Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Word of the Cross is Powerful (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NASB95)

This has been a very interesting year in our country. The social and political climate has become very toxic, particularly towards Christianity and most recently even prayer. We’ve seen legislators in our country ridicule and try to disqualify federal judicial candidates because of their faith, claiming them to be too radical. And, this past week in the aftermath of the shooting of a church full of believers in Texas, we’ve seen many of the same legislators and others in the entertainment industry mock the prayers of the hurting and even other legislators who gather to lift them in prayer. Whether or not gun control should be tightened is a Constitutional rights and wisdom issue. We can try to take steps to reign in the actions of evil, but we cannot legislate a change of heart. Our country has moved more and more toward ostracizing God from the public environment, and those who stand for their faith are finding more and more that they are also being ostracized as well as being ridiculed and even hindered in their involvement and engagement. Laws can change. Courts can rule. Businesses can implement policies. Schools can teach anti-biblical values and untruths, but not one of these things will ever prove effective in excising the evil inside of man.

While these people are reviling believers as fools, the world around them is falling apart because of their hardness of heart and blindness toward truth. Rather than embracing the only hope for man who is Jesus Christ, they point to those of us who trust in Him and call us the fools. But they’ve got it so backwards.

Paul wrote that the “word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Probably one of the strongest statements expanding on this is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, where we read, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:18–25, NASB95)

Every man has a core of understanding of God and His creation, but we read here that there are those who have chosen to suppress that understanding for their own agendas. There is so much of God that can be clearly seen, but many refuse to even look. We read that they are without excuse, and so would we be except for God shining His light into our hearts such that we trusted in His Son, Jesus Christ for our salvation. But their blatant rejection of the knowledge of God in favor of their own thoughts and desires has led to their “foolish” hearts being darkened. Paul wrote of them, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” And then later he wrote, “Therefore God gave them over….”

The simple truth is that these people who lash out at Christians are blinded fools when it comes to God and His truths. They’ve indeed “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” Living as if they had full control, or as if God would wink at their choices, or even that God does not exist is all foolishness no matter how “well intentioned” they might seem or claim to be. They are spiritually bankrupt, and they can’t see it.

In 2 Corinthians Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:1–6, NASB95)

There is a huge difference between believers and unbelievers. For us as believers to lose our ball in the weeds arguing about peripheral issues really distracts from the central truth that binds us together as well as expresses the most critical central truth to others. The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is for that reason that the cross needs to be our central message outside the church. In 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 Paul wrote that since the gospel is veiled to these people, we also need to be people who are used by God to reflect the light of the truth of His Son so that the veil over their eyes might be lifted and their eyes opened. Verse 6 is the truth that saved us, and it is the same truth that will bring salvation to others. “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Yes, we live in difficult times. We are being mocked because of our allegiance to Christ. Our prayers are being chastised as being futile against the evils of man. God is being reviled as distant, disconnected, and even non-existent. All of these things are the reality of our times. But they are not the truth in which we place our hope. They are the foolish words and actions of blind people. But the power of God for salvation is more powerful than the darkest dark. But, “…to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, NASB95) 

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