Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Mid-week Lent 3

Midweek Lenten Service 3 
March 22, 2000 
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 

The Cleansing Power of the Cross

INTRODUCTION:  Paul’s preaching centered not on Christ the great teacher, the perfect man, the inspiring example, or the noble martyr but in Christ the one crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)  The cross is the center of all that the Christian and the Christian message stand for. Who should our preaching and our living focus on the crucified Christ? That is the question that our lesson for this evening addressed. As we consider Lent as an attitude of cleansing we find that we are made clean through Christ who suffered on the cross.  Consider this night Christ and Him crucified.

I.                  The cross reveals God’s wisdom.

A.    To non-Christians the Christ crucified is anything but wisdom,

1.     The Jews were offended because they expected a warrior Messiah, who would flash signs from the skies as proof of his conquering power.

2.     The Greeks thought it absurd to call a man branded by His crucifixion as the lowest of criminals to be both Savior and Lord.

3.     Many today think it crude and barbarous that God would require the blood of His son as atonement for human sin.

B.      Yet the crucified Christ displays a wisdom far higher than any  human wisdom.

1.   At the cross God dealt with human sin in a way that did not abrogate the demands of His holiness.

a.     Jesus bore the punishment of sin in our place.

b.     He appeased the wrath of God, which our sin had aroused.

II.                  At the cross God achieved salvation for the whole world ( 2  Corinthians 5:19)

TRANSITION: Human wisdom cannot conceive how the world’s salvation could be accomplished through a cross, an instrument of death and degradation. That it was accomplished is contrary to all human logic. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men”.  The foolishness of preaching is not the preaching of foolishness it is a preaching of cleansing which comes from God.

III.                 The cross reveals God’s power.

A.    The preaching of the cross has power to work faith (v.24, “who are called”)

1.     Faith is not produced by threats, arguments, or human striving.

2.     Only by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the message of the Crucified do we now believe that we are no longer under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1)

B.      As our faith is nurtured by the preaching of Christ crucified, we are able to live as people who are no longer under sin’s control.

1.      Since we died and rose with Christ, we can crucify our sins each day and rise to a new life.

     2. Since Christ has reconciled us to God, we can be reconcilers in our relationships with others. 

CONCLUSION:  Christ’s crucifixion seemed to demonstrate utter weakness. But it was God’s weakness, and “the weakness of God is stronger than men” (v.25). the message of the Crucified has power to free us from sin’s condemnation and control. Paul’s words are thus a model for us. We don’t work miracles to satisfy sign-seekers, we don’t propound philosophy to entertain intellectuals, we don’t dispute, and we don’t argue. We preach Christ crucified. Through this message, the message of the cross God demonstrates His saving wisdom and works with His mighty power.

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