Is it all right for Christian believers to think in terms of success? If we look at the root meaning, we certainly can and must. Success comes from succesum which carries the ideas of “accomplishment of a desired end.” In other words, meeting one’s goals.
Did Jesus do that? He chose men and women who fulfilled his global mission, trained great leaders who changed the world and established a movement that has endured two millennia. His death and resurrection assures eternal life to those who trust in Him.
But wasn’t his success due to his divine nature? you ask. He was God wasn’t he? He was and is God, but his divine nature wasn’t the source of his extraordinary accomplishments.
You object. “Oh, what else could it be?”
The Scriptures and the creeds are clear “T “Though he was God, he did not think equality with God was something to possess, but he emptied himself of his divine privileges. (Phil 2:6) What did he empty himself of? Not his divine nature, but his divine privileges, which includes his divine power.
As Man Jesus Showed Us the Way. Jesus could have called down a mighty fiery host to save him from the cross. But because he is “the second Adam”, he chose not to. Instead of taking advantage of his divinity, he humbled himself in obedience to God (Phil 2:8)
Power Comes Through Obedience: And there you have the source of his success. He fully and completely obeyed and depended on His Father to work through him. In his conversations with Jewish authorities in John 7-9, over and over he explains he depends on his Father for everything. “I always do what pleases him,” he asserts.
Why did he choose to go this route Because the eternal plan was that he should establish for his church and his followers the path to Kingdom success.
Be filled with the Spirit. After his baptism, Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” He promised that same to his church. (Acts 1:8), In fact, he even promised we would and can do greater works than He did. (John 16). Luke recorded many examples of amazing things achieved by the first church. Also certain individuals like Barnabas were described as being “full of the Holy Spirit,” To be filled with the Spirit means they depended on the Spirit to work through them. They let go of self-and self effort.
Apart from Him we can do nothing. The cost of success in Christ is taking up the cross. Paul explained that this means denying yourself, by emptying yourself of depending on your ability, allowing Christ to work through you. As Jesus explained: “I am the vine. You are the branches. If you stay connected to me, and I in you, you will be very successful, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15)
Yield to the Spirit of Jesus. The difference between having the Spirit of Christ and being filled with His Spirit is that willingness to trust him and obey him completely. Depending fully on Him brings great success and effectiveness. “Don’t try to do his work in your own strength, but depend on God to do it. He will both empower you to do it and give you the will to do it. (Phil 2: 13, our paraphrase).