Around two millennia ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and reminded them of something that we, as believers, are all too often ready to forget: “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power (1 Cor. 4:20).” The first century was marked with the mightiest works of God this world has ever seen: the life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and outpouringof the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the old had gone, the new has come. Yet, 19 centuries later, we find ourselves in an age of spiritual malaise, where it appears secularism has Christianity on the ropes.
We watch the debauchery and decadence of our culture descend to the barrel’s bottom and, since that ain’t deep enough, scratch and claw away to ensure that the splinter of sin is firmly embedded under our generation’s fingernails. We shake our heads. We talk at our churches and Bible studies of the shamefulness of it all. We nod along when the preacher pounds the pulpit reproving this godless age. We like the Facebook link about some celebrity declaring their “thanks to Jesus,” after they win the big award. Share Youtube videos of worship songs. Tweet a Bible verse, or a Spurgeon quote. Eat at Chic-fil-A and buy our crafts at Hobby Lobby.
Scratch, scratch, and our culture digs deeper still.
Is it possible that we need a remedial course in what the cross of Christ accomplished? I should say so. It didn’t purchase for us a pass to heaven, and give us secret directions to a bomb shelter where we can bide our time until we die and go to heaven. When Christ ascended, He commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. Then, when the day of Pentecost had fully come, the fire of God fell; and whenever the fire of God falls, that flame–because the fuel of it is His very life–cannot be extinguished or terminated. He dies no more, so His fire dies no more. In less than a generation, that handful of poorly educated men and women turned the whole world topsy turvy, broke off the bands of paganism, and the entire culture was renovated.
God’s kingdom is not one of word, but of power. It is not one of Facebook statuses, it is one of new birth and therefore, holy living. It is not one of mental ascent to Biblical facts, but one of grace empowered faith in Truth Himself. It is not one of preaching by proxy, it is one of preaching by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.
One of these days, someone will be daring enough to take God at His word and obey Him. This technological age has afforded us a technological stage whereby to preach the Gospel; but we must remember, it is not merely the fact that there is a preacher on the stage, but rather, that that preacher has been born again by the Almighty Word of God, Jesus Christ. The kingdom is not one of words, but it is the Kingdom of The Word Made Flesh; and where we abide in Him, and His word abides in us, it bears the fruit. This world, as Ravenhill was fond of saying, is not in need of a new definition of Christianity, it is looking for a new demonstration of it. May we cease preaching by proxy, and begin preaching with all the boldness and the power of the Crucified, Risen, Ascended, and Outpoured Christ!