Tuesday, 8 April 2014
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power… 1 Corinthians 2:4
Still building on his previous three verses, Paul continues with his manner of personal delivery of the message he brought to Corinth. The fact that he has spoken about himself and continues to in this verse in this way will be explained in the verses ahead, but it’s obviously important that he reminds them of it in order to ensure that they mentally go back and see the truth of what he is saying.
And so, in his continued thought he says that “my speech and preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom.” His “speech” would include his private conversations and his witnessing to individuals, etc. When he sat and spoke together with others, he didn’t try to bamboozle them with a lot of overly-intellectual words. His “preaching” would be his public discourses. Whether preaching to an entire group, or standing on a street corner proclaiming Christ, he kept his message simple, concise, and clear.
In fact, in both his private and public speaking, it was “not with persuasive words of human wisdom.” When cooing a potential spouse, we may use words we wouldn’t use towards a general friend. When trying to sell a product, the salesman will talk in an excited manner about the product and not leave a chance for interruptions. When a politician speaks, it is unheard of for them to give negative impressions about themselves; instead they act as if they are the epitome of integrity and capability.
In these, and many other such instances, we use “human wisdom” to effect a change in those we are targeting. The silver-tongued young man wants to obtain the lovely bride; the industrious salesman wants to be promoted and get his commissions; and the politician desires to be in his position of authority. Because there are external motivators, crafty speech of human design is employed. But Paul rejected this method when presenting the gospel to others.
Instead, he came to them “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” His words, unlike the eager lover, may have had words directly cutting to the heart of the listener – “You have violated God’s law.” His words, unlike the salesman, may have had words which would normally blow a sale – “Without Jesus, you cannot be saved.” And, his words unlike the politician, may have had thoughts which were self-debasing – “I too am a sinner, like you. I rely solely on the merits of Jesus Christ my Lord.”
In any words he spoke, his thoughts would have been contrary to what one would expect to obtain the desired results when dealing in non-spiritual related matters. But in the case of the gospel, it is the Spirit who authored Scripture; it is the Spirit who gives the plan of salvation; and it is the Spirit who calls the lost soul to come and be saved. Paul’s words were in line with the Spirit’s intent for those who would hear and believe and they were filled with the power to save.
As he writes in Romans 1:16 – ” For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Life application: Marilyn McCoo, once a member of the pop band the Fifth Dimension, had been presented the message of Jesus on several occasions, but to no avail. Then someone brought the Bible along when they talked to her. In showing her the Word of God and allowing her to look at it directly, she saw in it the wisdom of God and the power of God; she was converted. When witnessing, stick to the gospel and stick to what the Spirit has provided. He will affect His purposes without us getting in the way.
Lord God, please help me to remember that Your word has the power to change hearts and bring lost souls back to You. Keep me from getting so caught up in the wisdom of the world that I forget to simply use what You have already given to tell folks about Jesus. In your word is the all the wisdom I need to tell others the wondrous message of Christ. May Your word and Your Spirit work in them – to Your glory. Amen.