1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:1-5
Scientists have finally admitted that the universe is infinite. They have come to the conclusion that there is no end to space.
They believe that with all the scientific advancement at their disposal and with all the astounding “light year” discoveries they have made so far, they have barely scraped at the outer frontiers of the known universe!
I am saying this because there may be some readers who might have come to the conclusion that I have harped on 1 Corinthians 2:2 almost to tatters. But I am of the opinion that we probably have not even scratched at its surface! Such is the richness of God’s Word that we cannot claim to have studied any one scripture “enough”.
So, let us have another go at 1 Corinthians 2…
There are Christians, especially among Pentecostals, who have a wrong perception of the words “power of God”. Many Pentecostals especially associate these words with the hype that is generally to be found in many charismatic churches.
I am convinced that God can and He does move in many ways. In other words, there are aunthentic external manifestations of God’s power, in miracles, in healings, in His provision to us and in countless other ways that God chooses to manifest His power.
But ever since the days of the apostles there have always been false manipulations of the power of God as well within the church, manipulations which Paul in his epistles associated with the forces of darkness. We can clearly see this in 2 Cor. 11:13-15 where he warned the church against the practitioners of these manipulations: “13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Today, in particular, the ante has been upped on the hype and manipulations, and there is little spiritual discernment of what is and what is not of God.The church, lacking in such discernment and desiring to gratify the flesh more than God, follows after the glamour and hype that these men offer. In Africa in particular, many charismatic churches have turned into circuses which the devil himself would envy.
But in the context of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul is not talking about any physical manifestation of God’s power, real or imagined. Indeed, nothing he says there has anything to do with the outer working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit nor, more so, with the empty, carnal emotionalism that is associated with the phrase “power of God” today.
In the context of this scripture Paul is talking about the ability of God’s power to change people’s hearts and to bring them into a resemblance in character with the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, power to change us into the image of Jesus Christ.
The most powerful demonstration of God’s power, Paul is saying, can only be found in its ability to make a person to live a holy life. Paul was so concerned with this that he “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”!
In other words, Paul bound himself to this one purpose, the effecting of that change in men and women’s lives where men and women are set free from the power of sin to live a holy, sinless life. This goal – being set free from the power of sin – must have been very, very important, for someone of the spiritual (and even mental and physical!) calibre of Paul to purpose to “not know anything” else!!
In 2 Corinthians 13:2-3 he writes the Corinthians: “2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.”
In other words, he was telling the Corinthians that the power of the gospel that he carried was in its ability to deal with sin. If the gospel someone was carrying encouraged them to sin, then Paul would deal with the person and his ‘gospel’. Paul was a man who carried the power and authority of the gospel because he lived a crucified life. And here he was warning the Corinthians that they better straighten their act, before he arrived. Apparently, he had warned them severally, but the self-styled ‘apostles and prophets’ in that church continued living in sin while hiding beneath their ‘powerful ministries’.
Paul was warning everyone to stop sinning. Period.
I repeat here: there is no greater demonstration of God’s power in a Christian’s life than for him to stop sinning and reflect the totality of the character of Jesus Christ in his or her life.
[Below: As I waited for the bus in Shinyanga, I struggled to get a clear shot of an African queen]