Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago
Weakness and power are not only representative of the Gospel but also of those changed and commissioned by it. This Gospel is the main vehicle through which God chose to and continues to make Himself known to the world. The Gospel is more that just proclaiming historical facts pointing to the one time event of the Cross. It certainly and by necessity includes this content, yet so much more! It is the reality of everything that took place in that moment and continues to as a result. It is everything that it points to and everything that it re-appraises in its light. It is an encounter with the risen Lord (1Corinthians 15:1-8). The “appearing” or witness of the Gospel is what is attributed to the majority (by a landslide) of all conversions taking place outside of the western world. A world in which it is not common to find the cheap substitutes that believers often hide behind here in the west. Whether that be creature comforts, obsession with the “who’s who” of entertainment, or a cheaply held belief in the catalogue of denominational doctrines that have changed very little of your life, and even less of the lives of your neighbors.
Devils are not accused in the James’ epistle of not believing what is true about God, but for not coming into alignment with it through loving obedience. That would probably explain why the temptation remains to either steer clear of truth, (who by the way is the person of Christ) or adopt a version of it that can be attained by our own clever ideas. This Gospel, weak by worldly standards, will not cater to any man’s self-centered ideas. In fact, it is not an issue that is up for debate. It is a proclamation! God is not going “door to door” apologizing that His demand to respond to mercy can seem harsh and offensive at times.
Let me briefly comment on a few thoughts from this passage. May your hearts be encouraged by both coming into revelation knowledge of what is already true about you in Christ challenging you to walk it out by His grace and power.
“And when I came to you,” a gospel that does not presently come to others in fact falls short of its title.
“I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom proclaiming to you the testimony of God” though the gospel certainly entails intelligible content, it most certainly should not be emphasized through persuasive arguments or human reasoning.
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” a man of weakness bearing a message of weakness should be characterized by the fact that he does not find his heart’s fascination in things below, but is himself characterized by the person and message of the Cross.
“I was with you in weakness” weakness denotes dependency. The messenger himself is evidence of his message. He may appear foolish or non-powerful in accordance with the spirit of this age, yet bears a mark that is in fact wisdom, power and life to those transformed by Christ. God’s power is most clearly manifested in our dependency, often as a result of pressure and trial.
“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” demonstration, not explanation. And I am not saying that the Gospel does not include explanation. The Gospel transforms both within and as a result, without.
“So that your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” here is where he brings it home. Paul a wise master builders methodically discharges his ministry in the proclamation of a “weak” Gospel with this in view; that men’s convictions about life and God would not be built upon the sand of human ingenuity or self-serving appeals, but in the very reality of God.
If I can convince someone into Christ, somebody can come along and just as well convince him into something else with a better pitch than I had. But if God confronts a man through and by the Gospel, to both reveal God’s hatred for sin and love for the sinner and His victory of death. If a man can be brought face to face with LIFE by first seeing Christ’s death and his own sin, and receive a new nature, an altogether different existence. If he can see God’s life transforming, sin-destroying, disease-healing, deliverance at work in himself. Then he can properly give glory to God. For the only thing that glorifies God is what only He Himself can produce, and the Gospel is the crème de le crème from He who is Divine. “Weakness”, you gotta love it ☺.
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