God’s empowering presence ALWAYS PURSUING, NEVER PRESUMING Dr. Roger Valci
The New Testament Formula for the Church has never changed. Ordinary people
touched by the Spirit
to reach the city
People are God’s method, God’s answer for this broken and battered world. People who are willing. People who will take risks. People who look for ways to make the unseen hand of God visible in this world. And if people are God’s method, then God’s empowering presence is His means. God takes ordinary people and rewires their motives and priorities so they can continue the words and works of Jesus. How does He do this? Through God’s empowering presence. The key to individual and societal transformation of the New Testament church was not charismatic figures, flashy programs or entertaining services. Clearly, the revolutionary force behind this burgeoning movement was God’s empowering presence, through simple, common folk like you and I. The hero of the Early Church is not an iconic individual like Peter or Paul; it is the Holy Spirit, working through believers to touch a needy world — that’s God’s empowering presence.
What is God’s empowering presence?
God takes ordinary people and rewires their motives
Godâ€™s empowering presence is ALWAYS for The Call
The Call is God’s plan to reach cities through the local church. All throughout the Bible, God is not just reaching individuals, but cities. Abram intercedes for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33). Jonah is sent to Nineveh (Jonah 4:11). Jesus warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon and Capernaum of impending judgment (Matthew 11:20-24) and weeps for Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). The Call is God’s plan to reach cities through the local church. Jesus’ standing orders to the Church is to go and reach cities (Acts 1:8). Jesus is coming back not just for local churches, but also for cities that exalt and glorify His name. The gospel is meant to penetrate all aspects of culture, turning selfish institutions into instruments of God’s righteousness. God’s empowering presence mobilizes Christ’s followers to engage in God’s endeavor to transform cities.
Jesus is coming back not just for local churches, but also for cities that exalt and glorify His name.
Godâ€™s empowering presence is for EVERYONE
What was unique for some is now common to all. In the Old Testament, Godâ€™s empowering presence fell on a distinct few, primarily prophets, priests and kings. In the New Testament, this door is pushed wide open. Moses longed to see the day when every person would receive Godâ€™s empowering presence (Numbers 11, especially verse 29). Joel prophesied that it would come on all people regardless of race, gender or economic status (Joel 2:28-32). Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and declared that this day, coveted by so many in the Old Testament, was here in the Church now and forevermore (Acts 2:14-21). What was unique for some is now common to all.
Godâ€™s empowering presence is SEPARATE and DISTINCT from salvation
The Holy Spirit has two job descriptions in the Bible: salvation and empowerment. Many people wrongly presume that these two events of the Spirit are one and the same. While the Bible shows examples of God’s empowering presence falling on new Christians (such as on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, and the household of Cornelius, Acts 10), there are numerous examples of others who received this heavenly touch apart from salvation (see footnotes in back). Whenever you see a verse in the Bible regarding the Spirit, one must ask,
“Is this salvation or empowerment?” SALVATION | Includes justification, sanctification and glorification EMPOWERMENT | Always associated with a God-ordained task that relates to The Call One has to do with the infilling of the Spirit and the other has to do with the unleashing of the Spirit. One is faith and the other is for works. One gets me to heaven and the other gets others to heaven. The God who saves, who regenerates, who convicts us all of sin, is also the God who equips and empowers for The Call. It is a distinct work of His Spirit separate and beyond salvation.
Godâ€™s empowering presence is DISCERNIBLE
When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer in an empowerment manner,
His mark is clear and unmistakable. It is something that can be recognized by the person to whom it happens and by others who look on at the person. His touch is both transformational and discernible. Whereas salvation tends to be internal, private and very personal, empowerment is external, public and social. When Godâ€™s empowering presence touches a person, the glory of God comes upon them. Their spiritual senses are heightened. Their motivations for the faith change. They have boldness to fulfill The Call. They begin discerning cosmic clashes in the spiritual realm. They have greater assurance of their own salvation and in the promises of Scripture. They are more apt to give of what limited resources they have. They take greater risks for Godâ€™s name and work. Usually some form of Spirit-inspired speech, such as prophesy and tongues, begins to operate in
Essentially, God transforms us so that we may transform this world.
their lives. Essentially, God transforms us so that we may transform this world.
The people in Ephesus were asked this probing question from the Apostle Paul: “Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Something was clearly started in these new believers, but Paul
encouraged them to add God’s empowering presence to that initial experience. That is what we see here and so I must ask, “Is this also the story in your life?”
Do you have God’s empowering presence? Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Do you know anything of His power for you? Can you point to a transformative moment in your walk when God ignited your soul and set you ablaze with His desires and will?
Your answer to these questions may not change your eternal destination,
but it may determine the eternal destination of many others around you.
Old Testament empowerment examples include: • • • • • •
The construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 28:3; 31:3; 35:31) Joshua (Numbers 27:18 and Deuteronomy 34:9) Judges like Othniel (3:10), Gideon (6:34), Jephthah (11:29) and Samson, who is empowered several times (13:25; 14:6, 19 and 15:14) King Saul (1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 11:6; 19:20, 23) King David (1 Samuel 16:13 and 2 Samuel 23:2) The Prophets: Elisha (2 Kings 2:9, 15-16), Azariah (2 Chronicles 15:1), Jahaziel, the Levite (2 Chronicles 20:14), and Ezekiel describes the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him (Ezekiel 2:2, 3:12, 14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 5, 24; 37:1; 43:5).
New Testament empowerment examples include: • • • • •
John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), Zechariah (Luke 1:67), Mary (Luke 1:35) and Simeon (Luke 2:25) The Twelve Apostles (John 20:21-22, Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31) The Apostle Paul (Romans 15:19, 1 Corinthians 14:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5) The Samaritan’s (Acts 8:14-17) The church in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-19:7)
Recommended Resources Deere, Jack, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. Deere, Jack, Surprised by the Voice of God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996. Hayford, Jack, The Beauty of Spiritual Language. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Joy Unspeakable, Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1984. Stronstrad, Roger, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.
Dr. Roger Valci is the Senior Pastor of Valley Christian Center in Dublin, California, where he is raising up five hundred ministers to reach the Tri-Valley for Jesus Christ. In 1995, he left his engineering career and traveled to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, to prepare for the pastorate. He received both his Masters of Divinity degree and his Doctorate in Preaching. In 2001, he became licensed as an Assembly of God minister, and in 2003, became ordained. Today, Roger lives in San Ramon, California, with his wife of eighteen years, Janae, and his three children: Matthew (15), Taylor (12), and Erin (8). They all attend Valley Christian School.
7500 Inspiration Drive | Dublin, CA 94568 | www.dublinvcc.org
Copyright 2010 | Valley Christian Center | All rights reserved.
About the Author