This is a passage I’ve been thinking about recently whenever I’ve given messages at church. Honestly, it’s something I need to keep more in mind whenever I write these blogs as well.
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much 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 men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1-5)
If you do any kind of Bible teaching, whether as a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, pastor, or whatever, I think it would be worth your time to memorize this passage and meditate on it before every message you give.
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good speaker. I’d like to think that my teaching is clear and simple for those who hear.
But the truth of the matter is that while I may impact people through my words and wisdom, the change I can effect is limited. Why? Because my wisdom and my powers of persuasion are limited. More, I cannot infuse people with the power to change. People may hear what I say and agree. “Yes, I should love my enemies. Yes, I should forgive those who hurt me. Yes, I need to take off sin and put on righteousness.”
And yet, unless God is working in them, nothing will change.
What Paul recognized is that there is only one thing that truly brings about change. The power of God through the message of the cross. It is because of what Christ did on the cross that we can have a relationship with God. It is because of what Christ did that our old nature died, and we have received a new nature. It is because of what Christ did that we can put away our sinful past and find true life.
That’s why Paul said,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (2)
How about you? If you are simply a church member, what kind of messages are you hearing at your church? Can you say that the message of the cross is central at your church? Or are the messages based on the wisdom of your pastor and the idea that you need to change yourself?
If you are a teacher, what is the focus of your message and preparation? Entertaining your audience? Showing your wisdom and knowledge? Or is it preaching Christ and him crucified? Is it letting his power flow through you as you speak so that their faith rests, not on you, but on Christ?