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The Gospel Is The Power of God

February 1, 2007

The gospel is the power of God.  That’s an odd statement.  This is a well-known, oft quoted verse, and the danger with a familiar verse is that when we hear it we don’t really hear it anymore.  But now that we are lingering over it, isn’t it strange that Paul would say the gospel is the power of God?  The gospel is a message, a proclamation.  It would make sense to say that it proclaims the saving power of God, or that it is a powerful message, but why does Paul say it is the power of God?

I remind you of what we’ve learned over the last few weeks about Paul’s doctrine of calling.  We’ve seen that God’s effectual call is no mere invitation.  It’s not like “here kitty” but rather it is a command like “Lazarus, come forth!” that miraculously and powerfully and irresistibly evokes a response.   When I preach the gospel to you and you respond to it with faith, there is more going on here than just me merely delivering a message about the saving power of God which you then listen to and evaluate and decide to believe.  That way of thinking about conversion smells of humanism.  It has man-stink all over it.    The gospel preaching event is not about you and me.  God is here!  He is working through the preaching of gospel in such a way that you can say the gospel is the power of God.   When the gospel goes forth he is opening blind eyes, softening hard hearts, regenerating dead wills.  Paul, in 2Cor 4.6 compares the call of God to his powerful word that created the universe.   For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.   How did God create the universe?  He spoke it into existence.  And that’s also how God gave us eternal life, the knowledge of himself, he spoke it into our hearts.  The gospel is the power of God.

Last week we heard Paul giving thanks to God for the faith of the Romans because faith is a gift from God, and we saw this in numerous verses.  Now this week we see that the preaching of the gospel is the means by which God gives that gift of faith to people.  So in Romans 10:17 Paul will say “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  And in 1Cor 1:18 he says the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  The word of the cross is the power of God, just as in Romans 1:16 the gospel is the power of God.

James 1:18   He chose to give us birth through the word of truth

1 Peter 1:23-25  you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Does not this understanding of the gospel motivate you to proclaim it?  Don’t you want to tell it to someone, just to see what happens?   I became more liberated to preach the gospel when I came to understand that the gospel is not a product that you pitch, it is the power of God.  I don’t want to overstate the point and say that all persuasion and apologetics is unnecessary, but primarily your job is not to persuade and convince and cajole people into believing.  Your job as an ambassador of Christ is simply to deliver the message and the message is able all by itself to give sight to the spiritually blind and awaken the spiritually dead.

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