And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Preach Christ Crucified
One single event in the entire human history is the only thing that matters to all men to have walked upon the face of the earth. There have been monumental achievements by men through the centuries that have changed the course of history but none as profound as the death of a man born in a small village outside of Jerusalem. Jesus of Nazareth changed the world He created in a way that has eternal consequences. His teaching astonished the world of His day and continues to mold the minds of men for good in every generation. Remarkably, as powerful as His life was manifested two thousand years ago, most people do not understand His teachings or His purpose for coming to earth. An essential part of the story of Jesus is to believe that He was God and that God manifested Himself in the flesh where He suffered at the hands of His creation in the death of the cross. Few men see the meaning of the cross as the apostle Paul explained to the saints at Corinth. There was only one thing that was the driving force behind the life of Paul and that was preaching a message of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At first he had persecuted all those who followed the Way and sought to destroy anything and anyone who claimed Jesus was the Messiah. By God’s providential kindness Saul of Tarsus believed Jesus was the Christ and had his sins washed away in baptism as he became a child of God. From that moment forth, the former persecutor and insolent man became the firebrand of zeal to proclaim throughout the Roman Empire a single message: Jesus Christ and Him crucified. There was nothing more essential for a man to understand than to know that Jesus was delivered up by the determined counsel of the Father and slain as a lamb led to the slaughter so that all men could find life in the death of God’s Son. The cross was the crucible of the eternal love of God demonstrated by allowing man to kill His only begotten Son and deliver the fall of sinful man from the wrath awaiting him. Paul preached a message of love, the counsel of grace, a picture of suffering and the only hope man can find for his salvation. His message was the cross of Jesus Christ.
Like every generation, the wisdom of man touted itself in carnal wisdom with words of excellence in the world of the early church. The Greeks were still influencing the world with their philosophies as the Romans found wisdom in their gods and the Jews held tightly to the Law of Moses as salvation. Men struggled to find lasting answers with little hope and it was only in the message of Christ crucified that true wisdom gave man the vision of why he was created and what purpose his life would serve. Paul’s preaching was not filled with the wisdom of men to impress the human heart with vain repetitions or trite and whimsical tales of a health and wealth dogmas scratching the ears of empty hearts. The cross of Christ was a bold and direct testimony of sacrifice demanding an allegiance unmatched by any teaching man had heard before. God’s will was straightforward requiring obedience without shadow or turning. There would be no acceptance of human philosophy in the teachings of Paul. His preaching was not to impress the minds of his followers but to brand upon their hearts the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. His work was not to console the comfortable souls of the unlearned. The message of Paul was to convict, convert and confirm the only hope man had: the cross of Jesus Christ. Faith had to be found in the power of God, not the wisdom of men for man to be saved. The only message that came out of the mouth of Paul was the message of the cross. This would not be received by most but for those few that would believe in the cross and its message salvation would be granted. There was no place for the wisdom of men.
Preaching in the modern world has taken more the image of human wisdom than the powerful testimony of men like Paul in the First Century. The appeal is to allow the hearts of the listener to hear a message of consolation in the wisdom of men rather than the message of the cross. At one time the cross was viewed with disdain and horror. Now it glistens with gold and costly jewels as an image to appeal to all men. There is no cost in serving the Lord. The cross is a padded, air-conditioned luxury cruise with little obligation or sacrifice. It does not matter how a person is saved and it matters little whether a person lives with devotion to the word of God. There is no such thing as Hell, the wrath of God is dismissed and the sacrifice of Jesus on a cross was no worse than a toothache for most religious folk. Paul would be horrified at the manner of preaching done by many who profess a belief in Jesus. They have turned the faith of God into the faith of men with food, fun, and frolic built upon allowance of the profane to be accepted as religion. Few churches preach Christ anymore much less Christ crucified. On a hill outside Jerusalem, a man hung on a tree who was the Son of God. He had never sinned, never compromised, never failed and never changed the doctrine of His Father. His life was a message of sacrifice in praise of God and He refused to change the message of the Divine for the whims of men. They killed Jesus but Jesus destroyed their wisdom at the cross. If men do not preach Christ crucified they deny the word of God and there is no hope. Determine not to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.