Summary: Once at a ministers’ conference I heard an evangelist describe his ministry: “I preach Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” That simple, biblical approach to ministry resulted in tens of millions of souls being saved over the years. That evangelist — the German Reinhard Bonnke — had tapped into what I call “God’s power tools” for effective ministry. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he did it in the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit. So can you!
The apostle Paul tells us that we are in an ongoing spiritual warfare. Our foe in that battle is not people, that is, “flesh and blood,” but “the devil’s schemes … the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:10-18). To prevail in that battle, we must be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (10). Our battle enemy is not a natural one, but a spiritual one. Likewise, our victory in the warfare for souls will be won, not by natural weaponry — things like man’s intelligence and our best human efforts — but by utilizing the powerful spiritual weapons, God’s “power tools,” for victorious ministry. They fall into two broad categories:
We are commanded to preach the Word of God, and specifically the “word about Christ.” Faith for salvation comes from hearing the Word of God, and in particular the Gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
A central, all-important message people must hear is that Jesus died for our sins on the cross. The apostle Paul concisely summed up this saving Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:2-4 — “By this gospel you are saved …  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”
This became the apostle’s central message. He said, “We preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Paul did not focus his preaching efforts on peripheral issues. Rather, he declared, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) and “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
Paul made no apologies for the content of his preaching. Again and again, to audience after audience, he shared the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for our sins. Why? Because he knew — as we must always bear in mind — that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God that brings salvation” to those who will hear, believe, and repent of the sins that Jesus died for.
So this first great power tool and spiritual weapon of God is God’s Word about the Lord Jesus Christ — crucified for our sins, buried, and resurrected to enable us to come through Him to God the Father for salvation and eternal life. The message of Christ’s Gospel is the power of God for salvation.
And that brings us to the second great power tool from God, directly below.
We’ve looked at WHAT we are to minister: the Gospel about Jesus Christ and His death on the cross to redeem us from our sins. But now we’ll see HOW we are to minister that message. And that is, as brother Bonnke said, “in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Just think of what these verses in Luke 24 and Acts 1 declare. These men had been personally taught by the Lord Himself for 3-1/2 years. Surely no Bible school or seminary has ever equaled the training Jesus’ personal disciples received directly from Him. And yet He said to them [my paraphrase], “Don’t go yet! Wait in Jerusalem for the power from on high that will come in your baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
And they obeyed Jesus and did wait in Jerusalem for this promised heaven-sent power, joining together constantly in prayer (Acts 1:12-14). Then the great Day of Pentecost came, and they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised:
Jesus’ promise of power from on high was fulfilled on that great Day of Pentecost. They were all “filled with the Holy Spirit” — an exact fulfillment of Jesus’ Acts 1:5 promise that they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” [Note from Acts 1:5 and 2:4 that to be “baptized with” and “filled with” the Holy Spirit are two phrases describing the exact same experience.]
The immediate evidence that they had received Jesus’ promise of heaven-sent power was their speaking in other tongues by the enablement of the Spirit (vs. 4). This same evidence of speaking in tongues when filled with/baptized with the Spirit occurred in Acts 10:45-46 and in Acts 19:2,6.
As Jesus had promised in Acts 1:8, this new Holy Spirit power, received in the baptism with the Spirit, would equip and enable them to be His witnesses with power to the ends of the earth. This is our second of the two “power tools of God” we are looking at. Again, the first was the “what” — preach God’s Word about the Savior Jesus Christ and the Cross where He took our sins. And this second tool is the “how” — preach and teach and witness in the heaven-sent power received in the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Remember, Jesus told them not to go forth in ministry without it! And yet millions of Christians today ignore this biblical charge from Jesus and think that just good Bible training, followed by preaching the Word, is sufficient. That is not true according to how Jesus sent forth His disciples. Yes, He had trained them for over 3 years. But then He told them to go forth into all the world with the Gospel message only after they had received the power from on high to do that. And that power came to them, not in their new birth alone, nor in their water baptism [see Acts 1:5], but in their Pentecostal experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Once they had that, they went out in power and began to turn their world from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the kingdom of God. It is the Gospel of Christ’s cross, preached in Pentecostal power, that enabled Reinhard Bonnke to win over 78 million souls (mostly in Africa) to Jesus Christ!
Freshly Spirit-filled, Christ’s disciples went out and preached with power. Peter, who had denied Jesus only weeks earlier, preached an anointed message on that same Day of Pentecost and saw 3,000 souls saved and water baptized in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14-41). Spirit-baptized Peter and John were used to heal a lame beggar at the temple gate, and thousands more were saved in response (Acts 3:6-7; 4:4). The rest of the Book of Acts is filled with accounts of multitudes being saved through the ministries of Spirit-filled Christians preaching Christ to them.
The apostle Paul summarized in one sentence our focus today on two of God’s power tools that He gives to enable us to do His kingdom work:
If we are to be Christ’s effective ambassadors to the world today, let’s determine to do it His way, summarized well by brother Bonnke: Preach Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In all four Gospels, the great prophet John the Baptist declared that, unlike John’s water baptizing, Jesus would baptize believers in the Holy Spirit. This promise of being baptized with/filled with the Spirit of God is not just for a select few. No! The apostle Peter preached that the “gift of the Holy Spirit … is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).
Read God’s Word faithfully; fill your heart with it. Become very familiar with the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected for our salvation. And look to Jesus for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so that you too may be empowered to be a good witness for Him wherever He places you on this earth.
In sum, remember our brother’s simple and fruitful approach to ministry: (1) Preach Jesus Christ (2) in the power of the Holy Spirit.
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©2019, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons &
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.