Thursday, January 25, 2024

Preaching Christ Crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18).

Paul lets the arrows of the Gospel fly into the hearts of the Corinthian congregation by proclaiming Christ crucified instead of the wisdom of the world. Paul did not come to baptize or to make disciples for himself; he came to proclaim the Gospel, not according to the world’s wisdom but according to God’s wisdom, which is foolishness to a blind and deaf world. “If Paul in preaching had either substituted human wisdom for the doctrine of the Cross, or had so presented that doctrine as to turn it into a philosophy, his preaching would have been powerless,” Hodge wrote. “It would lose its divine element and become nothing more than human wisdom. Whatever obscures the Cross deprives the Gospel of its power.”

Wisdom cannot save mankind from sin. Inventive preaching of philosophical intricacies cannot reconcile a sinner to God. Only the message of Christ’s atoning work on the cross brings hope of reconciliation to God. Such a message is foolish to a world that demands rationalistic evidence and supernatural signs, neither of which preaching delivers to the world’s satisfaction. The proclamation of the Gospel is simply the message of Christ crucified. To preach anything else would be to forfeit its power, its efficacy.

Christ sent Paul to preach the doctrine of the Cross, not vain philosophy. The crucifixion of Christ, His atoning and satisfying work on the cross, is the only means of expiation and propitiation (removal of sin and appeasement of God’s wrath). No matter how foolish such a message might be to a darkened world, it is nevertheless wise unto salvation for those who have been called by God.

“The called always mean the effectually called, as distinguished from those who are merely externally invited,” Hodge wrote. “There is a twofold call of the Gospel; the one external by the Word; the other internal by the Spirit.” The doctrine of Christ crucified produces effects in those effectually called that only divine power can accomplish. It reveals and imparts to them true wisdom, making them divinely wise, holy, righteous, and blessed. This is something human wisdom can never do. The Cross, though regarded as absurd and powerless by the world has more power and wisdom than anything that ever proceeded from man.

Whenever you tell someone the Gospel, you are preaching. And unless you include the doctrine of the Cross, what you say will not be effective unto salvation. Pray that God will create an opportunity this week for you to preach Christ crucified. Pray that you will not be ashamed of the Gospel as you face ridicule from the world.