Journal 1 Cor 2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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….
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are FOLLY to him…” (1 Cor 2:1-2 and v14)
Observation: Folly: Foolishness, madness, idiocy, craziness, silliness, irrational, stupidity. That is what the world thinks of the tenets of Christianity. How, then, does the Cross represent the Power of God?
Analysis: I saw a sign off to the side of the road the other day. “Jesus is the answer.” Perhaps irrationally, I immediately thought, “If Jesus is the Answer, what is the Question?” and I began reviewing the Gospel while I was driving.
One of the things that I thought about is the difference in my speech and writing when I compare salvation with redemption. Being a sort of studious fellow, I know there is no difference in expression and yet a significant difference in the way I think of these two words.
Take for instance Paul’s assertion: “For I decided (determined, resolved, decisively) to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I note that it does not say, “…know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and His salvation.” Yeah, I know that I am parsing words, but what if that is the point of the Scripture here? What am I to be focused upon?
If salvation is a result of redemption; if the Cross (object of the crucifixion) is the instrument of redemption, then what is the common denominator in these words? I propose it is redemption.
But I don’t talk about redemption. I talk about the result: salvation. Why is that?
I submit that salvation alone is easier to talk about. I get to talk about how Jesus died for my sins and basically how much a benefit he is.
But what if I talk about redemption? Perhaps the first thing I should talk about, if I am thorough, is how I don’t qualify for being redeemed? I deserve the Wrath of God. Perhaps this is why the world considers Christianity foolishness?
The Cross is a counter-cultural message—it goes against the grain of the World. Perhaps the world isn’t drawn to the message of the Cross; they actively reject it for any derivative a person can come up with—even to the point of denying the work of the Cross by minimizing or softening it. What we read is that the first thing the world does is not denying the Gospel, it is watering it down, minimizing the Gospel—making something that resembles the Gospel, but isn’t.
I think that is what the beginning of 1st Corinthians (and maybe the rest of the Epistles) do: Reminding the readers of the stupendous Glory of the Cross. The Cross isn’t a shallow subject; it doesn’t lend itself to be minimized and retain its power. Forgive the pun, it is the crux of the Gospel.
I tend to water down Redemption in my own mind and expression. To embrace the Gospel in all of its majesty is to have a sober, serious, joy going on based upon the Word of God and not the meandering of comfortable thought and reasoning. Oxymoron? Perhaps. It is the best I know how to express it.
Prayer: Father, again I ask for a firm shot of seriousness, bracketed in joy, humility, and delight in You and the Atonement. The folks in Revelation have it right: Only You are worthy to assume the Throne while they throw their crowns at your feet.
Teach me how to be that way in this life. Instruct me how to preach and present the Gospel as you wish me to, knowing that it is the preaching you want me to do, leaving conversion to you, O Holy Spirit.
Let me learn from your Word, from before and through Eden, through the End of Days, what the Gospel is and continues to be.
Ricky Two Shoes