Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Acts 10:34-43 Healing All Oppressed by the Devil

KEY TEXT: Acts 10:37-39 "You yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

KEY THOT: Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit with power to do good and to heal all who were oppressed by the devil. And he continues to do this work of healing and deliverance through the church his body. So long as there are people who are held in bondage to the devil through the fear of death, there will be a need for the ministry of healing and deliverance. Healing and deliverance from the works of darkness is part of the Gospel of the Kingdom that we proclaim to the world held in captivity by the prince of darkness: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8-9). The Gospel is good news because it not only promises "everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name"(v.43), but also sets captives of the devil free from demonic oppression, from emotional and physical sicknesses and from sinful addictions. 

That is why the Alpha weekend (a.k.a. Holy Spirit weekend) is a critical part of the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). It is not optional and churches running Alpha should never drop it simply because they are not comfortable with the work and ministry of the Spirit. The good news of the kingdom is God's redemption through the forgiveness of sins: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, (apolutrosis) the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14). 

But what does "redemption" (apolutrosis) imply? Thayer's Greek lexicon explains apolutrosis as "a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance, liberation procured by the payment of a ransom." Redemption is a slave-market word: it means making the payment to set a slave free from his former owner. In the Gospel context, it means that Christ paid the ransom price of His blood in order to procure our deliverance and freedom from slavery to our former owner, the devil. Through Christ's redemption, we are "bought out" of Satan's rule and thereby also delivered from slavery to the power of darkness.

At the Alpha weekend, we often see people healed and delivered from sinful addictions, fears and demonic strongholds. The Holy Spirit's power is indispensable for such ministry: "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil" (v. 38). When the church operates under the anointing of the Spirit, they witness Jesus' continuing ministry among them for "doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil." Thank You Lord that "the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20).

Father, what an exciting Gospel You have given us that we have the means to set captives of Satan free. We are not ashamed of the Gospel because it is God's power to save and deliver. Amen.

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