Nothing But Christ

1 Corinthians 2:1-8
           And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
          Paul was a great writer, and yet by his own admission, was not the most captivating public speaker. But Paul's goal in preaching was not to be captivating; his goal was to spread the message of Christ and the salvation that could be found through Christ. When churches gather on Sunday to hear the Word of God, there is a temptation for every preacher to attempt to captivate their congregations with pithy sayings and wise remarks based upon their observations and understanding of the world. There is also the temptation of using humor to add an extra kick into the message, as if the Word needed help getting into the hearts and minds of the congregation. This is not to say that speakers and preachers are not allowed to use their ability and preparation to craft sermons to be interesting, but there must be a clear priority in their work. The priority must be to preach Christ, as Paul states in verse 2, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
          The Corinthian church's faith was not built up by the wisdom of men who crafted good ideas and a plausible philosophy for a religion. Their faith was built up by the power of God. In the previous chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul explains that God chooses the foolish and weak things in the world so that none might boast in God's presence (1 Cor 1:27-31). The beauty of preaching the gospel message is that the effectiveness of the message is not based on the quality of the preacher, but based upon the will and power of the Holy Spirit. Human's do not find the hidden truth of God, but rather the other way around; God's truth finds people. The mystery of God is truth revealed by God, not through the intelligence of people. If anything, Paul's approach was not intended to "win" the approval of his audience, but to be a messenger of the news that God wanted to share. Paul clearly rejects self-promotion and haughty speech in favor of the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.

          When I first started to preach, I remember reading this passage and felt a strong responsibility to follow through on making Christ the center of every sermon that I preach. Regardless of what the topic or passage that is being taught on Sunday, I felt the strong requirement to preach Christ and the gospel. And believe me when I say that there were critics and people saying that not every sermon has to be about the gospel, because there are other things that Christians need to learn. And while I do agree that there are a bountiful number of topics that Christians need to learn and be trained up in, all of those are built upon the foundation of Christ and His work on the cross. The gospel is the fundamental law on which all other wisdom is built upon.  These days, I critique a sermon not based on how interesting it was, but on how much the message points to Christ and the work of God, because the wisdom of this age will eventually pass away, but the wisdom of God will remain eternal.

No Comments




no categories