Paul wasn’t afraid to admit that he was inadequate. Now that is something. In fact, he was scared to death. Deep down, we all are scared. God’s goal for us is not for us to be afraid and scared. He wants us to confident in Him and His power.
So where did being scared lead Paul? Straight to God. God is able. Nothing is impossible with Him. The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead was in Paul and is in me. Faith is a response to God’s power.
God is great. His power has no end. He can do anything. He wants to show us what can be done if we believe in Him and not in ourselves.
I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5
Though he was an apostle, Paul came to them as a humble servant. He did not depend on himself; he became nothing that the Messiah might be everything. In later years, Paul brought this up again and contrasted himself to the false teachers that had invaded Corinth. Paul had learned that when he was weak, then God made him strong.
Paul depended on the power of the Holy Spirit. It was not his experience or ability that gave his ministry its power; it was the work of the Spirit of God. His preaching was a “demonstration,” not a “performance.” The word translated demonstration means “legal proof presented in court.” The Holy Spirit used Paul’s preaching to change lives, and that was all the proof Paul needed that his message was from God. Wicked sinners were transformed by the power of God!
We must note that Paul is not telling us to deliberately preach poorly, or to avoid using the gifts God gave them. Men like Charles Spurgeon and George Whitefield were gifted orators whose words carried power, but they did not depend on their natural talents. They trusted the Spirit of God to work in the hearts of their hearers, and He did. Those who minister the Word must prepare and use every gift God has given them—but they must not put their confidence in themselves.
He wanted them to trust in God and not in the messenger God sent. Had he depended on human wisdom and presented the plan of salvation as a philosophical system, then the Corinthians would have put their trust in an explanation. Because Paul declared the Word of God in the power of God, his converts put their faith in a demonstration: they experienced God at work in their own lives.
Finally, Paul reminded them of his aim. He wanted them to trust in God and not in the messenger God sent. Had he depended on human wisdom and presented the plan of salvation as a philosophical system, then the Corinthians would have put their trust in an explanation. Because Paul declared the Word of God in the power of God, his converts put their faith in a demonstration: they experienced God at work in their own lives.
The good news of Jesus is still God’s power to change men’s lives. Effectiveness in evangelism does not depend on our arguments or persuasive gimmicks, but on the power of the Spirit of God at work in our lives and through the Word that we share.