but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to jews and folly to gentiles. [1 corinthians 1:23]
in corinth, believers were more consumed with the gospel teachers they were following, and less concerned about Jesus, prompting paul to remind them that he did not come to baptize, but to preach Christ crucified.
there is no denying it – the gospel message of Christ crucified is offensive. it rattles people to their core.
“for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” [john 3:16]
this is a joyous verse! we serve a God that loves us so much that he spared no expense for believers to be with him forever… what is so offensive about that? why is the gospel “a stumbling block to jews and folly to gentiles,” [1 cor. 1:23] ?
the phrase “stumbling block” in greek is defined as “trap, offense, or snare.”
the jewish pharisees, self-proclaimed “men of God” and leaders in the temple, were ensnared- trapped in their self-consummation of religious pride. the jews were striving to complete the right actions in an effort to justify themselves before holy God… yet their hearts were far from him.
of course the gospel would be offensive to the jews’ pride (and our fleshly pride, too).
Jesus saves by grace, through faith, which is a gift of God [eph. 2:8]. paul specifically states to the ephesians that salvation is not a result of works, so that no one may boast about earning their own salvation [eph. 2:9].
grace stands in direct competition with pride. grace is about dependently receiving, while pride is about independently earning. the pharisees did not want to receive; they wanted to independently earn their way to God through sacrifices, circumcision, tradition, right answers, etc.
where do you stand? are you operating from pride, trying to earn your salvation
… by your seemingly flawless church attendance?
… your punctuality to lot family?
… the number of arguments you have “won” about religious subjects?
… your filled schedule of ministry activities?
having *healthy* discussions about the gospel is good. being on time to lot family is a great goal. investing yourself in a church body and loving others well are commandments found in scripture. however, are the acts themselves lording over you, creating a hindrance to sitting at the feet of Lord Jesus and receiving his grace?
receiving salvation through grace, by faith, requires dependence. complete dependence on Someone we cannot see seems foolish to people in our culture, who worship independence and self-love. but we have been given the opportunity to share about God’s grace with them- that they do not have to fight tooth and nail to achieve salvation and be loved on their own. they have the opportunity to say “Lord, i believe; help my unbelief!” [mark 9:24] and be saved by grace, through faith. who can you share that amazing news with today, entrusting their hearts to the God of grace upon grace?
Christ follower, rest in that grace today. thank God through titus 3:5-7 :
“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”