THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS
The apostle Paul was an extremely well-educated man, and no one can read his epistles without being impressed by his giant intellect. Yet Paul renounced the preaching that uses “wisdom of words” [1 Corinthians 1:17] for a plainness of speech that left none of his listeners in any doubt about the thrust of his message.
The Gospel is not hindered by plainness, but there is an eloquence of language that deprives the Gospel of its proper effect. Paul renounced that ‘Wisdom of words,” choosing rather to employ “the Word of wisdom.”
The word translated “preaching” in the text is “logos,” which means “word.” So Paul expounded the word of the cross, telling us that the cross has its own message. What is the cross saying to us today?
It tells us God is just. When man sins, he must die. The Judge of all the earth does right. Sin must be punished. But it also tells us that God is merciful and loving. As a righteous God, He hates evil; yet He gave His sinless Son to be sin for us, that we, through Hid death, might be reconciled to God. Justice and mercy meet on the cross.
The cross also bears the message that redemption is complete. It is an empty cross leading to an empty tomb. Jesus accomplished a finished work. The atonement is complete in Him.
The vertical stake of the cross reaches down into the ground. Jesus came down to this sin-cursed earth to point sinners to heaven. The horizontal bar points out to mankind and, in effect, beckons, “Come and welcome.” The Gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” [Romans 1:16]. Have you experienced its saving power? Why not heed its message?
THE LAW IN THE HEART
Psalm 37:31 “Put the whole law into the heart, and the whole man is right. This is where the law should be; for then it lies, like the tables of stone in the ark, in the place appointed for it. In the head, it puzzles; on the back, it burdens; in the heart, it upholds…The Word of God has never misled a single soul yet.[C.H. Spurgeon]
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will a have generation of idiots.” [Albert Einstein].
VISIT THIS VINE
The church is like the tide, sometimes it flows, and sometimes it ebbs. Every church has its fair share of tidal movements. We rejoice in the flood tide of blessing. We mourn when the tide goes out and long for its return. Today we leave with you a three-word prayer when things are not going as well as we would like. It is, “visit this vine” [Psalm 80;14].
What does the psalmist mean by “This Vine?” There are several applications, but for this short study, we shall take it as a type, or picture, of the church. An oak tree has much strength, but not the vine – it can’t even stand. We likewise are feeble people.
Why the plea? The church is under attack. It has been engaged in a battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. We need the help of God. If we were not “Kept by the power of God” [1 Peter 1:5], we would fail miserably. Thank God there is help available. That is why we should frequently bring this prayer to the Lord. Dear Lord, “Visit this vine” with mercy and revival blessing.
DOES GOD ALWAYS ANSWER PRAYER?
Yes, He does. Sometimes, He answers directly, as in the case of Nehemiah, who sent a rocket prayer up to heaven when he needed King Artaxerxes to grant him a major request. [Nehemiah 2:4]. God answered immediately. We are happy when the Lord grants our petitions right away. He can even answer before we ask.
Sometimes we get a different response. Paul had a physical problem (perhaps eyesight) about which he prayed three times. [2 Corinthians 12:8]. God did not heal Paul but opened His treasure box and said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
The hard case is when the Lord delays His answer, as in the case of David. “I waited patiently for the Lord.” [Psalm 40:1]. Let us not fret about what appears to be unanswered prayer. God knows what He is doing as he works out His sovereign will. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Relinquish control to the Lord.