“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.” 1 Corinthians 2:4, 5
True wisdom has been defined as that power which accomplishes the greatest results by the simplest means. Then, here is wisdom! To save souls from eternal death, by the “foolishness of preaching,” must be regarded as the highest point to which wisdom can soar.
It is recorded of the apostles, that they “so spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Gentiles believed.” They presented Christ so prominently—they divided truth so skillfully—they preached with such power, point, and simplicity, that “multitudes were added to the Lord.” See with what contempt they looked down upon the unsanctified wisdom and lore of this world.
Addressing the Corinthians, their great leader could say, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” By the influence of his preaching, pagan altars were destroyed, senseless idols were abandoned, the Pantheon and the Lyceum were forsaken, and “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith;” but it was not with the “wisdom of this world,” in order that their “faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.”
And why may not the same results in the employment of the same means be ours? Preach we not the same gospel? Deal we not with the same intelligent and deathless minds? Draw we not our motives and our appeals from the same eternity? True, we possess neither the spirit of prophecy nor the gift of miracles. We need not. Nor did they in their grand work of converting men to God. They never, in a single instance; quickened a soul by the power of a miracle.
The extraordinary gifts with which they were endowed were bestowed for another and a different purpose. The cases of our Lord and of His fore runner are strikingly in point. The ministry of Jesus, although attended by a succession of miracles the most brilliant and convincing, resulted in fewer conversions than the ministry of John, who did no miracle.
To what divine agency, then, did the apostles themselves trace the extraordinary result of their preaching? To what, but the “demonstration of the Spirit”? Oh for tongues of fire to proclaim the glad tidings of the gospel! With such a Savior to make known—with such revelations to disclose—with such souls to save—with such results to expect—is it not marvelous that we should speak with any other?
The true preacher of the gospel, then, is so rightly to divide God’s word, as not to confound truth with error—so discriminatingly to proclaim it, as to separate the precious from the vile— and so distinctly and prominently to hold up the cross of Christ, as to save immortal souls. The cross, the cross, must be the central exhibition of our ministry, to which every eye must be directed, and before which all the glory of man must fade.
The Holy Spirit, too, must be more honored—His anointing more especially sought—His influence more earnestly insisted upon. Apart from this, no ministry, be its character in other respects what it may, has any real power. How poor a thing it is, distinguished only by its learning, genius, and eloquence; and destitute of the vital warmth, and impassioned earnestness, the soul-subduing and heart-awakening energy of the Holy Spirit! Weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it is as light as air; estimated in view of the judgment, it is an awful mockery.