Friday, February 7, 2020

Epiphany 5

Epiphany 5
09 February 2020
1 Corinthians 2:2
The only thing a Christian needs to know

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Almighty God, You sent Your only Son as the Word of Life for our eyes to see and our ears to hear. Help us to believe with joy what the scriptures proclaim. To that end, Lord Jesus, bless Thy Word, that we might trust in Thee.

Paul wrote that he was determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Why then do Christians send their children to faith based schools and maintain church sponsored colleges? If we know Christ, is that not enough? 

Certainly, Paul knew more than just about Christ. He knew the philosophies of his age. Paul does not mean we should live in ignorance. What he is saying is that knowledge and wisdom alone cannot reconcile one to God. This is the sole work of Christ on the cross. It would be better to know nothing but Christ than to have all wisdom and know nothing of Christ.

Paul decided to know nothing except Christ. Is that true wisdom? Paul knew more than most. He knew how to make a living by making tents. He knew the Bible thoroughly, for he was a student of the great teacher Gamaliel. He understood the philosophies of his day. He was more than a university student. He was a Rhodes Scholar. He had it all - a pedigree and a plan – to rid the world of those who were of “The Way”.

When it comes to making a living, we need to know certain skills. When it comes to making a life, knowledge and wisdom judged by human standards are useless. It is enough to know Christ. He is the truth about God and life.

The only things a Christian needs to know are a person and a place.

1. A person — Jesus Christ: revelation — For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ.

A. This revelation is not found in man’s wisdom. Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” - John 18:38 The wisdom of man is limited to what is tangible, what can be defined, and measured. Its importance is determined by what can be experienced. Truth for man today is what I define to be real and convenient for me.

B. Philosophy, theology, maxims, rhetoric, oratory — these are human opinions, which are all subject to change. Yet the message of the cross is what we proclaim. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

C. Man’s opinions, attitudes and belief systems are all soiled with sin. – They are inadequate. Jews required signs pagans relied on reason. The wisdom of God made no sense. It was foolishness to them.

D. A mere reading of Scripture will remind us how deficient man has become.

1. Knowledge is power. Yet it is deficient when wisdom becomes your god - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding – Proverbs 3:5

2. Trust not in princes. Cynicism raises its ugly head when human-kind becomes your god - Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord– Jeremiah 17:5

3. Creature comforts abound in this world. Yet, what happens when pleasure becomes your god? - These are the enemies of the cross of Christ… whose end is destruction whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things – Philippians 3:19

4. Think of how our American elite use the power of money and wealth. There are three ways to think of the power of wealth and money. Most see money as something to be spent. Some see money as something to be saved. For the elite, money means nothing. These people equate wealth and affluence as a means rather than an end. They do not disdain money. They use it to achieve their ends rather than considering wealth as an achievable end in itself. Money, wealth, power, wisdom, humankind, pleasure - all leave man broken and spent. To find peace you need to know a person – Jesus Christ the Prince of peace.

Transition: You need to know a person. You need to know a place where your salvation was won for you in time and space.

2. A place — Golgotha, the place of the cross; redemption — For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

A. The proclamation of Christ and Him crucified, “Is in the power of God”. It is a power, which makes us wise unto salvation. It is the only tool, which you have at your disposal.

St. Paul writing to young Timothy encourages him when he says, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 2:4
Preach the word - The Word of Christ; the gospel. This is the main business of the pastor - to be faithful; faithful to the Lord, faithful to His Word, faithful to your hearers.

B The power of God is in the Word, the gospel. For 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 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

C. In the Word is the Spirit, the power of God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

D. Faith therefore is the creation and gift of God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

If all of the gifts of God are good and perfect, it is no surprise that they are eternal. It is significant that the sole occurrence of the plural "gifts of God" stresses this wonderful truth. "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He never withdraws them once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call. Every one of these gifts of God will be yours to treasure throughout eternity.

The only thing a Christian needs to know is – a person and a place. Christ and Him crucified on the bloody cross of Calvary. These are the marks of your salvation. This is the message what you have been called to proclaim. Proclaim it boldly. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
Words – 1,265
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability –80.1%
Reading Level – 5.1

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use.

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