And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
I was raised in a religious tradition that emphasized the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, especially in miracles, signs, and wonders. We were told that when the Holy Spirit was present, and working through a person, there was a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. But what is the Biblical demonstration and power of the Spirit by which Paul preached?
First, the power and demonstration of the Spirit is contrasted to the persuasive words of human wisdom. The Spirit’s work, then, is not by any human means and methods like music, drama, reason, antics, or emotionalism. Faith is placed in Jesus Christ, not in a methodology.
Second, the power and demonstration of the Spirit is connected to weakness, fear, and much trembling in Paul (1 Corinthians 2:3). Paul was not some “power evangelist” waving his suit coat and making people fall down, hitting and kicking people to activate their healing, sporting a halo, or a shouter. His characteristics of weakness, fear, and trembling kept people from putting their faith in a weak man.
Third, the power and demonstration of the Spirit was – and is still – contained in the testimony of God which is Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). The Spirit’s power and presence isn’t demonstrated in yelling or miracles, messages in other languages, or signs in the sky, but in preaching Jesus who died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. The gospel demonstrates the power of God every time a sinner is born again.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes … (Romans 1:16).