And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease… And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. ‘ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:1, 7-8
Carol Owen in 1972 captured Jesus’ words in the refrain of her famous hymn: “Freely, freely you have received, freely, freely give.” When Jesus said to His disciples: “Freely you have received,” He implied that they had received something. So, what did they receive? They received POWER. “… He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Matthew 10:1). Jesus did not just send them out without equipping them with the necessary tools they needed to accomplish their mission.
We have also received something: “But you shall receive power 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). Someone described it as “unction to function.” This power (unction) is to enable us function in the assignment that we have been given. God has given us what we need to be relevant in our generation.
The Scriptures reveal that we have been given the same power that the disciples of Jesus were commissioned with. In Second Corinthians 1:21 we are told: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.” Also, in First John 2:20 we read the following: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” And in 1 John 2:27 we read: “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” These Scriptures should leave no one in doubt that present-day Believers are in no way disadvantaged. We have received what it takes to do what Jesus has asked us to do.
WHY DO WE NEED POWER
This generation cannot be won by mere words or reason. They are already exposed to the negative supernatural. Every day on TV, the Internet and by the street corners they see the display of the false powers of darkness. Many of them are confused. The resistance they sometimes put forth is only a facade but internally they are battling with situations that are beyond their control.
It is therefore important for us to understand the true condition of the unsaved. The Bible is unequivocal that the unbeliever is directly or indirectly under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Paul mentioned that ‘the prince of the power of the air’ is actively at work in ‘the children of disobedience.’ (Ephesians 2:2). Through us, God wants “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. ‘” (Acts 26:18). We were formerly in that condition but now we know that “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13). That is why “the Gospel is the power of God for salvation.” (Romans 1:16).
THE IMPERATIVE OF POWER
One of the things that power does is that it compels a decision. No one comes into contact with God’s power and remains neutral. Wherever there is a contest or controversy, power settles the matter. The Psalmist admonishes to: “Say to God, “How awesome are your works! Through the greatness of your power your enemies shall submit themselves to you.” (Psalm 66:3). When the children of Israel were torn between allegiance to Yahweh and Baal, it was power that settled the matter (1 Kings 18:30-40). “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” (Verse 39).
Paul also knew the necessity of power in ministry because he said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1). Rather, he said “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Paul could say that with the backdrop of what happened on his First Missionary Journey. He and Barnabas had gone to preach to a Roman officer, the Proconsul at Paphos, but there was a sorcerer named Elymas who tried to dissuade the officer from receiving the Gospel. Paul immediately invoked the power of God to bring judgment on Elymas. The effect was that “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts 13:12). Power brought about immediate decision.
LOOKING FOR WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE
It is unfortunate that despite what we have received, many of us still behave as if we’ve received nothing. Often, we see people going up and down looking for something they already have. The truth is that if you don’t use what you have been given, it will remain dormant; it will seem as if you received nothing. Instead of running around looking for the next ‘impartation,’ how about releasing what we have already received.
The Law of Use states that if you use what you have, it will increase but if you don’t use what you have, you will lose it. This was aptly illustrated in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). They all received talents from their master. The servant that received five put it to use and increased it to ten; the servant that received two also put it to use and increased it to four. But the servant that was given one talent buried his master’s gift. He didn’t put it to use, therefore it didn’t increase. Jesus concluded the parable by saying: “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29).
Whatever you put to use will increase; whatever you neglect will decrease or even die. Whatever talent or gift you have, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. A person who does not read is not better than the person who can’t read!
THE EXAMPLE OF ELISHA
When it was time for Elijah to be taken up to heaven, Elisha accompanied him on this last journey (2 Kings 2:1-14). Elisha diligently and faithfully followed Elijah. He knew what was at stake – the anointing that Elijah had. When the crucial moment came for the transfer of the anointing that was upon Elijah, Elisha was ready. As the mantle of Elijah dropped, Elisha picked it up and began his journey home. Elisha knew he had received something.
It is possible that Elisha didn’t feel anything physically. He may not have shaken or rolled on the floor or cried but he knew he was a different man from the person that passed through the Jordan River with Elijah. He had received the mantle, the symbol of the spiritual authority and anointing that was upon Elijah. In fact, he received double of what Elijah had!
He was now facing the Jordan. He would either swim or sink or use what he had received to go through the river. It is faith that turns on the power of God. The only way Elisha could know the effectiveness of what he had received was to exercise it. Faith is like the muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes.
There are many Christians standing before a ‘River Jordan’ right now – problems, challenges, difficulties etc. If only they would exercise faith in what they have been given, they will see a difference in their situation.
PETER AT THE BEAUTIFUL GATE
Peter and John were on their way to the temple when they met a lame man who asked for arms from them. The man was expecting to receive something from them. “Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6). Peter said “but what I have,” he knew that he had received power from on high on the Day of Pentecost. He knew that he had something that would meet the need of that helpless man.
We too have received something that can be the solution to the needs around us. We must be conscious of what we have been given. Every Christian should see himself as a solution walking around to happen. The anointing we have received is sufficient for whatever we are facing or that will come our way. We can impact our generation with what we have been freely given. Let us be eager to put God’s power to use and leave the outcome to Him.