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1 Corinthians 1: 18-25
The Cross and Human Wisdom

The Cross

and Human Wisdom

Sunday, October 1, 2023



Call to Worship: 




The work of the Creator is visible.



Let us respond with praise.



The example of Jesus is apparent.



Let us respond with obedience.



The wind of the Spirit is blowing



Let us respond with joy.



The word of God is calling.



Let us worship in spirit and in truth.



Our Father, to whom belongs our adoration and praise, we ask that you will prepare us, through the presence of your Spirit, to come before you worthily and to ask of you rightly. May all who worship with us this day present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to you? Shed your light on our human understanding, cleanse our desires and motives, purify our hearts today, and stir our wills to obedience to your Word. Direct that your name might be exalted this hour in this assembly. May our worship glorify you, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.


Intro: Throughout my studies and learning I have read numerous books by numerous authors, pastors, and Bible scholars-those gifted with divine revelation. One whom has powerful teachings is Derek Prince. He was a pastor and a great teacher of Christianity all over the world. He passed on to his eternal home in 2003, but his beginning is what is most fascinating in how he came to preach such rich truth-solely the Gospel message which is centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He was born to British parents, educated as a scholar of Greek and Latin, and studied at an elite college in Cambridge, England. He held a fellowship- basically a professor to us- and taught ancient and modern philosophy. He studied Hebrew, Aramaic, and modern languages. He was a self-proclaimed agnostic. Educated in all possible ways, and attended the best schools available to reach the height of human wisdom and understanding. 


Does he sound similar to anyone we might know of in the Bible? Saul, who was a Hebrew among Hebrews, part of the religious Pharisees, received the best education. 


Neither one in all their human wisdom could see what was right in front of them, the evidence of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. To them, it was foolishness and rejection. There was no value in the message of the cross. 

UNTIL they each had a personal encounter with the Living God they could not deny.  For Saul, we know it was on the road to Damascus where Jesus made Himself known to Saul and asked why he was persecuting Him. He was changed forever in that moment and lived his life that day forward for Christ. 

For Derek, it was when he was serving in the British Medical Corps during WWII-he had a powerful encounter with Christ right in his barracks. This encounter had him conclude Jesus Christ is alive and that the Bible is true and relevant today. This also changed the course of his life where he devoted his life to teaching the Word of God to reveal the power of the cross to all who would receive it. 


Fast forward to Derek’s travels and teaching, he was in Singapore teaching with his friend Ross Paterson and they were walking around the city one day on some downtime, and Ross stopped looking at a shop window with all the things on display. Ross’ heart was stirred and he said,

 “ The church has so many things in its shop window today, it has lost sight of the cross.” 


That hit Derek, and I pray it hits all of us as well. 

You see if the church focuses on promoting and presenting all the various How To’s to fix your marriage, heal the sick, get a handle on your finances, be prosperous in life, be delivered from addictions and temptations-but we fail to keep the cross at the center, NONE of those systems work without the cross. 


Derek teaches “The only source of every blessing and every mercy of God is the cross of Jesus Christ. If we fail to keep the cross central to all aspects of our lives and how we function as the church, all other blessings lose their significance.”


All this month, as we are entering the final three months of this year and preparing to move into our celebration of our Savior’s birth at Christmas, we are going to spend time remembering what is so important about the cross, and why it must always remain central in our hearts, our minds and how we function as a church body. 


We’re going to look today at the message of the cross and human wisdom. Muck like Saul and Derek, we have many obstacles when we try to humanly reason what happened exactly at the cross and how that applies to us. We can’t rationalize the message of the cross. Our human wisdom will resist it. 

It is only received by faith, by choosing to believe in Jesus and choosing to believe in the power that flows to us by way of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. 


Jesus calls us to come to Him in childlike faith-not as a well-educated scholar, formed with the greatest of human wisdom. You all know I have been studying and learning for years now this has never been a path of learning in my own ability. This entire journey has been seeking the Holy Spirit to grant revelation and divine understanding and to learn from God what He wants to make known to me. We reason together. I offer my mind for Him to develop and guide, and I come to Him in child-like faith believing He has great mysteries He wants to reveal to me, teachings He wants to share, and joy as I grow with Him. This is why this has been an incredible journey and has worked so well it wasn’t my personal quest for knowledge; it was our discovery together. 


Child-like faith simply believes in truth as it is presented. It was my niece’s birthday this past week and in her card, I wrote we all love her and then I put Jesus loves you too. She was reading her card all by herself since she’s 8 now- and she said to me, “I know Jesus loves me” with a smile on her face. I said that’s great! Why? Because she just opens her heart to believe in Him and receive His love. It really is that simple. 


As we grow older, we make things so much more complicated. If we know Jesus loves us, then we also know the reason He died on the cross and what His death did for us and our sins. We know this. We also know then what His resurrection from the grave provides to us who believe- new life, resurrected life in Him free from our sin and full access to God our Father, full access to the power of victory through the cross.  We know this, but we can lose sight of this truth, and therefore, the power we have through the cross becomes ineffective and unused.  


If we want to take hold of the promised land-all the inheritance we legally are given as children of God- all the spiritual blessings poured out to us as His beloved children- then we must not become distracted on worldly how to’s, we must not become arrogant in our own wisdom and ability to fix our lives, and we must stay focused on the centrality of our faith, the power of the cross. For everything of God flows through the message of the cross.       Let us be wise through the Holy Spirit, not ourselves. 


1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 NIV

18 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.  19 For it is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

  1. Reaches Where Human Wisdom Cannot.  

1 Corinthians 1:19 19 For it is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”   

1 Corinthians 1:21  21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 

In our key Scripture, Paul is teaching us that in God’s infinite wisdom that is superior to ours, so far above ours, He made us that if we strive to gain all human wisdom possible, as Saul and Derek had access to, we will not know God. We might know about Him. But we will never know Him personally as He desires us to know Him. 


The cross is simple and deeply powerful. The beautiful thing is the cross is available to anyone and doesn’t require a degree, certain social status, title, or pay scale to receive the message and gift through it.  The message of the cross to those who are seeking truth in their hearts will reach places worldly knowledge can’t touch. We are designed this way by God because He receives the glory then, we do not. We are responding by faith in who Christ is and what He did-not how great we are. 


This also means as we try to share Jesus with others, it is not about pouring about your theology to them, or sharing great exchanges in philosophy or in our case doctrinal points of view and debating those to the nth degree. It’s about keeping it simple and preaching Christ crucified-preaching the message of the cross and letting the power of the cross reach where our wisdom cannot. Salvation comes through Christ alone crucified on the cross and resurrected. We can’t receive it any other way but by believing in this truth. This is the foundation of our Christian faith. We are not to add to it. We don’t need to add to it because it’s perfect as is. 


Paul learned an important lesson as he was preaching Christ. When he went to Athens, which at the time was the central hub of all things philosophical. Think of the great philosophers that came out of that area. Paul had the education and knowledge to share in the best debates and dialogue with all the teachers of that day. In his humanness he rather enjoyed it-it can be fun right? But his purpose was to present Jesus crucified and our risen Savior. In focusing on trying to reach them with philosophical positions, he didn’t let the power of the cross manifest in the hearts of those who were listening. Some were intrigued and some chose to believe we read in Acts 17,  only “some” responded. A good majority just wanted to continue the debate and dialogue of religious views.


He realized, likely by leading of the Spirit, that as he entered Corinth, he had to set aside all his human wisdom and influence and come humbly before the Corinthians and solely preach the message of the cross. Look at what he shared as to how he approached them. 


1 Corinthians 2: 1-5     And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s powerso that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.   


A vastly different approach demonstrates the Spirit’s power so that faith rests on God’s power. 

The result we read in Acts 18, was that MANY came to Christ. Many, not some. 


The difference? The cross and its message will reach, stir, and move in people’s hearts far greater than human wisdom.  It will move in your heart too as you receive the message by faith, what Jesus did for you.                   


  • Calls Self to Die, to Live Anew.  


The message of the cross tells us we must die to ourselves with Christ. He was crucified for our sake. As we believe, the cross says, you must nail your old self (the old man) the you that operates out of your fleshly sinful nature you that follows after lusts and selfish pleasures-the you that is an enemy with God. Because the truth is our fleshly nature rebels against God. The cross beckons us, let that old self pass away so you are free to rise up a new creation in Christ. Spiritually and by faith, we must do this and see our old selves on the cross with Christ. This is the only way we no longer live slaves to sin. If we don’t, we continue to let sin rule over us. When we do, we are free from that hold! Sin has no more dominion over us! 


Romans 6: 6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.


Colossians 3: 9-10 NKJV Since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,


2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.


This is the power of the cross. This won’t make sense in human wisdom. We can only experience this freedom by faith in Jesus and knowing in our hearts why He went to the cross; and what He accomplished on the cross for our sake. Let that old self go, you don’t need that person anymore. You have a new life in Christ-take hold of it! 


                    2. Centers Faith in Christ Alone.  


We have egos, pride, and the ability to grow quite intelligent if we choose to. When we look at ourselves, we are no longer operating out of faith, and we are left to our limited abilities. We may think they are infinite but they are not We will all hit a wall and something will give when we choose to go it alone is our great temptation. We receive Christ by faith in Him and what He did. But as we go along, we slip back into relying on ourselves and falsely believe, I got this, I can handle this, I don’t need God for this thing…and that becomes a pattern in how we live our lives. The cross as we are focused on it, reminds us, that our faith is in Christ alone, not ourselves, and not other people. 


Ephesians 2:13 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.


The blood of Christ on the cross is the only way we are brought near to God. Never our good works, never how nice we are, never how much we give. Only the blood of Christ atones for our sins. 


1 Corinthians 1: 23-24 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God


Our key Scripture and teaching from Paul reminds us, that the only thing we ever preach is Christ's crucified. We don’t add to the message of the cross and we certainly don’t take away from it. Because Christ crucified on the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God that we all have access to as we believe. 


We don’t create other how-to systems and programs to fix our lives. We preach Christ crucified. We remember Christ crucified and we live in this truth that not only Christ crucified, but I too have been crucified and no longer live for self. I live in the faith He gives to me and let Christ live through me. This is how we mend, restore, heal, and prosper as children of God. Do you hear me today? 


Galatians 2:20 KJV 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Conclusion: The message of the cross is all-powerful and our only path to salvation. Human wisdom cannot understand the message; it is only understood by faith. We must keep the cross central in the church and in our lives. Without the cross, we are simply living our own man-made religion.

Communion: Every day we are to live out of the message of the cross, and therefore, the power that flows to us through the cross. Today we come together as the body, and we share in this holy sacrament of communion to remember Jesus’ sacrifice, for our great and eternal gain. We remember the exchange that happened at the cross- his life, in place of ours. His death, so we could have new life, in Him as He was resurrected. His righteousness imparted to us, as he took our sin. Our acceptance before the Father as He was rejected carrying the sin of the world. His death brought to us peace and justification with our Holy God. We are no longer enemies of God as we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we are called children of God. 

The cross changes everything now and for all eternity. The cross is our victory over this world and the enemy who prowls about in it. The cross is our access to God by our faith in Christ. Let us remember today: 

Jesus teaches us to share in this remembrance together as the body, His Body. Let us offer our hearts to God.

Luke 22: 19-20 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

Let us join together and receive His salvation, not by human wisdom, but purely by faith that He is the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the grave defeating death and granting us eternal life with Him. Jesus was to thank You for the cross and the wonder of the power that flows to us. Purify us today, cleanse us with Your precious blood, and help us to live each day through the power of the cross, one with You. 



Offering: This month our mission focus will be Tim and Barb Kusserow who serve in Niger, Africa


Final Blessing: 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.