The Surpassing Power Belongs to God
Our Life Now: Understanding prayer within God’s purpose will have a lot to do with what we believe is happening in God’s plan right “Now,” today.
Recorded by Brother Chris Sales
The Holding Pattern View
This is the idea many of us hold about our life today. I certainly absorbed this view in my early years in Christ, and it continued to shape my thinking for decades.
It goes like this—we have found the Truth, the pearl of great price, and we are now part of God’s chosen people. God continues to work in the world’s affairs to bring things to fruition, as predicted in prophecy, and which will ultimately usher in His Kingdom.
God is there to help
In the meantime, I “Now” wait. I live a good life, learn more about God from His word, and try to manifest the characteristics of God in my life. I work in God’s service and patiently wait. “Now” is not important; it is transient, temporary, and will soon be replaced by the Kingdom.
How does petitionary prayer factor into this view? Well, God is there to help. He provides for us, and we can go to Him when things go wrong and ask for His help to resolve problems or assist us in life. Sometimes He helps, sometimes he doesn’t—“according to His will.”
Regardless of His response, all the problems and issues will be resolved when Christ returns. For “Now,” I hunker down and wait for the Kingdom. Petitionary prayer within this view could sound a bit mercenary. God can seem to be something of a genie, granting us a middle-class lifestyle and keeping us safe while we wait for the Kingdom to come.
The New Creation View
Although nothing about the above view is particularly wrong, it’s just that I now believe there is far more happening in the “Now.” “Now” is not a passive waiting period in which God’s people hunker down or tread water.
The New Creation has already begun. It began with the resurrection of Jesus. God is working and active in the lives of His people and is right “Now,” building something, creating something. The “Now” is a vital component of His purpose, and we are part of that. “Now” is a phase in God’s plan as significant as the Millennium itself and without which the Millennium would not happen. The apostle Paul identifies the stages of God’s activity in our lives:
Prayer within this view is seen as something resembling cooperation with God, working with God as He works in us to make His New Creation. Once we identify where God is at work, we can align our prayers with His activities, and the lavish and extravagant prayer guarantees that are cataloged in previous articles make absolute sense. Of course, He will give us what we pray for—we are praying for help to achieve the exact same things He is also working on.
A lot of “New” began with the resurrection—we will consider the New Creation, the New Man (or New Being), and in later articles, the New Covenant to highlight where God is at work “Now” and how this can integrate with our prayer life.
Has the New Creation Started Already?
Absolutely! Therefore, Jesus is called “the Beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev 3:14) and “firstborn of all creation.” (Col 1:15). It all started with him. But this was just the beginning; new creation continued, and others were added.
If we accept the consensus view that 2 Corinthians was written about AD 55, then it is without question that this new Creation began over 2000 years ago and centers around individuals. The Greek of this verse reads—If anyone is In Christ—New Creation!
Note the rhetorical flourish at the end of the verse, “Behold, the new has come.” Remember, this is written in AD 55; the “New” had come already. One can’t help but notice the connection with another rhetorical flourish “Behold I make all things new.” (Rev 21:5). These two “New” pronouncements link the ongoing work of God in His New Creation, both in AD 55 and today, with its finale and consummation depicted in Revelation 21 and 22.
Paul illustrates New Creation as a divine priority in our lives in Galatians 6:15, where he declares that physical controversies such as circumcision count for nothing when compared to what God is doing in His “New Creation.”
Where Is New Creation Happening?
Looking around our world, we see very little evidence God is involved in a New Creation project, but this creative work is being carried out beneath the surface. “For we are his workmanship [the thing that is made], created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:10).
The Greek word translated “created” in these passages, “ktizo,’’ is the same word used to describe God’s physical creation (Mark 13:19, 1 Cor 11:9, Rev 4:11).
Just as man in the original creation was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27), so too in the New Creation. The potential squandered in Eden because of sin is now being renewed and brought to life in a New Creation that is taking place “Now.”
Old Creation and New Creation
The New Testament sometimes uses concepts and terminology from the original physical creation and applies them to what God is doing in His New Creation. Such a case is 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) :
Notice the arena of operations here—“our hearts,” our inner being. This spiritual illumination is contained however in “jars of clay,” in which our flawed human body, made of the dust or mud of the earth (Physical Creation—Gen 2:7) has within it the “all-surpassing” (NIV) power of God so that anything achieved within it can only be attributable to God Himself.
What has this “all-surpassing” (Greek: “huperbole”) power achieved? Has it removed pain and suffering from the lives of its recipients? Well, yes and no.
As noted earlier in our series, God’s power does not remove the physical trials but allows us to transcend them in a non-material way. This passage goes on to say: (See table below)
The physical affliction in the last column was not removed, but the power of God ensured it did not overwhelm.
The Internal/External—Material/Non-Material paradox is taken up again. (2 Cor 4:16 NKJV).
The two exist together, and maybe an inverse relationship can be read into this phrase. The “heart,” the Inner Being, is protected and renewed while at the same time, the physical body is perishing.
The next section further informs us about the arena of God’s operations.
Both At the Same Time
In our earlier articles, we emphasized that God could still be working in our lives and providing us comfort, wisdom, and courage. At the same time, we may be experiencing negative life circumstances. This is further illustrated in a well-known passage that is often quoted in the context of God helping us in our lives: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13 ESV).
Obviously, the “all things” referred to must be restricted and qualified in some way. For example, God will not strengthen me to run the four-minute mile at the Olympics. The context provides the scope of “all things” in a way that harmonizes with the schema presented in this series.
Paul here acknowledges that by God’s strength, he can experience two things at the same time:
- Contentment (v. 11); and
- Trouble or distress (v. 14).
Again, we notice God’s strength in Paul’s life does not remove the “Trouble” but provides the wisdom to experience the “Contentment” that enables him to prosper. A careful reading of the context defines
Paul can endure “any and every” of life’s circumstances (“all things”), not by having them removed or solved but by God’s strength and wisdom in his life. In fact, strength from God is particularly seen when things are going wrong in Paul’s life. Remember his request to God in II Corinthians 12:8-9 to remove the negative physical issue in his life and remember God’s response, “My strength [spiritual] is made perfect in weakness [physical].”
Prayer—Cooperation With God
I trust this brief overview highlighting God’s area of operations (“Inner Being”) in the “Now” of our lives helps us to see where and why prayer works in conjunction with God’s priorities.
The references to God actively working in our Inner Being are too numerous, too profound, too intense, and too essential to ignore or casually read over. Any model of prayer or of God’s interaction with His people that do not include and hold these facts in the very forefront will be lacking in explanatory power.
Gosford Ecclesia, NSW
- All Scriptural citations are taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
- The reader may recall a set of talks from the 1990s by my father, Bro. Colin Badger, with the same title: “Psalms for the Night Seasons.” They have helped me and many others through our personal Night Seasons. These classes inspired the theme of these articles.