Summary: Part of "The Kingdom of God" sermon series. It looks at how the Kingdom of God isn't in our intellectual pursuits, but rather it comes in power, and the type of power that represents.
The Kingdom of God
“Kingdom Life is Power”
Tonight we’ll be looking at another aspect of the Kingdom of God that really isn’t understood that well. Further, these verses could have easily been written to the church today.
Corinth was a Greek city and a commercial seaport. And like most Greek cities they had their academies, their places of higher learning where philosophy was discussed as to the meaning of life. And there in Corinth the Apostle Paul established a church.
But due to a plethora of problems Paul had to write them several times to deal with them. Some of those problems had to do with how they viewed him. They criticized his appearance and speech. While his writings were well received, apparently he didn’t look the part and his speech wasn’t eloquent.
“For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV)
The Greek culture was accustomed to leaders who were great physical specimens, such as seen in the Olympic games and in their art, and who were great orators, those who studied the art of speech and who could eloquently present an argument.
But this wasn’t Paul. By the time he got to Corinth his eyesight was bad, his body was broken due to torture and abuse. He told them that he had been whipped five times, beaten three times, stoned and left for dead, and was often imprisoned along with a litany of other things he had to endure. (2 Corinthians 11:22-28)
In his first letter Paul says,
“To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13 NKJV)
As far as his speech, he tried eloquent, but it got him nowhere when he was in Athens. And so he spoke in a plain and blunt manner, not about the philosophies or meaning of life; instead he preached one thing and one thing only, and that is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
But his writings were another matter, they were forceful and to the point, which is where we find ourselves in tonight’s passage as Paul makes it clear that he would come once again to Corinth and put things right, and the way he would know was in their words, that is, did their words contain the power of God, or are they merely talking be something their not.
“Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:18-20 NKJV)
Paul is saying that the Kingdom of God isn’t in what we say, that is in word, but it is where the power of God is being manifested.
Today we’re living in an age that’s fond of discussing Christianity. Yet in all the talking, in all the writing, in all the debating and discussions, where is the power of God?
To clear the air Paul says what the Kingdom of God isn’t and then what it is.
The Kingdom of God Isn’t in Word
The Kingdom of God doesn’t come through intellectual pursuit. Far too often our message is nothing more than our point of view, or a philosophy that can go alongside other philosophies and schools of thought offered up by our culture and society.
These pander to those who are seeking and searching for answers, and who come at Christianity the same way they approach other philosophies. They speculate, criticize, and express their opinions as to the rightness or wrongness of the Christian faith.
So fearing not to offend pastors and teachers serve up a plate of platitudes instead of the milk and meat of God’s word, but God’s word is powerful and will make a difference in these seekers and searchers lives.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
What Paul is saying is that the Kingdom of God isn’t found in our intellectual pursuits with all our various propositions, because they hold no power, especially the power of God. Intellectual pursuits don’t produce life. Churches today seem to rely more upon their doctrinal positions and distinctions than they do upon the Holy Spirit to lead and guide.