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August 24, 2008 AM


1 COR 1:21-24

INTRO: When the apostle Paul referred to the "the foolishness of preaching", he acknowledged that there were many who considered the message of the cross just plain foolishness. I am not certain just what was happening among the Christians in Corinth. But I know they lived in a city dominated by Greek thinking and wisdom. And I know that the church there was one of very divided loyalties. There was some pressing need, then, for the apostle to emphasize the cross of Christ. While some might observe that the resurrection was central to the apostle's preaching, we cannot escape the fact that the cross was ever near his mind and teaching. I would like to think for a few minutes of some of the things of which we are reminded in the context of the verses I have read.

    1. The cross was to Jews a stumbling block - 1:23a
      1. in spite of scripture to the contrary they expected militant Messiah
      2. and the Jews sought some "sign" - 1:22 with Mt 12:38-40
      3. too, the thought of Deut 21:22,23 was problematic in their minds
    2. The cross was to Greeks foolishness - 1:23b
      1. theirs was the world of the great Greek philosophers
      2. secular wisdom is what was valued among them
      3. and the idea of a savior executed by crucifixion made no sense to them
    3. The foolishness of preaching resulted in perishing - 1:18a
      1. Jews and Greeks just could not get past their prejudices, notions
      2. they would sooner perish than accept the idea of crucified Savior
      3. note 2 Cor 4:4 - personal choice is involved ... but so is Satan! ... failing to accept the benefits of the Jesus' atoning death is true foolishness
    4. Worldly wisdom leads to unbelief - 1:21
      1. worldly wisdom puts its trust in what man can do and provide
      2. worldly wisdom says it cannot believe in that it cannot see - or in that which does not seem logical or rational
      3. but Rom 1:20 - unbelief is inexcusable!
    5. The wise and the mighty of the world are rarely among the called - 1:26
      1. here is a sad, true fact confirmed in human experience
      2. one is called by the gospel (2 Thes 2:14) - death, burial, resurrection of Christ are the central facts of the gospel
      3. are they simply "above" such needs as the cross answers?
    6. The preaching of the cross is the power of God to the saved - 1:18,24
      1. "preaching" is from the Gr word which means "word" - the message
      2. what we may tend to forget in a world emphasizing entertainment is that it is the message, not the messenger & his eloquence, that is God's power
      3. human wisdom is very dismissive of God's truth for so many reasons - but the "poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3) can accept His truth and act upon it
    7. The "design" of the cross is to challenge human wisdom - 1:25-28
      1. it seems to me that the whole idea of the word of the cross is to bring one to faith (Isa 55:8,9)
      2. think of baptism - some would say they cannot see the point!
      3. human wisdom would design something much more elaborate or meaningful or logical ... but faith simply acts in obedience to the word
    1. Christ, and all He represents, is the true wisdom of God - 1:30
      1. because of the wisdom of God, we ("the called") are in Christ
      2. Christ and the cross are set in contrast to the wisdom of the world
      3. the wisdom of the world crucified Jesus - 2:8
      4. but because of Jesus the called are seen as righteous, sanctified and redeemed!
    2. So, we glory in the Lord!
      1. I am reminded, thus, of Gal 6:14
      2. so many in our present world would dismiss Christ and scripture
      3. world of science, philosophy, academia, politics argue for a secular society with no mention of God ... much less the cross
      4. but I am of the called ... and I will preach Christ and Him crucified ... and will find my joy in the blessing of the cross

CLOSE: "Near the cross O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day With its shadow o'er me." I regret that I have not spoken more of the cross of our Lord. I rejoice, though, that even in my later years I have been driven in thought back to the cross ... the wisdom of God.

Cecil A. Hutson

24 August 2008

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)