This sermon will aim to answer the question often asked in Christianity, why is the message of the cross foolishness to those who are perishing?
Year in year out, scores of Christian scholars are graduating from bible colleges and universities or seminaries.
Some are sponsored there by their various denominations so they could come back and serve the church.
Others find themselves there through divine will.
While the remaining part made it there because of the natural zeal they have for the gospel.
Amongst this lot, very many will end up as clergies; while the remaining ones move on to settle in different fields of endeavor that abounds in the world.
The sole aim of this religious scholars is to study the bible; not really in the spirit but according to the flesh.
And in the long run, biblical studies tend to pain the message of the cross as foolishness in all ramifications; as we are going to see from the meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
But before we do so, let us first and foremost outline and look at the meaning of our inciting passage 1 Corinthians 1 verses 17 to 18.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 bible verse.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 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 Verse 17 To 18 Meaning.
1 Corinthians 1 verses 17 to 18 means that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing; because it tends to downplay the pleasures and wants of physical existence while promoting the quest for a spiritual life.
According to the bible, those who are perishing are the ones who pursue the pleasures of the physical existence.
They yearn to amass wealth and fame and live life to the full” as some of them say.
Most of these kinds do not even believe there is an after life; as they hold the thought or believe that everything ends at death.
What the cross means in Christianity.
In Christianity, another name for the cross is persecution. And Christ Himself, whom Christians tends to emulate is the perfect example of persecution.
And this definition stems from the fact that He (Christ) was wrongly accused and condemned to die a shameful death of the cross of calvary.
Thus, the message of the cross is built on the foundation that Christ was sent down to earth in order to set an example and show people that it is only by enduring trials and temptations, denying worldly pleasures that edifies the flesh.
And finally, after experiencing the physical death can one be able to attain the resurrection of the death and inherit eternal life.
Which means that the inheritance of God’s children is not here on earth but rather in eternity.
Because whatever they will or might gain here will last for just a while; and that in essence is not God’s plan for mankind.
For He made them in His own image and likeness and wants them to be immortal just as He is (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
You can read the scriptures below to see how Christ and His fore-front disciples related the message of the cross to us.
Jesus: (Mathew 10:38, Mathew 7:13)
Peter: (1 Peter 1: 6-7, 1 Peter 2:21)
James: (James 1:2-4, James 1: 12)
Paul: (2 Timothy 3:12, Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21).
Therefore, anyone who is ready and willing to ignore the worldly message and preach the message of the cross; which examples are outlined above, will definitely know the mysteries of God’s words as found in the bible.
What the wise according to the flesh means.
Now ‘the wise according to the flesh’ topic really addresses the question raised about the inability of our scholars to provide the world with a proper interpretation and clarification of the scriptural texts they claim to study.
Thus if you backtrack that text a bit, to verses 21 precisely –
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe –
You can now discover that God does not seek people to use their human knowledge in interpreting the scriptures.
Rather He wants it to happen through the message of the cross we examined above which seems foolish to those who are not willing to accept that reality; those who think that Christianity is a way out of all difficulties and life’s problems.
If only our aspiring clergies drop the idea that before they graduate from bible school they will understand all the hidden mysteries behind the scriptures.
But rather understand that they will only end up studying historical backgrounds of Christianity and diverse religions and criticizing biblical texts.
Now when you study the ministry of Christ, you will find out in Mathew 10 and Luke 10 that He always made His disciples and apostles to understand the scriptures by sending them out in pairs to preach or evangelize; after telling them of the resistance, persecutions and death they will face in the world and giving them the hope of eternal reward which is not in this world.
That in essence was how Jesus founded and maintained His bible school.
He did not engage His disciples in the study of how to interpret or clarify the Torah, i.e; the Jewish scriptures; which forms our today Old Testament,.
Rather He made them to change from their sinful ways; and gave them the Holy Spirit Who reveals all mysteries in the scriptures.
And in so doing; He opened their minds to understand whatever was written down in the Torah; which brought the revelation of our very New Testament. (Luke 24:45)
And it was the learned men of Judaism who were in authority and would not accept His teaching because He never went to school, who finally conspired to accuse and crucify Him.
And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied? Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me. John 7:15-16
But instead of our churches following in the steps of Christ by commissioning aspiring clergies and sending them out to preach the gospel and bear its consequences in order to receive the everlasting reward; they are busy building and sending them to bible colleges, universities and seminaries.
And after graduation these kinds will end up thinking they know everything about religion, the bible, the laws and ordinances of God, not knowing they are just the next Christian authorities who will crucify Christ again and again through their acclaimed wisdom of the flesh.
The main aim of biblical scholarship.
Now the main aim of scholarship in Christendom is for learned Christians to properly study, interpret and explain the Christian scriptures.
And according to the bible, the scripture is likened to the veil that was used in covering Moses face; soon as he received the tablets of commandment from God (2 Corinthians 3:13-16).
But if you look into the Christian world today you will discover that the scripture is still veiled.
I mean, the mysteries behind the laws, the prophecies, the teachings, etc. in the bible are still far from being uncovered.
And you will have the proof once you take a walk into our diverse denominations, or tune to your radio and television to hear and see the messages our preachers are delivering, which centers on the things of the world; miracles, wealth, etc.
But since the scripture had already predicted that this would happen; you will quickly have the understanding that these kinds do not bear the truth of the gospel since:
They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. (1 John 4:5)
But it will sadden you the more to discover that it is one and the same bible they are quoting to support their messages.
But there is nothing to worry about because the bible itself had forewarn us of false prophets who will misinterpret the scriptures to deceive: (2 Peter 3:15-16)
And their aim of deceit is in order to extort from the people and become wealthy (2 Peter 2:1-3).
And the worst thing you will discover is that these same preachers are the ones the so-called Christians are hearkening to hear from.
But never mind because these things must happen in order to make the scriptures come true.
Because a time is coming when people will no longer endure sound doctrine; but according to their desires and itching ears heap up teachers who will tell them all they need to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
And this will happen according to the working of Satan; who will use power, signs and lying wonders, and unrighteous deception to mislead those who will refuse to believe the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)
And after examining all these things you will come to a point where you must ask:
Where then are our Christian scholars who are supposed to set the elects free through their proper study, interpretation and clarification of biblical texts?
But before that question fades from your mind permit me to remind you of the words of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 about the message of the cross being foolishness to those who are meant to perish.
And from the above scripture, you will perfectly understand that the greatest bible college, university or seminary is preaching of the gospel which is based on one foundation:“the message of the cross”.
That is why no amount of scientific theories incorporated by scholars to interpret and clarify scriptural texts will ever yield fruit, since those who are learned i.e. the wise according to the flesh, are never and will never be called talk less of being chosen.
And so we can finally conclude this message with the understanding that the only place one can really learn and understand the truth in the scriptures is by preaching the message of the cross and bearing its consequences, and not by being a Christian scholar and so on.
For the truth in the gospel can never be taught by human beings who think they are wise.
For instance, our acclaimed lecturers, professors etc.