1 Corinthians 4:20 - Not Just Words But Power
The Kingdom of God is not just talking;
it is living by God's power.
1 Cor 4:20 (TLB)
The religion of the Lord Jesus is not in word-- in human eloquenee,
excellence of speech, or even in doctrines; but in power, in the mighty
energy of the Holy Spirit; enlightening, quickening, converting, and
sanctifying believers; (Adam Clarke Commentary)
The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. It is not set up, nor
propagated, nor established, in the hearts of men, by plausible reasonings
nor florid discourses, but by the external power of the Holy Spirit in
miraculous operations . . . .Whenever the gospel is effectual, it comes not
in word only, but also in power, by the Holy Spirit, quickening dead
sinners, delivering persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, renewing them
both inwardly and outwardly, and comforting, strengthening, and establishing
the saints, which cannot be done by the persuasive language of men, but by
the power of God. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
Some people talk a lot about faith, but that's all it is--talk. They may
know all the right words to say, but their lives don't reflect God's power.
Paul says that the kingdom of God is to be 'lived,' not just discussed.
There is a big difference between knowing the right words and living them
out. Don't be content to have the right answers about Christ. Let your life
show that God's power is really working in you. [Life Application SB]
A POPGUN FOR CHRISTMAS? (1 COR. 4)
I wanted a BB gun so badly. I was only six or seven. When Grandpa Zeluff
grinned, and showed me the gun-shaped package under the Christmas tree, I
was so excited I could hardly wait.
Everyone seemed to smile at me as the presents were passed out, one by one,
till only that gun-shaped present remained. Then I had it in my hands! I
tore off the paper - and almost burst into tears. It was a popgun. A toy for
a toddler. It didn't shoot BBs. It fired a cork, all of two to three feet.
I choked out a "thank-you" to Grandpa Zeluff, and went outside. And then I
I suspect that many Christians have looked under the Christmas tree and seen
a Christ-shaped package. They've opened it with great excitement, but
somehow the power they expected to find just hasn't been there. In their
life, Jesus has seemed about as effective as that popgun of mine, able only
to poof out a cork or two.
Why? Why should our faith fizzle, and become a popgun experience? In 1
Corinthians 4, Paul gave a number of reasons. First, we get sidetracked (vv.
1-7). We either criticize or rely on ourselves and our leaders, forgetting
that the source of all success and the focus of our faith is God. Try
relying on mere men for a while - on any mere man - and your faith will
never generate more than popgun power.
Second, we get comfortable (vv. 8-17). We assume that Christianity is a
matter of soft pews, dressing up on Sundays, and maintaining the respect of
outsiders. We forget that the Apostles, who displayed dynamic spiritual
power, saw Christianity as a calling to selfless service. Paul suffered to
serve others. Concentrate on comfort rather than service, and you have all
the popgun power of a popgun religion.
Finally, we get arrogant. We know the right words, and we treat Christianity
as if it were just a matter of words rather than a matter of living as
citizens of a heavenly kingdom. When faith is a matter of talk rather than a
daily walk with Jesus, the power simply is not there.
I wept when I got my popgun that Christmas. What a disappointment. But how
much more terrible to become a Christian expecting to experience God's
power, and then to settle for a popgun religion.
You don't need to.
Keep your focus on Jesus. Concentrate on service. And walk daily with the
LORD. [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary]
"Shortly before Christmas, John Sung [later the great evangelist of China]
accompanied some fellow students to a special evangelistic campaign at the
First Baptist Church. He expected to hear Dr. Haldeman, an eloquent and
learned preacher, but instead, the speaker was a 15-year-old girl! She spoke
simply and yet powerfully. The proud, skeptical heart of the Ph.D. scientist
was moved to the depths. He determined to discover for himself the secret of
such spiritual power. He began reading Christian biographies 'to investigate
the secret of the effective ministry of great Christians of the past' and
'soon discovered that in each case it was the power of the Holy Spirit that
made the difference.' Turning down opportunities to teach science in America
and China, he decided rather to give his life to preaching the Gospel."
[John T. Seamands The 365-Day Devotional Commentary]