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The message of the cross

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 1 Corinthians 1:18-20

Paul, from our text, sums up the gospel as “the message of the cross” (v. 18). To the world at large, the cross appears the height of foolishness. The letter was addressed to the church at Corinth where the city the church was located was full of schools of different philosophies. The students would follow the teachers of these different philosophers. The basis of their choice was intellectual superiority. This was in contrast to the message of the cross. To the Greek, they focus on human intelligence and wisdom. To them the cross was foolishness since it was such a barbaric act. However, whatever human wisdom may think, the truth is that to believe the message of the cross (v. 18) is to be saved and not to believe is to head to ‘destruction. Those who will reject the message are placing themselves in imminent danger of everlasting separation from God. Contrary to what human wisdom may think acceptable, the cross alone (v. 30) is the means by which God makes his Son Jesus Christ His power and wisdom to all who believe and place their faith in Christ. To believe is to be justified, to be set apart for God’s possession and to be assured of future glory. The message of the cross changes our destiny. There are only two categories of people in the world—those who are heading to destruction and those who are being saved. Our response to the message of the cross is crucial. We are saved because somebody else died on a cross and was later raised. “He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Our problem is that we want everything to make good sense. We want to understand it. We want it to be able to fit into our understanding of nature and the way things around us work. But God’s ways and God’s thoughts are as far “above our ways and thoughts as the heavens are above the earth” (Isaiah 55:9). People who are being saved right now are the ones who know that the cross is “the power of God at work saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). They know it because they have experienced that in the cross, there is forgiveness and there is a change of life.


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