Use Your Delegated Authority
Mark 16:18 “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
This either speaks literally of supernatural protection if we pick up a snake, or symbolically of protection in our fight against the devil. Since the other four signs in this list are literal, it is most probable that this means physically taking up snakes.
The apostle Paul experienced this supernatural protection from a viper when he was shipwrecked on the island of Melita, Acts 28:3-5. However, this is the only recorded example of this type of protection in the New Testament.
There is no record of the disciples picking up snakes just to prove they were believers. That would be tempting God, Luke 4:9-12. This, as well as drinking any deadly thing, is a promise that if we pick up snakes accidentally or are forced into that position because of our stand for Christ, we can believe for supernatural protection.
The power that is now working in believers is the same power that worked in Christ to raise Him from the dead. Everything we have as believers in Christ comes from our union with Him. Therefore, what is true of Him is true of us too. We have come to share in Christ’s throne, to partake in the authority that the throne represents, and to exercise divine power and dominion. There is no place in the New Testament that tells us to ask God to do something about the devil. Rather, we, (the church) are told to do something about the devil. This is because we have been given delegated authority over the works of the enemy. God desires that the church be enlightened to this, and walk in victory.
God Is Good
John 21:25 “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”
Every detail of every man’s life, who has ever walked on the earth, has not impacted the world as much as the few recorded details of Jesus’ life. Jesus was not just a man, He was God manifest in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16.
In Acts 10:38 Peter gives a very brief, yet descriptive summary of the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus was anointed with power and with the Holy Ghost.
He used this power to do good, not evil. This is one of the main characteristics of God and is one of the easiest ways to discern what is from God and what is from the devil. God is a good God and the devil is a bad devil. If it’s bad, it’s from the devil. If it’s good, it’s from God.
Tragedy can come from three sources: God, Satan, and natural law. God has used nature to bring judgment. However, the New Testament believer is exempt from this punitive judgment of God since Jesus bore it for him.
Satan is the source of much of the calamity that people ascribe to God. Many problems arise because people violate the natural laws that God put into motion. If a person drives recklessly and kills himself, it’s not God or the devil that killed him. He violated natural law and thus paid the price.
It is incorrect to believe that God controls everything and therefore always has some redemptive design in tragedies. This type of thinking will lead us to ignore the devil, thereby giving him a freehand to destroy our lives. It will also cause us not to use wisdom concerning natural laws, because we will think that nothing can happen unless God wills it. We must remember that God is a good God.
John 21:21 “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?”
Jesus had just told Peter to follow Him. However, Peter wanted to know what the Lord had planned for John. Instead of Jesus answering Peter’s question, the Lord told him that what He had in store for John was none of his business.
Satan diverts many people by getting them preoccupied with what others are doing for the Lord. Comparing ourselves with others, whether we come out better or worse, is unwise, 2 Corinthians 10:12. We need to be so single-minded following the Lord, that we don’t look to the right or to the left to see what others are doing. It doesn’t matter if we are doing as much to serve the Lord as someone else. The question is, are we doing all that the Lord wants us to do?
Singleness of purpose and vision is a necessity to victorious Christian living. James said that if we try to master many things we will fail, James 3:1. We have to set priorities and focus on them.
The scriptures teach that memory can be a powerful force for good in our lives. It is always good to remind ourselves that we were once apart from God’s saving grace. It is an antidote against pride and self-righteousness. A person who remembers what he used to be will have a clearer understanding of who he is now. We have to cultivate our memories by meditating on the great things God has done for us and spoken to us.
We Are Only Complete In Christ
John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Recognition of our completeness in Christ is a tremendous safeguard against deception. Prior to salvation we are incomplete and constantly strive to satisfy our hunger. But through the new birth, we are complete in Christ and our hunger should only be for more revelation of what we already have in Christ. Total satisfaction with Christ disarms Satan’s lies. A big part of all temptation is dissatisfaction.
Adam and Eve would not have eaten of the forbidden fruit if they hadn’t been made dissatisfied with what they had. Through Satan’s lie they were led to believe that they didn’t have it all, Genesis 3:5. The truth is, they did have it all. They were more like God before they ate of the fruit than after they ate the fruit. Their dissatisfaction was a preliminary step to their action of sin.
Satan tempts us in the same way he came against Adam and Eve, 2 Corinthians 11:3.
Therefore, a full revelation of our completeness in Christ will keep us from chasing after all the things the devil has to offer. If anyone tells you that Christ isn’t enough; that you need something more, then that’s the devil trying to turn you away from your completeness in Christ.
In the same way that Jesus has the fullness of God in Him, we have the fullness of Christ in us. That makes us complete or perfect in Him – that is our spiritual man. Our born-again spirit is identical in righteousness, authority, and power to Christ’s spirit because our born-again spirit is the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9, which has been sent into our hearts crying “Abba Father”, Galatians 4:6.
Minister The Good News
John 20:21 “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
The dictionary states that to reconcile means to re-establish friendship between; to settle or resolve, as a dispute. The key to reconciliation is to effectively deal with the enmity, ill will, hatred, or hostility that caused the dispute, etc.
The enmity between man and God was sin. God took the initiative to remove this barrier through the means and agency of Jesus Christ, thus leaving man and God as friends once again.
We have received the ministry of reconciliation. That means we are in the ministry of reconciling people to God. Much of what people call the gospel today is actually alienating man from God. True, we need to show people their need for God to get them to receive His forgiveness and reconciliation, but the angry and bitter attitude some people have when confronting the sinner, is not correct.
Imputing people’s sins unto them was not the way God used Jesus to reconcile the world unto Himself. We should not focus on the problem of sin, but on the answer of God’s grace, Romans 5:20.
When you read a newspaper, you read about things that have already happened. They are not reporting prophecy. They are reporting the news. So our real job as ministers of reconciliation is to announce the good NEWS, which is an accomplished fact – that sin has already been dealt with through the person of Christ. We should say, “Now we beseech you, be ye reconciled to God. Change your mind and believe the gospel so that you may partake of what has already been done on your behalf.”
The Fathers’ Plan
Luke 24:21 “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”
When the right time came, God sent forth His Son from Heaven in His pre-existent state, into the world. He was born of a woman (virgin birth) and was made subject to the requirements of the law. Jesus was sent at a specific time. The entrance of Jesus into the physical realm was not a random thing occurring at a haphazard time. There were developments that had to take place before Christ could come to earth and redeem man. The Father sent His Son to the earth at the earliest possible time. Anytime prior to the time Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, would have been premature.
His purpose for coming into the world was twofold. First, He came to “redeem them that were under the law.” He did this by perfectly keeping the law, fulfilling it, and paying its cursem Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:13. Thus, Christ delivered us from the entire system of the law. The Greek word for redeem means “to buy OUT OF the slave market.”
Secondly, Christ gave us the status of sonship with all its privileges. Not only were we redeemed from the bondage of the law, but we were redeemed unto sonship. Many people stop short, only realizing what they were delivered from, not what they inherit. Sure, we need to rejoice that we are redeemed, but we also need to move on, and realize the full benefits of our inheritance.
God created us for Himself but we sold ourselves into slavery to the devil. God bought us back through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. No amount of effort, human works, or man’s own righteousness could bring the divine favor that we needed. It was the actual life of God. Leviticus 17:11, that purchased our redemption.
Death Has Lost It’s Power
Matthew 27:52 “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,”
This is an amazing event that only Matthew records. This earthquake apparently rolled the stones away from many of the graves in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and some of the saints buried there arose from the dead. Even at the death of Jesus, such power was released that death lost its grip on its captives.
It is uncertain whether these resurrected saints died again or were caught up to God. If they were resurrected at Christ’s death, then they would have had to die again, just as Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter or the widow’s son at Nain or anyone else that Jesus raised from the dead during His ministry. This is because Jesus was, “…the firstfruits of them that slept.”, Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20. Jesus was not the first person physically raised from the dead, but He was the first person begotten from the dead to never die again.
If these people were not actually resurrected until after Jesus’ resurrection, when Matthew states they came out of their graves, then they could have been resurrected with their glorified bodies to never die again.
At any rate, these saints went into Jerusalem after Jesus was resurrected and they appeared to many people. We can only guess what effect this must have had on the people.
The resurrection of Jesus puts Christianity in a class all by itself. Many people have come and gone professing some revelation from God or new way of approaching God. But only Jesus has conquered death. This makes Him unique and elevates Him above the level of any other man who has ever walked on the earth. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof of the accuracy of His doctrine.