Sola Scriptura: Not Talk but Power

This is a series about taking the Scriptures seriously, especially in areas that I (or we?) have overlooked or missed.

In 1 Corinthians 4:20, Paul writes, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Here’s one way I’d like to describe it.

First, imagine that you are the personal friend of a man named Sam. This man has years of experience in business and has keen insight into all facets of business and leadership. You and I get together for lunch one day, and I begin spilling my troubles to you. My business is failing, and my personnel are discouraged. I’m working 80 hour weeks trying to save my business, but everything under my leadership is failing.

Immediately you tell me about Sam. “You need to meet him!” you tell me. “He knows so much about business.”

“Yes!” I reply. “Can I?”

“Certainly!” you respond. “Let me tell you what he’s like. He’s very intelligent, and he has started many companies in his past. He has become a business consultant, and he travels the world, working with multinational corporations, resolving some of their most complex investment strategies.”

“Wow,” I reply. “When can I meet him?”

“Right now,” you say. “In fact, he’s just started working with international governments, developing techniques to stimulate their economies. But more than that, he is an amazing friend to me. He’s just a great person! He is married, has children, and is an amazing husband and father.”

Our conversation ends, but I am never introduced to Sam. I leave, excited over how amazing Sam must be, but I remain imprisoned in my cycle of mistakes because I never met the man who had the answers.

We’re like that sometimes.

It’s easy sometimes to tell people about Jesus and forget the introduction. People don’t primarily need to hear about Jesus. They need to meet Him; they need to be introduced to Him. What good is it to hear a third party’s account if you can’t meet the person? You can’t relate with a description. You can only relate with a person!

Sometimes we try to do the same thing with the kingdom of God. Many of us are awakening to the reality that the Christianity we read about in the book of Acts looks very different than the Christianity we see in many churches today. Many of us begin asking questions about the kingdom of God. How do we get there? What do we do? What does it look like? Does God heal the sick? How does He heal the sick?

While some of these questions need to be answered, they are only effective as a description, not as an introduction. I am coming to realize that the best way to introduce people to these spiritual realities is not by telling them about it, but praying them into it. Information goes to the mind; an encounter reaches your heart.

I am in no means against information and facts! Truth to be told, anything you tell me about Sam will probably be helpful as I relate with Him. However, your information is meaningless to me until I have been introduced to Him.

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. It is more than the expression of doctrines and ideas (though doctrines are important!). It is a demonstration of the power of God that turns people’s hearts towards God. I do not condemn those who have not encountered the power of the kingdom. Yes, some people have closed their hearts to it, but many more live their lives unaware of the power of Christ dwelling within them. Yes, these people may need more information, but most importantly, they need a fresh and deep encounter with the one who is everything–Jesus Christ. That power radically changes people’s lives.

May God take us on whatever journey necessary to become the kind of people who live out the kingdom not in words but in power.

Soli Deo gloria.

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