Experiments in Following Jesus

14 Nov

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I’m new to the reality of the spiritual authority we have in Jesus. My fellow staff at CRM and Charles Kraft’s book, I Give You Authority, have been very helpful in growing my beliefs regarding it.

The other day as I was reading Acts 3, the statement Peter makes to the lame man really struck me. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you, in the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.

My belief in spiritual authority has grown to the point where I don’t read over this passage and keep going like I used to, just dismissing it as “things are different now than they were in Jesus's day.” I believe I have the same Holy Spirit living in me—the same spiritual authority that Peter accessed. But even though I really do believe that, I’m scared to do the same. I envision myself coming across a crippled beggar and declaring the same words as Peter, and I’m scared it won’t work.

Thinking about it more, I realized an important piece of this story: Acts 1 and 2 come right before it. A lot happens in those first chapters of Acts: Peter and the disciples waiting eagerly for the promised Holy Spirit, tongues of fire in the upper room, thousands coming to Jesus. The Spirit was really moving! Peter’s experience of the Holy Spirit and the power that comes with it was very tangible and very real. When he came upon the crippled man, Peter knew the spiritual authority he had in Jesus—because he had already experienced it.

Experience is essential.

Knowledge has three sources: Authority, Reason, and Experience. These sources are all checks and balances on each other. Most of our knowledge comes through authority (Bible, expert, pastor, news, etc). But it’s important that we use our reason to see how this knowledge fits with our experience. I believe that many believers have lost the experiential component of their faith. Because of that we know a lot “about God” but don’t really “know God.” Think about it: If you have a lot of scripture in your head about the Holy Spirit, and have a lot of information about prayer and power and spiritual authority, but haven’t experienced it yourself, do you think you really believe it? I mean believe it to the point where it’s dramatically changing your actions? Is it possible to really know our spiritual authority and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling without experiencing it personally?

I don’t think so. Experience is essential.

When the Holy Spirit gives me the word, “Hey Mark, this guy needs healing and you are my disciple—so you’re the guy, pray for him,” will I be ready? Without experience, which comes from action and experimenting, I don’t think I will.

An Invitation to Experiment

You might be asking if it’s even legit to think we have the same spiritual authority that Peter and the rest of Jesus’s followers were exercising. So before I talk about experimenting with this stuff, let’s do a quick review of things we “know” to ground this in scripture.

  • Jesus said, “It’s better that I go away because I will send the Holy Spirit to you.”
  • Jesus said, “You will do even greater things.”
  • Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me, now I send you.”
  • Multiple passages speak of the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

I say we do some experimenting to find out the reality of these statements through experience! Let’s take action and move these truths from just head knowledge to beliefs that actually play out in our life! Anybody in?

When a good friend of mine, Keith, turned 50, he did some self-assessing. Specifically, he looked at the four passages where Jesus sends out the 12 and 72 in Mark 6, Matthew 10, and Luke 9 and 10. Jesus tells the disciples to do four things:

  1. Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. Heal the Sick
  3. Cast out Demons
  4. Raise the Dead

Keith looked at this list and said, “I realized, in sports terms, I’m 0 for 0… I haven’t gotten off the bench and gotten into a game. If this is what Jesus sent the disciples to do, how come I’m not trying any of this? I need to get off the bench.”

Keith began experimenting in many different ways with the authority we have in Jesus. He describes this process as a journey of stepping into his role as a priest in the royal priesthood.

How is this hitting you? For me, when I started learning about the spiritual authority I had in Jesus and seeing it in scripture, and realizing what it meant that the Holy Spirit actually lived inside of me, it was a little overwhelming and outside of my experience. But like Keith, I decided I wanted to get off the bench.

Experience is essential and we can't get experience without experimenting. Just like everything else in life, this stuff takes practice. The more we do it, the more we'll learn and the more confidence we will have. But the reality is, we have to get off the bench. I need to get off the bench. You need to get off the bench. The Church needs it. Those far from God need it. Will you join me?

Some practical ways to experiment:

  • Read the first five chapters of I Give You Authority by Charles Kraft
  • Try out new forms of prayer, such as blessing or declarative prayers, for those you love and trust.
  • Read John 14-16 where Jesus describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit, living inside of us, multiple times. After reading, list all the times you have personally experienced the Holy Spirit—including communication, guidance or conviction from the Holy Spirit and any physical manifestations. Take your list before God and talk to him about it.
  • Read Word, Deed, and Power, which describes three components to the gospel. Which component are you strongest in and which component are you weakest in? Why?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Thrash and his wife, Jamie, live in San Juan Capistrano, CA, with their three kids. In addition to thinking deeply about living out our faith and actively following Jesus in new ways, Mark heads up CRM’s Partner Development Team.


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