Not Words, but Power
We’ve talked about this passage some already.
“Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Cor 4:18-20).
The context was that some people claimed they had knowledge and had it all together. But he said, “I’ll find out what these people are made of soon enough. I’m not coming to you with words, but with power.” A confidence is there. “I know that God is confirming my word by His activity. It’s undeniably Deity that follows me.”
He was saying, “Some are puffed up, but it’s okay. It’s no problem and I’m not worried about it. We’ll hoe through that row. You have 10,000 tutors but not many fathers. Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. See if the Spirit of Christ isn’t living in you. After all, that’s what it’s all about. Has not your life changed by my interaction with you?” He’s reasoning with them and in this case he says, “A demonstration of Spirit and of power is the proof that God is in this. It’s not just my words.”
“I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2Cor. 12:11-12).
He was saying, “You guys drove me crazy with your nitpicking and the way you were always looking at the natural. You were looking for natural things like, ‘I’m of Apollos. I’m of Cephas.’ That’s being like mere men. How disgusting to be acting like mere men when you’re not supposed to be mere men any more.”
He said, “I’ve become a fool in all of this boasting. But I’m not any less than the eminent apostles though by my own admission, I am nothing. Truly the signs of a sent one were accomplished among you with all perseverance in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”
And that’s not a mark just of an apostle, that’s a mark of a sent one. Philip did great signs and wonders, and he wasn’t an apostle, but an evangelist. Jesus said that signs would follow those who believe and proclaim His word (Mark 16:17). “Go into every nation and baptize. Teach them to obey everything I commanded you and I will be with you to the very end of the age. I will be with you” (Matt. 28:19-20). That’s not meant to be something to just comfort or encourage us. That has to do with a demonstration of the Spirit and of Power.
Remember what Jesus said when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and those men said, “Why weren’t we able to cast out these demons?” First He made fun of them, “Oh, you perverse and unbelieving generation.” He was surprised that they couldn’t handle it. Or when they woke Him up in the hull of the ship, He said, “Come on you guys…I’ve been with you and you still don’t believe? All right, all right. ‘Peace be still.’”
It’s like Jesus was always surprised at their responses. He was caught off guard. God gets caught off guard by our unbelief. He’s surprised that we think of ourselves as mere men. He’s surprised that we have such a low estimate of His work in us and on this earth that we’re caught off guard by a storm. We’re not able to deal with it, but He expects us to be able to. Maybe it needs to be dealt with by prayer and fasting—by that fervency of spirit that says, “No, I won’t accept the natural! I won’t accept the predictable. I won’t accept the statistically probable. I won’t accept it.” Some kind only come out by prayer and fasting: “If you say to this mountain, ‘Be thou removed and cast into the sea,’ not doubting, it will be done.” That’s normal Christianity, not some hyper-spiritual verse. That’s the nature of the Christ-Life.
“Christ in you, the hope of Glory.”
“Apart from Me you can do nothing. This is how you show yourselves to be my disciples, by bearing much fruit.
“Greater things than these shall you do.”
“If any of you says to this mountain, ‘Be thou removed and cast into the sea,’ it will be done.”
“God has poured out these things you now see and hear.”
The Lord, He is God—He is God! Paul talked about using divine weapons to tear down satan’s strongholds. We need to see that and we need to see the gates of hell not prevailing against His Church. In order to do that, it will involve the use of divine weapons.