Which is a more important requirement for the minister of the gospel?
Human wisdom can be found to be at variance with the revelation of God’s salvation plan in Christ. Paul says: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18
By ‘message of the cross‘ what is meant (or could be implied) is the ‘doctrine of cross‘- which is that Jesus’ death on the cross was in fact for the sins of people, and that He rose from the dead so that all who believe in Him are reconciled to God.
Apparently, this message was foolishness to the ‘perishing’. What were they looking for?
1 Corinthians 1:22 – Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
The Jews had demonstrative imaginations when the name ‘salvation’ was mentioned. They thought of the Red Sea separating for them to walk pass and several years of slavery ending. They thought of a man of valor like Samson personally ending the oppression of the Philistines. Pragmatism and political liberation were more like it.
So what will a man called the saviour of the world offer the Jews who were under the oppression of Rome? Contrary to their expectations, Jesus escaped their plot to make him King. Not long after, their saviour was on the cross, dead…and that was supposed to be part of the plan? What happened to the kingdom being restored to the Jews? The man even appeared to be indifferent, saying things like: “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s“. Seriously?
And the Greeks?
“…Greeks look for wisdom” – 1 Cor 1:22
They sought to build systems and structures. The were preoccupied with the human mind and brilliance. Who is a savior to the Greeks? A man of endless philosophy. The Greeks always sought to learn ‘something new’. However, the doctrine of the cross was a doctrine of death and ‘alleged’ resurrection. Not deep enough for the Greeks perhaps.
What is the solution? Give them what they want? Water-down the message? Perhaps, all they had to do was build their ministry on miracles and meeting needs without bothering people about the teachings of the cross. But No. Paul says:
“…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (verse 23).
The aim wasn’t to be difficult though. The problem wasn’t the gospel. The challenge was their receptiveness. The challenge was a poor assessment of what they truly need. After all, the same message transformed others.
“…but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (Verse 24)
For us, we see power in what God has done in Christ. For us, we see wisdom in what God has done in Christ. We want more than what human wisdom offers. We want to understand the eternal purpose of God for man revealed in Christ. This is why in Church, Christ is our boast.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth…so that no one may boast before him. – 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29
Contrary to extreme views on this matter, Christians are not mediocre. Or rather, being mediocre is not Christianity. The difference is, no matter how much achievements we have by natural and social standards, in our assemblies, our message is Christ.
We consider it a great paradox for a sermon to be about how many cars we have, even if the title is faith. Definitely, such a sermon won’t be foolishness to the perishing would it? In our assemblies social status isn’t the focus. The ‘greats’ in the world who have found Christ stand beside those who had been called lowly, all singing the same song:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
As much as we may appreciate an eloquent preacher, we are more concerned about the his revelation of Christ. Comedians are eloquent. Business marketers are eloquent. Not only do we appreciate them, some of us are! But in our assemblies, we want information and revelation about Christ.
I believe a preacher should be, to a fare extent eloquent. But if we had to choose, without thinking twice, we will go for revelation.
to be continued
Pastor Emmanuel Iren
Pastor Iren Emmanuel is the lead pastor of Celebration Church International, a church which envisions a people whose lives are in Christ, for Christ with Joy. The church presently has 3 branches; Silverbird Cinema, Ikeja. Temperance hall, Bells University, Ota and Benin City. Reach him on Facebook: Iren Emmanuel