Summary: “Old gods never die, they just come back in new clothing.” The “old gods” Paul dealt with in his day are back!
THE CROSS VERSUS THE NEW AGE
INTRODUCTION: “Old gods never die, they just come back in new clothing.” The “old gods” Paul dealt with in his day are back! I simply call them the “new age” gods. What am I driving at? Look at this text and note the following.
I. The Reality of the Crisis
Paul was dealing with a real crisis in his day. We are dealing with a real crisis in our day. What do we mean by the “new age”? Who are they?
A. Relativist: Everything is relative. We call it moral relativism. These claim there is no ultimate truth. There is one personal god who speaks with authority and finality. There are no ultimate answers to life’s dilemmas.
B. Rulers: They believe in individual self-rule. Each person is god. We should have the freedom to live whatever lifestyle one desires. There are no moral absolutes.
C. Redemptionists: They say that the Judeo-Christian worldview is the source of most modern day problems. Environmental, political, economic and personal problems abound. These can be resolved only by the “new agers” with their special brand of wisdom and superior intellectual ability. The answer is not in Christianity with its emphasis on sin or salvation. They doubt God’s existence, challenge Jesus’ deity and question the necessity of the new birth.
See v.22. “Signs and wisdom”. Is this not what the new age is built on? (Horoscopes, astronomy, etc…). The church at Corinth was being seduced by the “spirit of the age.” How many today have bought into the same thought?
What’s wrong with the “new age” thought? It is diametrically opposed to the way of the cross. It is opposite of God’s wisdom. It is man’s philosophy versus God’s theology.
II. The Response to the Cross (v.18-25)
The cross elicits various responses from people.
A. Some Stumble (v.23): To the Jew the cross was foolish. It was a rock of offense. It was scandalous and offensive. It was a glaring weakness. Why? 1. A crucified person was under God’s curse (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13). 2. The concept of a crucified Messiah was unthinkable because of their cherished hope of a political Messiah. They were looking for a military champion and got a suffering servant. They were so busy looking for a sign (Matt. 12:39, 27:42) they missed the saviour.
To the “new ager” the cross is offensive because it destroys self-rule and slays human pride. What does a man dying on the cross so many years ago have to do with me? See v.19. Why do I need a saviour if I’m my own god and I’m good enough to get to Heaven on my own?
B. Some Scoff (v.23): To the Greeks the cross was senseless. It was nonsense. Foolishness (v.18) = moronic. These were sophisticated people who prided themselves on wisdom, yet with all their great minds they hadn’t found God! Why? God is not found by human speculation but by divine revelation. You don’t “smart” your way into Heaven.
C. Some Are Saved: Are we to denounce intellectualism? By no means! Paul was an intellectual but he was smart enough to stick to the cross – see v.18. The cross is a picture, not of God’s weakness, but of His power. It’s not a sign of his foolishness, but of his wisdom. It’s the only way to reconciliation. Make note of Paul’s questions in verse 20.
III. The Reminder to the Corinthians (v.26-31)
Paul reminded them of their transformation. The best argument for Christianity is a Christian.
A. Consider Your Call (v.26): The church didn’t have many “wise” (intellectual elites), “powerful” (prestigious) or people of “noble birth” (well born, of social rank). Most came from the lower ranks. Why? “Those who think they are well have no need for a saviour.”
B. Consider the Cause (v.27-30): God chose, not by merit, wealth, influence, intelligence or social rank, but by grace. “Low” = base or insignificant. “Weak” = despised, no account.
C. Consider the Course (v.30-31): Because of God’s wisdom every believer has:
1) Righteousness (right standing before God). When I am prepared to cease from my own effort and come to Calvary as a guilty sinner utterly dependent on God for grace and mercy, at that moment He declares me righteous. This is directly opposite to “new age” thinking. 2) Holiness – set apart for God’s purpose. 3) Redemption – fully redeemed (I John 3:2). This is God’s wisdom – the cross! It’s the only answer to our sin problem.
CONCLUSION: Alan Redpath once wrote, “It is an amazing and tragic thing that when emphasis on philosophy, intellect and ability seeps into the life of the Christian church and into our Christian service, we discover ourselves with no authority, no spiritual power, nothing that we can do to bring a blessing to a soul.”
“Old gods never die, they just come back in new clothing.” They are everywhere! Just stick to the cross. Christ wins!