The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit

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

This is an incredible scripture. In these verses, the Apostle Paul is stating an incredible fact. He is saying that he had absolutely no need of anything human in order to deliver the transformational message of the gospel. Mark that. Paul had absolutely no need, nor any use for anything that comes from man or the world system.

It did not matter even if he did not have the capacity to express himself. Indeed, Paul did not have that capacity, just as we see with Moses (2 Cor. 11:6). But even if he had such a capacity, Paul declares here that he would not have depended on it in preaching the gospel to the Corinthians.

It no longer mattered whether he was educated or not. Indeed, Paul had to lose his education together with all that he had in order to gain and preach Christ.

When the Apostle says in verse 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”;

he is not talking about miracles. Not by the longest shot. On the contrary, Paul is talking of something far more important to God, and to us, than performing and receiving miracles. Paul is talking of a work deep in the spirit of man, a work that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Today, you hear people shouting all over church-land: “Power!”, “Receive!” and such like things when they see demonstrations of the power of God. But even though God’s power might be demonstrated in miracles and healings, yet the incalculably greater miracle is the one over which Paul was mandated: to set the spirits of men free from the power of sin. Thus we see that the true power of God is demonstrated in the transformational work of the cross in a man’s life.

It was not that Paul was a lazy man who did not want to put his intellect to work. Paul did not just opt not to lean on his intelligence. On the contrary, Paul was a spiritually intelligent man who knew that there was only one way to accomplish God’s will in the lives of men: by the Spirit of God.

When the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to work in a vessel like he had in a man like Paul, He reveals the cross in men’s hearts, and this revelation has the power to change or transform men into the image of Christ. It can completely uproot all the works of the devil in our lives, chief of which is the sin which dwells in our hearts.

In one place, Paul tells the Corinthians that the gospel has power to cast down “…imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience…” (2 Cor. 10:5-6)

Such is the power of the gospel.

Isn’t it strange that people seem so concerned with miracles and other outer manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s working rather than the defeat of the sin within us? Show me a man who has the zeal to be rid of sin in his life, and I will show you a man who is headed to heaven. On the other hand, show me a man who is only excited about miracles and healings; such a man could be headed anywhere.

Paul further tells the Corinthians in verse 3:

“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling”.

Why was that so? It was because Paul feared himself. He feared to allow his intellect or anything he had learned, or, indeed, anything else to get in the way of the Holy Spirit. Paul feared even tradition. He feared to infuse his Jewish tradition into the gospel.

I once heard of a Rastafarian church. There is no such thing in the Bible. That is simply tradition and there is no power of God in tradition. There is no African church, no Arab church, and no white church. There is only one church, the united Body of Christ.

We should never rely on anything human or worldly when it comes to the gospel. That is simply man’s vanity and it brings death and destruction instead of the life of God. We should not even rely on any gift that we have in the natural.

That is why the cross must confront us first. We should first allow the cross to work in us and break us. Nothing that comes from us has any power to change men. But when we die to ourselves, we allow the Holy Spirit in us to reveal the cross in men’s hearts. This was what Paul meant when he tells the Corinthians,

“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling”.

One of the reasons I love Paul’s stance is that by not depending on “man’s wisdom”, Paul became truly free. He did not have to lean on his intelligence. He did not have to depend on anything that he had, or that he could get from this world.

I once had a pastor friend who had just come back from Bible college. He brought back a truckful of books and all the lessons he had learned in Bible school. But this pastor had not changed one little bit. He preached the gospel with great eloquence. But the true gospel of Jesus Christ is presented by the Holy Spirit Himself, not by any Bible school methods or knowledge. What this preacher needed to come back with was a change in his character through a revelation of the cross in his life.

Paul did not struggle to bring a message. On the contrary, the main struggle that we see Paul having here is crucifying his flesh – his human nature and intellect and the worldly system – so that he would allow the Holy Spirit to minister. The Apostle Paul strove to keep his flesh clear of the Holy Spirit’s ministry field. He could only do that by crucifying it.

Finally, in these scriptures, we see what the true ‘ministry’ of the Holy Spirit involves. The Holy Spirit ministers “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, or the cross of Jesus Christ. It is in this revelation that the power of God is found. In other words, when Paul says:

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”;

he is in effect talking about the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ in a man’s heart and the transformational work it brings to him, in contrast to a gospel that comes from human wisdom, which has no power to bring about such a transformation.

[Below: A bus agent at the main Arusha bus stand attends to two tourists]

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