This talk was delivered by Stuart Gibson at The 3:18 Collective on 26th April and a modified version at Saint Mark’s Newtownards on Easter Sunday the following day.
It’s not more churches that strikes the greatest fear into the heart of the devil. It’s not more youth programmes with fancy new approaches and it’s not more ministries with clever strategic goals. What terrifies the devil above all else except the almighty Himself, is that we as Christians will fully realise who we are in Christ. That we will become walking encounters where heaven meets earth. That we will come to understand the fullness of God. That we will walk in the full power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to come to you now from a place of personal honesty. Am I reaching my full potential in Christ? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. More than this, I can guarantee that I am not the only person in this room tonight. How do I know this? Because, this city, our towns, our schools and our workplaces would be very different places. They would be places where the miraculous was common place, where revival was common place, where great moves of the Holy Spirit were common place. They would be places operating by the rules of God’s Kingdom and not of the worlds. They would be places of freedom and love. Not of oppression and fear.
God has given us everything we need. He has provided for us in full to see these things come to pass. It’s not down to God that we’re not seeing it. We are the limiting factor. There’s an encouragement here; God is waiting for us to step out into everything He has made available to us. There’s a challenge too; we need to stop getting in the way, overthinking, being fearful. We simply need to stand up and step out in power.
I want us to collectively rediscover the full power of the cross and resurrection. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in this room has heard the Gospel and many of you will have accepted it.
We know that when we accept that Christ is who he says he is. When we accept that he paid the price for our sins, past, present and future, in full. When we accept that he rose again and we commit our lives to Him, we know that we are saved for all eternity.
That’s where we often end the gospel.
But what is so good about the good news is that there is more. There is more. Because what we often leave out is what the good news means for the everyday. Not only are we saved for eternity, we are saved to bring about God’s kingdom, to advance his purposes and to live by His power in the here and now.
In his last words to his disciples before his ascension ‘Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…’ When Jesus died and rose again, he overcame the dominion of darkness. He beat the sinister hold of sin and death and He now sits at the right hand of God in victory, holding all authority in heaven and on earth. And just as we read in Luke 23:45 where the curtain in the temple was torn in two, as Jesus hung upon the cross, the curtain that represented the division between God and man, we now again have access to the Father. But more than just having this free access Galatians 3:26 brings home our real standing before God ‘for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith’. Ephesians 4:6 continues ‘and because you are sons God has sent the Spirit of his son into our hears, crying abba Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.’ Not only are we are now no longer slaves to sin. Not only do we now have free access to the Father, but now through faith we have become the very children of God Himself. Being a child of the King makes us princes and princesses. Each of us now holds a royal identity under the victory of Christ.
Knowing this, the questions we have to ask ourselves are; How do we live in this victory that Christ has won for us? How do we reach our full potential in Christ? How do we stop being the limiting factor?
Understanding our Royalty
We have to begin by understanding the nature of our royalty and what our identity is in Christ. Above all else, we are loved by the Father. Ephesians 3:17-19 tells us:
‘so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ (ESV)
The love that God has for us, is too great to even begin to comprehend or understand. Imagine someone you love; a friend, a parent, a husband, a wife or a child. As great as that love may be, as central to your life as it is, it is nothing compared to the love that God has for us. No matter what we do. No matter what we don’t do. No matter what we’ve been through. We are loved beyond our comprehension. Knowing this love, and living in this love is vital and central to all that we do. We need to remember that Christ came to heal, save and set free. Our identity needs to be rooted in the family of God, not in what the world tells us. Romans 8:38-39:
‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (ESV)
When we accepted this love and when we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us through faith, we become justified. Galatians 2:16 tells says ‘we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ’ (ESV). The word justified here comes from the Greek work dikaioo, which means, ‘to render just or innocent’. Therefore, if a person is justified, it means that they are made innocent or made just as if they had never sinned. We need to remember that when God looks at us, he doesn’t see fallen sinners. He sees people freed from sin who He loves infinitely. We are completely free from sin and guilt. God does not hold our sins against us. We are not people of guilt, we are people of freedom. We need to remember that. The devil loves nothing more than to paralyze us with feelings of guilt and failure when we slip up. We are forgiven of all our sins past, present and future. We are royalty, children of the King, walking in freedom.
Folks, the truth is we all come here from different places. We all have our own backgrounds and our own struggles. It could be issues at home or in our relationships. It could be self-doubt, where we don’t feel we’re good enough. You might be sitting here now and wondering what you’re doing here? When I first started in ministry, I was convinced I couldn’t do it, that I couldn’t make any sort of impact at all. It could also be past stumbles and failures. It could be guilt related to that. Sometimes we need to have the strength to forgive ourselves and move on. God has forgiven us, after all, and he wants us to be healed and built up by His love.
Mandate from the King
The next thing we need to remember as we strive to walk in the fully victory of Christ, is that we have a mandate from the King. When political parties win an election, they are given a mandate from the people to fulfil the policies that they set out before their election. They’re operating on the authority of the people. As Christians, we have a mandate from the King. We are operating under the authority of the King Himself.
God has ultimately set out His mandate in the Scriptures. Crucial to us walking in Victory is that we have a close relationship with God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 tells us that ‘all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.’ (ESV). Coming into God’s presence through reading the word prayerfully is essential. We can’t approach the Bible just as something to study, on a spiritual level it feeds our souls and increases our faith.
God has outlined one very specific and broad commandment for us. The great commission. Jesus told us, just before He ascended into heaven, to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19, ESV). Jesus is saying this as much to us as He was the disciples back then. In my ministry, I hear a lot of talk about ‘what is the call in my life? What is God calling me to?’. I’ve got a simple answer for you. He’s calling you to step out, share your faith and build His Kingdom here on earth. Right now. He’s calling you to do this wherever you’re at. Your towns, your families, your schools, your workplaces. When you do this, any specific call on your life as part of this will become clear. Jesus tells us to follow, He doesn’t necessarily tell us where we’re going.
It can be scary doing this, but we have authority from the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the almighty God Himself to do it. Romans 8:21 tells us ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ It might seem like an impossible task – it is! We can’t do it by ourselves. That’s why God Himself empowers us. That takes us onto our final point.
Empowered by the King
As members of God’s royal family, as princes and princess, as sons and daughters of the Most High who operate under His ultimate authority, we can be assured that as we step out and build the Kingdom here on Earth, that we will be empowered by the King Himself. We can rely on the Power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 16:7 ‘Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you’ (ESV). It is to our advantage that Jesus returned to heaven, because it meant He would send Holy Spirit. That sentence alone from Jesus, shows us the massive and central role that Holy Spirit should play in our Christian lives. Similarly, in Acts 1:8 we read ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’(ESV).
The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside each of us and that power isn’t content to just stay in us, it wants to spread to the world around us. God wants to use us to bring His Kingdom crashing into the world. He wants to give us prophetic words and pictures. He wants to heal people through us. He wants to cast our demons through us. He wants to bring people to faith through us. He wants to change the world through us.
Trying to operate in our faith without Holy Spirit is like having a beautiful car without petrol. To get anywhere we need to push it ourselves. We might have some success after a lot of hard graft but we’ll never get as far or same anywhere near the same results if we had used petrol!
To walk in the full victory of Christ, to experience the fullness of His love for us and to experience the power available to us, we need to step out in the full power of Holy Sprit. That’s when we will see our communities changed, our workplaces redeemed, our families worshiping together before the cross. That is when we will see revival sweep across this land. That’s what God desires more than we can ever begin to imagine. That’s what God wants to use us to achieve. We need to stop being the limiting factor. We need to cry out to God ‘Use me!”. Some of you here will be walking in the power of the Spirit. Some of you believe this to be true but haven’t yet stepped out in it. Some of you don’t believe the Holy Spirt still moves today, if that’s you please chat to be at the end with the verse in the Bible where it says Holy Spirit has stopped working in the ways we read about in Scripture. I’d love to see it because it’s not there. Tonight, I’m going to give each of you the opportunity to engage with Holy Spirit for the first time or engage with Him more. With God there is always more. We can always go further, we can always go deeper, we can always experience more. We can walk in the full victory of Christ.