Summary: Paul often changed his style of preaching. (1 Cor. 9:22) But he NEVER changed his message. (Gal. 1:8) There is only one message. (1 Cor. 2:2)

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The Message of the Cross Series: Studies from

1 Corinthians 1:18–31 1 Corinthians


Illustration: Once there was a little girl who always wore a bright, shiny cross around her neck which she proudly displayed for all to see. 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 are wearing? It was an ugly, wooden thing.” At this the little girl smartly replied, “Yes, I know. But don’t you know that what ever Jesus touches, he changes?”

Illustration taken from Melvin Newland @

Paul wrote this 1st letter to the church at Corinth to correct many problems that had surfaced among them. Division, pride, sexual immorality and brothers suing one another were just a few of the problems Paul will address.

Paul sought to correct these problems by refocusing them on the cross. He directed them to “the message of the cross” which is the power of God.

The Greek work in vs. 18 is logos, meaning ‘word’. While some versions translate this as “preaching of the cross” it is more accurately translated “the word or message of the cross.”

Paul often changed his style of preaching. (1 Cor. 9:22) But he NEVER changed his message. (Gal. 1:8) There is only one message. (1 Cor. 2:2)


I. The Foolishness of the Cross

A. The “wisdom” of man seeks to conform God to their image. 1 Cor. 1:22a

1. The Jews missed the message of the cross because they were looking for an earthly king. John 1:11

2. Many today miss the message of the cross because they try to make God fit into their image.

B. The “wisdom” of man seeks to complicate the message of the cross. 1 Cor. 22b

1. The simplicity of the gospel has been corrupted by man’s wisdom.

2. Acts 17:21

C. The “wisdom” of man fails when confronted with the cross. 1 Cor. 23–25

II. The Power of the Cross

A. Illustration: A well known preacher was traveling in Australia as he gave the following advice concerning their evangelistic efforts: “Don’t tell people about the cross, it doesn’t work. That’s why so many evangelistic efforts fail, they focus too much on the cross. Just tell them God loves them and has a plan for them” He continued, “The message of a crucified Jew is ridiculous to the modern mind. . . So move on to something better. A crucified Messiah is stupid, but promise them prosperity, give them emotional experiences, provide them with self–esteem and then you’ll fill the pews.”

(Illustration from Michael Bird as told by Melvin Newland @

1. Without the cross, the bible is just another “neat” story book.

2. Without the cross, Christianity is no more than a self–help seminar.

B. It was in the cross that God displayed his wisdom and power. Romans 1:16

C. Christ’s work on the cross is the means of our salvation. 1 Cor. 1:30; John 3:16–17


The World says:

• It’s not rational to believe that a virgin can give birth to a child.

• It’s not rational that an all–powerful God left his home in heaven to become human.

• It’s not rational that God would allow His Son to suffer the shame, scorn and death of the cross.

• It’s not rational for a man who has been dead and buried for three days to come back to life.

Bill Irwin, a man who is blind, has a talking computer which he uses to study the bible. He’s had a few chuckles over some of the pronunciations. “For a long time,” Bill says, “the computer pronounced Holy Bible as ‘holly bibble’ until I figured out how to change it.” But there was one thing Bill couldn’t change. The computer uses the Spanish pronunciation for Jesus Christ - Hey-sus Krist. “The programer is Hispanic,” Bill said with a smile, “and he made sure that Hey-sus Krist cannot be changed.”

I like that. It reminds me that of all the things in this life that do change, there is one who is still “tamper resistant.” You can’t change Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Heb. 13:8

(Illustration adapted from Bruce Howell @

The Message of the Cross says:

“You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6–8

Mitchell Skelton - Minister, Midway church of Christ

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