Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Preaching—in power and demonstration

Paul Raises Dorcas - by Eustache Le Sueur
Paul Raises Dorcas - by Eustache Le Sueur

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 2:1-9

TO CHEW ON: "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 1 Corinthians 2:4,5

One person who comes to mind when I read these verses is Billy Graham. As a youth I remember watching his crusades—even attended one in person—and thinking,  Surely tonight will be different and no one will respond. His words were so simple, his message so basic, his appeal straightforward and unemotional. Yet every night when the choir began singing "Just As I Am" people would leave their seats, stream forward, clog the aisles, fill up the front-of-stage area with a milling crowd.

That is one "demonstration" but I believe Paul was speaking of even more. Remember Jesus' instructions to the first believers to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why were they to wait? To receive "power" - Acts 1:8.

What did that power look like. The book of Acts shows us:
- There was powerful preaching that led to conviction and mass conversions (Acts 2:37,41).
- The disciples became uncharacteristically bold  (Acts 4:31).
- There were instantaneous healings (Acts 3:1-10; 9;33,34 and many more).
- There was an 'impossible' conversion (Acts 9:1-9).
- There were death resusitations (Acts 9:41).
- There were miraculous escapes (Acts 5:19; 12:6-9; 16:25,26).
- There was exquisite sensitivity to sin (Acts 19:18-20).
- and more… The book of Acts is full of "power."

Can we still ask God for such power signs to accompany modern-day preaching? Many would say "No," that this kind of power was to affirm the apostles who penned the scriptures. Now that we have those, they are all we need.

Though I would agree that the scriptures are complete and all we need of God's revelation, I disagree that God has stopped confirming His word with power signs and miracles. Let me tell you a story.

Mike and Laura began a church plant in Victoria B.C. a few years back. They teach that God has power to do modern-day miracles. Some time ago a member of their congregation was on a flight to Edmonton. In conversation with her seat mate, she discovered that the woman had a blistering migraine. Her thought: Someone should pray for her; I wish Will were here. He would pray and something would happen.

On arriving in Edmonton, passengers were delayed from exiting the plane by a frozen door. As they waited for the door to open, the young woman couldn't shake the impression that she should at least ask her seat mate if she would like prayer for her headache.

"Sure," the woman replied.

A simple prayer ended with the woman looking shocked and puzzled, pressing her head, and then exclaiming "My headache's gone! My back is sore too. Would you pray for it as well?"

When the young woman prayed and it too was instantly better, the woman who had been healed got loud in amazement and thanks—loud enough for a woman in the seat behind them to ask for prayer. The young woman from the Victoria church then suggested the woman she'd first prayed for do the praying… and the second woman too experienced instantaneous relief from her symptoms.

"Before the door opened, eight people had experienced a divine touch—a healing service on a West Jet plane," Mike told us. (Listen to his sermon: "Don't Forget to Remember".)

You can believe that after experiencing God's power firsthand, these folks will be softened and all ears to hear the powerful message of the gospel.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be open to the working of Your Spirit with Your persuasive word in tandem with Your power over the natural world. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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