The Preaching of the Cross 1 Cor 1:18-31

18-04-29 1 Cor 1 18-31 The Preaching of the Cross CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

In the remainder of 1 Corinthians 1, Paul contrasts the response of the saved and the lost to the preaching of the cross.

Unto us which are saved, the preaching of the cross is:

The power of God – 18-20, 24 – through death Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil [Heb 2:14-15].  Death has been the problem ever since Adam sinned [Rom 5:12-14].  All mankind is affected by its power.  Yet, Jesus is more powerful than death and conquered death [Rom 7:24-25].  Jesus rose from the dead [Phil 3:10], with a power greater than the powerful rockets at NASA.  Yet people seem more impressed with NASA’a rockets than they do with Jesus’ resurrection.  

  • The cross gives us power over sin.  By being crucified with Christ [Rom 6:6] “the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  
  • The cross gives us power over the world [Gal 6:14].  
  • The cross gives us power to live.  And Christ lives his life in us [Gal 2:20].

Through the cross, Jesus destroyed the wisdom of the wise and brought to nothing the understanding of the prudent.  The wise and prudent in Jesus’ day [Lk 10:21] were scribes, Pharisees, elders and chief priests.  They said he was a devil, they said he couldn’t rise from the dead, they said he was a sinner, they said he couldn’t save himself.  They were all wrong.  In 1 Cor 1:20 Paul is saying, in essence, where are these gainsayers now?

Today the wise and prudent say that God didn’t create us, that the Bible is a myth, and that men can’t be saved by simply believing in the completed work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.  Beware lest the wise and prudent spoil you [Col 2:8].

The salvation of God – 21 – “the gospel of Christ… is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth,” [Rom 1:16].  God will save any person who will trust the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Faith is all it takes.  There is no work for us to do.  Because of the cross [1 Cor 1:30], Christ is made unto us: 

  • Wisdom – the wisest person in the world is the person who realizes he must be saved, that he cannot save himself and that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone [1 Tim 2:3-6].
  • Righteousness – you will never have enough righteousness to stand in the presence of Almighty God apart from Christ’s righteousness [Rom 10:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9].
  • Sanctification – God is holy and in Christ we are made holy [1 Cor 6:11; 1 Thes 5:23].
  • Redemption – the only payment that atones for sin is the shed blood of Jesus Christ [Rom 5:11; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14].  Wouldn’t you know that the “wise, prudent” modern translators have removed “through his blood” from Col 1:14.

The wisdom of God – 24 –  We see that the preaching of the cross is not our wisdom but God’s wisdom.  He makes foolish the wisdom of this world that preaches any other means of obtaining eternal life than the gospel of Jesus Christ [Is 29:13-14].  

The glory of God – 29, 31 – there is nothing that we can do in our sinful flesh to remedy the effect of sin on our life and eternity.  Yet, when Christ became flesh, lived a perfectly righteous life, died with our sins in his own body, and then rose from the dead, he accomplished the impossible.  Now, through him, we can have his righteousness, his life, and victory over death.  

Unto them that perish, the preaching of the cross is:

The foolishness of God – 18, 21-23, 25 – religious people think we are foolish to believe that the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is sufficient to give us eternal life.  They have made the cross of Christ “of none effect,” [1 Cor 1:17] by adding or substituting their religious doctrine and idolatry.  

Jews require a sign and Jesus gave them the best one they could have, the sign of the prophet Jonah [Matt 12:40].  His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead was the greatest of all miracles he performed while on earth.  And they look at this as foolishness.  They are still waiting on their Messiah.

Greeks seek after wisdom. Yet, they consider the cross of Christ foolishness rather than wisdom and so reject it for their own wisdom.  Thus, the cross of Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

The weakness of God – 25-29 –   Philosophers, psychologists, humanitarians, lawyers, politicians, businessmen, soldiers, doctors, and the like generally look at the cross of Christ as beneath them.  What they believe, practice and do is more important to them than what Christ did for them.  So called “scientists” who profess the science of natural processes think we are foolish to believe that there is any power in the cross of Jesus.  They are “wise” and we are foolish [Rom 1:20-22].

Therefore, “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called,” [1 Cor 1:26].  They are wise, mighty and noble “after the flesh.”  They think the cross of Christ is weak and foolish because they see themselves as strong and wise.  But God is contrary to them.  God has chosen:

  • Foolish things “of the world” to confound the wise – Jesus was a carpenter who didn’t own his own home and who had no other possessions at the time of his death than the clothes on his back.  He had no formal education.  Yet, he had more understanding than the doctors [Lk 2:46-47], and more power than the devil [Lk 13:11-17], and he left his adversaries, who were the wisest men in the law of God, dumbfounded by one simple question [Matt 23:46]. 
  • Weak things “of the world” to confound the mighty – consider Gideon’s victory over 135,000 Midianites with just 300 men.  Consider David’s victory over Goliath with a sling and a stone.  How about eternal life through the death of Christ?
  • Base things, despised things and things which are not to bring to nought things that are – All of the world’s accomplishments in science, business, construction, art, literature, medicine, and so forth will come to nothing in the end.  The great men of the world will be hiding in fear when Jesus appears [Rev 6:15-17].  The Bible and those souls who thought enough of Jesus Christ to trust him will live on forever [Matt 24:35].

Conclusion: don’t be impressed with the world’s wisdom, pursuits and accomplishments.  The wisest thing you can do is to trust Jesus Christ and let him live his life through you.