Andrew Murray on ‘Worldly Wisdom versus the Spirit of Power’ #3.0
In chapter 22 of The Indwelling Spirit, Andrew Murray focuses on the need for pastors to preach in demonstration of the Spirit and power as opposed to using persuasive words of human wisdom.
His key texts are:
1 Corinthians 2:4,5
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:13,14
This is what we speak, not in words taught us in human wisdom, but in words taught us by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned only through the Spirit.
The insufficiency of man’s wisdom
Referring to Corinthians chapters 1-3, Murray asserts that the Apostle Paul is expressing here the insufficiency of man’s wisdom and his capacity to discover God’s truth and will without divine illumination.
To prove his point that readers of the Word are unable to grasp divine revelation without the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit, Murray points to the rejection of Christ by the Jews. Despite their ardent study of the Word and their conformity to it in life and conduct, they rejected the very Messiah for whom they were waiting.
We too are in need of spiritual illumination
Murray now argues for the need to ‘continue’ the Reformation.
(By way of explanation, this was the main theme of the Dutch divines of the Second Dutch Reformation—also known as the Continuing Reformation—during the 16th and early 17th centuries.)
Murray admired their works and their theological insights, especially their claim that the need for the Holy Spirit’s illumination did not receive the recognition it was due during the Reformation. These divines thus proposed that the Reformation needed to be continued by not only focusing on being saved by grace through faith, but also on the work of the Holy Spirit.
Two ways of preaching the Gospel
With the above in mind, Murray now focuses on the two ways of preaching the Gospel mentioned by Paul in Corinthians 2:3,4. He says that to preach with persuasive words will only produce a faith in the wisdom of man. While it may stand and even flourish if nurtured, it will not stand in the day of trial.
While Murray was speaking of the church in the late 1800s, his insights are even more applicable to the church of today. He was of a mind that the weak state of believers at that time was directly due to too much preaching in the wisdom of man, rather than in the demonstration of the Spirit. He reminds us that although man’s mind is one of the most godlike faculties, sin nevertheless rules over it.
From the believers’ side
Even if a believer has once been taught by the Holy Spirit, says Murray, he shouldn’t rely simply on his memory to grow spiritually. He will find that like the manna in the Wilderness, the truth once received will lose its freshness unless it is anointed with fresh oil each day.
Each time we read God’s Word or think of God’s truth, we need to wait for the interpretation of the Spirit and ask for a circumcised ear.
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Murray goes on to say that pastors should train their congregations to see that it is not the amount of Bible knowledge received that will determine the blessing, but the measure of dependence upon the Holy Spirit that accompanies it. He goes on to say:
It is inconceivable how a Christian can deceive himself with the semblance of wisdom in lofty thoughts affecting sentiments, while the power of God is lacking. . . . The only true sign of divine wisdom is its power.
Murray exhorts us as believers to do the following:
- Affirm that the Spirit dwells within you.
- Renew you surrender to Him.
- Come in poverty of spirit to be led by the Spirit of God.
- Cease from your own wisdom.
- Wait for the wisdom of the Spirit which God has promised.
You will increasingly be able to testify of things that have not entered into the hearts of men because God has revealed them to you by His Spirit.