Questions for Littles: How did Paul not come to them (v1)? What did he come declaring instead? What was he determined not know (v2)? What, alone, was he determined to know? What about Christ did he emphasize? How did Paul present himself before them in v3? What did his preaching appear to be missing, to some (v4)? But with what did that preaching come? What did this keep them from putting their faith in (v5a)? What did it ensure that they would put their faith in (v5b)?In this week’s Epistle reading, we are challenged about what we put our faith in, and what we lead others to put our faith in. Praise God for faithful churches, and praise God for faithful ministers. But, our passage leaves us with the clear message that if people come away from us thinking, “what a great church!” or “what a great minister!” then we have not truly achieved our aim. Rather, we should desire that they come away thinking, “What a great God!” and “What a great Savior!” and “What a great salvation!”
Paul is still encouraging them to embrace their ordinariness—to embrace their unimpressiveness. Not only does this ensure that all the glory goes to God (as we learned in last week’s passage), but it also redirects people’s faith.
If the Lord takes us from people, would they say, “Oh no! What shall we do?” Or, have we been determined to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, so that they can receive a message similar to Joshua chapter 1: “Moses, My servant, is dead. Now, be strong and courageous for [God] is with you.”
How we present ourselves to those to whom we minister is, in the economy of God’s providence, a significant factor in determining upon what they come to depend. Will they end up with faith in the wisdom (or, perhaps thoughtfulness or goodness or togetherness, or ?) of men? Or will they end up with faith in the power of God?
Paul didn’t preach cleverly assembled sermons full of catchy turns of phrase. He preached plain doctrine about how God became man to save, and did so not by being impressive but rather by being executed.
In fact, he preached such sermons that one would say, “Come on Paul… it would take a miracle from God for that sermon to bring someone to faith!”
And that is exactly the point, isn’t it? Paul came and preached plainly about Jesus so that when the people believed, all would know for sure, “This can be a demonstration only of the Spirit and power of God!”
Isn’t this what we want most, when we witness, or when we have others preach and teach to us: not that there would be a great presentation that gives us a memorable encounter with men, but instead that there would be a plain gospel presentation, that Christ would be clearly seen, and that there would be a glorious encounter with God.
Let us so act and so speak as to have this as our great aim!
How can you be presenting Jesus more plainly and yourself less impressively to others?Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or HB132 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”