WHY CHURCHES HAVE NO POWER
"Then Jesus called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere." (Luke 9:1,2) "If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)
Years ago, while preaching at Christ Chapel, Florence, Alabama, I was sitting in my hotel room one cloudless, beautiful afternoon, looking down on the Tennessee River. The sky was a bright blue and the atmosphere calm. Without any explanation, the Holy Spirit interrupted my solitude and said, "Take authority over the weather." I was puzzled about the message--still admiring the tranquility around me--but obeyed and in the Name of Jesus took authority over the "Prince of the power of the air." I forbade his touching that area of Alabama with a violent storm. (Psalm 149:5-9, Matthew 12:29, Luke 10:17- 20.) There was no emotion in my voice–but I did speak with authority. To most Christians such an action is absurd–even ridiculous. I agree. To the natural-person it sounds that way. But Jesus taught it. He did not ask us to understand but to obey. Nothing obvious happened when I finished and a short time later a driver arrived and took me to the church.
Christ Chapel was still meeting in its gymnasium and each night the building was filled to capacity. The Holy Spirit’s wonderful presence over-lay the meetings; people were healed, baptized in the Spirit, and "signs and wonders" accompanied every service. Many nights the entire floor-area around the building was filled with people fallen under the power of God. Before the worship began that evening, Doc Shell, the pastor, hurriedly spoke to the congregation, "I don't want to alarm anyone but the safest place in this building is through those large, double doors." He pointed toward the main entrance and a corridor leading into the school's interior. He continued to explaine, "You have all heard the warning from the Weather Bureau that a severe storm-front is coming toward us ..."
When he said that, for the first time I understood the Holy Spirit's message to me earlier that afternoon. Going quickly to the microphone, I told the congregation about my instruction to "take authority over the weather," and explained: "We are going to obey Jesus, 'speak to the mountain'--in this case, the storm--and forbid its harming us." Briefly, I explained the difference in praying to Jesus about a problem and taking authority over the problem in His name. He taught both principles. Everyone stood, together we rebuked the storm, telling it specifically not to touch our homes, our property, or our lives. That was all we did. The service continued without any interruption. There was no disturbance that night from lightening, thunder, or violent wind. We experienced nothing of that nature.
The next evening, when Pastor Shell greeted the congregation, he held up a cassette tape, and said, "This is a copy of the U.S. Weather Bureau's official radio-report about the storm that went through Alabama last night." By that time, everyone knew of the devastation that had swept across the state and into Georgia. Many areas had been severely damaged. Our area had been completely spared. The pastor continued, "The Weather Bureau explained that just before the storm reached Florence, the front divided with half going to the
north, half to the south, missed the city, and came back together on the other side." Though surrounded by violent winds we had been protected in a doughnut-shaped hole and been untouched by them. While we thanked the Lord we had been spared, we felt deep grief for those who were not.
Many Christians are appalled that others believe they have power to speak to storms, crisis, other disasters, and make a difference. Their attitude is understandable. Speaking to storms seems to be a sign of mental deficiency. But--it is precisely what Jesus taught. He was not wasting words when He rebuked the disciples after the storm on Galilee by saying, "Where is your faith?!" They could have spoken to the wind as He did. (Mark 4:39.) He had already given them "power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy." (Luke 10:19.) Please understand this: Jesus would not have stopped the storm if the Father had sent it. The storm was demonic–not godly. Jesus came to "set the captives free"–not to kill them with bad weather and earthly disasters. Christians today need to re-learn that truth.
Hear me carefully on this point: If God has given us responsibility to do something–and the power to do it–He will not do it for us. Our complaint, "But my church does not believe in that power" only brings more resistance from Him. If you gave your child a large amount of money and the next day he comes begging for help to buy food you would be appalled! You would say "Use the money I gave you!" So it is with God. Many of our personal problems remain unresolved by prayer because we are asking God to do things for which He has empowered us to do. We have to adjust to His method; He will not adjust to our’s. Are you speaking to the storms in your life? If not, you had better start! Christian maturity is best seen in Christian obedience. Matthew 21:21. The old saying applies here: "If you can’t take the heat–get out of the kitchen."
The reason for our disobedience is this: We are more afraid of being embarrassed by failure than we are of being protected by truth. We are afraid to put faith to the test. This fear rises from pride. Someone says, "What if I speak to the storm and fail?" You probably will. The early disciples failed. None of us enter the empowered life without effort. While we have authority as solitary beings, it is also true that the church has greater dominion in its corporate-unity. The devil knows this and protects himself by keeping the church divided and riddled with unbelief.
When Jesus conferred power upon the disciples, He called them "together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases." (Luke 9:1.) He did not bestow this power individually; He called them together. The next scene we have however, is the disciples' failure. They were unable to cast a demon out of a child. The same chapter of Luke identifies five reasons why they failed. These are the same factors we encounter today. Our failure is identical to the early disciples. Hear them carefully:
1. Lack of Faith: "Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." Matthew 17:17.
2. Fear Of Showing Their Ignorance: "But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying." Luke 9:43,44:
3. Pride: "Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great." Luke 9:46.
4. Sectarianism: "Now John answered and said, Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us. But Jesus said to him, Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side." Luke 9:49.
5. Unforgiveness and Desire For Revenge: "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them, and said, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them. And they went to another village." Luke 9:51.
Until these same issues are resolved in us, we will continue in our failure. The greatest hazard pastors face is not opposition from others. It is opposition within themselves: Unbelief, pride, carnal ambition, sectarianism, and religious performance, rob them of power. These are the spiritual assassins against whom we battle. If we want to speak to a mountain and spiritually move it, cast out a demon, heal the sick, we need to examine ourselves with the list of these five failures. Then, we must obey God and watch the Holy Spirit’s power fall.. He is eager for us to experience a genuine New Testament ministry. That includes speaking to storms.
Soon after my baptism-in-the-Spirit in 1977 and my return to Florida, one of my former church members called me from Atlanta. This woman had been a severe alcoholic for more than eighteen years. In ten short minutes of ministry over the phone she was totally delivered and never drank again. The demon of
addiction was cast out and she was free. "Deliverance" became an identifying- mark of my new ministry. Everywhere I went–South America, Central Asia,
England, Africa--even without trying–people were set free and found themselves blasted by the power of God. It is not us; it is the Holy Spirit.
These people frequently display the same pattern of Mark 9:20, "falling to the ground and wallow foaming." Ugly? Yes. Demons are that way. Others roar. "For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed." Acts 8:7. We see that happen when long-term alcoholics are delivered in that same fashion. Unfortunately, we also fulfill the following pattern as well: "Now it happened on the next day, when they had some down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here. And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the majesty of God." (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29)
My recommendation is that you carefully check yourself for obstructions that prevent your experiencing the power of God. When you discover them, repent, and go forward expecting the glory and power of the Kingdom to be upon you. It is God’s will that you in the fullness of everything He has provided. Do it!