Powers of Attorney

Over the last few weeks I have endured the arduous process of sifting through important documents as I prepared to file my taxes. Somewhere in the stack, about halfway down, was a folder containing the power of attorney documents which had been filed prior to my 2011 missions trip to Ghana.

A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. -Wikipedia

Due to the length of my stay in Ghana, I thought that it would be wise to give my father access to my personal bank accounts and check signing authority should a need arise during my absence. By establishing a POA, I could give him full access to all of my resources, meager though they may be. At any time he could legally write a check or withdraw money from my accounts, just as if he was me. I gave him the power of my name.

The Gospel of John is our spiritual POA document.

  • “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]” (John 14:13-14).
  • “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
  • “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).

He has given us the power of His name. We are agents of all of His resources. Whatever we ask in His name, if we ask according to His will and not according to our own desires (James 4:3), He will do it.

Peter proclaimed his right to act as an agent of Christ’s resources when he was brought before the high priest, rulers, elders and scribes in Acts 4. They wanted to know how the lame man at the gate Beautiful had been healed. “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this” (Acts 4:7)? Peter made his answer very clear.

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is that salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12).

Paul’s Teachings on Communion

Studies in First Corinthians – XVII

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

In this later portion of the eleventh chapter, Paul is correcting the Corinthians for abusing the Lord’s table (the taking of communion). In doing so, he teaches them the purpose and proper observance of communion.

First of all, communion is a remembrance of the past.

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (11:23-25).

We take communion to remember the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. The One who gave His life at Calvary is asking that we remember His death and put it at the center of our Christian experience. He who loved us unto death is calling us from busyness and barrenness to wait upon Him and worship Him. He is pointing us back to the heart of the Gospel: the cross.

Paul is sure to bring out the important fact that when Jesus took bread, the symbol of His soon-to-be broken body, and gave it to the disciples, He did not complain. He gave thanks! At the moment when all of the powers of sin and evil were against Him, just before He endured the anguish of Gethsemane alone while disciples slept through the night, just before they hung Him on a tree, He gave thanks! How? Because it was His delight to do the will of the Father.

Taking communion is not only a remembrance, it is a proclamation.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (11:26).

The Greek word for “shew” means to proclaim, declare, or preach. Even if you are not a preacher, you preach a sermon when you take communion. You are preaching to the powers of darkness, proclaiming the Lord’s death which has conquered them. You are also declaring a witness to the Lord that you trust His atoning work.

As much as communion is a remembrance, it is also hope for the future.

“…ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (11:26b).

The Word of God emphasizes the hope of every child of God: any moment, and day, the clouds may part and Jesus Christ may come again! We will only partake of the Lord’s supper until that day we have been waiting for comes: the day He returns to take us home.

Finally, communion is a time of self-examination.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (11:27-29).

Notice he doesn’t say “if we are unworthy.” None of us is worthy to eat or drink the Lord’s supper. He says, “whosoever shall [eat and drink] unworthily.” How do we eat and drink unworthily? If we come to His table without examining ourselves.

Paul is warning us that if we keep coming to the Lord’s table without examining ourselves and repenting of our sins, there is going to come a day when God will judge and punish us. He does not keep anyone from coming to the table, but He gives us a warning that should cause us to come in humility and repentance.

Sacrifice and Discipline

Studies in First Corinthians – XIV

In chapter nine, Paul writes about his policy on financial support to teach on discipline and sacrifice, illustrating a mature use of Christian liberty. Paul had every right to accept pay for his labors, but he set aside his rights to reach a higher goal. He waved his rights so that the Gospel wouldn’t be clouded by greed. He was giving up the good for the best; sacrificing the immediate for the eternal.

The sort of discipline of the body and sacrifice of personal rights Paul speaks of throughout this chapter are only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also evidence to the Christian and to the unbeliever alike of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

Paul vindicates his apostleship by pointing out things that were absolutely legitimate rights, but to which he had said “no” for the Lord’s sake. Within the scope of that test, what counts is not my success, my connections, my blessings, or my skill, but that my heart and life bear the marks of the cross and sacrifice. It will cost you something to follow Jesus.

Paul also speaks of the disciplining of the body. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others I should myself be a castaway” (9:26-27).

I like the way J.B. Phillips paraphrases it in his Letters to Young Churches, “I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight! I am my body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified.”

While we are saved by grace through faith, we also know that faith without works is dead. True faith gets into our hands, our feet, our tongue, our heart, and our mind. Simply put, faith is expressed in the physical. If faith in Jesus Christ does not begin to make the whole body move in the will of God, there is no evidence of faith at all. Saving faith disciplines the flesh by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Let us all examine our lives for the marks of sacrifice and discipline. Have we left behind certain things to which we are entitled for the sake of the Kingdom? Are we triumphing in our daily walk, not allowing the flesh and its appetites to dominate our life?

Remember, even the Apostle Paul could not do these things if it had not been for the power of the Holy Ghost. Jesus is the only one who could live such a life, and He did. He renounced His rights and brought His body under subjection even unto His death. When we are filled with His Spirit, these same characteristics will begin to work themselves out in us!