29 May 2011

The Foolishness of the Gospel

1 Corinthians 1:18-19 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’.

Some of the most important questions the Christian must ask themselves is: What is the background and significance of the Cross? What are the implications of the Cross on the Gospel preached? And most importantly, how does the Cross impact the Christians life?

What few fail to realise is that God was the Author of the Cross. It was His doing from beginning to end. His intention from start to finish. Every detail, every moment, every nail…into the flesh and nerves of His beloved Son. This is the price that had to be paid for mankind to be set free from the punishment required to be satisfied. The Righteous for the Unrighteous. The Innocent for the Guilty. People like you and me…

It does not take long for the casual observer to figure out that God’s method of Salvation is a rather challenging one to accept. One of the most difficult beliefs for people is that the Cross is the centre of the Gospel and God’s method of Salvation to mankind. The paradox that Jesus’ hideous sacrifice brought our redemption and reconciliation to a Holy God.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21 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.

In all honesty it takes a brave and courageous person to believe, live and stand for the theology of the Cross. After overcoming all doubts, there are many important lessons the Cross has to teach the true believer. It is my belief that we need to get Back to the Cross – everything about what it means to live as Christ did. To become anything less is to reduce His work on the Cross altogether…

It is one thing to wear a cross around your neck … another to pick up and carry your cross daily - Jentezen Franklin

Take up your Cross??

Luke 9:23 AMP And [Jesus said to the crowds], If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].

The 21st Century views today of ‘take up your cross’ do not even closely reflect the original views of the people in Jesus time. To take up your cross meant to live in such a way for Jesus cause that at the very most you were prepared to die by crucifixion - a hideous form of death later abolished by Roman rule.

For a follower of Christ to say that they worship a God whose leader died in this way was considered understandably foolishness, offensive, moronic and idiocy. Common responses to this admission included abuse, violence, slander and every form of persecution imaginable.

What we must understand though is that Jesus did not deserve this hideously and detestable form of death. It was not His crimes but your crimes that He died in this way. The price of Sin is so high in God’s eyes, that it deserves nothing less than this form of punishment.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

This gives new meaning to Jesus words of taking up your Cross. Jesus told all who choose to follow Him in no uncertain terms, that that they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Anything less is superficial faith and hypocrisy. Anything of value must have a personal cost to it. As ambassadors of Christ we represent an absent king, conducting ourselves in a way that imitates our master. Let’s have a look at what this means in its fullness:

1) Deny yourself - Crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires and walk in the Spirit
2) Take up your cross - Prepared and armed to suffer for Him and His cause
3) Follow me - Ready and willing to follow His leading wherever

Become a Fool to Become Wise

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.

The wisdom of this world makes evil look good. The wisdom of this world makes people 'God'. The wisdom of this world rejects Jesus and makes Him a subject of mockery. And the wisdom of this world denies God's Goodness - even His existence!

Despite the general revelation of His works in the earth, the world still did not know God or worship Him appropriately. The wisdom of this world can never know God or His ways. He has silenced the world’s wisdom as foolishness by His method of Salvation by the Cross.

The people of the world, particularly the philosophers of this age, through their wisdom and united investigations, denied His existence or misrepresented Him under an evil being. They knew Him not so as to glorify Him as God, or to worship Him in a right way and manner...

God’s ways are so much higher and better than our ways, that we must accept the fact that we need to become fools in order to be wise enough to relate to God. It is only by accepting the foolishness of the Gospel that one can be themselves accepted by God.

Let him who boast, boast in the Lord

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

The Cross effectively stands out over every other religion and faith. Jesus earlier said that it pleased God to choose this form of salvation, that only the humble and childlike would accept it (Luke10:21). Why? So that no one may boast before Him that they obtained Salvation by their own efforts.

The scribes and Pharisees idolised their own wisdom yet they missed the Son of God standing right in front of them. All our victories over the enemy are obtained by the power of the Cross and the Holy Spirit working inside of us. God must now have all the praise for our salvation and all that we achieve. God is pleased to reveal the hidden mysteries of Heaven to the simple and humble of heart. But let us beware of spiritual pride, which has been the destruction of many.

God could have called anyone more intelligent, more wealthier or more attractive - but He called you. Today, we are called to become living sacrifices, daily laying down our lives to live in a way that pleases God (Rom. 12:1). Through the Cross we are now overcomers and the righteousness of Christ.

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord!