The recent movie, "The
Passion of the Christ" has brought the scandal of
the cross into clear focus once again, and the
result is there are those who trip over the message
of the cross.
Modern secular writers do
not have the foggiest idea of what Christianity and
the death of Jesus Christ is all about.
The modern media presents
the "wisdom of the world" as the solution to all of
our problems. The writers of the news magazines, TV
news networks, radio and TV talk shows refuse to
accept the "word of the cross" as the means of God’s
saving power. The cross of Jesus Christ is a scandal
to them. They rationalize it as being too cruel, "X"
rated, anti-Semitic, etc. Their attitude is let’s
get rid of the message that Jesus Christ was in deed
the atoning sacrifice of God to deal with the
punishment of our guilt.
The apostle Paul wrote
centuries ago, "For the word of the cross is to
those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who
are being saved it is the power of God. . . . For
since in the wisdom of God the world through its
wisdom did not come to know God, God was
well-pleased through the foolishness of the message
preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews
ask for signs, and Greeks seek for wisdom; but we
preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block,
and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are
the called, both Jews and Geeks, Christ the power of
God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness
of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is
stronger than men. . . . God as chosen the foolish
things of the world to shame the wise, and God has
chosen the weak things of the world to shame the
things which are strong . . ." (1 Corinthians 1:18,
Paul says, As far as we
are concerned, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a
message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense
to the non-Jews.
The scandal for
The cross of Jesus Christ
is a scandal to the modern sophisticated mind. It is
a "stumbling block" to many who try to explain it.
The skandalon is
that which trips us up or that which lures us into
sin. The Greek word skandalon is translated
"offence," "stumbling block," "occasion for
stumbling," and "the thing that offends." The cross
of Jesus Christ for 2000 years has tripped people
up. For those who refuse to believe on Jesus Christ
it is a stumbling block, something set in a man’s
path to trip him, to stumble over.
The ancient Greeks used
the word when referring to the movable stick or
trigger of a trap, a trap stick. It was a trap, a
snare, and any obstacle placed in the way and
causing one to stumble or fall.
It is always used in the
New Testament metaphorically of anything that
arouses prejudice, or brings hindrance to others, or
causes them to fall by the wayside.
The figure is applied to
the Lord Jesus Christ, whose person and career were
so contrary to the expectations of His
contemporaries concerning the Jewish Messiah that
they stumbled over Him.
The Jewish person thinks
that it is incredible for a person who ended his
life on a cross could possibly be the Anointed
Messiah of Yahweh. They turn to Deuteronomy 21:23,
"He who is hanged is accursed of God." But that is
the whole point; Jesus Christ was cursed of God
because of our sins. The idea of a suffering Messiah
as the Suffering Servant of the LORD in Isaiah 53
was a scandal to them.
The apostle Paul said
they were seeking "signs" which would prove that a
political Messiah had come to deliver the Jews from
their servitude to the Roman powers. However, the
true Messiah came as a meek and lowly Servant of
Yahweh. To the Jewish people this was an offense,
and to this day a "stumbling block."
The mass media is once
again stumbling over the scandal of the cross. The
preaching of the cross is still a "stumbling block"
and "foolishness" to many people. However, "God was
pleased through the foolishness of the message
preached to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians
1:21). "We preach Christ crucified" (v. 23). If you
have been saved it is only because you have chosen
to believe in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on
the cross at Calvary. There is no other way to be
The cross of Jesus Christ
is still a stumbling block to anyone who wishes to
be saved any other way. The Judaizers in the early
church at Galatia would have accepted the cross with
circumcision, but not the cross instead of
circumcision. "But I, brethren, if I still preach
circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the
stumbling block of the cross has been abolished"
(Galatians 5:11, NASB 1995). Is there something that
you want to add to the cross of Jesus Christ in
order to be saved? Baptism by immersion, or
sprinkling, church membership, good works, faithful
church attendance, etc. will not save you. And they
will not save you if you think they will add
anything to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the
A crucified Jewish
Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jewish people
(Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8; 1 Cor. 1:23). The idea of a
suffering messiah was an offense even though it is
according to the divine plan (Isaiah 53; Acts
The foolishness of
The Greek gods were
insular to any feelings of humans. They could not
identify with mankind’s suffering. Their philosophy
taught that God was totally unable to feel and any
idea of God being involved in human affairs was an
insult to God. They had no idea of God entering into
the affairs of men. They could never accept the idea
of the apostle John about the incarnation of Jesus
As at Athens the Greeks
were ready to listen to charismatic language and
sharp intellectual minds and stunning rhetoric. They
were in to the latest philosophies and debates. Talk
shows would have been their in thing. They split
hairs over the latest fad every day.
Can you imagine how the
apostle Paul appeared to them with his honest, open,
genuine communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
This is just where the
Gospel clashes with the modern mind. God is holy and
He cannot tolerate sin. It is repulsive to His
holiness. Wrath is His reaction to sin. "The wages
of sin is death." He demands that the penalty to the
violated law be satisfied. In righteous love He
provided the very payment that His law demanded.
Propitiation is not pagans appeasing a pagan god. It
is a God of love providing a perfect sacrifice for
the sinner’s guilt that turns away His own wrath
toward the sinner. The Son of God provides the very
sacrifice that is demanded. This is entirely
contrary to the sophisticated Greek’s way of
The cross is a stumbling
block and an offense to the ancient and modern world
HUMAN WISDOM IS
Human wisdom is
insufficient to lead anyone to God (1 Cor. 1:21).
The new age movements are excellent examples of
humanistic philosophies. The LORD God ordained that
the good news of Jesus Christ is the means to a
saving knowledge of God. "God was well-pleased
through the foolishness of the preaching of the
gospel to save those who believe."
Human wisdom could never
discover the method of salvation, nor the compliance
to receive it. Lost sinners are saved not because
they are wiser, better or distinguished in some way,
but simply because God chose them and called them by
His Spirit (vv. 26-30). God’s purpose of saving
sinners by grace through faith in Jesus Christ was
so He would receive all the glory (v. 31). If you
have anything to glory in let it be in the LORD.
Wisdom that comes from God leads to man’s salvation.
Preaching must always be centered in God’s wisdom.
It is unscriptural to
make baptism or any other religious rite essential
to salvation. The quickest way to render the Gospel
powerless and inoperative is to mix it and confuse
it with legalism and humanism. The good news is
powerless when men try to make a philosophy of
religion out of it. Human words will not glorify the
cross of Jesus Christ. Humanism mixed with
Christianity causes the saving gospel to lose its
divine element and become nothing more than human
wisdom devoid of God’s saving grace.
Whatever you mix with the
gospel obscures the cross and deprives the gospel of
its saving power.
The cross does not make
sense to the rational pagan mind. It is foolishness
to him (1 Cor. 1:20; 2:6; 1:26; 3:18). The worldly
wisdom has no idea of eternal verities.
WISDOM OF THE CROSS
We are commissioned "to
preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that
the cross of Christ should not be made void. For the
word of the cross is to those who are perishing
foolishness, but to those who are being saved it is
the power of God" (vv. 17-18).
The "preaching of the
cross" is the doctrine of salvation through
substitutionary death of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice
for our sins. Those individuals who listen to the
messages on the cross and think it is foolishness
"perish." However, those who put their trust in
Jesus Christ experience the power of God and are
The "word of the cross"
(v. 18) is the thing preached. It is the message God
uses to bring us to Himself. Those who believe in it
are saved because it is "the power of God unto
salvation" (v. 18).
It is through the
preaching of the cross that God has "made foolish"
the wisdom of the world. People turn their noses up
at the very thought of a crucified savior. They made
political heyday of those who are responsible for
crucifying Christ. But the simple fact is there is
no other way in which to be saved except by means of
the death and resurrection of Christ.
"And there is salvation
in no one else; for there is no other name under
heaven that has been given among men by which we
must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NASB 1995).
Christ the power of
Jesus Christ is the power
of God from all eternity. "By His word were the
heavens made, and all the host of them." "The Word
was God, and the Word was with God." "All things
were made by Him, and without Him was not anything
made that was made." He is the Creator of the
universe, and by Him all things exist.
He is the King of kings,
and Lord of lords. He is the sovereign of the
That Jesus Christ is the
power of God is seen in the wind, the waves yielding
to the abundant power of His voice saying, "Peace,
peace be still." The lame man jumped with joy at the
command of Christ to get up and walk. The rooster
crowed at exactly the right moment when Peter denied
Christ. The deaf man could hear the voice of God
speaking to Him, and the dumb man could sing praises
to God, and testify before men what the power of God
in Jesus Christ had done in him.
"Lazarus, come forth!"
was proof of Jesus’ divine power and Godhead. The
dead rose by "the power of God." And it was by the
power of God that Jesus gave up His own life at
God’s appointed time and after three days rose from
Moreover, Jesus is the
power of God now because "He sits at the right hand
of God." He is sovereign, and He reigns with power
and dignity. And on the appointed day He will come
to judge the living and the dead.
Christ is the wisdom
"He planned the way of
salvation; He devised the system of atonement and
substitution; He laid the foundations of the great
plan of salvation. There was wisdom," says Spurgeon.
It was by wisdom Christ
made the heavens and earth. With His infinite wisdom
He created man, and even became a man. At the age of
twelve He taught the leading Jewish scholars and
rabbis in the Temple. They dialogued with Him in
amazement at His wisdom.
Today as He reigns in
heaven He is the infinite wisdom of God ruling the
universe. He is the Mind behind the tiniest element
in nature and the vast solar systems. He is the
Designer of the universe and He is the super glue
that holds it all together.
Jesus is the Christ, the
power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Christ in you
"Christ in you, the hope
of glory" is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Jesus Christ is the wisdom and power of God in the
Christian’s life. He sets us free and puts a song in
our lives. Do you sing of Christ? Have you
experienced His saving power? Have you sat at His
feet and absorbed the wisdom of His teachings?
Christ in me is the power
and the wisdom of God to be all that God wants me to
be in His grace. "I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). "My God
shall supply all your needs according to His riches
in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father
be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (vv. 19-20).
Upon the occasion of the
death of a child, a mother spoke with the wisdom and
power of God in her life. "Christ is my Lord, I
trust in Him; surely I can give this child to Him
who gave Himself for me."
Have you learned to
appropriate the power and the wisdom of God in your
daily life? Make yourself available to Him and let
the power and the wisdom of God be demonstrated in
your life. Let your Christian experience be a
steadfast witness to the power and the wisdom of
Put Jesus Christ in the
right place in your life and you will find Him to be
your wisdom in your own experiences. "Seek first His
kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things
shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
Get the Gospel and you
are a wise person. "The fear of God is the beginning
of wisdom." Give the Holy Spirit freedom to apply
the wisdom of God in your daily life and you become
a man of wisdom. He gives direction as we commit our
lives to Him. He leads us in the paths of
righteousness. That is a wise person.
Yield to Him and He
breaks the power of cancelled sin in your personal
life and sets you free. He breaks the iron chains in
our lives and gives us freedom. He will deliver you
from sin today if you will listen to Him and yield
It was by the power and
wisdom of God that Jesus Christ died as your
substitute on the cross. There is no greater power
than the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us of all
our sins (1 John 1:7). Only the divine wisdom of God
could provide a perfect cure for our sin problem.
YOUR DECISION TO
BECOME A WISE PERSON
All of the hearers of the
gospel down through the ages are divided into two
groups. One group consists of those who are saved by
the effectual work of the death of Christ. The other
group is lost because they are without Christ. "He
who does not believe is judged already." What they
need to do is believe in Christ and be saved. To do
nothing is to die and go to hell without Christ.
Those who are saved are
now in a state of salvation. They have trusted the
message of the good news and believed on Christ and
are now saved.
The "word of the cross"
is foolishness to those who are perishing. However,
the "wisdom of the world" will not lead you to an
intimate, personal relationship with the LORD God.
No one has ever been saved believing in the "wisdom
of the world." It only leads to eternal perdition.
To the great
sophisticated intellectual minds the good news of
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ only
appears to them as something "foolish." The cross of
Jesus is still a scandal, and a foolish suggestion.
However, the "word of the
cross" is the "wisdom of God" and the "power of God"
to those who are being saved. The good news of the
crucified Messiah is the awesome wisdom of God and
supernatural power of God.
"God was well-pleased
trough the foolishness of the message preached to
save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). The
"message" is the death of Jesus Christ as a
sacrifice for the sins of the world.
The Gospel of Jesus
Christ changes lives, and you cannot argue with a
changed life. Jesus Christ changes people’s lives
for the better.
"I am not ashamed of the
gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to
everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to
the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Jesus changes lives
because He is the power and the wisdom of God.
"Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).