“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. For
it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of
the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the
scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the
wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its
wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was
preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)
We are living in a day when the message of the church is
changing. Churches, and even whole denominations, are moving away from the old
message of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and are moving toward a message
of salvation through social activism and good works. The old message of the cross is quickly being
replaced by a bloodless message that lacks power and that lacks hope. Instead of hearing the devastating, but life
changing news that men are sinners, people hear a message that tells them, “I’m OK and you’re OK!”
Ever since the gospel first began to be preached, the
message of the cross has been rejected as foolish or unbelievable. Paul says that to both the Jews, and the
Gentiles (or non-Jews) the cross was offensive.
The Jews rejected the cross because it was not what they expected from
the Messiah. But the non-Jews, like the Romans also thought it was foolish. You can just imagine the response of many of
the Romans. Rome worshiped power. Rome WAS power! They served a god of war! Offering them the gospel of a man whose
country they held in bondage, and whose supposed leader they had nailed to a
cross and killed, was indeed foolishness.
We see an example of their attitude of the foolishness of
the cross in Acts 26, when Paul was on trial before King Agrippa and Festus,
the Roman governor of Judea. After Paul
shared his beliefs, Festus cries out in Acts 26:24, “You are out of your
mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you
insane.” It was just
foolishness to him, and to many, many Romans who were just like him.
But the cross is not
only an offense intellectually; the idea that Jesus died on the cross for our
sins can also be an offense to their ego for a couple of reasons:
1) It is an offense to
some because it calls them “sinners” who need someone to die for their sins. That offends them. They say things like, “Don’t you call ME a
sinner!” or “I am a pretty good person, I don’t need someone to die for my
2) The concept of
salvation through the cross of Jesus takes away all thought of “merit” in
salvation. It is not what YOU do to save
yourself; it is all about what HE did on the cross. That is a blow to many, who think they
“deserve” to go to heaven. They have a
pride in their accomplishments, and they don’t want to humble themselves and
admit that they need someone else to save them.
For many people today the message of the cross is foolish. Yet, it
demands action. The cross calls for a
decision. You can’t ignore the cross. And
for God’s people, those who believe, the message of the cross is the power and
wisdom we so desperately need in our lives. There’s nothing deeper to be studied. There’s nothing beyond the cross in the
Christian life. We never outgrow our
need for the gospel of God’s saving grace, and I need to be reminded of the
cross every single day.
There is nothing is
more powerful to move a community of Christ-followers forward in their faith
than the preaching of the gospel. It’s
the reason why communion matters so much, it’s a visible reminder of the cross. Never allow the cross
to lose its centrality to the ministry of your church. I believe we ought to connect ancient truth to
contemporary questions, but the ultimate source of hope for every problem we
face in our lives is the cross where Jesus died. What about the resurrection? It matters just as much. It’s the glorious end to the redemptive
narrative and its hope can never be separated from the message of the cross. But it’s the cross that calls us to
decision, to repentance, and to the life of a disciple of Jesus.
Has the blood been
applied to your life? Is your faith
in Jesus and in Him Alone?
answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through me.” (John 14:6)
Can God change your life?
God has made it possible for you
to know Him, and experience an amazing
change in your own life.
Discover how you can find peace
Reproduced with permission from Russ Sharrock.