What Do You Preach?
Many people view the Apostle Paul as a legend of the faith. He definitely is an important part of Christianity and he is a person that we, as Christians, can look to because of his story and his great conversion. But even beyond that there are so many things about the Apostle Paul that we need to understand.
Most of us know that Paul was a Jew among Jews. He also was the self-proclaimed chief of all sinners. Paul hated Christians and murdered them. But I think one thing that often gets overlooked is the change in Paul’s life. Paul was a self-righteous Pharisee who became a humble servant of Jesus Christ. Paul’s new attitude is shown in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5 when Paul writes:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. -ESV
I enjoy how Paul starts out this section of Scripture because he makes it clear that he doesn’t come to the Corinthians with words of wisdom or of great intelligence, instead he comes with a simple testimony of God. This shows a major shift in Paul’s thinking because in the past his self-righteousness and intelligence defined him. He was a Pharisee. He was a teacher of the law and a professional in the law. And because of his extensive training he had intelligence that far exceeded the average Jew.
Because of his training and intelligence Paul could’ve used elaborate arguments for Christianity, but he decided not to. He simply chose to preach Christ crucified. Paul understood that Christ being crucified was the hinge that Christianity hung on.
In verses three and four Paul gives us a clear view of his humility. He comes to them preaching the Gospel in fear and trembling but be on that he also comes to them in weakness. For any of us to say that would be an act of humility but for Paul its seems like an even greater statement. Here is a guy who was at the top of his field. He studied under Gamaliel who was known as one of the greatest teachers of Jewish law. Yet, Paul still came to the Corinthians in weakness because he knew that his greatest strength could never match that of the God of Scripture. This is shown at the end of verse 4 when Paul writes, “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Paul ends this section giving his reason for coming to them in fear, in trembling, and in weakness. Paul understands that if he were to come with great arguments and convinced them solely through the wisdom of man then he would be winning them to the wisdom of man. Human arguments are sometimes needed but what would happen if someone more eloquent came to the Corinthians speaking about another god? It would be Paul’s human arguments against the another’s human arguments. Paul did not want to win them but the wisdom of man; Paul wanted to win them with the wisdom of God. I like how Dr. James White recalls a phrase of one of his fellow elders would say:
What you win them with is what you win them to.
I think this is exactly what Paul was trying to communicate in this passage. Clever reasoning and eloquent arguments may you be great to use but the wisdom of God trumps all. At the end of the day if you win people with clever arguments, you are winning people to clever arguments. But, if you win people with Christ crucified, then you will win people to Christ crucified.
I pray that all of us will have hearts like the Apostle Paul. Hearts that are set on humility and preaching Christ crucified instead of relying solely on our own abilities to reach the lost.
Thanks for reading.