22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after widom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:22-24
Someone asked me why so many people who profess to follow Christ end up in clearly unbiblical churches. Quite specifically, he asked, “Why doesn’t God reveal to them the gospel which the Apostle Paul preached, the gospel of the cross? How come so few believers seem to understand this gospel of the cross?”
I had also struggled with this same question, but at the exact time that the brother asked it of me, God gave me the answer. Actually, I realized the answer had been lying in open sight right in front of both our eyes all along; yet we had never been able to see it.
At that very moment, I answered the brother, “The Bible says that God reveals the understanding of the cross to those He calls. That’s what it says right there: ‘But unto them which are called…‘”
In every generation, the people whom God has called to Him have learned to deny themselves, to take up their cross, and follow Christ. That was exactly the command that Christ gave to those whom God would call.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat. 16:24)
These believers were not taught in Bible class to deny themselves. They did not have even have beautifully designed blogs like this one that talked about the cross. On the contrary, the ‘education’ of the cross came to them naturally, by the power of the Holy Spirit in them. They were taught by the Holy Spirit. They learned through God to live the crucified life.
As I said, this grace is there in every generation. Even today, God is calling men and women to Him, and when He calls them to Himself, the Holy Spirit teaches them to deny themselves. (Even in the lowest of periods, God has always had a remnant – 1 Ki. 19:18). And so we must question whether a ‘church’ that is running merely after miracles, signs and wonders – a church that would want to make this ministry the bona fide calling of God – is truly of God.
It is very telling that in all the apostolic epistles nowhere does the Bible mention miracles, signs and wonders; certainly not to the extent that the church today would want to trumpet these things. Rather, the New Testament emphasis is on the cross. Little wonder, then, that Paul could boldly state:
“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after widom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified…”
Paul could simply have said, “We preach Christ crucified…” without dragging in the beliefs of the Jews and the Gentiles. But Paul was no PC idealist. On the contrary, he wanted to make it clear to the church that the only gospel that had any impact on the spiritual lives of believers was the gospel of the cross, the gospel that would teach believers to follow Christ in denying themselves through taking up their cross. Any other gospel – including the gospel of signs and wonders – has zero impact on the spiritual lives of believers.
Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says:
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Cor. 1:17)
The subject of Paul’s statement here is the cross of Christ, or, rather, the power that was in the cross of Christ. He says he preached to the end that the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Again, any other gospel has nothing to offer to the man or woman who would be spiritual.
Now, in this materialistic generation, where people are going to church to “receive” and to be “blessed” in Jesus’ Name, the cross cannot but be set aside in favour of the gospels of signs and wonders. At the other end of the spectrum are those who love to have their grey cells tickled. For these the doctrine of human wisdom takes precedence.
We need to become un-politically correct and ask this modern-day church: Is it too hard a thing for we believers to agree with the Bible? Is it really just too hard to side with Jesus’s command? Or with what the Apostle Paul and all the other apostles taught?
And now, to end…
[The church is not a place for miracles]