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Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 1:18-25 regarding the foolishness of the gospel in the eyes of the world

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Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Title: The Message of the Cross, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/11/10, AM

A. Opening illustration:

B. Background to passage: Paul begins to deal with the greatest solution to the problem of division in this text – the gospel of Christ. Recount context: division in the church over teachers’/leaders’ wisdom, declaration of his calling not to baptize but to preach. So he goes with the topic of wisdom of the world vs. the gospel. Because this is the ground of the answer to the problem: the gospel – the incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, as predicted by scripture, on behalf of sinners. He gives the gospel preeminence over wisdom.

C. Main thought: why was he sent to preach the message rather than baptize – two reasons

A. It is foolishness to the world (v. 8, 21-23)

1. The division in the church centered around the wisdom of the particular teachers that the factions followed. The culture in Corinth, although full of immorality, was still fluent in wisdom intellectualism. And men were still held in high regard if they could philosophize with the best of them. Philosophy means “love of wisdom.” The word for “message” is not the word for preaching or proclamation, but logos which translates message or word, but has the connotation of logic or wisdom or spoken word of God; same word as used of Christ in John 1, and has many similarities in this usage with Heb 1. So it is clear that Paul is contrasting the Greek wisdom with the wisdom of God. And he says to those who are “perishing,” being destroyed or separated from God (present tense, continuing action, now and future, barring repentance and faith) this message is “foolishness” or absurd. To the perishing Jew, a crucified messiah would be ridiculous, even blasphemous, especially with the gospel claim that Jesus was God incarnate. To the Greek the “wisdom” that God would become man, then die a criminals death, and rise from the dead, and that death could atone for the sins of mankind. And through this “wisdom” of the world, all men have decided that Christ is not what He claims to be; and now they are perishing, and will perish eternally.

2. 1 Cor 15:19, Acts 17:18, 32,

3. Illustration:

4. We still live in a culture that has an extremely high regard for education and wisdom. Think about our fascination for technology; our appreciation of scholastic achievement; our respect of those with many degrees and recognitions; our supply of experts. Even in with those that don’t have higher education degrees, we are proud of our knowledge of how things work—farming, basketball, hunting, automobile engines, computers, music, etc. Not that any of these things are bad inherently, except the pride. But if we are not careful our knowledge will lead us down a path of rejection. Look at modern liberalism. Many people see the acct of Jesus as a nice, believable religious story. But part of the gospel is the response demanded. Jesus demands that we repent, bow the knee, worship Him alone, sell out for Him, give all we have, walk the hard road through the narrow gate, build on the rock, do the will of God, deny yourself, forsake your family, and your own life also, all for His sake. And that is where most people balk – “good story…nice morals…good example, but I will have it my way, FOR THAT JUST COULDN’T BE TRUE, OR RIGHT, OR COULDN’T APPLY TO ME.” And the scary part is all the folks that “believe in God, Jesus, and the bible” and yet are wound up in the pride that holds them back from Christ, think they are on the path to heaven.

B. It is power/wisdom to the saints (v. 8, 21b, 24)

1. Paul says that this message, that the world’s estimation is foolishness; to those that being saved (again, present tense, salvation maybe secure and not complete yet) it is power. It is also the wisdom of God, which again, he will contrast with worldly wisdom that teaches the opposite of biblical truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The gospel is ways and the revelation of God and His character through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is the pathway to discernment and to the understanding of the heart and purposes of God.

2. Rom 1:16, 10:17, 1 Cor 15:2, 1 Thess 1:6, 2:13,

3. Illustration:

4. It is the power of God to salvation, to life itself, to self worth, to purpose. to strength, to endurance, to overcoming grace, to knowledge, to sacrifice, to suffer well, to deny yourself, to eternal life, to security, self-control, etc. Go through each of these and tell how the gospel is the key. We do all that we do in the Christian life because of and through the gospel. We must remember that we don’t have a works oriented faith, and we don’t achieve things in our Christian lives through will or our own strength. We are to have no confidence in the flesh, but all confidence in Christ because of the gospel, and because of His position and work. Speak of how the gospel determines what’s important; and how the gospel gives guidance; and the gospel protects you from worldly influences and witnesses.

A. Closing illustration:

B. Perspective: v. 19-20, 25

C. Preach the message of the cross

Additional Notes

• Is Christ Exalted, Magnified, Honored, and Glorified?

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