The Proof is in the Power

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 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.
I Corinthians 2:3-5

There is a tendency on the part of American Christianity to intellectualize faith.  There is a focus on the mental aspects of understanding the gospel, often to the exclusion of experiencing or demonstrating the gospel.  This is not to say that authentic Christianity is anti-intellectual, because a review of early Christianity will reveal some of the greatest and deepest intellectual minds the world has ever seen.  However, in our immediate context, there is typically an unbalanced approach, where the gospel is to be understood, but not necessarily experienced.

Modern evangelism techniques often focus on explaining the theological principles of the gospel than proclaiming the reality of the gospel.  Take the tried and true "4 Spiritual laws" developed by campus Crusade.  These simple laws are very useful in describing the theology behind the gospel, but do little in proclaiming or demonstrating the reality of the gospel.  The focus is having the listener understand the gospel instead of experiencing it.

The gospel is the reality that "the Kingdom of God is at hand" according to Jesus in Mark 1.  This reality, uses "power" language.  God is reigning and is demonstrating his power over his kingdom.  Jesus spends little time initially, particularly in the gospel of Mark, trying to get his listerners to understand the Kingdom (the gospel), but focused on inviting people to experience it (preaching, teaching, healing, exorcising, miracles, etc).  Jesus is not anti-intellectual and uses quite of few parables to describe and teach about the nature of the kingdom.  However, my point is that Jesus understood the gospel as the Kingdom to be experienced, not only the kingdom to be understood.

When the Apostle Paul went to the popular commercial city of Corinth in the first century, he speaks of purposely not coming with persuasive words or wisdom, but kept his presentation focused on the reality of gospel (see opening scripture).  He states that it was important that the Corinthian's faith rest upon God's power, and not merely intellectual arguements.

Power is broadly defined as the ability to make change.  Modern Physicists define power as the amount of work over time.  The more work done in a given time results in greater power.  Therefore, the gospel is demonstrated in power, when there is real change.  Not a change in a future disposition, such as going to heaven or the avoidance of hell, but real change in our current reality that demonstrates the power of God in our lives in tangible ways.

A gospel of power is life changing.  The Apostle Paul would tell the same Corinthians that "the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power" (I Corinthians 4:20).  Part of the problem in the church today is that we understand the gospel, but we have not experienced its power.

I want to encourage you today to stop defending and explaining the gospel, but to begin demonstrating and experiencing it.  It is the power, the real work, the real change that demonstrates the reality of the good news (gospel) that the Kingdom of God is at hand through a real faith in the living one, Jesus.

May God bless you today and may you experience his powerful presence in everything you do.

Pastor M Traylor