This is the final part of this four-part series.
10. The kingdom of God is power. Power = loving relationships. Love is not talk. It is not niceness.
11. Urgency of proclaiming and responding to the kingdom of God. Cost of following Christ. Following Christ involves proclaiming kingdom of God urgently because that is the most loving thing one can do.
12. There will be opposition when you preach the kingdom of God. When you proclaim the kingdom of God urgently, there will be persecution.
1) How do you define spiritual power?
2) Do these passages address a Christian who says that being nice is all that matters?
Passages to read: 1 Cor 4:14-21, Luke 9:57-62, Rev 12:1-17
The kingdom of God is power
1 Cor 4:14-21
How do you define spiritual power?
There are many possible definitions, but Paul gives one clear definition in 1 Cor 4. 1 Cor 4 is a painful letter for Paul to write because the leaders of this church are questioning his apostleship. Leaders like Apollos are known for their eloquence and people are being led astray.
We don’t know exactly how they were led astray. It could be that they were moving toward some sort of heresy. Or they were diverting attention and glory away from Christ and toward themselves. This letter mentions factions being formed. I follow this leader. Or I follow that leader. One thing is clear — whatever these eloquent speakers were saying, the congregation began to question Paul’s leadership.
And Paul in 1 Cor 4:18-20 retorts back — read. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
You can talk a big game, but that’s not what the kingdom is all about. The kingdom is a matter of power.
But what makes Paul so powerful? He talks, too, doesn’t he? He is going around preaching so people may accuse him of being a talker as well.
But I believe Paul prefaces this statement of the kingdom of God being about power with verses that demonstrate or validate a life of power. And the preceding verses reveal that Paul was all about love.
1 Cor 4:14-17 — read.
Paul defines power as being a person who loves. Not someone who can talk about love, or theologize about love.
I can say I love Jackie or my kids, but talk is cheap.
Problem – love for immediate family and that’s where it ends for most people.
Love – cannot love on our own strength
Not about being an eloquent speaker or a good teacher.
Spiritual power defined in terms of being a spiritual father with
concrete love relationships.
People who are willing to follow you
People you’d be willing to follow
Powerful life is a loving life.
A life of love is not the same as being nice.
Jesus and Paul were confrontational people. Fueled by love. If I have one shot to preach the gospel, I don’t want to hold back any punches.
Satan’s scheme – let us be content being nice. You know I am a Christian. Come to me whenever you have a question.
Entering the kingdom of God forcefully.
Urgent message. Urgent for us to respond properly. Urgent for us to share and proclaim the message about the kingdom.
Nice people blend in.
Loving people stick out. Opposition.
Urgency of preaching the gospel
Luke 9:57-62 – urgency to proclaim/The Cost of Following Jesus
Luke 10:8-15 – urgency
Luke 9:57 and 9:58 seem to be a non-sequitur. Jesus knows our hearts so not a random phrase.
Mentality of this first person: I’ll follow but I expect to have my physical living needs taken care of.
Mentality of second and third person – I want to follow but there are some urgent things. Familial duties. How about saying good-bye to parents – seems like a reasonable thing. Jesus knows our hearts. If
this person followed, he would only do so half-heartedly and always wonder if he made the right choice.
Certainty of opposition when you preach the kingdom of God
Rev 12:1-17 – opposition/The Woman and the Dragon