1 Cor. 2
3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
There would be few Bible scholars who would disagree that Paul was the best exegete the Church has ever had. Few would argue that he saw things in the Scripture that others would never understand – the mysteries, the reasons, the explanations of God’s work in salvation-history. However, it was Paul himself who said that his speech and his message were not in words of lofty and profound wisdom. Instead, they were characterized by the Spirit and power. The reason behind all this is so that our faith might rest in the power of God and not the passing words of wisdom that men utter.
We shouldn’t discount the words that men speak because Jesus said that every word we utter will be judged. Paul is not advocating some kind of babbling that has no rationale to it and thought. This would be a travesty indeed. If Paul were to write repetitions and bare emotion without reason his words would not have been recorded. They would have passed away when his lips ceased. What Paul is talking about here furthers his teaching from chapter 1.
So many people lift up a teacher in the Church who seems to know all the deep secrets of Bible interpretation. They do back-flips through the Scripture just to show this wonderful new insight. Others don’t even use the Scriptures. They get a psychologist to visit their pulpit and tell people how they can be happy. They push the power of God aside in exchange for the wisdom of men.
Woe unto us, brothers, if we ever diminish the Word of God for the sake of our reputation. We serve and are not to be pedestaled by people. We are to lift up, expound, and delight in the power of God – the Word of God as empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The other trait of this reason lies in the fact that our faith is to rest in the power of God. It is like a tense child who is held by his mother. He gets riled up and cries, but when Mommy picks him up, he is calm and does not fear the world raging around him. Could this be the reason why so many men worry when they are in the pulpit? They are afraid what others will think – am I smart enough, did I convict, etc? We should be concerned about what we say, but not seeking the pats on the back others will give.
We are called to preach and teach in such a way that our people can rest in the power of God. They can call God on their side in whatever fret they have. When their marriage is failing – they cry out to God, not some self-help book with ten steps. When their teenager has run away from home, they cry out for mercy. When they can’t pay their mortgage because they lost their job, someone is ill, their pay was slashed, they cry out for sustaining grace.
Finally, lest we think we go to stand in the pulpit and say whatever is on our minds and say that we are trusting the Holy Spirit to give us the words we need, Paul says in verses 6-7: Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. We do teach with the wisdom of God – Jesus Christ our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30). Take heart! The wisdom we impart will not pass away. If we are faithful to what the Lord has said in his Word, we know that the seeds we sow will grow to maturity. But we must preach from his storehouse and not sow seeds of our own understanding. Think, brothers, what you will say. But let there be a governor of the divine word to hedge you in from heterodoxy and lies.