4 And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], 5 So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God. Ė 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 AMP
Paul was one of the very first international Christian missionaries. He first visited the city of Corinth on his second missionary journey in the mid first century AD. In Acts Chapter Eighteen we are even told that he spent eighteen months in Corinth winning converts and ministering to them. And as todayís passage says, he didnít use persuasive words of wisdom.
Now for those who think this Paul guy didnít have wisdom, think again. He was originally a Jew and a Pharisee. He was even educated by Gamliel, a very noted Pharisee and Sanhedrin member of his day. In a theological discussion, Paul could hold his own with anyone. He could argue elegantly with the educated, but also never held himself aloof from those who would be considered lowly people. His mission was simple: to get people to rest their faith in the power of God and nothing else. But there were some in the Corinthian church who didnít get it.
In Chapters One and Three of First Corinthians Paul points out flaws in the Corinthian believersí thinking. It seems that some were following Paul and some were following Apollos, who became a leader in the Corinthian church (Acts 19:1) after Paul continued his missionary journeys. It turns out that believers there were putting more faith in the teachings of these men than in God. The sad part about it is that Christians today donít fully realize the profound lesson to be learned here.
I cannot tell you how many times over the years our family has been invited to attend any given church. Weíve heard all the selling points: an awesome youth program, great worship, and a young energetic pastor who puts a new twist on the Bible. When I pose a question of doctrinal issues, the response is usually Iím not sure or Iíll have to get back to you on that, only to never have them mention church again. If thatís their only selling points and they cannot answer doctrinal questions, itís usually a red flag to me.
Why are they red flags? They are red flags because just in a simple invitation I can sometimes see where their faith rests. People who have invited us to church know we have children, so they automatically think I care about an active youth program. Personally I want my children to first turn to the Word and then to Marlo and I for guidance, not a youth pastor.
Worship is a wonderful part of church services every week, but itís not the only part. Iíve been to churches before that have made worship the center of their activities. The worship part of the service seems more like a rock concert than church, which at times is okay to me as I really used to be into the whole 80ís big hair band thing. But when worship takes up about one hour of a ninety minute church service and the band members are treated like rock stars instead of ministering servants, there is a problem. Faith has come to rest in music more than anything else.
As for pastors, this can be a very difficult situation. I have listened to pastors over the years from the church pulpit, at conferences, on television, and even on my iPod. Some have laid things out very plainly, while others were educated beyond their level of intelligence. When those guys spoke, I just left scratching my head, wondering if everyone else was a confused as I was. They had intellectualized me right out of the building.
I can confess in my own life that there have been way too many times when I have rested my faith in something other than Godís power. I have put faith in money, preachers, evangelists, possessions, and yes, even my own sin before I rested my faith in Him. All of them led me further and further away from God.
Now I have no magical formula to solve this problem. I canít give you an equation for you to plug into your life so you can find where your faith rests. But I do have a few questions. Do you enjoy worship at church more than you enjoy hearing the Word? Do you rely solely on your pastor to interpret the Bible for you, or do you seek Godís guidance daily on your own? Are you giving money to that televangelist every week because he prays a financial blessing over everyone that gives? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, they could be pointing you to where your faith rests.
Where should your faith rest? It should rest only in the power of God. The wisdom of men will always try to explain away the unexplainable and justify the unjustifiable. There is no room for the wisdom of men in the power of God. Thatís why so many cults and weird religions have sprung up over the years. Someone thought they had some mystical insight and built a doctrine around it. It has led the likes of David Koresh and Jim Jones to set themselves up as a God to their followers. Those men led not only themselves but others astray. Donít rest your faith anywhere but where it counts: the power of God. Youíll be surprised at the wonders it will work in your life.