The Preaching Of The Cross

Posted by on May 1, 2005

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

May 1, 2005

Sunday Morning

“The Preaching Of The Cross”

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Scripture Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Introduction:

 

A.   When you hear the word “foolish,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

1. (Illus.- I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “foolish,” I think of people like Larry, who’s boyhood dream was to fly, but fate conspired to keep him from fulfilling his dream. He did join the Air Force, however his poor eyesight disqualified him from becoming a pilot. After he was discharged from the military, he just sat in his backyard watching the big jets fly overhead. It was while he was sitting outside in his “extremely comfortable” Sears lawn chair that he hatched his weather balloon idea. He purchased 42 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawn chair, and then filled the balloons with helium. He then strapped himself into his lawn chair with some sandwiches, a couple of beers, and a pellet rifle. Why the pellet rifle? Well, he figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend. Larry’s plan was to sever the anchor and then lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard, where he would then enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. However, things didn’t work out quite like Larry had planned. When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawn chair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn’t level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he finally leveled off at 16,000 feet. Well, at that height he felt he couldn’t risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting, cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, for more than 14 hours. During the course of his flight, he drifted across the primary approach corridor of LAX, where Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines pilots radioed in reports of the strange sight. Eventually he did gather enough nerve to shoot a few balloons, and then slowly descended. When he reached the ground, the hanging tethers tangled and caught in a power line, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for about 20 minutes. Larry eventually climbed to safety, where he was arrested by waiting members of the LAPD. As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover the daring rescue asked him why he had done it. Larry replied, “A man can’t just sit around.”)

2. And so, when I hear the word “foolish” I think of people like Larry.

3. (Illus.- I also think of people like Robert, who had his head bloodied when he was struck by a Conrail train. When police asked him what had happened, he told them that he was trying to see how close to the moving train he could place his head without actually getting hit.)

4. And so, when I hear the word “foolish,” I think of people like Larry and Robert.

 

B.   The unsaved world, however, has a very different idea of what constitutes foolishness.

1. When the unsaved world hears the word “foolish,” they think of people like me.

2. Why? Because of what I believe and what I preach.

3. Look again at the first part of Vrs. 18 of our text, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;”

4. Now what did Paul mean by “the preaching of the cross”?

5. The Greek word translated “preaching” here is not the word that means “to preach” or “to proclaim” or “to evangelize.”

6. Instead, it is the word “logos,” which literally means “the Word” or “the message.”

7. And so, when Paul spoke of “the preaching of the cross,” he was actually talking about “the message of the cross.”

 

C.   This morning, as we consider “the message of the cross,” there are three things that I want to bring to your attention. First of all, I want us to think about “the message of the cross”…

 

I.       Explained.

 

A.   If someone were to ask you to explain “the message of the cross,” how would you go about it?

1. I’ll tell you how I would explain it.

2. I would take them to John 3:16, because in my opinion, there is no other verse in all of God’s Word that better explains “the message of the cross.”

 

B.   According to John 3:16, “the message of the cross” is a message of love. (Amen?)

1. How does John 3:16 begin?

2. It begins like this, “For God so loved the world.”

3. If the cross tells us anything, it tells us that God loves us!

4. Listen to what the Bible says in Rom. 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

5. Listen also to what the Bible says in 1 John 4:9-10, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him….Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

6. Whenever we see a cross, we should think of God’s love.

7. Whenever we hear about the cross, we should think of God’s love. Why?

8. Because “the message of the cross” is a message of love.

 

C.   It is also a message of sacrifice.

1. Again, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son.”

2. If the cross tells us anything, it tells us of the sacrifice that both the Father and the Son made for each one of us.

3. What sacrifice did the Father make?

4. He sacrificed His Son.

5. He “gave his Only Begotten Son.”

6. The Bible says in 1 John 4:14, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

7. And so, the Father sacrificed the Son.

8. Now what sacrifice did Jesus make?

9. Jesus sacrificed Himself! (Amen?)

10.   Jesus said in John 10:17-18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life,…No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.”

11.   Paul put it like this in Gal. 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

12.   And so, Jesus sacrificed Himself.

13.   Whenever we see a cross, or hear about the cross, we should think about the sacrifice that both the Father and the Son made for each one of us.

14.   And so, “the message of the cross” is a message of sacrifice.”

 

D.   It is also a message of life.

 

1. Again, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

2. If the cross tells us anything, it tells us that those who believe in Jesus have everlasting life!

3. Our Lord Jesus said in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

4. Jesus also said in John 11:25-26, as He was trying to comfort Martha who’s brother, Lazarus, had just died, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:…And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

5. When we see or hear about the cross, we should think about how those who believe in Jesus have everlasting life.

6. And so, “the message of the cross” is a message of life.

 

E.   What is “the message of the cross”?

1. It is a message of love (For God so loved the world…)

2. It is a message of sacrifice (…that he gave his Only…)

3. It is a message of life (…that whosoever believeth…)

4. That’s “the message of the cross” explained.

 

F.    Now let us think about “the message of the cross”…

 

II.      Excluded.

 

A.   Do you know what is amazing?

1. It is the fact that even though “the message of the cross” is a wonderful and hope filled message, the vast majority of people today totally exclude it from consideration.

2. In other words, they completely reject it, refusing to have anything whatsoever to do with it.

 

 

B.   Why do they exclude “the message of the cross”?

1. They exclude it for basically two reasons.

2. Many exclude it because, in their minds, it cannot be substantiated (proven).

3. Look again at the first part of Vrs. 22 of our text, “For the Jews require a sign,”

4. If you have studied the life and ministry of our Lord, you know that on many occasions the Jews asked for a sign.

5. For example, in John 2, when Jesus cleansed the temple the first time, the Jews asked Him, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” (John 2:18)

6. In John 6:30, the Jews again asked for a sign, saying, “What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee?”

7. And so, the Jews were constantly asking for a sign.

8. Did Jesus give them a sign?

9. He did, but not the kind of sign that they wanted.

10.   Listen to what Jesus said in Mat. 12:39, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:”

11.   What was the “sign of the prophet” Jonah?

12.   Well, as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly,” even so was Jesus “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mat. 12:40)

13.   And then He rose again! (Amen?)

14.   Did this miraculous sign convince the Jews that Jesus was, in fact, their Messiah? The answer is, “No!”

15.   And so, the Jews were constantly asking for a sign.

 

C.   People today are no different.

1. They refuse to believe in something that cannot be substantiated (proven) in some tangible way.

2. (Illus.- It hasn’t been too many months ago that a man told me, “Preacher, if I can’t see it with my eyes and touch it with my hands, I refuse to believe it is real!”)

 

3. And so, many people exclude “the message of the cross” because it cannot be substantiated (proven) to their satisfaction.

 

D.   Many more people exclude “the message of the cross” because, in their minds, it is irrational.

1. In other words, it is inconsistent with human reasoning and human wisdom.

2. Look again at Vrs. 22 of our text, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:”

3. Now don’t misunderstand what I am about to say, because if you are talking about God’s wisdom, wisdom is a wonderful thing. It is also something after which we should diligently seek.

4. Listen to Pro. 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

5. And then again in Pro. 16:16, “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”

6. And so, if you are talking about God’s wisdom, wisdom is a wonderful thing.

7. However, the wisdom of this world is a horse of a different color.

8. The wisdom (thinking) of this world absolutely refuses to believe “the message of the cross.”

9. Why? Because it is irrational.

 

E.   And so, the vast majority of people today totally exclude “the message of the cross” from consideration!

1. Why? Because, in their minds, it is both unsubstantiated (unproven) and irrational.

2. In fact, they consider it a bunch of foolishness, and not only that, they consider us fools for believing it!

 

F.    But do you know who’s really the fool here?

1. It is not those of us who believe “the message of the cross,” but rather those who reject it.

2. Why?

3. Because the Bible says that one day, they will perish.

4. Notice again Vrs. 18 of our text, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;”

5. That’s “the message of the cross” excluded.

 

G.   Now finally, this morning, let us think about “the message of the cross”…

 

III.    Embraced.

 

A.   Thank God, there are those who, in spite of the fact that it cannot be substantiated nor understood using human reasoning and wisdom, still choose to embrace “the message of the cross.”

 

B.   Do you remember Thomas?

1. We call him “doubting Thomas” because he was slow to believe that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.

2. He is the one who told the other disciples, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

3. Well, Thomas got his wish.

4. About a week later Jesus appeared to his disciples the second time, and this time Thomas was present.

5. Jesus walked up to Thomas and said, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27)

6. All that Thomas could do was fall down before Him and say, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

7. I’m sure we all remember this amazing event, but do you remember what Jesus said to Thomas immediately afterwards? He said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

8. And so, thank God, there are those who, in spite of the fact that it cannot be substantiated nor understood using human reasoning and wisdom, still choose to embrace “the message of the cross.”

 

C.   Even though the world thinks we are fools, we are not!

1. Know why?

2. Look again at Vrs. 18 of our text, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

3. Paul put it like this in Rom. 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (the message of the cross): for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

4. No, we are not the fools, because we are the ones who are saved, but they are the fools because they are the ones who will one day perish.

 

D.   By the way, there are only two kinds of people in this world, those who are saved and those who are perishing.

1. (Illus.- The story is told of a man who decided to attend church for the first time. It just so happens that he chose a Baptist church during revival meeting. When he returned home that evening, his wife asked him, “Well, how was it?” He replied, “It was okay, but the preacher really didn’t have anything to say to me.” His wife asked him, “What do you mean?” He replied, “He talked about those who are saved and on their way to heaven, and those who are lost and on their way to hell, and I really don’t believe that I fall into either category.)

2. Contrary to what this man said, we ALL fall into one of these two categories, we are either saved and on our way to heaven, or lost (perishing) and on our way to hell.

3. It’s either one or the other.

Conclusion:

 

A.   As I get ready to conclude this message, I want to ask you this question, “Which category do you fall into? Are you saved and on your way to heaven, or are you lost and on your way to hell?”

 

B.   But you say, “Preacher, it’s not that I wouldn’t like to be saved and live in heaven one day, but all that stuff about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins and then rising from the dead is a bunch of foolishness.”

1. It may very well be foolishness to you, but I assure you, on the authority of God’s Word, it is your only hope for heaven.

2. You will either believe that “foolishness” with all of your heart, or you will one day die in your sins and spend the rest of eternity paying the penalty for your sins.

3. The choice is yours.

 

C.   (Prayer & Invitation)