After a brief introduction that reviews the previous few weeks of preaching, this expository sermon by Mark Booker on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 offers a passionate, clear and Biblical explanation for how we are to present the gospel.
As a teaser, here are some key points from the sermon:
•We are to glory in our weakness in order to exalt the power of God.
•Paul deliberately, purposefully, intentionally avoided rhetorical fireworks. He was not like a high-pressure salesperson. His method was to offer plain speech about God’s work. Substance instead of slick packaging.
•Paul is not speaking in favor of anti-intellectualism or for being unprepared. His example and the Biblical witness clearly calls us to use our minds, our effort, and our time to give good reasons for believing the gospel.
•Paul kept his focus on Jesus Christ and the crucifixion. This was (and is) a foolish and weak message in light of the prevailing expectations of any audience. The cross always turns the values of the world upside down. The cross is the story of God’s decisive action in the world: it testifies to both human desperateness and to God’s glorious grace, love, and favor of our God who wanted us to know him. So Paul had one message, because even though it looked weak, it is the only message that has the power to save and change people.
•Paul had both voluntary and involuntary personal weakness in the preaching of the gospel. His appearance was not designed to wow and impress others with how great Paul is. Yet, though both Paul and his message were weak, there was still a real power to his presence and words: the very power of God. A power sufficient to change lives and to forgive sins. This unexpected mix of Paul’s weakness and God’s power was sufficient to establish a new church, filled with transformed people, active in Corinth.
•Their faith did not rest in human wisdom but in God. Only God could use such a foolish message to bring salvation. Use such nobodies to do his work. Use a weak messenger to influence people. Only God would find such a way to overturn the scholars and rhetoricians, to shame the world’s wise and powerful.
•The fellowship of the crucified trust in God. They no longer seek the world’s approval. Our tie into Jesus’ death and resurrection ends the effort to get strong on your own. Rest and stand in your weakness, that you might be strong and glory in the power of God.
•The cross looks like a place of defeat, but it is a place of victory. The world needs, and every person needs, a crucified Messiah. Has technology and education made us any less deviant or self-centered? Has our mastery over nature done anything to deal with the moral problem of humankind? But consider how the gospel has brought change, even within our church. Look at Rwanda – reconciliation after the million murders of the genocide.
•We are not to whine and complain about our weaknesses. We all feel inadequate. We all feel weak. When we compare ourselves to others, we definitely feel it. We get trapped. But our weaknesses are the very means by which God demonstrates his power.
•When the church seeks to be strong, puts the focus on becoming strong, then we cease to glory in the cross. We become enamored at how good our packaging is! But our weakness is an opportunity for Christ to be glorified. Let’s be honest about our weaknesses. Let’s share them with each other. And glory in Christ and Him crucified. This is what changes our lives, this city and the world.
•We are to glory in the cross of Jesus. The cross changes us. Rhetoricians talk up cats as if they are lions. Paul trembles, but straightforwardly shows us a real lion – the Lion of Judah. God speaks for himself, with power. Do we glory in the cross – or are we ashamed of it? The gospel is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes. No matter how fierce the opposition – laughed at, judged, labeled – but we will not move from the only power that can save and change the world and our lives. Our life in Jesus is what everyone longs for – it comes from the folly of the Cross – a gift from God. We hold this gift out to the world as a beacon of light and hope. This message has true wisdom and power.
You’ll need to hear the sermon itself to get a sense of the energy and passion behind these words! A powerful sermon.
This message was given by Mark Booker at Church of the Cross in Boston, MA on July 22, 2012.