One of my biggest concerns as a pastor is that many Christians only experience Jesus through theology and don’t experience His power and presence beyond the initial salvation experience in a tangible way. Many wouldn’t recognize the Holy Spirit if He walked in the room wearing a green hat because they only have been taught a theological understanding of who Jesus is. They have never been taught how to actually experience His resurrection power in a practical way. This leaves them lacking!
I do want to make it very clear I believe in good theology. It is necessary to know God on an intellectual level and to have a basis for faith. With that said, theology is not the end to our relationship with God. Numerous scriptures point to the fact that we are to know God by the spirit, hear His voice in our everyday lives, and experience miracles on a regular basis. It’s knowing the resurrected Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit that provides the power to change lives.
A great example of this is T.L. Osborn. During the 20th century, T.L. Osborn was a great missionary to India that led thousands of people to the Lord. His ministry didn’t start out with much success, however, as no one was saved in his first missionary journey in 1945. In fact, things went so poorly he and his wife Daisy moved back to the United States after less than a year in India.
The reason Osborn didn’t see success wasn’t his theology. Osborn preached great theology. He shared from the Bible about Jesus, however, the folks who attended his meetings didn’t believe the Bible was the word of God. They didn’t accept it as the basis for theology because they came from Buddhist and Hindu backgrounds that taught them other doctrines as the basis of theology.
This failure drove T.L. Osborn to seek the Lord for a better way to minister the gospel. After a period of intense fasting and prayer, Jesus appeared to Osborn in a vision and told him to go heal the sick. According to Osborn, he saw that Jesus was alive and began to preach the “resurrected Christ” with signs and wonders following and not merely theology about Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. He began to preach a God who can be experienced now and not merely an academic Jesus.
When the Osborns returned to India things changed! Hundreds of thousands of people came to the Lord because of the signs and wonders in his ministry. Here is a link to one newspaper article about one of Osborn’s crusades .
We need the resurrected Christ today! Jesus promised in Mark he would confirm the word we preach with signs following!
Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
We need the resurrected Christ for at least two reasons:
- Our world doesn’t care a whole lot about our theology! While I can make a great theological case for Jesus and did in this article, there is a lot of information out there that counters my theological points as sound as I think they are. If intellectualism alone was enough Jesus would have never promised to send the Holy Spirit in power on the day of Pentecost.
- There is something that causes us to come alive on the inside when we experience the power and presence of God through signs, wonders, and miracles. It is what we were born for. Many Christians lack passion for God because all they have is a relationship with a Bible instead of the God of the Bible who told them they could experience Him in a personal way. This is sort of reminds me of a person who spends more time with a love letter than the spouse who wrote them that letter.
I do want to make it very clear I am not dishonoring the Bible. I believe it and we need to read and understand it. I just want to emphasize that our relationship needs to extend beyond the letter to the spirit. (see 2 Corinthians 3:6). Lastly, if you ever get an idea to do something you don’t see in the Bible or the Bible clearly forbids, it’s not God.
Sorry, I’m a pastor and I had to put that paragraph in to protect folks who could take what I’m saying too far (there is always someone who will do that). I’m just saying we need to do the stuff we read about, not just read about it.
Wherever you are in your relationship with God today, I want to encourage you to ask God to reveal the resurrected Jesus to you today! Asking Him to take the Jesus of Bible and make Him come alive in your life in a tangible way. Ask the Father to fill you afresh with His Holy Spirit and expect a new depth in your relationship with God!