• Matt Beaney

#469 (28/10/21) DEMONSTRATION OF POWER



This week’s devotionals are from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

‘My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.’ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:4‬)

If we want to charge our phone, we all know what to do - plug it into an electrical point. Too often, when it comes to spiritual power, we don’t know what to do. We may claim to believe that the Holy Spirit saves and transforms, but our actions will reveal if we truly believe this. Specifically, only the Holy Spirit can change our hearts toward God through His regenerating power. The Holy Spirit works through the gospel message to cause us to be born again. Paul Gardner wrote,

‘’Power” (δύναμις) is not referring to ‘powerful works’ (as in 12:28) but to the fact that, surprisingly from a human point of view, Corinthian people really did come to faith when Paul preached the gospel among them. Their faith becomes the proof that the Spirit of God is at work in power when the gospel is preached in non-powerful ways.’ (Paul Gardner)

Paul is so confident in this that he feels no need to be persuasive in a worldly sense. He writes,


‘Wise and persuasive words’ are telling people what they want to hear so as to win them to us. It’s the false teacher or the celebrity-seeking pastor who wants a following and is prepared to distort the gospel and God’s word to attain this. What we read in 2 Corinthians is very helpful,

‘Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.’ (2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:1-3‬ )

The ‘ministry’ that Paul refers to is the ministry of the Holy Spirit who changes our hearts through the gospel. Understanding this will help to protect us from using ‘deception and distorting the word of God’ as we seek to ‘set forth the truth plainly…in the sight of God.’ Trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit will keep us from manipulation. Trusting in the Holy Spirit to change people will lead us to set forth the gospel as clearly as possible. If we want to see ‘demonstrations of the Spirit’s power’ we must honour the Spirit-given gospel.


OVER TO YOU - PRAY AND WORSHIP OUT OF THE BIBLE

I’ve made a few comments. However, it’s more important that you engage with the text yourself. Take a moment to pray and listen to God’s voice out of today’s text.

‘My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.’ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:4‬)

Use the following questions which are based upon The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).


1. Praise - What does this text teach me about God? What can I praise Him for?

2. Petitions - What does this teach me about His will for me and others? What could I pray for from this text? This is a good time to pray for our non-believing. friends. It’s good to ask, Is the Holy Spirit leading me in any specific response?

3. Peace-making - Is the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin for which I need forgiveness? Do I need to forgive others?

4. Protection - Ask for God’s protection generally and for any specific areas of vulnerability. Am I believing lies regarding the truths in this text?

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Let's be praying and actively preparing to invite friends to our carol service on 5th December. Please make sure this is in your diary

2. Icebreaker

How has God spoken to you from the Bible this week?



3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

Running up to our carol service on the 5th December we would like you to spend more time on the SIV (Serving, Invest and Invite) aspect of our time together. Therefore, there will only be fewer questions each week on the Sunday message so as to give plenty of time for praying and sharing about our mission.


On Sunday, we continued with our series in 1 Corinthians looking at 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

‘And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.’ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

NO ELOQUENCE OR HUMAN WISDOM

Paul is continuing to combat the temptation among the Corinthian church of changing the message and presenting it in ways that make it more attractive to the world. We can be ashamed of the gospel message and think that we need to dress it up in order to help God out! Of course it’s not wrong - in fact it’s very important - to think carefully about how best to communicate with the people in our lives, but we do this in order to make the gospel message as clear as possible to our listeners.


I RESOLVE TO KNOW NOTHING

Paul ‘resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’. We must not misunderstand this to mean that Paul was not interested in speaking about anything but the gospel - that would be weird! He is simply making the point that the simple gospel, simply presented should be our emphasis in personal counselling and witnessing as well as being the emphasis of the church’s teaching.


DEMONSTRATION OF POWER

In this context, this is about the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives. The transformed lives of the Corinthians was a demonstration that the gospel, through weak people, aided by the Spirit’s work, has power. This God-given message will attract the aid of the Spirit to transform people.


In response, we all need to put our faith in God and the work of the Spirit who can change lives through the simple gospel.


Discussion questions

1. What keeps you from sharing the gospel message?

2. How has the message of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 changed your approach to personal evangelism?

3. How has God spoken to you from this text or Sunday’s message?

4. SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories or any plans in this regard?

5. SIV - Who are you planning to invite to the carol service on 5th December?

6. Prayer - Let's spend some time in prayer regarding this week's message and anything else that you would like to pray about.







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