Weekly Bible Study
sUNDAY 4th October 2020
Topic: The Power of The Church
Text: Matt. 16:18; 2 Cor. 10:3–5
Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church has not left the Church powerless. The Church constantly engages in warfare and God has given the Church power to be able to fight the war and win. 2 Cor. 10:3-5 says the weapons of the church are spiritual and not carnal. Today, we shall briefly examine the kind of authority the church has. In some countries, the officially recognized church has great influence on the conduct of national affairs. This was true of the Church of England in previous centuries. There were situations like these where the church appears to have great influence on national affairs. But the real influence of the church is spiritual. Political influence of the Church without spiritual influence does not have long lasting effect.
We may define the power of the church as its “God given authority to carry on spiritual warfare, proclaim the gospel, and exercise church discipline.” Although these three areas overlap and could be treated in any order, since the category of “spiritual warfare” is the broader category it will be treated first. This perspective on the church’s power also reminds us that the power of the church, unlike the worldly influence exercised by human armies and governments, directly affects the spiritual realm.
In 2 Cor. 10:3–5, we see that though we live in the world we are not engaging in a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. These weapons are meant to be used against demonic forces that hinder the spread of the gospel and the progress of the church. They include prayer, worship, the authority to rebuke demonic forces, the words of Scripture, faith, and righteous conduct on the part of the members of the church.
The Power of the Church lies in,
1. THE POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD.
2. THE POWER OF PRAYER.
3. THE POWER OF UNITY.
4. THE POWER OF PURITY.
5. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Paul gives further details about our spiritual conflict and the armor we wear for it in Eph. 6:10–18. When we consider this spiritual power in a broad sense, it certainly includes the power of the gospel to break through sin and hardened opposition and awaken faith in the hearts of unbelievers (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). But this power also includes spiritual power that will render demonic opposition to the gospel ineffective. We see examples of this in Acts 13:8–11, where Paul pronounced judgment on Elymas the magician, who was opposing the preaching of the gospel, and in Acts 16:16–18, where Paul rebuked an evil spirit in the soothsaying girl who was annoying Paul while he proclaimed the gospel.
Such spiritual power to defeat evil opposition was seen frequently in the early church, such as in the freeing of Peter from prison (Acts 12:1–17), and perhaps also in the subsequent judgment on King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:20–24). Yet Paul realizes that he can use this spiritual power not only against those outside the church who oppose the gospel, but also against those within the church who are active opponents of his apostolic ministry. He says about some arrogant troublemakers in the church, “I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but the power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Cor. 4:19–20).
Such power was not to be trifled with, for it was the same power of the Holy Spirit that had brought death to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) and blindness to Elymas (Acts 13:8–11). Paul did not wish to use this power in a judgmental capacity, but he was prepared to do so if necessary. Later he wrote again to the Corinthians that his actions when present would be as powerful as his letters when absent (2 Cor. 10:8–11). He also warned those who opposed his authority and had sinned publicly and not repented, “If I come again I will not spare them—since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. . . . For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we shall live with him by the power of God” (2 Cor. 13:2–4). Paul exercised his apostolic power (2 Cor. 13:10)
Moreover, the descriptions of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10–18 and 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 is applicable to Christians generally, and few today would deny that the church has authority to pray against and to speak with authority against demonic opposition to the work of the gospel. Our calling is simply to be faithful to Scripture in praying and in exercising church discipline, and then to leave the rest in God’s hands, knowing that he will grant sufficient power to accomplish his purposes through the church.