“Kingdom Life is Power”
June 24, 2024

The Kingdom of God

“Kingdom Life is Power”

1 Corinthians 4:18-20

Watch on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32UqfQiFSKI

This morning, we’ll be looking at another aspect of the Kingdom of God that’s not well understood. Further, these verses we will be exploring, Paul could have written them to the church today.

Corinth was a Greek city and a commercial seaport. And like most Greek cities, they had their places of higher learning, where discussions on philosophy and life’s meaning were held. And in was there in Corinth that the Apostle Paul established a church!

But because of a plethora of problems, Paul had to write them several times to deal with them. Some of those problems had to do with how they viewed him. They criticized his appearance and speech, but his writings were something else and well received. Apparently, he didn’t look the part, but his writings were eloquent.

Paul addressed this in his second letter. He said, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV)

Now, to understand, the Greek culture expected their leaders to be great physical specimen and orators, those who studied the art of speech and who could eloquently present an argument.

But this wasn’t Paul. By the time he got to Corinth, his eyesight was poor, his body broken due to torture and abuse. He told them he had been whipped five times, beaten three times, stoned and left for dead, and often imprisoned along with a litany of other things he had to endure. (2 Corinthians 11:22-28)

In his first letter, Paul says, “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13 NKJV)

As far as his speech, he tried being eloquent, but such rhetoric got him nowhere in Athens. And so, he spoke in a plain and blunt manner, not about philosophy or the meaning of life; instead, he wanted them to know, and often taught about one thing and one thing only, and that is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV)

But his writings were another matter, they were forceful and to the point, which is where Paul clarified he would come once again to Corinth and put things right, and the way he would know they were on target would be in what they said, did their words contain the power of God, or were they talking about something and saying something they were not?

Listen to what he said right after this. “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (In1 Corinthians 2:4)

So, let’s look at our signature verses in 1 Corinthians 4.

“Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:18-20 NKJV)

Now, this doesn’t void out God’s Word being taught or preached. Because Paul doesn’t say God’s Word, or The Word, rather, he used the word in the general sense. In other words, there is no power in humanity’s philosophies. Instead, the power is only found in the word of God, because it’s God’s word and not our own.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)

What Paul is saying is that God’s Word is useful, beneficial, and helpful for our lives in teaching what is true, reproving what isn’t, along with correcting and instructing us on how to get and stay right with God. It is transformational. It transforms us, because God breathed it into existence.

And so, Paul isn’t against the study of God’s Word, or what we call Theology, which means the study of God.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The study of God is the highest science, the loftiest pursuit, and the mightiest discipline.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Doctrine isn’t a bad thing either, because it only means beliefs that are taught, which means we teach doctrine on biblical topics like, redemption, salvation, justification, eschatology (end times), the Trinity, the deity of Christ, grace, faith, etc., and these are all taken out of God’s word.

And so, Paul isn’t against the study and teaching of God’s word. In fact, Paul wrote over 23% of the New Testament and is the most quoted out of all New Testament writers.

Paul is saying that the Kingdom of God isn’t in what we say, but it is where the power of God is being manifested. And this isn’t just the exhibition of signs and wonders, because I have seen, and what we’ll see in the last days is the exhibition of false signs.

Jesus said that in these last days, we’ll see false messiahs and prophets who will perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, those who are believers (Matthew 24:24).

Today we’re living in an age that’s fond of discussing Christianity. Yet in all the talking, in all the writing, in all the debating and discussions, where is the power of God?

To clear the air, Paul says what the Kingdom of God isn’t, and then what it is.

The Kingdom of God Isn’t in Word

The Kingdom of God doesn’t come through intellectual pursuit. Far too often, the message that is coming from the pulpit is nothing more than the pastor’s or society’s point of view, or a philosophy that can go alongside other philosophies and schools of thought offered by our culture.

These pander to those who are seeking and searching for answers, and who come at Christianity the same way they approach other philosophies. They speculate, criticize, and express their opinions as to the rightness or wrongness of the Christian faith, or worse, they do it to God’s word.

Fearing not to offend, they serve up a plate of platitudes instead of the milk and meat of God’s word. But God’s word is powerful and will make a difference in these seekers’ and searchers’ lives.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

What Paul is saying is that the Kingdom of God isn’t in our intellectual pursuits with all our various propositions, because they hold no power, especially the power of God. Intellectual pursuits don’t produce life. Churches today seem to rely more on their particular positions and distinctions than they do upon the Holy Spirit to lead and guide.

Paul describes them as having the form with none of the substance. In describing what people will be like in the last days, Paul said they have “A form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV)

They are well versed, but the verses found in God’s word haven’t infiltrated their hearts. They may be orthodox in what they teach and believe, but they are failing to attract others to an authentic faith relationship in Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of God is not in the words we speak, unless they are God’s words inspired and breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Only then will people experience the Kingdom of God having power over darkness, evil, and sin.

So, in all our talk and doctrines, the question is, where’s the power? “Where’s the Beef?” to quote Burger King. People are tired of Sunday morning Christians who are like the rest of the world the rest of the week. Their question is, “Where’s this power you keep talking about, because I don’t see in your life?”

The power of the gospel is not just in signs and wonders, but it is in the power to live a godly life in a godless world. It’s the power of a changed life, a life lived by faith and not fear.

The Christian message, therefore, proclaims the greatest power that has ever entered this world. Nothing even close haschanged people’s lives, not to mention the course of human history.

Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16 NIV)

We can see the truth of this power in the Protestant Reformation. It reformed the church and brought it back to its biblical roots, which is salvation by faith and faith alone. We also see this power in the many revivals that have happened since then. And if I can just say this, the first sign of a true revival is salvations and changed lives.

Therefore, the Kingdom of God isn’t in word, rather, the Kingdom of God comes in power.

The Kingdom of God Comes in Power

Again, going back to what Paul said in Romans, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is the power of God for salvation.

The disciples experienced this firsthand. During the feast of Pentecost, they were praying when the Holy Spirit filled them. There was a sound of a mighty rushing wind, and individual flames of fires were over each one. Each of these, wind and fire, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

After this, they became baptized in the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised they would be (Acts 1:5). They then rushed out into the street, speaking in all these different languages, proclaiming the wonderful works of God. And that day, 3,000 people received salvation from the message given by Peter.

The Kingdom of God is power, and what makes a person a Christian is something that God does within them. A Christian doesn’t take up Christianity; rather, Christ takes a hold of that person. The power of God comes over, upon, and within them, making them into a new creation and delivers them out of the power of sin and death, giving them eternal life instead.

So, the Holy Spirit, as the 3rd person of the Godhead, comes in the power of God, not through intellectual pursuit. He comes with the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in the lives and hearts of those who believe. It’s the power of God and there is no limit to that power.

The Kingdom of God is God coming in power to rescue people out of the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of Satan’s rule, and into the kingdom of light, God’s eternal kingdom. Now that’s power.

There’s an interesting picture of this in the Old Testament of the Children of Israel’s deliverance from the Egyptians. Here they were powerless and slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. And the Kingdom of God came and delivered them out of it.

God brought them out with His mighty hand. But it wasn’t His hand at all; it was His finger. And Pharaoh with all this power was helpless to stop it. God then put an end to Egypt’s might and power by drowning its army in the Red Sea.

God continued to lead Israel in the wilderness as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, giving them food from heaven to eat, manna, and when they didn’t have water, He supernaturally provided it.

There is power when the Kingdom of God is present, and the Kingdom of God is present in Jesus and in His words. After Jesus got finished teaching the Sermon on the Mount, it says the people were astonished because His words had power.

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:28-29 NIV)

They felt the power of God in His words. Even the soldiers of the chief priest who were there to arrest Him stood in awe. When they came to arrest Him at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “I AM,” the entire squadron fell to the ground. (John 18:6)

You could say the power of Jesus’s words bowled them over. We see this same power in Jesus’s miracles. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, healed the deaf, dumb, and leprous. He calmed the raging sea, drove out demons from people, and even raised the dead. All this was Kingdom of God power.

This is how Jesus described it.

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Luke 11:20 NIV)

And the ultimate manifestation of Kingdom power came when Jesus rose from the dead.

About Jesus, Paul said that He was “Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4 NKJV)

Jesus took out humanity’s last enemy, death. So, the Kingdom of God comes in power, not through intellectual pursuit. Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, and to continue the Kingdom of God here on earth, He sent the Holy Spirit.

God’s mighty power manifests itself in the lives of those who believe and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Look at the effects. Peter, who a little over a month earlier (53 days to be exact) was denying Jesus in order to save his life, was now loudly and proudly proclaiming Him, even if it meant jail or his life. And the power in which he spoke was not his own power, but the Holy Spirit’s.

About Paul and Silas, the people of Thessalonica, said, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” (Acts 17:6 NKJV)

And so, the gospel message we preach is not some good advice or some great teaching, it’s the power of God taking hold of people and changing them.

How does the Kingdom’s power manifest itself?

  1. It Convicts of Sin

After Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost, it convicted people of their sins and it says that “When they heard this,they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37 NKJV)

The power of the Kingdom message isn’t something that people can argue against or just be interested in. These people felt God speaking to them directly, and they stood guilty before God, so they asked, “What can we do?”

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and of the judgment that will come (John 16:8).

  1. It Enables Belief

We need power to believe and understand the message.

Paul said, “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV)

And then he says, “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 discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

We need Kingdom of God power to understand and believe, and we find that power in God’s word, and revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit living within.

  1. It Creates New Life

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

The power of the Kingdom of God manifests itself in the new life it creates out of the old. Kingdom of God power creates new life.

  1. It Brings A Changed Life

Kingdom power changes lives, and enables us to turn from sin, the world, and death to a new, holy and eternal life.

Paul said, “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16 NLT)

The Kingdom of God is not a philosophy or some good advice; rather, it’s the power of a new life and raises us up from the dead, making us more than conquerors.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NKJV)


The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. It is a power to face the trials and tribulations of life, and there’s nothing it cannot enable us to do.

Therefore, Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

The Kingdom of God gives us the power to look death in the face and smile as we go from this world into everlasting life and into God’s presence.

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