The Power To Overcome And Conquer
“The Power To Overcome And Conquer”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Sixth Sunday After Easter
May 28, 2017
Readings: Acts 1:1-14, Psalm 68:1-20
1 Peter 4:12-19
This is the last Sunday of Easter; not the last Sunday of Christ’s effect on our lives but a planting of a seed that will give us hope, joy and peace, and as Scriptures tell us today, eternal life. The Gospel today is a very interesting statement that perhaps we have not really spent time to understand. It talks to us about the coming of Christ, the giving of Christ to men by the Father; how that He sacrificed His Son in order to save us. Christ was born of Mary. He became flesh and Scriptures show us, not explicitly but by the thoughts that come to us that when Christ took on flesh, He separated Himself from the benefits that belong to the Son of God. He became flesh for one purpose – to show us the way; to bring us back to the Kingdom of God. Through His life as a man, He showed us what the Father created us to be. Sin took away the blessings and provisions God gave us at creation, but Christ came to show us that once the sin is gone, the blessings God gave man at creation is restored to us. When I say that Christ separated Himself from the benefits of being one with the Father, we see from Scriptures that He had to pray and spend a lot of time praying to the Father. He showed us that as we communicate with God in prayer, He shows us His ways that we should walk in.
Jesus said in John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee”. Christ is showing us here that completing the works that the Father sent Him to do and fulfilling His will bring glory to God. “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (verse 4). Christ wasn’t thinking of getting the glory for Himself. He knew that God will take care of Him. But when He said, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself….” (verse 5a), it gives us that thought that He was asking for the restoration of His place in the Godhead with the Father because He goes on to say, “….with the glory which I had with You before the world was”. This would indicate that there was a gap of 33 years in that relationship. Now don’t make something out of this that it isn’t, but it shows us that the closeness of the Father and the Son was disrupted when they were separated because Christ had to come to save mankind. He sacrificed His place with God for a moment in time in order to save and redeem us. It was something not easy for Him to handle but He knew it had to be done. We read Scriptures without paying attention to what it’s saying to us – in this case, how much God loves us that He would sacrifice for a moment of time, 33 years in our earthly time, a separation between the Father and the Son, and the closeness they had before the foundation of the world. It was Christ who worked with the Father in the creation of the world and He glorified God in that. Again He was used to bring glory to God by bringing mankind back into the family of God. So in John 17, Jesus was asking the Father to restore the glory They had before. This would indicate that Christ was affected by the separation. He asked His Father to restore the oneness They had before so that we, too, could have the same unity with the Father and with one another. “….Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are” (verse 11). I believe this is why He said, “The things that I do, you will do also.” He’s showing us that even though we are not one with God as He was because He was God Himself, we have that place with God when we allow God into our lives, to give us a life of dominion, authority and power. This power isn’t the power to hurt others, but the power in the words that we speak that cause good things to happen, as it was with Christ’s words. When He spoke healing to the sick, they were healed. When He commanded the dead to rise, they came back to life. He didn’t use physical power but God in Him brought forth, even in the flesh, a demonstration of divinity and authority far greater than what the flesh alone could have done. This tells us that His whole purpose for coming was not to judge nor condemn but to redeem and restore us back into the family of God. Being back in that family, we are brought to the place where Adam was in the beginning. He was a man of authority and dominion. All the animals respected him and he was able to cultivate the garden. God gave him tremendous power but that power was nullified and he could no longer use it after the fall. Sin was the power in control after that; even creation came under the control of the enemy. Jesus (in John 17) prayed, telling the Father that He had done His part and asked the Father to not only glorify Him so He could go back to the Father but to also glorify their relationship and bring back the oneness they had before. He also asked the Father to glorify men on earth that they may also be one with Them (the Father and the Son). This shows the plan and provision of God to lift us out of bondage and slavery to destitution, fear and anxiety. This is why Christ spoke peace to us. He brought into our lives the hope that comes from knowing God.
Jesus was also saying that He has taught them the things the Father has taught Him, saying, “for the words which You gave Me I have given to them”. This tells us that the words that we speak should be those that come from God, but instead, we pay more attention to the things of the flesh. We are more affected by our circumstances and situations. We allow them to be our god and control us. Jesus is telling us in this Gospel that He has set us free from that dominion and control so we can rise up and be what God created us to be. In Genesis, when God created man in His image and likeness, He commissioned man to be fruitful and multiply and to subdue and rule. This is what God created us to be. He didn’t create us to be under some other dominion like anxiety and fear; He created us to be in dominion and authority. He told the apostles that “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me”, then sent them out in that authority and power. This is what God has established for us.
In Acts, He tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will receive power. In Greek and Hebrew, this power doesn’t refer to physical strength. It means dominion, authority, might and ability to command the enemy to flee and leave us because we belong to God and he has no right to be in our lives. This is what Jesus meant when He said that when we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive power to no longer be in subjection to other things like financial and health worries. We may be in the midst of such challenges but we will overcome them. We are conquerors because of Christ. We must establish this in our minds and hearts because Christ has given us a new life of freedom from the bondage of sin and fear. His life on earth was one of dominion. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead. He was in authority over every circumstance of life and not in bondage to anything and anyone except His Father. This is what God wants us to understand. In 1 Peter we are told to respond in love to persecutions and give praise to God in the midst of it; with no complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves but realize that it’s our purpose in life to give glory to God; to show to the world that God is greater than anything that may come against us. If we believe this and live it, the world wouldn’t be in the condition it is in today. Gandhi read the Bible and was very impressed by what he read, but he said that he wanted to be a Christian except for the Christians. We become a hindrance to God’s Kingdom if we don’t live out what we claim we have. Christ showed us how to live. Through His suffering, He didn’t murmur and complain; instead, He comforted the widows and those who were mourning for Him. He didn’t think of Himself. He shows us that as God’s children, we have been given an inheritance which causes us to be like the Father; the inheritance of peace, joy and confidence.
Jesus told the apostles that He is one with the Father. He understood all things and He knew what was going to happen. He knew the weakness of man but He also knew that man was going to change through the challenges that come into his life and become strong. An athlete doesn’t just go and run the race and win. He has to go through pain and commit to a rigid training till he knows that he can win the race. God wants us to be like Him but we have to face the issues that come our way. Problems are not there to destroy us but to strengthen us; to help us realize how great God’s power in us is. If we only realize that, when the tests come, we won’t give in but stand firm, knowing that we’re here to bring glory to God.
John 16:13 “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit opens the door of light to us. Even in the midst of our failure and sin, God doesn’t condemn nor punish us but continues to love us. We create our own problems; He doesn’t create them but instead gives us the ability to overcome. When we realize this we can correct our mistakes because the solutions are in us. Come what may, we overcome because of Christ. Man failed in the beginning but when Christ went to hell, He released those who failed. He forgives. Having lost man once, He made sure that He wouldn’t lose man again; so He gave man the Holy Spirit. Not only did He take away the sin but He also put within man the power to overcome sin. Yes, we still fail, make mistakes and are rebellious at times, but those are temporary situations. They are a result of the world’s influence on us, but we’re coming out of it because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
While Christ was with the disciples, He handled anything that came along. He stilled the storm, walked on water, made Peter walk on water and pulled him out of the water. It didn’t matter what the situation was; as long as the Lord was with them, they had no worries. The minute the Lord left them, you can imagine their fear and anxiety, thinking, “What are we going to do now? How will we handle things?” So the Lord asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us to give us the power to overcome and conquer. He didn’t leave us alone. In Genesis, the Holy Spirit was hovering over creation, doing its part. In our lives the Holy Spirit is the same agent of strength and dominion.
In the next few weeks, I pray that we will begin to see the hope that is ours because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. He gives us the power to be victors, not victims; to be able to put the enemy down and overcome in every aspect of life; not controlled by anything except the love of God. Once we live that way, our whole personality will change because we will be like Him. Did Christ ever get angry? I think so. He was so angry at the temple because the merchants made it a marketplace. The same thing happened when He confronted the leaders of the synagogue. He called them vipers because they were cruelly putting the people in bondage and slavery, instead of releasing them; but He didn’t let the anger control Him. Scriptures says be angry but don’t let the sun go down on your anger. That means we shouldn’t allow our feelings to control us. The only thing that should control us is the love of God. We speak out against the wrong things but we don’t march in protest. Instead we live righteous lives so others may see how great God is. Those who crucified Christ realized that He was really the Son of God because He didn’t fight them nor murmur and complain. Instead He forgave them.
Christ gave us the Holy Spirit through the Father to help us become overcomers. Overcoming doesn’t come in a day. It comes slowly. When we are injured, the body heals itself. It takes time but the healing comes. This is the imagery of Christianity that God gives us. For a moment we may be down but we shall rise up again because of Christ and His love for us. It’s not enough to think it or speak it; we need to live it. If we don’t live it, it’s not true to us and we would be hypocrites bringing shame rather than glory to God. It should change our lives, taking away the fear and anxiety. So as we face the issues of life, we hold on to the gift that God has given us in the Holy Spirit to conquer and overcome. Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and it’s a time when we realize the power that is ours because of Jesus Christ. We shall conquer and overcome. Failure has no place in our hearts will hold on to Him, we will not fail. For a moment we may stumble and it may seem that we are losing, but it’s only for a moment because we have the Holy Spirit in us to give us the power to rise again. This is our hope for eternal life – knowing how God loves us that He would separate from His Son so we can be saved.
As Christ ascended into heaven, the disciples were looking on and two men said to them, “Why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you in heaven will come just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven”. When He left, He was in the flesh. When He comes back, He will be in the flesh. As He left, so shall He return. What hope we have. Yes, we may suffer but it’s temporary because God is great. Even if you die, you shall live because death is only the beginning. He loves those who die, so He brings them into His Kingdom. We serve a great God. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to conquer and overcome.