Preaching with the Power of the Holy Spirit

I Corinthians 1:17 - For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Paul’s desire is for the church at Corinth to be strong in God’s word, not his words. Paul desires the people at Corinth to do more than memorize some cute phrases. He wants them to completely understand the word of God because they are led by the Holy Spirit of God in their personal studies. Paul sates that God did not send him to baptize (an outward act), rather to preach the gospel. His preaching was not with the wisdom of men, because that would diminish the power of the cross of Christ.

The purpose of preaching with the power of the Holy Spirit of God is:

Believers will be established in the power of God, not their own power. Believers will have the power of God in their lives, not the power of their personality, or the power of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Paul is not preaching about the power of positive thinking, but the power of God which gives Holy Spirit thinking, reasoning and spiritual understanding.

Believers will be spiritual, not natural/fleshly/emotional. Paul does not want believers depending on men, but on God. The church at Corinth had a fault in following men, and not following God. Some followed Paul, some followed Apollos, some followed Cephas and some said they followed Christ. All were proud of their accomplishments, and none were thankful for the accomplishments of Christ in them.

There is much preaching done today in the power of the emotions, or in the power of the intellect. This is false preaching, and false religion, but this type of preaching is not limited to this time and this age.

Verse 22 states the Jews require a sign (some sort of miracle – but when Jesus performed miracles, the Jews still did not believe), and the Greeks (Gentiles) wisdom (this is intellectual not emotional preaching – but in all the intellectual preaching, Christ is not found, nor believed.)

Verse 23 – Paul preached Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, which was a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks (Gentiles).

In I Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul continues to explain why he preached and taught in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and refused to use the power of the flesh or human reasoning. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Verse 1 clearly states that Paul declared the testimony of God, not his own personal testimony. It could not be clearer. Paul could have preached and taught in the power of his intellect and emotions because he was, after all, very educated, and very accomplished in presenting arguments and persuading people. Paul, however, understood the message he was bringing was more, much more, than any earthly argument, or mental or emotional persuasion. Paul, when he preached and taught, was completely dependent on the power of Christ to give understanding. Paul knew he could easily persuade the Corinthians by mental and emotional appeals, but he also knew this was not faith. In verse 4, Paul declares his preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and power, not human reasoning or human abilities. Paul continues this message in verse 5 by noting the difference between faith and the wisdom of men. One is from God, the other is from men. One is heavenly, the other is earthly. One will condemn to hell, the other will exalt to heaven.

Paul also states in II Corinthians 4:5-7, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Paul knew he could not save the Corinthians (or anybody), just as I know I cannot save you (and you should know you cannot save anybody). Salvation is a free gift from God and is not gained by mental assent, knowledge or education. Salvation is by inspiration of God, not education by men.

In I Corinthians 2:6-8, Paul emphasis that it is impossible to know the eternal salvation of God by mental acceptance, or human wisdom. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. James 3:14-16 also relates the two kinds of wisdom, one which leads to eternal destruction and the other leading to eternal life. Earthly wisdom is from Satan and leads to eternal destruction. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. James 3:17-18 relates heavenly wisdom, and leads to all good things. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

I Corinthians 2:10 emphatically describes how God reveals his truths to us: by his Holy Spirit, who is a part of the trinity, and understands completely the entire mind of God. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. The Holy Spirit of God can communicate the things of God to us.

I Corinthians 2:12 explains that believers have received the Spirit of God, therefore believers are able to understand the things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Salvation is receiving the Spirit of God, not the spirit of this world. Therefore we know the things God has freely given to us. A person can have a physical exercise of "religion" in the flesh without receiving anything from the Spirit of God. We see this all around us as people have a form of religion, yet deny the power of it, as stated in II Timothy 3:3. Remember: the miracle workers of Egypt during the time of Moses had "religion" – false religion, but it was "religion", and it did have power, but the wrong kind of power. There have been scores of false prophets, (we can see many of these in the Old Testament) declaring a man-made religion, yet all these are not of God, nor were they taught of God, even though they persuaded many with their logical mental arguments. There are still many false prophets, continually declaring a false gospel of mental understanding, but with no spiritual acceptance.

I Corinthians 2:13-14 explains that Paul continues to preach and teach by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, knowing the natural man is unable to receive this spiritual truths. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Preaching today should be as Paul’s preaching: in the power of the Holy Spirit that all believers will be firmly settled by God, not the persuading of men.