The Word of the Cross

I Corinthians 1:18-25

There was a rainbow that got into trouble and was sent to prism.
Not to worry, it was a light sentence.

Last week we saw Paul’s greeting and rebuke to the church at
Corinth for the divisions that were happening within the church.
He encouraged them to be unified and reminded them of their
baptism. Now, as he continues his rebuke, he points them to the
cross.

I Corinthians 1:18-25

These verses highlight the differences between the power of the
cross vs. the weakness of human wisdom

Paul calls the word of the cross Foolishness to those perishing
He calls it the Power of God to those being saved

What a stark contrast!
How can the cross be received so differently?

It is folly to those who are Perishing – headed for destruction
It is the power of God to those who are being saved.

Greek sozo – translated saved means to rescue from great peril.
It’s God’s work through Jesus,
We are saved by grace through faith.
Not the work of man, so that we cannot boast.

To people in the first century, the cross represented a gruesome/
horrific way to die.
It represented suffering and death.

To believers today the cross is the symbol of the death of Christ
and the atonement for sin. It’s a symbol of our faith and the fact
that Jesus is not dead, God raised Him up from the grave on the
3rd day.

The word of the cross is the power of God.

Power in Greek is dunamis, it refers to supernatural power that
cannot be accomplished naturally.
It’s where we get our English word dynamite, but it’s not the
same, dynamite explodes and destroys. The power of God
provides new life.
Paul wrote this to the church in Rome.
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is
the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to
the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Paul goes on to quote Isaiah 29:14.
The point of this is to show that God’s wisdom is so much greater
than the wisdom of the world.

Then he asks 3 Rhetorical Questions.
Where is the wise man? Philosopher
Where is the scribe? the Scholar
Where is the debater of this age? Logician or debater
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world.

Corinthians held intelligence in high esteem.
Paul is arguing that God’s wisdom makes even the smartest
human seem like a fool.

The Jews valued those who could understand ancient writings
and Scripture as wise and knowledgeable but even they were not
able to add anything to God’s plan of salvation. It is all the
completed work of Christ on the cross.
Even the best debater/ lawyer is not able to debate God’s
wisdom. God’s wisdom is indisputable

Even the wisest person on earth cannot know God in a personal
way apart from the gospel.
No amount of earthly knowledge or wisdom can compare to the
saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Paul describes the gospel as the folly of what we preach.
To the unsaved, the message of the gospel sounds foolish.

The gospel is the message of God and the power of God and the
wisdom of God.

Jews asked God for a sign, but they have had plenty of signs.
God led Israel across the Red Sea.
He showed up in a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud and led them.
The Jews also asked Jesus for a sign while He was on earth.

Jesus healed so many people,
He also rose from the dead just as He predicted.
Asking for a sign shows a lack of trust in God.
We should walk by faith not by sight.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things
not seen.

Greeks seek after wisdom. They needed evidence to believe
something.
Also, they praised those who had wisdom rather than the One
who alone can give true wisdom.

Paul claims that his message is to preach Christ Crucified.
He then goes on to describe:

3 Responses to the Cross

Stumble – the Jews were seeking the Messiah to come and save
them from their suffering.
They were not expecting a suffering servant who would die on a
cross. This is interesting because you know they would have
been taught and likely memorized Isaiah. Isaiah speaks of the
Messiah as the suffering servant.
The cross was a symbol of death, not like we view it today. We
see it as a symbol of faith in the one who saved us from our sin.

Laugh – no rational Greek believed in the resurrection. They
simply couldn’t wrap their minds around it. It didn’t make sense.
How could someone rise from the dead?
Their response was to laugh at and mock those who believed in
the cross and Christ.

Believe – those who believe experience the wisdom of the cross.
They also experience the power of the cross. The power of
forgiveness which provides eternal life.
Not everyone who hears the gospel will hear and receive, some
will stumble, others will mock it, but those who believe will be
called children of God!!

Churches today must continue to preach Christ crucified.

A strong church once inscribed the words “we preach Christ
crucified!” on an archway leading to the churchyard.
Over time, two things happened: the church lost its passion
for Jesus and His gospel, and ivy began to grow on the
archway. The growth of the ivy, covering the message,
showed the spiritual decline. Originally it said strongly, we
preach Christ crucified. But as the ivy grew, one could only
read we preach Christ, and the church also started preaching
“Jesus the Great Man” and “Jesus the Moral Example”
instead of Christ crucified. The ivy kept growing, and one
could soon only read, we preach. The church also had even
lost Jesus in the message, preaching religious platitudes and
social graces.

Finally, one could only read we, and the church also just
became another social gathering place, all about we and not
about God.

V. 25 highlights God’s strength and wisdom as so much greater
than anything man could ever know or do.
God has more power in His breath than the strongest man on
earth has in his entire body. There is simply no comparison.

APPLICATION

Preach Christ Crucified

Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations
and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son and
the Holy Spirit.

All believers are called to share the good news with others.
Bible teacher Lehman Strauss was brought to Christ
through the power of the Word when he was young. At his
girlfriend’s suggestion, he read Romans 3:23, 5:8, and 10:13.
As he did, he was convicted of his sin. He wept and believed.
When his son Richard was 7 years old, he asked his father
how to be saved. Lehman used the same verses that his
girlfriend (who was now his wife) had used years earlier. His
son believed too, and eventually became a pastor.

God’s Word has tremendous power! The first recorded time
God spoke, He created light (Gen. 1:3). He spoke a promise
to Abraham (17:15-19) and enabled his 90-year-old wife Sarah
to bear a child (21:1-2).
God still speaks with power today, and all who hear and
believe the gospel are saved (Rom. 1:16).
Yes, the message of Christ and His saving work on the cross
can change the direction of a person’s life. It has the power
to reach the heart of that person you love and have prayed
for many times.

So don’t give up in your witness. Be consistent in your daily
walk. Keep praying and sharing the gospel with others.

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