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English Sermon (`19.05.26) A Demonstration of the Spirit
2019-05-28 04:42:35, view [
A Demonstration of the Spirit
1Corinthians 2:1-5 26.5.2019 KRCN
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (NIV)
Paul as we know well, was an excellent man in status as well as in ability. As for his status he belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. Of his sons, Benjamin was the only one Jacob had in the land of Canaan. Later the tribe of Benjamin did not stand with the 10 Israel tribes that betrayed God either. As such, Paul’s background was something he could boast about.
Not only that Paul was a scholar who studied under the Rabbi called Gamaliel. This means Paul belonged to the top circle of the academia in his days. Religiously he was also a Pharisee that was said to have accomplished the most supreme form of devotion. He was born a Roman citizen, extremely zealous about his nation and religion.
However, in his letter to the church at Philippi, he mentioned he dumped everything he had like rubbish. [For whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, cf. Philippians 3:8]. If there was one thing he wanted to gain by doing this, it was only ‘knowing Christ Jesus’.
To enumerate the things Paul intended to throw away: firstly his position, secondly his competence, and thirdly they were passion and faith he had. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews; a Pharisee in regard to the law, and as for zeal, he persecuted the church, as for legalistic righteousness, he was faultless. Namely, he dumped all he had.
But, the fact that he did so points out that ‘knowing Christ Jesus’ had the greatest value so much so that it is exchangeable with everything; and furthermore the knowledge can be barely attained only when you lose everything. This is what it meant, as Paul said ‘I may gain Christ and be found in Him’.
To continue to quote the words in Philippians, Paul says he somehow tries to attain to the resurrection from the dead, like Christ. ‘Attain to the resurrection’, in other words, it means he was trying to be saved. Which means that what is called salvation was possible for Paul only by losing all things he had. The resurrection comes from the death, attaining begins from throwing away.
If salvation was such a thing to Paul, it is the same to us today. In order to know Jesus Christ and attain to the resurrection, things like my knowledge, way of thinking, experience, wisdom should be thrown away like rubbish. Knowing Christ Jesus cannot be attained by adding study to study, nor by adding prayer to prayer. To follow Christ Jesus, my position, knowledge, passion, all things should be abandoned before Him.
But it is not strange. The church today is completely different from Paul’s such attitude. As if the school is not enough we come to church and still to the Bible study. What about one to One Bible study, discipleship training, lectures, rallies, all excellent in zeal…
Not only that, do we not think of the fact we have been saved something like we have to be appointed with some post such as a missionary or an apostle for the Gentiles? And for such a post you ask about what school, where from, and even how zealous. Exactly the things Paul considered rubbish.
Paul speaks to the church of Corinth today, ‘When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.’ Probably because they did not have particularly wise or well-learned persons in the church of Corinth. That they did not have any debater or philosopher the contemporary world had plenty of (cf.1Cor.1:20) Eloquent words or the law of logic would not have worked with them.
But it is not because of such absence, but because it is not in this way that knowledge of Christ is obtained. It is not by speaking of persuasive wisdom that Jesus is recognized as Christ. It is not because they are wise or because they are Jews, they know the Messiah.
No matter how eloquent words are proclaimed on the pulpit or however precise dialectics is given, will Jesus be believed? If we zealously seek and visit someone and even get acquainted with them personally, will we be saved? If you thought so, you have badly misunderstood it.
Now let us see what Paul has remaining, having lost everything. In 1Cor 2:2, Paul said, " For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
The only thing he knows are Jesus Christ and that He was crucified. Gone are the knowledge of the Old Testament he had as a Biblical scholar, the Hebrew wisdom he gained as a Pharisee, the set of common sense he had as a Roman citizen, and the Greek philosophy of the time. And now he has only one thing left. The knowledge of Jesus Christ, all the more, the fact that He died on the cross!
The fact that Paul has forsaken everything and gained this one thing indicates that what he preached in Corinth was only thing one thing too. It also tells us that that he in preaching the gospel and establishing them as church, Paul did not use the dialectics or rhetoric he was capable of.
Is it not a relief! That you are not saved for having studied a lot or for being smart. That you are not called a saint for having lots of knowledge or ability. That it may be so in the world, but not so in the church at least.
In other words, in order to save the Corinthians, Paul did not use or quote from a book of anecdotes or the Talmud so as to make it easier for them to understand. Again, because the knowledge of Jesus crucified is not something that is passed on that way.
How then is that knowledge to be passed on to the Corinthian congregation? How are they to come to know Christ and attain to resurrection through the knowledge? How does faith come about? What should the gospel be preached?
Paul describes the secret in this way. With a demonstration of the Spirit’s power! That the spirit may demonstrate, and that God’s power may be revealed! Then how can you make it happen?
In the early 1900s, there was a time when the whole world was taken up by so-called revival movements. Every day for three and a half years from April 1906 to November 1909 tent rallies were held without exception and countless people came to repentance. People sang, danced and jumped. People spoke in tongues and were healed from their illnesses everywhere.
Is that what Paul did? Is that how the Spirit demonstrates and God’s power is revealed?
In 1Cor. 2:3, Paul says instead “ I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” This is Paul's way of preaching the gospel seen on the outside. He did not hold a great public rally or speak zealous and fancy words. He did not perform a group hypnotization with some mysterious power.
The demonstration of the Holy Spirit Paul speaks of is how he remained in his weakest while he was among them. He did not perform any power, but stand before them as if he is someone who cannot do anything. Paul said that by doing so, the power of God would be revealed.
Paul was said to be in great fear and trembling. Because of whom was he like that? The Corinthians? No. The reason he feared and trembled was because of God, and because his seemingly admirable qualities might show before God. He abandoned his abundant knowledge, insight, expression and courage, and the art of words and dialectics, in order to show that Jesus put on the cross was Christ. Because the Holy Spirit will demonstrate only after doing so.
Again, let us look at what Paul has forsaken and what he has gained. Paul said that he resolved to know nothing except the cross of Christ. Is not it strange? It is hard enough to know something, but wouldn’t ‘not to know’ be even harder? If Paul said so, will his knowledge, experience and his study in his head be easily forgotten? In addition will his birth, race, and the colour of skin be removed?
Paul says that he regards everything rubbish, but, in fact, those are things that do not go away before you die. Nevertheless If they are to be thrown away for the sake of having the knowledge of Christ Jesus, then we have no other solution than to be born again.
As long as I have this life, as long as I have this social-, church-, immigrant-, work-, family life, and so on, the past that we have treaded through is not erased. It is said “Can a Cushite change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”(Jerem.13:23) But unless we can do that, we will not be able to attain to the knowledge of Christ or resurrection. We must be born again.
For that regeneration, for resurrection of the Corinthian congregation and for the knowledge of Christ Jesus that would enter and save them, for the faith they would get to embrace Paul chose the way of the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. How he was weak, with fear and trembling while he was in the middle of them. He hid his own self and only proclaimed Jesus being the Christ and that He died on the cross.
Think about it carefully. Despite what he did, if the congregation in Corinth still came to the knowledge of Christ; if it was accomplished even though there weren’t any words of wisdom, sure proof, great assemblies or educational programme, then that is the power of God and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
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