Wednesday, January 18, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:10-18 The Power of the Cross

KEY TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 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.

KEY THOT: The church at Corinth was divided by personalities. Some declare their allegiance to Paul, others to Apollos, yet others to Peter. One group even claim exclusive allegiance to Christ! But the spirit motivating all these groups is the same: sectarianism. Each group not only declared their allegiance to a particular leader of their choice; they actually consider themselves superior to the other groups. Paul rebukes them for their attitude and refocuses them on the crucified Christ. Our allegiance as the church is not to human leaders (whether pastor, theologian or founder of historical denomination), but to Christ. 

To pledge allegiance to human leaders or a particular theological persuasion is to become sectarian and to divide the Body of Christ, especially when we refuse to see that from God's perspective, our group or congregation is just one member of the larger Body of Christ. Our Head is Christ and our message is the Cross. The Cross is the source of the church's 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" (verses 17-18).

When churches repent and return to the original foundation of our faith--the Cross of Christ--they experience again the power of God and start to grow. There can be no other foundation for the church to grow except on Jesus Christ and the message of His Cross: "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). A church's spiritual power is not found in its peculiar theology or traditions. It is found only in crucified Christ--nothing more and nothing less. To re-focus a church on any other ground is to sow the seed of decline.

Only the message of the Crucified Christ has power to save: no theology or tradition can save souls. Theology and tradition is the Church's historical response to contemporaneous cultural challenges of their times. So when the cultural challenges change over time, the Church's response must likewise change. Today, our cultural challenge is secularism and so our theology and tradition must respond to this challenge.

But what cannot change is the message of the Cross: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

In the face of contemporary cultural challenges, may God grant us wisdom to re-establish the church on its firm foundation, viz., the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Cross alone--solus Christus! 

Father, thank You for the Cross and Jesus Christ whom You have sent to die for our sins. May Your church be built only on this sure foundation. Amen.

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