The Gospel of Empowerment?

Posted: June 22, 2012 by J in Bible, Theology

When you think about it, the NT is actually chock full of empowerings.

“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth…stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. (Luke 5:24-5)

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”  And Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.  Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  (Acts 3:6-8)

“And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong…”   (Acts 3:16)

Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews  (Acts 9:22)

‘I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has made me strong…’ (1Tim. 1:12)

I can do all things through him who makes me strong. (Phil. 4:13)

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power…   (Col. 1:11)

I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.   (John 14:12)

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.   (Rev. 20:4)

The Spirit is particularly associated with God’s power, in the NT writings. And the gospel is on about filling us with that power:

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may make you strong with power in your inner being through his Spirit…   (Eph. 3:16).

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine… (Eph. 3:20)

It’s a big theme in the NT. And notice that there’s no sense of ‘God’s power vs human power’ here. It’s God’s power → human empowerment. He is strong through our weakness. We’re on the same team!

Strange, then, that while the world gets so excited about empowerment, we evangelicals are uncomfortable with the term. Aren’t we sposed to be the ones who live by the book? In reacting to society’s ‘self-help’ approach to empowerment, have we thrown out the baby with the bathwater?

And do we now really have to learn biblical values from our society? ‘Cause if so that’s pretty humiliating…

Tomorrow: God’s mission of empowerment

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