THE APPEAL OF THE CROSS
1 Corinthians 1:18‑21
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
The preaching of the cross is treated in these days much in the same way that Christ Himself was treated in the days of His humiliation and sorrow (vs 18). The worldly wise sneered and official dignity denied Him. But the preaching of Christ crucified on the Cross is still making its appeal. Let’s notice how Paul says the preaching of the Cross is received.
TO THEM THAT ARE PERISHING IT IS FOOLISHNESS
Verse 18 says, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness . . .” The word “perish” is a present tense verb and could be translated, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that are perishing foolishness.” The unsaved are perishing already in this life. When they die they continue to perish in hell. This is clearly taught in the Scripture. Some deny the existence of hell, but their denial has no effect on its existence. Let God be true and every man a liar.
What is the attitude of the “perishing” to the preaching of the Cross? They think it is foolish. The word “foolishness” expresses the worlds view of Christians. The world laughs the preaching of the Cross off, and turns to science and philosophy. Someone has said, “A man must be sinking into the blackness of final despair who thinks God’s method of salvation is “foolishness.” Next—
TO THEM THAT ARE BEING SAVED IT IS THE POWER OF GOD
Verse 18 says, "...but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. " It is really amazing that the preaching of the Cross is to us who are saved, the power of God, and to the unsaved world it is mere foolishness.”
One of the reasons is because it does not make sense that God would create us and then become a man (God incarnate) to redeem us by the suffering of the Cross and the shedding of His blood.
One of the dreaded outcries of people in hell throughout eternity is that God would have given them salvation if they had responded in faith to the preaching of the Cross.
“We think more loftily of God,” says Michael de Molinos, “by knowing that He is incomprehensible, and above our understanding, than by conceiving Him under any image, and creature beauty, according to our rude understanding” “What God declares the believing heart confesses without the need of further proof. Indeed, to seek proof is to admit doubt, and to obtain proof is to render faith superfluous.” —A. W. Tozer
TO THE JEW IT IS A STUMBLINGBLOCK
This is brought out in 1 Corinthians 1:23, "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;"
The word “stumblingblock” translates “skandalon.” “ The Papyri examples mean trap or snare which here tripped the Jews who wanted a conquering Messiah with a world empire, not a condemned and crucified one.” The Jews had the Old Testament they could have used to confirm Jesus as Messiah but they stumbled over this truth because they wanted something else in their Messiah.
Paul says in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
TO THE GREEKS IT IS FOOLISHNESS
Verse 18 adds, “and unto the Greeks foolishness;" John Gill’s comment is: “The preaching of the Cross was foolish in that the Son of God should be crucified; that riches should come through his poverty, and men be brought to a kingdom and glory through one so mean and abject; that there should be life for men in his death, and salvation through his crucifixion, or the shameful death of the cross; that blessings should come through his being made a curse; and that his death should be an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men; and that justification should be by one that was condemned; and peace and pardon should be by his blood; and that he should be raised again from the dead. These things were the subject of their ridicule and banter, and, in their opinion, deserved rather to be laughed at than credited.”
The Greeks are mentioned in Scripture as those who excelled in the wisdom of this world. The preaching of the Cross just does not make sense to the wise of this world. It is as true today as it was when Paul wrote this.
TO THE CHRISTIAN, WHETHER JEW OR GREEK, CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED IS THE POWER OF GOD AND THE WISDOM OF GOD
1 Corinthians 1:24, "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
The Gospel of Christ is the power of God to save to the uttermost of man’s need, and the wisdom of God to satisfy to the uttermost man’s search for truth. To know God as revealed in His Word is to be made wise unto salvation. For by the reckoning of Almighty Grace Christ is made of God unto us—
1. “Wisdom” for the mind. He has given us the capacity to understand things. 1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"
2. “Righteousness” for the heart. This righteousness comes not by the “works of the Law,” but by the reckoning of Grace.
3. “Sanctification” for the work. We are set apart, not as a recluse, but as a worker-together with Him.
4. “Deliverance” for our assurance. This promise may well put cheer and confidence in our hearts, that He will work deliverance for us, whether as tempted and tried pilgrims, or as warriors for the truth. “Lo, I am with you alway.”
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.