Summary: The importance of the cross of Christ.
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
“The message of the cross is foolishness to the unbeliever,
but it demonstrates the power and wisdom of God to the believer”
Robert Fulton in a move known as “Fulton’s Folly” tried to launch a steamboat in the Seine River in France in 1803. It sank because the engine was too heavy. Fulton was laughed and called a fool. It wasn’t until 1807 that Fulton was successful in sending his steamboat down the Hudson River in New York.
In a similar way, the message of the cross has been and is today laughed at and seen as foolishness to unbelievers. Yet… to those of us who believe… it demonstrates the power and wisdom of God.
(Give the two major parts of the message and the sermon in a sentence)
I. THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS APPEARS AS FOOLISHNESS TO THE UNBELIEVER (1:18-25)
(Relate to context here – divisions see v. 17. Draw circle with cross in middle)
A. The Weakness of Human Wisdom (v. 18)
The problem then (as today) is the problem of looking for answers to life’s big questions from philosophy (man’s wisdom) The result? Man’s wisdom is not enough. It is limited, partial wisdom.
T. S. Eliot: “All our knowledge only brings us closer to our ignorance,
And all our ignorance, closer to death. But closer to death, no closer to God. [And then he asks this haunting question:] Where is the life we have lost in living?”
Is there NO value in knowledge, in education? No, of course not. There have been tremendous accomplishments over the past centuries, especially over the last 50 years.
And it is also true that once you become a Christian you don’t know all the answers to everything – science, math, etc. If you need your car fixed, you go to the best mechanic, if you need a Dr., go to one that has the best experience, education and reputation. When used properly, the field of medicine, technology, & science can be of great value.
But – problem is when human philosophy tries to answer the big questions of life – where we come from, where we are going, why we are here, what’s right and what’s wrong. Human wisdom oversteps its bounds and bites off more than it can chew when it tries to tackle those questions.
If we want to know the ultimate meaning & purpose of life, the source of happiness, joy, fulfillment & peace – we look beyond human wisdom.
No matter how much “philosophizing” is done, human wisdom falls short in giving us the answers to life.
C.S. Lewis: “No clever arrangement of bad eggs will make a good omelet.”
Human philosophy & wisdom – when trying to talk about the important truths – about human nature, sin, God, morality, ethics, our future…
Human philosophy is bankrupt – 0
Look what human philosophy, human wisdom, says about the cross (v. 18)
“Foolishness” = moria, from which we get the word moron. To the unbeliever, the cross is moronic (absolute nonsense) Why? Because it conflicts with his own wisdom. That God would become a man, be crucified on a cross, be raised to life in order to provide for man’s forgiveness of sin & entrance into heaven is such a simple idea that it appears foolish & far too humbling for natural man to accept.
That one man (Son of God) would die on two pieces of wood on an insignificant hill in a very common and ordinary city & as a result determine the destiny of every person who has every lived seems stupid to the natural person. There’s no place for our pride, for our understanding, for earning a prize, for our accomplishments.
Human wisdom cannot understand the cross. To the natural mind, it is offensive and unacceptable. BUT… to the one being saved (believers) it is the power of God. Why have a cross in church? The natural person would say that it’s like having an electric chair or guillotine in church. To the natural man it seems foolish. To the Christian – we know that it shows the power of God.
Listen: How you view the cross determines your destiny!
(The perishing = foolishness. The ones being saved = power of God)
Transition: In contrast to human wisdom is God’s wisdom (vv. 19-25)
B. The Superiority of God’s Wisdom (vv. 19-20)
Paul uses quotation from Isaiah 29:14 to illustrate his point.
When Isaiah made his prophecy, Sennacherib (King of Assyria) was planning to conquer Judah. The Lord told Isaiah not to worry, God would protect them – not because of the strength of Judah’s army, or King Hezekiah’s strategy. No. God promised that Judah would be saved solely by God’s power, with no human help. He destroyed 185,000 Assyrians with just one angel! (Isaiah 37:36) (Read about it in II Kings 19) All Israel had to do was trust & obey.