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Preaching Without Trying To Be Clever

1 Corinthians 2:3-5
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power. (NIVUK)

It is good to do things excellently (Philippians 4:8), and for Bible teachers to work hard in understanding the Bible and presenting God's truth faithfully (2 Timothy 2:15).  However it is never right to manipulate people or to use techniques which exalt the preacher.  That was what some visiting preachers did in Corinth; but Paul vowed that he would never abuse his apostleship.  He did not want people to follow him but the Lord Jesus Christ.

We do not know why Paul was feeling weak when he arrived in Corinth (read the account in Acts 18:1-17).  He may have been unwell.  Certainly he experienced significant opposition from the Jewish community: they eventually accused him in court.  He was fearful for his life, but was sustained by the Lord's personal promise.  But he was a man of integrity.  He was not ashamed to tell the church that he was afraid and how he dealt with those fears in the Lord's strength.

He was convinced that the message of Jesus and the gospel needed no spin or embellishment (Romans 1:16-17).  Paul did not want to be the hero of the story. Nor would he try to be clever, and attract supporters by his ingenious arguments.  He knew that unless people heard God speak through the preaching, they would never come to saving faith in Christ.  Paul was not a celebrity speaker and he knew that he must not be.  He just wanted God to call people to come to Him in repentance and faith, and receive eternal life.

The messenger must not get in the way of the message.  But it is a serious temptation for Christians.  Some obscure the gospel by never telling anybody.  Others make themselves bigger than Jesus to increase their own reputation.  Others offer promises which Jesus never made.  Some want to ensure ongoing popularity and others want support and finance.  But new faith must rest only on the power of God to convince human hearts that the gospel is true and Jesus is trustworthy.  Anything less or more than that is not authentic Christian proclamation.  So pray for your leaders, and pray for yourself.  Speak truthfully about Jesus so that your friends and colleagues will hear His voice and trust Him.

Lord God. Thank You for speaking to me through the gospel. Forgive me for sometimes getting in the way of the message of salvation so that my friends and colleagues are confused. Please help me and my leaders to speak about Jesus and the gospel in such a way that is plain and straightforward, depending on Your Holy Spirit to guide our speaking, and those who listen. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams