The Message of the Cross

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1 – 2:5

The next letter that Paul wrote was to the church in Corinth. In this letter, Paul takes the gospel that they have received beforehand and applies it, making it a very useful letter for us to study today. The letter is built on this foundational idea – now that you have a relationship with Christ, this is what your life should look like. This is NOT a new set of rules or a new law to oppress the people but holy living born out of a marriage with Christ and an outflowing of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

HOLINESS IS A GIFT FROM GOD

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be HIS own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you BELONG to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way – with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:2-7

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST CHANGES US

We belong to the Christ who died on a cross so that we can be forgiven of our sins and freed from our sinful nature. This is THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS that Paul preached and the message we believe. Our faith in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins brings us into a relationship with Him that forever changes our lives. We now belong to Christ, we have been united with Him.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. – 1 Corin. 1:30

So, since I belong to Christ and am united with Him, and you belong to Christ and are united with Him, it is not too much for God to ask us to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose (1 Corin. 1:10). How do we do this? We rely on the power of the Holy Spirit (2:4).

THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO LIVE IN UNITY

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. – 1 Corin. 1:18

United in Christ, we know with confidence that He was crucified and raised to life and that He now reigns in our hearts, but the world around us does not understand our faith. They call it a “crutch” and see it as a weakness or craziness. Those who call our faith in Christ foolish do not see that they are the ones who are foolish. We know the message of the cross is the definition of the power of God!

It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it is nonsense.

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength…

God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose the things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25,27

WE HAVE THE POWER OF GOD LIVING INSIDE US

So why do we feel inadequate? Why do we pull back and wait for someone else to do the work of God? We buy into the criticisms of the enemy and the world. We think of ourselves as incapable of doing anything great for God. But that is not what Paul is saying in his letter to the church of Corinth. It is not about how simple we are but about how committed we are. It is not about how strong a vessel we are for God to fill, but about how strong He is and how capable He is to do something great even in and through us!

My message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. – 1 Corin. 2:4-5

Father God, thank you for THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS – the message that frees us from our bondage to sin and gives us new life in You, Lord. Please shut out all of the discouragement of the world around us and of the enemy so that we can hear only you today, cheering us on and calling us to do great things. Remind us that we only need to rely on the power of the Spirit and not on our own wisdom or abilities. Remind us that you have equipped us with every spiritual gift we need and graciously poured out your Spirit on us. As we are united in you, help us to be united with each other, living in harmony – being of one mind, united in thought and purpose. Amen.

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