• Matt Beaney

#441 (20/9/21) - THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS (1 COR. 1:18)



This week our devotions are based on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

For the message 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)

What is ‘the message of the cross’? This is another way of summing up the gospel message. The gospel is ‘the message of the cross’ - it is good news about how God came into the world as the man in order to die on the cross for our sins. The ‘message of the cross’, the gospel, had been summarised earlier in this chapter as,


God thus confirming our testimony (witness) about Christ among you.’ (1 Corinthians 1:6)

The gospel is a testimony about Christ. It’s the historical account of who Christ is and what He has done in order to save us from our sin. Is this our testimony? When we share our story of faith is it primarily about Jesus? Our story is not the gospel!


It’s vital that we have a clear understanding of the gospel. Tim Keller summarises it as,

‘In the Bible, the term gospel is the declaration of what Jesus Christ has done to save us.’

It is summarised more clearly in chapter 15,


‘Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.’ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)


I like to summarise the gospel by answering 3 questions:

Q1. Who is Jesus?

A. Incarnation

He is the Christ. He is both God and man (incarnation - ‘in flesh’) who has come into the world.


Q2. Why did Jesus die (and rise again)?

A. substitution for restoration

He died for our sins as our substitute to reconcile us to God. And to wait for the restoration of all things.


Q3. What is Our response?

A. Repentance and faith demonstrated in baptism

We respond in repentance and faith. Baptism is commanded as an outward demonstration of our faith and devotion to our new life.


APPLICATION

In response, we need to become students of the gospel. It is ‘the power of God’. This message has divine power to save and transform! Paul Gardner writes of the gospel message,


‘Paul can speak of the gospel as “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). It is not simply an account of the facts of salvation but a message that comes with active power as God’s own word about salvation. It comes “in power and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:5), and so it brings about faith.’

The gospel saves but it also unites and keeps the church healthy. This quote from Tim Keller needs some thought but says it well,

‘All problems, personal or social come from a failure to use the gospel in a radical way, to get “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal.2:14). All pathologies in the church and all its ineffectiveness comes from a failure to use the gospel in a radical way. We believe that if the gospel is expounded and applied in its fullness in any church, that church will look very unique.’ (Tim Keller)

I encourage you to begin every day, as part of your devotions, by meditating on the gospel. This aligns us to reality like nothing else.

If you are a leader in any sphere, do you go on about the gospel all the time? Do you counsel people by bringing the gospel to them? Do you notice the signs of legalism (self-help) and undermine this with the gospel?


COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

2. Icebreaker

How has God spoken to you from the Bible this week?

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued in our series in 1 Corinthians. The title of the message was, 'THE WORLD NEEDS A CHURCH THAT PREACHES THE GOSPEL'.


Please read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.


The divisions in the church in Corinth come from the message of the world creeping into the community. This world has many competing philosophies for the best life. One very powerful idea which often infects the church is that of a legalistic approach to God and life. We are told that we can be in a right relationship with God or the 'universe' or any number of spiritual powers if we do good. We are told that we can improve ourselves through focus and discipline into good people. Another message that is infecting the Corinthians and is common today is that the gospel is only powerful if it comes with eloquence and is dressed attractively. These kinds of ideas pervert the gospel so that the message no longer has the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and bring hope. We need to be alert to how the world's message is affecting us and is maybe making us ineffective in preaching the gospel to a world that needs the true good news of Jesus.

We need to be soaked in the message of the cross so that we can tell others and know when the message is being corrupted.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?

2. Do you have any questions about this text?

3. v. 18 - If we are Christians, we believe that the gospel is God's power to save people. Do you feel confident to share the gospel? Why or why not?

4. v.18 - Why is 'the message of the cross foolishness' to non-Christians?

5. v.19-21 - Those who don't believe the gospel 'don't know Him'. What are the kinds of alternate philosophies that those around you choose to believe?

6. v. 21-23 - It's through the apparent foolishness of the gospel that God saves us. Do you feel confident to share the gospel? How would you summarise the gospel message to a friend?

5. SIV

Finally, it would be helpful to talk and pray about how we are doing in regard to Serve, Invest and Invite. Do you have any encouraging stories or any plans in this regard? How do you want to pray in regard to our mission?


Let's be praying and actively preparing to invite friends to our carol service on 5th December. Please make sure this is in your diary.







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