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17 The Miracle of Belief
“My speech and my preaching were not with
persuasive words of human wisdom…” —1 Corinthians 2:4
Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest
degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was
saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he
impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a
miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive
speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of
God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the
gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.
Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not
fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and
from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The
preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading
through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If
it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will
never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of
the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the
creative power of His redemption from doing its work.
“And I, if I am lifted up…, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John