#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?
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.
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)