Several years ago, I met a church movement leader in Vietnam who reiterated this truth. He lead an underground church movement there since the war ended in 1975. He had suffered for his faith, spending much of his life after 1975 in prison. When I met him, God had used him to raise up thousands of house churches and hundreds of thousands of Vietnam believers.
At dinner during that trip, this great leader opened up about his longing. “I just want to experience God in my life,” he said as we talked about his journey.
That statement struck a chord in me. Haven’t ever forgotten it.
When I look around, it seems that what that leader said is something we all want. Many people understand this longing. Some prey on it for their own gain while others try to genuinely facilitate the fulfillment.
How do we actually experience God’s power in our life?
Paul gives us a great key in Romans 1:16. There he makes a bold claim by saying the gospel “is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes.”
The power of God = the gospel
Before you stop reading or yawn thinking you know that verse, let’s look very closely at what it says and doesn’t say.
He says the gospel is the power of God. Not the gospel is a part of the power of God. In saying that, Paul is telling us if we want to experience the power we need to go no further than the gospel.
Now some of you may have learned this verse like I did in the context of evangelism. If you did you are thinking, “Sure, the power of God is for saving a unbeliever. That is not for me. I am already a believer.”
Notice the verse. Paul says “to everyone who believes.” This is present tense in the English and the Greek. It is ongoing. Paul isn’t saying the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believed, past tense. Paul is not just talking about unbelievers. He is talking about unbelievers and believers.
We experience the power of God in our lives as we presently believe in the gospel.
This is an amazing statement. It shows us how to experience the power of God right now, right at this moment, in our lives. It shows us how to experience the power of God not only just now but throughout our lives.
Tim Keller reiterates this idea when he says, “The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.”
If you meditate on this idea of a hub and a wheel, one of things that becomes clear is that the hub is where the power of the rider gets transferred to the wheel, which then moves the bicycle. For God, the hub through which his power gets transferred into our lives is THE GOSPEL!
But what does this power produce in us? Paul says, “to bring salvation.” Not just salvation in the past but salvation in the present. Salvation in all the ways you and I need it today.
We experience the power of God for that salvation by believing THE GOSPEL!
So my friend, you who long to experience the power of God, look no further than THE GOSPEL! It is the power of God to everyone who believes.