• Matt Beaney

#442 (21/9/21) - THE CROSS IS FOOLISHNESS (1 COR. 1:18-20)



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. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?' (1 Corinthians 1:18-20)

Please ensure that you’ve read yesterday’s devotional where we summarised the gospel.


There are only two groups of people in this world and they are defined by how they treat Jesus; the message of the cross - the gospel - is regarded as foolish or, alternatively, as God’s power. Our attitude to the gospel reflects whether we are in God’s Kingdom or not. Yes, there are many people-groups, but our unity or disunity is entirely dependent on whether Jesus is our Lord and Saviour or not.


Now, we may say that some people are just agnostic fence-sitters. Some people find the gospel interesting and may even go to church from time to time. God wants us to understand that the agnostic, polite person is also treating the gospel badly. Jesus’ death, resurrection and command to follow Him cannot be politely ignored! To politely ignore God is to be a rebel!


Our attitude to the gospel reveals our true spiritual state. Let’s be clear, we all start off in the place of sin and separation from God. All of us by nature reject the gospel. Our sinfulness hates God. No one by nature will submit themselves under His Lordship. All of us need the gracious, supernatural intervention of God on our hearts and minds. John writes of all of us,

‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’ (John 3:19)

Many of us are under the impression that people can be brought to faith by education, through entertaining and attractive church services or another method. Of course, it is important that we try to present the gospel in culturally helpful ways. However, too many of us fail to understand the true spiritual nature of those without Christ. Without the work of the Spirit on us, we are ‘dead in sin’. We are told that ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing’. It becomes wisdom and power to us as the mercy and power of God regenerates us through hearing the gospel message.

APPLICATION

In application, the message of 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 should lead to gratitude. We are to be grateful that God called us to salvation by the Spirit. If you treat the gospel as God’s wisdom and power, you have experienced the miracle of new birth!


Secondly, the scriptures lead us to humility. We are the same as everyone - no matter how bad - but for the grace of God. There is no place for pride.


Thirdly, we are to be humbled in that we cannot save anyone. Another’s spiritual state is a problem that’s far beyond our power to change. However, through prayer and thoughtfully speaking the gospel, we can see God work and transform others.


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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