Faithlife Sermons

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*A Powerful Demonstration*
We come this morning to celebrate the main event in human history, the death of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul declared that he was determined to know nothing save Christ and Him crucified.
This was the apostle’s way of emphasizing the extreme importance of the Cross to Christianity.
The doctrine of the Atonement is central to all Christian theology.
Luther called Christianity a theology of the Cross.
Packer, “Here we reach the real heart—the heart of the heart, we may say—of Christianity; for if the incarnation is its shrine, the Atonement is certainly its holy of holies.
If the incarnation was the supreme miracle, it was yet only the first of a series of steps down from the joy and bliss of heaven to the pain and shame of Calvary (Philippians 2:5–8).
The reason why the Son of God became man was to shed his blood as (in the Prayer Book’s words) “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”
God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32): that was the measure of his love (cf.
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! 1.     Content of the message
In 1 Corinthians chapter one, Paul uses 4 words to mark out the content of our proclamation and the emphasis of our existence as a body of believers.
*(1)     *“the gospel”* Great News  1Cor 1:17*
(2)     “word of the cross”* Great Plan*
(3)     “Christ crucified”* Great Puzzle*
(4)     v.
6 the “testimony concerning Jesus” *Great Person*
*Why do we carry a message of good news?*
Because there is so much about us that is bad news.
But it wasn’t always that way.
(Genesis 1-2)
Made in state of holiness, reflecting God’s glory as one of His creatures, but even greater than all the rest because we carried an imprint of His image on us.
In our makeup and in our activities, we were designed to display God’s glory—by our holiness and by our righteous dominion of all things.
And in our display of our creativity, we were meant to issue forth creative acts that portrayed the splendor of the One who made us for His pleasure and glory.
How did things change and become what they are?*
Enemies of God—run and hid from Him when he walked in the garden in the cool of the evening.
They shook with fear as He cried out tenderly, “Adam, where are you?”
They refused to answer openly and honestly when God asked them to tell Him what they had done.
Enemies of Others—the next chapter, sibling rivalry brings about the death of Abel and the banishment of Cain.
Subject to death and misery—In chapter five, the list of great men is provided, but with a haunting echo “AND HE DIED”  “AND HE DIED”  “AND HE DIED”
Why this hostility?
This hatred and fear of God?
This subjection to pain, misery and death?
The next chapter tells us:
Corrupted on the inside
Genesis 6:5 *Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
To rectify the problem, there had to come initiative from someone outside of man.
And the one who came was the one who was most offended—God Himself.
Jesus said, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey . . .
/the wrath of God remains on him/’ (John 3:36).
Wrath remains on us as long as there is no faith in Jesus.
Paul puts it like this:
·         We ‘were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind’ (Eph.
My very nature made me worthy of wrath.
·         My destiny was to endure ‘flaming fire’ and ‘vengeance on those . . .
who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus . . .
[and who] suffer the punishment of eternal destruction’ (2 Thess.
1:8-9 ESV).
·         I was not a son of God.
God was not my Father.
He was my judge and executioner.
I was ‘dead in . . .
trespasses and sins’, one of the ‘sons of disobedience’ (Eph.
2:1-2 ESV).
·         And the sentence of my Judge was clear and terrifying: ‘because of these things the /wrath of God/ comes upon the sons of disobedience’ (Eph.
5:5 ESV; italics added).
*There was only one hope for me – that the infinite wisdom of God might make a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God so that I might become a son of God.*
This is exactly what happened, and I will sing of it forever.
After saying that I was by nature a child of wrath, Paul says, ‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ’ (Eph.
2:4-5 ESV).
This is the very triumph of the love of God.
This /is/ the love of God – the ‘great love with which he loved us’.
It rescued me from his wrath and adopted me into sonship.
‘But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son . . . to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons’ (Gal.
4:4 ESV).
God sent his Son to rescue me from his wrath and make me his child.
*/How did he do it?
God’s Son bore God’s curse in my place.
‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”’ (Gal.
3:13 ESV).
For those who are called by God and believe in Jesus, this is ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (I Cor.
1:24 ESV).
This is my life.
Now that his wrath no longer rests on me (John 3:36), he has sent the Spirit of sonship flooding into my heart crying Abba, Father (Rom.
/I thank you, heavenly Father, with all my heart, that you saved me from your wrath.
I rejoice to measure your love for me by the magnitude of the wrath I deserved and the wonder of your mercy by putting Christ in my place./
* *
*Colossians 1:13-14 *For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Contrary nature of the message*
* *
One would have imagined that when God sent his gospel to men, all men would meekly listen, and humbly receive its truths.
We should have thought that God’s ministers had but to proclaim that life is brought to light by the gospel, and that Christ is come to save sinners, and every ear would be attentive, every eye would be fixed, and every heart would be wide open to receive the truth.
We should have said, judging favorably of our fellow-creatures, that there would not exist in the world a monster so vile, so depraved, so polluted, as to put so much as a stone in the way of the progress of truth; we could not have conceived such a thing; yet that conception is the truth.
When the gospel was preached, instead of being accepted and admired, one universal hiss went up to heaven[1]
* *
The message of the cross stands contrary to human sensibilities, especially when you understand the place of crucifixion within the culture of its day.
We don’t appreciate the offense of the cross as much because of the deep Christian influences within our country—most all of us have grown up within a culture that allows emblems of the cross as acceptable.
But in Roman and Jewish culture during the time of Christ and the early church, there would have been no sentimental appreciation for the cross, no display of the emblem on top of buildings or fashioned into jewelry.
The cross—without any theological emphasis—was a terrible thing to consider.
It denoted one of the cruelest means of punishment and shameful deaths and was considered unworthy of considerate social discussion.
And when the unconverted heard believers speaking of worshippers of Jesus who gloried in this Christ who was crucified, they revolted in disgust.
*ILLUSTRATION*: One well-known graffito in Rome depicts a worshipper standing before a crucified figure with the body of a man and the head of an ass and the inscription ‘Alexamenos worships his god.’
The Jews make it a stumblingblock, and the Greeks account it foolishness.
* *
THE JEW: By rejecting the crucified Messiah, then, Judaism effectively was only giving lip service to grace.
If a Jew, or anyone, claims not to need a /crucified/ Messiah, then he is implicitly claiming to have at least some strength, some little bit of righteousness.
Montefiore acknowledges that in Judaism it is “not supposed that human efforts count for nothing.”
And that detracts from grace and lessens God’s glory.
To cite Ridderbos: “The real and deepest cause for the Jewish [we might add, “or any other”] rejection of Christ the crucified lies in the fact that the cross deprives man of his own righteousness.”
* *
*For the Jewish people at that time*, the scandal of the Cross was indeed a stumbling block to their receiving Christ.
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