could be sarcastic when occasion called for it. A sample of his sarcasm
is found in I Cor. 2:4, where he said that his preaching was not with
the persuasiveness of human wisdom, but with demonstration of spirit and
of power. What he refers to as human wisdom is contrary to the gospel.
It is, really, UNwisdom---lack of wisdom. Paul was making sport of the
idea of it being wisdom. Instead, it is stupidity, as compared to the
teaching that he was giving.
The preaching of Paul in Corinth was accompanied by a demonstration of
spirit, and demonstrations of spirit, and demonstrations of power.
Humans say such a thing is not to accompany the gospel now. They say
that in preaching the gospel, a preacher is making an argument about a
subject, and that it is up to him to make an irrefutable argument, or
not reach the people. They think of no power in the message, except
human power. This is human "wisdom".
When Paul preached he made no great effort at oratory. Much more than we
do, he depended on the name of Christ. So did Paul and others. It seems
stupidity to man, to tell him that the reverent pronouncement of His
name brings an exhibition of power. But it is true, and it is stupidity
to doubt it.
Not that the calling of His name immediately affects all. Paul says, "We
are heralding Christ crucified, to the Jews, indeed, a snare, and to the
nations, stupidity, yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God", I Cor. 1:23, 24. Not
all have been called, as yet . This does not deny their ultimate
salvation. But some are called, now. To them, Christ is heralded, the
power of God and the wisdom of God. This message brings the un-called
into a state of confusion, but it brings the called into a state of
power and wisdom, but that which is of God.
In Acts 18 we are told of Paul's meetings in Corinth. Then in I Cor. 2,
he tells them, "And I, coming to you, brethren, came not with
superiority of word or of wisdom, announcing to you the testimony of
God, for I decided not to perceive anything among you, except Jesus
Christ and Him crucified. And I came to be with you in weakness, and in
fear, and in much trembling, and my word and my heralding were not with
the persuasiveness of human wisdom, but with demonstration of spirit and
of power, that your faith may not be in the wisdom of men, but in the
power of God".
Paul did not claim to have wisdom that emanated from himself. He claimed
no wisdom of his own. He recognized he had no power of his own. The only
wisdom and power that he had, that would do them any good, was the power
that comes from God, through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In Paul's
messages, the crucifixion led to resurrection. He would perceive no
ingerent power or wisdom in them. But, as he looked upon them and saw
potential benefit and usefulness and happiness for them, he saw all this
as coming into their lives through One Who had been put to death for
their sins, and Who had been roused, and was living in triumph over
death. Thus, the blessing that he was bringing to them, would come not
from a humiliated and struggling Christ, but from a roused and
triumphant One. This Christ, he perceived among them, when, as yet,
there was no outward evidence of it. Faith sees that which is not, for
faith is super-rational; faith transcends logic; it leads us to leap
forward into that which is unknown to human wisdom. It has been said
that faith has reasons which reason cannot understand.
God had assured Paul that He had many people in the city, and faith
believed it, despite all evidence to the contrary. Depending on God, and
seeing, by faith, the triumphant Christ right there among them, it is no
wonder that the messages he brought put wisdom into the hearts and
spirits, and made a demonstration of power among them. Here was an
assemble of people in whom there was a demonstration of power, such as
human wisdom could not understand.
When the apostle says that he perceived among them, "Jesus Christ and
Him crucified", he is not merely telling them what he preached, but he
is assuring them that, while human eyes beheld a congregation who could
not be reached, his eyes of faith was seeing that the Christ was walking
among them, ready to bless to their good, the mere mention of His name.
He preached what his faith saw. He perceived among them, Jesus Christ
and Him crucified, and this was what he preached to them. He was in an
affirmative state of mind, and there was not a negative note in his
heralding, despite outward discouragement. Like Moses at another time,
he was staunch, seeing the Invisible.
Paul loved to recount this visit to them. He goes back to it in chapter
15: "For I give over to you among the first what I accepted also, that
Christ died for the sake of our sins according to the scriptures, and
that He was entombed, and that He has been roused the third day
according to the scriptures". This was his theme during all those months
he remained in Corinth and preached daily. To those who have faith in
the power of God and the power of the name of Jesus Christ, it is not
astonishing that many received the message with joy, and that spirit and
power were the rule, rather than the exception, in their lives.
At another time Paul held a series of meetings in Thessalonica. There he
found people who were afflicted. His messages there were built on the
statement that "the Christ must suffer and rise from among the dead;
This one is the Christ---the Jesus Whom I am announcing to you". We see
that here, the apostle was depending on the crucified and risen Christ.
What was the result?
In his first letter to that group, he said, "The evangel of our God did
not come to you in word only, but in power, also, and in holy spirit and
much assurance". In the next paragraph he added, "and you became
imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in much affliction,
with joy of holy spirit". In their case, as much perhaps, as in the case
of the Corinthians, there was demonstration of spirit and of power. It
seems evident that their afflictions were healed, and they were made
happy in their consciousness of God's touch in their spirits, as well as
in their bodies. Finding the people afflicted, Paul had been as a nurse
to them, (2:7) and the spiritual benefit to them was such that they
became a model church, and the physical benefits were so pronounced that
Paul saw that their bodies, as well as their spirits and souls were
unimpaired. He prayed that they would remain so, (5:23).
So sure was Paul, of the benefits of the resurrection of Christ---the
blessings that His resurrected life could provide---that he, late in
life, expressed an intense desire to know the power of His resurrection,
as well as the fellowship of His sufferings. In the latter, He, during
the period of his life before He was crucified, fulfilled Isa. 53:4, 5,
"Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows---and with His
stripes we are healed". In the fulfillment of this promise, it is said
of Him, "He healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled that
which was spoken by Isaiah, the prophet, saying Himself took our
infirmities and bore our sicknesses", Matt. 8:16, 17. Now, that His
resurrection was a fact, Paul wanted to know all the benefits that we
may expect from His victory over death. One of these is the
manifestation of righteousness---His righteousness---in our experience,
for the apostle had said that He was roused because of our
In Eph. 5:30 we find this expression: "We are members of His body, His
flesh and His bones". Part of this is omitted by some of the
manuscripts. In view of the subject under consideration, I see no cause
to omit it. A husband is to regard his wife as his body. We are having
this relationship to Christ. Our body is His body; our flesh is His
flesh; our bones are His bones. It is a most blessed truth, and I don't
want to be deprived of the consolation it gives. The expression is in
that part of the scriptures whose authorship is ascribed to Paul.
If we know this, we know something of the power of Christ's
resurrection. My body, my flesh, and my bones have a Representative Who
is in a state that is beyond the reach of sickness and death. One has
said, "These words recognize a union between our body and the risen body
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and gives us a right to claim for our mortal
frame the vital energy of His perfect life. He has given His life for
us, and it is all-sufficient."
We have reason to expect that the vitality that His risen body is able
to give us, is far more than a normal "improvement" in case of sickness.
It is miraculous healing, built, not upon what little vitality we have
left, but upon His unimpaired and perfect vitality. If Christ was the
wisdom and the power of God while He lived in humiliation, is He not
more so in His glorified state?
Paul says the gospel is concerning Christ, the Son of God, Romans 1:3,
4. Perhaps we who preach mention His name too seldom. I recall that one
time I gave a sermon during a series of meetings in a Western city, and
a preacher said to me afterwards, "I was pained to hear a sermon in
which Christ was not mentioned even once." This was a proper rebuke, and
I accepted it with a resolution that I would never repeat the
performance. I was ashamed of it. Not only should we mention Him by
referring to His work, but we should also call His name and His title.
His name is "Jesus", and His title is "the Christ". There is power in
this name and title.
"All hail the power of Jesus' name; let angels prostrate fall". Let me
insist that there is power in the word, "Jesus", and the word "Christ",
and these two combined. "Jesus Christ", or, as Paul loved to put it,
"Christ Jesus". The "wisdom" of men might deny this, but Peter said
"Neither is there any other name given under heaven among men, in which
we must be saved". Earlier he had said, concerning the lame man who was
healed at the gate called Beautiful: "In the faith of His name, His name
gives stability to him whom you are beholding, with whom also you are
acquainted, and the faith which is through Him gives him this unimpaired
soundless in front of you all". It was the announcing of His name and
His death and resurrection that brought the Corinthian people into the
fold of believers. It was when Christ announced His own name, "Jesus",
that Paul capitulated and asked, "Lord what wilt Thou have me do?"
Let us not forget that Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.
OUR BOYS IN SERVICE
The Saviour died to bless and free
The poor and weak and lame;
The boys who fell on foreign soil
All died with this high aim.
But Jesus hold the key that locks
Or opens every door;
And through his sacrifice alone
Our boys live evermore.
Each one may sacrifice his all,
And give his life-blood red,
But resurrection life come through
The blood that Jesus shed.
And sure as Christ redeemed all men
In spirit, flesh and soul,
The Prince of Peace shall bring the day
That liberates the whole.
Lillian M. Denis,