The Message of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

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.

Our Verse of the Day tells us the message of the cross is considered foolishness to those who are perishing. What is the “message of the cross”? Why would it be considered foolishness? Well, let’s put this verse in its context and see if that will help us:

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (NIV)

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 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.” (Citing Isaiah 29:14) 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? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

What I think Paul is trying to drive home is that it was incomprehensible to most Jews (and certainly to most non-Jews) that a Messiah … a Warrior King … a Savior and Deliverer sent by God to His people would have been mightier than to have suffered a torturous, humiliating death on a cross.  What kind of Messiah could Jesus have been to have suffered such a fate?  Why would anyone believe in such a weakling? Such thinking is foolishness … beyond irrational. Perhaps this was the mindset that drove Paul (formerly Saul) to persecute the “fanatical” Christian Sect before He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. They were dangerous “lunatics” subverting Judaism and had to be stopped. Yet, we have to keep in mind what caused the earliest believers to persist in their faith was the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus had not been resurrected … this “foolishness” would have long since abated.  Indeed, if Jesus were not resurrected … our faith would be in vain.  It would be foolish and we would still be in our sin.  (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12-17)

As Paul reasons, God ordained for His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Jesus had to die … to pay the debt of sin (death) on our behalf.  This appeased the justice requirement of a Holy God; and also demonstrated the incomprehensible love of God for us. He paid the debt for us! Thus, in Christ Jesus, we see the wisdom of God because the resurrection demonstrates the sovereign power of God. Those who reject the grace of God as foolishness will perish in their pride and arrogance.  But those who believe in Christ Jesus, the power and wisdom of God, receive His gift of grace, salvation, and eternal life.  Again, the Prophet Isaiah comes to mind. The Jews should have known from their own Scriptures that the Messiah would suffer and die for their transgressions.  Their blindness became their foolishness….

Isaiah 53 (NIV)

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

To the world, the death of Jesus upon a cross is meaningless and foolish. A victorious, warrior King would not have let that happen … certainly not the Son of God.  But the wisdom of God required a demonstration of His wrath against sin and iniquity.  Sin is an affront to His holiness and to those created in His image. Sin stains and mars. It kills and destroys the souls of man. But Father God loved us too much to allow such devastation and destruction to annihilate our souls.  So, He ordained His own plan of salvation for us through His Son.  Through faith, we just need to trust in Jesus; His finished work on the cross; and receive His gracious offer of forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.  Our faith in Christ Jesus is the life changer; and you can rest assured, He is the wisdom and power of God.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

The message of the cross is love!                 Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10

The message of the cross is forgiveness!     Acts 10:39-43; Acts 13:32-39

The message of the cross is reconciliation! Romans 5:10-11; Colossians 1:19-23

The message of the cross is liberty!             Romans 6:1-14; 8:1-4; Galatians 5:19-25

The message of the cross is power!             Romans 1:15-17; 1 Corinthians 2:3-5; 2 Peter 1:3-4

The message of the cross is triumph!          Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:10-11

The message of the cross is hope!               Acts 26:4-8; Romans 8:19-25

My Salvation and Honor…

Psalm 62:7 (NIV)

My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Our Verse of the Day comes from a Psalm of David, and I believe it will inspire you with hope and encouragement in your walk of faith. His meditation affirms the faithfulness and sovereignty of God over our lives; and it challenges us with three theological conclusions to consider:

Psalm 62

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely, they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

Verses 11-12 stirred my thoughts, so I looked for some companion scriptures to expound on them:

Power Belongs to You, God:

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. ~ Psalm 71:15-18

With You, Lord, is Unfailing Love:

Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. ~ Psalm 143:7-9

You Reward Everyone According to What They Have Done:

“Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.” So, David went on his way, and Saul returned home. ~ 1 Samuel 26:21-25

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done. ~ Matthew 16:26-27

You Are My Strength…

Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV)

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Our Verse of the Day continues to remind us that God is the source of our strength.  He is our rock, our fortress, and deliverer when we are facing the challenges and battles of life. He invites us to take refuge in Him … to allow Him to be our defense … our shield.  There is no power like our God! Indeed, what a powerful word we have from the inspired pen of King David!

Oh, I just sense there is someone … or perhaps many who need this Verse of the Day! You are fighting spiritual battles … that are beyond your own understanding … beyond your own strength … beyond your own abilities.  Let me assure you they are battles that belong to the Lord! You do not have to carry them! You were not meant to carry them! God is wanting to show you HIS power, HIS strength, HIS love and care for you … in order to build your faith and to increase your trust in HIM and Him alone! For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Cf. Ephesians 6:12)

Paul gives us some spiritual context for the battles we all will face in life: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons of our warfare are not of the world; on the contrary, they have divine power to demolish the strongholds of the enemy. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Yes, the battle belongs to the Lord! It is His divine power that will carry you through them! So, I encourage you to take up the sword of the Spirit … which is the Word of God. (Cf. Ephesians 6:17) For the Word of God is the ONLY offensive weapon we have been given for battle! Yes, the Word of God is sufficient to arm you … for it is the power of God unto salvation. The Word, along with our spiritual armor, equips us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power so that we will be able to stand our ground … and having done everything to stand! (Cf. Ephesians 6:10-17)

My friend, I encourage you to take every thought of defeat captive and to make it obedient to Christ. Through prayer, seek Him and allow Jesus to be your stronghold and fortress … your shield and strong tower. Go to Him in faith and trust that He goes ahead of you and that He is your rear-guard. Settle in your heart this truth: “No weapon formed against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. (Cf. Isaiah 54:17) Yes, this is my prayer for you and all who are on the front lines of suffering and hardship … for those who are in engaged in any struggle to difficult to fight alone. Take refuge! Find rest in the Lord Jesus Christ! He invites each of us: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Cf. Matthew 11:28-30) And Jesus has promised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (Cf. John 14:27) Oh, indeed, there is peace and rest for your heart that you can receive today! His name is Jesus, and He is watching over you.  I pray that you will seek Him with all our heart….

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! ~ Psalm 61:2-4