The first week of May we spent some time in western New York. We are thankful for the wonderful meeting we had with a church near Buffalo. Since we were in the area we decided to go to Canada and see Niagara Falls. One word came to mind as we looked at one of the most famous waterfalls on the planet: POWER.
Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans that nature itself gives evidence of the “eternal power” of the Godhead (Rom. 1:20). The volume of water cascading over the falls is awe inspiring and caused me to consider the omnipotence of Almighty God.
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Revelation 19:6
A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy, “Sovereignty and omnipotence must go together. One cannot exist without the other. To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power. And that is what omnipotent means, having all power.”
Tozer goes on to say, “One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men. We are today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see the laws of nature. Their world was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God. Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a ‘law.’ The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths.”
Tozer then says, “Omnipotence is not a name given to the sum of all power, but an attribute of a personal God whom we Christians believe to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all who believe on Him to life eternal. The worshipping man finds this knowledge a source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take the great leap upward into the fellowship of Him who can do whatever He will to do, for whom nothing is hard or difficult because He possesses power absolute.”
Finally he concludes, “Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being.”
To summarize his thoughts on God’s omnipotence, the puritan author Stephen Charnock wrote, “How should we adore that Power which can preserve us, when devils and men conspire to destroy us! How should we stand in awe of that Power which can destroy us, though angels and men should combine to preserve us!”
Now having considered the power of God, the words of Paul to the Corinthians arrest my attention in regards to personal evangelization:
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” 1 Corinthians 1:18
The “power of God” is “the preaching of the cross.” When we preach Christ crucified and preach the crucified life, that is “the power of God.” The modern, fast food, microwave popcorn method of evangelism today is to quickly show the sinner three verses, get them to say a prayer and then tell them not to let anyone talk them out of their salvation. This method trusts in an arm of flesh wielding high-pressure sales tactics and manipulation rather than unleashing the power of God.
Another popular method of modern evangelism is to make the appeal through life enhancement: “You have a God-sized hole in your heart that only Jesus Christ can fill. He will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” This method goes out of its way not to offend. I agree we should not try to be offensive in witnessing but the problem with this approach is that the cross is offensive rather we mean to be or not. The cross is not pleasant. It was an instrument of death. In order for a sinner to experience the power of God that resurrects their dead spirit and imparts to them eternal life they must first understand that they deserve death and hell. They must see the exceeding sinfulness of their sin and realize that Someone took the penalty for their sin on that cross. Genuine faith is claiming, willfully, God’s promises and is relying exclusively upon Christ’s work on the cross to be the sufficient payment for their sin. Lifestyle evangelism that sanitizes or glosses over the cross is powerless in bringing about “godly sorrow” which “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Modern evangelism no longer takes the time to teach the sinner about Jesus Christ so they know who they are calling upon. It doesn’t want to teach the sinner about sin and repentance so they know why they need to call upon the Lord. It doesn’t want to mention hell because that might offend them before they have a chance to call upon the Lord. It has adopted the way of those that “perish” and considers the preaching of the cross “foolishness.” Modern evangelism has exchanged the power of Niagara Falls for the trickle of a garden hose.