We are looking at passages in the bible that talk about preaching with a view to learn precious lessons for us as we prepare ourselves for ministering the Word. Today, we will look at the passage in I Corinthians 1: 17-25 & 2: 1 -16
COMMISSION: Christ sent me to preach the gospel – (1:17)
In his first among many letters, Paul writes to the Church at Corinth and tells them, “Christ sent me to preach the gospel” (1:17a). We are sent to preach – to preach the gospel. Preaching – the gospel – is a privilege. Preaching – the gospel – is a responsibility (How will they call if they don’t hear? How will they hear if we don’t preach? Rom 10v12 – 14). Preaching – the gospel – is an obligation. I am obligated to preach the gospel (Rom. 1v14). Preaching is a commission. Christ commissions us to preach – the gospel. He sends us to preach the gospel. Of the many things we do and will do, preaching – particularly preaching the gospel – must take primacy.
CONVICTION: We preach Christ crucified (1v23)
Paul was eager to preach because he saw the need out there. He knew that people needed the Lord. He had a strong conviction that Christ is the answer to the human predicament. He preached Christ. He preached Christ crucified (v 23).
The message of the cross may not be fashionable thing to do. It may not be the in thing. But, he was convinced that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The message of the Cross is not foolishness. We don’t have to be ashamed of it. We don’t have to apologize for it. We don’t have to be embarrassed about it. 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 (1v18). Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God (1v24).
The message of the Cross is still foolishness to many in our world today. A wounded healer – a crucified saviour – is not a message that makes sense to a lot of people. What do we do? We preach Christ crucified. We don’t have to be embarrassed. We don’t have to be ashamed. We don’t have to apologize. We must have a deep conviction that Christ is the power and the wisdom of God. This conviction must stronger and stronger.
The message of the Cross has the power to save humanity – you and me – from lostness. The message of the Cross has the power to pull us out of the mess. The message of the Cross has the power to save us from self-destruction. The message of the cross is also wisdom that will save us from self-delusion. The message of the cross is wisdom that will save us from futility of the ways of the world. The message of the cross is also wisdom that will save us from all our folly.
CONSCIOUS CHOICES: I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God (2v1)
Paul was sent to preach. He preached Christ crucified. But, he also made conscious choices as he preached the gospel. These were non-negotiable. What were the conscious choices?
- He preached but not with words of human wisdom (v17). Why? Simple! He did not want the cross to be emptied of its power.
- He preached Christ crucified (v24). Why? It was the wisdom of God. Moreover, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe (v21).
- He did not go with eloquence or superior wisdom. Why? Simple! He did not want the faith of his hearers to rest on men’s wisdom (2v1).
- He went as any other ordinary speaker – although he was brilliant scholar. Paul went with weakness, fear and much trembling (2v3)
Let’s get one thing straight! Preaching is not a matter of talk. It is not being smart. Sounding intellectual. It is not about juggling words. It is not about verbal gymnastics. It is not about wise and persuasive words. It is not a free flow of carefully crafted choice words that is designed to overwhelm your audience.
Friends, hear me out! Preaching is not a matter of talk. Preaching is all about the demonstration of the power of God. It is the demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
Those of us who study Homiletics – the art and science of preaching – must be careful not to be carried away by the idea that it is the right use of words – careful choice of words – clever stringing of words. It is not our words. It is not our points. It is not the brilliance of the preacher. It is not the fluency, flowery language and finesse. It is not even our power points. The power lies in the message of the cross. As one preacher who is not known for power point presentation put it –“I have the points, God adds the power”.
Friends, hear me out. We must not use Paul’s statement as an excuse for not studying or preparing. Paul is not denying the importance of study, careful preparation and the use of effective means of communication. Effective preaching must combine serious study, preparation, reflection and presentation. But, preaching must rely on the Holy Spirit. It must be demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
CONFIDENCE: Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this? (1v 20)
Paul was sent to preach (commission). He preached Christ crucified. Christ is the power and wisdom of God (conviction). He knew preaching was not mere talk but a demonstration of God’s power. He did not pep up his preaching, employ techniques or engage in personal brand building (conscious choice). He asks, “Where is the wise man? Where is the philosopher of this age? Paul was brimming with confidence.
Paul had more reasons to be confident.
• Firstly, he knew the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1v25). That must give us confidence too!
• Secondly, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. That must give us confidence too!
• Thirdly, the spirit reveals deep things (2:12). When we preach we speak secret wisdom (v7). We speak of words taught by the Spirit expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words (2v13). We have not received the Spirit of the world. We have received the Spirit from God. He helps us to understand what God has freely given. We can boldly proclaim. For we have the mind of Christ (2v16). That must give us confidence too!
In conclusion, let me summarize
We will preach. We will preach Christ crucified.
We will preach to the wise man. We will preach to the scholar. We will preach to the philosopher of this age.
We will continue to challenge the wise man, the scholar and the philosopher of this age.
For we know that preaching is not a matter of talk, it is the demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
It is the expression of spiritual truths in spiritual words.
We are sent to preach! We will preach! We will preach Christ crucified. Amen!