No Mixed Messages- 1 Corinthians 1:22-2:4

In our previous post, we have seen how the message of the cross which Paul preached, the message of the submission of ourselves to God to be used for His purposes, directly contradicted the message the Corinthians received from the popular culture. Paul then goes on to show us another way in which the culture tried to influence his message. We begin in 1 Corinthians 1:22, in which Paul tells us that “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”. What Paul tells us here was crucial in his time and remains so today. Paul preached one message, Christ crucified. Some would accept it, others would reject it, and each one’s acceptance or rejection of the message was God’s business. Paul was faithful to this message and did not change it in order to get “conversions”, he simply preached the truth and left the results in God’s hands. He did not “adjust” the message to suit the audience, did not use his own “wisdom” to tweak the message to make it more acceptable to the one’s he was bringing it to. He did not remove the message of the cross from his preaching to attract more Jews, or mix it with the teachings of Greek philosophy to attract more Greeks. In a paradoxical way, Paul tells us, in verse 25, that adjusting the message to be accepted by the audience through our own wisdom and clever techniques actually robs it of its true power, of its power to transform someone’s “philosophy”, their way of seeing and understanding reality. Diluting the message or mixing it with the current worldly philosophy to make it more “user friendly” or “seeker sensitive” simply causes some to accept a watered down version of the truth, void of the power to truly transform someone’s life. Paul then tells the Corinthians, in verses 26-29, to examine themselves, to realize they had left behind the teachings of Greek philosophy and embraced the message of the cross. Paul did not dilute the message with the teachings of the popular culture, and Paul’s message had radically transformed their own lives. They had accepted the unadulterated message of the cross, and this message had totally transformed them, so they should now live as transformed people, that people who live out the message of the cross will draw others. Paul tells them (and us) here that it was not the wise and persuasive words of the preacher which would draw others to the cross, but rather the transformed lives of the people was God’s means of drawing others. This brings immediately to mind the fact of how far much of the present day church has strayed from all of this. We now tend to see the purpose of the people as to be primarily to drag others to church to hear the pastor tell them the message of the Jesus and the cross. What we see here, however, is that our primary purpose is not to drag the world to church to hear about Jesus, but to take Jesus out from the church into the world, to live out the message of the cross before the world around us. Paul then finishes his message here, in 1 Corinthians 2:1-4, by pointing to his own life and his influence on the Corinthians. He did not come with “eloquence or superior wisdom” (verse 1). His “message and his preaching were not with wise and persuasive words” (verse 4). He simply preached and lived “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (verse 2). This was a true demonstration of the Spirit’s power, this is how the Spirit worked through Paul to draw and transform others, this happened as Paul preached and lived out the message of the cross. In conclusion, we see clearly here that Paul resisted all temptation to tailor his message to suit his audience. He refused to use his own cleverness and ingenuity to attract “converts”, to be accepted by more people. He refused to dilute the truth in order to be accepted by the culture, for mixing the pure truth of the message of the cross with any other “philosophy” robs it of its transforming power, leaving those who accept it “worse off at the end than they were at the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). I pray that we as a church not lose sight of what Paul is teaching us here, that we would all return to preaching the pure unadulterated message of “Christ and Him crucified”, for making “converts” who respond to distorted or partial truths leaves these “converts” in a more precarious position than if they had flatly rejected the pure truth of the message of the cross. The message of the cross will always be foolishness to the world, but it will also always be the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

No Comments Christian Philosophy  //  Growing In Grace  //  Nature of Man  //  Transformation

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