seek answers to our spiritual problems with psychological and psychiatric strategies and methods.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have the best intentions to help people, but they do not deal with the roots of their problems, which are spiritual. They deal only with the symptoms—the branches, which are superficial.
Man-made programs replace the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible teaches that in order for our works to prosper, God must take the initiative. (See, for example, Proverbs 16:3; 16:9 niv.) Unfortunately, many churches carry out their services according to their own agendas. Some even plan activities two or three years in advance without allowing any room for whatever the Holy Spirit might want to do. This is one reason we see such powerlessness within the church.
Eloquence replaces the demonstration of power.
Many preachers fail to impart transformation to the hearts of people because they leave out the most important ingredient: the power of God. People run after personality-driven churches that are built on human charisma, talents, and gifts instead of on the name of Jesus.
Administrators replace apostles and prophets.
Apostles and prophets bring the revelation and power that create breakthrough within the church. They are empowered by God with the anointing for spiritual warfare. When we substitute administrators for apostles and prophets, we essentially take much of God’s power away from the church.
Reason, logic, and a carnal mind replace living by faith.
When we handle divine situations with a carnal mind, we limit God and lose hold of the supernatural. Faith gives us the ability to believe above human reason because it supersedes all reasoning. Many of the things the Lord did in the Bible did not make sense to those who witnessed them.
Motivational preaching replaces the message of the cross.
Motivational preaching is good because it inspires people, but when it is done without Jesus Christ as its central figure, it has no power to change hearts. To eliminate or hide Jesus within a message so as not to offend is the same as nullifying the power He activated with His death and resurrection.
Rigid laws, norms, and regulations replace love.
Many churches are more concerned with people keeping the traditions, norms, rules, and regulations of the council or denomination than offering the genuine love of Christ to the lost. Love is the only thing that can loosen God’s power.
Entertainment replaces power.
Many believers attend church in search of entertainment, and many leaders use entertainment as a means of keeping membership numbers high without fully establishing anyone in the power of God. This is another reason why so many of God’s people do not experience the supernatural in their lives. When we entertain people, we have lost the power.
Human ability replaces God’s grace.
Grace is the divine ability given by God for His people to become everything He has called us to be and to achieve that which we are unable to do in our own strength. There are men and women of God who have a supernatural ministry, but their character fails to measure up. As a result, other people reject them and thereby reject the supernatural. This is when God’s grace intervenes—when we are unable to achieve things in our own strength. Christ was the only perfect Man, and His life was a manifestation of God’s supernatural power. He maintained a balance between His power and His character. If He was able to do it, then we should also be able to do it—with His grace, of course. He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)
Traditions replace the Word.
You…[make] the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.(Mark 7:13) In some Christian circles, it is common to hear preaching that is based on traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. The leaders in these churches fail to realize that their method of preaching nullifies the effect of the Word of God. The fact that many of these churches are part of a long-standing tradition does not necessarily mean the tradition comes from God. In fact, if a tradition fails to produce new life or transform people’s lives, it is probably not of God. Tradition is not a substitute for the Word and the Holy Spirit, which are the only things that can truly change lives.
Once we become aware of all the things that many churches substitute for the power of God, we begin to recognize why so many in the church lack power, as this is why miracles, healings, and salvations occur so rarely.
If you are operating under any of the aforementioned substitutes, repent and return to God in order to manifest His supernatural power to this generation.
The following prayer will help you achieve that:
My Lord Jesus, I repent of replacing Your power with human substitutions. I ask You to fill me once more with Your supernatural power, which I need to carry out Your purpose here on earth.
Ask the Lord to fill you with His power right now!
Balancing Supernatural Power Power and character
In many congregations, there is a negative attitude toward anything that borders on the supernatural, whether in the church or the world. Some people look at their flawed leaders and say, “I don’t believe in miracles, in healing, or in the power of God because the man who performs such miracles has terrible character.” Although character is not a requirement for obtaining a gift, it is important in pursuing holiness and honoring the Giver of the gift and His gospel. If we say, “You have the supernatural but lack character,” we might say to someone else, “You have character, but where are the miracles?” Jesus, with His holy character, manifested miracles everywhere He went. However, in Scripture, we also find men who lacked character, had supernatural ability, and were greatly used by God. For instance, regardless of how he ended his life, Samson is still counted as one of the heroes of the faith. (See Judges 13–16.) Our character should be formed so that it is able to match the level of power we receive. Only then will we find balance and success.
Therefore, it is important to have a mentor—a spiritual mother or father—who can equip and train you in God’s supernatural power and also help you to shape and maintain your character.
On the other hand, if we give character more emphasis than power, we turn the gifts of the Holy Spirit into a reward. In other words, they are no longer gifts but rewards or blessings for good behavior. As a man committed to demonstrating the character and power of God, I cannot say that one is less important than the other, but it is a mistake to think that we can be more effective if we dedicate time and effort to shaping our character while setting aside the manifestation of power.
Power and authority
As we’ve said, the Greek word dynamis means “strength, power, ability,” while the Greek word exousia means “the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)…jurisdiction.” Behold, I give you the authority [exousia]….(Luke 10:19) When a person has dynamis (power) but lacks exousia (authority), he may find himself in a grave situation because of this imbalance. The duration of supernatural power is directly proportional to the level of authority in which a person operates. If you do not honor authority, you might be able to perform miracles, signs, and wonders, but your lack of submission and surrender will begin to manifest in diminished results because the power will expose flaws in the flesh. When I traveled as an evangelist, I met a pastor in another country who had a church with thousands of members. God was powerfully using him to perform miracles, signs, and wonders, but he did not submit to authority and refused all words of counsel. Eventually, at a time when his church was extremely effective, it was discovered that he was involved in an adulterous affair with a woman from his leadership team. In time, other sinful activities were also discovered in his life. Because of his sin, his ministry was eventually destroyed. Sadly, this is a clear example of what can happen when there is an imbalance of power and authority in your life.
Authority is the ability to exercise the power that leads to Godlike behavior.
Word and Spirit
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.(1 John 5:7)
When we preach and teach God’s Word, we must always wait for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I devote time during each service to teach from God’s Word and to minister what the Holy Spirit has for His people. This demonstrates the power of the preached Word. An imbalance occurs when people focus only on the Word and never allow the Holy Spirit to move freely, or when they focus only on manifestations of power and neglect the priority of the Word. But if we keep these two—the Word and the Spirit—in balance, we will experience the full blessings of God.
It is possible to have an experience and to be deceived, but not having an experience is already a deception.
Power and harvest
We must understand the relationship between revival and harvest. I define revival as “receiving the power to go and gather the harvest of souls.” If we fail to gather the harvest, our revival experience has been in vain. You are chosen, equipped, and anointed to go throughout the world in search of souls and to perform miracles, signs, and wonders. Many people stop for an “upper room experience” (see Acts 2:1–4) and never get around to gathering the harvest, even as people all around them remain ignorant of the gospel and bound for an eternity in hell. We can fill ourselves with power yet remain seated on our church pews, doing nothing. When this happens, we grow cold toward the things of God. But He has anointed us to gather the harvest and not to remain benchwarmers.
Words and actions
Jesus of Nazareth…was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.(Luke 24:19) The complete power of the kingdom can manifest only when words and actions are aligned. Jesus operated in words and actions.
"The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach…." (Acts 1:1) God’s Word always shows Jesus… Doing, Teaching.
Without faith, the kingdom will not have maximum impact.
"Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." (John 14:11)
Theology without works is a dead science.
The multitudes followed Jesus not because they wanted to join a church but to hear about His kingdom and to see the wonders and miracles He performed.
After demonstrating the power, Jesus presented the kingdom. This concept appears over and over again throughout the Gospels. This has also happened to me in countries where people are reluctant to accept the gospel. Often, the only way to soften their hearts is to demonstrate God’s power. After praying for the sick, I demonstrate the power with a person who is missing a bone, has a cyst, or is blind or deaf—someone in desperate need of a physical healing miracle. After people witness the miracle, they are sensitized and ready for the calling of salvation. They are eager to answer the call, walk to the altar, and receive their salvation.
There are two things we should avoid in our relationship with the Holy Spirit if we want to achieve balance in our character:
Grieving the Holy Spirit and quenching Him.
"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)
In Greek, the word for “grieve” is lypeo, which means “to make sorrowful, to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow…offend.”
How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?
We do so by having bad or evil attitudes, thoughts, or actions, and by having angry outbursts, slanderous conversations, and bitter quarrels.
We also grieve the Holy Spirit when we deliberately participate in sinful activities. When we live in anger, wrath, and deception, we impede the Holy Spirit from flowing through us. Therefore, we grieve Him.
Do not quench the Holy Spirit.
“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
What does it mean to quench the Holy Spirit?
In Greek, the word for “quench” is sbennymi, meaning “to extinguish…of fire or things on fire…to suppress, stifle.” It also implies the idea of obstructing the flow of something—to drown out, kill, or block the source.
Jesus said, “He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). He did not talk of drops of water or a trickle of water but “rivers.”
To quench the Holy Spirit is to cut off His flow and dry up the spring. It is like crimping a hose of running water to stop the flow. When we experience anger, bitterness, slander, and other sins in our lives, we are blocking the Holy Spirit from flowing through us. In doing so, we essentially quench His power.
At our church, the services occasionally take longer than expected. This happens because the Holy Spirit of God is moving—healing, delivering, and saving those who desperately need it. However, when I have been forced to cut services short for one reason or another, I immediately realize that I have quenched the flow of the Holy Spirit, which then stops the power of God from operating at that particular moment.
Jesus modeled how we should live with the Holy Spirit without grieving or quenching Him. There was time when I did not understand why many pastors who love God and His people fail to experience the power of God in their lives or their churches. Although they may have not quenched the Spirit in their personal lives, I now realize that they did so in their ministries by denying the Holy Spirit the freedom to use them to prophesy, to move in His gifts, to pray for the sick, or even to dance under His control.
Each time the Holy Spirit of God inspires them to do so, they suppress or stifle Him. Again, this is often the reason their churches lack power. I had to repent before God for the many times I quenched and suppressed the Holy Spirit of God when I denied Him the freedom to flow as He wills.
As Christians, we should daily strive not to grieve or quench the Spirit in order to maintain a good relationship with the Holy Spirit. Grieving the Holy Spirit deals with our character; quenching the Holy Spirit deals with power. Let me give you an example of this. On one occasion, an evangelist in our church was on his way to Florida International University when God gave him a vision of students wearing red shirts. As he entered the university’s library, he saw a student wearing a red shirt leaving the premises. He immediately walked over to him and began to tell him about Jesus. In response, the young man kept repeating that he was an atheist. Then, he asked the evangelist how he was so certain which god was the true God since Allah, Buddha, and Jesus all easily fit the description of a god. The evangelist simply replied, “You have experienced moments of great risk in which you were in danger of losing your life, but you have not died, because of God’s infinite mercy.” The young man could not understand everything he was hearing, but he admitted that these words were true. “I have seen many people die in the Iraq war,” he said, “but I have escaped death. I have often wondered why I was spared.” At that moment, the power of God came upon him, and his legs began to shake. He asked the evangelist, “How did you know this?” The evangelist answered, “Well, you asked me how I know who the true God is, and now I say to you that the One who revealed this to me was not Allah or Buddha, but Jesus—the only true God!” The young man immediately said, “Now, I believe!” He instantly received Jesus as his only Lord and Savior.
A ministry that performs miracles but fails to gather the harvest of souls is not fulfilling the complete will of God. Power without balance can destroy the user along with those around him. However, if power is used with wisdom and balance, it can impact thousands of lives in positive ways, glorify God, and, above all, result in a great harvest of souls.
The revelation of the kingdom produces a structure—order, vision, and purpose—that prepares us to receive the power.
Supernatural power is the explosive, dynamic, and intrinsic ability of God to do anything.
The substitutes of power we must avoid are:
1. uninspired theology;
2. intellectual education;
3. psychology and psychiatry;
4. man-made programs;
7. reason, logic, and a carnal mind;
8. motivational preaching;
9. rigid laws, norms, and regulations;
11. human ability;
12. and traditions.
Power is balanced by character, authority, the Word and the Spirit, the harvest, and words combined with actions.