Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified

1 Corinthians 2:1-5: And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

I can relate to verse one of this passage. I don't have a good speaking voice. When I preach, the passion I have for the subject does not really come though very well. I certainly don't have any great wisdom of my own to give. But just as verse one says, I do seek to declare the testimony of God. And I feel that like Paul, I need to concentrate on what he says in verse two; "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

Many religions claim to know about Jesus. Some call him a great teacher. Some even call him a prophet. Most of them draw up short of what was so important to Paul: "Jesus Christ, and him crucified." There is much else to be said about Jesus, his life and his teachings, all of which Paul knew, but he gives us the impression that the most important part is "him crucified."

What is it about this aspect of Jesus ministry that was so important that Paul declared that he was bound and determined not to preach anything to the Corinthians except "Jesus Christ and him crucified?

The answer is payment for sin. Every religion other than Christianity seeks to provide men with a path to God based at least partially on their own merits. True Christianity, in contrast, shows us that if we rely on ourselves, we are without hope

Most false religions admit to the sinfulness of man, though there are exceptions. Most of those religions would admit that sin has separated man from God. In that they are correct. Their method of dealing with that sin, is where they leave the Bible. Most offer some form of a set of scales which weigh man's sin on one side and a his good works on the other. If the good works outweigh the sin, they believe that they will go to heaven. Some false religions come closer to the truth. They teach that you need to use those same scales to weigh a man's sin against his good works, but they seek to throw in Jesus death on the cross to tip the balance in their favor.

But the Bible says that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. That's right, all of our righteousness, all our right acts, all our good works are no better than filthy rags in the sight of a holy God. That is why Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is so terribly important. The Bible says that if righteousness could come by keeping the law, then Christ died in vain. In other words, if righteousness could come from a man's goods works, then there was no reason for Christ to die on the cross.

Righteousness does not come from keeping the law. None of us has even come close to keeping the law of God, and no one ever has, except for Jesus Christ. That is why Paul made it a point to make so much of Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Christ's death on the cross in payment of our sins is the only path to reconciliation with God.

If we go back to that set of scales that all of those religions like so much, here is the situation in light of what the Bible teaches. A man's good works on one side of the scale and his sin on the other is a lose / lose situation. His sin will earn him hell, and his works cannot earn him heaven.

Likewise the one who tries to balance his sin on one side of the scale against his good works plus Christ's righteousness on the other has also lost his soul, for Galatians 5:4 says "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." Do you see what this verse is saying? If you seek to be justified by the law, then it negates grace. You can either be justified by the keeping of the law or justified by grace, but not a combination of the two. And since no man will ever be justified by keeping the law, there only leaves one avenue. Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

Back to that set of scales one last time. There really are a set of scales, at least figuratively speaking. But they are God's scales and they operate by his divine rules. Each person's sin will be weighed on one side of that scale, but there is only one thing that can go on the other side to tip the balance in your favor, and that is the righteousness of Christ. It is Jesus death as a payment for our sins, and his death alone. The only one that can tip the balance in your favor is Jesus Christ, and him crucified.


Dennis said...

Excellent post!

St.Lee said...

Thanks, Dennis. This was from the service we held last Thursday for the residents of Friendship Manor.