“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”
(1 Corinthians 4:20)
Ah man, what a great verse. “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” Now you think about the context. What I think is helpful, like diving into all these individual verses in one chapter of scripture and one book of the Bible because it’s so easy to take things out of context. You can hear that verse and be like, “Okay, what does that mean?” You can start making up all kinds of things that that means, but when you look at it in its context, you’ve got Paul addressing a church where there’s all kinds of division because different people were saying, “I follow Paul”, “I follow Apollos”, “I follow Cephas”, “I followed this or that”.
“For the kingdom of God does not exist in talk but in power.”
And even here in 1 Corinthians 4 you see Paul addressing just this variety of teachers and even some of his critics in Corinth who are saying negative things about him. And he says, “Listen, what matters in the end is it’s not talk”, and he’s even … As 1 Corinthians 2 talked about the negative impacts of words of eloquence, human wisdom, all that kind of stuff. He said, “That’s not what the kingdom of God is about. The kingdom of God is about the power of God.” The gospel, right before this, in 1 Corinthians 4 we just talked about how it’s a very different power than the way the world views power. The world views power in terms of wealth and health and strength and all these different things. And he says, “But there’s a different kind of spiritual power”, just like there’s a different kind of wisdom from God and wisdom in the world.
And he says, “The kingdom of God does not consist in all these words, all these debates, all this division, but in the power of God through his spirit and his word, his gospel, the power of Christ crucified.” That’s what 1 Corinthians 4:20 is emphasizing. And when I read it and I think about all that context, I think that is what I want to mark my life and my family, my kids. That is what I want to mark the church I’m a part of. It’s not a bunch of talk that leads to division, that leads to a disunity that leads to exalting man’s wisdom. No, or exalting men, period. I don’t want anything to do with that kind of talk. I don’t want that to be what my life is about, what my family’s about, what the church is about.
I want my life, family, church to be about power and the kingdom of God, the spirit of God, demonstration of the spirit and power, His word being proclaimed, his wisdom being revealed in power, Christ crucified, the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, simple gospel proclamation, god showing his power to save through it. Yes, make my life about those things. Fill my family with that kind of spiritual power. Fill the church I’m a part of with that kind of spiritual power. I think about just, oh, the last year in the church family where I pastor and how we have been gathering on Friday nights, not every Friday night, but periodically throughout the year, late nights, sometimes all night, just pleading before God, praying all night long, late into the night for spiritual power and God showing it, God bringing people to Christ, God moving in power.
I would just want more and more and more of that. So God, we pray. We pray that in our lives, our families, our churches, we pray for a realization and experience of your kingdom, not as a matter of talk, but of power with Christ crucified at the center of it all, with your spirit directing it all so that your word that is proclaimed is showing a demonstration of your power and your wisdom that is just overcoming and putting to shame the wisdom of man, so-called wisdom of man.
God, we pray for the power of your kingdom to be evident in our lives, for the power of your kingdom to be evident in our families, for the power of your kingdom to be evident or churches. God, there’s just seems so much, so much powerless-ness in your church today, and it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We know it’s not.
God, we pray for demonstrations of your spirit and your power, your love in Christ crucified, in ways that just totally go against the grain of worldly wisdom, worldly eloquence and man’s thoughts, all kinds of talk. No, God, show your power we pray. Our lives, our families, and your church and around the world, God, that your power, may know the power of the gospel known among every people, group and every nation in the world. God, show your power we pray. Cause your kingdom to come, your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.