Neil Silverberg

Word And Power

“But Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God’” (Matthew 22:29).

During the last week of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, several religious experts approached Jesus and tried to catch him in something he said in order to have a basis to condemn Him. But He who was Wisdom Incarnate demonstrated that He was aware of their duplicity and could not be fooled. One such group that came during Passion Week were the Sadducees, a strict sect of Judaism which was liberal in their theology, denying any of the miracles of the Bible, including the accounts of people being raised from the dead. They came supposedly asking the Lord to weigh in on a question regarding the Mosaic regulation that if a man dies and has no children, his brother must marry the widow so as to raise up offspring.

These men had a fictitious story about seven brothers who each married a widow after his brother died. Their question was one regarding resurrection: “In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife shall she be? For they all had her?” (Matthew 22:28).But Jesus knew that they were trying to trap him and immediately showed them their error. They were wrong, He told them, on two accounts. For one, they did not know the Scriptures and secondly, they did not know the power of God.

Our Lord points out here that the only way to steer clear of error is by knowing both the Scriptures and the power of God. If they knew the Scriptures they would have had no problem with the concept of resurrection, which is clearly taught throughout the Old Testament. And if they knew the power of God, they would know that in the resurrection, men and women are transformed and brought into a realm similar to angels. If they knew both they would have avoided error. Jesus expected them to know both, but they didn’t and therefore drifted into error.

There is a warning in Jesus’ words for us here. I believe if any church wants to ensure it qualifies as an “apostolic company” it must seek to know both of these; the scriptures and the power of God. As New Testament believers both of these constitute our heritage. But sadly, we rarely see churches where both of these are wedded together. In fact, two distinct camps have emerged today, each stressing one of these to the exclusion of the other. And each camp views the other with suspicion and antagonism.  Evangelicalism, which has properly emphasized our need to know the Scriptures so that we are pursuing a biblically-based religion, tends to be suspicious of the Charismatic church. And Charismatics, who rightly emphasize our need for the power of God and the gifts of the Spirit, tend to discount Evangelicals as being ‘brain-centered, denying the power of God.

But in our day, we see God moving to bring both camps together, Evangelicals are recognizing that the Charismatic emphasis on the power of God, though sometimes unbalanced, is a necessary biblical emphasis while many Charismatics are recognizing their theological shallowness and coming to appreciate what Evangelicals bring to the table. I understand that since I owe a deep debt of gratitude to both camps. So let us embrace both the Scriptures and the power of God since both are our heritage. This is the only way to stay free from error.

One Comment

  1. Nicely done and a good exhortation for us to be a WORD and POWER church! As yourself, I also have an appreciation and have learned from both groups. Our challenge is remaining balanced as we walk/serve together as one group. May we learn together in humility!

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