March 23, 2018
1 Corinthians 1:17… Foe Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, less the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
The first thing I notice about this statement is the Paul knew why he was here; he was sent by God. Do you consider your purpose or existence in that light? And he knew for what purpose he was sent. He was sent to preach the gospel. He tried to not let anything interfere with that… not even baptizing people. He was not discounting the importance of baptism. To the Colossians, he wrote about the powerful work of baptism. (Col. 2:12) He was not going to let a religious experience, no matter how important, interfere with his task.
The gospel message, the good news of love and forgiveness, was given to us on a cross. There was great power in the cross of Christ. Not in the boards that were used, but in the sacrifice that was made thereon. I listened to a teacher who often drew a timeline on the chalk board. It was the timeline of man’s existence. At about the 2/3 point of the line, he drew a cross. in his estimation, and I find it valuable, everything about our existence has to do with the cross. Paul quite innocently and quite dramatically spoke of the cross and the gospel as interchangeable… inseparable actually. He was so committed to his cause, he did not want to use the ways of the world, like eloquent speech, to interfere with the message he had been entrusted with. The cross was not a change of God’s mind; it was the completion of what he started with the Law.
The Law was/is perfect; it required a perfect sacrifice.
Paul was not speaking against good speech. There is some indication that he was not eloquent. That may have been a stumbling block to him and to some of his listeners. He learned, early on, that the importance of the gospel was the message, not the delivery. Being a song writer, I find that I am quite enamored by delivery. I think God would say to me: “Listen to the message.” A good presentation can ‘blow my socks off.’ So what? I would be sitting in a crowd with no socks on. That is not the message of the gospel. The timeline interrupted by the cross… that is the message.