by J. C. Ryle
by Charles McIlvaine
by Charles Spurgeon
Preach Christ Crucified!
"But we preach Christ crucified..." I Corinthians 1:17-29
The centrality of Christianity is the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. Without this foundation, (I Corinthians 3:11) our hope is in vain. (I Corinthians 15:17)
Herein is the foundation of our faith laid, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (I Corinthians 15:1-4 see also I Peter 3:18)
This foundation has been laid for one purpose, "...to seek and to save that which was lost", that "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (Luke 19:10 & John 1:12) From this rock, which is Christ Jesus, comes the message of repentance.
The first message of John the Baptist was, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) The first message of Jesus was, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) The first message of the disciples was, "And they went out, and preached that men should repent." (Mark 6:12)
Why then are men preaching a message of prosperity when it only nurtures the old selfishness nature? Does not the scripture say, "he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." (II Corinthians 5:15)
Somehow the church is under the impression that God owes them happiness and comfort in this life. Are we better than our Master who was, "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief... He was oppressed, and he was afflicted... it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:" (Isaiah 53:3,7,10) He endured all of this because of our sins, because of His great love for us. How much more then should we "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world:" (Romans 12:1-2)
I'm not saying we can't have happiness and comfort, rather that we must be willing to suffer for the gospel sake as He did. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" (Philippians 3:10; see also I Peter 4:13) The truth is, God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness, because holiness will get us to heaven, happiness will not.
The message of the cross is death to self (carnal nature), and life to the new (born again) man. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; (is made alive) the flesh profiteth nothing..." (John 6:63) The true Church is spiritual, but she is suffocating because she is so full of self, she is without power to do spiritual battle. The message of Christ crucified must be proclaimed from our pulpits once again if the Church is to ever become a spiritual force in this last day. A cry of repentance must flood the throne of heaven if we are to once again be a force against hell.
Preach Christ crucified, let a man come to the cross and see the filthiness of his sin and cry out, for "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation..." (II Corinthians 7:10) Herein is revival; herein is the power of Christ crucified. Preach Christ crucified!
— Randy Munter Editor and Webmaster
from "The Pulpit Commentary"
"But we preach Christ crucified..." (1 Corinthians 1:23).
It is difficult for us to realize the deep rooted strength of the prejudices the truth of Christ encountered on its first proclamation. One thing, however, is clear - while the apostles accommodated the mode of their teaching to those prejudices, they never so accommodated the teaching itself. Their doctrine was the same for all. They never thought of modifying it or softening down its essential peculiarities, to suit the taste of any. With reference to the form of his teaching, St. Paul says, "To the weak I became weak," etc. (1 Cor 9:22); with reference to the substance. "Though we or an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel," etc. (Gal 1:8).
Jews and Greeks are the two broad classes under which these varieties of prejudice might be grouped; and here are their prominent characteristics. "Jews ask for signs." It was so in the days of Christ. "An evil and adulterous generation," etc. (Matt 12:39); "Except ye see signs and wonders," etc. (John 4:48). And in the apostolic age the race everywhere manifested the same mental tendency. They were sign seeking Jews. "Greeks seek after wisdom" - such wisdom as found a home for itself in their own philosophic schools. They knew no other. Thus each of these classes illustrated a particular aspect of the vanity of human nature; the one craving after that which would minister to the pride of sense, the other to the pride of intellect. For both Paul had but one message: "Christ and him crucified." Note -
I. THE THEME OF THE APOSTOLIC TEACHING. "We preach Christ crucified" (see also 1 Cor 2:2; Gal 3:1). This is the sum and substance of evangelical doctrine, the idea that filled the foremost place in the apostle's thought and supplied the chief inspiration of his heroic life. Not a little of the emphasis falls on the word "crucified." He preached Christ as the personal Redeemer of men, and that not merely as the great miracle working Prophet of God, the moral Reformer, the Revealer of new truth, the Lawgiver of a new spiritual kingdom, the Example of a divinely perfect life, but as the Victim of death.
It was in the death of Christ that the whole force and virtue of the apostolic testimony about him lay. What meaning did Paul attach to this death? The mere reiteration of the fact itself would be powerless apart from its doctrinal significance. If he had represented it simply as the crowning act of a life of devotion and self sacrifice in the cause of God and of humanity, he would have placed the Name of Christ on the level of many another name, and his death on a level with the death of many another witness for truth and righteousness; instead of which a virtue and a moral efficacy are everywhere imputed to it, which cannot be conceived of as belonging to any other death, and which alone explain the position it occupies in apostolic teaching (see 1 Cor 5:7; Eph 1:7; 2:14,16; Col 1:21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2).
Forgiveness of sins, spiritual cleansing, moral freedom, practical righteousness, fellowship with God, the hope of eternal glory, - all are set forth here as fruits of the death of Christ and our faith in it. St. Paul made it the one grand theme of his ministry, because he knew that it would meet the deep and universal needs of humanity. No other word would bring rest to the troubled conscience and satisfaction to the longing, weary, distracted heart of man; no other voice could awaken the world to newness of life out of the dread shadow of despair and death in which it lay.
II. THE RECEPTION IT MET WITH, from "Jews," "Gentiles" and "them that are called."
1. "Unto Jews a stumbling block" - an offence, something "scandalous." O, several special grounds Christ was such an offence to them.
(1) The lowliness of his origin.
(2) The unostentatious character of his life.
(3) The unworldliness of his aims and methods.
(4) The expansive spirit of his doctrine; its freedom from class and national exclusiveness.
(5) The universality of the grace he offered.(6) Above all, the fact of his crucifixion.
How could they recognize as their Messiah One who had died as the vilest of malefactors; died by the judgment of their rulers and amid the derision of the people; died by a death that above all others they abhorred? The cross, which Paul made the basis of human hope and the central glory of the universe, was to them "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence."
2. "Unto Gentiles foolishness." The Gentile world was pervaded by Greek sentiment. "Greece had now for more than a century been but a province of Rome; but the mind of Greece had mastered that of Rome." "The world in name and government was Roman, but in feeling and civilization Greek." Such a world scorned the "preaching of the cross" because:
(1) It lowered the pride of the human intellect, both by its simplicity and by its profundity - so plain that "the wayfaring man though a fool" could understand it, too deep for the utmost stretch of thought to fathom.
(2) It revealed the rottenness of the human heart beneath the fairest garment of civilization and culture. It made man dependent for all his light upon supernatural revelations, and for all his hopes of redemption on the spontaneous impulse of sovereign mercy. No wonder it was "foolishness" to proud Romans and polished, philosophic Greeks. And have we not around us now similar phases of aversion to the doctrine of "Christ crucified"? The spirit of the world is not the spirit of the cross. The one is carnal, vain, selfish, revengeful, self indulgent; the other is spiritual, lowly, benevolent, forgiving, self abandoning.
The cross to every one of us means submission, humiliation, self sacrifice, it may be reproach and shame; and these are hard to bear. It is hard to say, with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory," etc. The cross may occupy a prominent place in our creed, our worship, our sermons and songs, may decorate our churches, may be made a favourite instrument of personal adornment; but to have its spirit filling our hearts, moulding and governing our whole being and life, is another thing.
3. "Unto them that are called," etc. The "called" are they who "are being saved" (ver. 18). In the case of all such the Divine purpose in the gospel is answered. They are called, and they obey the call. The heavenly voice falls on their ears, penetrates the secrecy of their souls, and there is life for them in the sound, because, like the still, small voice that breathed in the hearing of Elijah at the mouth of the cave, "the Lord is in the voice." The proof they have that the gospel is the embodiment of the power and wisdom of God is the infallible seal of the Spirit, the unanswerable witness of a Divine and heavenly life. Is it a "sign" that you ask for?
Believe in Christ, and you shall have within you that mightiest of all wonders, the miracle of grace by which a soul is translated from darkness into light, and from the death of sin to the life of holiness. Is it "wisdom" you seek after? Believe in Christ, and he will unlock for you the unsearchable riches of the mind and heart of God. - W.
1 Corinthians 1:17-29
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17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Read the entire Chapter in the KJV