When Jesus began his ministry people were amazed at him because he taught with authority. His authority wasn’t just in words. It was backed with a demonstration of power. He cast out demons and healed the sick. He spoke about the Kingdom of God here and now. The good news. And then he demonstrated the Kingdom invasion with the power. (See Mark 1:21-28, for example). He dismantled hell.
And when Jesus called his disciples he called them to be with him and to preach the Kingdom. Then he gave them authority to demonstrate the Kingdom. (See Mark3:13-15). They were to move in power. And they cast out demons and healed the sick. They dismantled hell.
The Kingdom is a message that must be accompanied with power. Power to change lives. Power to forgive sin. Power to heal the sick. Power to cast out demons. The Kingdom of God is the reversal of everything that went wrong when sin entered the world. It is the dismantling of Hell. This is Kingdom normal. This must become church normal once again. We are living far beneath our King’s intention and our Kingdom potential when we preach words without a demonstration of power. It is becoming more important than ever as we shift from modernism to postmodernism.
The world has radically changed today. We are more like Ephesus than we are like 1950 North America. We have become a pluralistic, syncretistic society where we believe all deities are considered equal, all paths lead to God.
In a pluralistic, syncretistic society, where all deities are considered equal, only the unequal display of Jesus’ power will convince people of the supremacy of Christ. We will not convince people of the gospel as readily with words only in this day and age. We will not argue people into the Kingdom. People must see to believe. We must demonstrate Jesus’ power like the early church did in Acts.
We have the capacity to demonstrate the gospel message. Not just try to persuade people. Paul said he did not merely speak with wise and persuasive words but with a demonstration of power. Places like Corinth and Ephesus needed to see Jesus was supreme in order to believe. So it is today.
Jesus promised us that we would do the works he did – John 14:12. But we have to fight for it. Too often we wait around passively for God to do things that He has already promised us He will do. We must do our part. In John 14:12 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do the works I have been doing, even greater things than these.” Jesus starts with a formulaic expression – I tell you the truth – that is a phrase Jesus uses when he drops a truth statement on us that he knows we will dismiss out of hand. He says, “Truly, truly.” I know you won’t believe this because it is extraordinary, but this is double true. After he backs it up, he lays out the promise. “Anyone” – That is the scope of the promise. “Who has faith in me” – that is the condition of the promise. “Will do the works I have been doing” – the works are John’s technical term for the works of the Kingdom. That is the promise. The condition is faith. We must develop our faith.
I grew up in a church where I didn’t see any of the works of the Kingdom. This wasn’t normal for me. But as I read the Word I was convinced it should be normal. Jesus hadn’t changed. Jesus isn’t less powerful today. I believed it. But it didn’t happen quickly. I had to learn the ways of Jesus. I had to persist. Persist in pursuit of his presence. Persist in the development of my faith. Persist in asking, seeking, knocking, pursuing, believing. In the beginning, I saw very little Kingdom activity. But I didn’t quit. Now I see the stuff of the Kingdom all of the time. Kingdom normal has become my normal too. I still don’t see as much as I want, but way more than I used to. But it didn’t magically happen. It has been an intentional developmental journey.
Gary Thomas wrote, “Jesus chased out ignorance, defeated the demonic, and released the ill and oppressed. In other words, as Jesus walked, hell broke apart at his feet. Jesus and hell could not occupy the same spot, so wherever Jesus went, hell was dismantled. Together, his life and teaching provide a clear goal – seeing hell break apart at our feet and the coming forth of the kingdom of God.”
We need to carry Jesus’ presence and dismantle hell in Jesus’ name. That’s Kingdom normal.