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The Power Of God To Save

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THE POWER OF GOD TO SAVE

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25

The apostle Paul writes a letter to the church at Corinth, a major city of Asia Minor, the capital of Achaia, the set of the roman proconsul, and the home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The apostle Paul had established the church a Corinth and established a strong foundation on the gospel there. However, as time passed, new members came into the church out of the pagan world, and other ministers came to the church, some of the members lost sight of Paul’s teachings and began to listen to and embrace the opinions of others, and consequently they began to digress back into their old pagan ways, and the church became divided. Christ no longer ruled the church at Corinth.

It is to this church that the apostle Paul writes the first letter to the Corinthian church. He does not give them a long dissertation addressing how they should conduct themselves. Instead He does what great men of God have done down through the centuries. He reminded them of the “The Power of God to Save.” He reminded them of the Sacrificial Death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

E. Stanley Jones described the cross as the new power that was to shake the world, and redeem it!

        In his book, The Scandal of Lent, Robert Kysar described the cross as forcing us to examine our understanding of the love of God.

        Martin Luther King Jr. described the cross as a telescope through which we look into the long view of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time.

        The apostle Paul, in his letter to a troubled and divided church at Corinth, described the cross in five statements.

!I.            Paul first described the cross as the power of God to save (v.18).

Paul believes that people exist in one of two categories. They are either perishing or being saved. They are not in a stationary position. They are either in the process of perishing, or they are in the process of being saved. Therefore, the cross represents either foolishness or the power of God to save.

!!A.       To the unsaved, the cross is foolishness (v.18a). The word, perishing, means to be lost or completely destroyed. It means to be losing eternal life, or to be spiritually destitute. It means to be cut off, without hope, and separated from God. Perishing means to be aging, decaying, and without peace. It means to be without hope.

!!B.       To believers, the cross is the power of God to save (v.18b). Paul uses the word salvation to express three experiences (1) the once-for-all experience of being saved. This happens when one first places his faith in Jesus Christ. This experience happened sometime in the past. (2) Then there is the continuous experience of being saved. This experience is occurring right now, at the present moment. It is a description of God’s day to day work in your life. It is the Holy Spirit working in the believer to conform him more and more to the image of Christ. Conforming to the image of Christ marks one as continually growing in wisdom and knowledge, increasing in interest and energy for the gospel; it means giving daily evidence of an active faith that demonstrates one’s belief in “The Power of God to Save.”  (3) Then there is the completed experience of salvation, which will not be occur until the end of the church age and Christ returns for His church. This will be the experience of Christ separating the true believers from the ones who have defined their own salvation. This will be the experience of those believing in The Power of God to Save  inheriting the kingdom of heaven and those not believing in The Power of God to Save finding themselves in the hands of an angry God.

!II.            Paul goes on to describe the cross as a destroyer of  the wisdom of men and the world (v.19-20)

How does the cross destroy and make foolish the wisdom of the world? The cross exposes the fallacy of man’s reasoning and wisdom.  Man seeks to do his own thing, to live as he wishes to gain position and power, to gain recognition and fame. The cross shatters this reasoning and exposes a severe problem with man: the problem of sin, and the problem of depraved and selfish hearts. So, what is the cross? The cross is God’s Son, the Perfect Man being put to death by the rest of the world.

What does the cross do? The cross exposes the fallacy of man’s search for love, joy, and peace. Moreover, in the end, man discovers that the only place in life where these treasures can be found is in the cross, The Power of God to Save.

!III.            Paul continues and describes the cross as the wisdom and power of God to separate saints from sinners (v.21)

The term, the wisdom of God, means that the cross is the way that God has chosen to save the world. The cross is God’s demonstration of His love and sacrifice to save the world. However, the cross will only save those who choose to believe in The Power of God to Save.

!!!!IV.            Paul then describes the cross as the answer to man's search for God (v.22-24)

The apostle declares that the cross answers man’s search for the perfect world. However, the world has made three mistakes in looking at the cross.

!!A.         The Jew: Seeks a sign, and stumbles over the cross (v.22a)

The Jews found the cross to be a stumbling block because they were hung up on religion and heritage. They thought they could reach God through religious practices or by being of a certain race. They tried to bring the kingdom of God to earth by good works.

!!B.         The Greek: Seeks wisdom, concluding the cross is foolishness (v.22b-23)

The Greeks found the cross disinteresting. They thought God was too far away and uninvolved in human affairs to feel. Therefore, to think of a god who became man and felt the pains of death upon a cross was foolishness to the Greek mind. It was beyond anything that a human mind could grasp.

!!C.       Those who believe find Christ in the cross and discovers the cross is the power and wisdom of God (v.24)

The called find that Jesus Christ brings to their heart and lives deliverance from sin and restlessness of their souls: Jesus Christ brings to their lives the knowledge of God and the infilling of love, joy, and peace: Jesus Christ brings to their lives the guidance and direction of God as they walk through the trials of life day by day: Jesus Christ brings to their lives perfect assurance of eternal life with God: and in the cross they find purpose in reaching and ministering to a world that is desperate for peace and The Power of God to Save..

!V.            Paul concludes his description of the cross declaring that the cross proves that God's way is wiser and stronger than man's way (v.25)

Paul declares that the cross proves that God's way is wiser and stronger than man's way. It is wiser and stronger because it saves men. Just think what would really happen if only one million people within one nation totally surrendered to the power of the cross, totally exercising faith in The Power of God to Save. What would happen if we really sacrificed ourselves totally to Christ as Christ did for us?

CONCLUSION:  In his novel, The Chain, Paul Wellman shared a shining story, known as the "fourth temptation." According to this legend, after Jesus had emerged victoriously from His wilderness temptations; after living courageously and triumphantly throughout His ministry; after His apostles failed, enemies and friends conspired in crime; then, while Jesus was hanging in excruciating pain on the cross, the devil returned and whispered in His ear, "They aren't worth it, Lord." It was then, according to the story, that the Master was heard to say, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

At the cross, at the cross, where my savior died,

there to my heart, the blood was applied.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains;
Lose all their guilty stains;
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in His day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away;
Wash all my sins away;
Wash all my sins away;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its pow’r
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more;
Be saved to sin no more;
Be saved to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die;
And shall be till I die;
And shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die.

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore…

I’ve seen the lightening flash, I’ve heard the thunder roar,

I’ve seen the sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, come unto me, I will give you rest,

I came to Jesus, just as I was, weary, wound, and sad

I found in him a resting place, and He has made me glad…

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