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Marks of an Effective Witness VI: In Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power

July 5, 2009

I Corinthians 2:3-5

[3] And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, [4] and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, [5] that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

I    REVIEW

1.Salvation – Acts 1:8

2.A Heart for the Glory of God – I Thess. 2:1-11

3.Selflessness/Unselfishness – I Corinthians 9:22, 10:33

4.A Burdened Heart – Romans 9:1; 10:1

5.A Resolute Spirit – I Cor. 2:2

6.The point the last time was that since God has called people to Himself from both Jews and Gentiles, and since the only way that those so called are going to be saved is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must be resolved to deliver nothing but the Biblical Gospel to people. Even though Jews stumble over the Gospel and Gentiles find it stupid we must give it because that is the only way the called will be saved. So dear ones, if you want to be used by God to bring people to salvation you must be committed to giving the only thing that God has ordained for bringing His people to salvation – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

II    Introduction

a.It was Jim Elliot, the famous missionary to Ecuador who was murdered in 1955, who made the famous quote “It is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Good statement. We are not going to talk much today about martyrdom (although to talk about being a witness is to talk about loving God more than you love your own life), but we are going to talk about keeping the best that God gives us and not surrendering it up for anything less. And that is what Elliot was saying. He would not surrender up the Gospel for the sake of saving his life. Shoot, he is going to lose his life at some point anyway. His life is not the most important thing. The Gospel/Jesus Christ/living the life God gives you … that is the most important thing.

b.But we see people surrender up what is best for lesser things all the time. The husband who abandons a wife who has been faithful for thirty years for some fling, is being a big time fool. Jesus talked about people who give up on the Gospel because they would rather have money or safety or peace. Some of you here have not yet left everything behind as the Scriptures say you must, in order to follow Jesus. You want to keep what cannot be kept and reject Him who cannot be lost once you have Him.

c.We look again today at marks of an effective witness and we are focussing in on I Corinthians 2:3-5 …

i.See a similar statement in I Thess. 1:5

III    Paul’s Commitment to Preach Nothing but the Gospel – 2:1-2

a.2:1 – Paul did not come to the Corinthians, when he came, to preach to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with lofty speech or wisdom lofty – superior, prominence, excellence (See I Tim. 2:2 – high positions; Phil. 3:8 – surpassing worth of Christ)

b.2:2 – The reason Paul did not come with lofty speech or wisdom was because he had come to Corinth with a resolve to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ crucified. He could come and impress them with his speech and knowledge but that would be of no use. He wants them to know Christ and he will not bring them to know Christ if he comes with high-falootin’ words and philosophical concepts that would “cross a rabbi’s eyes”. He wants them to know Christ, so he comes with ordinary, easy to understand language that cannot be confused.

i.Make no mistake. Coming with lofty words of wisdom will produce something. But it will not produce the conversions that God is calling you aim at.

(1)Great lofty speech was what captured the imagination of the Corinthian mind. But it may not be great logic that captures the imagination of our culture. What are we tempted to do in giving the Gospel that would replace it with something more attractive, even though it cannot bring people to salvation?

(a)Invitations/altar calls/signing cards/raising hands …

(b)Social action – we should be involved in bringing relief to the needy and working for the betterment of society. But we cannot allow our activity in the community to cause us to abandon the Gospel. The cup of cold water needs to be given in Jesus Name, but it is not the Gospel. It does not tell people that they are lost and only Jesus can save them and they must repent … .

IV    Paul Came in Weakness, Fear, and Trembling – 2:3

a.Here he talks about what he is by nature. It is a frightening thing to stand in front of a group of people who do not believe, who do not want to believe, who believe that the Gospel is stupid or irrelevant to their needs and preach it to them.

i.He came to them in weakness

ii.The weakness that was his, led him to be afraid

iii.His fear caused him to tremble – he was so afraid he was shaking. We sometimes get a picture of the Apostle Paul marching into communities with brashness and boldly standing up in front of a group of people and dazzling them with his eloquence and fearing nothing. That was not his testimony. His testimony was that he was shaking in his boots.

b.Ah dear ones, have you ever been so afraid to speak some nugget of spiritual truth that you felt

like your tongue was gone? Even if you had tried to speak you wouldn’t have been able to croak out a sound. Your vocal cords would not have co-operated. The fear was overpowering. And you thought “if only I could be like the Apostle Paul who had so much boldness, so much courage …”

i.But Paul did not. In fact not many did and not many do – see Acts 4:29 – why do they pray for boldness – because they are afraid. They are afraid because Peter and John have just been released out of prison and been warned not to preach in the name of Jesus any more.

ii.Hear how Paul finishes his Letter top the Ephesian church – Eph. 6:18-20. Why does Paul ask the church to pray that he deliver the Gospel boldly? He mentions it twice in one brief sentence – why? Because he is afraid. Because boldness does not come naturally to him. The natural thing for Paul to do would be for him to start up a little tent making shop and mind his own business. Except that God won’t let him (I Cor. 9:16f) and he wants to be faithful to his calling. What a dilemma! By nature Paul is weak and fearful and shaking – and God calls him to travel all over the whole Roman Empire in situations that bring him opposition, persecution, hatred, abuse… . Couldn’t God have found some other personality type for this work? Couldn’t he have found someone who is afraid of no one, who walks into dangerous situations and sees them as a challenge?

(1)Why Paul? Why a man of such temperament? Why Moses? Why Gideon? Why

David? Because if God chose those who are by nature strong and talented and charismatic and dynamic, then people will say “That church is bound to do well, just look at its leaders … .” See Judges 7:1-2

Eg. – When we were in St. John’s Newfoundland a man came to visit us who was from a church in Halifax. He was there on business and called to find out when our services were. He came to the church service and we had him at our house for dinner. We had a nice visit together. Sometime later I was at a conference in Halifax at the church of this man and someone there was talking to me about our work in St. John’s. He told me that when the man who had visited us returned to Halifax he told his church that based on what he saw, he thought the church would be closed before the year was over. You know what he saw? He saw a pastor who didn’t know what he was doing. He saw a man who went visiting door to door with his knees knocking together. He saw a leader who was not very gifted, not very personable, not very influential. And that man knew that if a church is going to make it, it must have superiorly gifted, dynamic, charismatic, administrative, … leadership.

Dear ones listen. Giving the Gospel is not about being superiorly gifted. It is not about being brave. It is not about being courageous.

It is about speaking the truth of the Gospel to people in the power of the Holy Spirit. And that is what we see next in this text.

V    Paul Came in Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power – 2:4

a.NIV – “…in demonstration of the Spirit’s power” is correct. Paul is not talking about two things

here. He is talking about one. And the one thing he is talking about is that when he came to them to preach he came with proof of the power of the Holy Spirit.

i.“Demonstration” means “proof”. Unequivocal proof.

ii.The phrase can be translated “powerful proof of the power of the Holy Spirit”.

b.In the NT there are at least thirty different ways that “power” of God is used. We are going to give out a list of them tonight in the Backyard Fellowship. But consider:

i.The Gospel is the power of God – Romans 1:17

ii.The Word is the power of God – Hebrews 4:12

iii.Holy living is the power of God at work – II Tim. 3:5

iv.The preaching of the Gospel is the power of God – I Cor. 1:18

v.Jesus is the power of God – I Cor. 1:24

vi.The gathered church is the power of God – I Cor. 5:4

vii.Our weakness is a demonstration of the power of God – II Cor. 4:7

viii.The resurrection of Jesus was a demonstration of the power of God – Romans 1:4

ix.Abounding in hope is a demonstration of the power of God – Romans 15:13

x.Signs and wonders – Romans 15:18-21

xi.The opposite of talk – I Corinthians 4:18-20

xii.Church discipline – I Cor. 5:4 (See Matthew 18:15-18)

xiii.Our resurrection – I Cor. 6:14

xiv.I Cor. 14:13 – the ability ot interpret tongues (by interpolation we would then say that spiritual gifts are a demonstration of the power of God.)

xv.Enduring hardship for God’s sake – II Cor. 4:7

xvi.II Cor. 6:7 – that by which God is commended in Paul’s life and ministry

xvii.The weapons of our warfare have divine power to destroy strongholds – II Cor. 10:4

xviii.That which we demonstrate through our infirmities – II Cor. 12:9

xix.the power we have is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead – Eph. 1:19 (Note here that Paul’s prayer request is for the Ephesians to know that power).

xx.Our ministries are gifts of God’s grace by the working of God’s power – Eph. 3:7

xxi.The strength to comprehend the great love of God in Christ – Eph. 3:14-21

xxii.That which God uses to accomplish, in us, more than we can ask or think – now – Eph. 3:20f

xxiii.That which enables us to share the sufferings of Jesus and be like Jesus in His death – Phil. 3:10f

xxiv.That which enables us to walk worthy of our calling, and fulfill our good purposes – II Thess. 1:11

xxv.Fearlessness – II Tim. 1:7

xxvi.The ability to suffer for the Gospel – II Tim. 1:8

xxvii.The prayers of the righteous to heal – James 5:16

xxviii.That which God uses to keep us from falling away – I Peter 1:5

xxix.What God uses to enable us to live godly lives – II Peter 1:3

c.The question is: What does it mean here? What is Paul speaking about when he says “…” in v. 4?

i.We know it does not mean “miracle” or “signs and wonders” here because of the context

of the passage. See verse 5

ii.“Speech” here is the same word for “word” in 1:18. The word of the cross. The message

of the Gospel. This is what Paul is talking about.

iii.The power of the Holy Spirit here is the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing conviction to the lost through the preaching of the Gospel.

(1)See this in verse 11 – The Gospel is preached and someone comes to believe that they are sinners, that they can do nothing to eradicate their sin, that their sin deserves the righteous judgement of a holy God and that they are completely helpless to do anything to escape form that righteous judgement. Why do they come to believe that? Because the Holy Spirit has done a work in their hearts so that they can believe that

(2)verse 12 – we understand the Gospel because the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to

understand the Gospel.

(3)See verse 14. If people outside of Christ cannot understand the things of the Spirit,

ie. The Gospel, then why does anyone come to faith in Christ? Answer? The Holy Spirit enables them to. THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit. And if that does not accompany your presentation of the Gospel then your presentation of the Gospel will accomplish nothing.

iv.The proof/demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power is the conversion of the Corinthians.

They knew that Paul came in the power of the Holy Spirit because they are converted!

d.But then that makes us ask another question doesn’t it? How can I be sure that I have the power of the Holy Spirit when I witness of the Gospel?

i.First of all. Remember that the Holy Spirit is God and He is not someone you can manipulate to do what you want – John 3:8.

ii.Do what Paul did – make sure you give the Gospel to people

(1)Know the Gospel. Study the NT.

(2)Know how to deliver it

(3)Pray to recognize the opportunities that God puts in your path.

(4)Pray that the Holy Spirit put you in the path of those He is aiming to save.

(5)See your opportunities as providences of God for people to hear the Gospel from you. God is not sending you on a fool’s errand. He really is going to save people.

(6)Pray not to choke

(7)Get others praying for you

(8)Guard your heart and life

(a)God uses vessels of holiness – to pray to be used by God for the life changing power of the gospel when you are living in sin is to ask God to ignore the very truth that you are delivering.

(9)Do not trust in your techniques, methods, programmes. This is what Paul is talking about here. He could have done what others do when they want to win people over to their ideas. But he would not – because he knew the power to save is not in our techniques. The power is the Gospel itself borne by the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those He seeks to win.

e.Some final applications:

i.When you give the Gospel and no one is saved and you have really given the Gospel to people as it is outlined in the NT, do not be discouraged. Your work is the delivery. God’s work is the saving. I doubt if anyone here can know the frustration of giving the Gospel to people as best as he knew how and not seeing the fruit that he so dearly wanted to see – as much as I have. I doubt if anyone has felt the pressure more than me that if only I had done things differently, better, more effectively … then more people would have been saved. There have been times when it was my fault. So this: Make sure that you give the Gospel the New Testament tells us to give and sleep with a clear conscience, leaving the results up to God the Holy Spirit.

ii.Expect the Gospel to produce results. Believe in the power of the Gospel dear ones.

Believe in the power of the Gospel. The North American church does not, for the most part, believe in the power of the Gospel. It believes in its ability to win people to Christ. They believe that if we build it they will come. It believes that the right message delivered in the right way, using the right means will always give great results.

iii.Pray down the power of the Holy Spirit. Cultivate a sense of utter dependence upon His regenerating work.

VI    Finally

a.Have you believed the true Gospel? Have you known the agony of conviction of sin? Have you seen Christ as your only hope? Have you turned away from sin and turned to Christ as your only hope and the only way to God? Have you given up a life of sin and now live a life of seeking to please God in all you do? If you answer “no” to any of those questions then it may not be that you have experienced the life giving Jesus honouring power of the Holy Spirit.

b.Do you see that you are a sinner in need of work that you are unable to accomplish? Jesus Christ lived the sinless life that God commands all people to live. Since He was sinless He did not deserve to die for death is the wages of sin. But He did die. He died as a punishment for sins. God punished Him for sins that were not His. And when He died the Father was satisfied with His work. And raised Him from the dead. His resurrection is testimony that the punishment for sin is completely paid for. If you will come to Christ and plead the eternal benefits of His death and resurrection He will forgive you. Turn away from your sin and look ot Christ. Hide yourself in Him and find rest from you’re your sin. Find rest for your soul. Find the great joy of knowing the reason you are on this planet. Come and know the forgiveness of sins and the power of a holy life. This is for you. Do not be satisfied with a counterfeit any longer. Come and really know Him.

Amen.