Knowing The Power
Robert Wurtz II
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:19-20)
One of the great advantages Paul had in ministry, is that he could discern the difference between the true power of God (dunamis) and everything else. His bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible. He had to rely on the Holy Spirit as a matter of course. He knew no other way.
Contextually, I have the impression that there were some at Corinth who were pretending to be moving under the power of God in their preaching- but it was a sham. Their speech wasn’t contemptible like Paul’s; it may have been quite smooth and eloquent. They were using it to their advantage. A good speaker can move a crowd- but that does not mean it is the Holy Spirit back of the words. Indeed, the people might have been fooled, but Paul was keenly aware of the forces that tried to move him. He paid attention to them. Is this God or is it something else? He refused to come under the power of anything other than the Holy Spirit. God gave him discernment to know the difference between the earthly, sensual and demonic. In his own words, “I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.”
Moved By Speech
The world loves to manipulate people. Think about how many times in a given day you are afforded an opportunity to be carried along by something or someone other than the Holy Spirit. Movies come to mind. There was a time when films were silent and in black and white. They would have little power to move anyone in modern times. Why? Because today movies are designed to dazzle the eyes and flood the ears – to the point that one can be almost caught up in the story line. All of the elements can be brought together to move a person in powerful ways. I recall in the 80s a famous movie about jet fighter pilots called Top Gun. So moving was that film, that stories are told of Air Force recruiters setting up shop outside the theater to sign up young men and women that were moved by that film. I’m not sure how many went through with it or how many that did lived to regret it. Nevertheless, the sights, the sounds, the words- moved many people. What was moving them? Were they even aware that they were being moved?
A New Age of Danger
Can you imagine a silent film trying to pull off the effect of a Hollywood movie such as Top Gun? How about the theaters of bygone centuries? It would be impossible. The technology did not exist to move people like that. Prior to the discovery of electricity, there was no way to build machines that could project images or amplify sound. If you wanted to move someone you had to do it with your own theatrics and sound voice. Electricity placed into the hands of men a mighty tool for moving the masses.
Sound is a powerful force when amplified. Think of how many times you have pulled up to a traffic light and a young person is blasting their minds and those around them with a highly amplified sound system. why don’t they opt for their grandparents AM radio out of their 56 Chevy Bel Air? Because it can’t move them like their sub woofer.
Discerning the Power
Imagine for a moment you are at a large outdoor concert. The singers are carrying on, the instruments are playing- when all of the sudden the power goes out. Boom! Just like that- the place falls silent except for the groans of the crowd. Emergency lights come on and the stage is silent. At that moment the show stops. There is no possible way for the band to continue because they lack that basic element that was making everything possible; electricity. Without electricity, a microphone, soundboard, amplifier and speaker setup the voices of the band are as dead and flat as can be. They may have good voices; but the amplification gives their voice a power that it would otherwise never have. Once the plug was pulled, they lost their ability to move the crowd. In an instant we know exactly what was really moving the people.
Willing to Face Reality
Paul was the type of man who wanted to move in reality. If something is pretending to be the power of God, he wanted to know it and expose it. I wonder how Paul would respond to many of our gatherings and meetings. There is no sense fooling ourselves any longer. What would Paul likely do? Would he say something like, “Young man, why don’t you step back there in that room and throw that red switch. I want to see what is really moving this congregation.” Do we have to have electricity to have a good meeting? If so, why? If the power went off in our revival meeting – would people say the Holy Spirit left the building? Would they cease animating? This is a tough question to swallow, but one we cannot afford to go another day without answering.
Amplification or Intercession?
There was a time when prayer was the means by which men and women sought the Lord for grace to minister the Gospel. In modern times we can prop ourselves up with so many things that project a false sense of dunamis (power) that fewer and fewer rely on prayer to accomplish the task. The people are moved- but what is moving them? If the electricity went off would the meeting go on unhindered? Are we moving in the method of Top Gun? People are moved to make a decision to sign up with God- but after the emotion of the production wears off they regret the decision and renege on their commitment. I’m afraid that electricity is such an easy substitute for the Holy Spirit, that it will be relied on in the main stream from now on. Multitudes will rise to its defense as just another “amoral” tool. All the while multitudes will go on believing that what the electricity makes them feel is the Holy Spirit. They are dependent on it and cannot find God without the false power it projects.
Knowing the Dunamis
I like electricity. Without it, this computer would go dead. That is not what this is about. When electricity is being used to move people through amplification and production, it is Top Gun. The feeling produced by amplification and instruments is not the power of the Holy Spirit- it is another power. We must not deceive ourselves. When the Holy Spirit comes he will bring what electricity can never bring; reproof of sin, righteousness, judgment to come and the fruit of the Spirit. Electricity can produce feelings of joy, love, and even peace. When the Holy Spirit is present there is power to effect lasting change. Many things pretend to anointing; beautiful songs, moving sermons, pithy sayings, on ad infinitum. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:19-20)