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Awesome Benefits for Believers

Names mean a lot in the Bible, perhaps none more than the name of Christ. Yet, most Christians don’t know what the name Christ means.  Some realize it means Messiah. Some even know that Messiah means Anointed One. But very few have considered the implications, and this is precisely where the awesome benefits of His name accrue to us.                                            

 Consider this. Anointing was usually done in a ceremony for kings, prophets and priests. Warm oil, poured on their head, symbolized the need for the Spirit’s power to enable them to fulfill their duties -- duties they found impossible without God’s help. Why warm oil? Like nothing else, it resembles the feelings that wash over us as we experience the Spirit’s delectable Presence.

 Most people assume that the name ‘Christ’ refers to His role as our anointed prophet, high priest and King of kings. While He is all of those things, Jesus didn’t describe His anointing that way. Rather, Jesus launched His public ministry by quoting the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

 Jesus went on to say that this scripture was fulfilled that day right before their eyes. At first, the people were amazed at the gracious speech of this familiar carpenter’s, but when He implied that He was the Messiah and they may not recognize it the crowd grew enraged. They threw Him out of the city and would have cast him off a cliff had not God somehow intervened, allowing Him to walk away unharmed.

 While people today don’t react violently to unpopular sermons, they still often reject those who discuss the real meaning of Jesus’ anointing. He didn’t just say that God anointed Him to take us all to heaven, He said He was given the Spirit’s power to do six wonderful things for us. Later he went even further, saying that those who believe in Him could do the works He did and greater (John 14:12).

 Though people all over the world are rediscovering Christ’s power to heal and free us, that message doesn’t play well in some American church circles. Here’s why. The Apostle Paul tells us that when we receive Christ He begins a good work in us -- one that He will complete until we die or Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). He also taught that God gave spiritual gifts to us to empower us for this work (I Corinthians 12:1-11). Here’s the problem: most American Christians have never seen miracles. Higher education and skeptical pseudo-science has robbed us of the supernatural. In many conservative churches, a group known as Dispensationalists has devised an elaborate theological scheme to invalidate the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit to accommodate to these values.

 Here’s how they do that. I Corinthians 13: 8-10 tells us that when the perfect has come the imperfect will be done away with spiritual gifts will cease. Those who deny the relevance of healing for today interpret this verse to mean that the perfect that was to come is the scriptures. They believe that miracles, healings, prophecies and other spiritual gifts were essential for the formation and guidance of the early church but once the Bible was codified, they became unnecessary. They say that the experience of salvation and Biblical texts are sufficient for every human need. They believe if a Christian has a problem, the way to apply a relevant scripture to it, urge them to repent and everything will be fine. They accuse those who disagree with them of denying the sufficiency of the Bible and salvation.

 Ironically, the only way to hold that position is to reject much of the scriptures. Hypocritically, such people may rail at liberals for not believing the Bible while they themselves reject most of the Old Testament and much of the New. They assert that since Jesus spoke to Jews, most of the gospels and the first part of the book of Acts are irrelevant. Martin Luther tossed the book of James in the Elbe river because it contradicted his theology of justification by faith alone. Dispensationalists chuck most of the Bible!

 Three of the six things Jesus was anointed for are particularly relevant today, healing the broken hearted, releasing the captives and liberating the bruised. Without this help, many can’t be saved from the power of their sins. This ministry becomes even more relevant in the latter days -- a time of unprecedented rebellion against God. Why? Where sin abounds, PAIN abounds, and pain binds us to compulsions to anesthetize our agony. That’s why we would only understand God’s promise to heal our pain in the latter days (Cf. Jeremiah 30).

 Sin is rampant today and pain is epidemic. God’s compassion mandates that He respond to our need. In fact, that’s what motivated Jesus’ healing ministry in the first century. Healing wasn’t necessary to establish the early church; it reflected God’s love and compassion for the hurting. Those who fail to realize this prohibit the work of the Holy Spirit through Christians. If they go one step further, as I’ve heard some do, and say that spiritual gifts are ‘from the devil,’ they may commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is so serious Jesus called it the only unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:24-32).

 We have all had our hearts broken. If you’re anything like me you have found certain sins to be more powerful than you are. We are bound by them because of our past hurts. It’s wonderful news that Christ can help us with these things. If we were perfected at salvation we wouldn’t need spiritual gifts, all we would need is for people to lecture us, which is the sorry extent of the ministry in all too many churches.

 To those who say that salvation, a Bible verse and repentance are all we need I have only one question. Be honest. Is it really all you need?


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