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Back to the Basics

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul is one of the most famous characters in the New Testament, renowned for his eloquent (if often difficult) epistles and his innumerable death-defying feats. But he never let it go to his head. He had great wisdom that could awe many, but when it came to talking of God, he let the Word of God speak for itself. He got out of the way so God could do His best work.

This is especially evident in 1 Corinthians, when Paul reminisces over his time with the Christians in Corinth. They seem to be putting undue emphasis on their own eloquent words and superior wisdom, so Paul reminds them of how he behaved when he preached the gospel among them. He could have used any number of arguments to convince them that Jesus is the Christ, but he kept his focus on the crucifixion and the power of Christ's sacrificial blood.

Because of this, no one could say that they had been saved by Paul. It was clearly the power of God's Spirit working in them that brought them to an understanding of who Jesus is. Paul did this on purpose, "so that [their] faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (2:5).

It's so easy to get caught up in all the arguments and all the skillful words and forget what saved us in the first place: Christ Jesus and Him crucified. This is the simple message of the good news of God--that Jesus died for us, taking our sins upon Himself, and came back to life three days later so we can have eternal life. It's so simple!

Perhaps its simplicity is why we feel uncomfortable relying on it. We want complicated expositions that show us as intelligent, thoughtful people. We want to prove to others that we're not mindless or naïve, believing in a fairytale.

But the very "foolishness" of the gospel is why it's worth believing. Why would so many smart, well-thought-out people believe in something like this unless it were true?

The gospel in all its simplicity is the most powerful message there is.

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