Studies in First Corinthians – VIII
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 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 4:18-21
The Corinthians boasted of their learning and knowledge, but Paul knew their religion was more a matter of head knowledge than heart understanding. They were concerned about matters of administration and policy, yet they ignored the dark stain of sin.
“Look at the condition that you are in!” Paul was trying to direct their attention to the real issues in this chapter. “You are all talk and intellect; your religion is just theory without reality.” The kingdom of God is not in word, it is not just philosophy and having all the correct answers, it is power – and power was the one thing the Corinthians did not have.
Without that power, Paul tells them that all their knowledge is basically hot air. In a sense, Paul was bursting their bubble. Their heads had gotten too big for the room. They were so proud of what they thought they had, so sophisticated, and yet they were lacking the most important thing: they did not have Holy Ghost power and authority.
We all seek, and rightly so, to know all we can about truth. We certainly need knowledge, education, training, and preparation. If fact, I advocate that we pursue these, as a Church, more than ever before; however, never at the expense of the transforming power of the Holy Ghost. If we have knowledge without power, we are just full of hot air!
The faithful minister (or saint of God), full of the Holy Ghost, is a spectacle in the world (4:7-14). In his path he will face unpopularity and misunderstanding, but he does not concern himself with the judgement of men. He is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk. I like the way that Raymond Woodward puts it, “Your relationship with God is not measured by how much you talk about Jesus, but by how much your life has been changed by his power!”