Supernatural Power: For What Purpose?

“But Peter replied, ‘May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought!'” -Acts 8:20 (NLT)

By the time we arrive in the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts in the Bible, the new Church is well under way, expanding and growing, both in numerical and geographic influence. Disciples are spreading out all over the region, giving evidence of the power of God and the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom through proclamation and through signs and wonderous miracles. People by the thousands were hearing, seeing and experiencing the truth about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit that raised him. They were believing and being baptized and being incorporated into the Church at an astounding rate.

It is a picture, frankly of how I believe it could and should be happening in this modern day. I do not believe, nor do I read anywhere in Scripture that the power of the Holy Spirit would diminish or cease to operate or to be available by faith to the believer as the Church has developed throughout history. I have personally seen evidence of that power and have faith that all of the gifts of the Spirit are still available for use through the Church for the glory of God and building up and good of the Body of Christ and for the extension of His Kingdom. It has not always been this way for me, and I have only recently arrived at these beliefs in my own personal walk with the Lord. It is precisely because of my inexperience in these areas and because of my own enthusiasm to see and experience more of it, that that same Holy Spirit has caused me to pause and consider my own motivations and desires with respect to the actualization and use of His power. And, in that statement lies the reality….it is not My power or gifts, but His and they are to be utilized and are provided only for God’s own purposes.

This is where the Bible account of a fellow named Simon enters the equation. Simon was a magician. He was an illusionist and apparently a remarkably skilled, talented and convincing one. His reputation was well known and the people in his realm of influence knew him by the name “the Great One—the Power of God.” Kind of the same way we still remember the performing act of Harry Houdini as, “The Great Houdini.” The guy was popular! He had the power to entertain and was convincing in his art and this is how he made his living. That is, until a disciple of Jesus named Philip rolled into town and accomplished works of wonder that made Simon’s look like just another parlor card trick.

People were healed from all kinds of maladies and afflictions. Demons were cast out, the blind received sight, crippled people got up and walked, and people’s lives were transformed by faith and were baptized into the embryonic body of believers. The power of God fell on that region of Samaria with such amazing effect that even Simon himself was astonished and was persuaded that this was authentic stuff and not some magic trick. The magician found himself a part of the crowd following Philip and his entourage around as God continued accomplishing signs and wonders. Acts 8:13 tells us that Simon was so affected that he himself “believed and was baptized.” But, that was not good enough for him….Simon was more interested in the power of God than the God of power.

By the time Peter and John were dispatched from Jerusalem and arrived in the region to impart the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to the new followers, Simon had already formulated a plan in his mind as to how he could gain personal benefit from this great gift. Little did he realize that this was the great chopper of ears that he was about to approach with what was essentially a bribe to recieve a “jump to the front of the line pass” to have access to the use of this amazing power. O fcourse Peter responded with typical Peterness. I can almost imagine him walking forward to within inches of Simon’s face and taking an imposing stance as he said, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” Simon, in turn, still looking for an easy way out or in said, “Pray to the Lord for me [emphasis added], that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

The point here is that there is no limits to what the power of God can do in and through the faithful heart that is right and by the believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit. May I be so honest as to say to you, that I still believe that every miracle we might read about throughout The Bible is still able to be accomplished by God through us to this very day. I believe with all my heart that every gift of the Spirit listed in the Word of God is still active and waiting to be used by the Spirit of Christ in the His followers as part of the Body of Christ, not just on Sundays, but everyday. Further, I believe that every believer should desire them and seek them. But, here is a word of caution that the Spirit has given to me and I feel a responsibility to share with you. We need to examine our hearts for a “Simon” attitude and spirit.

It is awe inspiring to see a miracle. We should be amazed and excited when we see any outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s power, whether it is a healing, or a prophetic utterance, or a spoken expression in a previously unknown language. When the supernatural, manifest power of God by the presence of His Holy Spirit reveals itself to us, the perfectly normal response is to want to experience more of it and to be enabled by the Lord to duplicate the experience and make use of it. The question we must ask is, “Why do I want this power in my life?”
Do I want it because it makes me feel good? Not good enough. Do I want it because its exciting? Not good enough. Do I want this because people will be impressed to see how spiritual I am and they will like or accept or respect me? By far, not good enough. If any of these reasons or any other than for the glory of God and the building up of His Bride is our motivation then, like Simon, we will seek to purchase God’s power, even if not with cash for our own self fulfilling agenda.

Are there modern day Simons out there? You better believe it! All you have to do is turn on the TV to see them. They are pulling rabbits out of the hat everyday and calling it the “Great power of God.” They are finding coins behind our ears all the time, and then making them vanish into their pockets and telling us its the Spirit. So, how do we know the difference? I believe the answer is in Peter’s admonishment of Simon of Samaria: “…your heart is not right with God!” The genuine and very real power of God cannot be earned, it cannot be worked up, it cannot be bought and it cannot be realized apart from God giving it and it cannot be used for any other purpose other than what He commissions it to be used for. Only when our hearts are totally and unconditionally surrendered to His and to His purpose and will, without any question of “what’s in it for me,” then we can fully experience and “have [a] part in this.”


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February 2010
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