“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:1-5).
Many Christians want to hear practical messages from scripture that teaches how to have health and prosperity and how to live successfully in our society. The preachers who master how to preach and teach these things as if that is what the word of God is all about, are the most popular preachers. The better they can do that, the bigger their churches are and greater is the number are those who follow them. Look at Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, the largest Protestant church in America. The sanctuary seats 16,800 people. They estimate that over 45,000 people attend Lakewood Church every week. Joel is a master at making people feel real good. He is a bestselling author and has written many books. Here are the names of some of them. “You Can, You Will, The Power of I AM, Your Best Life Now, and Become a Better You” (emphasis added). Is there anything that stands out to you in these titles? I helped you see it by emboldening some of the words so they would catch your eye. Do you understand that these titles are all about YOU? All four of these books seem to focus on man and what is best for him. How is it that Christians who read the Bible, which is all about Christ, then go and write books that are all about man? I do have to confess that I have not read any of these books, and have no interest in doing so. The titles alone tell me what is in the pages of these books. When I first heard the title, “The Power of I AM,” it made me shudder. When I saw “Become a Better You” at the book store my immediate response was, “I don’t want to be a better me, I want the ME to die.” All the problems God ever had with me is the ME. I need to get ME out of the way.
I suppose if we could ask Christians, who regularly attend church, what they expect their pastors to preach and teach, some would say they would like more expository teaching. Some would say they want messages that apply to everyday practical living. Others may say they want the pastor to search out all the Hebrew and Greek words so they can get a better understanding of the scriptures. Others may want a fiery message with the preacher raising his voice. Some like a well-outlined teaching with worksheets to fill out. None of these things are necessarily wrong, but none of these are the answer to what is missing from today’s preachers. There is an incredible high regard for the teachers who are intellectuals. Our society is enamored with smart men with degrees. I think many Christians think that of all the men who have searched out all the Bible doctrines, that if anyone knows what they are talking about it has to be our intelligent Bible teachers. I have nothing against intelligence, even though I am not intelligent. You might not want to read anymore articles after I tell you this, but I only graduated from high school. I am just a dumb construction worker turned preacher. However, I see far too many preachers and teachers trusting in their intellect and ability to articulate than in the power of God. The greatest thing we need from our preachers today is for them to preach with a demonstration of Spirit and power.
People get tired of talkers after a while. They especially get tired of preachers who talk, but never say anything with substance. They are tired of preachers who talk and lack authority in their words. Worse than that, people get offended when preachers talk and then live a life contrary to what they preach. Our society does not need talkers, our churches don’t need a speech; they need a demonstration of Spirit and power. Did you notice in our scripture text the word “Spirit” is capitalized? This indicates to us that the demonstration is from God (and not from our own human spirit) which results in man being a spirited preacher. We need preachers who demonstrate through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our generation needs a demonstration not a hollow message. They need powerful messages, not just good ones. They need a message that is authenticated by the Spirit of God.
Those who listened to the Pharisees week after week and year after year, were greatly moved when Jesus spoke. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). There was another time when the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to arrest Jesus. When the officers came to Him and heard Him speaking, they returned back to them without arresting Jesus. When asked why, “The officers answered, Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).
The devil has mastered clever speech. The devil even used scripture when he was trying to tempt Jesus. Satan has a counterfeit for a lot of things. The devil can do a lot of things, but there is one thing he cannot do and that is speak with the power and anointing of God. It is only we believers who have such a privilege. Motivational speakers can speak to and move the emotions of men, but the Holy Spirit deals directly with the spirit of man. Feelings and emotions can, and often do follow, but feelings alone do not prove a message has authority.
The Apostle Paul was a highly trained and educated man, so again you don’t have to be stupid to be used of God. God uses the “whosoever.” However, God doesn’t call, “…many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble… (I Corinthians 1:26), but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t call any. So if you are highly intelligent, give God the glory for it and use it for His glory, just like Paul did. When it came down to it, Paul said his effectiveness wasn’t in being a Hebrew of Hebrews or in his great learning at the feet of the Pharisee Gamaliel. Paul said, “In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19). I remember coming upon this verse back in 1999 as I was preparing for a message. I read it and said, “Where has this verse been all my saved life?” Well you know it has always been in the Bible. Maybe it never stood out because few seem to believe it anymore and few dare preach it.
Saint of God, there is nothing more our preachers need then to once again preach with a demonstration of Spirit and power. There is nothing more this world needs from you as well than to preach with a demonstration of Spirit and power.