“For our gospel came not unto you in WORD ONLY, but also in POWER…” (1Th 1:5)
Error thrives because there is dearth of biblical teaching in the land.
‘Biblical teaching/preaching’ is ‘Power teaching/preaching’. And it is scarce in the land… Note that ‘Power preaching’ in this context is different from ‘preaching powerfully’. A person can preach energetically (as I think I do) & powerfully, without God’s energy/power.
Truth presented (but) devoid of power cannot dislodge sensational, emotionally appealing and/or demonically charged distortions of the gospel, such distortions as have become common place in our world today. Power-empty presentations actually don’t qualify as truth, in the deepest sense. They would merely be ‘true facts’.
Properly understood, biblical truth is ‘spoken power’, is ‘verbalized energy’. It means giving direction and purpose to power. When God wants to do a thing by His power, He puts His power into words. That is why the word of God is self-actualizing. God doesn’t run around, after He speaks, trying to bring His words to pass. The Word of the Lord is “the word of His Power.” (Heb 1:3) So, when God said, “Let there be light” (that was all He needed to do); there was light. The power to create light was dispatched as spoken words, to make it conscious of its assignment, to give it direction as to what to achieve.
“And they said one to another, Did not OUR HEART BURN within us, while HE TALKED with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).
Jesus’ words burned their hearts! Those were more than mere words. They were pregnant words. It was a case of fire wrapped with words. When such words drop in people’s heart, there’s an explosion; hearts burn!
“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his WORDS was with POWER.” (Luke 4:32).
It is the power of God accompanying His word that cuts men to their heart, and brings conviction. This is partly why two people can preach the same message, verbatim, to the same audience, and evoke opposite reactions.
O, sure, there are biblical PRINCIPLES that work for everybody, saved and unsaved: for example, the principle of giving & receiving, of diligence & promotion, of consistency & advancement, and even of faith (to an extent). But that’s not what I am dealing with here. (Principles don’t save. Salvation is not a principle. Neither is biblical transformation.) I am dealing with the word of His grace which is able to build-up lives; the word that guarantees inheritance among the separated. The word translates people from darkness into light and that transforms them into Christlikeness. I mean the word that chisels rough edges off the lives of believers; the word that straightens-up a man from within the heart. The word that forms Christ in us. The living word!
We can’t combat error in these days with just the true facts of scriptures. It must be with facts plus ‘power therein’. That power is sought and secured in the place of intimate fellowship with, and supplication before God. God’s energy must be sought & must accompany sound doctrine, for it to transform lives.
What we are up about is beyond a clash of TRUE versus FALSE facts, it is a spiritual battle, it is a war of words, a war of spirits, a war of powers.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2Cor 10:4)
Paul was referring to the weapon of the word here. Their words were mighty, but THROUGH GOD. Their words went THROUGH GOD to reach people. Those words were cooked in God’s phenomenal brilliance and majesty before they reached the hearts of the hearers. Paul spoke THROUGH GOD to people. That is how to be a Biblical preacher. That is the sort of man I want to be for God!
“And with GREAT POWER gave the apostles WITNESS of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33).
The Apostles were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ. Yet they were not allowed to witness to that fact until they were “endued with power from on high”. They knew what happened; they had even eaten with the resurrected Lord. They could recount the story, but their words wouldn’t convict a fly, until POWER came for them. You can do motivational speaking with facts. But It takes more than HAVING true facts, to do biblical preaching.
Jesus told them, “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high… ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Luk 24:49, Act 1:8). They were eye-witnesses but were not allowed to serve as witnesses till they were power-clothed. Some of us need to go back and ask God: ‘What happened to me; when I (claim to have) received the baptism of the Holy Ghost?’ Friend, the proof of Holy Ghost Baptism is not merely speaking in tongues; it is demonstrating God’s POWER. That’s how Jesus meant it to be.
Let men hear us and have more than our words to wrestle with. Let them have God’s spirit too to resist, if they are going to reject our message. Peter’s message at Pentecost was very simple, going by the seeming ‘word-level’ of most preachers today. Yet he saw three thousand people come to the Lord that day, with an unplanned, unprepared message. What is not so popularly advanced today is that Peter, with the other disciples, had been praying for many days in the upper room, prior to the descent of the Holy Ghost that Pentecost morning. You may memorize Peter’s sermon and deliver it next Sunday, but you may not see Peter’s result. His words were energized by the Spirit.
“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Act 6:4) Prayer must always go with the ministry of the word. That’s how to work the word. We must fellowship with the Word, if the word will work through us.
“And when they had prayed… they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness… and with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” (Act 4:31,33)
I’m sorry, but they have not told us all the truth: God does not identify with all believers at the same level. He is related to all believers at the same level: He is our Father. But we do not manifest Him at the same level. The New Testament says to believers, in James 4:8: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” or in Hebrews: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”
The word of God is living. It is not just ‘a thing’. It is not a dead code that works for whoever stumbles upon it. It does not work equally in different mouths. THE NAME OF JESUS MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS IN DIFFERENT (believing) MOUTHS. For instance, there is a reason why the disciples at Joppa sent for Peter, when Dorcas died, in Acts 9. Intimacy with God increases our productivity and profit-possibilities by His word.
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Transformation does not happen just because we tell people the true facts of scripture. Those scriptures (true facts) must be energized in the place of prayer, in the upper-room of travail, to birth transformation.
“the kingdom of God is not in word, (however correct the word) but in power.” (1Co 4:20)
“And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, WHAT A WORD is this! for WITH AUTHORITY AND POWER he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”( Luk 4:36)
Put broadly, the key to true biblical preaching can be found in three inter-related factors: the life of the preacher, the truth of the message, and the power therein.
TO BE CONTINUED…