1 Corinthians 1:18-31

The Work of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. – 1 Corinthians 1:30 NLT

After warning the Corinthians about the danger of division within the body of Christ, Paul reminded them that the work of salvation had nothing to do with man. Paul, Apollos and Peter were nothing more than messengers of the Good News. Their role was to tell what God had done through Christ on the cross. Paul made this point quite emphatically when he wrote, “Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!” (1 Corinthians 1:13 NLT). Salvation was not man’s idea, but God’s. In fact, left to their own devises, mankind had not been able to come up with a way to restore their relationship with God. No amount of good works, sacrifices, worship or religious rituals had ever fixed the problem created by the sin of mankind. So God had come up with His own plan, and it appeared as nothing less than foolish from man’s perspective. God chose to send His sinless Son to die on a cross for the sins of mankind. And to those who are lost, “The message of the cross is foolish” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NLT). It appears ridiculous. It sounds far-fetched, too hard to believe. To the philosophers, scholars and the brilliant debaters of this world, the message of the cross sounds like superstitious nonsense – the creation of pathetically simpleminded people.

“But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24 NLT). To those who humbly accept the message of Christ’s substitionary death on the cross as real and life-transforming, the power of God is self-evident and non-debatable. It is clear that the work of salvation is the work of God – from beginning to end. Man has nothing to do with it. God chose us. God called us. God united us with Christ. And it was Christ who made us right with God. It was He who made us pure and holy. It was He who freed us from sin, not Paul, Apollos or Peter. So there is no reason for anyone to boast – either in themselves or any other human being. Salvation is God’s work and He accomplished it through the death of His own Son. The only role we played was that of the foolish, powerless, helpless, despised and sin-enslaved human being. We brought nothing of value to the table. We had no worth or merit in God’s eyes. God didn’t look down from heaven and select the best and the brightest. He didn’t choose the rich, famous or successful ones. He wasn’t impressed with anyone’s talents, efforts, resume or attempts at self-righteousness. Because in God’s eyes, all men were sinners. All men were separated from Him. All men were deserving of His wrath and destined to spend eternity being punished for their rebellion against Him. But God had a plan. He had a solution to man’s problem that didn’t involve man at all. It was His work. It required the death of His Son. It was His plan and “this foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human reason” (1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT). So there is nothing for us to boast about, except in the fact that God has chosen us. We need to boast about God. We need to brag about Him. We need to constantly remind one another that, without His plan of salvation – as foolish as it may sound – none of us would have any hope.

Father, thank You for Your incredible plan of salvation. Without it, I would have no hope. I would have no future. But because You sent Your Son to die on a cross in my place, and You chose to open my eyes so that I could see the futility of my situation and the reality of salvation made available through His death, I now stand as right and righteous before You. I have nothing to boast about, except You. Don’t ever allow me to make it about me again. Don’t allow me to make more of anyone than I do of you. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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