Friday, November 28, 2008

The message of the cross is foolishness...... those who are perishing.
"For the word of the cross is folly, to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand a sign and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucifed, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the fooishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1Corinthians 1:20b-25

"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
I was reminded of this scripture the other day. It was like the Lord pointed out to me all over again reminding me why I am out evangelizing. He showed me the words of Paul and I was in an uproar emotionally because I had forgotten this scripture. I have forgotten that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. We tell the lost about salvation, baptism and life with Christ. Yet first we forget to tell them why they need salvation, why they need a savior. We give them a message that is more for believers than unbelievers. We pour over them with wisdom that sounds good, but there is no power unto salvation. The reason? It is man centered. We want instant results so we do what we can to get a person to say yes. Sort of like a car salesman whose whole purpose is to get the sale so they can get the commission and in turn we drive off in a car we didn't want or need. Whatever it takes.
We give a message that is empty of the power of the Spirit. Look at what Paul said, he didn't come to the Corinthians with lofty speeches or wisdom. If one of the greatest evangelist/apostles didn't do it that way what makes us any different? We don't need to give people trinkets that are geared for believers. We don't need to give out gift certificates to get people to hear a message. At one church I belonged to the pastor was so desperate to get the lost people in that he gave $200 to the person who brought the most people to the church. It wasn't that he was foolish. No,he was trying to get the saints to do something. In the same church but different pastor they started doing car shows. After the car shows they did skeet shoots.
I'm also reminded of Jonathan Edwards and Whitefield. They didn't use gimmicks or give aways to get people. NO! They preached Christ and Him crucified! They preached the law first. Once the people saw that they were sinners and they needed a savior, then the cross wasn't foolish to them anymore. Plus it was the power of God that brought the people. Now I am praying that this message gets across in a way where we will start questioning why we do the things we do in outreaches. How do you think we got the sinners prayer? Man's wisdom. And look where that has us. There are a lot of unbelievers walking into churches thinking they are saved just because they said a prayer and someone told them they were saved. I am meeting a lot of "saved lost people" where I evangelize. Yes they are saved, in their minds, but not their hearts. We messed up people and we need to repent as a church body.
My heart is for preaching the full counsel of God to all. Which according to Paul is the folly. But not at the expense of being foolish with man's wisdom.

1 comment:

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Those words in 1 Corinthians are some of my favorite verses in all of scripture...

As I've gone through the transition from being a "saved lost person" to someone who has come face to face with his own sin, and then the person of Christ, I've struggled with all of the foolishness you've described within the conventional church's marketing antics. More recently I've come to the realization, as I've reflected upon my own testimony, that the people who engage is such ridiculous schemes in order to "reach" more people, are really doing so because when you really get down to it, they have no real testimony to share. If all someone has is a quick blurb about how they prayed a prayer at a church camp when they were twelve, then how WOULD anyone see any power in such a simplified, mechanical, get-your-ticket-punched transaction?

I know from my own experience that I was somewhat ashamed to relate my "story" to anyone who wasn't a Christian, when it consisted of no more than praying a prayer. And so, in such a circumstance, we resort to all sorts of schemes and gimmicks to try and attract people or get their attention. But a heart and life that has been truly changed will get attention, whether you're trying to or not, and that is what is so often missing. We'd rather maybe try and intellectually convince people of the veracity of the gospel, or any other route, instead of talking about how we were wretched, and touched by the grace of God. It makes sense I suppose, that if one sees oneself as just another chalk mark to get tallied up on the "heaven side", then that's all you'll treat other people as too...