Summary: Paul writes to Corinth to get them to focus on the cross of Christ.

“Adjusting Our Focus”

February 12, 2003 (1Cor. 1.17-18) Adult Bible Study

We’ve all had the job one time or another of taking pictures. When you do, you want to make sure that the image you are trying to capture is in focus else you get a smeared image.

Sometimes we have to refocus our lives so that we get the image that God wants us to have. This is what Paul is doing in these two verses. He had warned the church concerning their divisions. They had completely gotten their attention on men instead of Christ. The result was that the church had lost its focus.

BI – “When the focus of the church becomes anything else than the cross of Christ, it is out of touch with God’s purpose for its existence.”

I. Paul’s Providential Deliberation – (17a)

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17 KJV)

A. He understood what he was not called to do – “to baptize”

It is a wise person who knows what God has not called them to do. If they say “No” to the things men want them to do over doing what God wants them to do they will spend their days wisely. Here, it was baptism. Baptism is important, but it is not the essential thing in getting a man to Heaven. If it were, Paul would have preached that. Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward change.

It is easy to get involved in ritualism, ceremony, and let form replace the thing that we have been called to do. We can spend hours doing things that people think we ought to do until we have spent no time in the study preparing for what God has called us to do. We must not let this happen. We have to put our priorities in order. Part of prioritizing is understanding what God has not called us to do, so we don’t waste time doing frivolous things.

APP: If you will just find the thing that God wants you to do and do it, you will find life very much more rewarding.

B. He understood what he was called to do – “to preach the gospel”

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, (Mark 3:14 KJV)

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15 KJV)

The minister of God must focus on the preaching of the gospel, especially the cross. If he does not do that no one else will. The church needs to protect its pastor. They must make sure that he has the time to study, pray and seek God’s will for the church.

Þ That was Paul’s providential deliberation. He understood what he was not called to do and what he was called to do. Now notice:

II. Paul’s Purposeful Deliberation – (17b)

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17 KJV)

In his preaching ministry, Paul:

A. Understood What to Subtract – “not with wisdom of words”

A preacher can become more concerned about how he says things than what he says. That should never be the case. It is not important that he has an unlimited vocabulary or eloquent speech. What is important is his message. He has been called to do one thing – preach, and while he should want to do that well, he should cut the ploys of humanism from his delivery. It doesn’t matter how well you said something if people don’t know what you said.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 KJV)

B. Understood Why to Subtract it – “lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect”

When more emphasis is placed on the style of delivery than the content to be delivered, the message is weakened. To preach the gospel in order to please human ears and egos empties the power of the cross of Christ. Paul understood that. That’s why he refused to philosophy or psychoanalyze. He did not preach to impress men. He preached to change them!

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