“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. 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.” – I Corinthians 2: 1-5
Many great preachers and evangelists have a gift for preaching. They are quite eloquent. When they deliver a sermon, they can move a crowd and cause them to do almost anything.
Consequently, they get caught up in themselves and think that they move people to faith. They mistakenly think that they are the reason people cry out to God.
Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, helps us to see that it is not man’s wisdom nor his eloquence that causes people to move to faith. He uses himself as an example, by relating his uneasiness during his first visit to the Corinthians.
“I came to you in weakness and fear.”
He is showing in this text that any success he experienced during his first visit to Corinth was not of his doing. It was all of God. He was God’s messenger, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Even though he preached the message and the people came to faith, it was not because of him.
He was afraid and trembling, yet the message was well received, and the people came to faith.
Some preachers and evangelists think that they must help God out. They think that they must dress up the gospel in order to get people to listen and come to faith. That is a fallacy. Yes, God uses us as His mouthpiece, however, He is responsible for any change that takes place in the individual.
We do not need to dress up the word. We do not need to persuade anyone to become a Christian.
People do not come to faith because I or any preacher deliver a good message. They do not come to faith because I am a great speaker or because I use great illustrations in my sermon.
The preaching of the gospel and its conviction does not depend upon the preacher. What is most important is that we preach Christ crucified. Paul reminds the converts at Corinth that it was not his wisdom or words.
He did not use wise and persuasive words. It was not his persuasive way of speaking. It was not with a dynamic voice that echoed through the crowd. He did not speak a message of the age or the rulers of the age. No, with fear and trembling, he stayed true to the word of God.
The power of our words has nothing to do with
people coming to faith. It is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not us and our believed persuasive way. When anyone comes to faith, it is the word working with the Spirit of God.
That is the point Paul was making to the new converts at Corinth. God is the one who makes changes in the heart of the convert.
The Holy Spirit calls and makes changes in us and causes us to believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. He is the one who was crucified at Calvary, died, was buried and resurrected from the grave so that we may have eternal life and have it more abundantly.
It does not matter how dynamic our preaching may be. It does not matter how persuasive we may be when we deliver a sermon. Without the power of God’s word and the Spirit working in the sermon, we are just empty barrels. Therefore, our faith should rest on God’s power, not man’s wisdom. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.