“To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.” (Acts 8:10)
Simon had the power of God. Everyone said so, from the town drunk to the town mayor. But, in point of fact, he was really an egotistical sorcerer, who had merely bewitched the people (v.9). This only goes to show just how easily some folks are taken in. Not only did he not have the power of God, for all his so-called believing and baptismal washing (v.13), he had somehow missed salvation by a country mile (v.23).
I have heard scores of preachers over these half a century and more years of walking with God. All shapes and sizes, styles and statures. A lot of them characterized as having “the power of God.” But as I look back now, I am not so sure. I certainly would not put them in the same category with Simon, of course; yet I wonder if what was perceived to be the power of God may only have been the power of persuasion, or a gift for dramatics, or in some cases, sheer force of personality. When you stop to think about it, wouldn’t you think God would choose to manifest His power where man’s power is least displayed? Indeed, He has said as much, hasn’t He? (Read 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.)
How, then, can one know when a man or woman is ministering (preaching, teaching, writing, singing, etc.) with what the old-timers used to call “a holy unction?” Probably the best way is to be Spirit-filled yourself. After all, as the Psalmist said, the call of depth is only audible to its own kind (Psl.42:7). The old saying, “It takes one to know one” would seem to apply here nicely. Then, too (but this would not be readily seen, of course), a truly Spirit-anointed ministry could be assumed to outlast the individual himself or herself (Heb.11:4b; Rev.14:13b).
I guess, what I am trying to say is this: Be careful to whom you attribute the power of God…for your sake and theirs. It is too holy a designation to be given lightly. And when you do encounter it (or, please God, experience it), lift your heart in thanksgiving to the all-powerful God, Who would dare to share some of His power with mortal man (Matt.9:8).
“Don’t follow any leader until you see the anointing on his forehead” ~ A.W. Tozer