The real problem in the church today is the skin-deep messages being pushed from the pulpit. Christians today and even some ministers are not grounded in the word, so Satan finds it easy to pick them off.
When we preach the gospel with human wisdom, we are building the faith of men on a wrong foundation and not on the power of God. That is why when the storms of life come their whole lives crumble.
“And in my preaching there were no honeyed words of wisdom, but I was dependent on the power of the Spirit to make it clear to you: So that your faith might be based not on man’s wisdom but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (Bible In Basic English)
What is This Power In The Gospel?
“For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power. As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24 (Good News Bible)
The power of the gospel is the preaching of the cross. This is the gospel that the enemy does not want the church to preach today, because this is what brings transformation of lives. This message is offensive to some- because the Jews find it difficult to comprehend why the Messiah had to be killed. To the Gentiles it is foolishness, but for us who are saved this preaching of the cross is the power of the gospel.
“For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (Good News Bible)
Paul emphasizes Christ’s death on the cross because of its importance. It was at that cross that everything was finished. It was at that cross that the victory was won. That was where satan lost it forever. The world’s interest in us and our interest in the world was dealt with by this cross (Galatians 6:14). Most Christians are still worldly today because they have not embraced this cross. It was through this cross that God reconciled the world to Himself (Ephesians 2:16). God made peace with all things by this cross (Colossians 1:20). Everything that was against us and contrary to us was also dealt with on the cross (Colossians 2:14).
What Is This Cross?
“If people want to follow me they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me” Matthew 16:24 (New Century Version)
The audience of Jesus at this time did not need any clarification on this issue of the cross because they understood Him perfectly. They knew what He was talking about.
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:24-27
What does the cross mean? What the cross meant to the disciples that heard Jesus at that time is not what we understand it to mean today. We cannot fully understand what the cross means until we journey back to history and find the original meaning so as to enable us understand the demand of Christ.
In the days of Jesus, crucifixion was a means that the Romans used to execute criminals. It was a painful and shameful way of death. Jesus told His disciple that the condition for followership is death. It is so unfortunate today that this cross has been reduced to a mere emblem. It has even become a fashion item in our days- something people wear as a necklace. All these things are the ways by which the enemy subtly robs the church of the power of the cross; to the extent that the message is becoming lost in our pulpits, whereas this is the core of our Christianity.
A.W. Tozer wrote “All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times, a new cross into popular evangelical and Pentecostal circles. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical techniques…The new cross…lets Adam live without interference. His motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure. The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a clearer and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. The old cross is a symbol of death… if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelism and current Pentecostalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity…The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it””
I brought in this background because it will help us to appreciate what Jesus implied when He asked the people to carry their cross daily if they must be his disciples. Our goal as Bible students in interpreting the Bible is to discover what the author meant when he wrote the Scriptures many centuries ago.