He who conquers death has all power—and there was no greater evidence of Christ’s power on earth than those He raised from the dead. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth (gives life to) them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21). Jesus clearly claimed to have power over death. He even said of Himself, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), and He proved it!
Do we truly believe Jesus’ words? He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:25-26).
Jesus is not speaking just of the final resurrection; He is describing His present power to raise up all that has died—His present power to flood us with His life. You see, we all have a secret graveyard in our lives, someone or something we gave up on a long time ago. We've buried it and inscribed on its tombstone the date of its death!
A dear acquaintance of ours told us of going to her child’s graduation. Along with all the relatives who attended, her former husband (who had left her years ago for another woman) was going to be there. The marriage itself was beyond resurrection since another woman was now his wife. Yet God made our friend go back to the grave site of that marriage and pray for his salvation—and the salvation of his wife! This woman did not give up on the spiritually dead.
Another dear sister in Christ has a husband who left her years ago. The man is now lost in deep sin. Where once there was a good marriage, a tombstone now stands. She too has had to learn that Jesus never gives up on the dead. It’s not that she wants the man back (indeed, he may never come back); rather, she wants him resurrected from the death of sin. She is not giving up on the dead because we serve a God with present-day resurrection power!
“Making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:16-20).
Paul’s prayer for the Church was simply this: “May God reveal to you not just the past greatness but the present greatness of Christ.”
The Church has great reverence for the Christ who walked on earth, the Galilean Jesus, the teacher and miracle worker, the son of Mary. We never grow weary of hearing about and telling of the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth—how He chased demons; stood strong against all temptations; opened blind eyes; unstopped deaf ears; caused paralytics to leap; restored withered arms; healed leprosy; turned water into wine; fed multitudes with a few loaves and fishes; and raised the dead!
Yet at some point in history, we put limits on this great, mighty, miracle-working Savior! We developed a theology that makes Him Lord over the spiritual but not the natural. For example, we believe He can forgive our sins; calm our nerves; relieve our guilt; give us peace and joy; offer us eternal life—all in the unseen, invisible world. But not many of us know Him as God of the natural, God of everyday affairs: God of our kids, our jobs, our bills, our homes and our marriages.
Paul says we need a revelation of the power that Christ has had since the time He was raised from the dead. Even now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, possessing all power in heaven and earth: “And hath put all things under his feet” (Ephesians 1:22).
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper . . . this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17). Everything Satan tries in order to get you down just won’t work! Those big guns aimed at you will melt away in the presence of the Lord.
In the original Hebrew, this verse is translated as: “No plan, no instrument of destruction, no satanic artillery shall push you or run over you, but it will be done away with.” God has promised to wreck Satan’s attack upon you. The reward of those who diligently seek Him is the privilege of becoming more than conquerors. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Roman 8:37).
For 365 years Enoch shook off every fiery dart. He was living in total victory until his last breath. He did not crawl out nor did he limp out—he went out in a blaze of life and glory! “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake” (Isaiah 54:14-15).
Where there is righteousness, there is peace. You will be delivered from oppression and fear, for there will be no harm to those who walk righteously. “I have created the waster to destroy” (Isaiah 54:16). Even “the waster” is under the Lord’s control. God has control over all destructive weapons. Our security is in righteousness, in walking with Jesus, and we are to fear absolutely nothing!
I was talking to a pastor from Ireland recently who told me about his fears for the upcoming year. While he sees some difficulties on the horizon, I love that he quoted Hebrews 11:1. Have you ever read that? It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And then he said to me, “Gary, you know the fear is that the things you hope for won’t happen. Right? And that the things that are not seen will remain unseen. That’s what fear is. It’s a conviction inside of you. You think that what you hope for is never going to happen. That is fear and that’s a hindrance to what God wants to do in your life.”
I want to ask you today, before this day is over, to ask God to bring you into such a covenant with Him that His perfect love, His work of grace on your behalf, will cast out all fear. Some of you think that when you receive perfect love you won’t be afraid anymore. No! His perfect love—and His is the only perfect love there is—comes into your heart. You are loved, you are accepted, you don’t need any idols to make you feel good about yourself. Once that happens and you lay down your own agenda, all that’s left for you are the promises of God for your life. Hallelujah—that’s good news!
In Genesis 15:7 (ESV) we see that God brought Abram out from the Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the promise of “this land to possess.” Abram had a long journey ahead of him but he had the promise of God!
When you have a promise of God, it is worth the journey, my friends. When you have the promise of God, He is saying, “Come on, brother. Come on, sister. Come on, daughter. Come on, son. Believe Me! Have faith.”
If you’ve never had faith before, have faith in Him this year. If you’ve had faith, increase your faith this year. If you’ve believed God for great things, believe Him for greater things.
When I first made my commitment to God, I had nothing to give Him but my heart. I was a cocky and socially unskilled gangster. A kid from the streets.
I went to a Bible college in California to straighten out my life, to get away from New York and the gang life. Although I was in Bible college, I never had an interest in becoming a preacher or an evangelist. With my thick Latino accent, I couldn’t imagine God calling me to do such a thing. In fact, I couldn’t imagine Him using me for anything. What good was I? What good could I do for God? I was confused and lost.
One night I was in my room feeling more lost and alone than ever. Lying on the floor, flat on my back and staring up at the ceiling, I began to pray, “God, why do I have to suffer so much? What do You want me to do? I love You, God, but I don’t know what You want from me! Please give me a sense of direction and peace. Please show me what You want!”
For hours I lay on the floor pleading with God to break His silence. Suddenly I felt an amazing calm in my spirit. It came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could sense God’s presence and feel Him speaking into my heart. “Nicky,” He said to my spirit, “my son, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten you. I brought you to this place for a purpose. I’ve separated you from your friends and your past, and now I’m giving you a new future. I have plans for you, Nicky. I need you to trust Me. I’m going to raise you up as an evangelist. I’m going to use you to touch the lives of young people. But you need to have faith. I’ll never leave you. I’ll always be right here by your side.”
I told God how much I loved Him and how much I wanted to serve Him. But the more I talked, the more I sensed Him saying, “Just trust Me, Nicky. Stay faithful and I’ll show you what I want you to do. You need to listen and follow when I lead.”
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.