Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Bible, Foolishness?

Yes the Bible is foolishness to some individuals. They have experienced a legitimate introduction to the Bible. They can recite the Biblical accounts of creation, the flood, Cecil B. DeMille and his brother Moses and their story of the exodus from Egypt, Samson, David and Goliath, the 23rd Psalms, the birth of Jesus, His feeding of over 5,000 people with fish and chips, His crucifixion, resurrection and His return with a vengeance. These individuals have heard or read and simply cannot, by any means, believe that the stories are anything more than the literary talents of a few men combined with the editing efforts of an even larger group.

There are others who have never had an introduction. The only “evidences” they have of Biblical truths and accuracy are the lives of those proclaiming to be Christians. So, what are they witnessing?

Let’s face it. It is impossible to adequately express the inexpressible unmerited love, fulfilling comfort and endless security offered freely to all who would believe. Attempts to convincingly argue one’s personal experience, apart from the unspeakable Devine power through which Christ Personally touches a heart and enters a life, become futile.

Unfortunately, the Gospel is too often replaced by a plethora of theological interpretation or updated religious extravaganzas designed to impress, amaze and perhaps even convince the non-believer's senses that therein is something of value. But they cannot cut through the "show" to the real power and heart of the matter. The praise is understood by fellow-Christians but unnecessarily off-putting to those sincerely searching - but yet to have been spiritually touched.

But isn’t THIS what the Bible says will happen?

“For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God.” - 1 Corinthians 1:18

The answer to the question is, YES. However, let’s look at the context of the Apostle Paul’s statement. I previously missed it. Instead of being open to the words of this letter I used them to reenforced my personal and convenient assumptions. The net result? I missed what the Word is actually saying; IT IS POWERFUL! It is more powerful than any human testimony, any miraculous event, any evangelist’s story. Let’s read the passage.

“Paul, summoned by the will and purpose of God to be an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes; to the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God’s people) together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace (unmerited favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and (heart) peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the unmerited favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus. [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech (to speak of your faith), and complete knowledge and illumination (to give you full insight into it’s meaning). In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ, the Messiah, was so confirmed and established and made sure in you. That you are not (consciously) falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace (the reception of which is due to the power of Divine grace operating in our souls by the Holy Spirit), while you wait and watch (constantly living in hope) for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. And He will establish you to the end - keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication, that is, be your warrant against all accusation or indictment - [so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. God is faithful - reliable, trustworthy and [therefore] ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

This was Paul’s introduction to those worshiping at the church in Corinth. Paul then turns to the matter at hand.

“But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony, and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you; but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. For it has been made clear to me, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household that there are contentions and wrangling and fractions among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you [either] says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or, ‘I belong to Apollos’, or, “I belong to Peter’, or, ‘I belong to Christ’. Is Christ, the Messiah, divided into parts? Was Paul crucified on behalf of you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest any one should say that I baptized in my own name. Yes, I did baptize the household of Stephanas, also. More than these, I do not remember that I baptized any one. For Christ, the Messiah, sent me out not to baptize but (to evangelize by) preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel); and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain - fruitless, void of value and of no effect. For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God.” - 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Paul then goes into more specific detail about the heady philosophical debates which were replacing the incomprehensible power of the cross. Instead the Jews were demanding the entertainment of signs and miracles, while the more educated Greeks pursued philosophy and wisdom. Focus was being drawn away from Christ, the Messiah, crucified - which to the Jews was a scandal and an offensive stumbling block and to the Gentiles absurd and utterly unphilosophical nonsense. (vs 22,23)

Not much has changed, has it? Mankind cannot orchestrate, stage, produce or direct any religious testimony more powerful or more cutting to the heart’s need than the story of Christ’s death burial and resurrection.

To some [who have had an honest introduction to THIS story] it remains foolish. Their decision does not alter the true Christian’s love for them. This is a decision that is personal, between them and God - just as the decision to believe and yield is personal between the believer and God. The question is, what story is the daily life of those claiming to be true believers telling? Do our lives manifest a reflection of the Gospel without capturing some of the glory for ourselves?

Christian’s, we cannot add to His love. We cannot sensationalize that which is so sensational that only the heart can capture, ever so slightly, the true impact of His saving grace. The power of the cross and His resurrection is all in all.

Today, as you go about your daily responsibilities and “chance” meetings, consider the story your life will share. You may never know who is truly reading.

God bless!

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