Summary: Benjamin Franklin, who never professed faith in Christ, would attend church on occasion. After attending a Presbyterian church, Franklin stated that he was “disgusted” with the sermon that morning had nothing to do with the Scripture text that was read.
Susan Magdalane Boyle (born 1 April 1961) is a Scottish singer who came to international public attention when she appeared as a contestant on reality TV program Britain’s Got Talent on 11 April 2009. It was there that she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables. Her first album was released in November 2009 and debuted as the number one best-selling CD on charts around the globe. Global interest in Boyle was triggered by the contrast between her powerful voice and her plain appearance on stage. The juxtaposition of the audience’s first impression of her with the standing ovation she received during and after her performance led to an international media and Internet response. Within nine days of the audition, videos of Boyle — from the show, various interviews and her 1999 rendition of “Cry Me a River” — had been watched over 100 million times. Great Briton’s Got Talent is similar to America’s Idol debuted on June 11, 2002.
Most of us are familiar with the show’s concept: it aims to discover the best singer in the country through a series of nationwide auditions in which viewers’ votes determine the winner. Everything on stage is drive to receive applause and approval from the audience. To say the show is popular is an understatement. The show appears in the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Great Briton, Ireland, Latin American, and Israel. What drives the program and the contestants is the response they receive from the audience and the judges. Keep that thought in mind for the next few minutes.
We find ourselves in 1 Corinthians 2 where Paul is laboring diligently to demonstrate the power of Christ’s cross. After discussing the cross why people see the cross as useless and why people see Christians as weak, he turns our attention to his time when he was in Corinth.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
In the later part of the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter if Peter loves him three times. After Peter emphasizes his love for our Lord the third time, Jesus commands Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). Jesus tells Peter to the sheep good, solid nourishment. The New Testament is clear; preaching is not about providing gourmet meals but giving the people the Words of God. Paul’s aim in coming to Corinth was not to please people but to save people. Paul’s ministry wasn’t driven for American Idol where the people in the pew would judge the style of his presentation. Instead, his aim was to display the full-orbed power of the Cross of Christ.
Today’s Big Idea: The preacher is to remove himself so that you may see the cross of Christ – for it alone saves.
1. The Preacher’s Job: Put Christ on Display
Benjamin Franklin, who never professed faith in Christ, would attend church on occasion. After attending a Presbyterian church, Franklin stated that he was “disgusted” with the sermon that morning had nothing to do with the Scripture text that was read. Notice Paul’s aim in verse five: “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5) Keep verse five in view like a man driving his car on the highway is focused on his destination. We’ll examine more of what he means by “wisdom of men” in a few minutes, but first… Why is it so crucial that our faith not rest in the “wisdom of men” but in the “power of God?” It makes a big difference what a preacher offers as the basis of faith. Why? Because one thing is the “power of God.” The power of God is named in verse two: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
The point of preaching is to display Jesus Christ. The special stress of preachers is Christ’s death on the cross – where He died in our place – “him crucified.” This is the subject we are to communicate whether we are in the prince’s palace or the peasant’s hut. It’s to be preached whether we are in the marketplace or the university.
Why is this so important? “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.”