In the Power of God

1Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 

‘Excellency’ [Greek: huperoche] pre-eminence.

‘Testimony of God’ [Greek: marturion] Always rendered testimony (except in Mat. 24:14; Acts 4:33; 7:44; Jas. 5:3). In these passages, it is translated as “witness.” It refers to the gospel of Christ which Paul had confirmed to people in all places by the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:18-19, 29; Acts 15:4, 12; 19:11).

‘Determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.’ Paul was determined not to cultivate any other knowledge, or esteem any other doctrine as worthy of notice, save Jesus Christ and the benefits of the cross are: Deliverance from enemies (Luke 1:71, 74; 1Jn.  5:18); the mercy from God (Luke 1:72; Tit. 3:4-5; Eph. 2:4-9); justification by faith (Luke 1:72-73; Gal. 3:6-15); peace with God (Luke 1:74; Rom. 5:1-11; Eph. 2:14-18); holiness and righteousness (Luke 1:75; Eph. 4:24; Tit. 2:11-12); reconciliation to God (Luke 1:77; 2Cor. 5:14-21; Col. 1:20); light and guidance (Luke 1:79; 1Jn 1:7; John 16:7-14).

‘Weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling’ – This weakness could be physical, or an expression of utter dependence on God. If physical, it was no doubt the result of Paul’s stoning, beatings, and other sufferings of 2Corinthians 11:24-27 and Galatians 4:13. The fear and trembling could be a state of mind, dreading lest he should grieve God and bring reproach upon truth (1Cor. 9:27; cp. 2Cor. 7:15; Eph. 6:5). ‘Enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.’ Persuasive doctrines of human wisdom. I used none of the means of great orators to sway people. I preached under the anointing and power of the Spirit and confirmed what I preached with signs following (Rom. 15:18-19, 29; Acts 19:11). I used this method so that your faith might be in the power of God, not in human wisdom (1Cor. 2:4-6).

Born of Water and of the Spirit

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, You must be born again. The wind blow where it listed, and thou hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it come, and whither it go: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 

‘Born of water and of the Spirit’ does not refer to the natural birth, for Nicodemus already had this birth and he was told he had to be born again of both water and Spirit. Not water baptism; all Old Testament saints were saved and born again without water baptism (Heb. 11:1-40; Rom. 3:23-25).

Water is used in a figurative sense of salvation (John 4:14; Isa. 12:3), of the Spirit baptism (John 7:37-39), and of cleansing by the Word of God (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26). Since men are cleansed and born again by the Word (Jas. 1:18; 1Pet. 1:23), it is clear that being born of water means being born again by the Word of God.

‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ This is a fundamental law in both natural and spiritual realms; that is, we live after the flesh or after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-13; Gal. 5:16-26).

‘So is every one that is born of the Spirit’ as the natural man hears the wind, so the man who is born again hears the voice of the Spirit.

True Saving Faith

James 2:19-20, 24, 26  Thou believe that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

Believing in God is no proof that you are justified by faith alone, for even devils believe without justification. Abraham is used as an example in verse 21 to 23 of someone justified by works when he had gone to offer Isaac his son upon the altar. See then how his faith shaped with his works and by works was faith made perfect. It was faith that led him to this act of obedience. Had he refused to obey, it would have demonstrated that he had no faith in God or His Word. Verse 25 speaks of Rahab the harlot who was also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way.

Are you willing to be instructed as to the nature of true saving faith?

The body without the spirit is dead: Only the body dies at the time of physical death. This is caused by the soul and spirit leaving the body. The body returns to dust and the soul and spirit of the righteous go to heaven to await the resurrection (2Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:21-24). The soul and spirit of the wicked go to hell to await the resurrection (Lk. 16:19-31; Isa.14:9; Rev. 20:11-15). The soul and spirit are spiritual and immortal. They cannot go back to dust. Just as surely as the inner man leaves the body at physical death and is no longer with the body, so faith without works is dead (separated) and is powerless.