1 Corinthians 2:1-16

  • 2 February 2023
  • Stuart Robinson

Stuart Robinson

Epiphany 5.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16.

Matthew 5:13-20.

Thomas the Tank Engine always sought to be, quote: a ‘really useful’ engine; that is to do that for which steam engines are designed; fetch, carry, haul, and shunt.

On time, with no fuss.

Each time I read Matthew 5:13ff and I Corinthians 2 they remind me of Thomas – for this is how a ‘really useful’ Christian should conduct herself or himself.

First –a ‘really useful Christian’ recognises (as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5) their own great frailty: –

And yet with fear and trembling – as Paul himself confesses, they proclaim with clarity, and conviction, the message of Christ crucified, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Second – to be ‘really useful’ our words will be consonant with our actions (Matthew 5:13-16). 

Our good deeds – like a shining beacon – will point people to Jesus. 

We are – to change the image, like salt – which flavours, preserves, heals and cleanses – to be agents of community transformation.

Third – ‘really useful’ disciples whilst cognisant of popular thinking and the wisdom of this age, have their worldview, and their morality shaped by, and conformed to, and aligned with, the Word of God – referred to as ‘God’s wisdom’ in I Corinthians 2:7. 

Indeed – though Jesus, the perfect law-keeper, has fulfilled all the demands of God’s decrees and commands – and through his death and resurrection we are forgiven our shortcomings, all of God’s word is to shape our decisions, and educate our minds, and grow us in holiness.

Righteousness of life, and not mechanical religious observance, is to be the hallmark of believers – Matthew 5:17-20.

Last – I would contend that to be a ‘really useful’ Christian, will mean a seeking after, and a reliance upon the Holy Spirit

God’s Spirit we are told in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 enables us to grasp what God has feely given us.

And the converse is true: you cannot grasp God’s majesty, or his mercy without the Spirit v.14).

You cannot.

The Spirit also enables and empowers us to explain spiritual realities; to share the gospel; to expose injustice; to offer wise and gracious counsel; to express the mind of Christ (vv 14-16).


Now, may I change pace slightly and introduce you to two ‘really useful’ Christians who with clarity and conviction proclaimed the gospel, shone for Jesus in word and deed, were shaped in their thinking and actions by the word of God,  who relied completely on the Holy Spirit?   

In other words, I want to help us see what living in accord with God’s design looks like.

Peggy and Christine Smith had lived through two world wars, a global Great Depression, and in 1949 – in their 9th decade, adversity continued to be their lot; Peggy (84) was completely blind, and Christine (82), was bent double with arthritis.

Both women had lived their lives on the island of Lewis – in the Outer Hebrides, West of Scotland.

Though they were frail, infirm and now housebound, they had an unshakable confidence in the power of the gospel of Christ. 

They longed for men, women, boys, and girls to be saved, and they were deeply dismayed by the indifference of people in the community to message of the cross and the lack of concern displayed by people within the church. 

And they didn’t just talk a good game – they were serious. 

They prayed and earnestly sought the Lord in prayer. 

And as they poured over the word of God, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit that the promise of Isaiah 44:3-5 was applicable to their situation. 

In their KJV’s they read: 

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

And so, night and day, these remarkable prayer warriors petitioned the Lord for such a revival – for an uncommon outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Even though the community of which they were a part had absolutely no interest in such things, these two indomitable sisters pleaded with clergy and church leaders to go to house meetings and fearlessly proclaim the gospel.

One such evangelist was Duncan Campbell.  

Campbell reported that not only did God assemble a congregation (in what he expected would be an uneventful gathering of half-hearted locals), the building was at capacity, crowds gathered outside, and a great many were convicted of their sin and turned to Christ.

It was a wonderful move of the Spirit of God.

Campbell wrote of that night: and I quote him word for word


I shall never forget the night that I arrived. We got to the church about quarter to nine to find about 300 people gathered. And I gave an address. Nothing really happened during the service. It was a good meeting. 

A sense of God, a consciousness of His Spirit moving but nothing beyond that. So, I pronounced the benediction and we were leaving the church I would say about a quarter to eleven.

Just as I am walking down the aisle, along with this young deacon who read the Psalm, he suddenly stood in the aisle and looking up to the heavens he said, “God, You can’t fail us. God, You can’t fail us. You promised to pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground – God, You can’t fail us!”

Soon He is on his knees in the aisle, and he is still praying. Just then the door opened–it is now eleven o’clock. The door of the church opens, and the local blacksmith comes back into the church and says, “Mr. Campbell, something wonderful has happened. Oh, we were praying that God would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground and listen, He’s done it! He’s done it!”

When I went to the door of the church, I saw a congregation of approximately 600 people. Six hundred people–where had they come from? What had happened? I believe that that very night God swept in in Pentecostal power – the power of the Holy Ghost. And what happened in the early days of the apostles was happening now in the parish.

Over 100 young people were at the dance in the parish hall and they weren’t thinking of God or eternity. God was not in all of their thoughts. They were there to have a good night when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. 

The music ceased and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They fled from the hall as a man fleeing from a plague. And they made for the church. They are now standing outside. Oh, yes – they saw lights in the church. That was a house of God, and they were going to it and they went. 

Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church. Nothing in the way of publicity… But God took the situation in hand – oh, He became His own publicity agent. 

A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. 600 of them now are at the church standing outside… And then the doors were opened, and the congregation flocked back into the church.

Now the church is crowded–a church to seat over 800 is now packed to capacity. It is now going on towards midnight. I managed to make my way through the crowd along the aisle toward the pulpit. 

I found a young woman, a teacher in the grammar school, lying prostrate on the floor of the pulpit praying, “Oh, God, is there mercy for me? Oh, God, is there mercy for me?” She was one of those at the dance. But she is now lying on the floor of the pulpit crying to God for mercy.

And so, it spread across the Islands – and continued from 1949 to 1952.

Peggy and Christine’s prayers were answered.

Peggy and Christine – though in the ember tide of life, were ‘really useful’ Christians! 😊


And so, I pray,

 Lord – may we be ‘really useful’ Christians:

 -who with clarity and conviction proclaim the gospel. 

-who shine for Jesus in word and deed. 

-who are shaped in our thinking and actions by the word of God. 

– who rely completely and fully and with courageous abandonon the Holy Spirit.

And Lord, please raise up another Peggy and another Christine in our time, in this place,



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