Contend Earnestly: The Power of the Gospel

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Power of the Gospel

I have read many apologetics books and I also have taught apologetic classes on defending the faith. As I taught I always made sure that those that were being taught understood that apologetics saves no one: only the power of the Gospel.

We have been falling away from this in our culture mainly because of modernism and postmodernism and it really frustrates me. We start to rely on arguments for the Gospel instead of the Gospel itself.
Look at Paul's words:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

We know that Paul was very intelligent, and has been called the most intelligent Jew to ever live. He could come up with any persuasive argument of who Christ was and why He was the Messiah, but notice that as he tells us in 1 Corinthians, that he determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why? He says at the end of verse 5 so that their faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the POWER OF GOD. Amazing.

What do we rest on when we speak to the lost? Our intellect, or the power of God? If you have never studied Colossians thoroughly take a look at chapter 2 which is a complete defense of Paul that Christ is our wisdom. Also in 1 Corinthians 1:30 it states...
Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God...

Do we truly believe this, or do we find "good" arguments to try and persuade men into heaven?

Did Paul follow even his own advice? One of my favorite parts of Scripture is when Paul goes to Mars Hill in Acts 17. It states that these men, who were Epicurean and Stoic philosophers didn't believe in resurrection of the dead. What did Paul do? Did he go about evangelizing to them in a different way because they didn't believe in resurrection or did he believe in the power of God?

because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.”

So Paul went out of their midst.
But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Acts 17:31-34

Paul knew that faith comes from hearing, and the hearing by the word of Christ. He knew that there was no sense in teaching or preaching anything besides the true Gospel which has power. He knew that he was nothing and God was everything.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6,7

Don't plant anything besides the true seed of the true God. May God be glorified.


Anonymous said...

Van Til would smile and nod approvingly. My favorite illustration of his, which relates to your post, is about driving. He says confronting an unbeliever with the truth of God is not like pulling alongside them and trying to get them to get off at the right exit, rather it is a head on collision. Thanks for the reminder on the exclusive power of God's word.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Very timely and succinct article. God is good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a needed reflection. And thanks to Joe for the VanTil illustration, it made me laugh.

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