With Peter’s ship, The Teaching about the Cross, beginning to take on water, it became necessary for us to abandon ship. As we walk across the causeway of the Book of Acts, we are now going to be sailing with the Apostle Paul. Paul will bring us to our final destination. We are about to sail across the deep waters of the finished work of Christ, which is uncharted territory prior to the Pauline revelation. As we plumb the depths of these waters, we are going to find that the Apostle Paul was the first to show us the significance of the death of The Mystical Christ. He proclaimed the Cross as good news! There is always one of two responses to this message; either it’s received with thanksgiving or it’s rejected as mere foolishness!
THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS
“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18).
The term “preaching” is not one of the typical words the apostle uses when referring to the proclamation of the Cross. For example, in II Timothy 4:2, Paul instructs us to “Preach the Word.” Here the apostle uses the Greek, kerusso, which signifies a herald. It refers to the one who announces clearly and loudly the entrance of the King. In like manner, we are to give a clear presentation of the gospel of salvation. Interestingly in I Corinthians 1:18, Paul employs the term Logos–the Word. So then, it is the Word of the Cross, which is the power of God unto salvation. It is the apostle’s objective to contrast the Word of the Cross with the word of man.
The Cross to the natural man is mere foolishness–why, it’s absurd to think that God would take on a human form, be crucified, and rise again in order to redeem mankind! To the natural man this is beyond the realm of reason. Therefore, Paul challenges the world to step forward and match its wisdom and knowledge with the wisdom and knowledge of God.
“Where is the wise [intelligentsia]? Where is the scribe [doctor of the law]? Where is the disputer [debater] of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).
Paul summons the world to answer these age-old questions, if they will. Where did man come from? How can he be made right with God? What is his purpose in life? What is his final destination? The natural man’s attempt to answer these questions apart from God is like the man who’s blind, searching in a dark room for a black cat that doesn’t exist. The world’s philosophy to the above is as follows:
1. Origins: In the dateless past, out of nothing came something, out of which life eventually emerged from the bogs of primeval seas. Over a 5-billion year period, this one cell entity called an amoeba evolved into a complex multi-billion celled being called modern man.
2. Justification: If my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds on the scales of life, God will accept me into heaven when I die.
3. Purpose: On one side of the coin, the epicurean philosophy is, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” After all, you owe it to yourself to indulge in everything the world has to offer. On the other side of the coin, the stoic says you must devote yourself to fleshly inhibitions to find fulfillment in life.
4. Eternal Destiny: Most unregenerate men deny that there is life beyond the grave. In the words of Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer, “Death is the end!”