09/25/16 The Cross Is?

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Monday, September 26, 2016 Under: Sermon

Saints GO Marching on Series – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Intro: “I’m only Human!” Have you ever known someone or maybe even been that someone who thought they were right but they weren’t? I mean you were really adamant about the issue with no wavering desire to think otherwise? “YOU WERE RIGHT!” It is our nature to want to be right and the last thing most want to admit is that we might be wrong about something. The world today, just as in Paul’s day, is caught up in the admiration and worship of human opinion, human wisdom, and human desires and aspirations. Men are continually trying to figure out on their own what life is all about—where it came from, where it is going, what it signifies (if anything), and what can and should be done about it (if anything). Modern man has made gods of education and human opinion. Although human ideas are constantly changing, appearing and disappearing, being tried and found wanting, conflicting with and contradicting each other, men continue to put faith in them. As long as they reject divine authority, they have no other option.

Just as in Paul’s time, the church today has not escaped the problem. We ourselves can fall prey to current trends in human thought. Some Christians frantically look almost everywhere but to God and His Word for values, meaning, guidance, and help. Or they add human ideas and insights to Scripture or try to “baptize” human ideas and insights with Scripture. We sometimes are more concerned about human opinion than about God’s Word—“using” Scripture, but not fully believing, trusting, and obeying it. Could you imagine a man coming into your world and trying to convince you he knew a man they called him Jesus and he died on tree for the sins of mankind and three days later he raised from the grave and he now lives? It was a tree shaped in the form of a cross and he hung there. There are a lot of stubborn people who are going to continue to believe they are right and their not and they’re going to die and go to hell. A cross really?

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV) Text: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (NKJV)

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who 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.

1. The Cross is primary: Vs. 17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”

The message of the gospel is the cross of Christ. The content of preaching and witnessing is to be the cross. The main subject of our lives and conversation is to be the cross of Christ. All the other subjects of the Christian life are due to the fact that we have been reconciled to God and brought near Him by the cross of Christ. The cross demonstrates the love of God, the fact that He accepts us and allows us to walk with Him day by day. In all our preaching and witnessing, the glorious love of God revealed in the cross is to be the dominant theme. The believer is to bear witness to the cross. The minister of God should never let the rituals of the church take the place of the cross in his ministry—no matter how important they may be. Regardless of their importance—and none are more important than baptism—the central focus of the preacher's message and ministry is to be the gospel, that is, the cross of Christ. The main focus of our lives, conversation, and ministry is to be the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is the primary mission of the preacher, not the rituals and ministries of the church.

The cross can be emptied of its power. How? By preaching the gospel with "wisdom of words." The person who preaches the gospel with "wisdom of words" makes the cross of Christ of no effect. They void or empty the cross of its power. They focus attention upon the flowery, descriptive presentation or else upon the new idea or dynamic power of the sermon. When people leave the service, their attention is not upon the gospel and the cross—their attention is upon the preacher. The cross is emptied of its power. No life has been changed, not by God.

2. The Cross is power: Vs. 18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The world's wisdom includes many words, that is, many ways to find the truth and meaning to life. But the Word of the cross is the only way to the truth and meaning of life. Just why the preaching or the Word of the cross is foolish to those who perish, the men of the world who do not come to God through the cross of Christ are in a state of perishing. The lost do not like the message of the cross, that is, the message that man is saved through a crucified Redeemer. They count the message as foolishness. The lost do not like the simple way the message is proclaimed. The preaching of the cross is the power of God to those who are saved. No other message on earth can reconcile men to God and put them under His daily care. No other message has changed lives like the message of the cross of Christ. No other message has revolutionized societies and communities and families like the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ is the power of God to save men.

3. The Cross is prudent: Vs. 19-21 “For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

The preaching of the cross destroys the wisdom of men and makes foolish the wisdom of the world. The cross exposes the fallacy of man's reasoning and wisdom. Man seeks to conquer evil through science, technology, and the religion of human effort. Man tries to use everything at his disposal to conquer nature, disease, suffering, corruption, and death. Man wants a life that is full and free; but he wants it on his own terms, that is, he wants all these things in such a way that will allow him to continue to do his own thing, to live as he wishes, to lust, and to gain position and power. What the cross does is shatter this reasoning: it exposes a severe problem with man: the problem of sin, of a depraved and selfish heart. The cross is God's Son, the Perfect Man being put to death by the rest of the world. Men killed the Son of God because man is evil. Man is just not willing to live as Christ said; therefore, he put Christ to death.

The cross exposes the fallacy of man's search for love, joy, peace, and all the other spiritual qualities of life. Man wants to live a full and free life, and he wishes the same for other men—at least to some degree. But in all his searching man discovers something. Science, technology, and good works do not bring the love, joy, and peace for which he longs, nor do they give the perfect assurance of knowing God—of really knowing Him to such a degree that a person is absolutely sure he is going to live with God eternally. The cross destroys the idea that the fullness of life comes from science, technology, education, and even "good works." “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

God sacrificed His own Son for us, and it is through His sacrifice that God saves us. God accepts us when we approach Him through the cross, that is, when we believe that God loves us so much that He would sacrifice His Son for us. God takes that person’s faith and counts it as righteousness or perfection. The person who believes becomes acceptable to God: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

How does this destroy and make foolish the wisdom of men and their world? The cross is not the way men want to approach God. Men want to be acceptable to God without having to love and sacrifice themselves completely. Yet, if they accept the sacrifice of Christ as the truth, they have to sacrifice themselves even as He sacrificed Himself; they have to give all they are and have to reach and help the people of the world. But men fail. Every human effort other than the cross always has and always will fail. No effort of man has ever solved the world's problems of sin and evil. No man has ever penetrated the spiritual world to find out what God is like. Only Christ and His cross can change men and give them life—life that is both abundant and eternal.

The cross is both the wisdom and power of God to save all who believe. The term the "wisdom of God" means the cross, the way God has chosen to save the world. No matter what man does or how wise he gets, he will never be able to become perfect, not in love and justice. Despite all that man may achieve, he will still come "short of God's glory" (which is perfection). When a person believes that Jesus Christ died for him—when he gives all he is and has to Christ—God saves that person and uses him to reach the lost and destitute of the world.

4. The Cross is prove: Vs. 22-25 “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who 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.”

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (KJV)

The cross answers man's search for God. The world has made mistakes in looking at the cross.

1. The Jews or religionists of the world feel they are the chosen seed of God, that they reach God by having a godly heritage and by being religious and good enough to be acceptable to Him. The religionist does not want to be thinking upon the negative factors of sin and death; he wants to focus upon the positive things of ritual, ceremony, religion, works, and benevolence—just so he is not expected to give everything.

2. The Greeks made the mistake of thinking God is too far away and uninvolved in human affairs to feel. To think of a god who became a man and felt the pains of death upon a cross was foolishness to a Greek mind. It was simply nonsense. It was beyond anything that the human mind could grasp. The world, generation after generation, makes the mistake of stumbling over the simplicity of the cross. “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:22

3. The called of God find Christ. There are some who pay attention to the pull of God's call and movement in their hearts. They heed and obey the call of God: They discover that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God.

The cross proves that God's way is wiser and stronger than man's way. It is wiser and stronger because it saves men. The fact is it could save the whole world if all men would surrender themselves to the Christ of the cross. How could the cross of Christ do such a phenomenal thing? By its example, demand, and power to change men from sinful and selfish beings to loving and sacrificial creatures. When a man truly bows before the cross, he surrenders all he is and has to Christ, and Christ makes him into a new creature. The man arises and goes forth to do all and to give all he can to save and meet the needs of a world that reels under the weight of its starving, diseased, and lost masses. “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.” Romans 1:16

Conclusion:

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

THE CROSS IS CHRIST: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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