Summary: The message of the Cross contradicts everything people want God to be...it is crosswise to our culture. We should be cross wise too.
March 26, 1995 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Pastor Guske
Please read the Bible text.
This message of the cross contradicts everything that people want God to be. Yet the cross is the ultimate expression of who God is. The cross is contrary to human wisdom and reveals God’s wisdom. This contrast is reflected in the title of this sermon; CROSSWISE. A word that means contrary to or opposite of in nature, it also can be taken to mean wise in the knowledge of the cross; Cross-Wise.
A TV special last week, In The Name Of God, Peter Jennings was interviewing the Pastor of a very large, growing church in the mid-west. Their ministry is aimed at the unchurched and they are known for their theater style of church; dramas, professional music, entertainment, need based sermons. Mr. Jennings asked the pastor why there were no Christian symbols, not even a cross in the building.
The pastor said that they were trying to reach the unchurched who my be offended by it and that they did not want to limit Christianity to one symbol. He had a logical reason and the church has proven success...but what kind of success? They may have come to church, but without the cross they cannot come to God!
The cross reveals God to us. No person has ever seen God, nor has anyone ever searched out Heaven to discover God. All we can ever know about God is what He has chosen to show us.
In the book of Hebrews (1:1-2)we read:
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son."
God is most clearly seen in the person of Jesus. Jesus said of himself; "He who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9
What did Jesus come to do? He came to take away the sin of the world; He came for the cross of Calvary.
If you were to give a word to describe the main attribute of God, what would it be? Really we cannot settle for just one word. The two words that best describe God are seemingly opposite; one indicates God’s separateness from humanity and the other His nearness. The words are; HOLY and LOVE.
GOD IS HOLY: Holy, that is utterly separate and above all creation. Holy, that is perfect in moral ways, totally uncorrupted. God’s holiness demands that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). God is the righteous judge of sin. God is holy, God in and of Himself is alone holy.
GOD IS LOVE: (1 John 4:16) It is not that God just acts loving, but that God is actually love itself. The God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to save us. God comes to us because God loves us, God loves you. God cannot be anything but loving because it is God’s very nature.
How then can a Holy God love sinners? How then can a Loving God make us holy so we can have a relationship with Him?
We are not forgiven simply because God loves us. God’s love cannot negate His holiness. God forgives us because the price has been paid by Jesus on the cross. We are not simply forgiven, we are redeemed; bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19).
God’s holy hatred for sin and His eternal love for people, you and me, CRASH! together in the violent event on Calvary.
Isaiah 53:4-6, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
Yes, the message of the cross is offensive, it is gruesome, the sight of a man nailed through, hung naked for public display, hanging on torn flesh in pain and agony. But the true offense of the cross is not to our humanity as we sympathize with a brutal death.
The true offense of the cross is to our pride, because God has told us that Jesus hung there for our sin: your sin, my sin, the world’s sin. Everyone will admit to a mistake, or not being perfect. But to admit to sin which would banish one from the presence of God forever! To admit that this is what you truly deserve...who confesses this?
Our sin killed Jesus, we deserve eternal damnation and the wrath that fell on Jesus to fall on us.