In 1 Cor 1:22-25, Paul wrote, 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
I love this simple declaration of Paul the Apostle. The Apostle held to a strong belief in the sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He believed that in the Gospel was the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). The proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was his consuming passion. He told the Corinthians in 1 Cor 2:1-2, 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Paul knew something that we, in our generation, are apt to forget: the sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Nothing else can transform lives. Yet, we tend to underestimate this gospel at the very least, or worse, we tend to deny its power by our actions.
I read a story this week of a small English village that had a small chapel. The chapel was made of stone and had ivy covered walls. Over the arch when the chapel was originally built were inscribed the words "We Preach Christ Crucified" so that everybody whoever entered would know what they were there for. And there was a generation of Godly men that did precisely that. They preached Christ crucified. But times changed and the ivy grew and pretty soon it covered the last word and the sign said "We Preach Christ." And the Godly men changed. And there were other men who came and they preached Christ: Christ the example, Christ the humanitarian, Christ the ideal teacher. The years passed and the ivy grew covering the name of Christ and finally it said "We Preach." And they did, they preached politics, economics, social gospel, and whatever.
That sounds like a parable of our day and time. Today there is much preaching of Christ the republican, Christ the democrat, Christ the capitalist, Christ the socialist, Christ the humanitarian, Christ the giver of stuff, or no Christ at all. In many places it is more subtle than others. For instance, it may be that the preaching of Christ crucified has been so clouded with smoke machines and other gadgets that its lost in the chaos. For others, there is a desire to attempt to soften the sting that comes with the preaching of the gospel. Still others fall into the trap of giving the people what they want to hear. Yet Paul said, " For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." Why would Paul make such a determination to preach Christ crucified in a cultural setting that was so opposed to the Gospel? Because Paul knew that it was the Gospel he had been commanded to preach and the Gospel was their only hope. Besides, the preaching of anything else would be to declare that the Gospel is not enough. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon put it well when he said, "I do believe that we slander Christ when we think that we are to draw the people by something else but the preaching of Christ crucified"