“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:3–5, AV)
There were two men who had hotrods. They purchased these as old wrecks. Each man had an amount of money to use and so they went to work. One man did all kinds of work on the outside of the car. He fixed all the rust spots and spent an inordinate amount of money to get the appearance of the car beautiful. He spent money on the interior, reupholstering the seats, installing new carpet, and replacing the dash board and instruments. The car looked like a showpiece. All kinds of people came to look at the car. The only problem was that it was not drivable. The man had run out of money before working on the engine, transmission and other components essential for driving.
The other man set his priorities on getting his car drivable. It was not pretty, but it purred like a kitten. It was reliable and it had a lot of power. With the little money left over he patched the body and had a cheap paint job done. It was not a showpiece. No one came to his garage to see the car. However, his car ran and had power. When all the money was spent, which was the better car? I would say the one that actually ran. The one that had power.
Paul here speaks about the proper proclamation of the gospel. His point is that there are two types of preaching. There is a type that looks great on the outside, with lofty words filled with human wisdom. There is another type devoid of lofty words and human wisdom, but is embodied with much power. Paul was one of the greatest Christian evangelists. He preached for years, planted churches, and saw many works of God bringing people to faith in Christ. Yet, he testifies that he did not preach with “enticing words of man’s wisdom.” Instead, he preached “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling,” with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and of God’s power.
Why was this attitude and approach of Paul’s preaching so important? It was so the hearer’s faith would not be in a person, but in the power of God. Paul did not want the focus to be on him for no salvation comes from man, for it is God alone who saves.
Too often today, we find preachers who gather large followings using “enticing words of man’s wisdom.” Sadly, people are persuaded for the wrong reasons. Often these men stumble for a variety of reasons and unfortunately, when they do, many of their followers fall by the wayside never fully grasping the most important message of Christ Jesus and Him crucified.
In my own preaching ministry, I truly fear the thought of standing on my own and preaching the word of God in my own strength with crafty words. I fear that many times I may have done this. What symptom stands out in this type of preaching? For me the key one is the lack of time spent in fervent prayer for God to move by His Spirit through the preaching of His word in the hearts of all, both the speaker and the hearer. Somehow, with all the glitz and glamor of the modern church, and with all the training on the techniques of study, teaching, and preaching, it is easy to overlook our desperate need for the Spirit of God and His power. Let us always be mindful in our ministry that if God can make Balaam’s donkey speak, He most certainly can make our feeble words become audible to those around us.