Summary: Many people today want a God who doesn’t require any changes in us, & who places His stamp of approval on whatever way we want to live.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. I want us to read some of the most meaningful words in the N.T. Paul writes,
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: `I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
"Jews demand miraculous signs & Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews & foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews & Greeks, Christ the power of God & the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, & the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength."
ILL. Some time ago the topic of the day on an Oprah Winfrey show was "Having Affairs With Married Men." She had brought together several people who were currently having an affair to get their comments on how they felt about it. One lady responded very positively, saying that her affair with a married man had been a long-standing affair, & she was very happy in it.
Then someone raised the question of morality. Instantly, the woman took offense. "Wait a minute," she said. "I’m a Christian, but I want everyone to know that my personal life & my religion don’t interfere with one another." Then she went on to say, "I believe in a God who wants me to be happy. And if this man makes me happy, then God approves of the relationship."
That’s an amazing belief, & I wonder where she found it, because I’ve never discovered that in the Bible. But that kind of thinking is not new at all. It has been around for a long time.
B. People have always wanted a God who will place His stamp of approval upon their life-style, never requiring any change for the better. And they have come up with all kinds of euphemisms to make it sound all right.
So what used to be called "living in sin" is now called "a meaningful relationship." What used to be called "self-indulgence" is now called "self-fulfillment." What used to be called "chastity" is now called "a neurotic inhibition." And what used to be called "killing the unborn" is now called "the right to choose."
ILL. Jesus encountered that attitude in His day. He looked at the Pharisees & Sadducees & called them "hypocrites" & "whited sepulchers." On the outside they appeared to be pious & prayerful & obedient to God. But inside they were rotten.
People are still like that today. The lady on Ophrah’s show was just an example. We want a God who doesn’t require any changes in us, & who places His stamp of approval on whatever way we want to live.
C. That may seem to work for a while. But sooner or later, we bump into an old rugged cross. There we meet a God who says, "I don’t approve of the way you are living. I don’t like your sin. Your sin is so horrible to Me, so evil, that it requires that I go to the cross & suffer & die for it."
PROP. So Paul said, "The Jews stumble over that cross. And the Greeks think that it is foolishness. But others see in it the power & wisdom of God." And there are still those three kinds of people in the world today.
I. THE JEWS
A. The Jews, for instance, looked at the cross & stumbled over it because they didn’t see the kind of Messiah they wanted. That’s strange, because the Jews had been carefully picked by God. He had watched over & protected them down through the generations, & had prepared them to be the nation through whom the Messiah would come.
But when they saw the Messiah, they rejected Him & crucified Him. The Bible says, "Jesus came unto His own, & His own received Him not."
Paul tells us that the Jews stumbled over the cross because "the Jews demanded miraculous signs." They wanted a Messiah who would perform miracles on their behalf.
Now the irony is that that was exactly what Jesus was doing. He was performing miraculous signs. He was giving sight to the blind. He was straightening the legs of the lame. He was cleansing the putrid skin of lepers. He was ministering to them, reaching out to meet their needs.