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Sermons

Dividing Over Church Teachers (Pt.2): The Foolishness of the Cross

August 1, 2021 Speaker: John Bell Series: 1 Corinthians

Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5

  1. The foolishness of the cross: a crucified Messiah divides the word absolutely (1:18)
  2. The message of the cross: God’s folly has outsmarted human wisdom, and his weakness has overpowered human strength (1:19–25)
  3. The outreach of the cross: its followers are low-status people (1:26–31)
  4. The proclaimer of the cross: Paul heralded the message unimpressively (2:1-5)

BIG PICTURE: “Paul despises “worldly” wisdom: its categories are inimical to all he holds dear—so much so that if its categories were to prevail

  • the gospel itself could be dismissed as God’s folly (1:18–25)
  • to become a Christian would mean to become a fool (1:26–31)
  • and to preach the gospel without manipulative and self-promoting eloquence but with simple dependence on the truthfulness and power of the message of the crucified Messiah would be the essence of ignorance (2:1–5).

Conversely,

  • if God’s folly is wiser than the world’s wisdom
  • if Christians rejoice that God has chosen the “foolish” in order to shame the “wise” and to make it clear that Christ alone is our “wisdom from God,”
  • if Paul’s priorities in preaching are foundational

then the Corinthians’ pursuit of the world’s wisdom implicitly contradicts their own Christian profession.”  (“Introduction to the New Testament”)

The gospel cuts right through everything to which the Corinthians are committed: their boasting, their arrogance, and their tendency to look for status the way the surrounding culture does.

This sermon owes a debt to D.A. Carson’s “The Cross and Christian Ministry,” and Andrew Naselli’s “1 Corinthians.”