Too many Christians live daily with literally no sense of the spiritual energy and potential residing in us. We’re far more aware of our weaknesses and wanderings and inabilities.
God himself lives in us, and yet we’re strangely content to live days, weeks, months, even years without attempting to tap into his holy wisdom and authority. He has invested limitless power — endless resources, strength, and help — into every single believer by his Spirit. Sadly, many of us simply don’t know what to do with him.
Jesus’s last words to his disciples help us leverage the power living in each of us and to realize the remarkable divine potential wired into our new hearts.
Clothed with God’s Own Power
The disciples were devastated on Friday evening. Their long-awaited King had died on a cross, and with him any hope for a kingdom. For seventy-two hours, years of anticipation crumbled in their hands. What would their lives be about now? They left their nets. They staked their all on this Christ, and now their hopes were dead with him.
But then, on Sunday morning, he rose from the dead. He lived with them for forty more days and taught them from the Scriptures, making sense of the ancient promises about his life, death, and resurrection. Their hope was suddenly alive again.
Filled with confidence and expectation, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Will you finally seize power? Even after everything he had taught them about his kingdom, and even after going to the cross, and even after interpreting the Scriptures in light of his suffering, they were still looking for him to overthrow a government and take political office in the world’s terms.
How does Jesus respond? “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7–8). Will you now finally seize power, Jesus? No, I am going to put my boundless power and authority in you.
“You will receive power.” You will be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
What Kind of Power?
What kind of power was Jesus promising his disciples (and all his disciples after them)? Luke talks about this power over and over again.
The power Jesus promises us brought God himself into the world through a virgin’s womb: “The angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35).
The power Jesus promises us healed the lame and the sick: “All the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19; 8:46; Acts 10:38).
The power Jesus promises us cast out evil spirits and demons: “They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’” (Luke 4:36).
The power Jesus promises us reigns right now over all of creation: “From now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69).
The power Jesus promises us is the power by which he’ll come again: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).
As Jesus was healing the sick, rescuing the demonized, and teaching with unparalleled authority, he was demonstrating the unimaginable power he would give to us in his Spirit. We should ask ourselves: Do I live with a sense that this kind of power lives inside of me?
The apostle Paul prayed that God’s people would know more about the unlimited power at our disposal, that we would feel God’s power moving in and through us. He prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17–19).
Later the same letter reminds us that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). All the infinite God is able to do, far beyond your wildest imagination, he is able to do in and through you.
Power to Do What?
But what does God want to do through us with all of that power? Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Luke quotes Jesus saying the same thing in his Gospel,
[Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45–49)
Jesus does not clothe us with power to climb the corporate ladder, build a stronger family, upgrade our standard of living, or fulfill all our dreams. We’re not even clothed with power mainly to heal the sick, free the enslaved, and feed the poor. We’re clothed with power to carry his name. To witness to the worth and wonder of Jesus Christ. To offer all people everywhere the chance to repent, believe in him, and receive his forgiveness for all their sin. To taste joy greater than any they’ve ever known.
We share the gospel “not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that [their] faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4–5). We will not be ashamed of the gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). We carry Jesus’s name “in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
If you want to experience the power of God at work in you, and watch the power of God move through you, and witness the power of God rescuing dead and dying people because of you, boldly tell the world that Jesus is your Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure. Bear the name of Christ in what you do and what you say. There is nothing the Holy Spirit is happier to do through you than to make much of Jesus.