The Gospel which is only about Jesus Christ Crucified
Unlike the travelling philosophers who lectured publically in Corinth, Paul refused to make any claim about himself. His only concern was that the Lord Jesus Christ should be overwhelmingly more important than anybody else. The Apostle did not want to exalt himself, or the church or its leaders: his message was about Jesus alone. It was Paul's clear decision, although he had been a leading Rabbi with good intellect and education; he refused to confuse the message about Jesus, the Son of God who came to die on a cross so that sinners could be saved.
Paul was not seeking a personal following, but wanted people to leave their old ways of life to follow Jesus exclusively. So the Apostle was determined not to impress the crowds with clever oratory (although he was able to argue brilliantly), nor did he offer people a more comfortable life. His message about Jesus and the cross caused much opposition (Acts 18:1-13) and he was afraid; but God told him to keep speaking about Jesus so that many would be saved (Acts 18:9-10).
Without the message of the cross there is no route to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18). "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18). Paul could have just preached about the prayer life of Jesus, or His miracles or His humble lifestyle; but without the message of the cross nobody would know that their sins could be totally forgiven, they would have no assurance of salvation and no church could withstand persecution.
But in many places the church has stopped telling that crucial message. They are happy to be community centres, charity distribution points, clubs of likeminded people or traditional liturgists. None of these functions of church is wrong but without the message of the cross the church cannot do its primary job. It is easy to be popular by addressing people's needs, offering prosperity, education and health, but without the message of the cross people will not know how to be saved. Of course, that message is still as offensive as when Paul was in Corinth; but it is still the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Pray for that cross-centred message to be central in your life and in the ministries of those you know, and share it with others (www.crosscheck.org.uk).
© Dr Paul Adams