In all the world there is not, never has been nor will there ever be anything to compare to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Simple in its truth, yet profound in its origin it is the only power that has the ability to transform the lives of sinful men.
In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, he describes the presentation of the message of the Gospel. In verse seventeen of chapter one he states:
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 non effect.
I have emphasized the phrase, “cross of Christ,” because it is the very heart of the Gospel. It is the cross that reveals our sinfulness as well as the righteousness of Christ.
The message takes precedence over everything else. Baptism is not wrong, but it is no substitute for the power of the cross. There is certainly nothing wrong with wisdom, in fact God places a high premium upon it, but wisdom cannot replace the proclamation of the cross.
Paul clearly states that he has been called to preach the Gospel. His conviction concerning his call and his determination to let nothing neutralize the cross are a direct testimony to the centrality of Christ’s crucifixion to the message of the Gospel.
There are those today who do not believe the cross is essential to the content of believing unto salvation. Some choose not to preach the cross for fear of repulsing the lost with the message of a “bloody salvation”. Some preach the cross, yet do not believe it is necessary for one to be aware of the death and resurrection of Christ. I would submit that without believing in the cross, there is no hope of the lost being saved.
Verse 18 tells us that this message of the cross is not just for believers, but for those who do not believe, as well. Consider with me the words of verses 21-24.
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. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
The desire of the unbelieving Jews to see a sign was to establish in their mind the credentials of the Messiah. The unbelieving Greeks desired the wisdom of a god. In other words, if they were going to believe in Christ, it would be on their own terms. Those, however, who placed faith in Jesus did so by believing on God’s terms, that is receiving the message that was given to them, the message of the cross. Only those who embraced this truth experienced the transforming power of God unto salvation.
To those Jews who believed, the cross became the power of God. To believing Greeks it became the wisdom of God. Both of these were superior to the expectations of man. Literally, the cross has become the credentials of Jesus Christ to the world. When we remove the cross from the message of salvation, we have gutted it, rendering it no more able to save than baptism or earthly wisdom.
Jesus, Himself, pointed to the crucifixion as His credentials in John 20:24-29. Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was alive, until Jesus pointed to the scars of His crucifixion. The Lord used the cross to establish His identity, even among His own disciples.
How can we do less than proclaim the message of the cross? How dare we elevate our wisdom above God’s plan and think that it is not essential to power of salvation? I’ll cherish the cross, I’ll proclaim it, I’ll remember it, I’ll hold it forth as the last and only hope of salvation for fallen man.