Summary: You can't add anything to the cross that would improve your relationship with God.

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Title: Nothing to Add

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Truth: You can’t add anything to the cross that would improve your relationship with God.

Aim: to pursue Christ alone in order to know God.


I asked last week if there was something our church could learn from the Democrats as they met for their convention to elect Senator Barack Obama. The Republicans have met and I ask you if there was anything from their convention that we could benefit from as a church? I suggest we can learn something from John McCain’s personal testimony segment of his speech.

The Republican nominee said:

Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.

On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me.

Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die. I didn't feel so tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn't set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me. When I didn't get better, and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.

I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow prisoners. Our Code said we could only go home in the order of our capture, and there were men who had been shot down before me. I thought about it, though. I wasn't in great shape, and I missed everything about America. But I turned it down.

A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.

When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

Our church would profit from that kind of humility and dependence on the Lord God. I wonder if this kind of humility would result in us falling more in love with Christ like this man came to love his country when he was humbled?

Paul is addressing a church that is strutting. They became self-important and boastful. The result was trouble in the fellowship. He reminded them in 1:10-17 that the central purpose of the church was to serve Christ and the message of the cross. Next he shows them that when we understand the cross, it humbles us. We’re humbled because there is nothing we can add to God’s salvation to improve our relationship with God.

I’m going to explain the text and then I’m going to show how this applies to the three most fundamental questions everyone is seeking to answer. The text has three main thoughts. We are going to deal with the first two in this message.

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