The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Power of Your Words’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 2/9/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/NzCbO2
It always helps to revisit old stories, and re-examine old truths. In this message we’re going back to basics and looking over the entire creation story.
Reading; Genesis 1:1-31: http://bit.ly/1ghet2T
The Creation Story
In this text, we see a distinctive pattern. God ‘said,’ and then He ‘saw.’ We see this pattern on all but one of the six ‘working’ days in the creation story (remember God rested on Day Seven).
Day One: God said ‘let there be light’ and there was light (v 3); He saw the light and that it was good (v 4).
Day Two: God said ‘let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters’ (v 6); then it was so.
Day Three: God said ‘let the waters be gathered together, and let dry land appear’ (v 10); God saw that it was good (v 10). God said ‘let the earth bring forth grass, herb and the fruit tree’ (v 11); God saw that it was good (v 12).
Day Four: God said ‘let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens (v 14);’ God saw that it was good (v 18).
Day Five: God said ‘let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures…let birds fly’ (v 20); God saw that it was good (v 21).
It’s worth pausing to regroup before we get to Day Six, which deals with the creation of ‘every living creature on the earth,’ especially mankind. One every day but Day Two, we see this pattern in which God speaks to creation, and then immediately sees the results of His words. The only day on which God did not ‘see’ His results immediately after speaking out His commands is on Day Two, and there is a reason for this. On Day Two, God positioned heaven within everything else He was creating. Heaven would become God’s abode and house His presence. God did not need to see heaven because He already knew what His presence looked like. He simply needed to designate where heaven would fit into the rest of creation. Heaven was not ‘new,’ per se, as was the rest of creation, so God did not need to see it and pronounce that it was good. Now on to the sixth and final day, in which God created every animal on the earth and then went on to create the first human:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’ Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” – Gen 1:26-31
Here we see the pattern completed. The creation story has run its course, and God has finished speaking into being every single thing we see around us. Notice God’s first 1) action towards and 2) instruction to mankind. The first thing God does to Adam is bless him. This should obliterate any notion that God is a cruel, vengeful Creator. He created us so He could bless us; Satan is the one who gets in the way of that original intent, but blessing us is still God’s desire. The first bit of instruction God gives to mankind is ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ We are created to reproduce. Now this is not to say that every single one of us should go out and have a dozen kids; in the New Testament context this ‘multiplication’ refers to spiritual reproduction as well as literal reproduction. Even if you’re not married and have no intention of ever walking down the aisle, God’s instruction to us is still the same: ‘Grow My Kingdom.’ The best way to do that is to introduce the people around you to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Power of the Spoken Word
The creation story illustrates the power speaking God’s Word out loud. As soon as God speaks something out, it happens. The atmosphere changes. We also see there is a necessary precondition to this atmospheric shift:
“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” – Gen 1:2
The Holy Spirit must be present in order for the Word of God to take physical shape. When He is present (remember the Holy Spirit is a Person), there is impetus for change. There is potential; a creative formula. When the Holy Spirit is present to effect change and the Word of God is spoken out over a situation (even if it seems shapeless and void!), things start to happen and change takes place. God promises through the prophet Isaiah that His Word ‘shall not return to [Him] void’ (Is 55:11). God has already spoken His Word and it has been recorded by men whom He has chosen as worthy vessels. The way we call transformation into being is by reciting God’s Word back to Him. When we do that, He promises that His Word will not reach His ears without change taking place.
Well That Was God…And I’m Just…Me
At this point you should have a logical question nagging you in the back of your mind. ‘But that was God…what about me? Do my words have that much power?’ I would like to make the argument that they most certainly do.
First of all, Gen 1:27 tells us that we are made in the ‘image’ of God. That designation implies genetic resemblance. We obviously don’t look like God; we share His genes. In Gen 5:3, the Bible describes how Adam and Eve give birth to Seth, and the same word (‘image’) is used to describe Seth’s relationship with his parents. The term applies specifically to DNA being passed from one generation to the next. If we are made in God’s ‘image,’ we share His DNA.
Now we get to the age-old question of ‘nature versus nurture.’ Does the fact that I have God’s DNA mean that I should expect my words to have the same power as His? The field of genomics, as the name would imply, studies the human genome. Scientists have made efforts to determine what traits are passed down from generation to generation: what characteristics are caused by genetics as opposed to our environment. Recently, however, the scientific community is pointing out that the designation of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ is no longer the best way to describe what actually takes place.
Every human being has 1) a genotype, and 2) a phenotype. The genotype is our genetic makeup (what we inherit), and the phenotype is the observable set of characteristics you display. Recent evidence indicates that every gene we inherit is not automatically active. Our environment (nurture; our life experience) actually determines to some degree which genes are actively expressed (nature; our heritable DNA). As opposed to ‘nature versus nurture,’ authors such as Matt Ridley (the author of ‘Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human,’ 2003) explain that the more contemporary way to think about genes and the environment is actually nature via nurture. Genes and our environment are no longer diametrically opposed, competing for the sum total of our observable characteristics. They work together to determine which genes become active in each and every single one of us.
So what’s the implication for Christians? Well, simply put: We have the DNA of God Himself! We are made in His image, and Jesus Christ has restored our DNA to an active state when we make the decision to trust in Him for salvation! However, it’s up to us (through our personal experience) how active that DNA becomes. We must manage our environment to make sure we are encountering the presence of God, and allowing His Holy Spirit to move through us. Are you putting yourself in a place where you’re giving the Holy Spirit time to speak to you and space to move in your life? Are you filling your head with the Word of God by meditating on His Scripture day and night? Are you putting yourself in situations where you can pray for people and see God work miraculous powers through your hands? The decisions we make can determine whether or not God’s DNA is displayed through us.
Passing the Torch
God makes His expectations for mankind crystal clear in His communication with Adam. Just as God called all of creation into being with His Word, Adam is supposed to repeat the process and name every living thing on the earth. Once Adam names an animal, that is the identity it takes on:
“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” – Gen 2:19
God is telling Adam to follow in His footsteps. “I did it; now You do it!” It clearly would have been inappropriate for Adam to turn the responsibility for naming every animal back over to God because he didn’t feel up to the challenge. Yet that is what so many Christians do every day! We have God’s Word, and we have a mouth and the ability to speak it out. Yet we are so reluctant to speak God’s Word out over our lives because we simply don’t understand the power and authority we have through Jesus Christ.
Power and Authority
God passed the ability to name our surroundings on to the first Adam. Then He passed His power and authority on to the Second Adam. Jesus Christ walked in power and authority. This is where it gets exciting: Jesus Christ passed that same power and authority on to us, His disciples.
Whenever a man or woman takes on (walks in) authority, there must be a transference of authority that takes place. If a new king has authority, he has to have received it from somewhere: there is a royal lineage that has to be followed. If a new President is elected, he has to have received his authority from someone. In the case of the United States, that authority comes from the collective body of citizens. Ultimately, all authority comes from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Rom 13:1); but there has to be a transference of authority that takes place if Jesus’ authority is to be passed on to us.
A few weeks ago, as my wife and I were on our way to church, a police officer stood in the middle of the street and pulled us over. He couldn’t have been more than 5 ½ feet tall; but I skidded to a stop and pulled our car right over to the side of the road (don’t worry…it was just a random traffic checkpoint). So why did I stop? Was it the size of the police officer? Definitely not. It was his authority. His uniform represents the full power and authority of the City of New York. The City gets its authority from the State of New York, and the State of New York gets its authority from the United States government. Ultimately, that police officer may as well have been Barack Obama Himself. We stopped right in our tracks because there was a transference of authority that had taken place, ending with that police officer.
Jesus has passed His authority on to us in a similar manner. There is a divine transference that has taken place, through which Jesus Christ has given us authority to go out and do ‘greater works’ than even He Himself did (John 14:12). The Son of God, with all authority, has passed it on to us. Let’s take a look at this process.
The Twelve and the Seventy
As a starting point, we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ has all authority. We see this in the Great Commission as outlined by Matthew:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matt 28:18-20
Jesus Christ was given all authority by His Father, and this authority is all-encompassing. The passage above specifies that His power is just as applicable on earth as it is in heaven. We are also told that there is no expiration date (‘even to the end of the age’). Jesus Christ has all authority.
Then we see Step Two: Jesus gives His authority to His twelve original disciples:
“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” – Lk 9:1-2:
Jesus passed His power and authority on to the twelve disciples and gave them three specific tasks: 1) cast out demons, 2) heal the sick and 3) preach the Gospel.
Next (Step Three), we see Jesus Christ give that same power and authority to an additional seventy others:
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’… And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Lk 10:1-9
Jesus was multiplying His trusted disciples. He knew He could not possible cover all the ground He needed to cover on His own, so He partnered with trustworthy disciples to carry out His mission.
Finally (Step Four), Jesus passes on His power and authority to ALL believers after He has been raised from the dead:
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mk 16:15-18
The authority and power in which Jesus Christ Himself walked is passed on to all ‘those who believe.’ ALL BELIEVERS! That means me; and that means you. Walking in His power and authority is no longer an option: it is an imperative. It is a command for all Christians. If the Kingdom of God is going to expand, you and I need to be Jesus’ hands and feet. We need to walk worthy of His calling and go out and preach the Gospel in every nation, knowing that our words will be followed with signs and wonders.
Just how does Jesus expect us to do that? How can our words possibly carry as much weight as His? The answer, of course, is that He has given us His Holy Spirit to live inside of us:
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” – Lk 24:49
It is only by acknowledging that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and embracing the fullness of life that He has to offer, that we can go out and expect to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
Now It’s Up to Us
It would be nice if Jesus Christ would just come back and take on the responsibility of witnessing for us. It would be nice if He would just come back and perform a few miracles so all our contemporaries could see beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is real. But He’s not going to do that. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places, and He has left the responsibility of walking with authority and power on earth to us.
Your words are powerful. When we speak the Word of God out over any situation, those words carry the same weight as if God had spoken them Himself. We are made in His image, and have been given the Holy Spirit to live in us as a guarantee that we can walk in authority and power. Proverbs 18:21 says ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’ In order for our words to carry the power they were designed to contain, we must realize that our words are powerful. We have the ability to walk into any situation and change the atmosphere by speaking the Word of God out over it.
God has given us His DNA. Jesus Christ has given us His authority. The Holy Spirit works through us with His Power. Now all that’s left for us to do is go out and change the world for His glory.
– by Pastor Mike White
© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.