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May 29, 2024: Preaching from the Holy Spirit

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1–5, CSB)

By whose authority do you act? Jesus is posed this question by the religious leaders in the temple: “…By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do these things?”” (Mark 11:28, CSB) To which Jesus responded, “Was John’s baptism from heaven or of human origin? Answer me.” (Mark 11:30, CSB) They had seen John. Nothing seemed that impressive about the man until he spoke. And it wasn’t his eloquence that impressed nor a great and dramatic delivery. John drew the multitudes into the desert because he spoke with authority the prophetic word he had been given.

In every generation, there are a plethora of voices speaking contradictory messages. Not every voice speaks truth. Some voices speak words informed by intensive research and wise discernment. Some speak because they love the sound of their own voice. Some voices speak cultural bias fluently. Some have a product to sell and care little about the truthfulness of their claims. Some speak a message “itching ears” long to hear to puff up themselves.

By whose authority does the preacher preach and the teacher teach? This is the essential question a Christian must ask. Listen to Paul’s warning to the Ephesians, Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them.(Acts 20:30, CSB) Many speak with a disregard for the truth, an axe to grind or a product to sale. And Paul tells the Corinthians that people will put up with it: For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly! (2 Corinthians 11:4, CSB)

The one who preaches is to be a faithful herald of God’s word, of truth. Paul came before the Church “in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” Paul did not come to proclaim his theology, his politics, his economics, or anything from himself. “On the contrary,” he says, “we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7, CSB)

Before the deacon, priest, or bishop preaches, he kneels and prays. He asks God to speak through him God’s word, by God’s power. The preacher prays that he will get out of the way and that God speak through Him and opens the hearts of those who hear that they may receive God’s word. Faithful preaching is “a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” For our faith is never based on human wisdom but on God’s power.

The Church does not need more of the world’s words, it needs to hear God clearly. It needs to respond to that word in faith. And it needs to allow that word to take hold and remake us after His will.

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