“Nobody was ever or ever will be converted merely by the preaching of the gospel. It is the gospel applied and enforced by the Holy Spirit that saves men…It is lamentable to see how frequently Christian workers take that one and essential condition of success for granted, while they spare no pains to secure all other elements of necessary preparation. No worker can be inspired to the maximum of possible service without the fullness of the Holy Ghost. The weakest, with his anointing, is stronger than the strongest without it” (T. Cook).
Has any connection been divinely established between the Spirit’s exercise of saving power and the proclamation of reconciliation or redemption by the cross? The apostle says: ‘This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith (that is, the preaching of faith)? A statement intimating that the Spirit had been received by the Galatians, not in connection with a doctrine which laid stress on ritual observances or a moral code legally enforced, but in connection with the proclamation of redemption by the blood of Christ, and received by faith. To the human view, no obvious link of connection can be perceived between that style of preaching and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But a divine connection does exist, as is there explicitly declared. When the apostle calls the gospel ‘the power of God’ (Romans 1:16), and the preaching of Christ crucified ‘the power of God’ (1Corinthians 1:24), we have a statement which explicitly affirms that the divine power of the Spirit goes associated with the proclamation of the atonement, but will not be associated with a style of preaching which substitutes another theme” (G Smeaton).
(James R Hamilton, written May 2020)