Tuesday, July 8, 2014


1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Some of the believers in Corinth were enamored with gifted speakers in their oratorical abilities to impart human wisdom.  They were prone to elevating such men and depreciating the message of the gospel.  But Paul reminded them of how he had come, not “with lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1), but “in weakness and in fear and much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3).  He spoke to them not “plausible words of wisdom,” but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).  He did so deliberately—that their faith might rest in God, not man.

We live in a day when people are prone to that Corinthian kind of error.  The biggest church in America is a church full of charisma but devoid of the word of the cross.  The church growth movement has focused less on what Christ has done and more on man-engineered schemes for reaching the lost.  I once saw a video produced by a church that puts on a show every week to get people in the door.  The church set up a motocross jump track on the platform in front of the church. Two motorcycle riders simultaneously rode their bikes up the ramps over the head of the Pastor in opposite directions. The entire display was done as an illustration, according to the Pastor, to display the power of the gospel.

God doesn’t need man’s cleverly devised schemes or antics to save souls.  He is well-pleased to use ordinary men (possessing “treasure in jars of clay”) in the sharing of His extraordinary message.  By this means it is demonstrated that “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

A 15 year old teenager headed off to church, as he normally did on Sunday mornings.  But there was a blizzard that day and the heavy snow kept him from going to his usual place of worship.  Instead he found himself in a Primitive Methodist Church. As a young man, from a long line of Pastors, he knew all about Christianity, but he didn’t know Christ.  Later he would write of those days, "It was my sad lot to feel the greatness of my sin without a discovery of the greatness of God’s mercy."

The Primitive Methodist Church almost didn’t open that morning, but the caretaker, thinking that a few people might show up, opened the doors and lit the stove.  By 11:00 some 12-15 people had come inside, but not the Pastor. He had apparently been unable to get there because of the snow.  Finally one of the laymen of the congregation reluctantly took the pulpit. As he looked down, he could see the small congregation, hundreds of empty seats, and the young 15 year old boy seated under the gallery. The text for his sermon was "Look unto me, and be ye saved" (Isaiah 45:22), and after about ten minutes of repeating himself, the man was about to step down from the pulpit. But before he did, he addressed the teenager. "Young man," he said, "you look very miserable, and you will always be miserable if you don’t obey my text. But if you do obey now, this moment, you will be saved."  He paused again, then shouted at the young man with more animation, "Young man, look to Jesus!  Look! Look! Look!"

That young man was Charles Spurgeon.  Years later Spurgeon wrote of his experience, "There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness was rolled away.”  God used the preaching of an unprepared and ordinary laymen to save Charles Spurgeon.  Charles Spurgeon went on to preach the gospel to thousands over the course of his ministry.  He was nonetheless an ordinary man—just like the man who had first shared that extraordinary message with him.

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