“Truly, truly, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do;
and greater works than these will he do…
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do,
that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:12-14 ESV
There’s no way around it: the only answer to managing chaos is order. Just as the only answer to managing Satan is Jesus Christ.
And the only way to establish order is to exercise authority; the kind of authority exercised by Christ over Satan and offered freely to His followers.
We’re so grateful you’ve returned for the third and final installment of His Own Heart’s series, The Chaos Chronicles. You may find this week’s post to be a little more intense than usual in terms of Scriptural references, but it’s our prayer that you leave this series better-equipped to manage the chaos of life than when the series began.
That equipping, however, requires two things of each of us. The first requirement is a firmly-rooted foundation in Scripture to tackle the topic at hand; we therefore encourage you to take to heart the words of every passage hyperlinked in this post. The second requirement is a committed pursuit and maintenance of a personal, no-holds-barred relationship with Jesus Christ…which by definition includes a relationship with Father and Holy Spirit as well. To augment this second requirement, we’ll conclude with a special look into Jesus in Me – the forth-coming title by Christian author/teacher Anne Graham Lotz.
But first, a brief review of what we’ve covered in the past two posts.
Two weeks ago, we began this series with the aim of learning to manage the chaos of secular culture from a Christ-oriented perspective. We looked specifically at the fact that love, in its most Christ-centered state, creates boundaries that aid in keeping us a safe distance away from the eye of chaos. In other words, we looked at ways the Christ-follower can set said boundaries in a way that allows him or her to function lovingly amidcultural chaos without being consumed by cultural chaos.
We also established the fact that – while much of the chaos has gotten exhaustingly out-of-hand – no one system or denomination or group shoulders the blame alone. We’re all in this mess together. At the same time, we received some great news: in today’s otherwise murky list of current events – at least for followers of Christ – the Holy Spirit gladly gives the necessary tools for dealing with even the worst of chaotic messes. As sincere Christians, you and I simply need the knowledge – and a God-given dose of gumption – to use them with confidence and effectiveness.
That’s where pursuit of a close personal relationship with Christ comes into play for His followers. And that’s where we used last week’s post regarding discernmentas a figurative bridge to move us from the contextual points of Part 1 to the points of application we’re about to uncover in Part 3. As stated last week, if we’re going to beat this chaos thing – and we are going to beat this chaos thing – the love we discussed in Part 1 has to morph into the God-given authority we’re prayerfully getting a grasp on this week through the level of discernment we discussed in Part 2.
Are we together here? Good. Let’s jump into Part 3.
Jesus stated the fact that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him](Matthew 28:18). As His followers, we generally accept Christ’s omnipotence. But do we as readily – or as literally – take to heart what He says about us in today’s passage of focus from John 14:12-14: that whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do…Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it?
It’s a tough question to consider and can be a tougher one to answer with whole-hearted conviction. I get that; trust me. Despite the warrior that Ephesians 1-2describes me to be as a child of God, the truth is that there’ve been more days, weeks, months of my life when I felt like a wimp.
You too? Keep reading. Because whatever Scripture saysabout you and me trumps whatever we may feel about ourselves. And here’s the deal: if we’re going to beat this chaos thing – and we aregoing to beat this chaos thing – we have to find the link between those passages two paragraphs above and hold on to it for dear life.
The first step in understanding of the scope of Christ’s authority over all of creation – including Satan and his pathetic army – is clearly stated in Scripture. It gives us a Springboard of sorts for beginning to realize our own abilities to use that authority.
- Christ is exalted by God to the highest place and given the name above all names (Philippians 2:9).
- Christ is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms above every authority, power, dominion, and title (Ephesians 1:20-21).
- Christ came to destroy the enemy’s work (1 John 3:8).
- Christ has therefore disarmed all powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15) and declared that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him](Matthew 28:18).
The next step toward our understanding involves four explicit New Testament revelations brought about through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
- First of all, His death and resurrection providedan undeniable, once-for-all atonement for the sins of man (Hebrews 10:10-14).
- Secondly, they satisfiedGod’s justice required for man’s atonement (Romans 3:25).
- Thirdly, they setan example for believers (Philippians 2:5-11;1 Peter 2:21).
- Finally, Christ’s death and resurrection conqueredSatan and his demonic entourage (John 12:31; Colossians 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8).
These two steps demonstrate something that many of us tend to overlook: through the cross of Christ, God accomplished a number of His purposes at once. In other words, Christ’s sacrifice was about our atonement – yes – but simultaneously so much more. The shedding of His blood for the remission of sin is of paramount importance to us and should compel us to share that news with others. But make no mistake: it’s not God’s only focus, and neither should it be ours.
So I’d like to make the following suggestion to you: when I view the atonement of Christ as being solely about myself and my salvation, my view is limited, incomplete. It creates a barrier of sorts against my spiritual growth. On the other hand, when I come to terms with the truth that – in a sense – the defeat of Satan is the prerequisite purpose for Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, I then begin to realize the boundless power of His authority, how He uses that authority to bring about order in the midst of chaos, and how that same authority manifests itself in me if I choose to allow it to do so.
Consider that Paul uses the phrase in Christjust short of 90 times in his New Testament letters. That two-word phrase has been the topic of a good deal of confusion throughout the history of the Church, but I recently heard an illustration that I’ll paraphrase here. The speaker used the example of a goldfish to symbolize the Christ-follower. As a goldfish draws the things necessary to sustain its life from the water in which it exists, one could also say that Christ-followers exist in and obtain our sustenance from Christ in Whom we exist. From Him, we draw everything we need for a spiritual life that’s eternal, full, and abundant.
Stay with me for a moment. You and I are in Christ, meaning we are seated with Him in the heavenly places. Directly because of that fact, we have the distinct opportunity to draw from His power and authority as we battle to bring order to Satan’s chaos. Let’s dig into this idea by first looking at Christ’s authority over and within His Church. Paul tells us that:
… because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…(Ephesians 2:4-6).
Keep in mind that Christ sits at the right hand of God. It follows, then, that He holds a position of rule, authority, and power far above all [other] rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given (Ephesians 1:21).
Go ahead. Take the next step and drink in a glorious truth: because we are seated in heavenly realms in Christ, we are able – in His Name – to exercise authority with Him over demonic forces.
Isn’t it amazing to consider that the same authority exercised by Jesus under the power of the Holy Spirit during His earthly ministry was given to the Twelve, then to the seventy, then to the Church. That means you and me.
Dr. Charles Kraft, founder of Hearts Set Free Ministries, puts it this way:
When He left the earth, Jesus instructed His followers to teach their followers all that He had taught them, presumably including how to minister in His authority. He gave His followers one more command – to wait until they had received the Holy Spirit’s power before launching out in ministry (see Matthew 28:20; Luke 24:49;Acts 1:4-8). They were to receive the same Holy Spirit who had empowered Jesus.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, then, we as followers of Jesus Christ – on both an individual and collective level – have access to His delegated authority and his incomparably great power to carry out His mission to destroy the works of Satan (Ephesians 1:19).
I love the explanation posited by Neil T. Anderson, head of Freedom in Christ Ministries:
Paul used four different Greek words that give us the above phrase, incomparably great power. [They are] power (dunameos), working (energeian), strength (kratous), and might (ischuos). Behind the resurrection of the Lord Jesus lies the mightiest work of power recorded in the Word of God. And the same power which raised Christ from the dead and defeated Satan is the power available to us to defeat the works of Satan in our daily lives.
In other words, the Church – as Christ’s Body – and we who comprise it have access to resurrection power, energy, strength, and might specifically designed to resist and overcome the demonic forces of Satan.
Let that truth sink in for a moment; then let Christ’s words, delivered during His final hours with His disciples, mesh firmly into it:I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it(John 14:12-14).
That’s some life-altering news for the dedicated Christ-follower. Kraft expounds that
…the purpose for which God gives us this authority is to use it to imitate Jesus. This fact is clear from Jesus’ prediction that all who have faith in Him will do what He did, and more.
For believers like you and me, it all boils down to Paul’s conclusion that God’s intent for dispersing Christ’s authority was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11).
That’s something to praise God about as we realize a mind-blowing fact: we can share directly in the application of Christ’s authority over the chaos of Satan. We begin to do so when we proclaim and demonstrate that the Kingdom of God is here; that it’s bringing order to the chaos rendered by Satan as we speak, and that Jesus Christ is, was and will ever be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
With this knowledge securely planted as a working foundation, we can begin to tackle the question asked earlier in this post: do we as readily and literally take to heart what Christ says about us in John 14:12-14? To put it bluntly, am I comfortable standing in the authority and power that I have in Christ to confront the enemy’s attempts to tempt, harass, or oppress me and my loved ones?
Remember the two requirements we touched on earlier? We’re about to use the second one to build on the first. When we do so with practice and dedicated precision, we flex our spiritual muscles and stand stalwartly in that authority to bring order to chaos in Christ’s Name.
Watch how this works.
First, we must place our confidence – all of it – in Jesus Christ and the fact that He alone has won the victory over Satan and his little demon minions in three ways. Christ won this victory on His ownbehalf when He defeated Satan in His wilderness temptation encounter (see Matthew 4). He defeated Satan on ourbehalf on the cross of Calvary (see Revelation 12:10). He has sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us as we exercise our authority in Him, to continueto win battle after battle, playing our part to demonstrate Christ’s authority and power (see Acts 2). The Apostle Paul, in fact, admonishes us to be grateful for this privilege when he reminds us that always and everywhere, Christ has made victory possible for us (2 Corinthians 2:14).
The second step is to place our confidence in – and act upon – the fact that, as we are in Christ, He also is in us through the presence of His Holy Spirit. This is where Jesus in Me– the Waterbrook Press release from Anne Graham Lotz slated for October 1 – becomes such a valuable tool for getting to know the Spirit on a personal level.
Over the next three weeks, His Own Heart is honored to bring you some of our favorite points from Anne’s book as we journey toward grasping and putting to use Christ’s authority in us.
(Interested in learning more about Jesus in Me? Access pre-order information and see Anne’s Gift Bundle here.)
– Copyright 2019, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.