[This can be heard in audio format on Jim Holbeck on Spotify]
God loves to work through people. *
- He began with Adam and Eve to form the human race. He could have manufactured millions of people at once and breathed life into them, but He began with just 2 individuals.
- God used an individual, Moses to prepare the people of Israel to leave their bondage in Egypt. He could have saved His people by making a sign in the sky, “All Israelites must flee immediately towards the Red Sea, while I kill all the Egyptians”, but He used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt.
- Moses received the law at Mt Sinai. God could have engraved 2 tablets with the commandments without Moses having to go up on the mountain, but He used Moses to receive His law.
- He used Joshua as a military leader to lead them into the promised Land.
- He used Kings like Saul and David to lead their armies to defeat God’s enemies. God could have destroyed them directly by natural disasters and plagues, but He used people to fight for Him.
- When Jesus became a human, He didn’t suddenly appear on earth as an adult human, but He was born as a dependant baby to a human mother.
God loves to work through people.
1. GOD WORKED THROUGH HIS SON JESUS.
I think we often have a wrong picture of Jesus as He ministered on earth. We think rightly that He was the Son of God, Who created the universe before He came to earth. But we may be thinking incorrectly when we think that He did all His miracles on earth by using His supernatural power to do so.
St Paul reminds us that Jesus laid aside all His divine privileges, when He came to earth, so that he might become true man, and live by faith in His Heavenly Father. He lived as humans should live, in an intimate relationship with God for every moment of His life, and so God was able to work unhindered through Him.
That’s what Jesus said about His ministry in John 14 and other places.
- Early in His ministry, Jesus said that God was working through Him. (John 5:17) “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” and (John 5:36) … the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. What God wanted to do through Jesus, He was able to do, because of Jesus’ perfect commitment to Him.
- In Jn 14, Philip said he wanted to see the Father, and Jesus rebuked him saying, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:10) “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:9-10)
- When people saw Jesus, they saw God in Him. When they heard Jesus speak, they heard the words of God through Him. Jesus taught, The words I say to you are not just my own. Jn 14:10.
- When they saw the works He did in healings and miracles, they saw God at work through His human instrument Jesus. “Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” Jn 14:10.
In other words, Jesus saw the origin of His teaching, and the origin of His miracles, as being in God the Father. The Father was the source of the teaching and the miracles, Jesus was the willing perfect instrument He used.
Jesus affirmed that in John 14:11, when He said that the miracles were the sign of the perfect unity He had with the Father, so that the Father could do His work through His Son. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” In other words, “In me you see God at work.”
2. GOD WORKED THROUGH HIS PEOPLE IN THE EARLY CHURCH.
Jesus promised His followers that God would work through them. (John 14:12) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus meant that after He had died and ascended back to heaven, He would send His Spirit to come and live in the lives of all His people, so that they too might be able to be used by God as His human instruments to do His work on earth.
They would be able to do the things that He had done, and as He said, even “greater things”.
They would be able to pray prayers of power that would accomplish great things. eg., (Mat 21:21) “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
The apostles testified that God was working through them. Paul and Barnabas had been sent out by the Holy Spirit, and by the church in Antioch, and when they returned to Antioch they told the church about all “that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27) They had preached the gospel and been used in healing, but it was really God at work through them.
Paul wrote of his ministry and that of Peter in these words, (Gal 2:8) “For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.” Different ministries to different people, by Paul and Peter but it was really God at work through both of them.
He reminded the Galatian Christians that it was God who gave them the Spirit and it was God who kept on working miracles among them. “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—”[Gal 3:5.]
Paul summed up his ministry in his letter to the Romans when he said, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done, by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:18. Paul had done the preaching and the ministry, but it was God Himself who had worked powerfully through him through the power of the Spirit
Peter wrote of the need for Christians to exercise their gifts for the sake of the body of Christ, especially as the day of the Lord drew closer. (1 Pet 4:10) “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: “ They would do the ministry, but God would pour out His grace into the lives of those to whom they ministered.
Those with gifts of speaking or serving were to be God’s instruments through whom He worked. “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”(1 Pet 4:11)ƒ. The origin of the teaching and of the power was God Himself. They would be His instruments through whom He worked.
3. GOD WORKS THROUGH HIS PEOPLE TODAY.
The promises of God are eternal, applicable to His people in every generation. Let’s look again at those in Jn 14.
i. The first is in verse 12 where Jesus promised to work through His people to exercise the healing ministry He had on earth. (John 14:12) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
In the 37 years that the Healing Ministry has been operating in this Cathedral, it would be true to say that people have experienced the power of the risen Christ in wonderful healings. People who have prayed for others have claimed that promise of Jesus, and have asked in faith for God to work through them, and the prayers have been answered, as the healings came.
Cancers have disappeared, tumours have gone, arthritis has been healed, curved spines have been
straightened, hard hearts have been softened, empty lives have been filled, broken hearts have been mended, spiritually dead people have come alive, and spiritual renewal has taken place. These and many other things have happened in answer to believing prayer as believers trusted God to work in answer to prayer.
ii. The promise is that as we minister in Christ’s name, praying with the prayer of faith, it allows Christ to do His work through us. Jesus said, (John 14:13) “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”(John 14:14) “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” We do the asking in faith, as we pray for people, but the Risen Christ works through His body, His people, to do what is prayed for. As He said, “I will do it.”
Again it is the same principle we have seen throughout the Bible. God loves to minister through His people.
We do the praying, but He does the healing and the blessing. He is the origin of every healing and every blessing. But we have the privilege of often being the human instruments He uses to impart His blessings.
We want to be involved in what he is doing, because He has give us the desire to do so, eg., Phil 2:12-13) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure. ” As we seek to work out our salvation, it is God at work in us who gives us the willingness and the ability to do what He wants to do through us. Our expectancy for God to work in and through us grows as we turn away from our own weakness, and learn to depend on His strength.
Paul’s doxology in Ephesians 3:20 reminds us of the mighty power of God that can exceed all we can ask for in believing prayer, or even in the realm of our great imagination. (Eph 3:20) “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Our expectancy is based on His promise and His power.
So the basis of the Healing Ministry is that God has called us to respond to the needs of people, and we offer our ministry on the basis that we have nothing to offer, other than what God can do through us. Even with the faith we have, we have to humbly admit that He can do in and through us, even more than we can ever ask or imagine.
What a privilege it is to be used by the Lord in fulfilling His healing and loving purposes for the benefit of, and among our fellow humans. BUT it needs a total commitment to Him on our part to
be His effective instruments through whom He can achieve His loving and gracious purposes.
- [This is a republishing of a sermon I preached as the Leader of the Healing Ministry in a healing service in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, in 1997.]
Blog No.389 posted on Wednesday 10 November 2021.