by winston davenport, february 24 2014
I recently had a discussion with an ordained minister that clearly articulated one of the greatest misunderstandings in the Church today. We were sparring, challenging each others' beliefs and spiritual mindsets, when he made a statement that clued me in to his general error. I was insisting that believers should be operating in the miraculous more often, and that the reason people listened to what Jesus had to say was because of the presence of the supernatural in His ministry (see John 5:36; 12:18). This man strongly disagreed, saying, "That was Jesus, and you're not Jesus." When I argued that the apostles weren't Jesus, yet they operated in the same level of power as He did, I was again reprimanded. He explained that the apostles were "special," and we shouldn't expect to perform the same miracles that they did.
His confusion boils down to this common error: assuming that Jesus had special powers because He was God. I would speculate that most Christians probably agree—that Jesus set the bar so high that we were never meant to attain it. But this isn't theology—you can't even find a premise for this belief in the Bible! Plain and simple, it's just an excuse to justify our powerlessness. This is nothing new. For hundreds of years, Catholics have relegated the term saints to a special group of people, those who were especially charitable or had performed a certain number of confirmed miracles. By generating this doctrine, they effectively eliminated any personal accountability as far as living by faith is concerned. By saying, "Only certain people—saints—can perform miracles," it always leaves room to explain powerlessness by claiming that "I'm not one of the chosen."
However, if you are in Christ, you are one of the chosen! As far as I'm concerned, the greatest miracle in history was the miraculous incarnation of God. After thousands of years of God-separation, His people weren't doing so well. They were enslaved to sin, enslaved to their enemies, and enslaved to religion. They were very good at missing the point, missing out on God entirely. Who He really is, what He really wants—these things were relatively unknown to the Jews. Oh, they tried, alright. But no amount of sacrifice, self-degradation, or strict adherence to the Law was pleasing to God. Not only do numerous Scriptures from the Old Testament confirm this, it's one of the basic messages Jesus came to bring.
Rather than sending prophet after prophet, pleading, crying, and wrestling with His people, God finally decided to send His Son. Jesus explained this in the parable of the vineyard and the tenants (see Matthew 21:33-41). Jesus came, living, breathing, and eating just like we do. He set aside His divinity, choosing to live with the same limitations as the rest of us. He slept in a bed, He drank water and wine, He had to bathe and care for His health and hygiene just like you and me. He was one with His Father, yes, but not once did He draw from His "fully God" nature to accomplish anything that He didn't intend us to do as well. After all, He didn't even perform a miracle until He had the Holy Spirit. Without that divine empowerment, given at His baptism (see Matthew 3:16), He was human just like the rest of us:
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself.... I am able to do nothing from Myself.... I have not come on My own authority.... I do nothing of myself.... I did not even come on My own authority or of My own accord.... The very works that I do by the power of My Father.... My Father has enabled me to do many good deeds.... the Father Who lives continually in Me does the works.... (John 5:19, 30; 7:28; 8:28, 42; 10:25, 32; 14:10)
These are just a few of the statements that Jesus made to specifically explain that His power did not come from the fact that He was God incarnate, but that He was fully man, with a revelation of His oneness with the Father, full of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that "it is evident that it was essential that he be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people's sins" (Hebrews 2:17).
This reality opens up a whole new realm of Christianity. All of a sudden we cannot be comfortable as mere spectators. Jesus didn't intend us to sit around and talk about the good old days, how Jesus did this sign and this wonder, as if we're incapable of doing the same. Jesus wants us to get in on the action. To mimic His supernatural lifestyle. The healing and resurrections and food multiplications—those didn't pass away with the apostles. It is and has always been the presence of the Spirit that has enabled these wonders. The Bible says that if you're saved, you possess the same Spirit as Jesus did. The same fuel that propelled His miraculous standard of living is in you today if you are a Christian. In fact, God expects us to live like Jesus lived. That's why the Scripture says, "...as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).
Next week, I will continue to explain that Jesus's full humanity proves, inspires, and requires that we assume His identity as we perpetuate His ministry on this earth!
by winston davenport, february 24 2014