It's Still the Cross

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  1 : 18-25
Subject: Cross
INTRODUCTION

In v.17 Paul clarified the nature of his mission, namely, to preach the gospel. He proceeded to identify the central feature of the preaching of the gospel, namely, the cross of Christ. For over 2000 years the sign and symbol of the Christian faith has been an old rugged cross. It is the message of the cross, which is the heart of the gospel.

Some of the Church’s greatest hymns and songs are about the cross. “The Old Rugged Cross”, “At Calvary”, “At The Cross”, and Janet’s favorite, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” (Isaac Watts).

Paul made a tremendous statement concerning the cross in Gal. 6:14, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

It was said of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “All of your sermons sound exactly the same. Why is that?” Spurgeon responded, “Because I just take a text, anywhere in the Bible, and then make a beeline straight to the cross.”

I. The Dynamics of the Cross 18-19

“message of the cross” – word or logos; the whole totality of truth contained in and revealed through the cross. The cross was the heart of the gospel and the central theme of Christianity. The word of the cross includes the entire gospel message and work, God’s plan and provision for man’s redemption. Christ’s work on the cross is the pinnacle of God’s revealed word.
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

A. FOOLISHNESS OF THE CROSS. 18a

“foolishness” – moron; absolute nonsense; absurdity. That anything significant should be accomplished through the death of a carpenter of Nazareth was sheer absurdity to the Greek mind. That one man (even the Son of God) could die on a piece of wood on a nondescript hill in a nondescript part of the world and thereby determine the destiny of every person who has ever lived seems stupid. It allows no place for man’s merit, man’s attainment, man’s understanding, or man’s pride.

This is how the cross is viewed by unbelievers who rely on their own wisdom.

B. THE FORCE OF THE CROSS. 18b

“power of God” – one group is asking, “How could the blood of such a person remove sin, give righteousness, and guarantee hope beyond the grave?” Answer: “the power of God!”; the dynamic of Jesus Christ and the cross. The vindication of the cross is not wisdom, that it makes sense; but power, it works. It changes lives. It makes saints out of sinners, preachers out of blasphemers. The cross is the manifestation of God’s power at work in a life.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”

1 Timothy 1:12-13, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enable me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

C. THE FACT OF THE CROSS. 19

Paul quotes from Isa. 29:14 as an illustration of the power of God, the same type power displayed in the cross.

“written” – it stands permanently written; this verse simply affirms that when man has achieved his greatest mastery in areas of his intellectual pursuit, God ultimately so overshadows that earthly wisdom as to bring it to nothing.

This verse is an event in Israel’s past. The Assyrians threatened Judah, the counselors of the Jewish King advised an alliance with Egypt. The prophet Isaiah opposed and appealed to trust in God alone. Isaiah was mocked. Egypt never came to rescue, but God did. Results: 186,000 Assyrians slain by one of God’s angels. Men have devised their own programs of personal and social redemption in which they trust themselves and not God. For instance: church membership, baptism, good works, etc.

Prov. 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

IT’S STILL THE CROSS!

II. The Dividing of the Cross 18, 21

The cross is the great divider; it divides.

The cross stands between you and heaven or between you and hell.

A. THOSE WHO ARE BELIEVING. 18, 21

v.18, “who are being saved” – present tense participle (passive voice); it indicates the inability of those who are being saved to accomplish that end in their own strength. It is God Who is acting to save them through His own power.

ILLUSTRATE: When I was under conviction of the Spirit of God, after hearing the message of the cross, I was concerned that if I received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I would not be able to change. Truth is, I could not change myself, but the power of God in the cross changed me!
AT CALVARY

"Years I spent in vanity and pride

Caring not my Lord was crucified

Knowing not it was for me He died. At Calvary.

Mercy there was great and grace was free

Pardon there was multiplied to me

There my burdened soul found liberty

At Calvary."

IT’S STILL THE CROSS

1. Believing From A Human Side. 21

“the world through wisdom did not know God”

God wisely established that man could not come to know Him by human wisdom. That would exalt man, so God designed to save helpless sinners through the preaching of a message that was so simple the “worldly wise” deemed it non-sense.

2. Believing From Heaven’s Side. 2

“it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”

salvation comes only through faith in the message of the cross. NOTE: it is not foolish preaching that pleases God, it is the foolishness of the message being preached. This proclamation does not refer to the act of declaring a message but to the content of the message. The content of God’s message is the gospel, “the word of the cross” and “the power of God.” It does not refer to a special technique of oral communication, rather, it pertains to the content of what is declared. He is talking about the preaching of that which is foolish in the world’s eyes, the simple, unadorned, uncomplicated truth of the cross of Jesus Christ that allows no place for man’s wisdom or man’s work, or man’s glory.

B. THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING. 18

“perishing” – present tense; did not describe a future possibility, but rather a present reality.
John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
“perish” – apollumni; the act of perishing has already begun and will continue unbroken unless there is repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. The word perish means “to loose from something.” Those who are lost are being continually loosed from any relationship with God.

III. The Defining of the Cross 25

The cross defines the source of man’s problem and the solution to man’s problem.

A. THE SOURCE.

Sin: human wisdom sometimes sees the immediate cause of a problem but it does not see the root, which always is sin. It may see that selfishness is a cause of injustice but it has no way to remove selfishness.

B. THE SOLUTION.

Savior Jesus Christ: Salvation

The only message a Christian has to tell is the message of the Cross, of God the Son becoming man, of His dying to pay the penalty for our sins, and of His being raised from the dead in order to raise us to life.

1 Cor. 2:2, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
The very part of God’s plan and work that seems most ridiculous and useless from man’s natural standpoint actually exhibits His greatest power and greatest wisdom.

John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

“perish” – apollumni; the act of perishing has already begun and will continue unbroken unless there is repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. The word perish means “to loose from something.” Those who are lost are being continually loosed from any relationship with God.