“It was like the firing of an arrow—all the speed and force depended on the strength of his arm in bending the bow; now it was like a fire of a rifle ball—the force depending on the power, needing only a finger touch.”
This was James Hervey describing the change that took place in John Wesley when he began to preach under the influence of the Holy Spirit, when he began to proclaim the word of God with increased force. Note that Wesley’s effort went from the strength of his arm to the touch of his finger. The power of his message increased but it was not his physical power that increased it.
It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Billy Graham admits this in his book The Holy Spirit. In previous posts, I have discussed the role of The Word in the believer’s life. Graham states “Thousands of pastors, Sunday school teachers and Christian workers are powerless because they do not make the Word the source of their preaching or teaching. [It is] when we preach or teach the Scriptures, [that] we open the door for the Holy Spirit to do His work.”
As a speaker (note I did not say preacher), I have had times when I tried to speak from my own power. Being a speech professor, I know the “techniques” of writing a good speech. Knowing the audience is key. Have a clear-cut organization. Work hard to have a memorable opening and closing. Sprinkle “attention-getters” throughout the speech etc. etc. Being so knowledgeable of technique can get in the way of God, because I have found that if I call upon Him to guide me, the results are so much better. God will use my knowledge of technique to bring forth a message that is pleasing to Him. Not all audiences I have spoken to are religious in nature, but He has found a way to work Himself into my comments.
As a teacher, I have years of experience in the college classroom, a college that was not Bible-oriented, a public community college. Over the years, I developed ideas to help me express various subject matter but in a church setting, the teaching is different. I was pretty good in the college classroom but my goal was different that teaching in church. I wanted students to be competent in their knowledge of the subject I was teaching. In church, I hope that my teaching brings insight to Christians who need not only knowledge but also comfort in hard times, guidance when they are lost, power they realize they don’t have and liberty from the burden of sins. It is a much higher bar, but I can’t even begin to reach it without the Holy Spirit.
I am in a battle to achieve God’s efforts in my life. We all are in that battle. We cannot call on the Holy Spirit to fix things, like sitting on Santa’s lap with our wish list. When the Holy Spirit chooses to fill us, it is a privilege. When it happens, it is an experience like no other. The right thing is said to people at the right time and despite all the planning in the world, the power of The Word is there. It may not be on the notes but it is there.
We can call on God to lead, guide and direct us and He will, if it suits His purpose. We will be vessels for God if we are worthy enough to carry His message. We will bear fruit for Him if we are firmly attached to the vine.
Ecclesiastes 8: 4 says “Where the word of a king is, there is power.” Second Corinthians 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Pastor Graham says power and liberty characterize the words of a man who proclaims the word of God.
I would go one further. When the Holy Spirit visits us, there is joy. Like King David dancing with all his might when the Ark of the Covenant came to Jerusalem, his joy was emotional and it was special. It was overwhelming. He understood as a child of God that he was being blessed by God’s grace.
There is only one question to ask about all this?
Who would not want all this?
I know the answer.