Summary: Paul reminds the Corinthians of his manner of preaching when he came to their city. His example is an excellent one for all present-day preachers.
“The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1:25). Of course God is never foolish. But to the human mind, He appears to be foolish. Man says, “The God of the Bible does not follow our wisdom; therefore He must be foolish, He must not be believed.”
· That God saves people who put their faith in a crucified Christ is foolishness to the wisdom of man. The world says, “How stupid to believe that the death of one man on one hill on one piece of wood at one moment of history determines the eternal destiny for every person who ever lived! That’s foolishness!” “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1:18).
· That God saves many of the nobodies of the world is foolishness to the wisdom of man. The world thinks that if anyone should be saved, it should be the smart, the powerful, and the rich. But God has chosen to save more nobodies than somebodies in order to demonstrate to the world that He saves sinners only by His grace, not according to social rank. There was one mother who wrote the name of her son on the birth certificate as Nosmo King. Somebody asked the mother where she got a name like that. It turned out the mother was illiterate, so she just copied down the No Smoking sign in the room and wrote it “Nosmo King.” That boy is the ultimate nobody, named after a No Smoking Sign. But that’s just the kind of person whom God is likely to save. It’s no wonder that billionaire Ted Turner said, “Christianity is for losers.” “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1:27).
· That God saves people through the despised medium of preaching is foolishness to the wisdom of man. True biblical preaching is not popular. I’m sure that many Christians wonder why we have to have preaching during our services (probably they think about this most when it’s noon and the preacher is still on his first of five points). If Christians sometimes wish God would do away with preaching, what must unbelievers think? Though preaching is despised by most in this world, God has chosen to save people through the preaching of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2).
In 2:1-5 Paul reminds the Corinthians of his manner of preaching when he came to their city. His example is an excellent one for all present-day preachers, including myself. And these guidelines provide you, my congregation, with a checklist to make sure I am preaching as I should.
I. THE PREACHER MUST NEVER BE AFRAID TO PROCLAIM WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD (v. 1).
A. Paul was not concerned with entertaining his listeners.
Paul states, “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom.” In other words, when he preached in Corinth he didn’t try to copy the styles of the popular public speakers of his day. Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians that some of his critics said, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Cor. 10:10). I don’t believe that Paul was a bad communicator, but I would say that he was probably not physically attractive and it seems he was not a flashy speaker. He didn’t attempt to impress people with his style of speaking. Paul says in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Like Paul, my goal is not to entertain you from the pulpit. Many preachers try to become spiritual comics in order to satisfy their listener’s appetite for entertainment. But I don’t come to you this morning with the humor of a standup comedian. I come to you simply proclaiming the Word of God. So I don’t want you coming here each Sunday expecting to be amused by my preaching. My desire is that you come expecting to hear from God through the preaching of His Word. The preacher of the Word is not a salesman or a showman; he is a spokesman!
B. Paul preached the Word of God with authority.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” To “proclaim” the Word of God is to “declare it with authority.” Notice that Paul was not preaching his testimony about God; he was preaching God’s testimony about God. His message came from God, not himself.
“Preach” is a bad word to many. They say, “Don’t preach to me!” And many preachers, afraid of being thought arrogant, avoid talking about preaching. They prefer to think of what they do as “sharing.” If I were only preaching to you my opinions, I would be guilty of arrogance. My opinions are no better than yours. But I am not declaring to you my words; I am declaring to you God’s words. Therefore I can preach to you with authority. This is the preacher’s job; this is his calling; this is his divine appointment.