December 13, 2009

The Foolishness of Preaching the Cross of Christ, part 1

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, not in wisdom of words, so that in no way would the cross of Christ be made empty.
(1 Corinthians 1:17)

John Gill says in his commentary on this verse:

but to preach the Gospel; for which he was most eminently qualified, had peculiar gifts for the discharge of it, and was greatly useful in it. This was what he was rather sent to do than the other, and this "not with wisdom of words". Scholastic divinity, or the art of disputation, is by the (f) Karaites, a sect among the Jews, called חכמת הדברים, "wisdom of words": this the apostle seems to refer to, and signifies he was not sent with, or to preach, with words of man's wisdom, with human eloquence and oratory, with great swelling words of vanity, but in a plain, humble, modest manner; on which account the false teachers despised him, and endeavoured to bring his ministry into contempt with others: but this way and manner of preaching he chose for this reason,

John Gill made the point well, that Christ sent Paul to preach (the word is euangelizesthai to proclaim the gospel, to evangelize) without using the impressive words of what is considered wisdom by an unbelieving world.

The world thinks that they will only find truth by higher knowledge, intelligence, philosophical and logical wisdom, etc. But the gospel goes forth in plain, common, simple terms, so that even the uneducated can understand by the grace of God.

The simple message of the gospel is the proclamation of facts and belief in what those facts indicate. The cross of Christ was an event in history. Jesus, who is called Christ, was crucified under the authority of Pontius Pilate. The power of that death lies within God's purpose, that Christ would suffer the wrath in place of all who believe in Him as the fulfillment of the Scriptural Messiah (the Christ). His resurrection from the dead authenticated and produced real salvation for God's elect.

The foolishness of it all can be seen in that people are called to believe the only eye-witness accounts written down, which are the New Testament Scriptures. To the world this is not an expression of wisdom. However, to us who believe, it is the power of the cross of Christ.

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