The Message and
the Power of
The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God
(1 Corinthians 1:18,NIV)

Paul said that Christ sent him to preach the gospel-not with words of human wisdom (v17) Reading on into chapter 2 verse 3 we have: I came to you in weakness and fear and trembling. My preaching (was) not with wise and persuasive words.
  Paul says that he came 'in fear and trembling'; not just I think with 'butterflies in the tummy'. Paul didn't want to give a 'good performance. Yet  you have only to read the book of Acts and read between the lines of his epistles to know how effective his preaching was; how many churches he founded. The early church probably owed more to the preaching of this one man than anyone else. And he came without..human wisdom; without wise and persuasive words, and in fear and trembling. The success of his mission lay in his message and in Holy Spirit power.
  Paul brought the message of Christ to a largely godless and pagan world. And I would say, is the world around us not largely pagan and godless? Indeed I would say that we live in a missionary situation, and that this is a fact we cannot ignore or disregard. No longer can we call Britain a Christian country. What is being taught in our schools today; what is the moral tenor of the country; how widespread, even within the church is multifaith compromise?
  We are tempted to feel satisfied with a respectable Sunday-religion and don't worry too much whether we have any real impact on the society in which we live; on those with whom we have to do from Monday to Saturday. Will such an attitude really hold up? For if this is our attitude, I would say God will hold us accountable and will judge us for it. If we have received Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord then we are his ambassadors.
  Aren't there many around us who lead godless, world-oriented lives. Not necessarily what w we would call bad lives. They may be thoroughly good and respectable. They may be worldly-succesful and worldly-wise. But if their lives are godless, then however 'good' the world may judge them, they are those who are 'perishing'. The word 'perishing' means 'going rotten ' (as food 'perishes'). Its very nature is destroyed and it becomes good for nothing. The world of people without Christ is a world of people separated from God. And what will terminate that separation? We live in a missionary situation.

The message of the Cross is the power of God.
This is our gospel. This is the good news that God bids us take with us from Monday to Saturday- and Sunday as well! So we need to ask ourselves:
  Is the Cross and its message central to my life?
  The world will not like this message. It will hate this message. It hated Jesus and crucified him, and just as Jesus says, it hates all who truly follow him That is, all those who, for their love and knowledge of Jesus, lay aside any thought of their selfish desires and who admit they are lost without Jesus. The world doesn't like that! It doesn't like people who live that way and talk that way. For it is in direct opposition for a go-getting world. Jesus said men will hate us on his account. They don't even like to hear his Name except as a swear word. For all the lip-service paid to Jesus as a wonderful teacher, how often do you hear his Name on the News or read his Name in the newspapers. The 'church'? Yes, plenty. Sometimes 'God', but never 'Jesus'. For Jesus confronts people with the message of the Cross.
  Equally, the world doesn't mind religion. Yes see, a person can be as religious as they like. The world dosen't mind so long as they don't confront them with Jesus. For you can go through all manner of religious ritual and observance and exercise, indeed you can be religiously busy to the point of exhaustion without any contact with the living Lord. But, bring Jesus in, and bring the Cross in, and people start to react.
  The world pronounces Jesus and the Cross as a foolishness. They don't understand what difference a man dying on a Roman gibbet can make, and they don't want to know either! They think they can mange without, for it hurts their sinful pride. So they see in Jesus and the Cross weakness too. The pale Galileean Jesus, meek and mild, is the world's invention. He is the object of scorn. Yet, however weak and foolish and irrelevant the world may like to think Jesus is, he is still remembered after 20 centuries, centuries which have forgotten about men the world may reckon as greater and more powerful or significant. Much as it may try to do away with him, he won't go away!

The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
People may stubbornly rebel in their sin. They may reject any knowledge of God and go from bad to worse. Natural man, even in his natural 'goodness' is divorced from God and is going from bad to worse. Even his good deeds are- so Isaiah, but filthy rags (64:6) And in that separation here and now, man is doomed to eternal separation. he is doomed to isolation and sunk into the despair of for ever going from bad to worse. Can you look hell in the face? Can you contemplate your loved ones going there? Judgmennt and hell-fire are not myths to be cast off by sophisticated modern man. They are scriptural truth.
  And in the face of this sinful rebellion, God is powerful! And he is powerful because Jesus died on the Cross. For Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed and, who shed his blood on the Cross. Humanly, we would reckon the blood of Christ as a gory detail, that is not necessary. But it is at the heart of the Cross. For it is only by the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross that sinful man can find forgiveness and peace with God. The power of the Cross is greater than man's sinful rebellion.

It is the message of the Cross that we take to a godless, pagan world- or that we are bidden, nay commanded to take. We are all of us surrounded  by people with what has been called 'terminal life'  They live without God, without Christ and destined to go to a godless eternity. We like to think of them as "OK really" and "not to worry". We don't like to think of them going to that eternity of lostness. Can we complacently let them go there?
  Jesus longs to see us come to the foot of the Cross and then lead other people there. I mentioned religion earlier, but this is a matter of the heart and of personal relationships. It is not of ritual acts or ritual words. It involves coming to the foot of the Cross and saying, "Lord Jesus, please forgive me and change me". It involves seeing the Cross not as folly and weakness but as the way, and as God's only and glorious way of salvation.

So, can I turn the question round? Do we, each os us, know personally the saving power of this message of the Cross? Do we know Jesus who came to bring it? Do you know the power of the Cross to save you?

Paul wished to faith of the Corinthians to rest on God's power and not on man's wisdom- to depend on Holy Spirit power. I want us all to see the great relevance, the all-embracing relevance of the Cross of Christ. Oh that the power of the Spirit might set at naught among us human wisdom. Oh that the power of the Spirit might be exalted above the persuasive power of the human mind! Oh that Jesus would be lifted up in the power of the Spirit to draw all men to himself. Oh that we might have Holy Spirit power to proclaim in life and word the Cross of Christ to a pagan and godless world which is perishing, going rotten..

The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
There is no middle ground. It is either perishing, going from bad to worse, and rejecting God and sinking deeper and deeper into sin, or it is faith in Jesus and the power of his blood shed on the Cross and going from better to better, being saved. And it's a difference of eternal consequences.