PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, We belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Luke 9:1–6 (NIV)
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, became a Christian at age twenty-nine with no prior experience in church. He began to voraciously read the Bible and after going to church for some time, he famously asked the pastor, “So when do we do the stuff?”
“The ‘stuff’,” said the pastor. “What’s the ‘stuff’?”
“You know,” John replied, “the stuff in the Bible, like healing the sick and casting out demons. The stuff!”
From those early days to the present day, today’s text is so critical to the New Testament church. It was the day Jesus first authorized his disciples to do, the “stuff!”
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Would they be able to do it? Could Jesus actually share and impart his authority to mere mortals? Answer . . .
So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Indeed, the miracle happened, and they did the stuff! And truth be told, we have been doing it ever since.
The issue is agency. The church has seemed to put all the emphasis on discipleship. To be sure, discipleship is mission critical, but discipleship is not the mission. The mission is agency—to become the agents of Jesus, embodying his very presence—and hence his authority by the indwelling Holy Spirit—to do the stuff as the text says, “everywhere.”
I suppose the issue is we have not adequately attached discipleship to agency. We have what I would call two super texts after the resurrection of Jesus. They are as follows:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)
This has become known as The Great Commission.1 We don’t know when in the forty days following his resurrection and before his ascension this took place, but we do know this was not the last word. The last word comes from Acts 1:8.
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:7–9)
I call this one the Great Combustion. These two little words—”my witnesses”— is an explicit grant of the authority of agency to the followers of Jesus. Jesus basically tells them, “Get ready to do the stuff!”
Ten days later the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost and the church is born—this is the church Jesus earlier referred to as “my church,” the one he is building. And he builds this church on those he calls, “my witnesses.” What must be recovered is the symbiotic linkage between discipleship and agency. The implications are vast. For starters, discipleship must take on more of the character of “agents in training” and less of the never-ending transmission of educational information through endless curriculum and book studies.2
We are hardly half way through the Gospel of Luke and Jesus has unleashed the Twelve as his agents across the land to do the stuff. Is it any wonder Jesus would go on to say to them and us these words:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
So who’s ready to the stuff? Because this is the stuff of great awakening!
Jesus, thank you for training your disciples to do the stuff and for authorizing and sending them out to do it. Help us to get back on track. Teach us to make disciples like you make disciples. And yet we can’t give to others what we do not have. Disciple us beyond more knowledge and information and into becoming your very agents, your witnesses. And we know this will require deep transformation. Fill and form us with your love. I confess how I often want to see and demonstrate your power. Holy Spirit, refine me to understand this through the frame of love. Lead me down the path of greater love and so toward greater things. Praying in your name, Jesus, amen.
What has been your experience with doing the stuff? Do you desire to become a fully authorized agent of Jesus? Or are you content with where you are? How might your discipleship need to change and shift? What might be a step of faith forward now?
Today we will sing the prayerful chorus, “Spirit of the Living God.” It is hymn 299 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
P.S. Registration for Our Prayer and Fasting Course Is Open
I am really looking forward to leading this class. I have reached out to our friend, Carolyn Moore, and she will help us. You can expect to be challenged and enriched. Jesus will guide us as only he can. It will be stretching at times yet practical throughout. There’s a solid book bundle if you are up for it. And we have some scholarships available. The materials will be available in your account permanently and on demand to suit your schedule if you can’t join us live. REGISTER HERE TODAY.
NOTES FOR FURTHER STUDY AND REFLECTION
1. In the Great Commission, Jesus says two things: 1. Baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and 2. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. The first imperative means to help people become immersed into the love of God until such love is the source and substance of their identity. The second imperative, to obey everything Jesus commanded us—is comprehensively simple: Love God, and love one’s neighbor as oneself. This is further refined and crystallized among his followers via his singular command, “To love one another as I have loved you.” In this way, love is the means and the end, the center and the circumference, the entire meaning of the gospel and the whole movement of the kingdom. It is to be reconciled to God and to one another, which is all at once the teaching and transformation of Jesus, who is himself the perfect embodiment of the holy love of God.
2. We have mostly bought into the American myth that our problems can be solved through more education. In truth, our problems will only be solved through more transformation. Transformation comes not through mere content but by deeper connection (i.e. attachment), which is only found in the body of Christ through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The means and end of this is love, agape love—sola sancta caritas—only holy love. This is the meaning of “my witnesses.” Jesus said on another occasion, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” This is love raised to the level of power. The “greater things” Jesus references in John 14 will spring from the “greater love” he commands and empowers among his agents. (See John 15). Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15) His commandment is to love one another as I have loved you. He also says, “People will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” In light of this consider his prayer, “that all of them become one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you; may they also be in us so that the world will believe you have sent me.” (see John 17). Trace the agency here: the union of Father, Son, and Spirit to the union of the agents of Jesus (aka the church) caught up in the the union of the Godhead to the awakening of the world. In short, the agency of the church becomes the awakening of the world.
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JD, thank you for this posting. It is confirmation that I’ve properly understood those key scriptural passages and zeroed in their application in my life. Having read Jack Deere’s book Still Surprised By The Power of The Spirit, I’m somewhat familiar with John Wimber and his emphasis on “Power Evangelism.” And yes, I can definitely see the the connection between the testimony of Jesus and the “signs and wonders” to confirm it. I can see two major obstacles in implementing the concept of testimony accompanying “doing the stuff.” First of all, at least since the Reformation, most Protestant denominations have been cessationist’s when it comes to the so called “sign gifts”, if not officially, at least functionally. Secondly there has been a lot of fraud and abuse concerning these gifts among the few denominations that did teach continueationism, especially among the nondenominational ones. In my opinion, these two factors are Satan’s tools for suppressing what what you’ve suggested. Nevertheless, I’m in total agreement that without the accompanying exhibition of the power of the Spirit, our witnessing will not be fruitful.
These words that can help us “do the stuff” were running thru my heart & mind when I woke up this morning.
“In revival we begin to see beyond our eyes, hear beyond our ears, & understand beyond our comprehension.”
For more search: Beyond Church Ekklesia.
Please modify the article to say John Wimber was a founder, or one of the founders of the vineyard movement. Kenn Gullicksen actually founded the vineyard. It was his Vineyard that I went to first.