1 Corinthians 1:17-31
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words…
I. THERE IS A GOSPEL TO BE PREACHED. Amid all the diversities of doctrine and ritual there are some things which must be found in all Christian preaching: that Christ alone can save men; that He can save any man and all men; that He saves men completely and for ever. No man can be said to preach the gospel who does not make these thoughts central and controlling. He may preach very important and helpful truth; but until he makes Christ the ground, the motive, and the end of his teaching, he is not a preacher of the gospel. The gospel is good news. It is not the publication of the moral law. It is not telling men what they ought to be and do. The ministry of Christ was not needed to teach that lesson. Conscience proclaims it, and universal experience confirms it. It is not equivalent to the affirmation of the eternal and universal Fatherhood of the Holy One. It implies this, but it is more. That consoling thought is imbedded in the Old Testament. Paul affirmed more than that. In his preaching the person of Christ assumes central and permanent prominence. In Him the law of God is fulfilled and honoured. In Him the love of God leaps from the heavens to the earth links itself with the burden and guilt of humanity, challenges the powers of darkness and the might of death, achieving a practical and eternal victory. Fear rules paganism, hope smiles in the Old Testament, assurance is the ringing keynote of the gospel. So much for the contents of the gospel. It is crowded into this sentence: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
II. But DOES THE WORLD NEED SUCH A MESSAGE? Can we not get along fairly well without it? That is the very question which Paul discussed in Romans 1. What does the world need? Righteousness. That secured and the millennium would be there. But the one thing most needed is the thing most difficult to create and promote. It cannot be said that there has been any lack of earnest attempts. Confucius, Sakya-Muni, Zoroaster, and Socrates, tried to supply the want. But the multitudes were deaf to their appeal; and Rome at the zenith of her culture was but a "veneered brutality." And mightily endowed as Judiasm was it failed to achieve even its own reformation. The men who boasted in the law trampled upon it every day. A mightier hand than that of Socrates, or of Moses, was needed to save the world. A more than human hand, though nerved by an inspired heart, must smite the ranks of evil.
III. But granting that the world needs just the help which the gospel declares has been brought to it. "WILL EVEN THIS SECURE THE DESIRED RESULT? To this we can only answer, first, if it does not then God is clearly and hopelessly defeated, for a greater than Christ cannot, come to the rescue; and second, if Christ be what the gospel affirms Him to be, the triumph of righteousness is a foregone conclusion. Hence the tone of victory in the New Testament is always in the present tense. "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory." "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." This is our highest assurance. It receives impressive confirmation in the historical triumphs of Christianity. Its moral conquest of the civilisations of Rome and Greece are unquestioned. Its restraining and reorganising energy during the Middle Ages is freely admitted. Its profound and salutary influence upon modern life is beyond cavil; but there is a more direct and living proof of its power. Hundreds among you can bear testimony to the grace of salvation in Jesus Christ. What the gospel has done for you it can do for all.
(A. J. F. Behrends, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.