Sermon February 11, 2006 : I Corinthians 1:20
- Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
- Date: February 11, 2006
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
Verse 20, chapter 1, First Corinthians, says: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness –say foolishness with me, please-, through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews, the miraculous eyes, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. A stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles”.
Now go with me to chapter 2, because remember that when the Bible was written, it wasn’t written in chapters or verses, that’s just conveniences that were, you know, put together hundreds and hundreds of years after the Bible was written to make it easy for referencing and going to one place to another and so on. But in the apostle Paul’s mind there was just one thought that he was developing, you know, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, so I think chapter 2 is very much linked to what I just read.
And in chapter 2, verse 1, it says: “when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except, what?, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with what?, a demonstration of the spirit’s power so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.
I’m going to drink this so I hope the person who was drinking and doesn’t have any kind of contagious disease or anything like that, I declare it pure, right now in the name of Jesus.
I was asking the Lord, you know, for a passage… as I preach in this beginning stages of this ministry, I’m asking the Lord to help us to bring about sermons that serve as foundational teachings for this ministry. And I think our Latino, Spanish ministry, sort of has lived on these principles but it’s so good to kind of re-visit them and to establish as, sort of declare them prophetically over this ministry. And I hope that we will always be founded on these principles that I want to share with you, such as the one that I’m sharing with you tonight.
I love this passage because it speaks about something which is so important for the Christian faith. You know, Christianity is a religion that is not based on a series of, let’s say, intellectual declarations or on doctrine. Even though it has doctrinal aspects. I mean you will agree with me that actually Christianity is one of the most profound religions in all of human history, that’s why seminaries exist, that’s why pastors go through many years of studying theology and there’s a whole system about Christianity that is very profound, very coherent and highly rational. But Christianity is not founded, it’s not based on that. It’s not based on theology, it’s based on what? It is based on a person. Right? It is based on the person of Jesus Christ.
It is a religion that is based on a relationship that human beings establish with that incredible being that is Jesus Christ. It’s said that Christianity is not religion, it is relationship. Unless one has that relationship with Jesus Christ then all the teachings of Christianity, all the doctrine, all the credo of Christianity, really have no meaning, they don’t have any real substance. You can only know the truth of Christianity by first having your mind renewed, your spirit renovated through an encounter with Jesus Christ, otherwise you’re looking at Christianity from the outside and all that you see is simply the husk, the outside, all the literature, the intellectual content, but what animates Christianity is the power within it that comes through Jesus Christ.
This is why Jesus said for example in John, Chapter 15 “remain in me and I in you and that will allow you to bear much fruit”, because aside from me, separated from me you can do absolutely nothing. See? It’s like a branch that is attached to the trunk of a tree or a fruit attached to the branch of a tree, as soon as you take that branch off the tree, from which it takes its nourishment, or you take the fruit off the tree, a process of deterioration begins immediately. As long as the branch is able to remain injected in the life of the tree, then the branch can remain full of life and Jesus used that example to say ‘that’s the way it is in this thing that I am beginning’. Unless you remain yoked to me and you, kind of. plug yourself into my source of energy, you can do nothing. Don’t even go there, because you’re not going to get anything out of Christianity, unless you go through Jesus Christ.
So it is a religion that is based on a spiritual transaction, if you will, on a spiritual reality, that…… the mind cannot explain it. I think the mind can look at it and approach it, but cannot exhaust it in its mystery. It’s simply something that you experience, something that you become familiar with through intervening, if you will, it’s through your spirit, it’s through your entrails, not as much to the mind. That’s an important element that we need to remember always.
And I do pray that our community, our church, our family, our spiritual family, our ministry, will always be based on that understanding. You know, no matter how sophisticated you can get, no matter how much teaching, no matter how much theology and so on and so forth, no matter how many buildings you have, how much money you get, how much equipment and so on, you know, the vitality of a Christian community is not based on any of those things. Those things come as a result of the visitation of the spirit in the life of a community.
And that’s why we always have to go first to the spirit. We have to be people of the spirit. We have to be enamored of the spirit. I pray to the Lord that each of you and that each of our people in this community would be able to understand and be overcome by this sense of the mystery of the Christian life, that we will be people that we always dwell in the supernatural realm. I pray that your minds will be renewed, just as mine, so that we will always compute life and the processes of life in the light of the spirit, in the light of the supernatural.
I want us to become supernatural people, people who dwell naturally in the supernatural. So that we will always, whatever we need, if we need to make a decision about a relationship or about a career or about a wove, physical wove or a financial decision or an emotional problem. You know, it’s great to read book, it’s great to look at intellectual resources. I love that, I mean, I spend all my life reading, but I know for a fact that that’s not where the primary solution lies. It’s in the life of the spirit. It is in going to Christ. It is in the life of prayer. It is in the life of the spirit. It is about filling myself with a power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about cultivating the energy that comes from the Holy Spirit and when I feel that that energy is going down, you know, I tend to, just as I look in my car every once in a while to see where the fuel gage is, and it sometimes is below E, and you know, that little threatening orange light comes up, it happens to me more often than you think, and I say ‘oh, oh, it’s time to go the station, to the gas station and fill up again’.
And hopefully, you know, we will not allow our spiritual energy, our spiritual level to go to that point. As soon as we see that we are like in, you know, ….. my wife says, you know, she’s a lot more prudent than I am, a lot more systematic than I am, that’s for sure, so as soon as I see it going below half full, I go to the gas station. Actually you could probably judge people’s order in life by when they fill up their tank. Do they do it like me, you know, when it’s almost at E, below E, or do they do it at quarter, at half or whatever?
I think it’s like that, you know, we should always be measuring our spiritual level, our passion for Christ for example, our love for the word of God, our desire to serve the Lord, our love just for Jesus, our love for the people of God, our desire to be in His house, our desire to please Him and to walk according to His ways, our delight in taking time to pray.
How many of us really feel that joy of sitting down in our favorite chair and opening our heart to the Lord? And prayer means that, release. It means resting our head on the Father’s bosom. It is just enjoying God’s company. It’s not just an arid, sterile shopping list that we give to God because we have to and then we get out of that thing as quickly as possible, and you get into the real business of life. No. When we delight in the Father’s presence, because de Holy Spirit in us cries out in the Holy Spirit of the Father and we love to be in His presence.
You know, so we always need to be measuring that spiritual vitality in our life, because that’s what the Christian life is all about. It is about the passion for the Lord, it is about the energy of the spirit. If you have, if your spirit is full and your energy level is strong and God is real in your life, and you know, the spirit is a glow inside of you then that will fight against depression. That will fight against anxiety. That will fight against resentment. That will wear down the wounds of life and the traumas of the past and the fears of life and all the debris that comes from living this fallen life that we live, because when you have that energy, the presence of the spirit in you pushes out the bad.
And I tell sometime people, you know, don’t fight so much against the bad in life. Fill yourself with the goodness of God to the point that it will push out the evil inside of us. You see, when we come into a dark room, we don’t start saying, ‘ah, this darkness, how much I hate it! It’s so terrible, it makes me stumble.’ So, what do we do? We turn the light on. What happens? Because when the light turns on the darkness flees. Darkness is simply the absence of light. Yes or no? darkness doesn’t have life in itself. It’s not antologically real, if you will, it is simply the absence of the energy that produces clarity.
So if we fill ourselves with the power of the spirit, if we fill ourselves with the vitality of God’s spirit, that vitality, that fullness of God within us will naturally push out all the bad things in us. So our concern should be, as people of God, let me keep myself as full of vitality, as full of energy as possible in the spirit. And again, that’s why I say, we need to always be measuring, you know, what is the level of my spiritual energy? And as soon as you see that you’re not having the same kind of joy in coming to the church, in praising the Lord. As soon as you see that you’re getting hard inside and that you no longer find anything that touches you about the Christian life, as soon as you see that you might as well take it or leave it when you hear the word of God, or when you pray it’s kind of dry and it doesn’t produce anything, or you are being overcome by anxiety or by depression or by fear, or you’re starting to look at people negatively and look at life…… it’s time to put your shorts on and put your sneakers on and start getting back in shape spiritually. And we have to do that all the time.
I, as a pastor, have to do it all the time. Each of you and I are athletes of the spirit and you know what happens, I mean, you may spend six months running every day, and you run three miles a day, and you lift weight or whatever, but stop doing that for a month and you’ll see what happens. The grease starts coming right up again, you know, those ….. that used to bound up through, now it’s a little harder, your muscles start decreasing. Why? Because you need to be doing that all the time.
You know, it’s a 24 hour decision making process, seven days a week for the rest of your life. And it is like that in the life of the spirit as well. As soon as you see that energy level, that presence of the spirit dropping in your life, time to get back in shape. Time to pick up the discipline of the spirit again. Time to take a day for fasting. I find fasting such a powerful renovating resource in my life. Take half a day, take up to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, drink some juice just alone and every once in a while, even as you’re working ‘Father, I offer this time because I need to feel, I need to breathe again, I need to feel your presence again’, and take half a day and go somewhere and pray and spend time in the word.
I tell you that those four or five hours that you spend will be paid back to you with great interest, because your mind will be clearer, your energy level will be higher. Some of the interfering thoughts that keep you from being productive in your work, will be laid to rest. You’ll become so much more productive. And those hours that you spend seeking the Lord, and resting in the Lord, will simply become an investment, rather than a sacrifice, because we are people of the spirit.
You see, we are dynamos, we are depositories of the power as Christians, that’s what we are. The intellect is good, theology is good, teachings are good, reading is good, all those things are great, going to school is good, absolutely, but….. Just like a car, you look at the mechanism of a car, that shiny car that you get out of a dealer with all its intricate pieces and these days cars are incredibly complex, with all their computerized pieces and so on, their metallic joints and their shiny exterior and their comfortable, leathery interiors, and all the different things that make up a car, cost thousands and tens of thousands of dollars many times, if that car has no fuel, all of that apparatus is absolutely useless. Yes or no?. If it doesn’t have any oil to lubricate the pieces it will tear down in a moment, it will break up in a moment. If it doesn’t have any electrical charge, if the battery is dead, all of that machinery is absolutely meaningless. Why? Because a car depends on energy to move. What gives the car its ability to become useful, is not the wheels, it’s not the metal pieces, it’s not the comfortable, shiny interior, what allow the car to be a car is the energy that the car allows to run through it.
You see, the car is merely a processor of energy and as it processes energy it acquires its reason for being. And we are like that too. Christianity is like that too. All the theology, all the teaching, all the apparatus of the church, all the worship and the praying and all that we do is like the pieces of a vehicle. Together they make a wonderful mechanism, but if the power, if the lubricant, if the energy source is not in working order, all of the other stuff is absolutely meaningless, it’s dead. It’s just a husk. It’s just an exterior illusion.
And so this is why we must understand that we must keep that energy system in our lives always at peak level, because that is what will allow us to do everything else. And I think this is what, you may be saying: ‘well where is that coming from in the passage? It’s everywhere here.
See this is what Paul,….. Paul was a church planter, Paul was a church planter. He’s writing to a church that means a lot to him, because he planted that church. And these are new believers, just like this is a new ministry. And so Paul was writing as a church planter and as a pastor to illuminate the spirituality of his Corinthian charges. And he wanted to found them on the proper teachings and on the proper spiritual principles. So he writes to them here and this passage, you know, what he’s saying is that he’s talking about a previous visit when he came to visit them once. He’s saying I want to explain something to you, when I came to you, you had heard of me as being a great apostle, a great preacher, you know, a man of wisdom and so on and so forth, and perhaps you were a bit puzzled by the fact that I didn’t, my preaching didn’t seem as complex and as sophisticated as you expected.
Have you ever had that experience? You know, somebody says ‘there’s a great man of God coming to preach and you get there and somehow you say ‘ah! Is all there is? Like the song, the Tony Bennet song… ‘is that all there is…” and you say ‘where’s the beef? You expected something much bigger, something much more impressive and you know the Corinthians,….
You see, this is one of those passages that you need to understand a little bit of the historical context and the cultural context in which Paul wrote, you know, the Greco roman world in which Paul wrote. Corinth was a major city in the Greco roman world, a very sophisticated place. It was like Boston. It was a financial center, a center of commerce and trade, it was also a great religious center, many religions from all over the world had their marketplace there in Corinth, and it was also a highly intellectual place, many teachers, many itinerant teachers from all over the Greco roman world, would come to Corinth to ply their trades, to trade young aspiring debaters and lawyers and you know, people who were important for the Greeks, debating was important, eloquence was important, all kinds of rhetorical artifices and resources were very important and reason was extremely important in the Greek world. We know about Plato, and Socrates and Aristotle and all these different philosophies that were berthed in Greece. The Greek world was a highly intellectual world and it put a prime price on complexity, on rationalism, on wisdom that was impressive, and on teachings that were complex and on teachers that really made things sound very complicated and that tore down knowledge and broke it down into little constituent pieces.
So that was the….. and in the religious world it was the same way. So, you know, well known speakers would use all kinds of dramatic poses and all kinds of resources to impress their audiences and keep them….. and there was a whole trade on how to speak impressively. And here comes Paul, who apparently was not a very impressive man, physically, and he just starts talking very simply about Jesus who died on the cross, and you know, and that if you get to know Him, He’ll become your Lord and if you receive Him…. And people say, ‘hey, come on, man, where’s the real thing? When is he going to start doing all the dramatic poses and start speaking about all these occult, mysterious things about the gospel? When is he going to start delighting us with all the complex things of Christian theology.
Paul didn’t give them any of that. His teaching was very simple, very down to the point, very practical, very Christ oriented, very much oriented on the death of Christ. Why it was necessary? What the death of Christ did? What did resurrection do? What having Christ in your life meant?, and so on and so forth. Very simple stuff and how you could apply that to live a good life. And these people who were…. even the Corinthians who were coming from that sophisticated knowledge-oriented world, were saying ‘man, we’re disappointed. We want our money back’.
You see, so Paul writes back now to them and says ‘you know, guys I want you to understand this. When I went to you, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God, for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’
Paul made a very determined decision that he was not going to do… preach that intellectual stuff. He was going to come to them with just meat and potatoes and that was it. Give them the real thing about Christianity, because he wanted to win them, break their dependency on the intellect.
Because, brothers and sisters, the intellect is great but that’s not ……. , lots of very sophisticated, highly educated people can tell you that, as they sit in the couch of their psychiatrists every day experiencing all kinds of anxieties, broken families, misery, depression, fear of death, all kinds of wounds that are still bleeding from the past, relational difficulties, anger, frustration, fear of the future, fear of the present, sadness for the past, and all the money in the world, all the intellect in the world, all the religion in the world…. They go to church on Sunday, many of them, sometimes very sophisticated churches, with great organs and lots of paraphernalia, but they leave with the same gaping wound, bleeding as it was in the beginning, because religion, you see, religion and intellect are not able to reach that part of the human soul that only Jesus Christ can touch, only spirit gets to spirit.
You might as well try to grab smoke with you hand, than try to reach the soul with the intellect. The soul is spiritual substance that can only be reached with spiritual energy and we don’t understand that. You know, inside of us there’s a spiritual realm that really is what governs, that gives meaning to everything that we do and think. And so you need to make spiritual transactions through the spirit, you cannot pay an American transaction with French money. Yes or no? Try to go to …….. and pay with 10 Mexican pesos, you have to pay with American money.
When you transact in the realm of the spirit, you transact in spiritual terms, with spiritual power, with spiritual knowledge, with the power of Jesus Christ. When you minister to a soul, minister to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. Speak to them from the seat of the spirit in you. Send to them a spiritual projectile and they will understand and even as their intellect is resisting you, speak to the spirit, prophesize to their spirit, speak to them in spiritual terms, because that is what enables people to come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You seldom, if ever get to the spirit of a person, via the intellect.
I believe in apologetics, I believe in the sophistication of the gospel and so on, but I know that an individual does not want to believe, you can send to him all kinds of intellectual projectiles, they will not get into his soul. They can resist if they want to, but go to the spirit. See?
And as churches we need to do that. We need to understand this. It is a very powerful thing. You know, we could spend a lot of time talking about this. I’ll give you an example about this, the other day we were visiting a family of the church and that family, that couple invited their landlord to the lunch and they invited us too, because that person needed the Lord badly, had lost a couple of children in the young adult days, and that woman was depressed and broken in so many ways. And, you know, we sat down to eat, and I started talking to her about Christ and so on and so forth, but she had had so much exposure to other religions and other groups, other cults and all kinds of other religions, that all she wanted to do was debate with me. And every time I tried to get her into a real spiritual conversation, she’d say ‘well, Jehovah Witnesses say this, and this other group says that and you know, and I could feel that she was really resisting what I was trying to….. she wanted to get me entangled in an intellectual argument and I have learned by now that I have no time for link into intellectual arguments, and I have no desire really to encourage that kind of attitude with anyone that I’m going to have contact with as a pastor.
We need to encourage people to be simple, to be open, even if you go to Harvard, even if you have a Phd, become like a child. See, cultivate child-likeness and you will get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said that ‘unless you become like a child you will not get in the Kingdom of Heaven. This intellectual society that we live in, needs to understand that in so many churches that are overly intellectual, need to understand that as well. We need to go back to the source of the gospel which says time and time again ‘cultivate the very opposite’. It’s not that you become anti intellectual, but Christianity is trans intellectual, Christianity is beyond intellectual, Christianity is so much more superior to the intellect.
If you just deal with the intellect, you’re really under rating, you’re doing a disservice to Christianity. So I told her, I said, at one point I said to her ‘you know what? The only thing I can say to you is that Jesus is the only one that has the answers to your problems and your needs. What I suggest you to do is that you come to our church one Sunday and listen to the word, engage on…. be surrounded by the worship experience, get to know our community and I am going to believe that if the spirit of God is there, then the spirit of God will speak to you. You seem to be a woman who has good critical understanding, come and then compare. But I’m not going to tell you that what I have to offer if better. I’m not going to start tearing down another religion and trying to get into a jostling match with you. Come and if the spirit is there, let it speak to you and see what happens.
So, you know, my nephew, who is also a pastor in the Dominican Republic also was there and with us and his wife, and so, at one point, you know, they were in the living room and as I was speaking to this lady in the dining room, in the kitchen. So I invited her to come into the living room where the rest of the family was, and I introduced her to them and I said ‘you know, I’d like to pray for you. And we’ll pray for you right now, all we can do is really pray and then I invite you to come to the church any time you want.’
Well, she sat down on a chair, we started praying for her and here’s where things get interesting. My nephew who’s a little bit more pentecostal than I am, came over to her and started asking her some questions about whether she had had any experience with demonic, with a demonic in the past. And I said ‘Oh! My God, this he’s going to insult her. She’s going to think that he’s saying that she’s demonized and this and that and she’s going to walk out on you, because you know, she was a very delicate lady. And you know, but I’ve learned by now that….. you see, I’ve learned by now that just because things don’t seem reasonable to my intellect that’s not necessarily enough reason to reject it. I’ve learned by now that even sometimes I’m squirming inside of me, I need to hold back, because I’ve seen God work in such crazy ways in my life, that just because something looks crazy and uncomfortable and discouraging, doesn’t necessarily mean that God is not working there.
Sometimes God need crazy, violent people to come into a very intellectual, and kick him in the stomach and open him up into the word of God. And, you know, so he started asking her and at the beginning she said, ‘no, I’ve never….’, but then she started admitting ‘yes, I have, I visited a sourcer when my daughter was dying of cancer because they had told me that that was the only way that she could be healed. And Johnny, my nephew, led her through a prayer of repentance and then as we started praying for her, you know what happened?, immediately a demonic entity revealed itself in her and this woman fell to the ground.
You know, sometimes when people here in church and fall to the ground, you can say, well they’re just being charismatic. But this woman had no previous exposure to being in a protestant church or anything like that. She didn’t know anything about that and she probably would have resisted it when she saw it on television or something like that. But she fell to the ground, started expressing, manifesting some demonic energies and completely lost consciousness. And then, when she came back, when we rebuked that spirit, we bounded, she was a different person. And you know what? She’s one of the first people that I see on Sundays when I come into church at the 9 am service now. And not only she’s coming, but she’s bringing people as well. She comes in her Mercedes, and parks it there and comes and sits to listen to the word of God.
You see, what I’m trying to say to you is that that what’s Christianity is all about. That’s what we see in the first century, that’s what we seen in the Book of Acts. But we have made Christianity such a sophisticated thing that we have turned it into a shell, into an artificial construct. And God in His mercy does work with us, because He loves us and because you receive Jesus and although your Jesus is somewhat weaker and deluded, it is still Jesus and there’ll be enough power to heal you and to do great things. But man, if you had the real, the concentrated version, how much more powerful would it be.
If you were taught how to process the energy of the spirit, if you were taught how to go the source, how to move in the power of the Holy Spirit, how to get the baptism of the Holy Spirit into our lives, how to transact spiritually, it would be ….. Christianity would be much more powerful. You would lead so much more successful energetic, influential, spiritual lives.
And many times what people are getting in their churches is just intellect, doctrine. It’s good, but it’s not enough. Doctrine without spiritual energy and power is dead as the Pharisees. That’s why Paul says, you know, ‘where’s the scribe of this world, where’s the philosopher of this world’. He was talking about the scribe, the Jewish scribes, who knew a lot of scripture, but they didn’t know a darn thing about the power of God. And Jesus told them that. You know, you deny the power of God.
And so you see that all throughout the New Testament particularly it’s all about power. It’s all about power. It’s about spiritual energy and I pray that the Lord will renew our minds as believers to understand that. And again I say, I have nothing against the intellect. I love the intellect, but I know enough of the intellect to know that it doesn’t impress me any more, and that where my passion is, a want to become more and more a repository of the power of God, because then everything else will fall into place. Then God will animate my intellect and make it much more powerful than it would be if it were just shear intellect.
And that’s what Paul said in another passage. He says that the carnal man, the physical man, the mental man can only process the reality that his mind gives him access to, that is physical reality. He says for the spiritual man judges all things and he, himself, is not judged by any of them. See, what he’s saying?
If what you have is intellect, then you can judge the realm of the economics, of biology, of chemistry, of astronomy, of physics, because all of those realms are accessible to the intellect. But there’s a whole realm of the spirit of the human nature, of the deeper elements of human existence that God constituted when He created the universe, that is not accessible to just the mere mind. It needs an illuminated intellect that can only come when the light of Christ shines within you, when His energy is berthed within you and then it pulsates through the intellect. So now your intellectual capacity becomes not just a little bulb, shining in the mist of a huge cave; it becomes a powerful beacon that penetrates into the deep resources of reality.
So what we are seeking is that power of God, because through that power of God we can understand things that without it we could not understand. When you move in the spiritual realm you can be both an intellectually and a spiritually astute individual. You can move comfortably in both realms, you can move from one to the other. And, at the same time you are not beholding, you are not subject to the control of anything because you’re free in Jesus Christ. See?
So, this is all that is behind…. and so much more in this profound passage of the apostle Paul. Paul was a highly developed intellectual. He had attended the Harvard of his age. He had studied in the Gamalia, one of the great, great scribes and Pharisees of his times, one of the great teachers, one of the great rabies of his time. Paul was probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the directory of the Jewish religion and you had to be very highly sophisticated, very highly studied. He was a Roman citizen. He was a man of his time. He was a very cultured man. This is why the Lord chose him, because he had a deep heart and passion for the Lord, but Paul knew enough of the intellect to say ‘you know, when I came to you guys, I decided to put that all….. I resolved. You see his intellect was so powerful that he had to resolve to put it to the side and speak in simple terms, in order to give his people the true understanding that they needed to know.
And so he says ‘my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words’. What he means with wise and persuasive words in terms of how men consider what is wise and persuasive. But when the demonstration of the spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on what?, on God’s power. See?
Paul probably went in the power of the spirit, and he probably healed the people, he probably delivered individuals who were bound by Satan on the demonic power and he did that, he says, you know, I wanted you to see the power of God at work rather than addicting you to eloquence and rhetorical skill. So I gave you the very opposite that you wanted and expected from me in order to train, to set your eyes on what is truly important about the Christian life.
And so my brothers and my sisters, this is important. Last night I went, and I finish with this, last night I went to see a play “Children of Eden”, fascinating play. The reason I went to see it with my wife was because a young woman from this church was the main character, the main actress, Rocío Valles. By the way, professional quality young woman, she’s a high school student but she’s highly, highly gifted, and were with her parents and my wife and a couple of other people from the church and, you know, it is a fascinating play if you ever get a chance to see it. And we don’t have the time to unpack it on the whole but it really, the essence is the quest for knowledge, and the rational pride in humanity and the struggle with God.
Now, unfortunately this play written by a secular mind, which is again, you realize there why the secular mind, with all its intellect, all its artistic gifting cannot understand this thing. So they distort God, they distort the teaching of scripture. But nevertheless it is a very sophisticated piece of art and I enjoyed it just for its sake. The music was wonderful and so on and so forth, but the point is that you do see when you know the scriptures, you can see this drama here, and see it from a different take, from a different perspective and you’re impressed by this thirst that human beings have had for knowledge, when God told Adam and Eve ‘Do not eat of that fruit of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil’. The key problem with man and God has always been around the mind, the intellect.
See, because the intellect what it does is it creates you a critical capacity to look at yourself critically, to separate yourself from yourself and to see yourself. Animals don’t have that critical capacity to analyze reality, to have that ability to separate yourself in order to turn reality into an object of analysis, as opposed to merely being solely inserted in it, that you simply live it and it lives you.
But the intellect, what God didn’t want Adam and Eve to have at that moment was that critical capacity to see themselves in that detached way that creates intellect. And so when Adam and Even ate of that drug their innocence was dispelled. They were no longer in absolute, perfect, fluid intimacy with God. Now they were free to analyze God and to analyze themselves, and to see themselves. Now, all of a sudden they realized, ‘oh, I’m naked’, and they didn’t like that. And so that’s what the critical capacity does, it creates barriers, it creates layers of division, separation, and so they had to clothe themselves and they ran away from the very God that before they could simply be in an absolute intimacy with.
And that created a whole division in the entire construct of the universe. It separated man from nature. It turned nature against itself. It turned man against woman. It turned within himself, against himself. Because all separation is about division. That’s what reason does. And so God has something against that element because the intellect has always tripped mankind, always. It tripped Satan himself when he was Lucifer and he thought that he could become like God and that pride made God cast him away.
And so much of the woes and the troubles of this world that we live are due to that fact, man’s or the creature’s desire to have the same kind of knowledge, the same kind of understanding that God has. And so God will always have something against that intellectual pride. And God will always do His best to kill that pride, to break it, to make you go through a very low door in order to come into His presence. And He will always seek to humble your intellect and unless you’re willing to humble your intellect and to become like a child, and to believe whatever God says, even if its scandalous, crazy, stupid, ridiculous, believe it anyway. Even if your entire intellect rebels and screams like a little child that’s corrupt and spoilt, believe it anyway, confess it anyway. No matter what it is. If the word says it I believe it, even though my intellect says you’re crazy, because I’ve learned that in that kind of posture there is peace, there’s joy, there’s emotional health, there is power, there is nearness to God, prosperity, blessing, ability to bless others. As I humiliate myself, my intellect, and I simply welcome God’s foolish revelation, all the things that men try to seek through sophistication, elegance, …. pride, God gives it to you in a very humble vessel and you’ll be able to find fulfillment.
This is what Jesus said ‘the grain falls to the ground it bears much fruit, unless you fall to the ground, unless you humiliate your intellect, unless you enter into what God is calling you to do, without reserve, you will remain with all of your divisions, all of your anxiety, all of your breaking up. As you resolve to humble yourself and become like a child that believes anything that comes from their father’s mouth, you will not enter into the mystery of the word of God.
So Paul says, accept the foolishness of the gospel before the wisdom of men. Am I getting through? Do you understand what I…. ? This is what God is calling us as a church to do. You, as young people, live your life and the older people that are here as well, I guess I have to talk to myself here. Live you life according to the spirit. Delight in the mysteries of God’s word and sometimes, you know, the less elegant, the less sophisticated, the less attractive a phenomenon that God offers you, embrace it, even more, humble your intellect, take every opportunity to humble your intellect.
As I stand here many times on Sundays as a pastor and I see all kinds of crazy things happening among my congregation of humble Latino workers, I say ‘thank you, Lord, humble me more, humiliate me more’, because I know that in that there is health, there is joy, there is peace. Do not ever reject anything simply because it doesn’t come in a nice package. Sometimes the worse the package the more God will be in it. Remember that. The uglier, the less elegant, the less sophisticated, the less attractive, the less esthetically appealing, sometimes God will be behind that phenomenon with a mischievous smile, saying ‘do you care to enter into that. It would be a great blessing if you did’. The mysteries of the gospel, that’s what God wants us to do.
This culture needs intellect humbled. I pray that we will not resist and just engage it and welcome it fully. Amen.
Let’s stand up for a moment. Will you stand up, and I pray that tonight you will say Lord, I do embrace the mysteries of your faith. Just receive it right now, in the name of Jesus. Father, I repent on my desire to have control of things, to have everything make sense, to only believe what my intellect is able to process.
Father, I pray that our church, our community, will always be a humble community, child-like, able to enter into your mysteries with a humble heart. Lord I pray that my word to you will have that imprint of your spirit that if anything didn’t make sense, that you will make sense of it directly in the hearts and the minds and the spirits of your people tonight.
Father, I bless this congregation. I bless each one of my brothers and sisters here tonight. I pray that it will energize them. Energize them, Holy Spirit of God, Holy Spirit of God.
Why don’t you as right now, just there, just quietly, say with me: Holy Spirit come into my mind, come into my heart. Visit me and take over. I yield my intellect to you tonight. I want to be a person of the spirit. I want to dwell in the spiritual realm all the days of my life. I want your energy to dwell and to move within me. Spirit of God submerge me, baptize me, fill me with your energy. Thank you Holy Spirit. I receive your power. I receive your baptism in the name of Jesus. Amen.
If you care to believe that, that as you ask the Holy Spirit of God to come into your life, it has come into your life, it will have come into your life. It will be true. It will be real and your life will be transformed, your life will be changed, and then I suggest that you begin to expect great moves of God in your life. As you come and worship the Lord, don’t be afraid to open your mouth and speak in a new tongue, if that is what you feel, or to say some stupid little word and humble your intellect and make a fool of yourself. That’s good.
Make a fool of yourself. Take every opportunity. That’s my prescription to you this week. Make a fool of yourself two times a day. Ok. And humble yourself before the living God and as you break yourself, God will make sure that through every ….. that opens up, his energy will go right through to the world outside, and you will be able to get some of his energy as well into your inside. So, Father, we want to make fools of ourselves. We want to live like fools the rest of our lives. Jesus, we want to be fools for you, Lord. We want to honor you with humility, extreme humility, Lord, that your spirit may posses us. Thank you Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Amen. God bless you. Amen.
|Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda taped February 11, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah||Listen|||||View (100K)|||||View (400K)|
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