The Cross

 

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For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Those sobering words are from Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter one, and verse eighteen. They so clearly remind us that unless God the Holy Spirit is at work in the heart of those who are hearing this cross-centered message, it will be rejected as “folly” or “foolishness” by them.

But this bloody message must be held high, and be humbly and simply proclaimed, For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (I Corinthians 1:17). The apostle Paul elsewhere echoed similar words about this power, 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 (Romans 1:16). My dearly beloved, do you believe this truth about the message of the cross? Does your understanding of its power give you a perpetual confidence in sharing it? So, when you preach or explain it, and it receives a hard-hearted reception by those who are perishing (John 3:16), remember, that it’s powerful unto the saving of the souls of Christ’s “lost” sheep (John 10:11, 14-15), but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Oh yes, our God is mighty to save! This is why He has chosen this message and the method of preaching it to save those who believe, for it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called,  both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power   of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:19-25). So it’s through this powerful and “foolish” method (it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe) that His power is put on display to our unbelieving world! This is why we read in the Word of God,   But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). And when will this time be? It’s when we are powerfully converted to Jesus Christ (John 3:3, 5, 7; 2 Corinthians 5:17)! It’s when God literally moves upon us in such a way that we …volunteer freely in the day of Your [His] power, in holy array...  (Psalm 110:3). Indeed, both Paul and we can be easily pulled off of the task at hand, if we allow ourselves to soften or weaken this message, so as to please men -- Both to the philosophers of this age, And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2), and to the religious compromisers of our day, But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:11-12)! Dear Saints of God, we need a holy and enduring determination to preach this message unflinchingly and confidently to our generation. Notice that I said “we.” That is, not just me the “Preacher” here at ADBC, but “we” the congregation of “preachers” at ADBC (Acts 8:1, 4; 1 Peter 2:9). We are “all” called to preach the life-giving message of the cross. We are “all” to boast only in this message, But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14). And we are obedient to this calling when we begin to take up our own cross daily and follow Jesus, …If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). Finally, we continue in this blessed mission each day (Psalm 96:2), because we are motivated by the love of Christ, For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). 

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