Summary: In Paul's letter to the Corinthian believers, he reminds them that the philosophy that they brought with them into the church was no longer the philosophy that they were to live by. There was wisdom in the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NLT)
Intro: There is a story about a little girl who proudly wore a shiny cross on a chain around her neck. One day she was approached by a man who said to her, “Little girl, don’t you know that the cross Jesus died on wasn’t beautiful like the one you’re wearing? It was an ugly, wooden thing. It is just foolish to have a shiny cross represent Jesus.” To which the girl replied, “Yes, I know. But they told me in Sunday School that whatever Jesus touches, He changes.”
. That’s what many people feel about the cross and about Christianity.
. The concept of God coming to dwell among man and sacrifice himself for the wrongs that mankind does is just foolishness.
. The concept of the cross is foolishness.
. A well known visiting American Preacher was speaking in a church in South America and gave some advice to a congregation about Evangelism. He said, “Don’t tell people about the cross, it doesn’t work. That’s why the Franklin Graham crusades are no longer effective. Just tell them that God loves them and has a plan for them. My ministry proves that. I have thousands that attend my church every Sunday. The message of a crucified Jew is ridiculous to the modern mind and an ineffective tool for Church Growth. So move on to something better. A crucified Messiah is stupid, but promise them prosperity, give them emotional experiences, provide them with self esteem – then you’ll fill the pews.”
. The cross is foolish and offensive to many in our world today.
. While we may think this is a new idea or movement, it is not.
. In writing to the Christians in Corinth, He warned them of this very same thing.
. We are back in 1 Corinthians this morning.
. What Paul is doing in our scripture this morning is contrasting the foolishness of man, which they think is wisdom , and the wisdom of God, which they think is foolishness.
. He is still dealing with divisions within the church.
. Remember where Corinth is. It is in Greece, just across a bay from Athens, part of the Roman Empire. The Greeks were in love with philosophy. They had many different philosophical parties that had their varying views of mans origin their destiny and even their relationships with the many gods that the Greeks worshipped. Factions developed within these philosophical groups and as the Corinthians were being converted, they were bringing this baggage with them. They had a view of the world or a way they wanted the world to function and exist and they brought that into the church.
. Remember that they didn’t have scripture as we do today, all they knew was the word of mouth teaching and preaching of Paul, Apollos and Peter.
. They brought their culture into the church with them. We see this today in many places, especially Africa. We are spreading the Good News and people are being saved through their faith in Jesus Christ but they bring all their cultural issues into the church with them. They must be taught the way of God.
.It’s not just in Africa or some foreign land. Here in America, we bring our views and we add insights to God’s word that is not there.
. A few years 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 having affairs 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 it’s not 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 committed relationship." What used to be called "abstinence" is now called "a neurotic inhibition." And what used to be called "killing the unborn" is now called "pro choice.