Faithlife Sermons

There's Power Within You

David J. Finklea
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Passage: Luke 17:20-21
Main Idea: God has given us power to overcome the forces of darkness in this world.
Message Goal: Take action and serve in the power of God with courage.

Introduction: Alvin Schmidt’s “How Christianity Changed the World” and Luke’s Idea of Holy Disturbance

Over the last few months, we have been discussing the kingdom of God and a biblical view of hope. So far, we have discovered that our view of “the end” should not be one that helplessly looks for the end of all doom as to say “I’m glad that’s over.” Rather, we should view the end as the anticipated hope of God bringing all things together as the fulfillment of all that God intended to do from the beginning. The former is negative and the latter positive.
The key to all of this and the way in which it will happen is—a total and revolutionary commitment to Jesus Christ and the power of God. That is, we must seek God’s moving and the presence of His Spirit that transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ. And let there me no mistake—when believers are transformed into the image of God, the forces of darkness are challenged and put to shame by the lives of the children of God.
In 2004 Dr. Alvin Schmidt, a former professor of sociology at Illinois College, wrote a book entitled How Christianity Changed the World. In the book, he surveys the various ways Christianity has impacted the western world.
He talks about how believers were Transformed by Jesus: in Chapter 1. Schmidt argues that the apostles and the early church were transformed by Jesus in a way that led them to gladly give their lives for the kingdom and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He argues that no one would die the way Christians died in the primitive years if the message of the cross was simply a made-up fable. The validity of the gospel is proven by the death of the saints.
He goes on to speak on the Sanctification of Human Life. The Greco-Roman culture tended to prioritize the lives of aristocrats. The value of human life despite one’s status is a Judeo-Christian idea. Christians vividly spoke against child sacrifice, child abandonment, abortion, human sacrifices, and suicide. Christians declared and influenced many cultures to protect life in fulfillment of God’s Word and the example of Jesus Christ.
Everything from sexuality, marriage, women’s rights, to healthcare, education, labor, economics, slavery, science, art, music, and literature— Jesus, through the lives of believers, have impacted the way we think on these things.
Schmidt argues that the West would be far less moral without the impact of Christianity. Could you imagine what the world would be like without Christians? The things we are witnessing now are tragic. Children being killed in schools and innocence lives being taken in common places are becoming every day news. Yet, a world without the light of Christ through devout believers would be nothing short of barbaric. The moral compass [what moral compass we do have] comes from the influence of Christ on transformed believers who insist on shining a light in the midst of fierce darkness.
Schmidt’s point is amazingly clear. However, to emphasize that point, I would have title the book How Christians Changed the World.” For, he communicates in no uncertain terms—it is Jesus in those Christians of Christianity that has led to the amazing impact Schmidt is writing about. Furthermore, nothing changes by ideas alone. Rather, ideas are captured by humans who go on to implement the sentiments of those ideas. You can measure the success of any group my how well these groups put feet to the ideas and concept of an ideology or philosophical concept. This is why James says, “be hearers and doers!”
When Jesus is active in the lives of a body of people, those people embrace a philosophy and teaching for how to live. After this—amazing things happen. I call it amazing. Some may even call it signs and wonders. Luke would calls it a disturbance.
When the believers are on one accord they cause a disturbance that oppose the forces of darkness. Yet, darkness is always present through the lives of individuals who are not wholly submitted to Christ. This darkness is manifested in polices that prohibit certain ethnic groups from accessing what should be granted on the basis of equal rights. Darkness manifests through the unfairness of ideas that prohibit children in certain geographic areas from having the same learning opportunities as others in neighborhoods just 5 miles away. Darkness manifests its evil through laws that are disguised as examples of morality and order, but only perpetuate the blatant evil of kings and kingdoms of the past. Christians have and must, still disturb the efforts of darkness.
Luke records two examples of Christians who took an incredible stand. In Acts 16:20 “20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews”
Disturb means to perturb (upset) throw into great confusion or disorder; agitate; [could be] terrify.
Luke also speaks on this in Acts 17:6 “When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too,”
Turning the word upside down means to upset, that is, disturb the balance or stability of.
It is this kind of disturbance God causes among those that follow Jesus. Jesus is alive in those who believe in Him, and He is manifesting Himself through those believers that give themselves to Him. Here’s a question to ponder: does evilness welcome you in its city? Are evildoers afraid to see you coming? This is what Luke 17:20-21 is all about.
Luke 17:20–21 CSB
20 When he was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; 21 no one will say, ‘See here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Jesus is saying, here, the kingdom is among you and in you. The kingdom was among them because Jesus was in their presence—forwarding the kingdom into the earth with miraculous power. Yet, the kingdom would be in those that believe, because the Spirit would place the rule of God in their hearts, which would enable them to do the works of Christ in the earth. A wonderful example of this is foreshadowed in the book of Daniel.

Sermon Points: Daniel, His Friends, and the Pagan Empire

In 621 two significant figures were born: the prophet Ezekiel and the wise man Daniel. Both of them would be deported to the pagan kingdom, Babylon. Ezekiel was 24 years old when he was deported and Daniel was just 16. Ezekiel would prophesy for 25 years (596-568 BC) and Daniel would go on to prophesy for 85 years (605-520 BC). Along with Daniel were three friends known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were exiled in 605 B.C. along with Daniel. All of these took tremendous stands in their time, but for the remainder of this sermon I want to focus on Daniel and his three friends.
The nation of Israel was forced to be under the cultural influence of pagans which gave them two choices: 1) compromise or 2) stand.
The danger of taking this stand is facing the ramifications and repercussions of opposing what could make you comfortable. John Hope was the first African-American president of the prolific Morehouse University. Biographer Leroy Davis described his dilemma as being abnormal and different because he had wear two hats: that of college president and social activist. Because he decided to wear both hats he suffered.
The question I want to raise before you today is what happens when you are called to wear two hats— that of a saint and of a ambassador of the kingdom of God?
Here are a few takeaways from Daniel and his friends:
You can’t eat the king’s food.
You can’t be afraid to be different.
You can’t be afraid of what could happen for taking a stand.
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