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. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
The Main Thing Is The Only Thing
Paul was a former blasphemer, persecutor and as he would reflect to his traveling companion, Timothy, the worst sinner for what he had done to the church of Christ. Through the grace of God, the man from Tarsus became an apostle of Jesus Christ spending the rest of his life fully dedicated and purposed to preaching the good news of the risen Christ. His preaching was direct and simple. He did not try to impress men with human wisdom. The style of Paul’s preaching was not to receive the praise of men but only to teach what the Holy Spirit guided his mind to say. This would not please the ears of most people and he often would find himself at odds with his fellow brethren, the Jews. He suffered a great deal because of what he preached. At Lystra, the mob tried to kill him. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. What would cause men to want to kill the apostle? Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra persuading the multitudes to kill the preacher because he taught a resurrected Christ.
The preaching of Paul brought many hardships to him personally. He told the Corinthian brethren he spent many days in prison, he was whipped often facing death on numerous occasions. Five different times he was beaten by the Jewish leaders and three times he was beaten with rods. He faced danger almost constantly but he never flinched or stopped preaching his message. With all the dangers that swirled around him, Paul never gave up on the God who saved him and gave him mercy. Why did so many people hate the apostle and want to kill him? He preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The main thing in the preaching of Paul was the only thing that mattered to him. He preached Jesus Christ. There was no fanfare, fluff, exciting stories to regale the crowds with and the apostle did not present a health and wealth philosophy of everyone was going to heaven preaching. Preaching a crucified Christ required a crucified message from a heart crucified by the message of Jesus Christ.
Many preachers preach a message of hope and joy based upon the desires of the carnal spirit. Jesus taught the purest doctrine of God and they killed Him. Paul was not popular in the world because he preached Christ crucified. Many would accept and follow the message of Jesus Christ because they recognized the message of saving truth. The message of Paul was not to bring in large crowds and tickle the ears of the multitudes. Three thousand devout Jews believed the message of a crucified Christ on the day of Pentecost because their hearts were open to the grace of God. Peter boldly declared to those gathered in Jerusalem that God made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ. Many people were angered by this message and refused to believe the preaching of the apostles but Peter was not going to preach any other message. The main thing was the only thing he could preach.
The preaching of Jesus Christ has not changed. To love God and obey His commandments requires a message of a risen Christ that demands His followers to take up a cross and follow Him. This cross does not come with padding and is not equipped with a wheel to make it easy. Jesus refused the anesthetic gall at the cross because He wanted the world to know He bore the sins of all men in its full measure. When preachers offer a diluted or softened message of an accepting God for all the sins of men, they deny the Lord they falsely preach. There is only one message a true preacher of the gospel can preach and that is the only truth found in the word of God. Those who preach the gospel will receive a heavier penalty in judgment. If the message is not Christ crucified there can be no hope. Preach the word! There is only one way, one truth, and one life and this is the foundation of any true sermon. The main thing is the only thing.