I CORINTHIANS 1:17: “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
OBSERVATION: What is our message? Where do we find our power? What are we relying on for our strength? These are critical questions that every believer and every leader should ask themselves. We can give a standard “Sunday School” answer – but the proof is in our actions. Our actions always speak much louder than our words.
Paul was clear in his opening remarks to the Corinthians. There was but one message, there was but one source of power. It was the “Cross of Jesus Christ”! The Gospel was the message of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross was an offensive message to the Jew, and a foolish message to the Gentile. In its’ appearance it seemed weak, but in its’ essence it held the very power of God to save, heal, and deliver.
It is easy to forget the power Gospel, which is the pure message of the Cross. We are tempted every day to try and set the mood, manipulate the message, and convince the hearer. In doing this we are in danger of “padding” the message and emptying it of its’ power. Paul refused to get in the way of the Gospel. He refused to buckle to the temptation of pleasing his listeners, or appearing to be wise. Paul was willing to become foolish in the eyes of both Jews and Gentiles, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its’ power!
Why are we afraid to simply preach the Cross? Is it our own insecurities, or is it simply a lack of faith in the power of the Gospel? Many times I think our faith is challenged when people do not respond to the Gospel. Yet, for Paul, this was never an issue. He knew there would be many who would not receive this message. But to those who were called Paul proclaimed – “…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.” (I Corinthians 1:24-25)
Our calling is not to convince men to believe, our calling is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. To those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, the Gospel will be received as the power and wisdom of God. The power is in the pure and simple message of the Cross! “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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)
Lord, help me to be faithful in proclaiming the truth of Your Gospel, the message of Your Cross in the power of Your Holy Spirit! In Jesus Name!