Saturday, January 25, 2014

P1 4 impossible areas made possible

Felix Baumgartner & Art Thompson

Luke 18:26-27 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Introduction: Meet the man who accomplished an impossible feat by being connected to the right people and power source 
Felix Baumgartner did what many would call an impossible thing.  On October 14, 2012 he was taken 128,100 feet into the area where space and the earth's atmosphere meet.  In that alien looking environment where oxygen is in short supply, Felix jumped and broke two world records: exceeding the speed of sound in a free-fall as well as completing the longest free-fall in human history.  Baumgartner had spent five years preparing for his feat and many tests had to be done before he was sent aloft.  However without an entire team of people in a mission control watching his every move and without a specially designed vehicle attached to a special balloon and without the pressurized suit, Felix would had remained grounded.  He needed the right people and power to lift him to the level whereby he could achieve the impossible.  (note: you can watch the video here by right-clicking on link, copying and pasting the link in your web-browser after reading this post. The video is over a minute long:

Christian people and the church have been called by God to do impossible things.  Unless we have the Person and the Power of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives and enabling us, we will never be able to accomplish God's purposes. 

The problem of confusing the impossible with the possible
In the opening text above, Jesus' disciples could not get over the fact that the rich young ruler had not become a disciple of Jesus Christ, just like them.  To them, if anyone was a fit candidate to follow Jesus Christ, it was the rich young ruler.  He was wealthy, leader of a local Jewish synagogue, young with much potential and knowledgeable. Their shock is evident in the question they ask Jesus in Luke 18:26 "Then who can be saved?" The disciples and most everyone in the Jewish culture had come to regard salvation as being within the grasp of human effort and thus possible.  If a man was smart enough and good enough and lived according the law of God, that was all that was necessary for salvation (according to the Jewish tradition outside the scriptures).  Yet, the rich young ruler had demonstrated absolute failure.  Jesus' response aimed to correct the disciple's confusion: "with men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."  Who alone can make what is impossible possible? In just a moment we will be briefly looking at four areas that many deem quite possible, however they are actually impossible.  It will be discovered that the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit, Who is God, is the One who makes impossible things possible.  We will list the four impossible things first, and then discuss them one at a time.  Our main resource for today's post will be the Book of Ephesians. 

4 Impossible things         Made Possible by
Salvation                           The Holy Spirit
Ministry                             The Holy Spirit
Christian Family                 The Holy Spirit
Christian Life                     The Holy Spirit

Salvation: the impossible made possible by the Holy Spirit
Can human beings bring about their own salvation? Can anyone achieve enough favor before God to meet Him halfway, with He in turn finishing the process with a shot of saving grace? When we come to Ephesians 1:19 we read: "and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might". A few verses later in Ephesians 2:5 it is evident that the Christian life is birthed by God in their simultaneous trust of Christ in saving faith: "even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)". Truly without the Person of the Holy Spirit's involvement in salvation, no one would be able to believe and be saved.  Sinners are not merely sick patients on a bed in need of some medicine, but are dead people in need of a resurrection. (Compare John 5:24-25; 1 Peter 1:3-4)

Falling under the impossibility of salvation without the Spirit's working is the mission itself. As we carry on our efforts to share the Gospel with people, we must remember that the Great commission is guaranteed a 100% success rate. Why? All whom the Spirit calls and convicts unto saving faith believe. (John 1:12-13) Our obedience and cooperation in the Great commission is a matter of obedience, however the Spirit's involvement is as necessary to empower the messengers as well as the message. (John 16:8-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13)  I'm so glad that God sent the Spirit in Jesus' name to empower His church through the communication of the scriptures, otherwise salvation would indeed be impossible. (Acts 1:8)  So as we can see, the Holy Spirit makes this first impossible area possible.  Lets note another impossible area....

Christian ministry: an otherwise impossible undertaking made possible
The church world sometimes makes it sound like that with the right programs, right lighting, right strategy and right intelligence we can do what it takes to perform effective ministry. Think of three major parts of a given church ministry that even in and of themselves are impossible to do on human strength alone: planning, preaching and participation.  

Planning is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit's empowerment, the best laid plans of mice and men will fail. Now don't misunderstand: I follow the old tried and true adage: "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail".  To not sit down and plan what your given ministry is going to do is dishonoring to God. (compare Luke 14:28-35). However the planning aspect of ministry must include the Power of the Holy Spirit.  Here is the deal: God has called the church to do impossible things.  If we plan every activity in our churches that are well within the grasp of our intelligence, cleverness and skill-set, we will yield expected, natural and explainable outcomes.  However when a church has caught the vision to do the impossible - that is, where we know we need the One who can do all things through our willing hearts - the Holy Spirit, only then can we conclude that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us by His Spirit.  (compare Ephesians 2:20-22; Philippians 3:14). 

Finishing projects that were planned and begun (whether buildings or Sunday School growth, for example) requires the Power of the Holy Spirit.  We welcome the Holy Spirit's work by opening up our Bibles, intercessory prayer and humbly saying to Him in echo of His words: "with men, this is impossible, but with the Lord, all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) 

Preaching is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Preaching done in human strength and wisdom can only endure for so long before the preacher, the people and the preaching become anemic.  As a preacher I can tell you first hand: preaching that makes a difference is impossible! That is of course unless the Holy Spirit is empowering the preacher and his preaching.  Ephesians 3:7 states - "of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power."  Notice the phrase - "the working of His power". 1 Thessalonians 1:5 states this clearly - "for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."  The way a preacher can directly plug into the power of the Spirit in preaching is by immersing Himself in the text and praying over his notes, his heart and the lives of His people. (Colossians 4:12-13)

Participation is impossible without the Holy Spirit. 
In our churches and ministries, there is always something to do, something to be done.  In our ministries, giving to God's work is always in need.  Guilt is the worse way to get people to get involved. How can it be that God's people get involved with what God is doing? Consider Ephesians 4:11-12 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ."  Christ is the One who grants the offices and ministry structure needed to equip people for the work. 

So then, Who is the One who empowers Christians to get involved? Consider 1 Corinthians 12:7 "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." The Person of the Holy Spirit is the one who gifts each child of God with abilities and desires to do the work laid out by the Person of the Son.  In His fully divine union with the Father and the Son, He brings God's power, presence and plans to bear on any given situation.  

All the work of the ministry is not confined to within the walls of the church.  If anything, the saints of God are equipped to do the work of ministry that lies outside the walls of the church.  For years it has been quipped that there is always those 20% of the people that end up doing 80% of the work.  What if God has so designed His ministry to be that the remaining 80% of the people are equipped to do what is needed in reaching out to others? Only the Holy Spirit's empowerment can make such an impossibility possible.  

More tomorrow.....

1 comment:

  1. This is probably THE best sermon that I have ever heard on the power of the Holy Spirit:

    It's radical.

    But it is quite biblical.