home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > January 21st > SUPER NATURAL CHRISTIANITY 

¶ But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know
neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
Matthew 22:29

The Sadducees, to whom Jesus was addressing in this verse (Matt. 22:29), were very religious. They were priests. They participated religiously in Temple customs. They observed all of the traditions of their forefathers. They practiced sacred rituals. They publicly recited well-known prayers. Yet…they did not know God, God’s Word, or the power of God. They were irrelevantly religious and completely disengaged with the power of God because did not ‘know’ the Scriptures —  and perhaps sadly — they denied that there even was a supernatural which means that these highly religious people denied that there was a God! And the amazing thing about this exchange between the Christ and the Sadducees was that the One they were denying existed was the One who was talking to them! 

The Sadducees denied the existence of angels, demons, miracles, and the resurrection of the dead (Matt. 22:23). Christ’s scolding of these Sadducees was not hate. It was said with deep and divine care (you are only truly loved by someone when they speak the truth to you). Jesus also showed the same care when He scolded another group, the very religious, scribes- 

¶ And in His teaching He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes
and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and
the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense
make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Mark 12:38-40

And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened,
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
John 1:51

The disciples of Jesus were told by Him that from now on they would see extraordinary (super natural) things. And they did. Some of them saw Jesus transfigured on Mount Hermon (Mark 9:2). Some of them saw the angels who removed the grave-stone from Christ’s empty tomb. All of them heard Jesus say things that no ordinary man could have known. All of them saw Jesus raise people from the dead, cast out demons, and give sight to the formerly blind (Acts 10:38). 

Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father,
and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?
Matthew 26:53

Sometimes the divinely supernatural is hidden from us in plain sight! It was only after Jesus displayed the greatest example of super natural miraculous power that the disciples could reflect back on their time of Christ and realise who He really was and how He could do what He did. Sometimes the divinely supernatural is hidden from us in plain sight! Jesus even told His disciples –

For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see,
and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Matthew 13:17

Someone once said that the best way to open our spiritual eyes is to shut our physical ones! Perhaps this is why so many people in the Bible saw what God wanted them to see when they were sleeping (Matt. 1:20; 2:12-13, 22). 

¶ “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
Acts 2:17

After Christ greatly commissioned His disciples and ascended back to His father by being translated from this material realm into the supra-real realm, the first Christians saw many divinely super natural acts on their behalf. This included: a long-term lame man being immediately healed and able to walk (Acts 3:2-7); buildings being shaken as God the Holy Spirit entered it (Acts 4:31); the sick and the demonised being healed and set free (Acts 5:16); visions of heaven revealing the divine Son of Man standing at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 7:56); people who were physically afflicted by demons being delivered and healed (Acts 8:7); miraculous conversions of opponents of Christ who encountered the risen Christ  (Acts 9:1-18); spiritual trances revealing new revelations of God’s power and grace (Acts 10:9-20); Holy Spirit inspired dreams giving supernatural directives (Acts 16:9); encouraging appearances of God the Son in times of hostile opposition (Acts 18:9); many formerly pagan idolaters turning to Christ and being healed from an apostle’s handkerchief or apron (Acts 19:12); large portions of a city’s witchcraft community collectively turning to Christ and publicly declaring their repentance (Acts 19:19); raising the dead back to life (Acts 20:9-10); and, a martyred apostle coming back to life after the local believers prayed for him (Acts 14:19; 2Cor. 12:2).

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:14

The early Christians were sensitive to the voice of God. Ananias, who prayed for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, was told by the Spirit where to find Saul, what to say to him, and why it was important for him to do so (Acts 9:10-18). Sometimes followers of Christ are misled to believe that they need to “learn” how to hear the voice of God. There is no example of this need anywhere in Scripture. But there are, however, injunctions to seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 1Chron. 16:11; Ps. 34:10; 105:3-4; Isa. 51:1; 55:6; Matt. 6:33; 7:7). 

It was John Calvin who wrote in his commentary on Ephesians that the reasons believers in his day do not experience the divinely supernatural, as it seems the early Christians did, was their lack of desire. This is what I now want to both remind you of and encourage you to do: seek God. Seek Him. Be open to Him. Pray that you might pray effectively. Ask God to confirm His Word in the hearts of those who need a supernatural encounter with God that might lead to their conversion. Perhaps even pray that God will speak to them in their dreams (since they might hear Him more clearly then without all of the distractions of being awake). Begin to take John Calvin’s advice and desire the super natural activity of God in your life. Pray then that you and I might eagerly desire spiritual gifts to accompany our witness and service (1Cor. 14:1).

And then, be still (Ps. 46:10). And use your spiritual ears. But there’s one more important aspect of super natural Christianity that we each need to give our attention to. 

What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also;
I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
First Corinthians 14:15, 18

On the first Day of Pentecost, after the Ascension of King Jesus (Acts 2:1-4), access to God the Father was thrown open to every by the filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18). The Spirit-filled believer can approach God the Father confidently with their requests because the God the Holy Spirit has now transformed their soul into being a child of God (Heb. 4:16; Gal. 4:6). It was on that Day of Pentecost when Christ sent the Holy Spirit to regenerate, fill, baptise, and empower His believers — and the Holy Spirit continues to do this (Acts 2:39). The Apostle Paul was compelled to re-explain all this to the Corinthian believers (which we will examine this in our June-July Corinthians sermon series). Paul explained to the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit could lead the believer to pray in their mother-tongue (“with their mind”) and in a language that the Holy Spirit might give them (“praying in tongues” 1Cor. 14:15).   

¶ Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

Jesus praying.Super natural praying is always praying to God. Therefore, prayer is not adjuring angels, binding Satan, or decreeing or declaring a desired outcome to who – or whatsoever. Only God commands angels. Only God binds Satan. Only God decrees or declares a desired outcome (because this is an exclusively divine prerogative). But the record of Scripture and history is that something uniquely super natural happens when God’s people pray in the Spirit — quite literally: prison doors have burst open (Acts 5:19; 12:5-12); signs and wonders happen; and persecutors of Christians become Christian!

May Christ’s words in Matthew 22:29 never be said of us, and may our children, grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren never have it said of them — that we or they do not know the Scriptures or the (super natural) power of God!

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

4 Comments

  1. Julie Davis

    Yes I agree Andrew, there needs to be an authentic renewed desire of people wanting to seek more of God daily, allowing His life to work through them, listening to his voice, seeing his working and living in his empowering. But the question that is often asked… how do people reignite that desire?

    Reply
  2. Susan Taylor-Van Dongen

    Thank you Andrew.
    I really appreciate all the effort you have put into this.
    Once we accept the supernatural we can truly understand the word of God.

    Reply
    • Wendy Williams

      Hear hear Susan! And hopefully one day soon, we’ll speak of the Holy Spirit’s relationship with humanity as it really is, a normal daily Christian interaction. Then when Christian awareness increases, perhaps we will describe our relationship with the Spirit as Supernormal.☝️

      Reply
  3. Jean Brunning

    Thank you for this teaching, Andrew, with accompanying scriptures. It seems a real desire for more of the supernatural is the key to experience more of God’s power at work in His church.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

JESUS ATE with SINNERS!

This confrontation of the All-Good meeting face-to-face with Serpent-breath in the wilderness didn’t go the way the Dragon had become accustomed to. Even more baffling to him was what the Eternal Son did next. Rather than going to the supposed ‘rulers of this world’ He went to the despised and inconsequential: the people of His hometown, Nazareth and those in the socio-economically challenged region of Galilee. 

¶ And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read…When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
¶ Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.
Luke 4:16, 28-29, 40-41

Even more baffling to the Satan was that instead whipping up the mobs and leading a rebellion, the Christ went to the shunned, the despised, the broken, the humiliated, as their dinner Guest! It seemed like an odd strategy, especially to those who had been longing for so long for the arrival of the Promised One…

CHRISTIANITY IS A PROPOSAL NOT AN IMPOSAL

I do not want to give anyone the impression that Christian is just a set of intellectually propositions. It is much more but it is certainly not less. One of the propositions that we Christians make is that Christianity is a spiritual transformation of a soul. While its propositions are true, they are not just true, they invoke a miraculous transformation in a human being. Jesus described this as being “born again” (John 3:3). The New Testament describes the moment this happens as being a transaction with God where we surrender our life and our sin to Him and He gives us His life and His pardon (1Jn. 1:8-9)! This transaction includes a hope that goes beyond the grave. God the Father adopts all those who turn to Him. It results a new way of seeing life and the world. The things that once troubled us no longer do, because we have a growing confidence that God has a plan and is currently outworking that plan. If you have never surrendered your life in a transaction with God, you can now. You are just one prayer away from peace with God and purpose for your life – both now and beyond the grave! The choice is yours. We can’t impose this offer from God on you, but I do have a proposition for you.

DIVINELY PRECIOUS TRIPLETS

Some of the profound truths in the Bible are expressed in just three words. The late J.I. Packer, one of the world’s most respected modern theologians, was asked to sum up the gospel message. He did so in just three words: “God saves sinners.” Many of the most eloquent prayers ever uttered have consisted of no more than three words: “Help me Lord”, “Thank You God”, “God save me”, “Please heal her.” One of the greatest royal invitations only consisted of three words: “Come unto Me.” Three words is all it takes to start an exciting journey: “Come and see.” Many of these three words statements, prayers, and invitations, have become divinely precious triplets that have rescued a lost soul, repaired a broken relationship, and replenished the worn-out.  

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT JUST MERELY A MATTER OF TIME

The beauty of John 3:16 is that it is so simple it can be understood even by a child; and yet, as a believer’s knowledge of God and His Word grows, he or she will come to discover that there is a wealth of spiritually-satisfying treasure to be mined! In its simplest form, Jesus died so that all those who turn to Him in trust will go to heaven after leaving this life. Dig a little deeper though, and you also discover that the eternal life on offer is not merely about a location (‘heaven’) or a duration of time—but a quality of life and status of existence that elevates the believer into a glorified state with God Himself (Rom. 8:17; 1John 3:2). Our lives are now the training ground for our status as co-regents and co-rulers with Christ over all of His redeemed creation (1Cor. 6:2-3)! 

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FOUND A NEWBORN BABY AT YOUR DOORSTEP?

What would you do if you found a newborn baby that someone had left at your door? Hopefully your answer sounds similar to “I’d take care him or her.” What if it wasn’t a baby? What if it was a young child or a teenager, or an adult, who turned up at your door requesting to be helped? I hope that each of us would also be prepared to help whoever it was. What if it was not an abandoned child, a youth, or an adult? And what if it was not your front door? Instead, how might we each respond if it was a spiritually abandoned, and spiritually hungry, person who turned up at our church seeking help to know how to be saved? While you might feel a similar compassion as you might have felt for the child at your door, you may not be as confident in how you would spiritually help this person seeking a spiritual connection for God through Jesus Christ. “Where would I begin?” “How could I be an effective discipler of a new believer?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you’ve asked. For any Christian to effectively disciple a new believer it must involve an individual, a small group, and a congregation.

A DECREASING VISION

There is one sin that is worse than all others. It is the worst because it is insidious and imperceptibly deceptive. It is always at the root of all other sins. It was the original sin. In C.S. Lewis’s classic book, Mere Christianity, it warranted an entire chapter (“The Great Sin”) and Lewis claims that it is the greatest threat to any person – including the Christian – and their standing before God. Thus, to be truly spiritual, Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered, and spiritual, demands that the man or woman of God be on guard against what Lewis called “spiritual cancer” — pride. To have any chance of guarding against the spread of this deadly spiritual and character blighting ‘cancer’ requires that we adopt a decreasing vision of ‘greatness’.

THE WIND BLOWS WHERE IT WISHES – SO IT IS WITH THE SPIRIT

This week I have heard of yet more stories of people who had no knowledge of Christianity as they grew up, yet had an almost sudden conversion to Christ. This has included the stories of several Muslims (now ‘former Muslims’) who knew nothing to very little about Christianity, and had always been taught that Islam was the one true religion, who then heard a Christian explain the gospel and were then supernaturally converted to follow Christ. (Several of these Islamic converts to Christ also had supernatural dreams where they claimed that Jesus appeared to them!) I also heard of an atheist scientist who been taught that science could explain away the need for believing in a God, who then heard the gospel and was resoundingly converted to Christ. The other story I heard was closer to home and involved a young lady who had grown up in an atheist home where her parents were actually hostile to religion and forbad her from anything to do with Christianity. Years later, she ventured into a church one Sunday morning, heard the gospel, and was converted to Christ. Each of these stories confirm what Jesus taught about the work of the Holy Spirit and His mysterious and surprising dealings with people to undergird the church’s preaching of the gospel.

I WAS IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD’S DAY

A year earlier all hell had broken loose when the tyrant emperor Caesar Nero had outlawed Christianity; and now, the last surviving apostle of Christ had been banished to Patmos Island. All looked bleak. The youngest of Christ’s apostles, John was just a teenager when he witnessed the brutal and protracted execution of Jesus. John, now in his fifties, had many reasons to feel disappointed and even disillusioned with God. His apostolic colleagues had each been martyred – having been put to death in often gruesome ways including: crucifixion, flaying, and beheading. On this barren rocky island, separated from the woman he had pledged to her crucified Son that he would look after, and away from the people that Christ had shed His blood for, John was alone. Ever since Jesus had risen bodily from dead, these life-time faithful sabbath-keeping Jews now recognised that Christ had sanctified the first day of the week, Sunday, as His day. It was also on this sanctified day that Christ poured out Holy Spirit on his gathered disciples. Ever since that day, no matter how he felt or the circumstances he was in, John had made it his custom to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. And his first Sunday on this island of banishment was no exception. He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. While some weak Christians find disappointment with God an excuse to forsake God, John did not. While some weak Christians allow their excuses for disappointment with God to walk away from their church family, John did not. John’s example has something to teach us. 
¶ I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…
Revelation 1:9-10a

NEVER BE AFRAID AGAIN

Fear can be crippling. Being afraid is often the result of not what is happening, but what we fear might happen. Such fears make each of us vulnerable to withdraw, give-up, hide, or excuse ourselves from ever trying something new. The result of this happening is that we each become less than who God has created us to be and in the process we deny the world the benefit of what God can do through us. In the Bible there are many stories of many heroes who learned the secret of overcoming their fears by trusting God and learning how to ‘fear’ Him despite their circumstances or fearful expectations. We read of how Kings led their vastly outnumbered army to defeat immensely more powerful and ruthless enemy armies by fearing the Lord. We read how previously unsure, uncertain, unable people became fearless, decisive, and confident and able to solve previously insurmountable problems by simply fearing the Lord. We read how the arrogant were humbled and transformed into gentle and caring souls when they experienced the fear of the Lord. Then in the early chapters of the Book of Acts when becoming a Christian could cost you your life, we read of the numbers of Christians exploded across the Empire because they also no longer had a reason to be afraid because they learned what it meant to fear the Lord.

THE FRUIT DIET WORTH MORE THAN MONEY

How different would your life be if you were filled continually with the Holy Spirit? This seems to have been the experience of at least the first Christians. We know that Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection to “receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22) which may have been the moment that they were “regenerated” which is a fancy way of saying that they were born again (Jn. 3:3). But then Jesus told His disciples to wait for the outpouring of the Spirit (Lk. 24:39; Acts 1:4) which was yet to come. The effect on the disciples when this happened was dramatic — especially in the Simon Peter (Acts 2:14). He went from being a cowering timid fearful backslider to being a bold courageous fearless leader of the Christ’s Church (Acts 2:15-39). Then some days later, as Peter was about to bear witness before the rulers of Judaism, he was filled afresh with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8). When Peter met again with the other believers to pray, all of them were filled with Holy Spirit again (Acts 4:31). Thus, being filled continually with the Holy Spirit seems to have been the usually experience of the early believers. As the Church grew and spread, the early Christians’ understanding of who the Holy Spirit was and what He wanted to do in each believer and church also grew. They discovered that the Spirit didn’t just fill them to be bold proclaiming witnesses, He also enabled them to bear witness to the power of Christ by how they lived. The apostle Paul called this, the fruit of the Spirit.