The trait that defined the members of the early church that seems absent in the church today is found in the simple word, power. And it is the very same power (dúnamis) that was promised through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and received by those in the early church (Acts 2:4). Uh, the same power we supposedly received when we were “sealed” by the Holy Spirit who came into our lives as the “guarantee” of our eternal salvation (1 Cor. 1:22).
So if we have the same Spirit they had, and the same power through the same Spirit they had… that leads to a few questions.
• Why were they able to live in the power they received from the Holy Spirit to the extent they were and we don’t seem to be able to do the same?
• Did they have a different power than we do today? Or was it the same power? By the same Spirit?
• And if it was the same power and the same Spirit, why were their lives marked by this unleashed power and ours don’t seem to be so much today?
• Does God love them more than He loves us? Or did He choose to use them more than He seems to be using us? Were they better people than we are? Maybe more holy, more faithful, more committed?
• How were they different from us and what can we learn from them?
Remember, their promise was the same promise we received from the Lord.
“But you shall receive power (dúnamis) 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 1:8.
Again, if we have received the Holy Spirit and the power (dúnamis) that comes with Him, like those in the early church, why are our lives often marked by frustration and spiritual impotence, and not the life-changing Spirit encounters we see in the Acts? What could be the problem?
One of the most troubling events in the life of our Lord happened in His own hometown when He “could do no mighty (dúnamis) works there” (Mark 6:5-6, Matt. 13:58) because of their unbelief. Did you catch that? Jesus was limited in what He could do, or how the power (dúnamis) of the Spirit could be manifest, because of their unbelief. Read it for yourself.
Now He (what) could do no mighty work (dúnamis) there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching – Mark 6:5.
Matthew adds, “He did not do many mighty works (dúnamis) there because of their unbelief – Matthew 13:58. Which brings even more questions. Why was Jesus not able (could do no) mighty works (dúnamis) in their midst? What was limiting the power of God in their lives? To make it personal, what is keeping Acts 1:8 from being true in your life? What is keeping you from experiencing the Higher Christian Life? Is it God? Or could it be something else?
Note, the most powerful force in you is not your faith, as strange as that may sound… but your doubt and unbelief. Your doubt and unbelief can make void all the Holy Spirit came to make magnanimous in you. It can nullify, completely, the power (dúnamis) you received from God in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Does that statement make you feel uncomfortable? It does to me also. But it is true, nevertheless, no matter how it makes us feel. If you would like to look further into what it means to limit the Holy Spirit in your life and how it can keep you from experiencing the Higher Christian Life, join with us today as we discover what our doubt and unbelief costs us in our relationship with Jesus and the Spirit.
I think you’ll be shocked… and convicted. And hopefully inspired to never let anything stand between you and a deeper intimacy with our Lord. Nothing.