The Church The Church: Empowered by the Reality of the Cross of Christ

January 23, 2022 | Buster Brown

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”  1 Corinthians 1:18-31

In his letters to the church at Corinth, Paul rejoices in the power of the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 24; 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9). This power is the result of understanding and applying the glory of the work of Jesus on the cross for our sins. 

This passage underscores the centrality of the wonder of Christ and him crucified. The church of the risen and reigning Christ must always be centered on the reality of the cross.

“I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery (not relating to the main, or most important, part) is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.”  D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry

“They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in a state of mind I call 'Christianity And'. You know - Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian coloring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.”  CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, XXV.

By the cross I come into a saving relationship with the Living God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 30)

By the cross I see clearly (through humility) and am changed as I boast in the reality of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:20 and following)

“Over against ‘wonder-seeking Jew’ and the ‘wisdom-seeking Greek’ there is a third category, namely, Christian believers. We preach Christ crucified (v.23). Notice the contrast implied in the three verbs: Jews make 'demands' and Greeks are seeking 'wisdom'. What then is the characteristic of Christian preachers? It is neither demanding nor searching but proclaiming the gospel of Christ crucified.”  John Stott, Basic Christian Leadership 

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  CS Lewis 

“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition and settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”  G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The cross gives me a reference point for rejoicing/gladness/boasting/living.

The point of boasting is in the reality of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:29, 31; 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Galatians 6:14).


1. How has the reality of the cross shaped the view of yourself or others in the last 3 months?

2. What “good” peripheral issues in your life can potentially take the place of the centrality of the cross?

3. When viewing the quote from The Screwtape Letters’, what are some examples of hyphenated Christians in our day (Christianity-And) ?

4. How did the Jews and Greeks seek to be “in the driver’s seat” when the gospel was proclaimed? How can people in our context do the same?

5. What is the basis of humility in the Christian faith? How does this affect our daily living? (Note the quote by G.K. Chesterton)