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blog Dec 28, 2023

By Troy Maxwell

In the first chapter of Acts, we read about the last time the apostles saw Jesus. They didn’t know this was the case until moments later, when Jesus would ascend for the last time and leave them. He had spent 40 days with them after his resurrection.

The last statement before someone leaves, especially when it comes from God Himself, is important. Jesus told His disciples they must stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit, but he told them they would be better off without Him because the Comforter, the third person of the Trinity, would come and live inside them, leading, guiding and empowering them.

The disciples assumed Jesus meant He would give them the power to overthrow the Roman occupation and restore political authority to Israel. Jesus didn’t rebuke them and say they were mistaken because He knew—and we need to know today—that the kingdom of God really is at the center of everything.

Jesus told them that the power would come to live inside them through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This power has not passed away, and it is just as available today as it was 2,000 years ago when it fell on the disciples in the upper room. We need this power in our lives as believers—individually and corporately. We need it in our living rooms, families and schools, and we need it in our justice system, government and the marketplace.

Now more than ever, we are facing challenges on different fronts. From the nature of family to gender and identity, people are questioning the Bible and attempting to redefine its truths to align with the relative values of the world. Our archenemy, Satan, has no new tricks. He approached Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the same question he poses today: “Did God really say …?” (see Genesis 3:1). That question divides the world into two camps: those who ask, “Did God really say…?” and those who state confidently, “God said…”

The church—composed of Bible-believing, truth-telling congregations nationwide—has the answer. Pastors and leaders who are full of the Holy Spirit, standing up in their pulpits and preaching an uncompromising gospel, can get our nation back on track. We cannot let culture redefine what evil and good are.

I love how The Message paraphrase describes the church in relation to the world: “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence” (Ephesians 1:23).

The church, therefore, is to set the pace and the direction for culture. We are not to blend in, but we must stand out, be different, look, talk and act different. Now, more than ever, we must walk in the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus promised to all of us.

Jesus made it clear that the power of the Holy Spirit can change things. In John 14:12, Jesus tells us that we will do even greater works than He did. I once struggled with this passage, questioning how we could do more than Jesus, greater than Jesus. Then I realized He was just one person filled with the Holy Spirit. We are millions filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is still our head, but we are his body, filling the earth with God’s power.

There are two important expressions of this power: positional and transactional.

Have you ever been driving, and a police car slides up behind you? You’re just minding your own business, enjoying the day. Maybe you have your family in the car. As soon as the police car gets behind you, you get nervous, look down at the speedometer and—even if you were going the speed limit—take your foot off the gas.

You tell your family, “Be quiet, everyone. The police are behind me.” Now, if the lights go on, watch out. You start repenting, even of things you haven’t done. Why is that? When you pull over, he cautiously approaches your car and asks for your driver’s license and registration. And you give it to him. Why?

First, he has a badge, or what I call positional power. In Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live, his badge will read CMPD (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department) and a number on it. (Don’t ask me how I know so much about this.) That badge tells us he is part of a department full of other officers like him, all of whom have different ranks and authority.

He has a position. At any moment, he can call on the radio and have 50 other police officers on the scene. Because of that badge, he is connected with many other officers. Not only that, he is backed by the entire city of Charlotte. Another way to say it is that he has authority. That authority comes because he has submitted himself to the values and rules of the CMPD. And because of that, he carries authority.

One of the definitions of power used in the New Testament comes from the Greek word exousia. This word simply means authority. Jesus told his disciples (and through them is telling you and me), “Behold, I give you the authority [exousia] to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).

We have authority, positional power, because we are positioned in the kingdom of God. Because of who we are in the kingdom, Jesus has given us a badge. Our radio is prayer. When we pray, led by the Holy Spirit, all heaven is ready to respond and act. We have seats in heaven (see Ephesians 2:6). We can never earn this authority. It’s a gift from God. When we speak under the authority of God, the enemy must respond.

There’s a great example of this in Matthew 8. Jesus is doing His thing, healing folks and doing miracles. When a Roman centurion approaches him and tells him that he has a servant at home who is paralyzed, we don’t know much of the specifics of his ailment, but Jesus tells the centurion, “I will come and heal him.”

The centurion responds, “You don’t have to come. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Then, the centurion tells Jesus that he understands authority (exousia). He is a man who has authority. Jesus then turns to all who are following and says He has not seen this kind of faith before. He even calls it “great faith.” Why? Because this centurion understood positional power. He understood that Jesus was in a position of authority, and when He spoke, things would happen.

The end of this little story is the best: “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’ And his servant was healed that same hour” (Matthew 8:13).

Jesus was showing us what it looks like to have the badge, positional power. He gives us a great example of how, with just a word, we can set back the forces of darkness in a person’s life.

Now, back to the policeman who is posted up behind your car. Should you decide not to listen to anything he has to say, he has on his side a weapon. So, if we don’t respond to his positional authority, he has some power to back up that authority.

I like to call this transactional power. The Bible uses a word in the Greek: dunamis. Just like the policeman, you and I have a weapon. We don’t carry it on our side. He lives on the inside of us. Jesus gave us this promise, the promise of a Spirit-filled life, a power-filled life! We now transact for the kingdom of God here on the earth, bringing God’s kingdom to earth, dealing with the enemy, just like the police. Should the devil not respect our positional power, we have the transactional power to back it up.

Here are a few scriptures where the word dunamis appears. Each one shows an important use of Transactional power.

When Jesus is teaching the disciples to pray, He uses the word dunamis to describe what the kingdom of God holds and releases in the earth. It is through you and me that this power is released: “…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).

Jesus connects the transactional power to the Scriptures. When we understand God’s word, full of God’s power, we will see things happen, and miracles are sure to follow. Our opinion does not have power; it’s God’s word that is full of power: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God’” (Matthew 26:29).

This power is the miracle-working power of God. Jesus made it very clear to us that we carry this same power. When we combine our faith with this power, we too can experience God’s healing touch: “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?’” (Mark 5:30)

Now more than ever, we as the church must step into both positional and transactional power. I believe that there will be a revival of the power of the Holy Spirit across America, but it starts with each of us individually. We have an enemy who thinks he has the upper hand, but we have pulled him over and are about to read him his rights. He has no authority, and we win. We live our lives not for victory but from victory.

I don’t know what you are facing in your own life and leadership, but I do know that the promise that Jesus gave the disciples just before He was leaving is the same promise for every believer in Jesus. If you have been born again and are a follower of Jesus Christ, ask him to fill you with that power. You too can walk with positional power and transactional power. You are meant to be victorious. Be filled.


Look out for Troy Maxwell's latest book, Under the Influence.

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