… BUT WITH POWER
1 Cor. 2:4-5
“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 men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Thess. 1:5
“. . . our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.”
I had to take a speech class when I was in high school. One of the things I remember about it was having to give a “speech to persuade.” The point was to convince the listeners that a particular point of view – the speaker’s point of view – was correct. That is the way many people view the Christian’s role in spreading the Gospel. Every sermon, every Sunday School lesson, every sharing of the Gospel with friends or family is a “speech to persuade.” The problem with that is that persuasive speech only deals with the mind. The best possible outcome is: “hmmm, well that seems right to me,” or “I guess I can agree with that.” That kind of communication is nothing more than a human mind dealing with the product of another human mind. It has no more spiritual power than advertising or politics. Friends, like it or not, we are all capable of being persuaded to believe things that aren’t true and to do things that aren't wise.
It is significant to me that, in both of the passages above, Paul explicitly says that he does not depend on persuasive speech in his presentation of the Gospel. Oh he had to share it, he had to actually tell them about Jesus, who He was and what He has done to save sinners; but that was not what made the proclamation effective. Look for yourself. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that brings conviction. The conversion of the soul is not simply a matter of the mind; it is far more a matter of the heart. The Word of God must get to the core of a person and produce life and light there if he is to be able to respond to its message.
Frankly, Paul wasn’t interested in whether the people he preached to thought he was an eloquent speaker. Why? Because he didn’t want them putting their faith in him! On the other hand, he was very interested in seeing the Holy Spirit bring them to repentance so they could put their faith God.
Church, there are lots of eloquent persuasive speakers out there who can motivate people to do almost anything. But what the church needs is the plain truth proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Keith Andrews