Date: January 6, 2019 (Sunday PM)
Bible Text: 1 Corthians 1 | Steve Damron
Let's take our Bibles and turn again to first Corinthians chapter one, we are doing part two on 'The Importance of Preaching.' I have used this story before, but it fits with what we are introducing as far as our topic.
There was a young man and he had a horrible stuttering problem, so he went to a very well renowned, speech therapist in his city and the therapist had an unconventional method for getting him to repair his speech problem. So he treated the problem by having this young man walk around with a mouth filled with marbles. And so he told him, fill your mouth with marbles and walk around and try to talk, work on it and it will help you in pronunciation. And every week he would allow him to take one of those out. Amazingly, his speech began to improve. And finally after he had lost all of his marbles, he became a preacher.
Alright, so that is an introduction to our topic here in first Corinthians chapter one. Notice what it says, we are looking at the latter half of first Corinthians one. We will also look a little bit at first Corinthians two, but it is all talking about Paul, the Apostle Paul, coming to the church of Corinth, and then he left Corinth and he is writing back in his first epistle, his first letter to the Corinthians, and notice what he says in verse 17. He said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to" guess what? "preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Then you go down to verse 29 and it says, "That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth," what should happen? "let him glory in the Lord." So we looked at the importance of preaching last week, and as a way of introduction, we said there were a couple of reasons why in our society preaching has become looked at as foolishness and it is disdained and people are trying to come up with other ideas in their church rather than preaching.
And we said number one last week, one of the reasons is because our culture has moved away from the authority of Scripture. And as our culture moves away and it takes this book and it says that it is silliness and it is not important. What is going to happen is we are not going to follow the word of God and understand the importance. All through the Bible you see it lifted up, especially in the New Testament and that is the church age. In the New Testament, we find that preaching is vital, it is important. Yes, I like singing and I like the music, but that is not the priority and it will not be the priority in this church. The priority is the preaching of God's word. It is the preaching of God's word, which according even to Paul, it brings a man, it brings a person to the place where they understand their need of Christ.
The world looks it and says, oh, that is foolishness. It is not saying that the preacher is a fool alright, (so you are like, finally, I knew you are fool), but what it is saying is the world considers preaching foolishness. When are you going to church? Some of you that have been saved a long time, but some of you that have just been saved recently, you have heard this, you go to somebody's house maybe over Christmas, over the holidays, you spent some time with them unsaved relatives, and they look at you and say, why do you keep going to church? All you keep talking about is church and church and church. Because guess what? The Bible instructs us to go to church and hear preaching. That is why we go to church, to hear preaching. So we said last week our culture has moved away from the authority of the word of God.
Secondly, we said our culture has lost its fear of God. And I mentioned that even within our church that we need to be careful. How do we see it? Sometimes we come in and we are sitting down and even some folks sitting here last week, you know, uh, you are already asleep by the time that I say turn to first Corinthians one. It is just a natural reaction. You would say, well, I am just tired or whatever. So do you have the same reaction when you pick up your video game? No. No, you do not because you consider the things of God silliness. And that is our society. I am sorry, I know I mentioned this last week, even Hollywood, some of you think that Hollywood is real and I am sorry it is fake, right? Take even Captain America, you know, that is a comic. You do know that, right? You know that even the actor, he is probably a wuss in life. Right? And then all of a sudden, because he acted like a man, he can now give us instruction and he can write a book on manhood. Wrong. You acted like a man, literally--acted. You are not a man. You acted like a tough man. I have no idea what you are like as a real man, but you really get paid to be a fake. That is the serious truth about Hollywood. They get paid to be fakes. And yet some of you like are that, I saw that on TV. And that is where you get your authority from, right? So instead of the word of God, which is God breathed, God written; instead of the word of God being your authority, some fake person that gets paid to act as a fake person. That is your authority. And that is ridiculous to me. So there is the reason that the preaching is belittled, it is because of a lack of the authority of the word of God. And then the fear of God. We have lost that. We tried to discuss that as far as what that means.
But then I thought of a third reason why preaching is disdained today, because there is an increasing desire for entertainment in our churches. Even some of you this morning, you come in and you sit there and we pull out the hymnbook and you are like, oh, 'Look to the Lamb of God.' I don't know, I do not really feel anything. Alright. Some of you may be grabbing the air, feeling, alright? So feeling does not have to be involved in my worship. All right? It does not have to be involved. Sometimes I feel okay and say, oh yeah, Amen. But there are other times that I hear a song was sung about abiding with God, lifting up and telling me that I should have a desire to abide with him and just spend time with Him. That aligns right up with scripture. It does not matter what I feel that is worship and I should say yes. Put your flesh down and say glory to God. That is what I want. But yet we have got to come in and we have to be entertained. All right. I like a funny story. I shared a funny story at the beginning. I like having some idea that we can relate a little bit. I have a gift as I have told you, I have got the gift of sarcasm. I like throwing that in there. It is kind of hard to separate it from my being.
I understand coming to church, we should work at it. We should enjoy hearing the preaching, but really when the word of God has opened up it, I should zone into it? It should not be that I am going to naturally fall asleep and all of a sudden I am going into a sleeping bag mode, but what is it? Because we have got to be entertained. Last Sunday night, my wife was showing me something, from a church down in Florida and this is for real. In the last couple of weeks, this church is well known in the entertainment industry and they did not do anything Christian. What they did literally at the beginning of their service, their church members reenacted, for real, not with church words. For real a Justin Bieber concert. In church and we watched it and they were out there. I mean they had all the gear. They were out there rocking and rolling and then the pastor got up, opened up his Bible and for 20-minutes justified why he could have the world in the church. And all of them were like, oh yeah. That is not church. It is heresy. It' i also ungodliness,
And what we want, now is come in and get entertained. My ears get tickled. That is what it says in the book of Timothy. That in the last time, they are going to want preachers that tickle ears. What is the idea, they just make me feel good. You know what I want when I come to church? I want preaching that is infused with the power of God and it does not make me tickle. It makes me squirm sometimes. We want the fear of God to be evident in our church. We do not want to be entertained. I want to be convicted in our churches today, not entertainment. Then this is the stupidness of this guy that is up there. He does not even know what a dictionary is. He said, you know what, and he had a big screen behind him. He said, you know why we did this? First of all, and he had them turn to the book of Acts. First of all, we did this because we want to have fun and it was huge. No scripture. Just we want to have fun and everyone said, yes. You are idots because you are sending people to hell. Because you are saying church is just about having fun and bringing the world in. The Bible says, love not the world. The Bible says that we are not supposed to have anything to do with it. Now we have to live in it, and we have got to make our money there, but I do not want our young people to think that this church is okay with the world. The world and all of its silliness, the world and all of its unrighteousness. We need to come to church and say, no, it is not about entertainment. I could come and enjoy church. I can come and hear God speak to me, but it is not just some feeling. As I always say, I always quote it, 'you could have had a bad bit of beef, why you could of ate something really weird this morning.' And all of a sudden the only thing you are feeling is that you need to head to the toilet because it is coming up. Who knows what your feeling? I am coming to church because God says preaching is important. And it is not coming to get entertained. That preacher also put up a big sign and he said, hey, the number one reason why we did that is because we wanted to have fun and church should be fun. Okay, I am not saying that we should all come in and be mopey. I love coming to church. And I think the Holy Spirit when he is inside you and when he is working on you, you love coming to church. But it is not walking around and rolling around. I do not want to be in a church like that.
I don't know, maybe at your worship place people are doing that all the time, but I think I would smack people. I actually want to come and learn something. I want to hear God speak. Then he also said this and then a big sign came up and he says, and the second reason, I can not remember if it was on the sign. But he said, another reason that we do this and people oppose this is because we are secular. He goes, that is not even in the Bible but they say, we are 'secular.' And I am like, you are so stupid. I actually looked up the word in a thesaurus. If you don't know what that is, look it up in a thesaurus and guess what you find for secular. I looked it up. You can look it up. "Materialistic, worldly, material, profane, temporal, earthly, nonreligious, of this world, unsacred." Now listen, Mr. Stupido, get a dictionary. Or look up on Google. I'll send you a link. And guess what? I don't want in the church anything that's temporal, unsacred, unreligious. All the lists that I just gave you from the thesaurus. I do not want our church to be materialistic and to be earthly, and to be temporal and to be unsacred. I want to come to a place and it is not just our buildings. I want to come to a place that I step into and I know God is going to meet with us. I get enough of the world, and I get less of it than you do. Those men and ladies, you know this and you talk to me all the time because you work in it day in and day out. Why would you want a place that you call church that it is just like going to work tomorrow morning. I want to go to a place that I walk into and God's presence is there. I want to go to a place and I don't have to hear God's name in vain. I want to go to a place that I do not hear the rock beat and worldly music. It is gone from here. Why? Because we believe in the importance of preaching.
Preaching, so what does the Bible say, notice in our text here in verse 17. It says here in verse 17, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but" notice what he's called them to do, "to preach the gospel." Then he explains what that means. Look at verse 18, "For the preaching of the cross," so obviously that must be part of the Gospel. Look at verse 23, "But we preach" what? "Christ crucified." So here God is telling us what we are supposed to preach. So this week in part two, (last week we looked at some ideas of what preaching is, kind of as an intro), but in this part two what we see is a couple of questions answered for us.
Question number one is what I am supposed to preach. Look at chapter two. Now verse one, "And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." So guess what? It tells me in the Bible what to preach—Christ and Christ crucified. Now you would say, well, wait a minute, every message. Oh yeah. And so those of you that know the Bible a little bit, every message on Sunday morning, Sunday night, you come in , once again, looking at Matthew chapter 26, I got it Jesus died on the cross. So what does it mean to preach Christ crucified? I started thinking it through. So what does that mean to preach Christ crucified?
It is preaching the cross. So what does the preaching the cross tell you and I. I thought of three things. One, preaching the cross tells all of us we are sinners. That is what it does. You say, wait a minute, how does it do that? By preaching the cross, we are presenting the depravity of man, the inability in man's own way and self to find eternal life. It is condemning and it is outrageous to the world. Why? Because I am saying that you sitting here, on your own, you can not get to heaven. That is preaching the Cross because Christ died for all men. That includes me and includes you. And that also Christ died for what—sinners. So when I preached the Cross, I am preaching about the inability of myself and yourself to get to heaven on our own. That is preaching the cross. It is why the world gets mad. It is why religions are made. Why? Because we do not like preaching on the cross, because the cross says that on my own merit, I can not get to heaven. You know in our flesh we do not like that, because I want to be able to earn my way. I want to be able to make my own path. But Christ says, no. Frank Sinatra thinks he owns 'doing it my way.' No Christ said way before Frankie baby did. Christ said, you are going my way, because "I am the way, the truth and the life." Frankie, you can do it your way, but I am pretty sure I know where Frankie's way ended up—and it is sad. That is preaching the cross.
I do not use this term as a cuss word, but if you decide to do it your own way, you will go to hell. Again, I do not use it as a cuss word and that is how the devil has tricked this world. Hell is a cuss word now, I mean people say that. Dot you see how he was able to trick people. You say it is just just a cuss word, or it is just a word. No, it is not. Hell is literal? It's fire. It's pain, it's torment. You don't want to go there. You don't want to be there. And the Bible says, preach the cross, Christ crucified. So really when we are preaching the cross, what are we doing? We are preaching that we are sinners. So when we preach on sin, guess what we are doing? We are fulfilling the commandment that is written in the Bible and Corinthians that preach Christ crucified. The Cross reveals to us that we are sinners.
The cross also reveals another thing, and that is the holiness of God. You say wait a minute, how does that reveal the holiness of God? You know how? Because when I preach the cross, I say that the debt has been paid. So what does that tell you about God? His Holiness demands payment. So you know what that means for all of us sitting here, when you sin, there are consequences and it has to be taken care of. You know, in our world the idea that sometimes you will see an accident or you will have a tragedy happen and somebody will come up (and a lot of times it is even liberals who get on media) and say somebody has to pay for this. You know where that concept comes from, right here. Because when we think of the cross, we all of a sudden understand that God's holiness demands payment. It is not free. Even salvation, is not free. It costs something. See God's holiness, when we are preaching Christ crucified, we are revealing to us that we are sinners, but we are also understanding that God is holy and His holiness demanded a payment. It was not just free. So when we preach Christ crucified, the Cross reveals to us the we are sinners. Cross reveals to us His Holiness, the holiness of God.
But then the cross also reveals to us the love of God. How do we see that? Because God so loved the world. You see there is a truth, that when we preach the cross, there is a point that it is overwhelming and it should be to us. Why? Because you say God, I seem to be in a bad way here. God. Why? Because my sin has to be paid for and I am a sinner. What am I to do? Well, the world has gotten away from it. Remember that is why we want a church that preaches Christ crucified, preaches the cross, preaches the gospel. Later he tells us what the Gospel is, that Christ was buried and He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures. Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians explains what the Gospel is. So some religions have gotten away from preaching Christ and Christ crucified in the Gospel. So what they do is say your a sinner, it has to be paid, and they stop. So then they came up with a way for you to pay it. You know how? Come to church every week and pay us x amount of dollars or say the rosary or say this, get baptized, do this, this, this. Guess what? This is what I can say about all of them. It is heresy. You know why? Because they are not preaching the whole Gospel. They stopped why they stopped because they wanted to keep man on a hook instead of giving them true freedom.
When we preach Christ crucified, when we preach Christ the full gospel, guess what? It brings you to that place that I am lost and I am undone, but it does not stop there. Because praise the Lord, God's love made a way for me to be saved. Oh, I am undone, I am unworthy, but guess what? God in His mercy and his love and his amazing grace, gave us a way to be saved. That is why the whole Gospel has to be preached. The word of God has to be preached. I printed this out this was Friday, I think. It was a big mega pastor down in Atlanta, Georgia. He said, this in the last two weeks from his pulpit. He said that God's words from Mount Sinai do not apply to people anymore. And he listed them out: Thou shall have no other gods before me, Don't take them the name of the Lord, your God in vain, Honor your father and mother, Don't murder, Don't commit adultery, Don't steal, Don't bear false witness. And this is what he said, participants in the new covenant, that is the book of Hebrews, are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of the new covenant as I have loved you, so you must love one another. You know what that is? It is a bunch of heresy. You know why I know that? Because once again, and I think I may, maybe I should. That would be a nice thing to do. I think I might send them a Bible and say, I missed your Christmas gift. I thought you might use this and read it once. Because guess what? In the Bible it says in Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." And then he says, "...Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." And this is what he says later in the same passage, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:" He also said in John 15, "if you love me, keep my commandments." You know what, that guy, he has a bunch of Malarkey. And guess what? According to him, he has 33,000 in attendance this weekend. I do not care how many you have, you are not a biblical pastor, because the biblical pastor takes the word of God and preaches all of it. He does not tell you to chuck some of it. He does not say that is irrelevant. If it is irrelevant I was telling the deacons this on Thursday night. If it is irrelevant, if it truly is what he said is the 10 commandments are no longer in existence. If that is true, I should be able to go down and kill him—and get away with it. Why? And take his words to the judge and say, Hey, he said it's no longer valid. So I was just obeying him. I joined his church and I killed him. It is ridiculous, isn't it? That is not being a biblical preacher.
So let's close with a couple other things that it tells us. Notice in chapter one and a little bit of chapter two it tells us what we are supposed to preach. What is it? Christ crucified, the Gospel, the preaching of the cross. Secondly, it tells me how to preach. Notice what it says. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom declaring unto you the testimony of God. So guess what he says, he says, first the excellency of speech or of wisdom that refers back to the Jews and the Greeks. Even now we look back at them and what were the Greeks known for? For philosophy, for wisdom. Remember Paul, I think it is in Acts 18. He stood on Mars Hill and they, we actually one time on a tour with the church. We went up to Mars Hill and we sat on that knob or stood there on that knob and we read that passage and we thought about it. Mars Hill was known for its philosophers. The thinkers would go out there and they would talk and they would discuss. Even now, we look back and there are writings that are there of aristotle and Plato and others, they love thinking, they love words. In some ways it was wisdom. It was entertainment. Paul says, how am I supposed to preach? I do not preach for entertainment. Can preaching be enjoyable? I hope so. I love preaching. Some of it is because when you are saved God transforms you, changes you inside. He starts making you more and more into the image of his son and because God says that preaching is good, then I understand that it is good and you start liking that. That is what happens. Why? Because God is changing us, but we do not preach for entertainment.
Secondly, notice in this passage it says, "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, ..." So it is not for entertainment, but it is also not for the praise of man. Spurgeon said this, "we have plenty of people nowadays who could not kill a mouse without publishing it in the Gospel Gazette." Samson killed a lion and said nothing about it. The Holy Spirit finds modesty, so rare that he takes care to record it. "Say much of what the Lord has done for you, but say little of what you have done for the Lord." It seems like all of us like to brag on what we did. Take the "I" out and eat it. Okay, because guess what, there does not seem to be much about the Lord anymore, but it is all about what this person did and that person. I appreciate folks that are very gracious and say, hey, thanks for that sermon, but I pray that even from your side that it is not to praise me. It is to praise God. Preaching is not to uplift a man, it is to uplift Christ.
We should envision Christ as we sit and we hear the words of God. It should make us bow before him. Oh, Paul said that when he said in First Corinthians, I am the least of the apostles: and in Ephesians, I am the least of all saints; and First Timothy one, I am the chief of sinners. If anybody could brag and have a testimony of being used by God, it was the apostle Paul. None of us have reached his attainments. None of us have reached to his level. None of us have been left with half the new testament written by our hand. But the Apostle Paul knew his place and you need to know yours, and I need to know mine. And that is how do we preach, not for entertainment and not for the praise of men, but notice what he says. So how do you preach not for entertainment, not for the praise of men. "And my speech and my preaching" look at the last half, "but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand," guess what happens if all it is my words that you are hanging on your faith. Notice what he says. He answers "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men," No, no, no, no. I do not want that. Let's preach not for entertainment, not for the praise of man, because we want it to stand. Did you see the second half? Your faith will stand "in the power of God." If a church preaches properly, your faith can stand. That is right away what I see in that passage, some of you are faltering. I pray it is not my fault. It could be that you are taking the word of God and you are not applying it. We are going to talk about that next week, that is part three and four. There are pitfalls of a pastor, and I am going to try to deal with some of those. But there are pitfalls in the 'pew' and one of them is taking what is given to you and never applying it. You are hearer and not a doer.
And the Bible says, I was reading it this morning in Luke chapter 12, I think. Jesus said, blessed are you that hear and do my words. The Bible says, here we can stand, it is possible. It is possible to win the fight against Satan. I am not saying you are not going to have a fall or falling or a fault or a time that you sin. None of us are perfect. You know what you are going to have a day, I was telling my Sunday school class this it all everyday you have to suit up. You can not one day hop out of bed and say, you know what today I am just going to just kind of wing it did today and just see if the devil attacks me. Watch out—you are toast. And you say, you are saying every day in this life I got to be ready for the attacks of the devil. Yes! In heaven, that is my rest. In heaven is my rest, here on this earth, which really in the whole scope of time is just a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. So every day you have got to be ready. And what are we going to do, we are going to preach. And how and what are we going to preach? We are going to preach Christ crucified. What will that do? The Gospel, Christ crucified, the Cross that will come to me and reveal to me that I am a sinner. That is why the preaching of the cross is not just for the unsaved it is for the saved too. Why? Because going back to that cross reminds me that I am a sinner. That is all of us sitting here. That takes care of my pride. It takes care of me when I want to say, well, look what I have done. What have you done? Did you save your soul? Nope. Then get on your knees and bow again at that cross. Understand that if it was up to you and if it was on your shoulders, you would be in hell, but thankfully because of God's mercy and grace, I have pardon for sin because my debt was paid. In the Bible we see that preaching is important.
I found this yesterday. I looked it up because I wanted to see about this man. There is a pastor, his name is Clayton Doss. He is still pastoring today, he has been pastoring for 43 years and this is what he wrote. He says, our preacher, is just too hard. Our preacher is just too hard when he preaches. We must laugh, be hugged, entertained. Isn't that what the Bible teaches? Lighten up, preacher. Take it easy. Cut some corners they say. But God's man knows such things won't cut it on the Judgment Day. The pastors should ease up on doctrine and try to just get along that way all the brethern together could sing the same old song. He makes too much of outdated and costly separation. But God's man knows he must pass the faith to the next generation. Preach only the positive. Just bless them and be a man about town. But God's man knows in the long run that will only bring souls down. Get the people no matter the cost, nickels and noses in the game. But with the prophets, the apostles and Jesus that was not the name of the game. Why or why must he always defend that old black book? He is always saying in the authorized version only we should look. It seems to us that other versions do just as well. But God's man knows that twisted scripture sends people to hell. Brimstone, Bible education, loud preaching that is a lot of prattle. But God's man knows folks fall away if their cage, he does not rattle. Make it smooth, leave out some of the parts of the Bible, those things that scatter. But God's man, he knows it is all God's words, and it is all that matters. It does o't really count how the members live in dress. But God's man knows that is why the country is in such a mess. Oh dearly beloved, let us faithfully adhere to the old paths and the old paths trod. Will be very glad we did when at the end we face God.
I love that an old preacher sat down and penned some words because I am sure that he came to a point that somebody left his church because they said his preaching was too hard. Let's be distinct as a church, and let's make sure that the preaching of the Gospel of the Cross and of Christ crucified is very, very important.