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Separating Who from What

July 30th, 2013

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

Colossians 1:6

Our language often betrays our thoughts and perspectives. We speak of the Spirit of God as an “It” and demean His majesty. The Spirit is “He,” and is just as personable as our Lord and as the Father. But sometimes – and this verse above is an example – the biblical writers personify a thing for emphasis.

Paul wrote of the gospel like it was a person – a simple literary technique often used by great writers – and he did so to separate the minister from the message. The power that brought conversion into people’s lives was not from the convincing method of the preacher or evangelist. It was from God. God through the gospel message, and more than that, though the life and death and resurrection of Christ, and through the conviction of the Spirit, brought life to people, bearing fruit all over the world. He did not remove God from the gospel, rather he emphasized the power of God through the gospel over the persuasive power of the preacher.

Our weakness is to think of the Spirit as an “it” and to think of the preacher as the real power behind the worship experience. Those of us in ministry need to especially guard against this temptation to minimize God and maximize ourselves. It is not mostly about me ministering to people in my power. It is about me letting God use me in His ministry, connecting people to Him. He is the great “Who” behind the “what” of the work.

Jesus said, “No one may come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). The power we need is not just the power of human presence that impresses for a while, but the power that belongs exclusively to God, and that is the power that raises us from the dead. It matters little whether someone was impressed by a preacher or by the spirit (small “s”) of a worship service. It matters greatly whether they felt the call of God in their hearts that came by His Spirit and responded to Him in repentance and faith.

Doctrinal Studies, Evening Devotionals, The Core ,