6. The Cross as the Means of Salvation
The cross is an overall expression of the wisdom and power of God and the means by which we can be delivered through the bondage of our sins. Therefore, it should be central to our evangelistic efforts.
”18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
I. The Cross Outsmarts Human Wisdom
II. The Cross Undermines Human Strength
III. The Cross Expels Human Boasting
Quick Thought: Where is Boasting? Application for the Church
Today’s text teaches us that the cross leaves no scope for human boasting. Instead, our one boast is in Christ Jesus our wisdom and our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. So “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) But how should this shape our lives as Christians?
For starters, we need to ditch our worldly notions of success. We need to ditch our modernistic preoccupation with numbers and size. We need to turn our notions of success upside down to align them with God’s kingdom perspective (Mark 4:26-32).
Also, as with the message of the cross and the community of the cross goes a ministry shaped by the cross: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Our modus operandi as Christians is not eloquence or wisdom but weakness and fear. “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
It is tempting to think that what we need most is political influence, media profile, national campaigns or mega-churches. But Jesus says the kingdom of God has been given to his “little flock” (Luke 12:32).
Martin Luther distinguished between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross. The theology of glory seeks the revelation of God in the power and glory of his actions. The theology of the cross sees the ultimate revelation of God in the cross. By faith, we see in the cross power in weakness, wisdom in folly, and glory in shame. We need to develop a corresponding understanding of the church of the cross, of which the phrase “Christ’s little flock” is an image. The problem is that “power made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) is so counter-intuitive and counter-cultural that we do not believe it. We believe that God will use the powerful and important, and impressive. But he does not. We need the radical change of perspective that the cross brings.