Committed to Preaching an Offensive Gospel

Paul writes in chapter one about how the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the cross in particular, may be offensive. To some we see it for what it is, the heart of the good news. Others see it as folly, weakness, or a stumbling block to belief.

At times people may desire to overcome the offensiveness of the crucifixion and make the message more appealing to the world. We may even do so with the best of intentions, so that more people may hear the message. But Paul is committed to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ and he will not sugar coat it. He knows that it is a hindrance to Jews and the idea of worshiping an executed criminal is simply absurd to the Greeks. But he can not gloss over the crucifixion.

In our attempts in today’s world to make the message of Jesus Christ more “relevant” or sensitive to our modern culture, we cannot lose sight of what we preach. God is pleased to save those who believe through a foolish message. We ought not water it down for in so doing we will lose its fullness. The cross of Christ may offend. A gospel of grace–as wonderful and freeing as it is for believers–is not always accepted as good news. But we must trust in God’s wisdom and in his message, not concerning ourselves with whether we appear as fools to this world.

Paul, a very educated and eloquent man, did not seek to sidestep that which he knew would cause problems for his readers and listeners with lofty speech and convincing rhetoric. I’m sure he could’ve concocted a message that would be far more appealing. But Paul had no desire to merely entertain. No he decided to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Memorizing the Message of Christ Crucified

Each week with our memory verse we have the chance to really focus in on one small portion of Scripture. That one or two verse segment may contain some core truth found in this letter. It may help us remember helpful background, like the first week’s memory verse during which we memorized the key players in 1 Corinthians (from whom, to whom). These short lines also help us recall the larger points and arguments that Paul makes. For instance, this week the verses are 1 Corinthians 1:22-23:

Jews demand signs and Greek seek wisdom,
But we preach Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…

These verses lift up the centrality of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross. They also reminds us that God coming to die for us was not what people were looking for and it seemed utterly foolish to the world. But these verses also can remind us of the surrounding passage. These lines fall in the center of a larger message Paul is writing that begins with the cross (v. 16), returns to the cross here in verses 22-23 and then ends again with Paul preaching Jesus Christ crucified (2:1-2). If we can memorize the center or crux or Paul’s argument, then we are better able to recall this whole section from 1:17-2:2.

Again here are some visuals to help you out. First a letter sized graphic. Second is something I made for those of who you use your smartphones all day long. Make it your lock screen and every time you glance at your phone, you’re given the chance to repeat the memory verses.

Memory Verse 1 Cor 1.22-23

Small sized for your iPhone

Preaching on the Story of God and His People Throughout the Bible

I’m not sure whether this will encourage you to check out this coming Sunday’s sermon or do the opposite, but my intent for Palm Sunday is to preach on the whole Bible. On that day we should be done with Year in the Bible and how else should we cap off the year but by looking back on it all?

There are different ways to preach on God’s history with his people. Many confessions follow a fall, redemption, gratitude pattern. Since it will be Palm Sunday where we look at Christ’s triumphal entry, I wanted to lift up the kingship of Jesus Christ–what that means and how that is a fulfillment.

So that is what’s in store for Sunday. The only other wrinkle is that I didn’t want to preach about what is in the Bible. I want to preach using scripture. I want to do so using as much of the text that I could. Here is an outline and the references for what (at this point, at least) I’ve come up with:

Creation, Call, and Covenant

Genesis 1:1
Colossians 1:16-17
Genesis 1:26-28
Genesis 2:16-17
Genesis 3:1-4
Ephesians 1:4-5
Genesis 3:15
1 Corinthians 15:24-25
Galatians 4:4-5
Genesis 11:4
1 Corinthians 1:27
Genesis 12:1
Genesis 22:2
Genesis 22:7-8
Genesis 22:14
Exodus 1:8-9
Exodus 6:7
Lamentations 3:22-23
Exodus 15:1-2

Pattern of Disobedience and Deliverance

Numbers 14:2.4
Revelation 3:19
Joshua 1:5
Psalm 73:26
Deuteronomy 9:6-7
Leviticus 26:11
Ezekiel 37:28
Isaiah 5:6
Isaiah 33:14
Psalm 106:19-22
Romans 1:25
Psalms 120:6
Psalm 51:4
Hosea 1:2
Hosea 11:8-9
Judges 17:6
1 Samuel 8:19-20
Psalm 4:3
Jeremiah 11:10
Amos 7:11
2 Chronicles 30:10
Galatians 1:6
Psalm 136:1
Joel 2:25

God’s Great Intent Fulfilled in Christ

Romans 8:21-23
Ephesians 1:10
Galatians 4:4
Mark 1:14
Matthew 1:23
John 1:14
Matthew 5:17
Hebrews 9:26
Hebrews 8:5
Colossians 2:17
Luke 24:27

Christ the Victorious King

Matthew 2:2
Revelation 19:16
Hebrews 2:9
Romans 5:8
Galatians 3:13
Ephesians 2:4
Titus 3:5
Romans 5:6-7
Mark 15:32
Acts 2:32-33
Romans 5:17
Joshua 24:15
Romans 10:9
Daniel 7:27
1 Peter 2:4
Colossians 1:17-18
Galatians 3:29
Romans 8:17
Hebrews 7:26
2 Corinthians 1:20
2 Timothy 2:3,8
Acts 7:55-56
2 Timothy 2:10
Colossians 2:14
Revelation 11:15

Awaiting His Return

Philippians 1:20-21
2 Timothy 1:9
John 16:33
Revelation 21:6
Revelation 21:1-5
Revelation 21:22
Revelation 21:25
Isaiah 60:11
Romans 8:1
Romans 8:22-23
Luke 19:38

A Delight of Reading the Whole Bible in a Year

I have not had as much chance to post this past week as I have been way at a conference. Several of the speakers delivered fantastic sermons, which is always a benefit of these events. But I had a special delight this year as I heard from books like Daniel, Ezra, Ephesians, and Timothy. As the preachers delivered the messages I was so much more familiar with the scriptures that they were using.

But that isn’t to say that I now know enough. In reading though the Bible this past year I am instead primed to learn more and learn better. I loved knowing the context of the stories, remembering conversations had or posts written about those passages, and being challenged in new ways on what I thought I knew.

When they stepped back to give context, I was right there with them. The texts were still fresh in my mind, much closer to the surface, and much more accessible for the Spirit to use in my hearing and responding to the Word. It wasn’t like I was having to watch the same movie over again. It wasn’t at all tired or boring. The Bible is a living Word and I could see that as I had the chance to sit and receive it.

I pray you find that same delight as you grow more familiar with it and continue to read and re-read and read again God’s Word.