#584 (21/4/22) PROOF THROUGH POWER NOT WORDS
This week, as we finish our studies on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, we will be looking at the way that He gives us the power to witness.
‘When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.’ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
SHARE THE GOSPEL RATHER THAN CLEVER WORDS
In Corinth, Just as in our day, Christians (and their leaders) are tempted to use clever and entertaining speech to gain credibility. Paul counters this approach as he chooses to focus on sharing the gospel message rather than entertaining speech. Rather than telling people what he thinks they want to hear, he focuses on ‘the testimony about God… Jesus Christ and Him crucified’. We can often disqualify ourselves, feeling intellectually inept. Of course, one should grow in knowledge and skill but, if you are a Christian, you are qualified to share the simple gospel of how Jesus has blessed and changed you.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEAR AND BE BRAVE
Even Paul felt ‘weakness…great fear…trembling’. The empowering of the Spirit doesn’t remove fear; He does, however, move our hearts so as to take courageous and compassionate action.
DEMONSTRATE THE SPIRIT’S POWER
This all sounds good so far but now we are struck with how Paul’s evangelism also included ‘demonstrations of the Spirit’s power’. What does this mean for you and me? Paul is not telling us that in order for the gospel to be believed, it must be ‘proved’ by some form of miracle. In this context, Paul is most likely teaching that it’s their faith (in such a ‘foolish’ message) and transformed life which is a ‘demonstration’ (‘apódeiksis’ – demonstration of proof) of the Spirit’s power as we also read in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6.
‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)
WORDS ARE IMPORTANT BUT IT’S THE SPIRIT’S POWER WE NEED
‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ (1 Peter 3:15)
Our manner and words are very important. We must not be needlessly offensive and harsh. However, do you notice that the essence of our witness is ‘the reason for the hope we have’; we are to share the gospel and why we believe it. We are to this with kindness. However, Peter also makes it clear that although our words and manner are important, it’s the choosing and the work of the Spirit that saves us. It’s only the Spirit, not our arguments, who can prove the gospel to our hearts. He writes,
‘Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.’ (1 Peter 1:2)