PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
I believe many Christians have a desire to live with God’s power operating in their lives. They want God to use them in ways that will effectively minister to the needs of hurting, suffering people. Do you realize this is actually God’s desire? God has deposited a yearning within you to meet others’ needs. That’s why Jesus spoke as He did in our text in Mark 16. It’s why He sent the Holy Spirit and commanded Believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted you to be an extension of His work on the earth.
The New Testament is called, “The Gospel,” or, “The Good News.” But the Gospel is only “Good News” as it transforms lives. You see, the Gospel is more than verbal proclamation; that is, teaching and preaching. The Good News is both proclamation and a demonstration! And the Gospel is most magnificent as its power is unleashed and lives are changed. And this is the challenge I’m placing before you today: Give the Gospel a chance! I’m asking you to (1) stand on the Word; (2) gird yourself with faith, and (3) give the Gospel a chance to operate in power.
(Transition) Let’s read our text in Mark 16.
Mark 16:15-18 says, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (16) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (17) And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; (18) they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
(Example) Let’s say a salesman offers an environmentally safe fuel additive that triples your vehicle’s miles per gallon. A quart of the additive costs $3.00. Is that good news? Well, it’s only good news if it works. A salesman can brag on a product until the sun sets, but if the product doesn’t perform, it’s worthless! Folks, the Gospel is Good News because it works! And I’m looking at people now that have experienced the Gospel’s transforming power. Christ has saved you, answered prayers, and visibly blessed you. His promises have proved true!
What’s wonderful about this is, God wants you to participate with Him and duplicate Christ’s works. He wants to anoint you with His grace to impact others with Christ’s power. This was the pattern of New Testament Christians and it’s what God wants for Christians today:
Notice Christ’s words to His Apostles in Matthew 10:1. “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
In Luke 10 the seventy-two elders were commissioned with the same expectation when He said: “Heal the sick . . . and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”
And in Mark 16:20 Jesus said this is what all Believers could expect: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
You see, the “Good News” is Good News as it transforms and enriches people. But the question is this: How can Christians today participate in God’s plan to impact others? How is it possible for the Lord to unleash His power through us? That question is answered in my first point.
(Transition) God’s power is released when Christians boldly declare the Word of God.
I. Declaring God’ Word Enables One to Demonstrate God’s Works
In Mark 2 Jesus is seen ministering in Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum. It’s the story of Christ healing the paralytic that was lowered through the roof tiles. Mark carefully noted that Christ’s power was manifested as He, “preached the Word to them.” Jesus didn’t come into the house and sit in silence and proceed to work miracles. No! He “preached the Word to them.” Jesus knew the spoken Word of God created faith for miracles. Just as seeds germinate in soil, miracles germinate in the Word spoken in faith. And the Bible says God watches over His Word to perform it!
(Illustration) One of the most memorable and significant healing services occurring in my ministry was in Lakeland, Florida. I preached a message entitled, “Jesus Christ Heals.” It was the most unusual sermon I have ever delivered. There were no illustrations or commentary other than those provided by Scripture. I simply read a number of healing passages from Christ’s life and then announced: “Jesus Christ heals!” That was it! I preached the Word without ad-lib or commentary and when the altar invitation ensued God released a tremendous wave of His healing power.
You see, faith for miracles is ignited from a proclamation of God’s Word. That’s why Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Thus, if you want to see the Good News turn into Great Power, then speak the Word over impossible situations. Declare the Word and watch things change!
(Transition) Not only does one exhibit God’s works by speaking the Word, the Holy Spirit’s presence enables one to demonstrate God’s works.
II. The Spirit’s Presence Enables One to Demonstrate God’s Works
Again Jesus’ healing of the paralytic illustrates this. Luke 5:17 says: “And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick,” and that specifically referred to the work of the Holy Spirit. When you investigate the unprecedented success of Jesus your answer will appear as you discover Christ’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God pervaded Him!
John 3:34 says He was given the Spirit “without measure.”
And in Luke 4:18 Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news . . . to proclaim freedom . . . [to] recover [the] sight for the blind [and] release the oppressed. . . .”
As our Example, Jesus showed us that we are empowered to duplicate His works in direct proportion to the Spirit’s presence upon us. If the Holy Spirit is bubbling over the edges of your life, you will see the power of the Gospel operating greatly through you. The more space that the Holy Spirit occupies, the greater capacity you have to work God’s works. The reason the Acts Christians exhibited God’s power is because they were filled with, empowered with, clothed with, and guided by the Spirit! He was the One constantly with them.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned 61 times in Acts. He was their success factor. If the Holy Spirit is removed from the First Century Church 95% of what happened in Acts would be omitted. I heard one preacher say, “If you remove the Spirit from most of today’s churches 95% of all work would continue unabated”! When the Christians are Spiritless, Christians are powerless!
Let me tell you something about the Holy Spirit. It has been my experience that, in most cases, the Holy Spirit must first be entreated before He fills one to overflowing. He wants to know He’s welcome. He wants to know that you’re ready for His grand activity to flow through you. This is why Jesus said “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13). Make room for him and watch the Good News happen!
(Transition) God’s works are exhibited not only by speaking the Word, and by the Spirit’s abiding presence but thirdly, Intercession enables one to demonstrate God’s works.
III. Intercession Enables One to Demonstrate God’s Works
(Definition) When we hear the word intercession we automatically assume it regards prayer. And it does involve prayer, and we’re going to discuss that, but there’s more to intercession than prayer. Intercession is the act of physically intervening for another. Look again at Luke 5:18: “Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. (19) When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”
There was no way this paralytic could access Christ by himself. He needed the assistance of others. When these four men compassionately filled in the gap through intercession, they helped secure the paralytic’s healing.
(Fact) It’s interesting that the New Testament records Jesus supernaturally ministering to 40 people that were sick, diseased, or deceased. Of these 40 cases, 34 involved a work of intercession. That’s 85%! Only 6 sufferers received help without the help from others. What that means is this: Some people will never receive a miracle until others intervene for them. And when loving, faith-filled intercession occurs, God’s power is released! I challenge you to help a suffering, hurting, lonely person to Jesus and watch what happens! Bring them to the House of God and watch what God’s does.
Saints of God, it is especially our duty to help unbelievers recognize that Jesus Christ is their Savior. We must lovingly inform them of the cancer of sin. It’s our intercessory duty to “seek and save those who are lost”; to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”; and to “go into the highways and hedges and compel the lost to come in.” This is the “intercessory calling” that God places upon Christians. Let me explain why Christians must take the first step and share the Gospel with others and urge them to attend God’s House of Worship.
(Example) Have you noticed that, in most cases, people with infirmities and injury seek a physician when they realize they are sick? People don’t say, “I feel fabulous today; I’ve been feeling great! I should make a doctor’s appointment to find out why.” No! Unless it’s a routine checkup, people only visit their Physician when there is an ailment. And great danger can occur when people procrastinate and ignore symptoms! Moreover, as we compare man’s physical sickness with his spiritual sickness it becomes evident why God commands Christians to take the first step and share the Gospel. In most cases, sinners aren’t seeking-out their Savior. They are ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They are endangering their soul. And they need you to lead them to their Great Physician and Savior!
(Transition) I noted earlier that intercession included prayer and I want to talk about that now.
One of Israel’s greatest intercessors was Moses. In Jeremiah 15:1 God indicated that Moses and Samuel were preeminent. And it’s easy to understand when you study Moses’ life. On at least 18 occasions Moses successfully intervened for others. Look at some examples:
Five times Moses interceded for Pharaoh and Egypt when they were afflicted with plagues (EXO 7 10).
He shielded Aaron from judgment when he constructed the golden calf (NUM 33:6 17).
He appealed to God for the whole assembly after they worshiped the golden calf (EXO 32:9 14).
He prayed for atonement for Israel’s sin of idol worship (EXO 32:30 32).
He prayed a general prayer of intercession when Israel was stubborn and rebellious (EXO 34:9).
He prayed for Miriam’s healing of leprosy when she criticized him for marrying a Cushite (NUM 12:13 15).
He interceded for Israel when they followed the lying report of the 12 Spies (NUM 14:11 21).
He begged God’s mercy from destroying the whole assembly when Korah rebelled (NUM 16:46 50).
He literally prayed Israel through their battle against the Amalakites (NUM 17:11 14).
Do you see the priceless value of intercession?
Samuel said: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
The Lord said in Isaiah 62:8: “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest. . . .”
This is why God said in Ezekiel 22:30: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”
And intercessory occurrences fill the New Testament:
Ephesians 6:18 says: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Paul told Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”
And James 5:14 exhorts this: “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
The Bible is filled with commands to intercede!
(Illustration) Dick Eastman, an author and one of this generation’s great prayer warriors, tells of a powerful experience of intercession. A terrorist from Holland apprehended 153 children and threatened to execute them if certain demands weren’t met. Here’s Eastman description:
The Holy Spirit had ushered me into an intensity of prayer I had never before known. Indignations swept over me and I began to command the terrorists to let the children go. I hit my fist into my palm as I prayed. I pointed my finger with authority, shaking it repeatedly at the terrorists as I demanded they release the children. I wept. I shouted. I trembled. And suddenly I sensed victory. As abruptly as the prayer had begun, it concluded.
After this overwhelming experience the report came that all the children were released! Thank God for intercessory prayer. The greatest men of history have been intercessors! Not kings; not scientists; not noblemen or even preachers. The greatest men of history have been intercessors!
(Transition) Now let’s consider point four. God’s works are demonstrated through bold faith.
IV. God’s Works Are Demonstrated through Bold Faith
Mark 2 records the miracle of the paralyzed man. It’s a miracle that occurred in contradiction to numerous obstacles. The house was packed, the door was jammed, and there was no way a paralyzed man could apprehend Christ by himself. Thank goodness for friends! But these “friends” weren’t typical men. These 4 men were undeterred even when they saw the house packed, the door jammed, and the windows crowded. Lesser men would have said, “There’s no use. The house is full, and we tried, but Christ is unapproachable.” But not these men! They exemplify James 2:17 that says: “faith without works is dead.” And I especially like the translation that the NIV gives this verse: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
But there’s something more to note about faith: Miracles result when faith and action cooperate. Did you hear that? Miracles result when faith and action cooperate. Let’s state it this way: For the paralytic, faith claims the healing, but action breaks up the roof, lowers the bed, and both faith and action stir Christ to proclaim: “arise, take up your bed and walk.” Faith says: “If I can only touch the hem of His garment I will be healed.” Action pushes through the crowd, extends the arm, squeezes the garment, and both faith and action claim the cure! God’s works wonders when faith is exercised! And faith always has the last word!
Who can forget the Canaanite’s faith when she interceded for her daughter’s deliverance? She refused to take “No” for an answer and said the crumbs from the Master’s table were enough for the miracle. And Christ wouldn’t deny her a miracle because ‘faith had the last word’!
Mark tells how the Apostles nearly drowned at sea. But at Christ’s command, “Peace, be still,” faith had the last word and the tempest curled under His feet.
Death came unexpectedly to Lazarus, but four days later when “the resurrection and the life” arrived, Jesus spoke three words that illumined the tunnels of death, snapped the chains of the grave, resuscitated Lazarus, and faith had the last word!
Nobody could cure the cripple at the Temple, but when Peter said, “arise, take up your mat and walk,” he sprang to his feet, shuffled a dance, bounded into the Temple, and faith had the last word!
The Red Sea was too vast to cross, Jericho’s walls were too thick to tear down, and the day was too short for Joshua to conquer Ai. But faith doesn’t consider the wall’s height, the sea’s breadth, or the days’ length—faith simply has the last word!
If it’s your desire for the Gospel to work in power for you, Praise God! Start now by speaking forth His Word, getting filled with the Spirit, interceding for others, and believing God for great and mighty things.