Lesson 1

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CHAPTER ONE

LIFE AFTER RELIGION

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Write the Key Verses from memory.

C Explain the difference between religion and the true demonstration of God’s

power.

C Identify worldly power structures.

C Give a Biblical reference which explains the difference between worldly and

Biblical power.

C Define Biblical power.

C Define Biblical authority.

C Identify the supernatural forces which are the sources of spiritual power.

C Identify the two parts of every Biblical promise.

C List steps for possessing the promises of God.

KEY VERSES:

O God, thou art my God: early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalms 63:1-2)

INTRODUCTION

Just as there is a deceiving sleep and warmth which comes upon a man who is dying from cold by freezing to death, so it is in the spirit world. There is a stupor and an
unconcerned attitude when people are dying spiritually.

Religion is the attempt of man to know God. It is ritual and regulations, works and words without power. Religion brings spiritual death.

The power of God is the visible demonstration of His desire to reveal Himself to man. Spiritual power is God’s Kingdom in action. It brings spiritual life.

Many have experienced religion . They have joined various cults and denominations.

These organizations have lulled them into an unconcerned spiritual attitude. They have not experienced the power of the Gospel which can change their lives. They are defeated and discouraged, sick and wounded. They are dying spiritually. Their heart cry is as that of the Psalmist David who wrote . . .

O God, thou art my God: early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalms 63:1-2)

These people need to experience life after religion .

TYPES OF POWER

There are many types of power in the world today:

Political power is held by those in control of organizations, tribes, villages, cities, states, provinces and entire nations.

Intellectual power results in new inventions, literary and musical creations, and the establishing of educational institutions.

Physical power is possessed by strong men, many of whom become professional athletes.

Financial power is held by the bankers and businessmen who head corporations and great financial empires.

Military power held by great armies is used to defend and gain new territories.

The power of energy serves men in many ways ranging from a simple fire for warmth to electricity serving an entire city .

Religious power results in great denominations and religious cultures.

All of these are great powers at work in our world today. But the call from Jesus is not to worldly power. It is to spiritual power. It is a power that asks not "How can I be
master?," but rather "How can I serve?"

THE DIFFERENCE IN STRUCTURE

Jesus explained the difference between the power structure of the world and that of the

Kingdom of God. He said:

. . . Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant;

Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28)

The call from Jesus is to relinquish worldly power for spiritual power which is given for the purpose of serving a suffering , lost, and dying world .

SPIRITUAL POWER

When we speak of power in this course we are not talking about man-made religious denominations or religious organizations. We are not speaking of authority delegated through a vote by the majority. It is not authority given by a title or office. It is not power based on education or ability.

When we speak of power in this course, we are referring to the Biblical concept of

spiritual power. The Biblical meaning of the word "power" is spiritual might, ability, force, and strength. It is a supernatural dominion which results in mighty works and
miracles.

A similar word, "authority," is also used in this course. As in the Bible, it is closely

related to and has similar meaning to the word "power." Authority refers to legal and

rightful power to act on behalf of another. Taking authority is the action of demonstrating power. It is possessing the right to exercise delegated power within defined boundaries.

FORCES OF SPIRITUAL POWER

There are several supernatural forces operative in spiritual power. The Biblical source of spiritual power is the true and living God who is revealed in the Holy Bible. God is a triune person composed of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father is the source of power:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)

God has delegated power to His Son, Jesus Christ:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)

Jesus has delegated spiritual power to believers. This power is experienced through the Holy Spirit:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

There is another force of spiritual power, but it is a negative force. It is the source of evil spiritual power and responsible for witchcraft, voodoo, and all other evil practices. That force is Satan. Satan is a spiritual power, but his power is evil, not good:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

You will learn more about this "challenging counterfeit" of God’s power in Chapter Three of this course.

THE DEMONSTRATION OF POWER

When Jesus began His public ministry, it was a ministry of miracles. His ministry did not succeed because of its great organization. He started with twelve disciples and ended
with eleven. It did not succeed because of popularity. In the end, everyone turned
against Him including His own followers. His ministry touched the multitudes because of the demonstration of power:

And they were astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with power. (Luke 4:32)

And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits and they come out. (Luke 4:36)

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil; for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)

The early church was birthed in a demonstration of power. It was said of them. . .

. . . These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. (Acts 17:6)

The early church affected entire cities and nations, but they did not do it by just preaching alone. People listened and lives were changed because they witnessed the demonstration of God’s power:

. . . the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were

possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

And there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:6-8)

When Peter came to Lydda, he found a man named Aeneas who had been bedfast for eight years. . .

And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole; arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:34-35)

In Joppa, Peter raised a woman named Dorcas from the dead. When this miracle took place. . .

. . . it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:42)

Each miraculous demonstration of God’s power focused attention on the Lord Jesus Christ. Each power encounter resulted in multiplication of the church.

Political influence is not what we need to reach the world with the Gospel. The early church did not have enough influence to keep Peter out of prison, but they had enough power to pray him out.

More preaching is not what will reach the world. The early church prayed for days, preached a few minutes, and 3,000 souls were saved (Acts l-2). Today we pray ten minutes, preach a ten day revival, and see only thirty saved.

More money for ministry does not assure reaching the world with the Gospel message. While it is true that finances are important to the work of the ministry, they are not the most necessary essential.

When Peter and John passed by the temple gate at Jerusalem , a lame beggar asked for a few coins. Peter and John did not even have this small amount of funds. But they gave what they had:

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

And he, leaping up, stood and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:6-8)

What they had was power and authority in the name of Jesus. They had no advertising budget to reach the city of Jerusalem. They had no printed tracts or Bibles, no television networks. But they had power. Through the demonstration of God’s power, the entire city was affected by the Gospel message (Acts 3-4).

The early Church realized that the Gospel of the Kingdom was not only of word but of power:

For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (I Corinthians 4:20)

THE POWER OF CHOICE

When God created the world, He made many different kinds of creatures. He made animals, fish, insects, and birds (Genesis l).

But God’s greatest creation was man who was created in His own image. Man is unique among all creatures because he has a body, soul, and spirit. He was created to worship and fellowship with the true and living God (Genesis 2 -3).

Man, by creation , is the companion of a miracle working Father , the true and living God.
Man, endued with the breath of God and made in His image, has a capacity for power
unlike any other created being. The miracle working realm should be man’s natural
realm .

Man has the most powerful, intelligent mind of all of God’s creatures. Man has the power of choice. Man can choose to do good or evil. He can choose to obey God or Satan.

The first temptation of man by Satan in the Garden of Eden focused on this power of

choice (Genesis 3). Because of a wrong choice to sin, a basic sin nature has been passed from Adam and Eve to all mankind.

THE BASIS OF SPIRITUAL POWER

If man is to experience true spiritual power, he must choose to serve God. Since all are sinners, all are in need of forgiveness:

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Forgiveness comes through repentance and belief on Jesus Christ:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)

Repentance from sin is the basis for spiritual power. You cannot experience the power of God if you remain in the spiritual death of sin.

When the disciples were preaching in one city, a man named Simon witnessed the power of God in action. He offered money to Peter and said:

. . . Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:19)

Peter answered:

. . . Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. (Acts 8:20-23)

Repentance is the basis of all true spiritual power . You will never experience God’s

power unless you have first experienced repentance. Salvation from sin is the greatest

demonstration of the power of God.

God does not pour His power through sinful vessels. He does not work through people who try to improve their lives through self effort (Matthew 9:16-17). God demonstrates His power through holy vessels who have repented and are serving Him .

POSSESSING THE PROMISES

Believers have been promised spiritual power, but there are two parts to every promise of
God:

The promise: The content, the actual words and meaning of the promise.

The possession of that promise: You cannot use that which you do not possess. You must claim the promises of God in order for them to become reality in your life.

How do you claim the promises of God? Here are the steps:

1. YOU MUST CHOOSE TO DO SO:

You have the power to accept the promise of God, reject it, or ignore it. Many people

have rejected the promise of spiritual power. They believe it was only for the early

Church. Others have ignored it. They read the promises in the Bible, but do not act upon them. These people do not have the demonstration of God’s power in their lives because they have exercised their own power of choice and failed to claim the promise.

Whenever there is a promise in God’s Word that is not fulfilled in your life it does not
mean it is not true or not for you . Do not interpret the Bible on the basis of your own
experience . Just because you have not experienced a promise of God does not mean it is not a true and valid promise. The promise of power is a gift from God, but you must
choose to accept that gift.

2. YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES:

To possess any Biblical promise, you must understand the principles upon which it is based. Promises of God are always based on certain principles which always involve a response from man.

For example, many promises of God are based on the "if/then" principle. God says "If you will do this certain thing, then you will receive the promise." (See Deuteronomy 28 for an example of this principle ).

To experience the promise of spiritual power, you must understand the Biblical principles

of power. In the natural world, it is similar to reading the instructions that come with a

product to learn how to operate it properly or like using a recipe to learn how to prepare a certain food.

3. YOU MUST APPLY THE PRINCIPLES:

Someone can give you a lovely gift in the natural world. You can choose to accept it. It comes with instructions. You can read the instructions and understand them thoroughly. But unless you use the instructions to operate the gift, the product is still useless to you.

Mere understanding of the Biblical power principles taught in this course is not enough . You must apply these principles to your own life and ministry.

BEYOND BLESSING TO POWER

Many believers do not experience power because they never get beyond the point of spiritual blessing. The Holy Spirit begins to move upon them and they feel great joy. They may express it in singing, shouting, dancing, or crying. They are blessed by God and respond emotionally.

There is nothing wrong with this. The Bible is filled with such spiritual experiences. But God wants to move His people beyond the point of blessing into the realm of spiritual power, beyond emotion to demonstration.

There is a story in the Old Testament which illustrates this truth. It also illustrates the

link between a promise and the possessing of that promise. The nation of Israel traveled for many months from Egypt through the desert to the land God promised them. When they reached the edge of this promised land, Moses sent in spies to check out the land. Ten of the spies brought back a negative report. They said there were giants in the land and there was no way Israel could go in to possess the land. Only two spies urged the people to enter the land and possess it as God had promised.

Israel chose to listen to the negative report. Because of this, although it was only an eleven day journey from where they were camped to the Promised Land, it took Israel forty years to make the journey (Deuteronomy 1:2).

God brought Israel to the point of blessing. They were at the edge of the Promised Land. God’s power was available to conquer the enemy. But Israel refused to move forward in God’s power. There was nothing wrong with the promise . The problem was Israel’s
refusal to possess it.

You must not stop when you get to a point of blessing in your life. You must break

through into the spiritual realm of power. If you do not do so, you will continue to wander

in a spiritual wilderness of dry, powerless existence.

You must move beyond the point of blessing into the realm of power . You must become
a demonstrator instead of a spectator; a doer instead of only a hearer. When you do so,
you will experience the true flow of God’s power. You will experience a life force and
anointing within you which you have never before known. You will experience life after
religion .

ORDINARY PEOPLE

You may think you cannot experience this power because you lack education. Perhaps
you do not hold ministerial credentials with any denomination. You may live in a village
far away from a Christian college and you are unable to obtain a Bible school education .
None of these things need stand in the way of your receiving spiritual power. The Word
of God is filled with examples of ordinary men and women who were used of God in
mighty ways:

Abraham. . . lied about Sarah being his wife because of fear, yet he was used of God to found the great nation of Israel.

Moses. . . was not a good speaker and killed an Egyptian in anger, yet God used him to lead an entire nation of over two million people to the promised land .

Peter. . . sank while walking on water, always said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and in the end denied he knew Jesus. . . yet this ordinary fisherman stood and gave a powerful witness on the day of Pentecost which resulted in the salvation of 3,000 souls.

Gideon. . . a young man hiding in fear to thresh the harvest grain was called to deliver an entire nation from oppressive captors.

King David. . . committed adultery, took another man’s wife and had the man murdered , yet he was the greatest King of Israel and called a man after God’s own heart.

Peter and John. . . both were poor fishermen and had no money or education, but the healing power of God flowed through them to stir entire cities.

The Apostle Paul. . . it was said of him that his letters were powerful, but his bodily presence weak and his speech poor (II Corinthians 10 :10).

Jacob. . . was a deceiver, liar, and schemer. But when God touched him, he became a "prince with power with God and man ."

If men such as these can be entrusted with spiritual power with God and men, you can

also, despite your human failures! God calls ordinary men and women and makes them extraordinary . He does not see you as you see yourself. He does not see you as others see you . God sees you as you can become when you are endued with spiritual power. God uses ordinary people, what the Bible calls "earthen vessels" so that…the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:7).