The Preaching Of The Cross

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Illustration Opening For Mother’s Day a husband brought his wife a small but nicely made statue of Jesus. The statue had Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head. Though not on the Cross, this little statue had puncture marks in its feet and hands. Though the wife loved the gift, their little daughter loved it even more. Every morning she’s wake up, and run to where that little statue was. One morning the mother got up, and decided do a little waxing of the furniture, so she moved the statue to another place. That little girl got up and – running to where “Jesus” was supposed to be – she saw “He” was gone. She ran to her mamma crying, “Mamma, mamma, where’s Jesus?”.

I often hear sermons preached, and have preached some my own self, where at the end of the sermon I wondered “Where’s Jesus”? I have been to funerals where the preacher spoke on the deceased, and tried to comfort the family, but at the end of the message I asked “Where’s Jesus?”. There are families falling apart today, children confused about their divine design, people dying right and left. I ask again, “Where’s Jesus?”.

When Jesus Is Not In The Church,
It Is A Family Of Fools

A Church is designed by God to be a family – the Family of God on earth. When Paul recognized the Family of God on earth, the Church, he said:

Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named

The Church is not just Riverview, or the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Holiness, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Catholic, non-denominational, Church of Christ …. I could go on and on. Humans are so flawed, so divisive, that we segregate and sectionalize everything of God. But in Paul’s day the Church had no denominations (or non-denominations, which is a denomination, thank you very much). The Church is a family, governed by God the Father, entered into through the Lord Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Spirit of God.

Every person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is my brother or sister. Every person who has NOT received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is NOT my brother or sister – though I desire them to be. The Family of God is not single colored – it is multicolored. It is distinguished by a people who have believed on the preaching of the Cross.

The Church at Corinth had many problems because they had gotten away from the unifying Cross of Christ. Earlier in the text the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Anytime a Church is divided and looks foolish, it is because the population has gotten away from the Cross of Christ. The Cross has become boring, or mundane, or out of date. The Apostle reminds us all that:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The Cross of Christ is the centerpiece of our faith. The Cross for the Christian is

Romans 1:16 … the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

It is faith alone in the Cross alone gives
the believer a completed salvation.

Notice the Apostle says, unto us which are saved. When you receive what Jesus did for you on Calvary by faith – relying wholly totally upon His finished work, the Bible says you are saved. That’s not future tense, but past tense. It is what Jesus did for you on the Cross that saves you, that makes you right in the eyes of God.

Some, Like The Pharisees & Scribes, Reject The Cross

1 Corinthians 1: 21-22 … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a SIGN …

Some are never saved and brought into the Family of God by the Spirit of God because they require a SIGN”, {Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on}, means “a miraculous display, a sign, a token from God, a wonder”. God gave Moses “signs” to perform in front of Pharaoh and the people of Israel to prove that he was from God (Exodus 4:8-9).

The Pharisees and Scribes often saw Jesus do miraculous things – but then demanded a sēmeîon, a sign”. For instance, in …

Matthew 12:22-24 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Jesus did a miraculous thing – He healed this man with the power of the Holy Spirit. When John preached on Jesus, the Pharisees asked Him “Are you the Messiah?”. John said that, no, he was not the Messiah, but the forerunner or Herald of the Messiah. Then John said:

John 3:34-36 For he whom God hath sent {the Messiah} speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus received the Holy Spirit of God without measure. Jesus said,

Luke 11:20 if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

Jesus is THE Messiah. He is THE One that God the Father sent. Yet when the Pharisees and Scribe – the religious crowd – saw Jesus cast out demons, they said “He casts out demons by the prince of demons”. They would not believe in Him. Ignoring and discounting the many SIGNS that Jesus gave, they wanted Jesus to give them another sign.

Matthew 12:28 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Jesus, we will believe in You if you show us a sign. Oh, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the cripple to walk – these things are not enough. Do you know why?

Because the Scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests thought themselves good enough to go to Heaven. After all, they kept the Law!

There are many today who believe they “keep the Law”, and are therefore certain to go to Heaven. They say, “We don’t need Jesus – we are just fine before God because we keep His Law. Now I want you to understand, the Law of God is perfect, and right, and true. The Law of God has never been rescinded. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. … For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Law of God is Holy – it is a reflection of God’s image. The Law of God was given by God to every person as a goal to meet. Every polite and civilized society has for it’s law an echo of the Law of God, or what we call “The Ten Commandments”. The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they kept the Law of God perfectly. Jesus disagreed. None of us keeps the Law of God perfectly.

The Law of God is the only thing that God every directly wrote without going through a human. The Law of God was written on tablets of stone with the “finger of God”.

Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 9:10 the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.

The Ten Commandments are the only thing DIRECTLY written by God’s own hand – His finger. The FINGER of God is the Holy Spirit of God (Jesus said in Luke 11:20, “I cast out demons with the Finger of God”). The Pharisees and Scribes thought, “We keep the Law perfectly, so we are righteous with God”, but Jesus said, “No, you are not. Your righteousness is NOT ENOUGH to get you into Heaven”. Why is this?

Because NO ONE can keep the Law perfectly –
No one BUT Jesus!

That was the whole point of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. You remember that? When Jesus was giving “The Sermon on the Mount”, He was telling the Scribes and Pharisees – all those who are SELF RIGHTEOUS – that they were not fully keeping the Law.

You are not fully keeping the Law if love is not in it!

Hear Jesus’ words. He said:

Matthew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Jesus was saying “You have been taught that murder is just the taking of an innocent life – to actually kill is a violation of the sixth commandment. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU you can murder someone without spilling any blood. When you carry a grudge – or speak evil of a brother or a sister in Christ – or make yourself better than another – YOU ARE GUILTY OF MURDER.” Murder is to carry a loveless and hateful attitude toward anyone. It is a sin that will keep your service for God unacceptable. No one keeps the Law perfectly.

Or consider the seventh commandment against adultery. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Our God looks at the heart. When we look at the Ten Commandments, we are not to ignore them and just throw up our hands. The Law of God is righteous and pure. But we are to look at the Law of God written with the Finger of God, and say,

Lord, I am a sinner. I cannot keep your Law perfectly, that Law written with Your Finger. Lord, I ask for the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be applied to my account. I need more than the tablets of stone. I need Your Finger to write on my heart the love of God. I need You, dear Lord, to come into my life, and make me “born again of the Spirit”. I want the Blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me from all sin.”

The Law brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). The Law brings us to the Cross of Calvary. When the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:39-40 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The only sign God will give to the “Jewish questioner” is the sign of Christ’s death. Jesus was crucified for my sins, and for your sins. The Bible says:

John 3:16-22 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

When a person comes to Christ by faith and is saved, that person does not become lawless. That person is “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 5-8). The same “Finger of God” that wrote on the stone tablets the perfect Law of God, this finger writes on you stony heart. This was what God foretold through the Prophet:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Being saved does not make you lawless, but it changes you. Being saved, God comes into your life, and guides you by His Spirit. And as the believer goes through this life, we know that we are saved:

Titus 3:5-6 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

The Christian is a “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:7). I now approach the Throne of God our Father not with my own works for justification, but believing and lifting up the Cross of Christ. It is not the ritual of circumcision that saved me – but faith in the finished work of Jesus (Galatians 6:15).

The Jews Seek A Sign, The Gentiles Seek Knowledge

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The Jews relied on an imperfect keeping of the Law for their salvation – which is foolishness to God. But the Gentiles, the Greeks, they rely on inherent human goodness and good works.

The ATHEISTS discount the Cross of Christ because they believe there is no God. An off shoot of ATHEISM, the HUMANIST says “just be good – do good”. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens, the Bible says:

Acts 17:16 … his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

When God made humans in His Image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:27), He gave each person an innate, pervasive knowledge that there is something greater than we are. When we do not move toward the God Who created us, the God of Scripture, then we will create a god, whether it be humanism, evolution, atheism, or some other deity.

The Physicist, Mathematician, and Philosopher Blaise Pascal spoke of what many call a “God Shaped Hole” in every person’s soul. Pascal wrote in Pensees:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”.

Gentile people are desperately seeking happiness in human works, human things, human loves. Yet all the things that we Gentiles, in our search for wisdom, do not find our completion or our happiness except in the Cross of Christ. When Paul preached at Athens the Bible says:

Acts 17:18 …. certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

To the world, the Cross of Christ is foolishness.
But to the saved, it is the Power of God unto salvation.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows me how much God loves me. When Jesus prayed, He told the Father:

John 17:24 Father … Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world …

Jesus is not just some Man, some Rabbi Who came along. Jesus Christ is ETERNAL GOD THE SON. We are told in …

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is Eternal God the Son. He pre-existed with both Father and Spirit before the world was made. This God became Man, Perfect Man, for us, to bring us to God. This Jesus was repeatedly announced by the Father as “My Beloved Son, in Whom I am WELL PLEASED” (Matthew 3:17). And yet, God was willing to have Jesus lay His life down for us. Jesus laid His life down for ALL of us. Born into this world a Jew, Jesus died for every man and woman. The Bible says:

Galatians 1:4 {Jesus} … gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Jesus – a Jew – laid His life down for red, yellow, black, and white – we were all PRECIOUS in His sight.

  • We preach Christ crucified. It is Christ crucified that shows us how much we all really need God. The Bible says:

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

This is clearly a violation of God’s ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). The Jews had to break God’s Law in order to crucify Jesus. But what about the Gentiles? The Governor of Jerusalem,

Luke 23:4 … Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, I find NO FAULT in this man.

The soldiers beat an innocent Man. The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him, and release Barabbas” (Mark 15:13). The innocent was crucified with the guilty.

It was not Christ’s beatings and scourgings that made payment for our sins. It was His beatings and scourgings that revealed how wicked we all truly are – and how we all need the Savior.

Jesus was so beaten that “He looked like a worm, and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (Psalm 22:6). As Jesus hung on that Cross suffering, “they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him” (Psalm 22:7-8). They mocked Jesus. He thirsted, and they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink. In His sufferings you see how badly we all need Jesus.

  • We preach Christ CRUCIFIED. This is past tense, not future tense. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin – He and only He did – once and for all. Jesus Christ came to do the will of God (Hebrews 10:9). The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:10 … we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jesus paid for my sins once and for all. Receiving Him as Lord and Savior, I am no longer enslaved to brokenness and sin. I belong to God. And that complete my very incomplete life.

Is your hope in Jesus Christ? If not, I pray that today God would draw you to Him through Jesus. Without Him, there is no life. May God’s Word and His Spirit bring glory to Him, and peace to us all. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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