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The Power of the Christ

Focusing on Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:46
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Do you know how we can tell when we are not focusing on Christ?
We become divided by acting snobbish, criticizing, and ignoring others becoming prideful and prestigious.
Is Christ Divided? No
Then why do we become divided?
Every church and member needs to listen to this message today and take it to heart, especially since our society in engulfed in pride and self-sufficiency.
Modern society proclaims a doctrine of humanistic philosophy, that is, that man is supreme.
The result is a world that is about to explode under the pressure of …
• self must be pleased above all else
• one has the right to do his own thing
• self image brings wholeness
• they owe me
• might makes right
• color and race determine status
Our greatest need is to see that the only answer to division is reconciliation with God and with each other, and the only way to be reconciled is to focus on Christ and live simple and humble.
Remember, we left off last week with
1 Corinthians 1:17 KJV 1900
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Division causes the cross of Christ, therefore causing Christ, to be made of no effect.
The same way that Christ can not be divided, is the same importance that the cross plays in our reconciliation with God and man by showing us the greatest demonstration of love ever witnessed on earth.
It is the cross that reveals the love of God for an antagonistic world, and that challenges man to love his fellow men.
The cross of Christ is the answer both to the divisions among men and to the problems that plague men and their world.
→ The preacher is to preach the cross
→ The believer is to bear witness to the cross
The point needs to be constantly driven home to our hearts: the main focus of our lives, conversation, and ministry is to be the cross of our Lord Jesus Christthe cross that demonstrates the glorious love of God. The cross is the primary mission of the preacher, not the rituals and ministries of the church.
1 Corinthians 1:18–25 KJV 1900
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Perishing or Power?

In Greek the preaching (ho logos) is literally “the Word of the cross” (The WordJn. 1:1–5). A sharp contrast is being drawn between the “wisdom of words” (v. 17) and “the Word of the cross.” The world’s wisdom includes many words, that is, many ways to find the truth and meaning to life. But the Word of the cross is the only way to the truth and meaning of life. Just why the preaching or the Word of the cross is foolish to those who perish is discussed later (v. 22–24, point 5). For the present, the point is to show …

Without the Cross, men are Perishing.

• that the men of the world who do not come to God through the cross of Christ are in a state of perishing
• that the lost do not like the message of the cross, that is, the message that man is saved through a crucified Redeemer. They count the message as foolishness
• that the lost do not like the simple way the message is proclaimed.
Perishing means to be in a lost state in this world. It means to be …
• aging, deteriorating, decaying, dying
• without life (purpose, meaning, significance)
• without peace (assurance, confidence, security in God’s keeping)
• without hope (of living forever).
Perishing means to be in a lost state in the world to come. It means …
• having to die
• facing judgment
• being condemned
• suffering separation from God and from all loved ones
• experiencing all that is hell

With the Cross, men are being Preserved.

The preaching of the cross is the power of God to those who are saved.
No other message on earth …
• can reconcile men to God and put them under His daily care
• can give men the perfect assurance of God’s daily love and care and of living eternally with God
No other message has changed lives like the message of the cross of Christ. No other message has revolutionized societies and communities and families like the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ is the power of God to save men.
The once-for-all experience of salvation. It is an experience that has happened sometime in the past: “Ye have been saved” (Lu. 7:50). It is the initial act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is receiving Christ into one’s heart and life as Lord. It means being saved or delivered from sin, death, and hell; and being given the assurance that one will never be separated from God—either in this life or in the world to come.
The continuous experience of salvation. It is an experience that is occurring right now, in the present. “Ye are being saved” (1 Co. 1:18). It is a description of God’s work day by day in the believer’s life. It is the Holy Spirit of God working within the believer.
→ To guide and teach him and to deliver him through all the trials and problems of life.
→ To fill him with a heart of love, joy, and peace—all the fruit and resources necessary to live life to the fullest.
→ To conform him more and more to the image of Christ.
→ To stir and equip him to live and witness for Christ day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and moment by moment.
The redemptive experience of salvation that is to occur in the future. “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Ro. 13:11). This future reference to salvation points to the day of redemption—to the day of Christ’s kingdom—to the day when Christ shall usher in His kingdom upon this earth—to the day when God will create a new heavens and earth and bring about His perfect will and rule throughout the universe.

With the Cross, Wisdom is Pulverized

1 Corinthians 1:19–20 KJV 1900
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
The preaching of the cross destroys the wisdom of men and makes foolish the wisdom of the world. This is a verse quoted from the Old Testament (see Is. 29:14; 33:18).
How does the cross destroy and make foolish the wisdom of men and their world?
The cross is not the way men want to approach God. Men want to be acceptable to God without having to love God and sacrifice themselves completely. Yet, if they accept the sacrifice of Christ as the truth, they have to sacrifice themselves even as He sacrificed Himself; they have to give all they are and have to reach and help the people of the world.
Therefore, they seek to approach God through …
• their own reasonings • their own thoughts
• their own philosophies • their own religions
• their own works • their own understanding
• their own speculations • their own wisdom
• their own efforts
But men fail. Every human effort other than the cross always has and always will fail. No effort of man has ever solved the world’s problems of sin and evil, disease and suffering, selfishness and greed, death and judgment. No man has ever penetrated the spiritual world to find out what God is like. Only Christ and His cross can change men and give them life—life that is both abundant and eternal. And the fact has been proven in life after life down through the centuries.
The cross destroys the wisdom of men in this: it shows that the way to solve the problems of the world is the cross—not science, not technology, not education, and not religion. All the problems of the world could be solved (physical, material, and spiritual) if men would come to the cross, which is the perfect demonstration of love and sacrifice.
Thought 1. Just imagine what the world would be like if all men loved God and sacrificed all they were and had to solve the problems of the world—loved and sacrificed just as Christ did.

Philosophy or Preaching?

1 Corinthians 1:21–24 KJV 1900
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
The cross is both the wisdom and power of God to save all who believe.
The cross is the wisdom of God. The term the “wisdom of God” means the cross, the way God has chosen to save the world. Note again the emphasis that the world by its wisdom has not known God. As stated in the previous point (v. 19–20), man cannot be saved by science, technology, education, religion—not by any human effort of goodness. No matter what man does or how wise he gets, he will never be able to become perfect, not in love and justice. Despite all that man may achieve, he will still come “short of God’s glory” (which is perfection).
The way for man and his world to be saved is not by the wisdom of men, but by the wisdom of God, which is the cross. If men would turn to the cross in its perfect demonstration of love and sacrifice, then men would love and sacrifice like they should to meet the needs of mankind.
Love and sacrifice are God’s means of saving the world. Therefore, it is the person who believes the preaching of the cross that is saved. When a person believes that Jesus Christ died for him—when he gives all he is and has to Christ—God saves that person and uses him to reach the lost and destitute of the world.
The cross is the power of God to save those who believe. The cross alone changes the lives of men to love God and sacrifice themselves for God and for men.

Foolish Jews Require Wonders

The Jews or religionists of the world feel they are the chosen seed of God, that they reach God by having a godly heritage and by being religious and good enough to be acceptable to Him. They think they are to work as diligently as they can to bring the Kingdom of God and man’s utopia to earth. Most religionists are just like the Jews were: they develop a system of thought whereby the Messiah is to come to earth when they have prepared the earth for Him. And when He comes, they say He will come with great signs of power and majesty and bring a golden age upon the earth.
Thought 1. Note how the emphasis of the religionist is his works and labor for God:
→ It is man who prepares the way for the Messiah’s salvation upon earth instead of the Messiah who prepares the way for man to approach God.
→ It is man who brings the glory of God and utopia to earth instead of the Messiah who ushers in the kingdom.
The cross—a crucified Savior redeeming men—is bound to be a stumblingblock to religionists.
The ideas of the cross are just foreign to a religionist, the ideas …
• that he cannot do enough good to be acceptable to God
• that the penalty for his sins had to be paid for by the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son
• that he must trust in the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son for his sins
• that true belief in God’s Son means that he sacrifices all he is and has to save a world of desperate and lost humanity
When the religionist looks at the cross and sees the ugliness of sin and shame, punishment and death, blood and suffering instead of glory and majesty, triumph and victory, he is repulsed; and he recoils and withdraws from the truth that God’s Son had to die for his sins. The religionist does not want to dwell upon the negative factors of sin and death; he wants to focus upon the positive things of ritual, ceremony, religion, works, and benevolence—just so he is not expected to give everything.

Foolish Gentiles Require Wisdom

The Greeks made the mistake of thinking of God as “apatheia.” Apatheia means more than apathy. It means a total inability to feel. God was thought to be too far away and uninvolved in human affairs to feel. Therefore, to think of a god who became a man and felt the pains of death upon a cross was foolishness to a Greek mind. It was simply nonsense. It was beyond anything that the human mind could grasp.
The Greeks also greatly admired “a wise man.” The wise man was a man who could speak persuasively with flowery speech about earthly affairs and human wisdom, and make them seem eternal. Therefore, the preaching of the cross with its blunt message seemed crude and uncultured. It was laughed at and ridiculed rather than listened to and accepted.
The world, generation after generation, makes the mistake of stumbling over the simplicity of the cross. Man feels that he has to use his own wisdom and energy to achieve anything in this world, or else he just does not achieve. Therefore, the world fails to understand that the cross is the expression of God’s love for a lost world, and that the message of the cross is simple faith in God’s love. The world does not have to exercise human wisdom in order to be saved. The world just cannot understand this, so it stumbles over the cross.
Thought 1. How many look upon the cross …
• as crude and uncultured?
• as a bloody, repulsive religion?
• as lacking rational evidence? The very idea that a man could die and arise from the dead is foolishness.

Waken Believers Receive Christ

The called of God find Christ. There are some who pay attention to the pull of God’s call and movement in their hearts. They heed and obey the call of God: kneel and sacrificially surrender their lives to Christ. And when they do, two things happen.
1) They discover that Jesus Christ is the power of God.
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn. 17:2).
2) They discover that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. They discover that Jesus Christ brings to their heart and lives …
• deliverance from the sin and restlessness of their souls
• the knowledge of God and the infilling of love, joy, and peace
• the guidance and direction of God as they walk through the trials of life day by day
• perfect assurance of living eternally with God
• the greatest purpose and meaning in life possible: that of reaching and ministering to a world that reels under the weight of calamity and desperate needs—no matter the cost

1 Corinthians 1:25 KJV 1900
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Profess to Purpose

The cross proves that God’s way is wiser and stronger than man’s way.

God’s Foolishness is Wiser than Wisest Man

God’s Weakness is Stronger Than the Strongest Man

It is wiser and stronger because it saves men.
The fact is it could save the whole world if all men would surrender themselves to the Christ of the cross.
How could the cross of Christ do such a phenomenal thing?
By its example, demand, and power to change men from sinful and selfish beings to loving and sacrificial creatures. When a man truly bows before the cross, he surrenders all he is and has to Christ, and Christ makes him into a new creature. The man arises and goes forth to do all and to give all he can to save and meet the needs of a world that reels under the weight of its starving, diseased, and lost masses.
Thought 1. Just think what would really happen if only one million people within one nation bowed before the cross, giving all they were and had to Christ! What would happen if they really sacrificed themselves totally to Christ as Christ did for them?
Are you willing to surrender all you are and all you have to Christ?
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