O' CHURCH, WHEREIN
LIES YOUR GREAT STRENGTH?
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
"And it came to pass afterward, that Samson loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver." (Judges 16: 4, 5)
O' Church of the living God, wherein lies your great success? What is the secret of your supernatural power and authority? From whence do you derive such boldness, integrity, humility, and strength? From whom did you receive the permission, authority and mandate to defy Satan's kingdom of darkness and despoil his assets? Who gave you the power to save hell-bound souls, heal sick bodies and minds and cast out unclean spirits, from sinful, sick, tormented and bound humanity?
O' Church, Who is your Great King? What is the name of your Kingdom? Wherein lieth your great strength? What is your Secret? Why do Demons tremble at your Command?
The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation by water and the Word: From Heav'n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died!
MARTIN LUTHER, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, was asked: "Where will you be, when the whole world is against you - the Cardinals, the Archbishops, the Pope, the Nobles and the Emperor? Where will you be then, Martin Luther?" The great reformer answered: "Then, as now, I will be in the hands of God!" What a secure place to be - in the hands of God!
GIRALOMO SAVONAROLA, Bishop of Florence Italy (1452-1498), called 'The Herald of the Reformation', was a mighty man of God and a martyr! Martin Luther often spoke of him and John Hus - the Bohemian monk - who was burned at the stake by the apostate church even earlier!
Savonarola lived at the time of the Borgias – a wicked coterie of Cardinals and Popes - who committed evil, criminal acts, and plunged the Church into the most degraded condition of its existence! He spent much time in fasting and prayer and seeking God, while denouncing the corruption of the Church!
His righteous sermons of repentance shook Florence and therural areas of Italy, before his martyrdom!
In 1497 he declared: "Come here, wretched Church…In your lechery you are a shameless whore. Once you blushed for your sins, but not now. The priests used to call their sons nephews. Now they are not nephews, but sons plain and simple.” Taken from ‘The Man of the Renaissance’ (page 81) by Historian Ralph Raedor.
SAVONAROLA correctly prophesied that the Pope, the King of Naples, and Lorenzo de Medici of Florence, would all die within one year. Another prophecy, that judgment would befall Italy because of their sins, was also fulfilled when France invaded Italy and sacked Naples in 1494.
God revealed to him that he had only eight years to preach before his death. That was fulfilled when he was eventually ex-communicated by the Pope, and burned at the stake!
JOHN KNOX, another great reformer – cried out to God: “Give me Scotland or I die!” God heard his prayers and Scotland remained free from Rome’s tyranny! Bloody Queen Mary of Scots stated: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than the armies of England!”
ALEXUS de TOCQUILLE, member of the French Academy, wrote in 1931: "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbours and her ample rivers, and it was not there: in her rich mines and her vast world commerce and it was not there. Not until I went into the Churches of America, and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power!"
DISCOVER SAMSON'S POWER!
The elders of the Philistines approached Delilah, Samson's lover, with an offer of eleven hundred pieces of silver from each of them, if she could uncover the secret of his great power, so that they might "prevail against him".
SAMSON is a type of the Church; bold, daring and powerful, defeating the enemies of God! Samson was a gift from God to his parents and to the nation of Israel, which he served as a judge for 40 years.
He was consecrated to the Lord, a Nazerite from birth and dedicated to his mission. He was not allowed to drink wine or strong drink, and his lips were sealed regarding his vows. As a sign of his consecration, Samson could not cut his hair. To break that vow would break his consecration to God! It would result in his demise!
Similarly, as the lords of the Philistines didn't understand Samson or know the source of his power, the devil and the world do not understand the Church or the source of our supernatural power!
And as the lords of the Philistines offered huge sums of money to Delilah to discover the source of his immense power, Satan is bidding high to discover our weaknesses in his quest to wrestle from us our great power!
The Bible says: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the foundation of the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor.7, 8, 14). Here are some vital truths regarding this very important matter:
1. OUR UNIQUENESS AS THE BODY OF CHRIST
We Are The Church:
We have special status because we are a part of the Church - (Gr - Ekklesia - called out ones). The Church is the Body of Christ! We are disciples, followers and imitators of Jesus Christ! The early Christians were called, among other things - The Family of Jesus!
We Are Born Again:
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (John 3:3,7). We are born of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. (I Peter 1: 18, 19)
We Are Changed By God's Power:
"And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in time past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
"But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us; Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened (made alive) us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved). And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2: 1 - 6).
We Are Spirit-Filled:
Jesus promised: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me..." (Acts 1: 8); "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2: 4);
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14; 16 -17)
We Are Chosen of God:
"Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you." (John 15: 16);
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (purchased people); that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (1 Peter 2: 5, 9);
"According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." (Eph. 1: 4)
We Are Children of God:
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness that we are the children of God." (Romans 8: 14, 16);
"Beloved, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him like He is." (1 John 3: 1, 2)
We Are Heirs of God & Joint Heirs with Christ:
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified together. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8: 17, 18).
We Are Temples of the Holy Spirit:
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Cor.6: 19, 20).
"For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones!" (Eph. 5: 30);
"At that day, ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love Him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14: 20, 23);
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15: 5, 7)
2. OUR CONSECRATION TO GOD
We Are A Separate People:
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and I walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6: 16 -18).
We Are A Holy People Unto God:
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ: As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, BE YE HOLY; FOR I AM HOLY. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." (I Pet. 1:13 - 16; 2 Pet. 3: 11)
3. OUR DEDICATION TO GOD
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, perfect, will of God." (Rom. 12: 1, 2)
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher (perfector) of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12: 1, 2)
“And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, he said unto them. Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8: 34, 35)
“Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22: 37)
Our sole responsibility is to love the Lord and serve Him to fullest of our ability and serve our fellowman with God's love in our hearts! If we become complacent, Satan will get the advantage over us. We cannot, must not and will not, let that happen!
4. OUR LOVE & REVERANCE FOR GOD!
The Bible says: "And unto the man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28: 28);
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding." (Prov. 9: 10); "We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4: 19)
Dr. James Dobson, a Christian psychologist, interviewed the notorious rapist and killer, Ted Bundy on International TV. Knowing that Bundy had been adopted by loving parents who raised him in a godly home, Dr. Dobson asked him: "When did you stop loving Jesus?" Bundy answered: "I never stopped loving Jesus." Startled by that answer, the psychologist asked him how that could possibly be! Ted Bundy replied: "I lost the fear of God."
THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED TO SAMSON!
He broke his vow, because he had lost the fear and reverence for God in his heart. It happened gradually. He visited a prostitute in Gaza and God was still with him!
With his enemies camped outside, saying, "In the morning, we will kill Samson", the Holy Ghost awakened him at midnight. Samson ripped loose the pillars of the city gate and carried them to the top of Hebron. Then he picked up a jawbone of an ass and slew 1000 Philistines, because God was still with him! His vows, consecration, covenant and God’s grace still covered him!
Samson disregarded the warnings! As he continued down the path of backsliding, he played a dangerous game with a woman from the enemy camp. Repeatedly there were red flags, but he disregarded them all until he crossed the dead-line, and God's ‘hammer of judgment’ fell!
He had given away God’s secret. No longer was his vow holy! It didn’t matter anymore, what anyone said or did. He was hooked and refused to see the disaster looming before him. His sacred consecration meant nothing anymore! He gave it all away! What did he get in return? Humiliation, shame, derision and death!
God's champion, who had been chosen before his birth, consecrated to Almighty God and had vowed to live a separated and sanctified life, was chained by the Philistines and led away in shame! His strength was gone and the enemy gouged out his eyes with hot pokers, and he was forced to grind at the mill like a brute beast!
SATAN CAME TO STEAL, KILL
Jesus called the Evil One, by three names: Satan (heb - adversary, enemy), devil (gr. - liar, false accuser, traducer) and Be’el’ze-bub (god of flies, filth).
The Bible says: "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10: 17 - 19)
Jesus stated: "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house." (Mark 3: 27).
The religious Pharisees accused our Lord Jesus Christ of casting out devils by the prince of devils. That of course is impossible! If Satan rose up against himself, he would have an end. Jesus corrected them by declaring that He cast out evil spirits by the Spirit of God, and that was a sign that the Kingdom of God had come unto them!
Satan is a strong man who chains and enslaves his victims, but Jesus is the ‘Stronger Man’ who binds the devil and liberates them from bondage! Our Lord said: "The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10);
We must also be on guard, so that cares and pleasures do not take the upper place in lives! Jesus warned: "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful." (Mark 4: 19)
Remember, our Saviour will soon return and His reward is with Him. (Rev. 20: 7, 12, 20). He is returning for a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. (Eph.5: 27). I want to be a part of that Church, don't you? Let's make sure that when He comes, we'll be ready and waiting to meet Him!
HOW DO WE RECEIVE GOD’S POWER?
Through God’s Word:
"For the Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful, and is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4: 12)
The Word of God ministers to our entire being: spirit, soul (mind) and body! It brings divine healing to our spirits through the new birth and when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It brings divine healing to our minds as we read and meditate upon its life giving truths. And it gives divine healing to our bodies as we appropriate His Word to ourselves!
You may say: “I do not see divine healing in that Scripture?” Let me ask you: “What is the Word of God doing in the joints and marrow of our bones?” There is NO SIN there, but there may be cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or some other disease in the joint, marrow or bones of our body!
The Word of God also straightens out our thinking in every area of our lives because it is “the discerner of the thoughts and intents of our heart.”
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual song, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col.3:16);
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)
By His Holy Spirit:
Jesus said: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8)
St. Paul stated: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." (Eph.5: 18); “For the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
“To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of Spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues’ to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” (1 Cor. 12: 7 -11)
Through Jesus’ Blood:
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His OWN BLOOD He entered in once into the holy place (Holy of Holies) having obtained eternal redemption for us.
"How much more shall the BLOOD OF CHRIST, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” (Heb.9:12, 14)
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures oif the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…but now at the end of the world (age) hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of HIMSELF.
"So Christ was once offered to BEAR THE SINS OF MANY; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb.9: 24, 26, 28)
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus. By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the VEIL, that is to say, HIS FLESH." (Heb. 10: 19);
“And they overcame the devil by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12: 11)
Through the shed BLOOD of Jesus Christ we have total freedom and assurance. By the blood of His cross, Jesus has purchased our freedom from fear, guilt, condemnation, torment, demonic oppression, pride, lust, hatred, jealousy, sickness, disease and evil habits!
Through Jesus’ precious BLOOD, we are cleansed, washed, forgiven, redeemed, justified and sanctified! We receive His forgiveness, assurance, joy, divine healing and eventually eternal glory in Heaven.
His blood guarantees access to the Father through the blessed Holy Spirit, a total purging of our conscience and His perfect peace!(Heb.9: 11-14; 10: 19; Col.1: 20)
In Jesus’ Holy Name:
Our Lord Jesus commanded His followers to take His Word, His Power and His Name into all the world, and preach the message of hope, peace, joy and divine healing.
He made it clear that He would “never leave us or forsake us” and that He would send the Blessed Holy Spirit to work with us and confirm His Word with signs following! (Mark 16: 15-20)
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, am with you always, even unto the end of the (age) world.” (Matt.28: 18-20)
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents (like Paul on Malta); and if they drink any deadly thing (Some Pentecostal preachers forced to do so in Soviet Prisons), it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands upon the sick and they shall recover." (Mark 16: 15 - 18).
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Col. 3: 17).
May we all learn a lesson from Samson, so that we always stay clear of the pitfalls that Satan sets for us, knowing that when we walk with God - with a clear conscience – nothing is impossible to us! In fact, “All things are possible to Him that believeth!” (Mark 9: 23)
PUTTING EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE!
The Bible says: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God.
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 2: 19 -22)
"If our heart condemns us, it is because of sin or fear in our lives, but God has a remedy for sin: “The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1: 7). When the sin is gone through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, we have confidence (faith) to ask for the impossible in His name!
There is another important thing we must do: “…because we keep His commandments.” (v.22). You may ask: "What is that commandment?" The Bible says: “And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He gave us commandment."
The Scripture says: “And this is the confidence (faith) that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (1 John: 14, 15).
We must remain vigilant, keep His commandments and study God’s Word to comprehend His will. Then, as we appropriate His promises to us, we will see His mighty hand outstretched in forgiveness, healing, deliverance and revival! Praise the Lord!Amen