August 11, 1892
Text: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20.
THAT which they were to teach all nations is spoken of by Mark as “the gospel,” going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature. He that believes not shall be damned. But according to Luke, the Saviour said unto them, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49. Then in Acts 1:5-8:—
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
All these verses are essential for us to know the full force of the commission which the Lord gave his disciples at that time. They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, teaching that to all nations; and yet they were not to go until they were endued with power from on high. It would have been useless for them to go until that time; because the gospel is itself the power of God unto salvation, and the preaching of the gospel is the preaching of the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. And for them to go for the thinking to preach the power of God when they themselves were not acquainted with that power, would have been simply to preach empty words; it would not have been the gospel, because the gospel is the power of God. This is what the Lord himself has called it, the power of God unto salvation. And to preach that gospel, I say again, is to preach the power of God. Any professed preaching of that gospel, which is not the preaching of the power of God, is not the preaching of the gospel of God at all, it is not the preaching of the gospel of Christ. It may be preaching about the gospel, or it may be preaching another gospel; but it is not the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore he would not have them go at all to say anything about this, to attempt to preach it, until they were endued with the power of that gospel itself, the power of God, the power from on high. Then when they should receive power, the Holy Ghost coming upon them,—then he said they should bear witness in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
In the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, beginning with the 17th verse, is Paul’s record of his connection with this gospel, and what he was called to preach: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Then with Paul the preaching of the gospel was the preaching of the cross of Christ. Next verse: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.” Then the preaching of the gospel is the preaching of the cross of Christ, and that is the preaching of the power of God; for Christ is the power of God, as he says in a further verse, and the wisdom of God. So I read on:—
“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”
The Greeks sought after wisdom, and the Lord sent them that which they counted only foolishness. The Jews required a sign, and the Lord gave them that which they turned only into a stumbling-block. The Greeks sought after wisdom, and God gave it; but they would not take it, for they counted it only foolishness. The Jews required a sign, and God gave it; but they would not receive it because it came not just as they wanted; therefore they turned it into a stumbling-block, and got no good out of it. “The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified” “unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is stronger than men.”
Now notice, “We preach Christ crucified.” Unto them who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. That is what men are sent to preach; because that is the gospel. And the weakness of God is stronger than men, and the foolishness of God is wiser than men. But notice, they were not sent to preach weakness; they were sent to preach power, even the power of God, and they preached it. But even if they had been sent to preach the weakness of God, it would have been stronger than anything men can do or know. Then the thing for men to do is to accept it when God sends it,—accept it; for even though it be counted the weakness of God, it is stronger than anything men can get hold of, or create anyway.
Then they sought after wisdom, and the Lord sent them wisdom; he sent them Christ, the wisdom of God. He sent them his own wisdom, the wisdom of God himself; but they counted it foolishness. Yet even though they did, they should have accepted it, for the foolishness of God was wiser than anything they knew or could know otherwise. Then when God sends a message, no difference how we view it, we are to accept it. When God sends a message, men are to accept it, even though we count it weakness; for it is stronger than anything men give. It comes from God, it will not hurt anybody. Even though it be counted foolishness, that has nothing to do with it; accept it. Not that it is foolishness on God’s part, but men may count if foolishness. Well, as it came from God, it is wiser than anything man ever got hold of, or ever could. Then I say again, when God sends a message, no difference how men view it, or what they think it is, it is their duty to accept of it; and then they will find out it is something different than they thought it was; because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Not man wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
He has chosen the weak things of the world to confound those that are mighty, because the weakness of this world can have the power of God; and that will bring to naught the things of the mighty, and confound the things of the world. “And things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.”
“For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” That is all any one can know who preaches the gospel,—Jesus Christ, and him crucified. That is the whole story; that is all the gospel; that is all there is of God. “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.”
Now, any faith that stands in the wisdom of men will fail. Any faith that rests upon the power of argument will fail. Every faith will fail but that which rests upon the power of God, and stands in the power of God. Now, when the power of God is received, when our faith stands upon that, and in that, then the argument will always come with it; there will be an argument that is stronger than all things else. But the argument is derived from the power, and not the power from the argument. Therefore, any faith that stands in the strength of argument and the power of theoretical demonstration, will never stand the test that will be brought upon those who are to enter the kingdom of God.
(Continued next week.)