The Straightforward Gospel

I’ve begun reading 1 Corinthians with my children and was reminded of how blunt Paul was with the church at Corinth. After decrying the divisions that had already begun appearing in the community, he told them in no uncertain terms that the truth of the gospel did not come from miraculous signs or high level rhetoric, but from the reality of Jesus Christ.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 ESV

I think we all face the temptation to make the gospel different, to fit it into our preconceived notions, to make it a tool of our social or political project. The Jesus who was and is the incarnate Son of God and Son of Man did not fit the paradigm that human beings were expecting. He was neither a warlord who restored the kingdom of Israel, nor an inoffensive philosopher with no expectations about how you should live your life.:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 ESV

The 1st century A.D. was a time of great philosophical ideas but also a period of mysticism and superstition. The world was a big, scary, unknown place, but people were starting to make good sense of things. Yet here was a Man who did not fit either the superstition of the day nor the philosophical frameworks that were being developed. This same Man, Jesus Christ, still challenges us today to accept Him for who He is.

The message of the cross is not reserved for only those who are wise, or credentialed, or with certain knowledge or experiences. In fact, our own wisdom is often a stumbling block in the way of our faith:

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV

Whatever your project in life, whether in politics, business, sports, manufacturing, or simply surviving each day and waking up the next, keep your focus on Jesus. If our efforts are not directed toward His plan, for His glory, then it’s all in vain in the end, and will be forgotten when we’re gone.

All the Bible study, denominational creeds, and theological treatises in the world mean nothing if you lose focus of the centrality of the Gospel. Keep your eyes on the destination.

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Acts 16:30-31 ESV
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