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 Corinthians 1:17)
We have been looking at this verse and seen that we can make the cross of Christ powerless. It is not that the power is gone, but our choices and actions can block us from receiving it in our lives.
Have you ever heard another Christian talk about the blessings of God? We talk about all He has provided for us, but how many enjoy those blessings? Take a moment to think about your Christian experience. Are you experiencing His joy, peace, or healing power every day?
He has provided for everything we will ever need (2 Peter 1:3) through the redemptive work of Christ. The cross was our entrance into all that God has for us, but few understand its power, and most are doing what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 1:17. Our choices render the cross powerless in our lives, and this will not change until we are willing to accept responsibility.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:7 -9)
So, you and I are the ones who block the power of the cross from manifesting in our lives. We do not do this purposely. Often, the ungodly teaching received in churches causes us to do so. Church “traditions” blind most Christians from the truth. They will fight anyone who would teach anything contrary, even if the message is from the Word of God. In their minds, tradition has more value than Scripture.
It bothers people to hear they are at fault for the issues they struggle with each day. At first, I was bothered by this but realized what a blessing it was to accept responsibility. I reason that if I’m the one who opened the door, I also have the power to close it. Jesus even sent the Holy Spirit to help me do so!
It is not God’s will for our lives to be a mess. He sent Jesus to serve as our sacrificial lamb on the cross. Through that sacrifice, God has provided for our every need (2 Peter 1:3). He has made the provision but will not force us to walk in divine health, financial freedom, or His other blessings.
The difference between Scripture and religious tradition in my mind is responsibility. Consider the following examples.
• Religion tells us that we have to “do” to earn God’s s favor. Scripture tells us that we were created in “righteousness” and “pure holiness” (Ephesians 4:24) when we made Jesus the Lord of our life.
• Religion tells us that we wait for God to “bless” us based on our efforts. Scripture tells us that our responsibility is to “put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:24).
• Religion tells us that it is God’s will for us to be sick and suffer. Scripture tells us that Jesus’ body was broken so ours might be made whole (1 Corinthians 11:24 and 1 Peter 2:24)
Religious traditions provide us with an excuse for our sufferings. The blame for our problems is passed to God, leaving us in a continuous state of being victimized by Satan to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. I do not know about you; I want more than this from my relationship with God! The good news is that He has provided much more than what is offered to us in most church doctrine today.
God desires to have an “effect” on our lives (1 Corinthians 1:17). If we are not experiencing this, it is not His fault. He has even given us His faith (Romans 12:3) to use for obtaining everything made available to us in Jesus’ redemptive work.
The most critical revelation for us to gain in this discussion is that it is not God who turned off the “spigot” of blessings. We are the ones who turn it off in our lives by trusting in what we are doing for God more than in what Jesus has done for us.
Few Christians understand what happened at the cross or the meaning of Jesus’ redemptive work. Most know the story, but it is a story to them. They do not have any revelation of what the cross provides them.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Paul told his readers in Rome nearly the same thing as what he tells us in this verse:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
I have heard many people quote Romans 1:16 but few 1 Corinthians 1:18. Paul tells us that the cross and the Gospel are both the power of God. These two verses tell us that the message of the cross is not just about Jesus’ atoning work.
Far too often, our focus on the cross is on what Jesus did. He did suffer and paid the debt of our sins, but He also provided the grace to appropriate salvation. From this perspective, we can say then that the message of the cross is synonymous with the message of grace.
You need to understand that grace is not something that we can earn. Religion emphasizes our works, and the cross highlights Christ’s work. If we could “earn” salvation with our good works, Jesus would not have had to go to the cross. In other words, our church attendance, Bible memorization, and hours spent in prayer cannot earn us salvation, grace, or any other blessing from God.
Most Christians seem to approach their relationship with God from an “if” and “then” perspective. In other words, “if” I am faithful in church service, “then” God will supply my needs. They do not have a revelation of His grace.
God does not respond to our efforts. Jesus paid the price for all of our sins before we were born. The basis of our relationship with Him is His redemptive work. Israel proved that no man or woman could meet the requirements of the Law. Any attempt to “earn” a response from God ignores this fact.
I am not against being active in a local church. We need each other but must acknowledge that not every church operates according to the Bible. Most have replaced the message of grace with religious tradition and are filled with people who have no concept of the God they serve.