June 26, 2011
Arrogant Words without Power
Just as the Corinthians became arrogant towards sin, some believers today arrogantly imagine that the Bible only contains the “gist” of the words of Jesus. In their arrogance, they further imagine that they alone can discern what words Jesus actually spoke, and what words some human author added later. Paul warned that such arrogance denies the power of God, and the kingdom of God actually consists not in words of human wisdom, but in the power of God and His Word. We always need to remember the power of God at work within us, and how that power relates to the Word of God.
Beloved Children. In Christ, Paul has preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Corinthians, and they have received by faith the forgiveness of sins. I recently met a woman at the beach and we talked for a while. I asked her a famous question: “If you were to die tonight, and Jesus asked you: ‘Why should I let you into my heaven, what would you say?'” She thought about it for a few seconds, and then said she had tried be very good all of her life. She thought she had been good enough. You see from her answer she relied upon good works to get her into heaven. In contrast to that trust in works, Jesus taught us to seek His forgiveness for sins by faith alone. We will never do enough good things to cancel out the sin in our lives. Our sin keeps us out of heaven, and unless God forgives it, we will never be allowed to enter heaven. Jesus died for our sins on the cross, and by faith, we accept His gift of forgiveness. You can do that right now by asking Jesus to forgive you. He promised He would because He died for you and rose to live with us forever. Now at Corinth, the believers had received forgiveness through the preaching of Paul. He visited Corinth and delivered the message of salvation by faith alone in Christ Jesus. Therefore, Paul calls them his beloved children and admonishes them accordingly. This word “admonish” (“νουθετῶν“) here means to confront, warn, or exhort. The Corinthians faced many problems within their local assembly, and Paul wrote to them to confront them and help them. You see his love for them, and considers them his spiritual children.
The Power of God. Paul focused upon power (“δύναμιν“). When Paul first came to the Corinthians, he determined to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2, page 1783). As Paul proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, he preached in demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4, page 1783). He was determined that the faith of the Corinthians would not rest upon persuasive words, superiority of speech, or the wisdom of men, but it would be solidly founded upon the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5, page 1783). Today, we see many people talk about Christ, but we need to experience personally every day the power of God in our lives. Our faith rests upon the power of God, and God intends for that power to energize our lives for Christ every day. In 1 Corinthians 4:18, page 1876, Paul confronts the arrogance of one group at Corinth. They spoke arrogant words, but Paul would check out their power. Christians often fail to live for Christ because they do not know the daily power of Christ in their lives.
The Power of the Kingdom of God. Paul now emphasizes that the kingdom of God consists in power (“δυνάμει“). People can say whatever words they want, and perhaps deceive many people. Paul says he will get right to the heart of the matter by finding out about their power, not their words. If Paul were to look at your life today, right now, would he see more words than power? Have you become arrogant in your attitude towards the Word of God? Do you experience the power of God working in your life right now? As I study these passages with you, I experience the power of God as I read the Bible, and share the message with other believers. I prayed recently to meet more people and share Christ with them. More people have walked up to me in the last few days at the beach than I can remember in a long time. I see the power of God at work as I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers, and I encourage believers to see God work in their lives. The kingdom of God consists of power, not just words. Christ works in our lives. The Holy Spirit of God brings unlimited, divine power into our lives to serve Jesus. When we deny the integrity of the Word of God, we also lose or diminish the power of God in our lives.
So we learn more about the power of God today.
● In the Bible, God writes to us as His beloved children.
● Because our faith rests upon the power of God to forgive sins, and to produce holiness in our lives, we must constantly rely upon His power by faith every day.
● God looks past words communicating human wisdom, and will find the truth of His power in your life. As we experience His power in our lives by faith, we leave arrogant words behind.
Application for Today
As I live today, I want to live by the power of God, upon which my faith rests in Christ. When I read His word, and speak with people, and as I rise up and lay down, and walk through life, by faith alone I want to experience His power in my life today. Will you trust in the power of God working in you today?