1 Cor.4:20 – For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.
It’s funny how humans want to tamper with the work of God. It seems we seem to think that the Lord somehow needs our help. Really?! This verse today really points to the very heart of this dilemma, the power of God vs. human wisdom and strategy. Paul taught that the power of God was the mark or sign of God’s favor. To him, it was unthinkable to have a ministry without supernatural power. The gifts of the Spirit were inseparable from the church. A church without power was a church without God. Here is a quote from Adam Clarke on today’s verse.
“The religion of the Lord Jesus is not in word-in human eloquence, excellence of speech, or even in doctrines; but in power, in the mighty energy of the Holy Spirit; enlightening, quickening, converting, and sanctifying believers; and all his genuine apostles are enabled, on all necessary occasions, to demonstrate the truth of their calling by miracles; for this the original word often means.”
Clarke believed that the very power of God was involved with conversion itself. Without the power of God there is no way for us to change. After all, God’s power is involved with changing us into new creations. Albert Barnes also believed the power of God was essential to our Christian faith. Here are some comments from Barnes.
“(1.) In the miraculous power by which the church was established—the power of the Savior and of the apostles in working miracles. (2.) In the power of the Holy Ghost in the gift of tongues, and in his influence on the heart in converting men. (3.) In the continual power which is needful to protect, defend, and govern the church. Unless teachers showed that they had such power, they were not qualified for their office.”
It sometimes seems today that the modern pastor feels a need to protect people from God’s power. Somehow many are afraid that the power of God would prove to be offensive to modern man. Herein lies the problem, Paul was saying that the power of God proved the authenticity of the ministry. It’s not eloquent speech, organized church programs, great choirs or special ministries for various people groups that change people’s lives. It is the very power of God. Could it be that God’s power is the essential missing ingredient from much of what we call church today? After all, “the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power”.