The Relevantly Potent Gospel:
By Frank A. DeCenso Jr.
1 Corinthians 4
20For the kingdom of God is not in word but
Paul understood that the message of God’s kingdom wasn't
proclaimed through ‘fancily constructed sermons’ and
‘common sense self-help tips.’ It is proclaimed with
evidence of the Spirit's presence and kingdom "power,"
capable of intervening in lives to impart real change.
The word “power” in verse 20 is the Greek word dunamis.
The commonly used Strong’s Concordance defines this word
as “miraculous power.” Thayer, another common Greek
source for many Christians, gives as one definition, “power
for performing miracles.”
A glance in the Gospels reveals that evidentiary power accompanied
the preaching of the “kingdom of God” (Matthew has
“kingdom of heaven”):
7And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven
is at hand.' 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,
cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
1Then He called His twelve disciples together and
gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
2He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to
heal the sick.
11But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him;
and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of
God, and healed those who had need of healing.
9And heal the sick there, and say to them, "The kingdom
of God has come near to you.'
20But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the
kingdom of God has come upon you.
20And they went out and preached everywhere, the
Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying
In Acts, the same evidentiary power was even asked for and given:
29Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to
Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs
and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant
12aAnd through the hands of the apostles many signs
and wonders were done among the people.
14And believers were increasingly added to the Lord,
multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they
brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds
and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might
fall on some of them. 16Also a multitude gathered
from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people
and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were
8And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great
wonders and signs among the people.
6And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things
spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came
out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed
and lame were healed. 8And there was great joy in
32Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all
parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who
dwelt in Lydda. 33There he found a certain man named
Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.
34And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the
Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose
immediately. 35So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon
saw him and turned to the Lord.
37But it happened in those days that [Tabitha] became
sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an
40But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and
prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise."
And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
41Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and
when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many
believed on the Lord.
12Then all the multitude kept silent and listened
to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders
God had worked through them among the Gentiles.
11Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of
Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were
brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them
and the evil spirits went out of them.
Likewise, when we preach and proclaim God’s kingdom, there
should be evidence that God is working with us in power
to expand the kingdom. When that happens, a world of hurting unbelievers
and "seekers" will come through our doors, looking for
the Living God.
Paul made another interesting statement in 1 Corinthians
1And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence
of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus
Christ and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness, in fear,
and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching were
not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration
of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith should not be in
the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
In essence, Paul said that he did not preach to them using humanly
constructed wisdom. Rather, his “speech and [his] preaching…[was]
in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (vs. 4). Why?
So that people would place their faith in God's power and not
in man’s mortal wisdom (vs. 5). Paul did not rely on his
oratory skills and homiletic abilities to change lives because
he knew it was God’s presence and power alone that
had the potency to perform the task.
Like Paul, we should preach the good news with God’s presence
and power accompanying us, thereby validating our message (Acts
14:3; Hebrews 2:3-4).
Copyright © 2005 by Frank A. DeCenso Jr.
All verses NKJV
Frank has been teaching the Bible in churches
and other venues for more than 20 years. He is currently the Ministry
Resources Director at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Virginia
Beach, Va. He is an employee at Regent University in the Information
Technology Department. He is also the founder of Presence-Powered
Ministries. Frank is married and lives in Virginia Beach.
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