1 Corinthians 1:17-31
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words…
I. IT EXALTED THE CROSS OF CHRIST AS THE CENTRAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL. The apostle does not teach that truths associated with the details of Christian belief and living are not proper themes for the pulpit; nor that ritualistic observances are of no importance; nor that he considered as naught the human wisdom seen both in logic and skill; what he meant was that the gospel as the means of salvation revealed by God was everywhere the burden of his message. Neither church observances nor creeds, nor man's philosophy can become a substitute for this essential truth.
II. IT MADE THE AGENCY OF GOD ESSENTIAL IN CAUSING THE CROSS OF CHRIST TO HAVE SAVING POWER.
1. Paul gives the reason of man its proper place in the apprehension of the truth, and the truth so apprehended its proper place as connected with regeneration; but he never teaches that the truth alone, however fully understood, will secure salvation. Being saved is not an intellectual process only, even though the sacrifice of Christ be the truth considered. Only when made the power of God through the attending influence of the Holy Ghost does it save.
2. Paul's preaching insisted that this Divine agency can render the weak —
(1) Able to appropriate the gospel in its saving power. The pride of high station and marked ability would not avail, but the humility of confessed unworthiness and dependence upon him who would attract God's favour and incline its possessor to accept the Saviour He has provided. Hence, the poor, the ignorant, the wicked, the child, will find no barriers around the Cross when they turn toward it for help.
(2) Useful in throwing over opposition and causing the gospel to triumph (ver. 27, &c.).
III. IT DECLARED THAT THE RESULT OF THE GOSPEL'S PROPER PRESENTATION MUST BE THAT GOD, AND NOT MEN, WILL HAVE ALL THE GLORY (vers. 29, 31). Conclusion: Paul's preaching declares —
1. That true salvation is the penitent and trustful acceptance of the crucified Christ.
2. That true religion is loyalty to God.
(J. Exells, 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.