Don’t Empty the Cross of its Power

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 ESV

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

“For the word of the cross is folly 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,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Let Me Point Out

Let me point out here first of all, so that hopefully there is no misunderstanding regarding what this is teaching, that it is to those who are perishing that the message of the cross is foolishness and stupidity. It is to those who are perishing that God’s wisdom is foolish and weak. It is to those who are perishing that what we preach is folly. That is their opinion, not God’s, for God is not foolish or weak, and his gospel is not folly or foolish.

And I am going to touch only lightly on one of the subject matters of this first verse, for physical baptism is not the subject of this writing, and I am doing so only to point out that Paul differentiated between physical baptism with water and the preaching of the gospel. They were not one and the same. We are not saved through water baptism, but we are saved by God’s grace through genuine faith in Jesus Christ which cleanses us from sin.

Water baptism is something which follows our salvation and it is an outward symbol and testimony of what took place in our hearts and lives when Jesus saved us. For it symbolizes us dying with Christ to sin and us being raised with Christ to newness of life in him to be lived to his glory, which is a spiritual baptism into death to sin (see Rom 6:1-11; Ac 10:44-48).

Flesh-Driven Gospels

The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not to be done in human wisdom, thinking, and reasoning. It is to be done in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and according to the word of the Lord taught in context. For many false doctrines have arisen from Scriptures taught outside their context and then twisted to say whatever the flesh of man desires.

Within today’s market-driven and flesh-driven “church,” which has taken on the pattern of the world, what is being taught is a gospel of the flesh which permits sin to still live and thrive and which does not demand death to sin nor living to righteousness nor submission to Christ as Lord nor obedience to his commands. For it caters to human flesh and sinful desire.

Now please understand with me here that this is not the true church of Jesus Christ, for his church is his body, and his followers have died with him to sin and they are living to him and to his righteousness, as a matter of practice, and sin is not what they practice. It is not their life course. Rather, righteousness is what they practice by the grace of God in his power.

Now, I am not saying that true believers in Jesus Christ will never sin but that sin should no longer have mastery over their lives and Jesus should be their only Lord (Master). And I am not saying that a true believer in Jesus could never fall back into sin and need to be revived. But what the Scriptures teach is that if we practice sin, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life. So, we need to take that seriously.

So, if we are true followers of Jesus Christ, we should not be party to these flesh-driven “churches” which are creations of man and not of God. For, just because they call it a church doesn’t mean it is the church. And we should not be party to spreading their cheap grace gospel which demands no death to sin, no resurrection to newness of life in Jesus, and which demands no walks of obedience to our Lord’s commands, but which placates sin.

Preaching the Gospel

Instead we should be those who are teaching the message of the cross, which is foolishness to those who are perishing, for they don’t understand the significance of Jesus’ death for us on that cross, but they are often looking only at what they see are the negatives, i.e. a focus on judgment and hell which they wish to avoid. But we can’t avoid that subject.

So, what is the message of the cross? It is that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus who gave himself up for us on that cross. And he shed his blood for us to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our bodies.

And it is that Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery to sin so we would now be slaves (bondservants) of him and of his righteousness. He died to set us free from the control of sin and of Satan so that sin would no longer have dominion over our lives but that Jesus would be our only Lord and Master to whom we give our undying loyalty and devotion.

And it is that the truth that is in Christ Jesus says that we are to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (see Eph 4:17-24; cf. Lu 9:23-26).

For, the gospel message that this worldly and fleshly church is offering is going to pass away. It may give some people some temporary sense of hope, but the hope is based in a lie which says that they can believe in Jesus and have their sins forgiven and have heaven secured them but that they can continue in deliberate and habitual sin, only now without guilt.

But if we want true hope of salvation from sin and the hope of heaven when we die, we must surrender our lives to Jesus Christ in submission to him as Lord (Master), forsake our lives of living for sin and self, humble ourselves in repentance, and commit ourselves to following Jesus in obedience and to doing his will for our lives. For this is our only true hope that saves.

So, please guard your hearts against the lies that convince you that you can still live in sin, making sin your practice, and that God is going to just look the other way. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and if we don’t, and we continue in sin, heaven is not our hope, but we will face the wrath of God. So, put your hope in the true Jesus and the true gospel so that you will be protected from evil.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

On Zion’s Glorious Summit

By John Kent

On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood!
They hymned their king in strains divine;
I heard the song and strove to join,
I heard the song and strove to join.

Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name,
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb,
And bow before the great I AM,
And bow before the great I AM.

While everlasting ages roll,
Eternal love shall feast their soul,
And scenes of bliss, forever new,
Rise in succession to their view,
Rise in succession to their view.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Who like me Thy praise should sing,
O Almighty King!
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Holy, holy, holy.

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