WHAT DOES ‘FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT A MATTER OF TALK BUT OF POWER’ MEAN TO US TODAY?
- The key to speaking words that change the world is to be changed by the One who is himself the “Word” (John 1:1) (Jim Denison)
- Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims (John Stonestreet)
- Christianity is a power religion. Christ has the power to recreate men from the inside out (Peter Marshall)
- If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe, we will waste our lives (John Piper)
- The measure of a man's worth is the measure in which he no longer lives “to and for himself,” but “to and for Jesus Christ.” No more and no less! (Major Ian Thomas)
- As Christians we should recognize how we can deceive ourselves by attributing noble motivation to pharisaic haughtiness (Larry Crabb)
- Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can (Dwight L. Moody)
Text: 1 Corinthians 4:19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power
There is a need to examine the intangible influence that causes people to act in given ways. That intangible influence is power, which is the capacity to influence beliefs and consequently actions. The kingdom of God is not about charisma and use of clever words, but it is about the power of God which is revealed through Christ Jesus. The kingdom of God is about the rule of Christ Jesus on earth and in heaven because He was given the authority (Matthew 28:16). In a broad sense, the kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over the entire universe, while narrowly it is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. In addition the kingdom of God includes the blessings or the intertwinement with God and all the advantages from living under Christ’s rule. The church of Christ, who are the subjects of the kingdom of God, could not start until the power from on high came upon the disciples. Jesus said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Luke 24:49); “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4). It is the power that gives life to the word of God making it transform lives and bring healing to the sick, raise the dead, drive out demonic spirits otherwise it remains empty talk.
EXTRINSIC POWER AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Power is extrinsic or from outside – when it is given through system organization or cultural beliefs of the people. This type of power is seen as position or title, which comes with authority and control, and a belief in the form of supremacy over others. In addition extrinsic power can be in the form of charisma, motivational talks and all forms of persuasiveness without the power of God. This type of power tends to generate arrogance and the works of flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) which make people puffed up with accomplishments and spiritual prowess. The end result is promotion of a false understanding of what it means to have Christ as Lord and Savior.
SOURCE OF POWER, THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AND THE KINGDOM
Since we are born into cultures that have power systems fully established, there is a need for knowledge of Godly/ biblical system. Power is like fuel that enables and activates beliefs that are subtle in a way that one does not pay attention to them. The power in use can sabotage the best of intentions. Without accepting the power of God, no matter how much you read the Bible, you will neither understand it nor will it change your life. The tendency of many people is to accept the word of God, having a form of godliness through reading it but denying the power (2 Timothy 3:5) that changes a person. Christians, enabled by God through the power of the Holy Spirit, carry on the work that Jesus Christ started. ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John14:12). It is those filled with the Holy Spirit that knows they are servants of Christ, ready to serve people only as He directs them.
Obedience to God in service is what creates the kind of influence that is truly powerful. This is the kind of power that Paul is saying is not mere words, it is the living power of God operating in His people for the acknowledgement of His kingdom on earth. He announced the presence of God’s kingdom and demonstrated that presence with works of power. In Paul’s own ministry, the power of God was present in manifold ways. Among the Corinthians, for example, the fact that so many had believed a Gospel that their culture branded as foolish was clear evidence that God was at work. So it is today. We who follow Jesus are to be his witnesses, telling others what he has done for us. Yet this message will not be persuasive unless it is backed up by evidence of God’s power. If people see God at work in and through us, if they sense his presence in our compassion, our prayers, and our communities of faith, then they will be open to hear what we have to say about Jesus.
UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE KINGDOM
A life filled with the Holy Spirit is motivated to do that which brings the outcomes aligned to the kingdom of God. It ensures that one does not barter with God because one has given up power to act according to feelings, people’s acclamations and even the fleshly desires. The outcome of continued reliance on the power of God is assurance of the love of God, patience as one relates to others and self-control. ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’. (Galatians 5: 22-23). When the words of a believer are given life by the power that comes from God, then the signs that follow those who believe become active.
There is power in knowing God – Where there is love, joy and peace, one is joyful irrespective of circumstances because of an awareness of who one is to God. One seeks to continually rely on God and His word.
The kingdom thrives on Spirit led relations with others – Instead of depending on the system, to have the power of the Holy Spirit is to operate with different rules. One is patient as he or she relates with others. One patiently waits for instructions as given by God in His word, patient with people. Kindness is the realization that one does not live for self but others. A kind person is caring, thoughtful, considerate and generous without seeking to dominate. Goodness is what makes a person honest, and considerate of the other person's viewpoint.
The power of God enables kingdom citizens to be at home with self – Self-control is part of the fruit of having God’s power indwell in a person. One is able to take charge of one’s responses in relation to others. The power of God becomes an inner governor or regulator over the emotions one attaches to an issue, thoughts about situations and other people. That makes a person faithful and gentle.
The kingdom of God is about words given life by the power of God that enables a person to overcome the human default system. The struggle with insecurity that causes pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, restlessness and even boredom are overcome by the life-giving power of God. Acceptance and the sense of belonging that human beings long for can be temporarily achieved through social organization and relationships. However, long term sustainable joy, peace and patience are a result of continuous communion with God through prayer and reading/meditating on His word. That makes one have persistent gratitude and freedom of knowing that all one has and is, comes from God. To have the power of God makes one not be preoccupied with what does not have eternal value. A spirit filled Christian experiences a pattern of life that produces excellence in every aspect of life without being consumed with what one does. The need to look out to the needs of others and contribute to their wellbeing is an outcome of being empowered by God. The kingdom of God is about knowing His word, relying on His strength and so what one talks is integrated with who one is. That is what makes life meaningful and worth living in a hostile world. Without the power of the Holy Spirit words have no transformative power. Are you tapping into God’s power to bring what you know into life?
‘I pray earnestly that God will raise up today a new generation of Christian apologists or Christian communicators, who will combine an absolute loyalty to the biblical gospel and an unwavering confidence in the power of the Spirit with a deep and sensitive understanding of the contemporary alternatives to the gospel; who will relate the one to the other with freshness, authority, and relevance; and who will use their minds to reach other minds for Christ.’ (John Stott)