Last week we discussed what it would look like to live naturally supernatural lives as we tap into the power of God in all areas of our lives (Click here to read last week's post). So how does this relate to the Kingdom and our desire to be Kingdom people, live in the Kingdom, and partner with God in extending the Kingdom?
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in chapter four, Paul is encouraging the church there. He calls them “beloved children” and reminds them that he is a spiritual father to them. He is warning them about “arrogant” people and says when he comes to visit, “I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.” He then says:
“For the Kingdom of God does not exist in talk but in power.”
– 1 Cor. 4:20
In the Message, Eugene Peterson translates it this way:
“God’s way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.”
So why is power important and how does it relate to the Kingdom? Power brings credibility and authenticity. Instead of just talking about it, people are able to see it in our lives. It’s the “aroma of Christ” that Paul talks about. It’s part of what it means to be a peculiar people. It’s part of what it means to be the light of the world.
I was re-reading a section of JP Moreland’s “Kingdom Triangle” recently. Moreland articulates the three sides of the Kingdom triangle as “The Recovery of Knowledge,” the “Renovation of the Soul,” and the “Restoration of of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power.” The section I was re-reading was the last section regarding the Kingdom’s power. Moreland discusses how the Church in the non-Western world is growing in large numbers and a main component of that is the supernatural work of God. He then quotes Michael Green from his book “Evangelism and the Early Church.” Green is speaking to the contemporary Western church. He looks at the early church and their emphasis on the power of the Spirit as an example we should look to:
“People did not merely hear the gospel; they saw it in action, and were moved to respond. The Western Church has grown too dependent on words, and not nearly dependent enough on the power of the Holy Spirit… Instead of being a community demonstrating the Lord’s power, we have become one which talks incessantly.”
In his section on the “Gospel of the Kingdom of God," Moreland later says:
“Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom was accompanied by a manifestation of miraculous power as an accurate expression of the nature of that Kingdom and as an extension of its rule and victory over Satan’s kingdom.”
Green and Moreland are making the same point that Paul was, it’s not enough to just proclaim or talk about the Kingdom.
Proclamation is important.
Words are important.
Talking, discussing, wrestling, questioning, and thinking are all important.
It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.
Jesus proclaimed the presence and nearness of the Kingdom and then he demonstrated what he proclaimed. I think Green is right in his assessment of the contemporary Western church. We have become too dependent on words.
As we step into this new normal of a post-modern, post-Christian society, this exhortation from Green is a crucial one. People want to see it, they want to know that it works. They want to know that this gospel we proclaim actually has the power to transform us and the world around us.
Friends, can you imagine what would happen if we lived life in an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that resulted in transformed lives to the point where this transformation was clearly evident to both those closest to us and others we interact with as we go (i.e., we are actually the light of the world, aroma of Christ, peculiar people)? And from this place of intimacy, in the process of being transformed, can you imagine what would happen if we actually stepped into the spiritual authority we have as sons and daughters in the name of Jesus and accessed the power of the Kingdom that’s available to us so that whenever we come across evil in the forms of the demonic or injustice, or whenever we come across sickness and brokenness, things change or shift?! (If you can't tell I’m high on my soapbox right now... trying to figure out if I should keep going or step down :). Talk about salt and light! This kind of body of Christ would change the world.
This is what the world needs my friends! We need to be hearers and doers. We need to talk it and walk it. We need to have head knowledge and experiential knowledge. Why? First off, it was the model of Jesus to proclaim the good news of the nearness of Kingdom and then demonstrate it. Secondly, as Paul says, “For the Kingdom of God does not exist in talk but in power.”
I would love to hear any thoughts you have on this. Do you agree? Disagree? What do you think about this idea of authenticity and the importance of us living out what we proclaim?
Take some time and sit with 1 Cor. 4:20 this week. For you, does the Kingdom of God exist mostly in words or in power? Talk to the Lord about it.
Dream a little: If the Kingdom came on earth as it is in heaven, in words and power, what would that look like? What would you want it to look like? Once you’ve done that, ask God if you have any role in helping to make that happen.